Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do We All Need To Take A Field Trip to Antarctica?

Antarctica: photo by Michael Reichmann
Trip to Antarctica January 2009, Photographer: Michael Reichmann

I've decided that now is the time to expand this blog. Here's why.

This past weekend in Cape Town South Africa the Huffington Post reported on a get-together of a couple dozen influential people taking a field trip to Antarctica. According to the article there were delays because of bad weather during which Lord Nicholas Stern, the eminent British economist, updated the group on just how bad the outlook is for the world economy and political stability if we don't immediately address the causes of climate change. Yes, it looks like we are putting CO2 into the atmosphere even faster since 2000 than we were in the 1990s according to a report by the Carnegie Institution for Science (February 14 article in the Huffington Post). Not only that but the same institution was reported by the CBC in January as saying some of the damage done is already irreversible for a few thousand years. As the travellers in South Africa waited, Lord Stern warned of millions of people being displaced and "extended world war" over increasingly limited resources. Frightening indeed, but Stern is still optimistic that we can avoid the worst of these if we act now.

A recent World Watch Institute report stated: "Global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak before 2020 and decrease drastically until 2050..." and "More CO2 will have to be absorbed than emitted in the second half of this century."
(January 14, 2009 BBC article "World 'needs radical cuts' on CO2")

Part of me just had to laugh. Do they really think this is possible? For Westerners it's easy to come up with reasons not to try. It's going to cost a bit of money up front even if it does pay us back in the long run. People are happy with their lives right now and don't want to change.

But the way I see it, if it needs to be done, then we just have to do it.

My partner and I lead a relatively low carbon existence already, living downtown without a car and eating our share of organic and locally grown food, but we could certainly do more. So I'm expanding this blog to figure out what else we can do to improve things. Being an urbanite with a background in architecture I'm going to look at city living, good design, green design, art and communities. A few field trips to see what's going on in other places and what other people are doing would be fun too. As for going to Antarctica, here's a video clip from last night's Daily Planet of some Canadian students landing on this great continent for the first time and here's a link with information on an upcoming exhibit of photographs at the Luminous Landscape Gallery in Toronto in March.

Let me know what you think.

Referenced articles on what the biggest research organizations have been saying in the last 2 months:

"World 'needs radical cuts' on CO2" by Tanya Syed BBC News January 14, 2009

"Some climate damage irreversible: report" from the Associated Press CBC January 27, 2009

"Global Warming Increasing Faster Than Predicted" by Randolph E. Schmid Huffington Post February 14, 2009

"Lord Nicholas Stern Paints Dire Climate Change Scenario: Mass Migrations, Extended World War" by Charles J Hanley Huffington Post February 21, 2009

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