For all practical purposes, the recent "carbonization" of the atmosphere is irreversible. Carbon dioxide is a persistent gas; it lasts for about a century. Thus, while it is possible to increase CO2 concentrations relatively quickly, by, say, burning fossil fuels or levelling forests, the opposite is not the case. The effect might be compared to driving a car equipped with an accelerator but no brakes.The article focuses on the example of the Dutch, much of whose country lies below sea level. They are already making preparations to abandon some of their land to the encroaching waters. There is also a discussion of possible actions to avert reaching dangerous levels of greenhouse gasses and of the meaning of and problems with the Kyoto protocol process. (Hint: The United States is the main problem.)
....As we delay, the opportunity to change course is slipping away. "We have only a few years, and not ten years but less, to do something," the Dutch state secretary for the environment, Pieter van Geel, told me...
...."Right now, we're going to just burn everything up; we're going to heat the atmosphere to the temperature it was in the Cretaceous [which ran from approximately 100 million years ago to 55 million years ago, long before humans came onto the scene], when there were crocodiles at the poles. And then everything will collapse[,]" [according to Marty Hoffert, professor of physics at New York University.]
....Climate records also show that we are steadily drawing closer to the temperature peaks of the last interglacial, when sea levels were some fifteen feet higher than they are today. Just a few degrees more and the earth will be hotter than it has been at any time since our species evolved.
....It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.
The short version: Time is running out--fast!
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