Climate change to require extraordinary measures

How do you feel about space elevators? Supposedly the technology is doable, and some pessimistic souls think we may need them to build orbital habitats for the survivors of uncontrolled global warming/climate change.

Not ready for space elevators? Me either. But we are on track to needing extraordinary measures.

We have just passed an important milestone. The premiere atmospheric monitoring station on Mauna Loa and counterparts elsewhere have measured the carbon dioxide content of the air as 400 parts per million – up from the 350 ppm level top scientists consider the maximum for safety.

With that benchmark comes consequences: storms, floods, heat waves, droughts, rising seas.

And with increasing greenhouse gas levels comes an even deadlier threat: the prospect that we will not be able to halt the resulting climate change. If we do not take timely action now to mitigate warming, we will be forced to adapt to an ever-more hostile planet.

Mitigation means building a new energy system not based on fossil fuels, rendering existing energy uses more efficient, preventing greenhouse gas emissions and even extracting them from the atmosphere.

Adaptation means unending and ultimately unsuccessful struggles to contain wildfires, armoring coastal cities against rising seas and preserving water supplies endangered by melting glaciers.

Or, if you don’t like those alternatives, you may want to consider survival aboard an orbital habitat.

Byron W. Baker