Silly and Sober Solutions to Global Warming
Scientists tell us that global warming, whatever the politicians say, and regardless of its root causes, is a here and now reality with which we must deal one way or another. Its effects will be with us for the foreseeable future and ultimately may even rival or exceed the consequences of international terrorism.
But since there is glaringly not the personal or political will to come to grips in a meaningful manner with this worldwide phenomenon, the conditions that foster the warming trend are likely to continue and to accelerate the resultant changes until no responsible person can deny that long delayed action must be taken.
Happily, at that point, however, there are things which can be done to ameliorate the problems associated with global warming, to better adapt to it, and to slow or reverse it, even in small ways to take the climate into our own hands. Such a comprehensive effort might not seem glamorous or imperative enough to capture the popular imagination today, but when small island nations and expensive coastal real estate are being submerged, tropical diseases are affecting us in the more temperate regions, the mercury is spiking at times to heights too great for air conditioning to comfortably or healthily control, traditional weather patterns are being realigned, large numbers of species around us are noticeably disappearing, many in poorer countries are dying of malnutrition or devastating storms, and the costs of food and insurance are a far higher percentage of our own individual and national budgets due to the changes global warming has brought, we shall more likely find the motivation to get cracking on remedies.
When that time arrives we should not be left wondering how to begin and what may be done. While I am keenly interested in other aspects of the interaction between people and their planet, I have given thought to the issue of global warming and so can offer some ideas. With assistance from Valerie, here at "The Terra Tabloid," then, a series of steps, from the serious to the tongue-in-cheek sublime, have been prepared that may come in handy when at last we are ready to come to terms with a transformation of climate unfolding around us:
- Control power plant emissions through different industrial processes and lowered utility use;
- Reduce black soot and other small particle pollution in the atmosphere;
- Drive less, and carpool more, or row, walk, ski, swim, sled, ride one's doggy, crawl, and perhaps glide (from high rise apartments and offices) to our destinations;
- Save energy in every way (like: becoming a couch potato and just gradually growing into the furniture);
- Eat lower on the food chain (seeing how truly low you can go);
- Limit population increase (by abstinence, warfare, euthanasia, whatever works);
- Use fewer resources generally (Reese's peanut butter cups, though, a great substitute);
- Use solar, wind, wave, or river water power generation to the extent possible (maybe victimizing birds and fish, but they are not our highest priority);
- Burn diesel fuels more efficiently, through improved combustion engine technology;
- Live more like the Europeans (who use about half as much energy as the average person in the US);
- Reduce nitrogen use and runoff;
- Enhance human tolerance for irregular and extreme weather (through careful inbreeding and biotech alterations of the species);
- Construct, use, and maintain dikes, as the Dutch have done famously and effectively, to limit the incursion of the sea into low lying areas;
- Efficiently collect and burn methane, and other natural products of digestion or industry, and biomass (plants) in lieu of fossil fuels (a typical TexMex dinner running the car for perhaps the whole next week);
- Reduce emissions through technological innovations;
- Reverse the trends of cutting, bulldozing, and burning forests;
- Take advantage of nuclear solutions: power plants vulnerable to terrorism, widespread bombing, launching of atomic missiles, and so on (nuclear winter trumps global warming);
- Develop and use more energy efficient autos;
- Use geothermal energy;
- All live underground in dry, energy efficient caves or caverns;
- Employ "clean coal" technology for the more efficient and clean burning of coal with little pollution;
- From appliances to heating, lighting, and air conditioning, increase home and business energy efficiency;
- Develop partnerships with other countries for the protection and restoration of forests;
- Maintain environmental biodiversity;
- Use genetic engineering to create smaller and smaller people: once on a molecular level, there will be much more room for population growth and much less impact from our high energy use on the environment;
- Support the ingenuity of American corporations and entrepreneurs in developing new, practical measures for dealing with all aspects of the global warming problem.
Defusing the Global Warming Time Bomb. James Hansen in "Scientific American," Vol. 290, pages 68-77; March, 2004.
Common Sense on Climate Change: Practical Solutions to Global Warming. Union of Concerned Scientists.