Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Arctic Horse That's Long Left the Barn


Today's lead Washington Post editorial, Arctic Thaw, reaffirms a point of view that has been meaningless for three decades, that moves must be made by the industrial world to slow, prevent and reverse global warming.

Sorry, globe, but that horse left the barn a way long time ago and what was once opportunity galloped away in hot pursuit.

Even the strictest enforcement of the Kyoto Protocols, which we as Americans don't belong to anyway, would merely hope to freeze greenhouse gas production at turn-of-the-century levels and those levels are already melting the planet's ice. So, we are left with the world as it is instead of the world as we would have it. No blame here, no shaking of fists, no screaming across police barriers, just a realization.

Those realizations are going to have a profound affect on nation-building and the real estate and construction industry in all its forms. A new nation will certainly have to be constructed for Holland, a.k.a. the Dutch, a.k.a. the Netherlands as their nation becomes some of the best bass-fishing in Europe. The world population's propensity for building cities along the shores of various oceans will have vast populations tippy-toeing to higher ground and thus the realtors will slap ‘ocean-front' designations on properties upgraded from their old ‘ocean-view' status. Florida will mostly just disappear and who can possibly deserve it more? Ditto Wall Street, Trump Tower and a thousand kosher delicatessens (the deli's will be missed). All in good fun and profits to be made, so we'll learn to cope and roll with the punches.

A punch not so easy to roll with is the inundation of seawater way, way, way upstream in most of the world's important rivers and the corresponding overpowering of a large percentage of freshwater aquifers. Agricultural resources may be halved.

George Carlin once said “I'm tired of all this bitching about the planet being in trouble. The planet is not in trouble, the planet is just fine. People are in trouble." And of course George is absolutely right. That line, which once brought a sort of gotcha-moment of revelation, now brings sort of an oops-look and oops, as we all know, is the past tense of oh-my-god-I-think-I'm-about-to (spill this coffee, drop this ice cream cone, get really wet feet). Anyway, too late to close this barn door.

It all happened on someone else's watch, during someone else's presidency and in the endlessly current quarters of someone else's annual report. It had more scientists shouting and pointing, more experts witnessing and giving testimony and more Greenpeacers driving up and down the oceans in inflatable boats than the public memory could hold in its excitable mind. And thus it became that dreary old scolding with which we soon lost interest. But it's nice to see the Washington Post drag it out again and put it at the head of their editorial page.

Kind of like waving flags at an army long departed.