WE ALL KNOW that greenhouse gases will destroy all life on the planet (with the exception of coral reefs, apparently, which are poised to do quite nicely), but do you realise just how quickly the march of doom is progressing? According to the national broadcaster's Sarah Clarke, yet another quality journalist, the surge in atmospheric greenhouse gases is witnessing hikes that are approaching the exponential.
"With global greenhouse gases now 58 per cent higher than two decades ago," Clarke told viewers of last night's 7 o'clock news, "scientists warn there is no time for complacency." (The claim comes at about the clip's 2 minute mark).
As Clarke's commentary followed hot on the heels of an animated Indian gentleman's announcement that we are poisoning the future for all the world's little children, this news dropped into the Billabong with a most unsettling splash. Truth be told, global warming has always struck The Professor as nothing less than poetic justice. Young Master Bunyip was a dreadful, noisy, annoying and expensive child in his formative years, forever being dragged to hospital or police station, depending on whether or not his latest virus was more toxic than its host. Given the cost, concern and legal costs he inflicted on his poor parents, an adult existence spent diving for scraps in the flooded ruins of our major cities has long seemed no less than he deserved. The Professor would be long gone by that stage, having drifted off to the Great Beyond on an air-conditioned cloud of profligate energy consumption, so why give a toss?
Could that grand timetable be in jeopardy? If Clarke's claim of a 58 per cent hike over 20 years was accurate then things must be heating up far too quickly, despite the fact that it remains too cold in Melbourne for the kikuyu grass to flourish at the golf course. There might not even be time to empty the cellar before soaring temperatures turn all the reds to vinegar!
It was with some relief, therefore, that a moment's googling turned up a ledger recording atmospheric CO2 all the way back to 1958, when the killer gas is said to have been running at 314.62 parts per million. Today's number is put at 391.57 ppm, which would indicate a jump of roughly 30 per cent over 53 years. As for Clarke's specified, two-decade time span, CO2 levels stood at a recorded 356.38 ppm in 1992, which is some 35 ppm less than today and quite easy to calculate, even by someone with nothing more useful than a media degree.
As a quality journalist, Clarke wouldn't just make this stuff up, no matter how keen her warmist sympathies. Nor would she simply parrot the propaganda fed to her by activists, as that would be stenography rather than journalism and entirely unworthy of a reporter whose labours are underwritten by the public purse.
So where did that figure of 58 per cent come? In the unlikely event that the ABC's in-house complaints department deems this mystery worthy of investigation, Clarke's explanation will be well worth hearing.