An Inconvenient Truth Redux
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The most re-produced image of anybody or anything is the Earth’s photo taken during Apollo 17, with the sun coming from behind the camera. People started thinking about environmental issues in a different way once they could see images of the Earth from space and all that started in the 60s with the Apollo missions. It was around the same time that Rachel Carson started writing her works, such as “Silent Spring”.
It is an easy misconception to assume that continents just don’t move, but they do, just as the misconception that the atmosphere was so immense we could never possibly do anything, turned out to be untrue. Scientists in Nashville told Palmer that if you put a coat of varnish on an orange, it would likely be the same width as the atmosphere.
Glacial ice is an important component of our planet—it is snowfalls and more snowfalls compacting the snow. The bottom layer turns to ice and eventually flows. People depend on glaciers for water and approximately 97% of the glacial ice on the planet is in retreat rather than advance. The largest tropical glacial formation is in Peru, and it has recently been noted that it is now in very massive retreat.
When looking at Co2 and temperature levels over the last thousand years, it can be seen that the two are very closely related. Therefore, if we maintain our current energy use patterns carbon dioxide levels will rise to 600 parts per million by the year 2050, meaning the temperature will also rise drastically.
During the 2003 heat wave in Europe almost 40,000 people died in one season of heat. 2005-2006 brought no temperatures that were lower than normal, or even just normal. Temperatures are rising to above-normal temperatures. Three tropical depressions in 2005 alone: Dennis, Cindy and Mindy, prove we are getting storms that are much greater in intensity and duration and since the 70s these factors have risen by about 50 per cent. The fact remains that as ocean heat rises, hurricane intensity grows.
We are now “entering a period of consequences” (Churchill, 1936 on a current political situation). There were 1,707 tornados in 2004, it was a new record in the U.S. 1,000 people killed in a rain event in Mumbai India on July 26, 2005 when 37 inches of rain fell within a 24 hour period. We are creating doubt-stricken areas when the moisture is taken out of the land, just as it is from the ocean.
1374 square miles of desert was created each year during the 1990s, compared to 840 per year in the 1980s and 624 in the 70s. The structure of life is built from the bottom-up and therefore, losing 60,000 species after the industrial revolution is a big deal.
2000 years ago, the population was only 2.5 billion and it has risen exponentially to 6.4 billion in 2005 and an expected 9 billion in the year 2050. If we keep with old habits using new technology it will lead to unpredictable consequences. Irrigation and catching fish are two examples of how now do everything on a much larger scale.
Walt’s six things (that people can do to make a difference!)
1. Drive less
2. Drive more slowly
3. Drive more gently
4. Turn the heat down
5. Air conditioning off (or down)
6. Use “off peak” power
Palmer wanted to leave students with questions that he feels we all must be answering every day: What are we doing? Why are we doing this? What will happen?
Students wishing to know more about the issue, or to ask questions and make comments can be in touch with Walter Palmer by emailing him at