I’m dwelling on all the people flying up there in the lower reaches of the stratosphere. Right now. Right this minute. Sitting, waiting, walking, listening, sleeping, eating, peeing, pooing, talking, watching. All shooting along at 500+ miles per hour while the captain throws another dinosaur on the fire and stokes the boiler.
I came home from a long trip below the equator and across the dateline to the remnants of a flood that had torn through when the river log-jammed after a 500 year storm of biblical proportions. Below the 40th parallel south, we were caught in another historic storm causing avalanches, downed power lines and everything in between. We hear about the Colorado floods north of here, but little about the toxic effects, and even less about the swelling rivers in Russia and China. With 400 parts per million and counting time is no longer a prophet for climate change. We already have front row seats, paid for the viewing. As we throw a collective dinosaur on the fire, sit back, warm our toes, and watch the earth burn. The human race is on a collision course with reality, and most folk are too blindsided to see that we are all in the drivers seat.
Estimates vary regarding how many people fly in airplanes each day. 4 – 5 million is a conservative figure (excluding military, corporate, healthcare and airline worker flights). The IATA’s annual-review-2012 clocked 2.8 billion in 2011 and boasts 3 billion today. At this rate nearly half of all earthlings will fly somewhere this coming year (well the ones who can afford it). The flight path of such climate atrocity feeds on the human desire to travel, to move, visit, compare, see, learn or just work. Such ease of delivery has a huge toll on the earth’s resources and climate. Moving billions of people around the planet not only requires extraordinary energy, but produces massive amounts of waste. Some which you cannot see. Like the dinosaurs who fuel this moment, we are forging our own path to extinction as energy is transmuted into carbon and a host of other particles. This truly, is the age of alchemy.
On my trip I had the privilege to traverse a glacier. and this is what I learned. 100 years ago Fox Glacier was accessed from the far ridge you see in the photo; in 2008 the glacier ended at the large boulder down in the valley on the left; 3 weeks before I took this photo the glacier was flush with the top of the pole in the foreground. Glacial retreat happens with a warming climate.
Today, Friday 27th September 2013, the International Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] releases initial findings. It will take another year to collate and synthesize two more report areas. This will provide the most comprehensive climate change information regarding the physical science, impacts, adaptation, vulnerability and mitigation of climate change. In essence, it will provide the basis for global policy on climate change and adaptation. A future we should have started decades ago. a future it would behoove us to live now. So stay tuned, there’s more to come.
Even me–the most eco-conscious, build my own off-grid homestead with blood sweat and mud kinda person–likes to fly. Likes to go to far off places. Despite all the critical thinking in the world our hubris is our downfall. That we think we can get away with one more visit to a far flung place , one more chicken dinner at 36,000 feet, one more meeting across the continent is hubris.
I like to think there is only one solution to hand, and that would be to pick any solution and run with it. As long as it acknowledges the problem, for like any dysfunction, recognition is the first step to recovery. Me, I’m off to eat the dinner I just picked from my garden. You?