Saturday, January 09, 2010

Climate change

The dessicated nothingness of Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter.

I'm currently reading City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism. While only slightly related to the book's main topic, I found this excerpt rather interesting:
As late as the 1930s, the British explorer Bertram Thomas, who roamed southeast Arabia for six years, met tribesmen who told him the rains had stopped in their lifetimes, with the date crop dropping by half and farmers abandoning the land.
Among the warnings of those who espouse the dangers of global warming is not simply a rise in temperature but also the effect on climate, manifested by things like shifts in weather and precipitation patterns. There seem to be only two ways of interpreting the excerpt, however: either anthropogenic climate change was taking place back in the 1930s or climate change and shifting weather has been a persistent fact during the earth's existence.

If the first interpretation is accepted, then it seems treaties based on the Kyoto protocol or other agreements are rather futile, as there is simply no plausible scenario under which emissions are scaled back to their level in the 1930s or earlier. If the second interpretation is accepted, then global treaties to rein in various emissions seem to be a waste of time.

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