Day Two on PopTech! Earned the distinction as the Conference Most Likely to Induce Whiplash. The morning sessions were devoted to dire predictions of the incipient meltdown of the planet, the afternoon to the potential of video games to save them –- or at least the hope that kids smart enough to play “World of War” will also be smart enough to figure out a strategy to save our sorry butts.
Mark Lynas, author of “High Tide,” showed truly alarming pictures of glaciers taken 10 years apart. If anybody doubted that global warming was for real, these images would put that speculation to rest in a terrifyingly vivid way.
Lynas, who’s British, made no bones about his contempt for the current American administration, but politics aside, his data should strike fear in the hearts of the most recalcitrant nay-sayer.
Temperatures are higher than they have been for 5,000 years according to glaciologists from the Andes to the Alps, he says. Stuff that’s been buried for this long is suddenly bubbling to the surface. The World Glacier Monitoring Service (run out of Switzerland) –- says 90% of world’s glaciers are retreating.
Lynas ran through a range of scenarios that are likely to occur with one degree of warming, up to six. Even small increases, he says, are likely to trigger dramatic triggers. With two degrees of warming, for example, one third of all species will be extinct. That means the end of polar bears, walruses, and empire penguins. At five degrees, you can say good bye to coastal cities from New York to Bombay.
Why aren’t more folks more alarmed? “We’re like the frogs being boiled in a pot,” he says. With Wilma bearing down, we seem to have passed beyond simmer.