Getting warmer:
Doom, no. Ease, no. But between the two lies truth on climate.

The issue of global warming suffers from a bipolar disease.

The manic side says it's nothing to worry about. The depressive side says the end of the world is near.

It's really close to an insane situation. The only cure is practical moderation, based on thrift and evidence.

We know for certain in New Mexico that drought is a way of life and that too many people using too much water puts everyone in grave danger. We also know that even Exxon Mobil Corp., in its 2005 report, "The Outlook for Energy: A 2030 View," estimated we have only until 2010 before peak oil production starts to decline and gas prices skyrocket.

Any sensible, thrifty person knows that rail travel, to import food and goods and convey commuters across the distances of the fifth-largest state in the union, is essential. America's economy is founded on inexpensive and plentiful oil and water. When that goes, it doesn't take a genius to understand that our society will suffer a severe transition if it hasn't planned ahead.

And we know for sure that, tragically, we have not planned for anything but more of the same. And more of the same just ain't in the cards.

We're going to get caught flat-footed. The transition could be fatal for many. But I don't doubt that we'll get to the other side. It's just a matter of how many of us make it and what the other side looks like. Is it some tyranny of warlords, or a world community that works in its own best interests?

Global warming itself seems now almost pass‚. The debate has become so absurd it's virtually meaningless.

On the doom-and-gloom side we have British scientist James Lovelock, a nuclear advocate and creator of the Gaia hypothesis. And on the Mad Magazine "What? Me Worry?" side we have conservative columnist George Will and his support of a Danish optimist and ostrich, Bjorn Lomborg, whose recent book is "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming."

Lovelock, in Rolling Stone's November issue, says the human race is all but done for. Global warming will kill 6 billion of us by the end of the century and leave Phoenix, Miami, London and Beijing uninhabitable, without food or water.

Will, in Newsweek's Oct. 22 issue, says global warming, "although real, is not apt to be severe" and that "many of its consequences will be beneficial." He says that trying to "fine-tune the planet's climate" could wreck the global economy. Losing his cool, he says this could "cause more . . . preventable death . . . than was caused . . . by Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot combined."

New Mexicans don't need to read tea leaves to know that the future will swamp us with expensive gasoline, expensive water and crazy winds and weather undermining our way of life - because we did almost nothing to protect ourselves, to increase our thrift and face the evidence.

V.B. Price is an Albuquerque free-lance writer, author, editor and commentator.
November 2, 2007