Thursday, November 29, 2007

Life Is Crap: Lovelock Part 2

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2007 at 1:16 PM

When locked in the arms of a carnitas burro, I recommend you stay away from old weekly magazines you usually read, but have put aside until the doldrums go away.

Two weeks ago, I finally picked up an old Rolling Stone I had barely read the week before. After that last bite of carnitas, I decided to lounge with the politics section, because, you know, I was feeling better and now fully medicated. 

This particular issue had an interview with climate scientist James Lovelock. Mr. Locklock, an elderly fellow who will probably die any day now, says not to worry: Global warming can't be stopped. Going green is just a mechanism of our capitalist ways, and by 2040, about 6 million people will be dead. But he does say that those who survive will find it to be an exciting time.

So, if my son hangs on and procreates, the next generation of my family is in for one big party. An excerpt:

Until recently, Lovelock thought that global warming would be just like his half-assed forest -- something the planet would correct for. Then, in 2004, Lovelock's friend Richard Betts, a researcher at the Hadley Centre for Climate Change -- England's top climate institute -- invited him to stop by and talk with the scientists there. Lovelock went from meeting to meeting, hearing the latest data about melting ice at the poles, shrinking rain forests, the carbon cycle in the oceans. "It was terrifying," he recalls. "We were shown five separate scenes of positive feedback in regional climates -- polar, glacial, boreal forest, tropical forest and oceans -- but no one seemed to be working on whole-planet consequences." Equally chilling, he says, was the tone in which the scientists talked about the changes they were witnessing, "as if they were discussing some distant planet or a model universe, instead of the place where we all live." 

As Lovelock was driving home that evening, it hit him. The resiliency of the system was gone. The forgiveness had been used up. "The whole system," he decided, "is in failure mode." A few weeks later, he began work on his latest and gloomiest book, The Revenge of Gaia, which was published in the U.S. in 2006. 

OK, then. As you can imagine, I felt loads better, no longer guilt-ridden that I haven't gotten around switching those light bulbs or buying a Prius.

I've hung on to his whole theory of it being an exciting time for those still around. I thought about Eugene O'Neil and his friends getting all creative during the New Deal, and how I've wished I was around then. Seems like I'm always missing the boat.

But most likely, I'll at least have the pleasure of being around when Tucson runs out of water. That will be exciting indeed.


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