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The Last Father’s Day

By Joe Romm  

"The Last Father’s Day"

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holiday.jpgSo when will the last Father’s Day be?

Proposed nearly a century agao to honor the “strength and selflessness” of fathers, the underlying premise of the holiday is that fathers selflessly work hard to ensure their children have a better future than they did. Interestingly, “the holiday was not officially recognized until 1972.”

Certainly it made sense to honor the fathers who came from the Greatest Generation, with their grit and determination to win WWII. But on our current path, for the first time in US history, we know with high confidence that thanks to our actions (and our inactions) our children will not face a better future, quite the reverse (see “Is 450 ppm politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity’s self-destruction.”)

No books will be written labeling the Baby Boom generation, the “Greatest Generation” or even the “Second Greatest Generation.” Right now, we’re not even in the top 10.

Selflessness? Try selfishness. We appear unwilling to shift even 1.1% of our fabulous wealth toward the clean energy investments needed to avert catastrophe (see “Must read IEA report, Part 1: Act now with clean energy or face 6°C warming. Cost is NOT high — media blows the story“). Conservative politicians rail against any price whatsoever for carbon dioxide. The supposedly climate-wise candidate of the GOP opposes any subsidies for clean energy, even existing ones, as does most of his party. Politician after politician calls for a Manhattan project or an Apollo program to develop breakthrough technologies, which is the same thing as saying, let someone else deal with the catastrophic problem we created (see “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 3: The breakthrough technology illusion“).

In a few decades, we might see a best-selling book about the baby boomers titled, “The Greediest Generation,” though. Once it becomes clear to all that the Baby Boom is a Bust, that our self-absorbed myopia has doomed the next 50 generations to centuries of sea level rise, widespread desertification, the loss of the inland glaciers, hundreds of millions of environmental refugees, massive species loss and so on, people will wonder what exactly we are celebrating with holidays like Father’s Day.

By mid-century, I’m not sure they’ll be very many holidays at all, other than, of course, Triage Day. Enjoy the new tie while you can, Boomer Dads. The party is almost over.

‹ Bill Nye, confused science guy

UPDATE: Saudis agree with McCain: Cut gasoline taxes! ›

2 Responses to The Last Father’s Day

  1. Ecostew says:

    If we are to move forward on mitigating AGW, the main-stream news media must step up as well as politicans and be informed by our peer-reviewed science – reject the non-science. Let’s see some Father’s step up. Thanks Joe.

  2. Earl Killian says:

    The scary thing about world population is that a log graph of it still looks like an exponential function:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:World_population_curve_-_log_y_scale.png
    I.e. population has been growing faster than exponential!
    8,000 BCE 5 million
    6,000 BCE 10 million (2,000 years to double)
    4,000 BCE 20 million (2,000 years to double)
    2,000 BCE 35 million (2,000 years to almost double)
    500 BCE 100 million (1,500 years to triple)
    1 CE 200 million (500 years to double)
    1000 CE 310 million (1,000 years to grow by 50%)
    1750 CE 791 million (750 years to grow by 150%)
    1900 CE 1,650 million (150 years to double)
    1965 CE 3,335 million (65 years to double)
    2007 CE 6,600 million (42 years to double)
    Yes, most projections have a screeching halt by 2050, but the most likely cause of that is a catastrophe, which might do more than simply halt growth.

    Compound growth is completely incompatible with a finite world except in the short term. Even rates as low as 1% yield huge numbers over the length of human history. For example, take the period in King’s book Farmers of Forth Centuries: 1% growth for 4,000 years (compounded annually) multiplies things by 192,972,369,947,315,104. The current resource usage of anything which we use more than 31,000 tonnes today multiplied by this exceed the mass of the Earth in 4,000 years at 1% growth.