A Few Things Ill Considered

The Bottleneck Years

by H.E. Taylor

Chapter 7 Table of Contents Chapter 9

Chapter 8

Jacy, June 7, 2055

I spent a couple of fruitless hours in the laboratory reading the absorption spectra of an extremeophile bacteria, then headed home. After supper, dad went to bed early. I cleaned up and retreated to the library. As I was sitting down, my eye happened to fall on an old paper magazine whose cover blared “Jacy Strikes” over a picture of a devastated city.

The year that Hypercane Jacy destroyed Houston, America got religion about global warming. A strong Category 5 hurricane, almost 2,000 km. across at its height. Jacy followed a typical path just south of Cuba, picked up energy crossing the Gulf of Mexico and roared through the remains of Galveston to Houston, but then it did something unusual. It jagged to the southwest before heading back to the northeast on the normal path. Because of its immense size, the portion still over the Gulf continued to feed it energy. For Houston, it was like the storm parked itself over the city for 24 hours — 24 hours of Category 5 hurricane.

Once the ‘oil capital’ of the USA, Houston was ravaged and never repaired. It was a rough time for the old Republic. 167,000 people died. It was not like Katrina two decades before. These people were not poor blacks living on the edge of squalor at the best of times; these were rich, white businessmen and entrepreneurs who had been struck down at the height of success. Some said the height of hubris. The falling skyscrapers echoed the attack of 9/11.

The spectacle of a major American city devastated by 300-350 kph winds had a dramatic effect on the American psyche. As happened with Pearl Harbour, attitudes changed overnight. Suddenly 95% of the population was in favour of strong action against climate change. The media preached change.

Action was promised. But, of course, it was far too late. A culture of quick fixes, magic bullets and fast tracks was uniquely unsuited to dealing with the slow motion disaster enveloping it. Americans didn’t know it, but they were caught in a historical irony: they wouldn’t act until the danger was unmistakable and, by the time the danger was unmistakable, it was too late.

The droughts, deluges and storms continued. As the food shortages began to bite, people looked for someone to blame and their attention fell on the climate change deniers — the tools of the fossil fuel companies’ longstanding public relations campaign of delay and denial. The deniers were a disparate group ranging from cynical PR flacks through useful idiots and the ideologically bent to fundamentalist scientists.
Some were victims themselves. Their first inkling that climate change was seriously real was finding themselves standing in a line waiting for food ration stamps.

In some jurisdictions, charges were laid. Many civil lawsuits were brought. The lawsuits tended to focus on the corporations because they had the money, but along the way many smaller players were dragged in and put through the legal wringer.

To nearly everyone’s surprise, the administration, caught up in the popular outrage, sponsored the creation of an International Environmental Court to deal with the transnational jurisdictional issues. The UN formed an entire agency, the Ecological Mandate, with support staff, scientists and an independent investigative branch, the Gendarmes of the Ecological Mandate, commonly called the ecocops.

Several large show trials ensued. They may have brought satisfaction to some, but they did nothing for the climate. The damage was done and the dead were still dead.

Sighing deeply, I turned out the lights and headed for bed. Through the front room window across the lake, the sun was just setting. The whole western sky was aflame with gold, pink and mauve. I stood by the window and watched the magnificence fade to dark blue and black, thinking about my brothers. Jon would soon be off to Ottawa and Matt was talking about the west coast.

I had an early class the next day. With a yawn I headed downstairs to sleep.

 


Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor

For further information see:
A Gentle Introduction.

Last modified October 2, 2012

Comments

  1. #1 R.L. Schaefer
    Ca.
    October 4, 2012

    1. Since the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, earth has been in an “interglacial period” – I’d like to keep it that way – ice is the killer of civilizations.

    2. Global temps began rising, causing the ice sheets to recede, 12000 years before SUV’s and the Industrial age.

    3. There have been at least two mini- Ice Ages in the last 10,000 years – each followed by periods of uh…. WAIT FOR IT – global warming.

    4. Sea levels have been rising since the end of the last ice age – with centuries long pauses during periods of “global cooling”. Sea levels have risen nearly 300 feet in the past 15000 years… I would suppose that is why the people of the Netherlands have built dikes for centuries.

    5. The nearly five centuries of the “Little Ice Age” ended about 1855 – about the time of we began to keep temperature records. We have been in a general warming trend ever since – Thank God. Coincidentally, the Gore/Mann Hockey Stick begins its climb at that point.

    6. All the melting “pole” ice shelves, that everyone is panicking about, have melted before. During the Medieval Warming (950-1250) Vikings grew crops in Greenland. The North West Passage was open and free of ice. Vikings are believed to have explored the west coast of North America using it.

    7. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that man made Co2 has anything to do with global warming. Anthropogenic Co2 accounts for less than 2% of Co2 in the atmosphere. If we followed the green banners and marched back to the caves – leaving 99% of our fellows to die – the Co2 meter would barely move.

    8. H2o is (water vapor) is the most common green house gas representing 95% of green house gas.

    9. More “bio-mass” is present at the middle latitudes and far less at the poles. You may check this out by trying to grow something in your freezer and compare the result to your success in a “green house”. More food means fewer dead and starving people. Really, ain’t science grand?

    10. The worlds deserts, from the Sahara to the Mohave, have been increasing in size for 5000 years. Ummm…. Were there “smokestacks” back in the day?

    Well, I’ve gotta run, time to throw some more tires on my smoldering burn pile – Every little bit helps in delaying that next Ice Age as long as possible – just doing my bit.

  2. #2 mandas
    October 4, 2012

    So many statements from RL. So many denialist memes. You have to wonder how someone can make so many mistakes in one post. But let me pick just one:

    There is absolutely no scientific evidence that man made Co2 has anything to do with global warming.

    Obviously RL is incapable of reading science. Either that, or he is willfully ignorant and deliberately avoids doing so. RL – go away, get a copy of the IPCC report – but don’t read it. I know how deniers like you hate the IPCC. Instead, go to the back of each section, and take careful note of the reference lists. Then get a copy of each paper referenced, and read them. I’m sure you will find something in the thousands of scientific papers written by thousands of scientists with real scientific training, who have spent decades collecting real evidence and doing real scientific analysis.

    Alternatively, you could just remain willfully ignorant and continue to cut and paste denialist memes from opinions sites controlled by uneducated idiots like Watts and Nova.

    Your choice.

  3. #3 Wow
    October 4, 2012

    “1. Since the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, earth has been in an “interglacial period” ”

    So you admit AGW is true, then.

    You also admit that, like in every other interglacial, we were on a cooling trend to the next glacial.

    “2. Global temps began rising, causing the ice sheets to recede, 12000 years”

    And forest fires ravaged the pleistocene era, millions of years before the invention of the firelighter.

    Is this proof that arsonists don’t exist?

    “3. There have been at least two mini- Ice Ages in the last 10,000 years”

    And after they returned to the baseline, not shot 1 degree over it. Proving that this time, it isn’t return from a local minima.

    “4. Sea levels have been rising since the end of the last ice age”

    No, they’ve been lowering, since we were on the cooling trend, causing more ice to remain on continental interiors.

    “5. The nearly five centuries of the “Little Ice Age” ended about 1855 ”

    And we’re now nearly 1degree warmer than before the Little Ice Age started.

    “During the Medieval Warming (950-1250) Vikings grew crops in Greenland.”

    No they didn’t. They imported their food and starved. It is also warmer in Greenland than it was then. And the MWP wasn’t global. You know, GLOBAL warming. Right?

    “Anthropogenic Co2 accounts for less than 2% of Co2 in the atmosphere.”

    False. Completely false. We have produced enough CO2 from fossil fuels to increase CO2 levels by about 80%. Half of that is making the sea more acidic. Carbonic Acid.

    “8. H2o is (water vapor) is the most common green house gas representing 95% of green house gas.”

    Pointlessly assinine assertion.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas

    And this is why the CO2 effect of 1.2C per doubling is INCREASED by feedbacks to ~3.2C per doubling, because warmer air holds more water vapour.

    “9. More “bio-mass” is present at the middle latitudes and far less at the poles.”

    Another pointless asssertion.

    We aren’t gaining 30 billion tons of CO2 captured in plants each year. And less sunlight at the poles means a greening pole is of no use, even one weren’t under water.

    “10. The worlds deserts, from the Sahara to the Mohave, have been increasing in size for 5000 years.”

    And if I were to poison you, I could say “He’s been dying since he was 21 years old!”, would this be proof I didn’t murder you?

    No.