If the Greenland ice sheet melt is ‘unstoppable’, why aren’t low-lying coastal regions preparing to move their infrastructure, businesses and homes?
If the Western Antarctic ice sheet melt is ‘unstoppable’, why isn’t humanity preparing for a flooded world?
If the Arctic ice cap is going to disappear (melt into the oceans), why are our global leaders still pretending that all of this isn’t a global emergency?
Does anyone really truly believe we can somehow ‘reverse’ all of this? Or at a bare minimum, even ‘stop’ all of this? Isn’t that what we’re being told? That we’re going to find ways to prevent these effects by ‘reducing greenhouse gasses’ and other mitigation efforts?
What if it is all a lie?
If the coastal aquifers are going to be lost due to salt-water intrusion, what will all those millions and even billions of humans do for fresh, drinkable water? Where will they go? What will they water their crops with?
One of the big problems we are having today is the near-total failure to communicate what this means. This failure is coming from the experts who ironically, are telling us what is happening. As strange as it may sound, they’re having a lot of trouble articulating what the future really means with sea level rise.
And this is just one small part of this communication problem.
There’s much, much more.
Human emissions (aerosols) are masking about 2°C rise in global average temperatures right now. This means our pollution is helping keep our planet cooler then it would be without them at this point – but at the same time, it’s contributing to the rising greenhouse gas problem, which in turn is trapping heat and acidifying the oceans. If we were able to somehow completely stop all emissions, the planet will warm up rapidly making our ability to grow food even more difficult. Yet lowering emissions and even reach the “zero-carbon economy” is the goal. The planet will still heat up.
We also know that we have disturbed the natural variability ‘interglacial cycle’ by at least 100,000 years due to our emission. In effect, this means that we’re in uncharted but dangerous territory already. It will get hot. Then hotter. Then too damned hot.
All this ongoing energy imbalance will cause a even larger disruption to the hydrological cycle, resulting in larger storms, longer droughts and extreme weather events for quite some time. Climate stability isn’t expected any time soon, it may take over a thousand years if even that before a new ‘normal’ appears. But it is certain that it won’t be the climate we want or adapted to.
Carbon dioxide is extremely long lived (thousands of years – please read). What’s up there now is for all practical purposes, staying up there. Doing its thing, which isn’t anything we might truly want. So we know already, beyond a shadow of doubt that it’s going to get hotter overall. And we know that nothing we can now do is going to actually change this.
But this isn’t how it’s being portrayed in the news. Supposedly, there’s going to be a ‘fix’ in the works. The fiction elaborates a bit further, promising us that it’s all still going to be ‘okay’ for millions and billions of humans. This is a complete fiction, replete with chapter after chapter of luminaries and pundits all pretending that everything will be just fine.
Well, it won’t be just fine. Not even close. We are not prepared for this, and we’re most definitely not preparing for this and we absolutely have NO IDEA what we’ve truly set in motion or how incredibly LONG this is going to take. This would be great place to insert the word ‘immutable‘. The rising seas and the problems this will bring are immutable now. It’s going to happen. It is happening, faster and faster. The loss of ice and its impact upon the Jet Stream and global weather patterns and extreme weather events is already being revealed. Billions then trillions of dollars will be lost as our infrastructure takes a pounding.
There will be no ‘stopping the melt’. This simply isn’t true and never has been. We do not have the ability to change the Earth’s energy imbalance within the time left as a species.
But here are a few things we are doing. We’re still building up and down in the low-lying coastal areas. We’re still obtaining mortgages and business loans for these locations. We’re still contributing millions billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. We’re still developing ‘alternative energies’ using fossil fuels and calling this a ‘solution’. We’re still scraping the bottom of the ocean clean of virtually all life while emptying the rest with gigantic nets, and in the meanwhile, ignoring the acidification we’re causing. We’re still pumping the remaining aquifers dry while intensively farming monoculture plantations. We’re still leveling the forests and wiping out everything that was there so we can grow biofuel and cattle feed. We’re still pretending that all of these interconnected systems aren’t having a tremendously negative impact on our future survival.
We’re pretty damned good at poisoning the water, land and air (and even space), but we’re quite lousy at cleaning any of it up or trying to stop further abuse of the biosphere. We’ve now entered into a critical time where our refusal to change our ways threatens our very survival. We’re being gently reminded by a few voices that we do indeed risk this reality, but it’s not been enough to change our course or our attitudes and awareness.
But there’s much more.
Both the political will and the public willingness to change any of this is critically lacking. And so is the funding, we don’t have that either. Or even the space. There’s no place to ‘go’ and rebuild these soon-to-be flooded cities and businesses. Or even the raw resources to pull it all off even if all of the above were someone to be solved.
It takes a century to decommission a nuclear reactor. 9 U.S. nuclear reactors are within 2 miles of the coast and considered at risk, with 104 in coastal areas. If current sea level rise is actually 5mm a year now (still accelerating), all 9 of the U.S. nuclear reactors are at extreme risk of storm surge from Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. These storms are expected to increase in a hotter world.
Nearly 300 energy facilities in the U.S. are situated less than 4 feet above sea level, with 4.9 million Americans living below the 4 foot mark, making them extremely vulnerable to flooding from a combination of sea level rise and storm surge. Yet, we’re not dismantling these facilities, we’re not relocating these people, we’re not moving any of this infrastructure, and as far as I know, it’s not happening anywhere in the world (except for a few small, already inundated island nations). But this isn’t because the threats aren’t real. It’s because we’ve not solved any of the logistics, economics or political problems involved. Perhaps the ‘experience’ of these island nations represents what the rest of the world will do – wait until it is too late.
These threats are real – and they’re “growing” larger as real world measurements and events take place. Our understanding is also growing – but it’s still not being translated into any meaningful action. We’re acting as if we have all the “time in the world” to react, but the reality is very different. We don’t have one hundred years, we don’t even have 30. We’ve got a planetary emergency occurring right now.
Ah, but some of these things haven’t happened yet to the rest of us, so we’re still being soothed to ignore the peril we’re all in. This is a very dangerous attitude that has developed and it’s found among the experts and public alike. There’s a certain type of apathy that exists that continues to believe (despite the evidence) that no such planetary emergency exists. It goes further too – by embracing the idea that there is still plenty of time to cope with any of these threats.
Just how long does it take to replace a city? Or hundreds of them? Even if we were to just go for the housing aspect of their populations, to say nothing of jobs, industry, business or other infrastructure like airports, train stations and such like, farming and agricultural losses, and the associated staggering economic losses, is there really time to do this right? Probably not.
Now toss into this unfolding mess all the obfuscation and delay tactics we’re seeing by world leaders, industry and business. Don’t forget to add in the media distortions either. And the kicking, screaming American public that continues to deny reality. Anybody else see a problem here? We’re going to react (eventually) – but rather badly – and far, far too late to do this the easier (and cheaper) way.
We are not communicating the seriousness of the situation – at any level. And so far, I’ve only mentioned a few of the effects of the rising seas. There’s also agriculture (global food production), soil losses, economic losses due to extreme weather events and global resource depletion to consider. And the big one – how can humans even live under the hotter temperatures being projected? I’ve written about wet-bulb temperatures before and it sure looks like we are going to exceed these temperatures in many parts of the populated world. We’re not ready for a billion refugees.
Is there time enough to solve all of these issues? No, not even close. It’s actually a false assumption. Our attempts to maintain this civilization are only making these problems even worse. And in every ‘proposal’ you’ll have seen and read within the mainstream news, it’s always about saving this civilization though one means or another.
It’s all bullshit.
They’ll save it for as long as they can – until they can’t. Until it proves to be too costly. There are plenty of examples of this around the world. We’ll do the ‘right thing’ until the bottom line is added up and then we’ll abandon the people who need the help. This is pretty much how it always plays out. Our ability to combat climate change is being measured in dollars – not lives. Of course, this is the wrong metric, but it’s what we accept and how we perceive the world. It’s the primary force behind the reticence occurring.
Monetizing the biosphere was and remains, a terrible mistake. This was just plain dumb. But civilization was built upon this concept, assigning a arbitrary value to every resource and it remains true today. What was missing in this economy was the value of a habitable biosphere. It’s still missing. It rarely even gets discussed despite being immensely threatened.
We need a new term for ‘expert hopium’. How about pretendium? In the Meocene?