Credit: Mark Weiss
Stronger hurricanes, melting Arctic ice, warmer temperatures, higher sea levels. If you think global warming has no effect on your daily life, you are sadly mistaken (and probably not a frequent visitor to this site or a Seed subscriber). As Earth Day approaches, as it does routinely at this time of year, our editors noticed that a focus on environmentalism, especially climate change, is finally at its “tipping point” in mainstream America. Granted, our nation is a little behind places like Brazil, the UK, NASA’s Goddard Institute and the Seed offices in recognizing this grave threat to our planet, but now that the problem has been identified, what are our options?
The new issue of Seed deals with just that question. In the following seven features, columns and inserts from the magazine, we offer warnings, criticism, advice and guidelines for dealing with the most immediate danger of 21st century life.
(Click on the picture below to read each story)
As climate change makes its presence felt across America, the reaction will manifest as a broad-based political movement. Chris Mooney takes a look at how global warming will change the United States—and, with time, American politics.
STATE OF THE PLANET 2006 Whether this or future Earth Days help solve any particular environmental problems won’t matter a bit, unless we tackle the biggie—climate change. Bill McKibben, who sounded the alarm two decades ago with his landmark book The End of Nature, reviews the damage and points the way forward. The x-factor in preventing catastrophe, he says, will be whether the American public—with its financial and cultural power to move mountains—sort of gets it, or really gets it.
STATE OF THE PLANET A graphical look at what we’ve done and where we’re going
E-CARDS FOR THE EARTH I have an e-mail account and I will use it.
THE SEED SALON: LAURIE DAVID + STEPHEN SCHNEIDER When Laurie David began recruiting scientists to appear in a documentary on global warming, she remembered Stephen Schneider’s informed and articulate comments in the wake of hurricane Katrina, and immediately invited him to participate. David’s film, Too Hot Not To Handle, aired on HBO on Earth Day, April 22nd, and features Schneider, among other experts. When they caught up recently to deliberate the state of the planet, Schneider and David had no shortage of fodder for discussion.
CRIBSHEET #4: HYBRID CARS Problem: We drive cars that waste most of the stored energy in the gasoline they run on. Worse, these already-inefficient engines spew noxious gases that pollute our atmosphere.
RAINFORESTS: CARBON SINK or CARBON SOURCE? Everything you thought you knew about the rainforest may soon prove completely wrong. In a remote portion of Costa Rican jungle, a team of ecologists is measuring every known quantity about tropical forests—every piece of gunk that falls to the ground, every wisp of carbon that rises to the sky, how much air goes into the soil, what the bugs are eating. And they’re finding that as the temperature rises from global warming, the rainforest—long thought to be a repository of greenhouse gas—grows more slowly. This discovery, and the data they’ve collected since making it, indicate that if the rainforest’s temperature crosses a certain as-yet unknown threshold, there’s a very good chance the trees will begin to decay, emitting carbon instead of storing it. And we all know what that means.
Originally published April 16, 2006