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Global Warming or Eviction Notices?

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It's May 15th in Sonoma County. I live in the coastal wine region a short 8-mile drive to the Pacific ocean. At this time of year the temperatures are supposed to ranges between highs of 70 and lows in the high 40s. Yesterday it was 94 degrees and today it's supposed to top 104.

There's already talk among wine growers, that in a few short years premium wine grapes will likely have to be grown further north, way further north. Because each years it's getting too hot, too soon and too dry around these parts to reliably produce top-quality grapes. The soil is still willing, but the weather is just getting too squirrelly to take the risk. (Or maybe they can switch from selling premium wines to selling the most expensive raisins on earth.)

Of course that's just a tiny example of the changes going on around the world as global warming begins to show us her stuff. And she's just -- if you will excuse the pun -- warming up.

We had it good, we humans, for a few hundred thousand years. One could say that the Old Testament's Garden of Eden was simply a metaphor for the earth itself. It was so full of stuff, so full of clean water, rich soils, forests, oceans rich with life and food.

Adam and Eve were, the fable goes, told all of it was for them to enjoy ... everything but the fruit of one tree -- the Tree of Knowledge.

What was that a metaphor for?

Turns out it was a metaphor for fossil fuels.. oil and coal. The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Genesis fable promised power through knowledge, and all the real and imagined wealth and pleasures such power might provide.

Fossil fuels promised power through energy, and all the wealth and power that flow from their exploitation and use.

I have no idea if Adam and Eve got a knowledge rush from that bite of their forbidden fruit, but we sure as hell got a rush from ours. Oil and coal fueled an industrial revolution, improved standards of living, revolutionized transportation and allowed food production to keep up with an exploding human population.

We can argue if it was worth it or not. Or, considering the state of science and technology way back when those decisions were made, whether humans had any real choice in the matter. It would have been very unlike humans to just turn their backs on such opportunity. Or to imagine those folks couple of hundred years ago sitting around debating the potential environmental or moral implications of using these two readily available and dirt cheap sources of energy. (And I think we can safely assume not one of them flashed on my Forbidden Fruit theory.)

Nevertheless, oil and coal have become suspects No. 1 & 2 when it comes to the troubles developing in our Garden of Eden. We haven't yet been banished, but the signs are worrisome. The earth, as we've known it during our lives, and back more generations than anyone can remember, is changing -- fast -- and not for the better.

The God of the Old Testament fable only had two perps to deal with, and he did so post haste. The only signs those two got was they were shown the door on their way out. This time around there's 6.7 billion residents and, unlike Adam and Eve who were fictional characters in a cautionary tale, every one of those folks is very real, and there's more joining them every second.

But, one (and I'm the one) can claim that the eviction process has already begun. Look no further than the typhoon in Burma. And there's another one heading their way as I write this. Maybe 50,000 died immediately and more will certainly perish in the weeks ahead, victims of heat building up in the atmosphere and oceans. The earth's way of purging heat from her systems is with tornadoes, hurricanes and cyclones and typhoons. The hotter the atmosphere and seas get, the stronger these storms will get, and their numbers will rise dramatically as well.

Here in America we are seeing the same trend. Tornadoes have raked the middle of the country this year in numbers and severity never before recorded. Historically those regions could expect about 400 tornadoes to touch down during an average May. This year we've already seen more than double that many and the month's only half over.

Another troubling sign is the way the human herd seemed to suddenly "sniff the wind" recently and conclude that all this is likely to lead to food shortages. Already rice and wheat are at historically high prices and many countries are hoarding supplies.

The first to suffer will be those living in the world's perennially troubled regions like the Sudan, Bangladesh and other dirt-poor regions where political turmoil, drought, floods, storms, or in some cases all the above -- have required ongoing food aide from developed countries. That aid is drawn from food surpluses, surpluses that have nearly entirely disappeared. The result will be mass starvation -- the ultimate eviction notice.

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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