Friday, December 09, 2005
  The Toxicity of our City
Given the recent spate of natural disasters and tragic events, many have simply sighed in disbelief, some have cried as death took loved ones, but there certainly has been no short supply of people preaching the Revelations, or whatever Doomsday prophecy from their own religion, if any. The natural response of most religious groups quick to play the Armageddon card is to stress the urgency of redemption, and hence propagation of their religion, for all.
Yet I am one to believe that if you truly believe the end is inevitable, then the fight to save ourselves is already lost. An informal CNN poll a few months ago asked what people were most concerned with and which issues should have the highest priority; amongst them were 'crime and personal safety', poverty, the pandemic flu, and global warming. If memory serves correct, the pandemic flu and personal safety came in highest, but the very under-played issue of global warming came nowhere close. In my opinion, gobal warming poses the most imminent threat to mankind on a very real level. It would be unwise to pay a deaf ear to someone you would normally pass off as a 'tree-hugging' activist. While the US has stubbornly downplayed global warming as being an effect of mankind until recently, it is important to know that majority of scientists in this area believe global warming to be a very serious threat that will become exponentially more difficult problem to recover from and prominent as soon as 10, 20, 50 years."With only 4 percent of the population, the United States now produces 25 percent of annual CO2 emissions -- 6.7 billion metric tons annually -- and will remain the chief climate change polluter worldwide for years to come. During the past century, the United States together with other industrialized countries such as Japan, Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Canada has produced more than 60 percent of the CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming." -
My mentor once described a few key events that gave birth to the concept of global warming. The detection of a change in radiation levels in Europe from a source of origin in America indicated that our atmospheric system is highly sensitive and that the environmental changes in one area had the potential to affect the entire global system detectable very far away. A second key event was the atmospheric measurements (Keeling's measurements) taken by a scientist named Charles D. Keeling since the 50s that has been described as "the single most important evironmental data set taken in the 20th century". His measurements of carbon dioxide levels in addition to measurements taken from polar ice cores show that the levels have been steadily increasing while the latter showed that the levels began to increase sharply during the 19th century, around the time when industrialisation was born.
I found it rather amusing watching the BBC news quite a while back as one anchorman decided to show he had a little more skill than just reciting flashcards in proper English. His story was regarding global warming and the melting of the ice caps. Now I apologise and admit I was not paying attention to the tv just prior to the scientific "stunt" I'm about to describe. But he was claiming that the melting of our ice caps would not cause the sea level to rise. He then prompty proceeds to illustrate this by taking a glass of water, putting some ice in it, fast forward and wala! The ice has melted and the water level in the glass has not changed. Wow. How worthy of a Cambridge degree, no?
Coastal areas: Scientists predict average sea level will rise 1 to nearly 3 feet over the next 100 years. Seaside communities can expect more erosion, flooding during storms, and permanent submersion of low-lying areas and islands.
In addition to the increase in sea level, the polar ice caps are also responsible for the reflection of a significant amount of heat from the planet's surface and hence a reducing surface area will mean more trapped heat in the atmosphere. Ice caps have been photographically documented and the surface area each year has been disappearing at a disturbing rate.
All these factors combined means that the cost of inaction is exponentially rising and the longer we leave ourselves blinded to the consequences, the steeper the slope will be to recover our global climate and the higher the probability of a worst-case scenario where we reach a point of no-return.

"Somewhere, between the sacred silence and sleep. Disorder, disorder. Disorder!"
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