Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kill the Poor

In an article on climate change in the latest issue of Wired magazine, Peter Schwartz offers grounds for hope that we can still turn things around:

Around AD 800, things got weirdly hot; Antarctic ice cores show atmospheric CO2 peaking then at 285 parts per million. Around 1300, CO3 levels started dropping, and by 1600 that number had decreased to as low as 275 ppm. According to [climatologist William] Ruddiman, humans caused that nosedive, too—by dying in large numbers: In the 14th century, about one-third of Europe's population died in the Black Plague, and around the same time, some 50 million Native Americans were being wiped out by European germs. The much-reduced surviving population burned less wood and coal, grew less food, and even allowed wooded areas to grow back.

Schwartz reckons we can do even better today. But where to begin?

No comments: