I must admit that some days it hardly seems worth the effort to get out of bed. I've suffered from intermittent bouts of depression all my life, but as the years go by, I've gotten used to the gathering storm. I batten down the hatches and ride it out. The emotional storm weakens, the clouds break up and the danger passes. More and more, I've come to realize that—at least for me—depression is simply an understandable, appropriate reaction to an insane, deteriorating world. There's no shame in it.
I was having a very bad day when I turned on the TV and switched over to the The Gambling Channel (aka. CNBC) to see how the markets were doing. A few seconds after I put it on, I found myself watching the next segment in their What If series, and a few minutes after that, suicide did not seem like such an unreasonable option.
Before I tell you what Erin Burnett and Friends were talking about, let's to turn to what's happening on the Earth in 2010. First, this year is tied with 1998 as the hottest year in the instrumental climate record—
For January–September 2010, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.5°F) and tied with 1998 as the warmest January–September period on record.
Lest you think this is some kind of random accident, consider that almost every year in the aughts has been a top-five year for the Earth's surface temperatures, and it's not due to conditions on the Sun. Joe Romm has some of the details—
And again, the record warmth that we are seeing this year is all the more powerful evidence of human-caused warming “because it occurs when the recent minimum of solar irradiance is having its maximum cooling effect,” as a recent must-read NASA paper notes:
- NASA: The 12-month running mean global temperature has reached a new record in 2010 — despite recent minimum of solar irradiance. “We conclude that global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade” and “there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20°C/decade that began in the late 1970s."
This year's heat has caused a severe coral bleaching event in the Coral Triangle where the Indian and Western Pacific oceans meet. Don't know what coral bleaching is? Join the crowd!
According to a recent Yale University survey, 75 percent of Americans have not heard of coral bleaching...
Corals are highly sensitive to changes in temperature, and extreme conditions are stressful for these animals. Stressed corals expel the symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) that usually live within their tissues. These algae are important because they use the sun’s energy through photosynthesis to provide corals with a critical source of nourishment and also give them their vivid and beautiful colors. Without the algae, the corals reveal their white skeleton beneath, causing them to appear “bleached.” Bleaching weakens corals, making them more vulnerable to diseases and other stressors. While a bleached coral can recover, if stressful physical conditions persist, it can die.
It's not surprising that Americans don't know much about this year's bleaching disaster. Learning about it requires that you consult the Australian media, whereas 49% of Americans don't know how long it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun. I wonder how many of them could spot the Indian Ocean or Malaysia on a world map. The news Down Under is not good.
They say that the coral death could be the most damaging bleaching event ever recorded. It has hit the area known as the Coral Triangle, which has more than 500 coral species making it the richest marine biodiversity zone on the planet.
But over the past six months, there have been some significant changes. Andrew Baird, from the ARC Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, says the bleaching is far-reaching.
"A lot of reports have come in from the Andaman Sea — so Thailand down [to] Singapore, Malaysia — the scale is huge," he said. "It probably extends from the Western Indian Ocean, right across into the Coral Triangle and also there's bleaching in the Philippines and it's starting to get hot in the Pacific.
"So it looks like this event will be as big as the last global bleaching event which was 1998."
Dr Baird has been working in Aceh on the boundary of the Coral Triangle. He says the impact there has been severe. "What we've seen there is a bleaching event that was caused by hot water back in May and what we've documented is about 80 per cent of the Acropora, which is typically the most predominant coral species... are dead," he said.
There's an audio segment from Radio Australia if you want to know more about this year's eco-disaster.
Which brings me back to CNBC's What If episode. What was it about? Erin Burnett led a discussion of how much we could pare down the deficit or pay other government expenses if the Federal Government sold off all the National Parks and Monuments, meaning if we auctioned off Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountain, Sequoia, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Great Sand Dunes, the Grand Canyon, Glacier, Bryce Canyon, Big Bend, Badlands, Arches and all the other irreplaceable National Parks to condo developers or other scoundrels who can't find useful work.
I had hiked in many of these beautiful places. Those are some of my best, most cherished memories. Our National Parks are priceless. It turns out we could pay off last year's budget deficit and next year's too if we sell off Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon and the all the rest. Whew, I thought—it's good to know what we could do in a pinch!
As I told you, I was already feeling very depressed as I watched this atrocity, mouth agape, not quite believing what I was watching. What's going on? This can't be happening. Tell me they're not discussing this! Was this yet another trick by the Prince of Darkness to get me to give up the ghost? Maybe it really was time open the oven, stick my head in, and turn on the gas.
But I recovered from my Dark Mood, as I always do, even knowing that rapacious, thoughtless human beings—so many are selfish and greedy beyond measure—are bound and determined to destroy this world, all of it, every square inch, until they can't get away with it anymore because Nature Bats Last.
Enjoy the video.
It's not all bad—we could put up condos on the White House lawn!