Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October 28, 2015--Fahrenheit 120

"Did you see the piece in the New York Times about a study that concludes that by the year 2100, only eighty-five years from now, areas of the Persian Gulf will be so hot and humid that being outdoors for just a few hours for most people would be deadly?"

Jeff, who mentioned this, is a sober citizen, not prone to being an alarmist. He not a Prepper waiting for a natural apocalypse with a basement full of dried beans, bottled water, and gold coins.

"The study is by a couple of real experts, one from MIT, the other from Loyola Marymount in LA."

"I'm far from an authority on the subject," I said, "But the last I heard we wouldn't get to that dangerous point for another 200 years. Not that that's comforting, though thankfully I'll be long gone. Even Rona as well."

"Please leave me out of this doom and gloom talk," she said, "I'm just trying to get through the days."

"They claim that the deadly weather is largely caused by climate change and that humans are making it worse by the way we live and consume energy."

"If I'm right about recalling the 200 year timetable, why are they now saying we have only 85 years?"

"Though temperatures will routinely hit, 120, it will be life threatening primarily because of the accelerating rise in humidity around the Gulf. That's a new perception. Everyone has been focusing on temperature. The elevated humidity won't allow perspiration to evaporate and thus our bodies will not be able to cool themselves. This will put a deadly strain on the heart and . . ."

"Spare me, please," Rona said, cutting us off, "If you don't mind, pass me the Portland paper. They have a decent gossip column. Not Page Six, but still pretty good."

"I think we're focusing on the wrong thing," Jeff pushed ahead.


"That the Earth's problem is only secondarily about our use of fossil fuels. The real problem is population growth."

"Go on. I think I agree with you."

"Is the Earth really bountiful enough for the current seven billion people? Not only do we have a carbon problem but because of the size of the population we also have a water problem, a protein problem, a habitation problem, an ecological problem, an assets problem, a crime and terrorism problem. I could go on. But my point remains--we're focused on the wrong thing. Our use of energy is a big problem, don't get me wrong, but it pales in comparison to the population problem."

Rona remained buried in the paper.

"If you think political people here are unwilling to confront the science that proves human contributions to climate change, imagine the kind of discussion, non-discussions, we'd have about population control--contraception, abortion, family planning, limiting the number of children permitted. All very hot-button social issues."

"As you know, it's not my inclination to be pessimistic," Jeff raced on, "but it's hard to remain optimistic when faced with all these global issues."

"A year or so ago," I said, "I wrote a piece about population, trying to make a version of the same point. Anecdotally, I mentioned how during my lifetime the population of the United States nearly tripled, up from about 125 million to about 330 million now."

"That's because you're 200 years old," Rona muttered without looking up.

"That's a powerful point," Jeff said, "What would happen if our population tripled again during the next 50-60  years? To about a billion? Forget for the moment the rest of the world. Do you think we could handle a billion people? My guess is we would have some of the same problems as much of Africa, India--totally polluted--and China--even worse."

"And then you're saying there's the Persian Gulf."

Rona looked up at us, "Let me read you this thing about the Kardashians. They're unbelievable."

Before I could say anything, Jeff said, " Please do. I need a little escape."

"Well, it says here that Khloe . . ."

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