Friday, May 22, 2009

Is global warming twice as bad as we've been told?

This USA Today article about a huge MIT climatological study says the same thing that the author of the book I'm currently reading has been writing. Thomas Friedman, the author of Hot, Flat, and Crowded, says that global warming has the potential to be catastrophically worse than what has been publicized, but because scientists tend to be a conservative bunch (not necessarily politically speaking, but in terms of how they present findings), they have presented the most conservative findings while believing that global warming could be much worse than what they have published.

I'm about halfway through Hot, Flat, and Crowded and it is changing my view of the world the same way that I changed when I read (okay, listened to) The Omnivore's Dilemma. I have known for many years that global warming is an issue (second grade is the earliest memory I have that relates to global warming..."I love to save water!") and Scott and I do what we can to conserve. We've installed green lightbulbs, we buy green appliances (and are in the process of purchasing a super-efficient hot water heater and furnace which are NOT cheap), we keep our thermostat set low in the winter, we don't over-water our lawn, we recycle and we compost...you get the idea. But we do it all with a nonchalance that says, "I'm doing this because I know it's important but I don't know that climate change will actually affect me or my children." Halfway through Hot, Flat, and Crowded I'm already convinced that I'm wrong. DEAD wrong. Climate change will affect my children and my grandchildren if we don't, with great urgency, make changes now.

I'm just now getting into the second half of the book which is where Friedman presents his solutions to the problem of climate change. He calls it "Code Green." Just a few pages into his solution, I'm feeling a glow of patriotism that says, "We can do it!" America can take the lead to tackle the problems of climate change. We have the abilities to do the research, to design the systems, and to let China and India make the products that are required to stop global warming at a price we can all afford (giggle...but I'm serious) and we can leave our children and grandchildren with a habitable and...get this...even a comfortable earth.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded is probably one of the best-researched pieces I've read since grad school. I can't remember a time when I read a book or journal article with more references to reliable scientific sources and, when you're talking about global warming, with all of its goofy politics and rhetoric, that means something. This book is not fluff...go reserve it at your library. Seriously. Even if you think Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio are clowns. Just trust me on this one.

By the way...I just want you to know that this post is courtesy of PBS...my children are very quietly watching a PBS broadcast of Romeo and Juliet as presented in ballet form at the Lincoln Center...wherever the heck that is. See how uncultured I am? But my kids are being cultured, care of PBS. They're watching professional ballet, people. Incredible. And that is giving me three seconds to think. Thank God (and all those donors out there) for PBS.

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