Monday, March 27, 2006

"There will be no polar ice by 2060,"

Go to your sink and turn the faucet on. Look at what the water does as it hits the sink. It spreads radially for a few inches and suddenly forms a little shelf of water. This shelf is the point at which the forces of gravity and friction overcome the energy of the moving water and stop it. Notice what the water does not do--it does not gradually yield to opposing forces and slowly ramp up. A tree, when being cut, does not gradually fall with an evenly-increasing speed until it hits the ground. Once the force of gravity overcomes the energy of the tree's own strength as you cut away at it--timber, it falls.

I first read this observation about opposing forces years ago (I probably learned about it in another way in middle school, but forgot). At that time, my very first thought was the environment. Global Warming was becoming big news at that time. This was before 2004, the year that rates of global temperature increases blew all natural scientific models to bits, virtually confirming the theory. At that time, people talked in terms of a lengthy process of imperceptible changes over the course of hundreds, maybe thousands, of years. I thought to myself, "that is not correct. Eventually the energies working against the current climate system will overcome that system and its fall will be swift and observable." I thought to myself that it will take only a single generation to change from the current system to a new one, which may or may not support humans at our current population levels. It might be ten, or a hundred, or a thousand years before that generation arrives, but when it does, it will not be subtle, it will be swift.

Well, it may be that David's is that generation.

No comments: