Friday, November 28, 2008

Are we there yet?

Travel at Thanksgiving always comes with great expectations. A superb dinner, a warm time with family, a renewal of bonds. The drive to Grandma's is fraught with anticipation and perhaps even some apprehension. (Will she serve the Green Bean Casserole?) Not to mention the plaintive voices from the back seat: "Are we there yet?"

This is true of any journey, including the one we are all unintentionally embarked on--the exploration of changing climate.

In Central Oregon this Thanksgiving we are blessed with dry, sun-drenched balmy weather -- in the 50's maybe even 60's (read "cursed with balmy weather" if you are a skier or more importantly, a farmer or an ecosystem, neither of which are on most evening weather reports radar screen....) Is this part of climate change? It's hard to say. The journey to a warmer globe is long and complicated, we're told.

But maybe not. Now, Yale' geologist Mark Pagani and nine other researchers, including James Hansen, have sounded a clear warning: ".... we have reached atmospheric CO2 levels that compromise polar ice sheets." Let the melting begiin. (It already has.) Goodbye New Orleans. Goodbye Calcutta. Goodbye Bangladesh.

When we started the Industrial Revolution about 1800, atmospheric CO2 stood at 280 PPM. Today it's 385 PPM. And climbing at 2 PPM per year. Pagani, Hansen and their colleagues peg the Death of the Ice Sheets at 350 PPM. Ouch.

Thanksgiving may not seem the best time for gloom and doom. But Thanksgiving was yesterday.
Climate change is every day. Every decision. Every trip to Grandma's.

We are out of options and excuses. Do we want 13 million homeless and hungry Bangledeshees adding to India and China's political and social crises?

Or the extinction of polar bears?

Or, for that matter, rising stress on our own PNW forests, snow, and water resources?

Probably not.

But according to ten sterling researchers, these issues are now on the front porch, and the doorbell is ringing.

Are we there yet?
You betcha!

For the Science Daily page with this paper, see



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