Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Earth's Climate Warming Abruptly, Scientist Says

Earth's Climate Warming Abruptly, Scientist Says - Washington Post

Before we pull the emotional fire alarm on this scientific proposal of abrupt climate change signaling the end, we should do a little math, with a side-order of philosophy.

The earth is roughly 6 billion years old, give or take a few hundred million years, and this magnitude makes it difficult for us to relate even to something that happened 5,000 years ago. However, in relative terms 5,000 years is to 6 billion as 7/100ths of a second is to 24 hours in a day (86,400 seconds).

Scientific research also tells us that 99 percent of all species that ever existed are now extinct. Since humanity is a species, it too will one day be extinct one, rest assured.

Lastly, if we put humankind into perspective, in its many evolutionary forms, we have been around for only 150,000 years, a time span akin to 2.2 seconds on our 24 hour clock. Our time hurling through space on a green ball is not only finite, in scientific terms, it will also be exceedingly brief.

While our environmental impact may mimic that of a swarm of locust, indeed we should still do whatever we can to be kind to the planet, but not because our survival depends upon it – it clearly does not. However, our quality of life, and that of future generations, is absolutely at stake. To put it bluntly, just because were going to go out, does not mean we want to be sitting in the soup, while we wait.

It is inevitable that the planet will record that we came and went in the blink of an eye, as measured on the planetary timepiece. While our to-date evolution has been traumatic, to say the least, it remains to be seen if the rest of our short stay and certain departure will be any more graceful. Let us hope.

James C. Collier


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