Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Brian Gibb (313-500? ppm)

We live by numbers and some more important than others.  Some don’t change often so we keep them in our head: age, date of birth, height, weight, phone number, address, various PINs, salary, and our own social insurance number.  Others vary on a daily basis so we check them regularly like temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed, which are useful to know before setting out from the house in the morning.  Others are fairly abstract: stock market indexes, interest and exchange rates, commodity prices, levels of unemployment, and the latest polling results, which upon hearing may or may not tell us something that we want to know.

Yet, there is one number that everyone should keep in mind – the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.  This is the one number that above all others tells us what life is going to be like on the planet.

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Years from now, when people look at the title of this blog, they’ll be able to deduce that I was born shortly after researchers started to record CO2 readings at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.  The second number is a guestimate of the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere when I die.  Looking at these two numbers, people will have a fairly good idea of what the climate was like during my life and the nature of the climate change I experienced.

They will also know that I lived most of my life during the Age of Stupid, the period of time when despite the warnings from the scientific community, people were hell bent on pumping as much CO2 into the atmosphere as they could by burning as much fossil fuel as they could.

Finally, they will conclude that I lived long enough to see the beginning of the Age of Remorse, the period of time when people realized the error of their ways, but which came too late because the conditions leading to the Great Die Off had been irrevocably set into place.

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