Do you remember the Genesis Planet from Star Trek: The Search for Spock? It was created by Dr. Carol Marcus and the Genesis device. Ecologically the planet contained every possible weather system of Earth all “within a few hours walk,” from one another. That meant you could literally stroll from desert conditions to frozen tundras to hurricane level storms all in one leisurely -albeit- wardrobe defying journey. Well the past few weeks have left us here at the The NYRD feeling as if we are living on Genesis with its crazy weather and possible Vulcan graveyard. One day is hot, the next is cold, on the next it’s like Ceti Alpha VI exploded. Looking out the window these days makes us wonder if we should step outside in shorts or a parka, and it has us worried that we may not always “live long and prosper.”
A United Federation of Commitment
Last week, 150 countries made a pledge to cut carbon emissions, lending optimism to supporters that a real climate treaty could be a possibility for France’s 2015 Climate Summit. The United Kingdom, France, and Germany have promised to double their climate spending by 2020. President Obama has laid out a comprehensive plan to cut carbon emissions in the US by regulating power plants and their output of CO2, and more than 80 companies pledged to make big cuts to their emissions. Even more encouraging, a group of countries have agreed to create a $100 billion-a-year green climate fund, which will help fund climate projects around the world, especially in developing nations. These are all very good signs, but unfortunately they are only a start. The truth is that we have yet to feel the full impact of what is to come, and we are still short of realizing any real goals that will be necessary to save the planet from being just another cosmic redshirt.
The commitment of the international community is only going to halt the warming of our planet to about 3 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, most scientists seem to agree that if the temperature of Earth raises by more than 2 degrees the damage to our planet could be catastrophic. It is hoped by many that the estimates of carbon reduction given by the countries are conservative and those amount will increase going forward with better technology and a growing sense of international urgency. More bad news, because damage has already been done. Even containing our levels of global warming below that 2 degree mark still means that we have changed the very balance of our planet’s climate.
The Neutral Zone
Even staying below the 2 degree neutral zone will still mean big changes for the way we live. According to the Proceedings of Natural Sciences who has mined the data of a large selection of different computerized models, they have identified a possible 18 different abrupt climate changes we could experience between now and 2100, even if we stay within conservative warming estimates. The 2 degree limit has been a guardrail of international climate discussions for decades, but we are beginning to realize that any warming -much like any incursion into the Romulan Neutral Zone- could have varying levels of repercussions.
Many simulated models produced events such as: rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, partial or full shutdown of North Atlantic current circulation, and even one model that showed an increased in growth of Indian Ocean sea algae. It is worth noting that other experts have expressed caution about these findings, but they acknowledge that they are not inconsistent with other collected climate change evidence. Messing with Earth’s climate is like letting James T. Kirk monkey around in the past, even the slightest change could alter our future. In fact, if oceans rise a mere meter -3 feet- that still spells a lot of problems for waterfront communities and island nations that could and will lose their homes. Worst of all, this isn’t some future occurrence, this is happening right now. The population of the small island country of Kiribati needs to be evacuated because the country is already sinking and the Maldives could be next.
Climate change is already here and it is already happening. Parts of the Arctic have warmed as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit since 1960. Droughts and desserts are expanding all over the world, -just ask California- including place such as the Amazon, which is slowly losing its ability to cleanse the air of Co2. Miami is on the verge of sinking, having already lost 3.7 inches of beachfront. 2015 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded in human history and the top 5 warmest years ever recorded have happened in the past decade. This is not a problem for just Miamians, the Kiribati, Andorians, Arctic polar bears, or people in the developing world -though developing countries will be disproportionately affected by climate change. It is a problem for everyone, “but Captain, what can we do?”
To Boldly Go
The nerd and geek community has never been shy about showing their commitment to anything. Just ask any Klingon at a Star Trek convention. Well, it is time we get involved again, and not just for us but for all the future Trekkies. What can you do to help? Well there is always the mainstays of recycling, conserving household energy, and carpooling to work, but there is also much more we can do as individuals to help the problem, and the first step is being informed.
One of the most important things you can do is to stay up to date on the science and changes going on in our world today. So much of the climate debate is happening because people are taking what is said on cable news channels at face value. The Internet provides us all with a sort of universal translator. We can take what we hear on the news and certain nerdy/informational websites and go further. We can find out the answers for ourselves. Trust us, it doesn’t take a lot of time to come up with a wealth of resources and opinions on any subject just by doing a simple Google search. The more informed the public is about this -hugely important- topic the harder it will be to fall for misinformation or the scare tactics of the news media.
Secondly, get involved. There are multiple bills currently being considered by the US Congress, and not the least of them is the Keystone Pipeline, or the coming vote to ratify the Paris climate treaty. Let your representatives and congresspeople know how you feel. Remember, back in 1997 the United States signed the Kyoto Protocol on the environment, but it was never submitted for ratification by the Senate. In essence it became just a piece of paper with no binding legal authority. Eighteen years later we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again, because the world followed our example in 1997 and with any luck we can get them to follow it again in 2015. If you do not know who your representative is you can look up their contact information at OpenCongress.org.
I’m a Doctor Not a Weatherman
Regardless of who you are, you can do something, because this planet is worth fighting for. The Federation has the technological ability to terraform planets and heal environmental damage, but we do not. We have to work with what we have and that means slowing and stopping global climate change before it is too late. Our world is going through a change even as you read this, but we can still lessen the severity of those changes and save our world and our civilization from climate chaos. We want to believe that humans have good intentions, even if they sometimes lead us down the path to Gre’Thor.
In the time of Star Trek, the Federation and Starfleet travel the stars. They explore strange new worlds, and seek out new life and new civilizations, but Earth is still their home. Humanity, despite all its technological prowess and drive to go out into the galaxy still cherishes our small blue marble above all else. Perhaps it is ironic that those humans of a fictional future hold Earth in the highest of regards and yet we, a people who are still stuck upon its surface and depend on it for our own lives and health, only rank it as a mild concern or just another political talking point.
Remember the Genesis project resulted in an unstable world of drastic weather and geological shifts. We can’t just let our planet become that, another human failure borne of the best intentions. Green energy independence and other new innovations for slowing carbon emissions are already possible. We just need to have the will to implement them, because this problem can’t be left to The Next Generation. The recent flood of commitments from local, international, and business communities is encouraging, but there needs to be more. If we all do our part, then we can achieve a carbon neutral world. “Yes we KHAAAAAN!”