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November 01, 2012

Sandy's Delayed Effects: Anxiety & the Demand for Weed

On November 7 2000, after voting for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, I went to bed close to midnight thinking they had a safe lead, but the next morning, I awakened to find- along with millions of others- that the election was still in doubt. As we now know, it was eventually settled in December by an unprecedented act of Supreme Court arrogance and dubious Constitutionality. In its aftermath, Joe Lieberman ultimately became a Republican and Al Gore, the disappointed Presidential candidate, went on to become an advocate for the idea that Earth's climate is being altered by carbon dioxide emissions produced by human activity, and slowly accumulating in the upper atmosphere for centuries, but are now influencing Earth's climate by trapping heat through their “greenhouse effect.” Debate over that hypothesis was quickly politicized along party lines; Republicans were almost unanimous in ridiculing it or condemning it as a "hoax," while Democrats were generally more supportive, although with considerably less fervor than their GOP counterparts.

The non-partisan effects have been mostly commercial: industry after industry has loudly proclaimed itself "Green," which almost overnight became the color of sustainability, whatever the impact on CO2 production. Although Gore popularized the idea of a Greenhouse Effect; it was neither original with him nor particularly new, having first been proposed in 1824 and subsequently concurred in by several well-known scientists by 1900. What had been lacking from those earlier speculations had been the ability to measure atmospheric CO2 concentrations, a capability that became available in the 20th Century and has, along with ice core measurements, lent considerable credence to the idea the Earth is gradually warming.

There has also been recent weather history: readily available in news accounts documenting a steady rise in the planet's average temperature in concert with an increase in the number of "extreme" weather events: Katrina in 2004, Irene last year, and Sandy this month; to say nothing of monster tornados in the Midwest capable of destroying whole cities in an afternoon. That the possibility such events were not random was barely mentioned in the mainstream media, is a circumstance that tends to confirm my own fear that the planet is most likely in the early stages of coastal inundation, as this blog has been suggesting for over five years (a search reveals five separate entries, all written before 2009).

Perhaps the disappointment I've often expressed at conflict between the obvious cognitive ability of our own species and its unwillingness to deal with equally obvious reality will become more understandable.

In any event, until global leaders can even agree that we have a climate crisis, I see little reason for optimism. As for my favorite cause: pot legalization, it seems even further in the future. One bright spot is that its illegal market, despite recent (and effective) federal pressure on "dispensaries" should continue to thrive, based on continued demand for an effective short-acting anxiolytic that should continue to be generated by serial weather disasters.

FWIW, the most overlooked factor of all in increased CO2 production is the spectacular (but never discussed) growth in human population over roughly the same time interval that CO2 production has become a problem.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at November 1, 2012 09:23 PM