Prediction: The Rude Awakening

22Jan13

The concept of this post is simple:  something bad is going to happen, environmentally speaking.  I don’t mean bad in a scientific sense, like the extinction of some kind of endangered bat.  I mean bad on the level of the ordinary person.  Honeybees are going to vanish, taking all kinds of foods with them; or the ice is suddenly going to slide off Greenland, submerging huge portions of coastal real estate; or drought is going to drive a large-scale (though surely not total) evacuation of Phoenix or Oklahoma City.  Something on this level, anyway.

The key rationale underlying this concept is that we are still expecting things to happen in a semi-normal way.  We get the occasional volcano; the hurricanes are a little nastier; winter is not like it used to be.  The old stability is showing signs of weakness, but we can cope.  But an expectation of being able to cope is out of whack with the enormity of what seems to be unfolding.

You could say that Hurricane Katrina was the bellwether.  We lost a good chunk of a major American city, at least temporarily.  It was sci-fi stuff.  But perhaps because of the fumbling of FEMA and President Bush, attention got deflected.  Or maybe people weren’t generally ready, yet, to attribute it to climate change.  For whatever reason, Katrina didn’t mark recognition of a new day.

Nonetheless, we are now hearing credible talk of a significant risk of catastrophic change within the next 40 years, more or less.  No doubt that will arrive at an accelerating pace as time goes on.  Things may not truly go to hell until 2030 or, perhaps, much later.

But it seems we should expect to see initial glimmers of global catastrophe in the relatively near future – within, say, the next five years, or by 2020 at the latest.  Glimmers, that is, of really shocking stuff.  Nobody knows what the signature event of this new era will be.  But I’m betting there will be something.

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One Response to “Prediction: The Rude Awakening”

  1. Here’s one to keep you up at night. You’ll remember when the volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, in Iceland erupted in 2010 and disrupted air travel and an already troubled global economy.

    Check out Eyja’s nearby sister ‘canos, Hekla, Laki and Katla. Hekla (a fissure ‘cano) spewed mass amounts of sulfur into the air in the 1700s, which became sulfuric acid mist and turned most of England and part of Europe into an apocalyptic murder ground.

    If any of the many ‘canos in Iceland were to erupt big time, it would (not “could,” “would”) be unbelievably devastating for the Northern Hemi. And there is some thought we’re leaving a period of calm and maybe entering a period of increased vulcanism.


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