I love my employer.
I work at the Salt Lake City library(main branch), and I absolutely love the place. Spectacular building. Wonderful atmosphere. Well-designed children’s area. Great staff. And a commitment to providing terrific and stimulating programs for the community.
Among these programs are a number of lectures on a variety of topics, usually by visiting authors. In the last year or so, I’ve attended lectures by such speakers as Joel S. Hirschhorn, author of Sprawl Kills; and Joe Wilson, of the “Valerie Plame Leak” fiasco (and who, incidentally, told us he had purchased a house in Utah, and was now to be at least a part-time resident. Cool).
Last Thursday I attended the latest of the library’s lectures: Tim Flannery, author of the recent book The Weather Makers : How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth. Flannery, a renowned paleontologist, examined how humanity has impacted the world, and is driving a very dangerous climate change.
I’ve been very concerned about the environment for several years now. I do what I can to recycle, reduce consumption, etc, and supported legislative action on the subject. But for most of that time, I’ve been ambivalent about “global warming.” I don’t have the science background to evaluate the claims on both sides of the issue. The point seems moot to me anyway—there are enough more local concerns (at any given locality) to lead one to be more environmentally conscious.
But my opinion has become more firm over the last few years. Despite the protestations of those on the Right, there is a virtual consensus among the scientific community about the reality of global climate change. While there have always been fluctuations in the earth’s average temperature, the changes over the past several years have followed the model established by those who proposed the theory of global warming. Really the only scientists who reject the idea of global warming are those who are paid by the corporate world not to believe in global warming.
Flannery’s lecture was pretty persuasive in its presentation of the evidence of global warming (or “global climate change,” as he likes to call it—he thinks people are lulled into a false sense of security when we use friendly terms like “warming”). And he made clear that global climate change would likely reach a critical level within our lifetime if things go unchanged. This is no distant danger—we are speeding headlong towards the tipping point from which there may be no return.
The lecture was fascinating. I’m adding the book to my list of books to read.