Saturday, March 24, 2012

Creeping Reality -- Climate Change

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"Venus Loop" is a science fiction novella depicting how climate change spawned by industrial pollution destroyed a civilization on the planet Venus long ago.  Such sci-fi visions of ecological catastrophe are nothing new, of course.  Percival Lowell's vision of the planet Mars as a dying world ravaged by drought and rung by irrigation canals inspired a generation of science fiction writers, such as Edgar Rice Burroughs.

But, as it so often does, reality seems to be catching up with science fiction. As real-life climate change continues to intensify right here on Earth, the state of Texas is facing record-breaking stretches of scorching temperatures.  (And, its not even summer, yet!)  In addition to the disastrous wildfires Texas has suffered, this heat wave is also causing devastating drought.  Water shortages in the Lonestar state are forcing its people to drastically re-examine their water use and conservation policies.  In an eerie shade of Lowell and Burroughs, the town of Robert Lee, TX is now building a 12-mile water pipeline to convey water from the neighboring town of Bronte.  See story:

Will massive trans-continental canals such as Lowell imagined on Mars one day become the new reality on Earth?Even now, water shortages in Texas are beginning to spawn disputes between the farmers, residents and tourists in the state.  It's not hard to envision a whole new kind of Texan range war over water rights in the not-too-distant future.

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has recently been covering the widespread effects of climate change, (see above links) including rising sea levels which threaten coastal habitation in several countries, including the United States.  Such coverage is a good sign, since the American news media have been remiss in covering this vital issue.  Despite such ecological disasters, and the consistent warnings of the world's leading climatologists, the American public remains widely skeptical about climate change, choosing to believe in the pseudo-scientific (and completely unsupported) fantasy that climate change is nothing more than a naturally recurring cycle that will run its course as it supposedly has in the past.  The public did briefly grasp the enormity of the climate change emergency, but that was before the economy tanked, leaving people more concerned with the immediate problem of how to find jobs, than with the larger concern of what kind of world their children might inherit.  Now, with fuel prices rising, dire circumstances like those in Texas hitting home, and public disfavor toward corporate America still simmering, perhaps the public will finally begin to support common-sense legislation that would reduce carbon output by taxing companies that pollute and giving the money back to the energy consumers, and by financially rewarding companies that advance non-polluting forms of alternative energy.

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