III. Man vs. Nature
In the early days of the American environmental movement, the rallying cry was “save the environment.” Today, the rallying cry of the progressive left is “save the planet.”
From 1968 to 2008, the issue of the environment has been divided, systematized, globalize, and polarized into trying to understand how man’s actions may or may not be the root cause for the speeding up of intense heating changes around the planet. This change in temperature is being debated as to the actual harm or impact to the ecological systems that support planetary “normal life.”
At the dawn of this new millennium, the debate over climate change and the environment was moved into a new state of existence. Extremism in climate changes and weather events framed a dual track platform where the forces of nature hammered nations, coasts, states, and regions with a new sense of eco-reality. Track I was Nature stormed and raged. Track II became a path, along which Mankind met, talked, debated, and polluted.
The question of how and on what terms man would co-exists with nature soon became entangled in the realization of a new shift in how natural environmental systems were responding to increased heating of the planet. One of the realizations of the 21st Century is that it doesn’t matter anymore as to who is at fault over the heating of the planet. What matters now is how do we as humans plan to survive a rapidly changing extreme climate landscape.
The first step toward a rational plan is to admit that there is a problem. The American Geophysical Union is an association of scientists from all disciplines of natural science studies.
In 2007, the AGU made this statement regarding the debate over man vs. nature within the issue of climate change.:
Human Impacts on Climate
Revised and Reaffirmed December 2007.
The Earth's climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century. Global average surface temperatures increased on average by about 0.6°C over the period 1956–2006.
As of 2006, eleven of the previous twelve years were warmer than any others since 1850. The observedrapid retreat of Arctic sea ice is expected to continue and lead to the disappearance of summertime ice within this century. Evidence from most oceans and all continents except Antarctica shows warming attributable to human activities. Recent changes in many physical and biological systems are linked with this regional climate change. A sustained research effort, involving many AGU members and summarized in the 2007 assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, continues to improve our scientific understanding of the climate.
During recent millennia of relatively stable climate, civilization became established and populations have grown rapidly. In the next 50 years, even the lower limit of impending climate change—an additional global mean warming of 1°C above the last decade—is far beyond the range of climate variability experienced during the past thousand years and poses global problems in planning for and adapting to it. Warming greater than 2°C above 19th century levels is projected to be disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity, causing widespread loss of biodiversity, and—if sustained over centuries—melting much of the Greenland ice sheet with ensuing rise in sea level of several meters. If this 2°C warming is to be avoided, then our net annual emissions of CO2 must be reduced by more than 50 percent within this century. With such projections, there are many sources of scientific uncertainty, but none are known that could make the impact of climate change inconsequential. Given the uncertainty in climate projections, there can be surprises that may cause more dramatic disruptions than anticipated from the most probable model projections.
These first few years of the 21st century have shown man just how fragile is the hold mankind has on placement within the planetary dynamics of physical laws. In this struggle of who will dominate and direct the resources of the earth into the 21st Century, man, in his arrogance, is not a match for the wrath of an angry planet.
Nature wins, always.