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Four Years Left

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Planet Crisis Is Coming On Us Faster Than Anyone Expected

 

By James Donahue

 

When scientists first agreed that global warming and climate change was real and a looming crisis that needed to be dealt with, they offered early computer-model projections of 50 to 100 years before things got serious.

 

More reject projections, however, based on improved computer systems and better data, shortened that timeline to 10 to 20 years.

 

Most recently, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warned that newest projections show we only have about four years, until 2012 to stop those deadly carbon emissions or those climate changes are going to create a hell on Earth.

 

This latest report warns that a failure to act, and act decisively by world governments immediately, will create untold hardships for future generations that may be impossible to fix.

 

"We have a small window of time in which we can plant the seeds of change," warned James Leape, a WWF spokesperson. "And that is the next five years. We cannot afford to waste them. This is not something that governments can put off until the future."

 

Many scientists and government leaders, including then Vice-President Al Gore, foresaw this coming a decade ago as they gathered at Kyoto, Japan, to hammer out what became known as the Kyoto Protocol. That agreement by cooperating industrialized nations, was to cut greenhouse gas emissions to a collective average of five percent below their 1990 levels.

 

Since then, the Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 137 nations, including Brazil, China and India, nations not involved in those original talks. Unfortunately the worst polluter, the United States, under the Bush Administration, backed out of the agreement. President George W. Bush refused to admit until only recently that global warming was real. He maintained the Kyoto agreement would give competing nations like China and India an unfair advantage over U.S. industry.

 

Even as it was being drafted, many scientists said the protocol was only a first step, but was falling far short of the steps needed to head off the looming catastrophe that was coming down on us.

 

In recent seasons the world has experienced catastrophic storms, flooding, drought, intense heat and severe cold weather patterns that seem to be intensifying with each passing year. This year, for the first time, food shortages are beginning to occur, even in the United States which has held the reputation as the bread basket of the world.

 

A world-wide shortage of rice, a main staple among people in third-world countries, has generated rioting in Haiti, Somalia and other places.

 

The ice caps and glaciers of the world are on melt-down, the surface of the oceans are rising and there is a concern that the melt of freshwater ice at Greenland will stop the flow of the Gulf Stream, an ocean of warm moving water that stabilizes the climate throughout Europe and the United Kingdom. Some say that if the flow of the Gulf Stream stops, it could trigger an extreme cool-down in Europe, and even signal the beginning of a new ice age for the northern hemisphere.

 

The melt is occurring so fast that entire areas of land mass in Antarctica are becoming visible for the first time in history. A recent report states that an area the size of California was found exposed in western Antarctica.

 

While this is happening, the rising ocean levels are changing the landscape of the world. Seafront cities and low-level properties are threatened with flooding and entire islands are disappearing. The glacier melt is threatening the water supply to millions of people throughout Southeast Asia.

 

Australia, large portions of China, central Africa, and the Southwestern United States are experiencing extreme drought which some believe is a product of global warming. If they are correct, these parts of the world are turning to desert before our eyes, and will soon be uninhabitable.

 

The flooding and super tornado destruction going on through the heartland of the United States also are unprecedented in American history. The earliest recorded tropical storm ever, Andrea, occurred in May, 2007, off the coast of the Carolinas. The hurricane season isn't supposed to start until June.

 

We must stop squabbling and start working together to fix this mess before the planet turns on us in ways we do not want to experience.  But to take the kind of action necessary at this late hour to save ourselves is to call for drastic steps that will be very unpopular. It could mean an immediate shut-down of all factories that emit carbon-based greenhouse gases, and halting the manufacture of all carbon fuel-burning automobiles, everywhere.

 

Other steps would be to turn off all street lights, convert the light bulbs in our houses and shops to the new low energy type of bulbs, and rebuild the existing cars we have to be more fuel efficient.

 

Part of the problem, of course, has been overpopulation. Thus another vital step will be to place a limit on the number of children allowed per family.

 

If an escape is possible, everybody must agree to pull together to make it happen. And we must not allow politics, big business interests and religion to get in the way.