Prepare For Climate Collapse – Part I
The climate crisis affecting human survival on Earth is still accelerating in the wrong direction. Increasingly strident warnings are now being issued by climate scientists that the world is facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions and risk. Unfortunately, they are continuing to be ignored on the scale and scope of what will be necessary for effective human response – nothing less then a World War II scale of effort, mobilized across the entire world is required. But the evidence is already clear – the world lacks the political and industrial leadership to change course. It is very much an unknown when – or even if – this will ever change.
In the meanwhile, individuals, families, businesses and corporations will need to prepare themselves for climate collapse, because nobody else is going to do this for you. This is the most dramatic threat facing mankind today. Our very survival is at stake, and even the survival of the living biosphere. Projections are always being updated with some projections now indicating 16°C or more in temperature increase. Those are not survivable temperatures – for anything alive. Because of this, and the increasing amount of scientific knowledge and research continuing to accumulate, there is evidence that indicates we may not survive climate collapse at all. But for those who choose to act decisively and to take self-responsibility for their own future, here are some things to consider.
What Climate Collapse Really Means
Climate collapse means that our predictable, stable climate has changed for the worse. The normal patterns of rainfall, snow, rainy seasons and dry seasons are no longer predictable. Instead, it means that extreme weather events are now the new normal. This would include hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, wind-events, lightning, thunderstorms, hail, extreme snowfall, extreme rain events, extensive droughts, mega-fires, dying forests, heat waves, insect infestations, disease vectors and rapidly shifting temperature extremes. While Earth has always recorded such things, the patterns which we have become accustomed to, and the severity and frequency of these weather events has changed quite dramatically. There will be more of these extreme events – and they will be worse then what humans have ever experienced in their entire history.
This will have a huge impact upon existing infrastructure, economic activity, agriculture, food production and human activity. The warming climate is a reflection of the warming oceans which is changing the world’s climate faster and faster as the glaciers and polar ice caps continue to melt. There are also other serious considerations such as the permafrost melt, methane releases (Risk of Significant Methane Release From East Siberian Arctic Shelf Still Growing) and carbon releases now occurring in the world’s forests. No longer the “carbon sinks” we’ve long enjoyed as a species, these components of the Earths surface are now releasing carbon which along with continued human emissions, is helping to increase Earth’s temperature over land and in the oceans by trapping more heat from the Sun.
Individually, any single one of these occurrences would have a huge impact over time on human habitation and survival, but taken altogether as we now must, they are so gigantic and so serious that our very survival as a species is now questionable in the years ahead.
The primary reason survival becomes so questionable is not heat as widely assumed – humans can adapt to temperature extremes in various ways, by going underground, by utilizing air conditioning, by sheltering during the day and so forth. Humans can live in a far range of temperature extremes – as long as they have the resources to do so (energy, insulation from hot or cold, food). However, it is the latter point which now becomes the ‘trigger’ for future human habitability. Food production is expected to decline dramatically as temperatures and extreme weather events escalate, impacting global food production.
Long before the forests are gone, or the planet burns up in a Venus like effect (‘hothouse’), the existing fauna will die off once temperatures exceed habitability for the plant life. Plants are unable to shelter, unable to adapt fast enough and unable to relocate themselves to more habitable regions. Only humans, animals and fish can do this, but we all depend upon plant life to sustain us. It is food that will be impacted long before everything else dies off. They’re as subject to wet-bulb temperatures just like animals are, and transpiration rates must be maintained in order for plants and crops to survive.
Humans are very dependent upon yearly food production, a single “lost” season due to drought or an extreme weather will have far reaching impacts depending on the scale and scope of the crops lost. Magnified over an entire country, or the entire globe and humans have a very serious problem. The ensuing competition for food resources will be extreme and violent, and the end result will be die-off of populations most affected. Starvation will return to the Earth with a vengeance as world populations fall to levels that match food production.
No longer can a guaranteed harvest be assumed, not even from year-to-year. If any extreme events occur, and then occur consecutively – the ability for human civilization to be maintained will be seriously threatened. Concepts such as abundance, markets, economy and even peace will go right out the window as the human population enters into a new era of food competition for survival.
Ocean food production is already in global decline and accelerating. Over two billion people currently depend upon the world’s oceans for their food. As the oceans fail (they are currently heating up far faster then the atmosphere or land), fish stocks will plummet even further. Carbon saturation is already reaching the upper limits in the world’s oceans, but combined with high levels of pollution, fresh water injection from melting ice, coral reef collapse (bleaching and acidification), the future of the world’s oceans as a food source looks extremely dim even now.
Not enough is being done to protect the world’s oceans, but this is also true of the world’s forests, soils, watersheds, aquifers and remaining habitat. Over 50% of the Earth is now used for food production and civilization, while human populations continue to rise ever farther, and carbon pollution continues to escalate. Nothing seems to be sufficient to stop or even slow down the human component on the planet that is causing these problems, not overpopulation, not even starvation or hunger. The warnings signs have been with us for many years, but even now, with the stupendous body of knowledge and awareness we have at our disposal, we cannot change.
It is clear that this cannot last or be sustained much longer. Extreme weather events, seasonal disruptions and crop failures are now quite common, this is only expected to worsen as global temperatures continue to go up and more extreme events are experienced. The 2015 monster El Nino is already have a huge effect in temperate regions. Weather “whiplash” will become our new normal as we experience one extreme to another.
Humans are facing a food crisis of unimaginable proportions. All the “normals” of crop production, seasons, weather patterns and expected harvests will be very different. But food will only be a part of the crisis – there will be many others, hints at which we have already seen (water, sea level rise and many others). This includes heat waves, lasting droughts, mega fires, extreme rain events and flooding, along with landslides, soil saturation and their ensuing discharge into the world’s oceans. Gigantic dead-zones of oxygen-deprived water from fertilizer are now found all over the planet. Runoff from farming and fertilizers will actually worsen during extreme weather events involving water. More fish and shellfish will die, humans will have to go farther and farther to find ocean food. Trawlers already scrape the bottom of the world’s ocean clean, impacting local fisheries, fisherman and reefs. In 2015 the situation is already very bad, but in 2020 or even further ahead, it will be even worse.
Heat waves are now killing thousands of people each year as wet-bulb temperatures exceed our ability to regulate our body heat. India, Pakistan, the southern United States and other mid-latitude locations with high humidity are expected to only worsen. With proper shelter, energy and insulation, many of these deaths can be avoided, but much of the world lacks the basic resources to do so. This means that wealthy locations affected by heat will be better off, but not indefinitely as noted above. Food remains the real crisis affecting everyone.
Global populations are now too large to shelter in a hotter world. They are also too large to feed in a hotter world. There is no easy way to say this – but die-off is an absolute certainty as temperatures go extreme (hot and cold) and food becomes less available.
The increased hydrological cycle (evaporation and precipitation due to increasing temperatures) will also mean there will be an increase in precipitation in the form of rain and snow. Already in 2015 and even earlier, extreme rain events have been recorded around the world. An entire year’s worth of rain can now come down in just 24 hours or even less, depending on location and severity. Snowmeggedon was a term applied to the winter of 2014/2015 in the eastern United States. The new weather normals is expected to include an increasing number of precipitation events exceeding all known measurements for past activity.
This type of “atmospheric flooding” is as dangerous – or even more so – then extreme droughts, which take place over many seasons and usually only gradually as the soils and watersheds dry out. Extreme precipitation can destroy entire towns in one day, or entire harvests in a single event. The ensuing flooding is even worse, as large areas collect water, this is all funneled downhill and downstream. Mudslides, ground slippage, soil erosion and even the earth shifting under building is well-documented. Creeks, streams and rivers overflow their banks and even some dams have been broken, worsening an already bad situation.
In essence, the torrential rains falling from the sky has to go “somewhere” and usually, it’s not where it’s really wanted. Human civilization has adapted itself to climate “norms” by building on creeks, rivers, streams and ocean fronts. Many regions are actually built on flood planes. Our buildings are not designed for extreme water events. They’re not even properly located to handle such things. This is going to be a huge problem in the future as extreme precipitation events become the new norm in locations affected. Rising ocean levels and melting glaciers and ice caps are already creating flooding problems in coastal cities around the world. New York, Miami and low-lands in the Gulf region are being impacted by rising sea water. Salt-water is intruding into wells and aquifers making them unusable. Anyone alive today under the age of 40 can expect to see several feet or more of sea level rise in their lifetime – which will displace hundreds of millions of people all over the world. The ensuing refugee crisis will be beyond anything any of us can even truly imagine.
2015 is already known as the year of the refugee. This too will only worsen as climate disruptions, food loss and competition for remaining resources increase. The “threat multiplier” of climate change is well understood by the Pentagon and climate scientists. Wars are spawned because of competition for resources increases, with hunger, poverty and conflict following. Already over 217 million people have been affected, this will rise into the billions as the downstream events of climate disruption / weather extremes continues.
Wealthy nations will not be immune as climate collapse knows no boundaries. Rising prices will be the first effects you might notice, but you will also have to noticed the dying trees, rising seas and extreme droughts and storms impacting your region. Nobody will be unscathed or untouched in some way. Depending on your location, vulnerabilities and preparedness, how much this may hurt you remains to be seen.
There is a fair bit you can do to prepare for climate collapse, but there is also a lot you cannot do, such as stop it. The existing levels of inertia and energy now in play within the environment will not be stopped by anything humans can actually do. Too much heat has already been trapped by the Earth’s polluted atmosphere. Carbon loading in the atmosphere and oceans already ensure that it will be a very long time before any kind of ‘stability’ is experienced by any future survivors. It will be thousands of years before climate stabilization will ever be achieved again.
Next – Prepare For Climate Collapse – Part II