I found a beautiful new screen saver on-line:
It is a composite photograph taken from space, showing Earth in the depths of winter. Here in exile, it reminds me of home. There is Canada, literally a big white mass. The great white north. Snow and ice stops almost exactly at its southern border.
Mon pays, c’est l’hiver.
But one other thought strikes me.
Global warming, if it is happening, is a good thing. Man has an effect on the environment? It is about time. Why shouldn’t we improve the environment, just as we have improved on nature in other ways?
Science fiction authors talk about “terraforming” other planets. But in fact, the Earth is far from ideal for man now. If we got seriously into tinkering with the climate of Earth, we could probably support many times the population we have, in far greater comfort.
Those big white areas, north and south, can be dealt with by global warming. So far, so good. Some of it becomes habitable, when it was not. Some becomes pleasant to live in, when it was not. Some can support two crops a year, instead of one. All to the good. Not to mention opening new shipping passages and so forth.
Nor does this mean the tropics become unusable. The hottest places on earth, the tropics, are the most fertile. Global warming, they say, will mostly affect the poles, not the tropics; but change here would presumably not reduce yields anyway.
Yes, there are vast deserts at the edges of the tropics: most of Africa is pale, sandy brown; all but a small fringe of Australia; a big swath through Central Asia.
Here we come to another advantage of global warming: they say that, with the polar ice caps melting, more water will be released into the ecosystem.
Well, darn it all. Now we have what we need to make the deserts fertile as well. At worst, all that is left is a problem with transport. Somebody one of these days is going to develop a really cheap method of desalinization, or cloud-forming, and we’re off to the races.
But, they say, water levels will rise in the oceans. Maybe so—I suspect we can use all the water in the deserts, but there may be some residue.
So what? It is high time we started colonizing the sea anyway. In the southern hemisphere, most of the temperate belt, the most pleasant climate to live in, is under water, under the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific. How terrible would it be if everyone had their own island in the South Pacific?
Floating islands, I’m presuming. With desalinization to supply water, and fish farming for food. At present, we only hunt and gather the oceans; imagine if we were still hunting and gathering on land.
At present, looking at that satellite photo, we are really using only in small strips of that satellite image: two thirds of the earth is ocean. Of the remaining third, perhaps one third is ice, and one third is desert. We are left with one ninth of Earth to live on. If that much can support six billion, we should be supporting fifty-four billion.
Which leads to one last observation: we’ve got to start having more children.