The World is Ending… Gwynne said so…

Gwynne Dyer The world is ending, run for the hills. Gwynne Dyer said so, it must be true.

Ok, so he didn’t actually say it was ending but he covered some pretty gloomy topics and delivered some alarming stats at his talk at Waikato University tonight that might lead you to believe that it was. When I got home Kym asked me for a summary of the talk at the end of which she said “So was it all Doom and Gloom?“, but I guess that is the role of a journalist like Gwynne and the topics he covers. He’s in the business of informing people about broad reaching global influences and encouraging people to think about how they might themselves do something to make a change.

Dyer gave us a round-up of issues he thought weren’t a big problem, some others he thought were a problem, and a few more that were problems he was really worried about. If you’re a regular reader of his newspaper columns (which are widely syndicated, including by our local Waikato Times) you’ll know that he is a reporter who focuses on problems, so when he says he’s particularly worried about any of them then you can be sure they are issues to be taken seriously.

Some of the issues that made it into the less serious camp included American withdrawl from Iraq and Afghanistan (they will bounce back in their own natural way and time), Oil supply issues (the vendors will always need to sell their oil, to buy food and comodities), the conflict between Georgia/the West and Russia (storm in a teacup).

The issue that he really reinforced as more serious centred around Global warming, its likely affect on traditional food growing regions of the planet, potential conflict between nations over food supply, and the very real potential for catastrophic global thermal runaway that will be beyond our control if temperatures rise by more than the two or three degrees that is expected to result in this.

So was it really all Doom and Gloom? Dyer did discuss some Geo-Engineering options that are being considered to help defer the onset and initial impact of global warming but these are stop gaps which dont offer a solution to the problem of escalating warming. The scientific consensus is apparently that we are unlikely to be able to react in time to stop the process, and that global industrialisation in nations whose “turn it is” now clearly isnt helping.

So where do we go from here? I dont know that there really was any clear message from the speaker regarding this, other than looking at technology for energy generation options with less impact, doing what we can to reduce our input into warming, considering Geo-Engineering options and such like. I get the sense that there’s a big helping of good luck and timing required, but one relatively comforting outcome from the talk came right at the end when Dyer said…

“I’m not quite ready to cut my throat… yet”