Are You Ready For More?

A few choice sentences in the hopes that my readers will read this article:

In the U.S. alone, nearly 1,000 tornadoes have ripped across the heartland, killing more than 500 people and inflicting $9 billion in damage.

Worldwide, the litany of weather’s extremes has reached biblical proportions. The 2010 heat wave in Russia killed an estimated 15,000 people. Floods in Australia and Pakistan killed 2,000 and left large swaths of each country under water. A months-long drought in China has devastated millions of acres of farmland. And the temperature keeps rising: 2010 was the hottest year on earth since weather records began.

From these and other extreme-weather events, one lesson is sinking in with terrifying certainty. The stable climate of the last 12,000 years is gone. Which means you haven’t seen anything yet. And we are not prepared.

Picture California a few decades from now, a place so hot and arid the state’s trademark orange and lemon trees have been replaced with olive trees that can handle the new climate. Alternating floods and droughts have made it impossible for the reservoirs to capture enough drinking water.

€œWe [are] past the tipping point.€

Even if the world went carbon-neutral tomorrow, we’d be in for more: because of the CO2 that has already been emitted, we’re on track for another 5 degrees of warming.

You can read this here – Are You Ready For More?

Flooding (here) is now ruining some homes. We’re expecting some roads to be impassable soon too. This has been the wettest spring I’ve ever seen, while it’s been the driest in parts of the Southwest.  Huge fires are charring up gigantic swaths of land in Arizona and Texas. Tornadoes wrought billions in damage, killing hundreds. It’s pretty clear that we’re definitely going to be “in for more”, these events are not isolated, or freak happenings, but virtually “the way things are now”.

And that is just “the weather”.  Don’t forget the other Earth events: gigantic earthquakes, erupting volcanoes and tidal waves causing massive loss of life and property damage.

From the Onion:

EARTH€”According to a statement released to the press Tuesday, the planet Earth has “just about run out of ways” to let its roughly 6.9 billion human inhabitants know it wants them all to leave.

“At this point, I think I’ve stated my wishes quite loudly and clearly,” the Earth’s statement to all of humanity read in part. “I haven’t exactly been subtle about it, you realize. I have literally tried to drown you, crush you, starve you, dehydrate you, pump you full of diseases, and suck your homes and families into swirling vortices of death. Honestly, what more is it going to take for you people to get the message?”

CO2 emissions rose by 5.9 percent to 30.6 billion tonnes in 2010“the highest ever growth in history” from Record CO₂ Emmissions.

Indeed. That little sidebar graphic on this blog keeps showing CO₂ going up, up, up.  The message is clear.  But we can’t seem to understand it for some dumb reason.  Senator Inhofe exemplifies the utter stupidity of the climate denier movement:

“What we’re seeing here is the same old scientific mumbo jumbo and partisan rhetoric that the Earth has been spewing out for millennia,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said. “We’re not going to be bullied by a celestial body that has time and again failed to deliver on its promise to glorify and reward mankind with its bounty.”

Take a look at these graphs –  IEA CO2 Emissions Update 2010 – Bad News and the oft-used “worst case scenario” that describes the path we have taken.

“Scenario A2 puts us at 850 ppm atmospheric CO2 in 2100, with an average global surface temperature 3.5°C hotter than in 2000 (more than 4°C above pre-industrial levels).  If we return back up to Scenario A1FI (fossil fuel intensive), which we were exceeding until the global financial crisis, we’re looking at 950 ppm CO2 and 4°C global warming over the 21st Century (more than 4.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures in 2100).

Clearly this is very bleak news.  In an interview with The Guardian, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said:

“I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions…It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker.  That is what the numbers say.”

Ahem… since I am neither a scientist with any federal funding or grants, just an interested citizen / survivor who is keenly wishing for some good news, but honest enough to “spill the beans” as they say when it’s just all bad news, the notion that we are “challenged” to remain below 2 degrees is absolutely hogwash. We are already defeated (by our own hand of course), and we are in reality looking at something far, far worse then anybody was willing to predict as a reality.

That reality was predicted here on this blog, time and time again, but as I said, I’m just a nobody trying to share what the numbers have already spelled out, and what the extreme events and collapsing dominoes around the world have indicated.

To the uninitiated, the “modest” numbers in degrees Celsius or in Fahrenheit is considerably worse then it appears because all life on this planet exists within narrow temperature ranges that are highly dependent upon seasonal variations and rainfall patterns.

Essentially it boils down to this: habitable regions on the planet have been colonized by humans because these locations supported human life.  We could live there, plant our crops there (proper soils too) and expect them to grow.  But when temperatures (hot AND cold) become too great, then our food supply is imperiled.  This is why you do not see crops being planted in deserts to this day (unless they are irrigated from either underground aquifers or diverted rivers from far, far away).  Humans could live there, but we cannot survive there in meaningful numbers (above wandering tribe levels).

Technology changed much of that, bringing a two-edged sword. Enabling us to pump water (and massively deplete) those aquifers, divert rivers thousands and thousands of miles away, we could grow a food paradise in the desert.  But now it’s too hot to plan on being able to continue doing this.  And those ancient aquifers all over the world are in a state of collapse, because they are not being replenished.

But technology also served as a driving mechanism for destabilizing the climate. It allowed us to virtually go faster and faster, building roads, subdivisions and shopping malls, breeding more humans and emitting more emissions into the atmosphere, which as it turns out, is far more fragile then we thought.  We could grow more food, but as we did, we bred more humans, used up more resources and essentially depleted everything like mold in a petri dish.

All those regions where humans have established themselves are now in jeopardy.  Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

Energy supplies, which is the life-blood of technology and virtually the entire human population, are dwindling too. The plans that some have proposed to “adapt” to climate change are still planning on using massive amounts of energy to enable this adaption attempt. But there is a limit to what is going to be available, which also means “reachable”, “affordable” and “usable” and “reasonable”.  Tar sands are not reasonable, nor is coal, since both are highly toxic to the environment and spew even more emissions into a destabilized atmosphere for extremely short-term benefits.  But we’re doing it anyway, essentially destroying any chance of a habitable future for ourselves and our children.

We are now in the classic Catch-22 condition, a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.  More energy consumption enables more humans and more food production, but it also means more long term damage by virtue of more humans (all who have to eat, find shelter, clothing, water, toys for their tots and so on).  We are far, far into population overshoot on all levels — resource consumption, food production, energy consumption, pollution, etc., and can’t seem to bring ourselves to admit this most obvious issue.

Now we are looking at “worst case scenarios” where entire populations can no longer be supported.  We won’t be able to grow our food in regions that experience catastrophic climate disasters from heat waves or flooding.  We can’t relocate these populations either as all the habitable soil regions (required for growing food) are already being used.  The empty spaces on this planet are empty for a reason — you can’t live there and grow sufficient food stocks there because of poor soils, inadequate water supplies or insufficient growing seasons.  There is an article on this blog that covers all this somewhere.

So we are facing massive disruptions, ie., population crash or “die-off”, due to our own hand. More technology will only worsen this (eventually), while giving us a temporary “reprieve” and ease our guilty conscience.  Enabling more humans to survive, and thereby use up more resources and breed more humans, is actually the wrong thing to do.  But nobody wants to admit this, or “own up” to this glaring fact.  It’s also a highly objectionable topic, touching upon all of our values and morals, so we either strenuously object or throw our hands up and simply ignore it (as long as we can).

But the underlying theme here is simply this: we cannot fix what is wrong as long as we cannot fix ourselves. If we insist on consuming up all of the resources, both “renewable” and non-renewables, and breed ourselves into gross overpopulation, using toxic technological developments that destroy and contaminate the atmosphere, soil and water we depend on for life itself, and then go into rank denial that we could possibly be the “cause” of any of these unfolding disasters we are now experiencing, then we stand absolutely no chance whatsoever of surviving our ignorance.

Denial is not a moral quality or an asset.  Denial is not a virtue.  Denial is a sign of stupidity and ignorance, a refusal to accept reality and fact.

Your world is fast falling apart because of rank denial and ignorance. The notion that capitalism would “save” humanity from its worst fears (oppression, slavery, starvation, poverty, inequality, injustice, etc.) was only partly true, while at the same time it also enabled us to take this highway to hell, ensuring our ultimate destruction.

But what other mechanisms were available?  Communism?  Fascism?  Socialism?  None of these were acceptable for the Western world and were widely rejected (with good reason). All of these constructs, ie., “human contracts” among humans have their ill-effects, and ALL of them would have resulted in the same final outcome (disaster).

We should not be surprised then that capitalism has met with the same fate.  Disaster was always waiting for us, which if you think about it, makes perfect sense.  A system of government and connedsumption with virtually no limits would meet reality, ie., the “real world” of finite limits.  Practical consumption and resource exploitation were never considered, since this is neither profitable nor desirable by those that worship money.

China, still a Communist nation, is having absolutely horrific natural disasters, and staggeringly evil environmental disasters (in case you are not following this).  So did Communist Russia.  No human system of government has actually worked very well when it comes to sustainability except the very ancient and very tested tribal form of existence.

This wasn’t even a government as we understand this concept today, anyone was free to simply leave and go start their own tribe (try that today, and see where starting your own “country” or even your own “city” will get you, I hope you like prison).

But I digress a bit, simply because I wanted to dig deep enough for everyone to realize that what we are doing, all over the world, is clearly and obviously not working, and it will never work. We absolutely MUST admit this, or we will die.

The temperature variations that are now expected, the “worst case scenarios” being realized, means this.  It means that we will not have a habitable planet to live on. The regions where the surviving few will be forced to move to are uninhabitable now, and won’t be much better then either, even if they are warmer.

We’re not going to fix this problem with more technology either, which ultimately will only exacerbate the problem, forestalling our ultimate collapse a little while, while jeopardizing what could have been eons of future.

Maybe, like that Onion article said, we should leave.  But if we did, we’d only repeat our mistakes somewhere else (or die trying).

Better would be for us to admit our errors and our faults, and start living like we should.

Like we did.

Once before.

Because it worked.

If you lose your short-sightedness, and abandon your preconceptions and realize that in just a couple of hundred years,  we’re driving most species to extinction, jeopardizing our own future, and vastly overpopulated the planet, it becomes very clear that we have to start radically thinking outside of the box.  All these articles and authors that claim we’re going to reach “9 Billion” or some other absolutely ridiculous number are wrong.  You’d better hope not because this absolutely ensures catastrophic disaster throughout the entire world.

Everyone that continues to promote “growth” is absolutely, categorically NUTS. This is just plain stupid, rank denial in the face of guaranteed disaster.  This is the path to destruction, a highway to hell to be strewn with the bodies of your children and their children, a hellish future where fierce and violent competition for food, water, shelter and money will rule the day (every day) as they try and survive the legacy that we handed to them.

This is just plain stupid.

Why would we do such a thing?  Knowingly and willingly?

The indictment of this generation and age of the Anthropocene has already been written:

“They ignored us, all of us future humans that could have ever lived, and they lived only for themselves”.

Wow.

We. Don’t. Have. That. Right.

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