smoking 40 cigarettes a day. (And wouldn't you know, it's about as bad as it ever was.) This time, however, what I want to talk about is a recent finding that at 6 degrees C increase in oceanic temperature, we could be seeing the end of actually breathable air--not air that is too dirty to safely breathe, but air without enough oxygen to sustain aerobic life. This comes about due to a die-off of the phytoplanktons that produce most of the oxygen in our atmosphere, similar to the die-offs we see in the current mass coral bleaching event.
This is why it's imperative that fossil fuels like coal are quickly phased out in countries like India, which has made the case that as a matter of economic justice, they will continue to use coal due to its price point over other energy sources. Leaving aside that coal has been determined to be irredeemably "dirty" in CO2 terms, and that increasingly severe weather events from climate change, such at the devastating floods occurring just now in the Tamil Nadu region are not without economic impact, they have a point--and my feeling is that economic aid should be gathered in a trust managed by the UN for the purposes of subsidizing the necessary transitions, which needn't be painful, and which may prove to be even more outstandingly effective than low-cost coal use from an economic point of view, once it's off and running. It's necessary to think in these terms, because India's energy needs show no signs of decrease any time soon. (On the other hand, China, which is still using coal hand over fist, should basically just stop because they should, and shouldn't need paying off to do so.)
Currently, the ratio of fossil fuel subsidies compared to climate aid is 40:1. That's ridiculous! Let's be honest, subsidizing fossil fuels in and of itself doesn't represent fairness in the market. And we definitely can't expand our fossil-fuel energy exploration. Take the position of British Prime Minister David Cameron regarding fracking (please!). Fracking is basically the worst. It's causing quakes in Oklahoma. It's potentially as dirty as coal if leaks aren't tended to (they won't be). And the run-off fracking water garbage could harm livestock. And yet this foolish fuel is being expanded in regions which could really suffer in the event of an incident.
I don't know what generation will see the end of breathable air, or at what generation the children of the British Isles are as adrift as those of the Marshall Islands (which is, to be sure, no joke), and other Pacific Island nations, for whom climate change already means genocide. I don't know when we, as a species, will have basically ruined agriculture. I don't have to know that to care now. Making the changes necessary to forestall unthinkable calamity is all I care about.