Of all the problems facing humanity in this present hour, none are greater then the climate chaos headed our way. There is now enough scientific evidence to amply demonstrate that all life forms on Earth are in great peril, including humans. Yet the denial of this evidence still remains very great, and a primary reason why almost nothing is still being done about it.
The problem is more then the scientific reticence of the past. Scientist are somewhat reluctant to stake reputation and career on predictions. However, projections using scientific modeling of the Earth’s climate have continued to improve with detail and accuracy, and these models now demonstrate rather significant climate impacts for the Earth.
Still missing is the ‘whole picture’ of what these impacts actually mean for all existing life on Earth. It is this whole picture which I wish to expound up here and what it means for all of us.
Humans generally concern themselves with only human life, specifically their own. We’re not even that concerned about other human lives as evidenced by how we treat each other. Humans of different creeds, skin color or language aren’t “our problem”. Our problem is very ethnocentric, we’re concerned primarily about “us” as in “me and mine”.
We’re the “me” generation, our only real concern is ourselves. Missing from our consciousness is the fact that we are but one species living on this planet. We’re outnumbered in fact by trillions of other life forms, yet it is our species that has had the most devastating impact by far on the entire planet. Specifically, humans in the last two hundred years have now consumed over 10 million years worth of the Earth’s natural endowment. And we’re still going at it like there is no tomorrow — which there really isn’t, but I’ll get to that later.
How human consumption relates to climate chaos is very important because anthropogenic caused (human caused) climate change IS the problem. Moreover, our present path of consumption remains unabated, which can only mean one thing and that is even BIGGER impacts on the Earth’s climate.
In the New Age of Extinctions, we are reminded of human impacts upon other species. The startling numbers are scary as hell — millions of species (upwards of 70% or more) are facing extinction. Most of them will die because of climate chaos, others are dying directly and indirectly at the hands of humans (habitat loss). The catastrophic level of temperature increases projects significant species extinctions (40-70% of species assessed) around the globe.
This is scary enough, but realize this is for the lower temperature projections of just 3.5°C, which are now already being raised even higher (see “M.I.T. joins climate realists, doubles its projection of global warming by 2100 to 5.1°C“ and “Hadley Center: “Catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path“). Under these projections, the majority of ALL life on earth will be catastrophically impacted.
Right now, in the tropical rain forests alone, estimates are that 1800 species are going extinct every hour, caused by deforestation of the rainforest (currently at 14 million hectacres per year). It is impossible for a healthy and stable ecosystems to be maintained under these conditions. Even worse, this deforestation of the rainforests accounts for 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas production and could increase CO₂ levels by 129 ppm in less then 50 years (which does not include any and all other sources of emissions). Rainforests are also responsible for a large percentage of atmospheric oxygen.
How soon might this level of extinction and increased temperate shifts happen? Current estimates are in just 90 years. Of course it won’t all happen at once, between now and then, rapid die-off will occur as temperature and drought increase.
Some regions will experience the opposite of increased precipitation, but this isn’t anything to cheer about. It will also mean flooding and habit destruction for existing life. It also means that disease will dramatically increase as new vectors march inexorably northwards.
As temperature increases, carbon dioxide absorption by the “biological pump” (plankton) has been show to decrease by 1/3, making the oceans even less ‘helpful’ then before. A recent geo-engineering test showed that seeding the ocean with dissolved iron failed as algae or phytoplankton were eaten by zooplankton. Geo-engineering has unknown results and could potentially backfire with devastating results (making our situation that much worse even faster).
Our chief curmudgeon (Lonewolf) has reminded me:
Each 1.5 °C increase in mean global surface temp is a 10% change over pre-industrial ‘norms’. This can also be equated to a 20% or more decline in the ‘standard of life’.
So far, we’ve seen just .48°C temperature shifts in the past fifty years, and the results on a global scale have been tremendous (desertification, droughts, flooding in some regions, sea level rise, Arctic and Antarctic thaws, ice shelf collapse, melting glaciers and declining aquifers).
According to National Geographic program just last night, the current GMST (global mean surface temperature) is rising 0.3°C per decade (presumably the past 10 years) AND accelerating. The Arctic will be ice free by 2030.
At end of the last ice age, global temps rose “up to 12 degrees (no scale stated) within a 20 year span”
This can only mean one thing:
“according to consensus expectations based on Earths orientation within the three overlapping Milankovitch cycles of Earth’s orbit (obliquity, eccentricity and precession) the Earth ‘should be’ currently experiencing a significant cooling (entering another ice age) – but the opposite is obviously occurring – and there is but one explanation – which is anthropogenic.
The standard of life decline previously mentioned is just as real — reduced crop harvests, increasing species extinctions, increased energy consumption (which continues to deplete the planet at higher and higher rates of resource demand), reduction in clean water (or in some regions, no water), deforestation, reduced air quality, collapsing oceans and increasing disease among humans and non-humans alike.
For much of the world, the precipitous decline in the standard of living can be found depicted in the pages of the National Geographic over the last fifty years — all of which relates to human induced climate chaos and our bumbling response (which is usually war).
I do not find any evidence at all that this is going to be avoidable either now or even in the future. The political will that is slowly developing among world leaders is still at the nascent stage, who are barely able to even discuss the issues and entirely unable to deal with them.
Presently, everything is being spun in an economic light, but this is plainly stupid — no price can be “paid” (or extracted) when all life on Earth hangs in the balance. Any “price” or sacrifice is necessary, because to accept the opposite is the same thing as accepting our extinction and that of all life on Earth.
But supposing, just of the sake of argument, that there was full-fledged global support to stop climate change. What would happen then?
In a word, NOTHING. Nothing would actually “happen”, although a whole lot of human activity and hand-wringing would be going on (and a lot of bitching from the very large group of denialist). But none of it would not have any of the expected results of mitigating climate chaos.
Stopping climate chaos presumes that we can engineer (and / or buy) our way to a solution somehow (without making things even worse, which we’ve already demonstrated we are likely to do). It always includes a “business as usual” approach to human civilization and energy and resource demands (and food production, which also means sustaining the current human populations and even increasing them). The proposed solutions never includes dealing with the root causes of what activity actually caused anthropogenic climate change in the first place, and thereby — any effort towards a solution is already doomed to fail.
To even hope for success, we would need to —
a) reduce human population dramatically;
b) massively restrict economic and industrial activity on a global scale;
c) reduce the personal global footprint of 7 billion humans to the level of African villagers;
d) and finally, somehow reverse the damage we’ve already done and stop the positive feedback loops already set in motion (and there is almost no evidence we can actually do this last step).
And this is why “nothing” will happen, because we will NEVER willingly do this to ourselves. Not a chance. No way, no how, you will NEVER see this and neither will your kids. There is nothing in our makeup as humans that will put the sacrifice of self, civilization, comfort and what we erroneously call “hope” (just another way of saying “things will get better”) ahead of us (me). Me always comes first, always has and always will.
Therefore, what you will actually live to see (for a short while) is catastrophic collapse on a global scale. This is the only possible outcome there is despite all the rhetoric you will read of engineering a solution.
We simply do not have the will power to change, or to sacrifice the next couple of generations of human life to “lives of impoverishment” (which isn’t true) so that that the planet might live.
The irony should be obvious — if we don’t do this, we will most certainly kill any possible hope for the existence of a future generations past the 100 year mark from today and maybe even sooner.
It is my view that the death of Planet Earth will eventually become more mainstream in the scientific community, which understands the issues best. But you won’t read about it much, until more evidence is gathered and analyzed. And only when some brave soul stakes career (and maybe his life) on stating what is in my opinion, already now be obvious from the evidence we already have. We have more then ample evidence, which we blithely go on ignoring to our own peril.
We are killing the planet — it is happening far faster then we realize, and our gerrymandering and political posturing isn’t going to stop this. The root causes are the reason for this — and the solution, and nothing less then this will actually work. And even this is somewhat doubtful to be honest.
Therefore, as I’ve shared before, I’m not on board with all this b.s. rhetoric and posturing going on that we can “solve” the planetary crisis with any human-based solutions that permits civilization to continue.
Between now and then, in the next 90 years or so (the pessimist in me actually says 40 – 50 years), I am expecting “the worst” to occur, which is the collapse of our entire civilization and all that is within it. This would include massive humans deaths numbering in the billions world-wide, huge crop losses and starvation, depopulation of entire regions due to drought and rising sea levels, increased typhoons and hurricanes, increasing disease and transmission, huge forest fires as forest dry up and burn, and the inevitable resource wars as the world struggles and fights over land, energy and resources.
In two words — think “global panic” as the reality of the situation takes hold. This awareness could now happen at any time from this moment on, but will probably be precipitated by some “event” (die-off or loss of either food or water). Something of significance to awaken the zombie hordes to their dire predicament.
In any case, I do not see this world view as being pessimistic when the facts actually support it. I see this as “realist”, taking into account our current global situation, including the energy crisis, political posturing, and the scientific evidence (and reticence) and even their “best case scenarios” being projected by scientists from around the world. The current temperature projections are absolutely HUGELY significant — and for some reason, the dots are not being connected properly yet for what this really means for ALL life on Earth.
So there you have it. The death of life as we know it on Planet Earth.