Johnny Come Lately

There is increasing evidence that global climate change is a foregone conclusion as an near-extinction level event for the human race. Sustaining feedback loops are in all probability, already well underway, unstoppable, immutable, resulting in wide-spread catacalysmic world-wide destruction.

That’s the bad news. Ready for the good news? The good news is, well, there isn’t any. I wish there were, such as “Global efforts to prevent catastrophe now well underway“, but there isn’t anything as logical as that on the horizon. Ongoing human stupidity remains the course of business as usual, which also means, we’re bushed.

While I’ve been “documenting the collapse”, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that it’s doing little good. It’s kind of pointless, a belated cry to events already underway and totally out of human control. I’m not the only one making this assertion, in fact, I’m a Johnny Come Lately myself.

How did we go from debating the “uncertainty” behind climate science to near hysterical warnings from normally sober scientists about irrevocable and catastrophic consequences?

These warnings, sober or hysterical as they may be deemed, aren’t without justification. In essence, their decrying the widespread run-away freight train that is climate change – barreling down the tracks with unstoppable speed:

In an editorial in the Baltimore Sun on December 15th, 2004 this author outlined one such tipping point: a self-reinforcing feedback loop in which higher temperatures caused methane ??? a powerful heat-trapping greenhouse gas (GHG) ??? to escape from ice-like structures called clathrates, which raised the temperature which caused more methane to be released and so on. Even though there was strong evidence that this mechanism had contributed to at least two extreme warming events in the geologic past, the scientific community hadn???t yet focused on methane ices in 2004. Even among the few pessimists who had, we believed ??? or hoped ??? that we had a decade or so before anything like it began happening again.

We were wrong.

In August of 2005 a team of scientists from Oxford and Tomsk University in Russia announced that a massive Siberian peat bog the size of Germany and France combined was melting, releasing billions of tons of methane as it did.

There’s more – a lot more, taking place all over the world. More carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere then is being taken up in the remaining forests, specifically the Amazon and boreal forests. This is also causing a negative feedback loop. “The polar ice cap is also melting far faster than models predict, setting off another feedback loop. Less ice means more open water, which absorbs more heat which means less ice, and so on.”

“Even worse, we???ve substantially underestimated the rate at which continental glaciers are melting.” Prediction models were off by a substantial amount on the loss of Greenland’s ice cover.

Scientists have found that many of the huge glaciers of Greenland are moving at an accelerating rate – dumping twice as much ice into the sea than five years ago – indicating that the ice sheet is undergoing a potentially catastrophic breakup.

Populations of krill have plummeted by 80% in the last few years due to loss of sea ice. Krill are the single most important species in the marine foodchain, and they also extract massive amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. No one predicted their demise, but the ramifications for both global warming and the health of marine ecosystems are disastrous.

This is another negative feedback loop, “less krill means more carbon stays in the atmosphere, which means warmer seas, which means less ice, which means less krill and so on in a massive negative spiral.”

One of our preeminent planetary scientists, James Lovelock, believes that in the not too distant future humans will be restricted to a relatively few breeding pairs in Antarctica. It would be comfortable to dismiss Professor Lovelock as a doom and gloom crazy, but that would be a mistake. A little over a year ago at the conclusion of a global conference in Exeter England on Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, scientists warned that if we allowed atmospheric concentrations of GHG to exceed 400 ppm, we could trigger serious and irreversible consequences. We passed that milestone in 2005 with little notice and no fanfare.

The people who should be listening, aren’t. And the people who are, are unable to effect the drastic and necessary changes that should be taken to prevent any further collapse.

Research commissioned by The Independent reveals that the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has now crossed a threshold, set down by scientists from around the world at a conference in Britain last year, beyond which really dangerous climate change is likely to be unstoppable.

The implication is that some of global warming’s worst predicted effects, from destruction of ecosystems to increased hunger and water shortages for billions of people, cannot now be avoided, whatever we do. It gives considerable force to the contention by the green guru Professor James Lovelock, put forward last month in The Independent, that climate change is now past the point of no return.

“The scientific uncertainty in global warming isn???t about whether it???s occurring or whether it???s caused by human activity, or even if it will “cost” us too much to deal with it now. That???s all been settled. Scientists are now debating whether it???s too late to prevent planetary devastation, or whether we have yet a small window to forestall the worst effects of global warming.”

Global mitigation efforts would have to implemented immediately to forestall the “worst effects of global warming”. And there is a snowball’s chance in hell of that happening. Common sense does not prevail as popular “wisdom”. Greed and profits are the law most of the world lives by right to the bushing end. So if you haven’t hugged your kids today and told them how much you love them, this would be a good time to do it.

James Hansen, director of NASA’s Earth Science Research, said that disaster could probably be avoided, but that it would require dramatically cutting emission outputs. If the proper actions aren’t taken, Hansen said, the sea level could rise as much as 80 feet by the time today’s children reach middle age.

“We now must choose between a serious problem that we can probably handle and, if we don’t act soon, unmitigated disaster down the road,” Hansen said.

So far, and in all likelihood, these warnings are falling on deaf ears amongst the world leaders. While this is no surprise (they didn’t get to be world leaders based on intelligence, but on their ruthlessness), they are going to be the legacy bearers of unbelievable proportions, making Hitlet, Pol Pot, Stalin and Mao Tsung look like schoolyard bullies.

Our children may forgive us the debts we???re passing on to them, they may forgive us if terrorism persists, they may forgive us for waging war instead of pursuing peace, they may even forgive us for squandering the opportunity to put the nuclear genie back in the bottle. But they will spit on our bones and curse our names if we pass on a world that is barely habitable when it was in our power to prevent it.

And they will be right to do so.


admin at survivalacres dot com

Leave a Reply