[This blog entry is updated monthly or more frequently with recent research and science facts about the declining climate and what it actually means for our future survival. I think the evidence is quite clear, thus the title “This means extinction” – Admin]
Update: 8/9/14: A good detailed summary of what is now unfolding – watch this video if you can’t do anything else and you will be “current” on the unfolding disaster and what we should all expect. Make sure you disable any browser blocking to view videos and graphics, for some reason this is required to view them.
Update 7/12/14: the latest IPCC assessment and analysis – Zero Carbon Budget Left (must watch). A good demonstration how incredibly wrong the IPCC is and what the world leaders are lying to us about.
Nothing I haven’t already blogged here many times, but an updated assessment on the real problems we are all facing and if you truly come to understand what it means to blow right past any so-called “budget” – extinction will be the result. Humans simply cannot survive on the world that is being projected.
Climate Progress has posted a video on the missing ice in the Arctic – Arctic Death Spiral:
Watch the video. It’s from 2007 – and it’s much worse now.
The amount of sea ice (minimums, September) since 1979 is quite dramatic:
The severely eroded (or entirely absent) ice is very soon to be no more EVER (not in the human experience again, since we will be extinct). Not only is this “history in the making”, it forebodes an extinction level event (human extinction) if you fully understand what this means for the rest of the planet.
Adaption sounds nice, but the plants and animals that we rely upon don’t adapt as readily as humans and never will. Therefore, the inability to grow sufficient levels of food in the future is the gigantic elephant in the room.
Update: 4/26/13 – Short animation of the incredible amount of ice loss:
Also from Climate Progress, 1600 Years of Ice Melted in just 25 Years. And it’s still accelerating.
This is having a DRAMATIC effect on climate, causing huge disruptions.
A new study finds “a nearly tenfold increase in melt intensity” on the Antarctic Peninsula in the last few hundred years.
In short, while some mistakenly assert the climate is less sensitive than we thought, the fact is that polar ice loss is accelerating far beyond what the models had projected even a few years ago, and the whole region appears even more sensitive than previously thought.
90% of the world’s ice is at the South Pole. And it’s melting. The West Antarctica Ice Sheet is in serious trouble.
Here’s a BIG one: Methane Hydrates Venting at the Poles (both of them).
In conclusion, at both poles methane levels can be very high, i.e. higher than elsewhere on Earth, and this methane likely originated from hydrates that have become destabilized by temperature rises.
A great primer on what has been occurring in the Arctic, must watch:
Arctic Dynamic Feedback – Part I
Arctic Dynamic Feedback – Part II
2. How much methane is there?
400 Gt (gigatons) in the Antarctic, 500 Gt in the Arctic.
Shakhova et al. (2008) consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time.
By comparison, the total amount of methane currently in the atmosphere is about 5 Gt.
The numbers of a large methane release (Global Warming Potential, GWP) are staggering:
In its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4, 2007), the IPCC gave methane a GWP of 25 as much as carbon dioxide over 100 years, and 72 as much as carbon dioxide over 20 years.
A 2009 study by Drew Shindell et al. points out that the above IPCC figures do not include direct+indirect radiative effects of aerosol responses to methane releases that increase methane’s GWP to 105 over 20 years when included.
Figures by Shindell et al. and using a horizon of 10 years, methane’s GWP is more than 130 times that of carbon dioxide.
The danger is that a large abrupt methane release in the Arctic will trigger further local releases. This danger is particularly high the first few years after the methane enters the atmosphere, due to methane’s high initial warming potential.
A projection of what to expect:
What this means:
Dramatic warming will first strike in the Arctic, but will soon spread, threatening to cause heatwaves and firestorms across North America and Siberia, adding additional soot and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere globally, as forests, peat bogs and tundras at higher latitudes burn, threatening to escalate in runaway global warming.
8. Temperature rise
Image 24. shows how global warming (blue line) is projected to eventuate based on NASA global temperature anomalies. Note that the rise is projected to be much steeper in the Arctic (latitudes 64 North to 90 North, pink line).
If runway warming will eventuate as described in the previous chapters, the world as a whole will gradually catch up with such a steep rise in a matter of years (white line). The rise in global temperatures will be particularly steep as forests and biomass contained in soils will ignite during heatwaves and cause huge amounts of soot, carbon dioxide, methane and further emissions to enter the atmosphere.
9. Destruction and Extinction
In the above projection, runaway global warming will catch up with Arctic warming by 2039, resulting in a global temperature increase of 10 degrees Celsius and rising. The heatwaves that will come with such a temperature rise will in itself be enough to cause crop losses at massive scale. Additionally, heatwaves at high latitudes will cause wildfires, e.g. in Siberia, which has a very high soil carbon content (see image below).
The following are notes I’ve been taking over the winter from various articles and stories. Now is as good a time as any to see them in print.
[Background information – The Inevitability of Collapse. Most of the described events have happened or are happening now. The major flaw from this 2007 entry is underestimating the speed of climate collapse and how this will effect human survival. Since then, a ton of additional data and articles has now led me to to post this entry, one of the most important I will ever write. The article that follows should be digested by every human on the planet. The significance of what this all means should not be underestimated or ignored. — Admin]
Human civilization is on the brink of a massive extinction event due to the rapidly accelerating events called climate change. The time frame is very short — less then 50 years — most life on Earth to be wiped out.
The evidence is overwhelming, and is shown in the following categories, any one which will lead to the same outcome:
2c Projection as a Tolerable Limit
2°C Projection as Achievable or Even Desirable
Emissions of CO₂ Are Still Increasing
Climate Projection Are Incorrectly Pegged At The Year 2100
Methane Hydrates and Their Contribution
The Albedo Effect
Atmospheric Carbon Loading
The Failure to Include Permafrost Melting
Arctic Ice Melt
Rising Sea Levels Will Displace Hundreds of Millions
Sea Level Rise Due To Ice Melt
Sea Level Rise Due To Thermal Expansion
Wet-Bulb Temperatures Will Wipe Out All Mammal Species
2°C Projection as a Tolerable Limit
2°C is the most commonly used “target” to limit human contributions to global warming . This 2°C figure is entirely fabricated and actually represents the collapse of human civilization.
“Surprisingly, perhaps, the first suggestion to use 2° Celsius as a critical limit for climate policy was made by an economist, W.D. Nordhaus, in a graph published in a discussion paper of the prestigious Cowles foundation (figure 1).
There he claimed: ‘As a first approximation, it seems reasonable to argue that the climatic effects of carbon dioxide should be kept within the normal range of long-term climatic variation. According to most sources the range of variation between distinct climatic regimes is in the order of 5°C, and at the present time the global climate is at the high end of this range. If there were global temperatures more than 2 or 3° above the current average temperature, this would take the climate outside of the range of observations which have been made over the last several hundred thousand years’ (Nordhaus 1977, p.39-40; see also Nordhaus 1975, p.22-23, where the same words are to be found, but without the suggestive diagram). Figure 1 settles an important question about the history of the 2° target.
As Oppenheimer and Petsonk (2005, p.195-6) say: ‘In the climate change context, the history of an idea matters. History may illuminate the intended meaning of Article 2, and it could make apparent what notions of danger were cast aside during the debate over Article 2, and which notions have been omitted altogether. A clear understanding of the process through which the concept has evolved could help shape current efforts to reach a consensus interpretation.’
According to Tol (2007), the 2° target was first raised in a statement of the German Advisory Council for Global Change (WBGU 1995). That statement was a comment on the first Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, held in Berlin and chaired by Angela Merkel, then German minister of the environment. Tol mentions that according to Oppenheimer and Petsonk (2005) the 2° target was introduced by Nordhaus already in the 1970s, but denies this referring to Nordhaus (1991). The latter paper discusses the idea of optimal climate policy without mentioning the 2° target at all.”
A global warming limit of 2°C has become an almost universally accepted “target,” aimed for by national and international policy. A 2 degree target is disastrously high and is an invitation to global climate catastrophe. Wide degrees of uncertainty call for wide margins of safety.
It is now generally acknowledged that anything above 350 ppm is a formula for a catastrophic temperature increase above 2 degrees.
The world will never see 350 ppm for at least 1000 years. And even this figure is actually far too high for an organized human community (civilization).
The 2ºC “target” is a politically (not scientifically) set target from the European Union (EU) that goes back to the mid 1990s.
Since then, although the weight of scientific evidence has increasingly shown that a globally averaged 2ºC temperature increase will be disastrous for humanity and much of life on Earth, the figure has stuck.
A safe limit was established at +1ºC even before 1990 (Villach Conference, 1987). The Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change conference in Exeter (2005) arrived at a limit of 1ºC (although acknowledging that dangerous climate change for developing countries is below 1ºC).
Many papers have been published over the years saying that 2ºC is too dangerous, and the precautionary weight of evidence is 1ºC to 1.5ºC. (These figures are now superseded by actual changes in the Arctic.)
The EU now acknowledges that a 2ºC global warming is not safe.
“[…] overall global annual mean surface temperature increase should not exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels in order to limit high risks, including irreversible impacts of climate change; RECOGNISES that 2°C would already imply significant impacts on ecosystems and water resources. […]” (2610th Council Meeting, Luxembourg, 14 October 2004)
At a 2005 meeting in Buenos Aires, the European Union addressed the question of what is dangerous climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They came to the conclusion that dangerous global warming lies between 1.0ºC to 1.5ºC, thereby giving a safe limit of 1ºC.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has published a danger level of 1.5ºC based on 2007 IPCC data.
But these new figures have not been noticed, and the 2 degree target remains virtually the only limit cited in mass media and many scientific media.
The target that has been talked about in international negotiations for two degrees of warming is actually a prescription for long-term disaster. — James Hansen
Two degrees of warming will lead to an ice-free Arctic and sea-level rise in the tens of meters, Hansen told LiveScience.
An “ice-free” Arctic means total collapse of the Earth systems. Yet 2ºC is still the “target” for negotiations. Clearly, this makes no sense at all, but was simply chosen as being politically expedient.
2°C Projection as Achievable or Even Desirable
It’s already significantly too late to limit warming to 2°C.
Together with Corinne Le Quéré of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change and colleagues from the Global Carbon Project, Peters calculated just how far apart international goals and reality are when it comes to climate change. Their conclusions, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday, were the following:
Between 1990 and 2011, global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by 54 percent, and this is expected to jump to 58 percent based on projections for 2012. Humans will have released some 35.6 gigatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in this year alone, with an average increase of 3.1 percent per year. That number was slightly lower in 2012, measuring 2.6 percent, though that was mainly due to the economic crisis, the paper says.
These emissions are in line with the most extreme scenario, dubbed “RCP 8.5,” from the world climate report that will be presented in 2014. This means that realistically, it would take more than a decade for CO2 emissions to sink. But that would be too late to reach the two-degree target.
The consequences of the projected increase of five degrees would be fatal.
It’s been a week of startling news that has buried the idea that reasonable action will keep global warming to 2°C, with evidence that the world is now heading towards a 4–6°C warming this century, and as early as 2060. And we know that a safe climate is global warming of under 1°C degree!
Emissions trends over the past ten years are tracking consistently with the most carbon-intensive pathways of the four families of scenarios, leading to 4 to 6°C warming over pre-industrial times by the end of this century.
The World Bank said that 4°Cs of warming will end the world as we know it.
Reporters need to learn that, if they wish to discuss ‘both sides’ of the climate issue, the scientifically legitimate ‘other side’ is that, if anything, global climate disruption is likely to be significantly worse than has been suggested in scientific consensus estimates to date.
What is the current science telling us — Science stunner: On our current emissions path, CO2 levels in 2100 will hit levels last seen when the Earth was 29°F (16°C) hotter.
Essentially, every article or story that still uses the 2°C figure (nearly all of them still) is dangerously misleading, creating the assumption that this can be achieved, and that this figure is still “safe” for humanity. Neither are true.
There is already more then 2°C of warming in the “pipeline” that cannot be stopped or removed. The actual figure is even higher – 4°C, when additional positive feedback’s are taken into account (permafrost melting, aerosol dissipation, current (and increasing) emissions, albedo effect, etc.)
In a devastating speech at the University of Bristol Tuesday November 6th, 2012, Professor Kevin Anderson accused too many climate scientists of keeping quiet about the unrealistic assessments put out by governments, and our awful odds of reaching global warming far above the proposed 2 degree safe point. In fact, says Anderson, we are almost guaranteed to reach 4 degrees of warming, as early as 2050, and may soar far beyond that – beyond the point which agriculture, the ecosystem, and industrial civilization can survive.
This number is already scientifically known. Energy Imbalance- TOA (Top Of Atmosphere)
We are committed to 0.5 to 2.8°C additional warming (on top of what has already been experienced), due to the combined effects of climate system, economic and technological inertia.
Emissions of CO₂ Are Still Increasing
CO₂ Emissions increased 3% in 2011. The figure is actually 2.4 million pounds per second. We are 58% higher then the 1990’s target — and still increasing rapidly.
The recent Doha talks were a dismal failure, with the major polluting countries (Russia, China, United States, Japan) refusing to come to agreement. Delay tactics until 2020 were chosen instead.
Coal burning accounts for 45% of global emissions and is rising sharply:
Climate Projection At The Year 2100
Climate models are complex computer programs that project past and present values to the year 2100 (most often). This creates a “time space” that 78 years will pass before the serious problems of global warming are realized. This is simply not true. Devastating effects are already occurring all over the world at a reported 0.08 warming.
By using 2100 as a “target”, the illusion is supported that sufficient time remains before serious problems are experienced. This is disingenuous and has helped to lead to climate inaction.
Climate models also do not use all the known data sets that contribute to global warming.
The result of a study of 22 climate research papers, building an index of drought conditions and precipitation.
Despite increased precipitation, due to increased surface temperatures and increased surface runoff, higher atmospheric demand for moisture results in drier soils.
Figure 1: Current Palmer Drought Severity Index [PDSI] 2000-2009. A reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought. Regions that are blue or green will likely be at lower risk of drought, while those in the red and purple spectrum could face more unusually extreme drought conditions. (Courtesy University Corporation for Atmospheric Research [UCAR])
By the 2030s, the results indicated that some regions in the United States and overseas could experience particularly severe conditions, with average decadal PDSI readings potentially dropping to -4 to -6 (extreme drought) in much of the central and western United States as well as several regions overseas, and -8 or lower in parts of the Mediterranean. By the end of the century, many populated areas, including parts of the United States, could face readings in the range of -8 to -10, and much of the Mediterranean could fall to -15 to -20. Such readings would be almost unprecedented.
Figure2: PDSI 2030-2039. (Courtesy UCAR)
Extreme conditions experienced earlier are expected to continue, and even worsen. In fact, droughts may become so widespread and so severe that current drought indices may no longer be adequate to quantify them.
Figure 3: PDSI 2060-2069. (Courtesy UCAR)
If the drying is anything resembling that shown in these figures, a very large population will be severely affected in the coming decades over the whole United States, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Chile, Australia and most of Africa.
Figure 4: PDSI 2090-2099. (Courtesy UCAR)
Human habitation on virtually all existing spaces occupied now becomes uninhabitable. Wet bulb temperatures exceed survivable limits. 6 °C and higher.
Methane Hydrates and Their Contribution
Update 2014 – Gigantic methane holes discovered in Siberia
Methane has a far higher potential to affect global warming then carbon dioxide. The amount of methane that could be released by destabilized methane hydrates would more then double the forcing effects upon climate. The amount of methane hydrates is actually triple the total amount of oil and gas and coal deposits on the planet.
The loss of Arctic sea ice is leading to the release of methane hydrates. This image shows that the ice loss is directly over the methane hydrates, allowing for additional warming:
Large methane release has now been detected at BOTH poles. In the Arctic, over 200 locations have been identified.
Over 200 areas of mass emission of methane can be observed in the Arctic Ocean discovered recently by the Russian expedition onboard Viktor Buinitsky research vessel. As the Arctic regions containing methane get wormer more of this greenhouse gas is released into atmosphere meaning higher temperatures. Scientists worry that this increased warming will result in methane being released more rapidly making it into a snowball effect which will rapidly increase the global climate change. Methane emissions in Arctic cause catastrophic climate change effects.
The latest data from April 2013 also shows abnormally high methane levels in the Antarctic (over 2100 ppb).
Update: Antarctic Methane Venting Episode that started on February 2013
1. A 50 gigaton decadal methane pulse is plausible.
2. Arctic methane hydrates are becoming increasingly unstable.
3. Multiple scientific reviews confirm an Arctic methane release is plausible.
4. Current Arctic methane measurements are unprecedented.
5. The tipping point for Siberian permafrost thaw could be just 1.5 °C
6. Historical Artic conditions from thousands of years ago are not applicable to today’s conditions.
7. Paleoclimate records do not capture a large abrupt methane pulse.
Aerosols are offsetting CO₂ by 75% in the past century. This means that coal, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels on the planet, has helped slow down global warming with sulphate aerosols. On the other hand, black soot lowers albedo and increases heating.
The Albedo Effect
A change of just 1% to the Earth’s albedo has a radiative effect of 3.4 Wm-2, comparable to the forcing from a doubling of carbon dioxide. Aerosols also affect albedo.
Currently, human emitted aerosols are helping to cool the planet. When these aerosols stop (such as using less petroleum, ie., “peak oil” collapse), albedo is expected to lower increasing surface temperatures. In other words, our atmospheric pollution is helping cool the planet (temporarily), but is also increasing greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, etc.). Aerosols wash out eventually in time, leaving the long-lasting greenhouse gases (lasting decades to hundreds of years) in the atmosphere.
Averaged over the globe, this albedo decrease corresponds to a forcing that is 25% as large as that due to the change in CO2 during this period, considerably larger than expectations from models and other less direct recent estimates.
You have a decade (maybe) before hellish conditions exist.
Between now and then — food destruction (crop loss), desertification, loss of oceans, reefs, fishing, storms, flooding (hydrological cycle will be greatly accelerated), resource wars, political pandering and finger pointing, all the usual sins and evils of mankind mixed in with chaotic Earth systems swinging wildly from the “norm” (ridding itself of the virus).
Greenland contains a colossal amount of ice, which if melted, would raise sea levels by 23 feet. Greenland is now experiencing historic levels of melt, smashing all previous known records, with the melt extending over 97% of the ice sheet.
Deforestation continues to accelerate throughout the world, removing critical habits and carbon capture from the ecosystem. Many forest are now severely depleted and as they die and burn, become carbon emitters, worsening our current situation.
Atmospheric Carbon Loading
Carbon contributions to the Earth’s atmosphere will last up to 1000 years. All projections and estimates that claim dates such as “2100” fail to account for this fact. In other words, for all practical purposes (over a dozen human lifetimes) we will NEVER see levels lower then they are today or tomorrow or next year. This means climate disruptions can only increase, not decrease.
The Failure to Include Permafrost Melting
I started reporting the permafrost melting back in 2005.
Permafrost Thawing – creates carbon dioxide & methane, amplifying existing CO₂ levels in the atmosphere by as much as 39%. 396ppm becomes 550ppm without any other contributions factored in.
We are currently pumping 2.4 million pounds of CO₂ into the atmosphere per second, and rising fast.
Permafrost depths over 50 meters show dramatic temperature changes.
“Overall, these observations indicate that large-scale thawing of permafrost may already have started.” – Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost.
This means that there are “stark implications for international efforts to hold global warming to a safe level. Ancient forests locked under ice tens of thousands of years ago are beginning to melt and rot, releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the air.”
Permafrost melting was “left out of the Kyoto protocol” where the much heralded “2°C warming” target was identified.
“This must be factored in to treaty negotiations expected to replace the Kyoto Protocol.”
“The report pointed out that permafrost carbon feedback had not been included in the Fourth IPCC report, the most recent update from the UN’s climate body, published in 2007.”
This means all the projections based on the 4th IPCC report, including the 2°C “target” is wrong. Making matters ever worse, the huge permafrost melting is not even going to be included in the 2014 IPCC 5th assessment.
“Participating modelling teams have completed their climate projections in support of the Fifth Assessment Report, but these projections do not include the permafrost carbon feedback,” the report said. “Consequently, the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, due for release in stages between September 2013 and October 2014, will not include the potential effects of the permafrost carbon feedback on global climate.“
This is a catastrophic failure by the IPCC, and will lead once again, to the wrong projections and any attempts at correction. These projections are what the world’s political leaders use to create policy and any attempts to stop global climate change.
Arctic Ice Melt
The Arctic ice is already 50% less then what it was – something we’ve known for some years.
Rising Sea Levels Will Displace Hundreds of Millions
Estimates range as high a 3 billion displaced person. Not only are low-lying areas worldwide at risk, but so are the receiving countries of hundreds of millions of refugees. This will have a domino effect upon existing infrastructure, resources, immigration and crowding. In short, the world does not have the resources available to deal with such an epic exodus (and never will).
The financial cost of displaced billions is staggering. Much of the industrial capacity of human activity will be completely wiped out.
Sea Level Rise Due To Ice Melt
Sea levels will continue to rise for several thousands of years, as the planet continues to heat up.
The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop. Following cessation of emissions, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases radiative forcing, but is largely compensated by slower loss of heat to the ocean, so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years. Among illustrative irreversible impacts that should be expected if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase from current levels near 385 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to a peak of 450–600 ppmv over the coming century are irreversible dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the “dust bowl” era and inexorable sea level rise. Thermal expansion of the warming ocean provides a conservative lower limit to irreversible global average sea level rise of at least 0.4–1.0 m if 21st century CO2 concentrations exceed 600 ppmv and 0.6–1.9 m for peak CO2 concentrations exceeding ?1,000 ppmv. Additional contributions from glaciers and ice sheet contributions to future sea level rise are uncertain but may equal or exceed several meters over the next millennium or longer.
All projections that indicate 4°C or higher indicate that the Arctic will be virtually ice-free. This will also have terrifying effects on the jet stream and thermohaline current, which has already been dramatically affected by less then 1°C.
Two independent studies last week warned the retreat of the Western Antarctica ice sheet was unstoppable.
Sea Level Rise Due To Thermal Expansion
Sea level rise due to thermal expansion is expected to last more then 1000 years, leveling off only after this amount of time has passed. This means virtually all human civilization and infrastructure at or near the present sea levels will be destroyed.
Interactive Map of The World At 4°C (dated information from 2009, but useful for demonstration purposes). Zoom in (use + sign lower right) on your country. In the US, 7°C is the temperature increase over land (not survivable). Arctic is 13°C increase (no ice at all).
The world’s oceans are in a state of collapse worldwide. CO2 saturation (acidification), pollution, rising sea levels and over-fishing are well documented.
Facts and Statistics on Ocean Threats Far too many facts and statistics to post here, but extremely informative.
Update: Ocean Apocalypse
The astounding global warming impact on our oceans that will reduce cloud cover and bring tears to your eyes
New research just published in Nature Climate by Katharine Six and her colleagues shows that as oceans become more acidic (by absorbing increasing volumes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to form carbonic acid), the amount of a compound called dimethylsulphide (DMS) in the ocean decreases.
Shorthand: by reducing DMS production in the oceans, acidification could add up to another half a degree of warming this century. And that’s on top of the 4-to-6 degrees Celsius warming that is now being projected for the emissions path on which the world now seems stubbornly stuck.
Coral reefs are declining globally (dying), as high as 50%, with bleaching, overfishing and agricultural pollution taking a heavy toll. Home to many keystone species, the massive loss of coral reefs is very bad news for the world’s oceans and their survival.
Coral reefs might be undergoing a total collapse that could last thousands of years, a situation made worse by man-made greenhouse gases, according to a Florida Tech study published in Science.
Caribbean Coral Reefs Mostly Dead, IUCN Says In the most comprehensive study yet of Caribbean coral reefs, scientists have discovered that the 50 to 60 percent coral cover present in the 1970s has plummeted to less than 10 percent. “I’m sad to tell you it’s a dire picture,” Carl Gustaf Lundin, director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme, said at a news briefing Friday at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju Island, South Korea.
The Slippery Slope To Slime A study led by the Australian Institute for Marine Sciences found that since 1985 the reef has lost more than half its coral cover, with two thirds of that loss occurring since 1998.
In 2013, Frieler, Meinshausen et al. showed that “preserving more than 10% of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting warming to below +1.5°C (atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) range: 1.3–1.8°C) relative to pre-industrial levels”. Obviously at less than 10%, the reefs would be remnant and reef systems as we know them today would be a historical footnote. Contrast this finding of impacts at 1.5°C or warming, compared to the current, forlorn attempts to hold warming to not more than 2°C!
“IT’S past time to tell the truth about the state of the world’s coral reefs, the nurseries of tropical coastal fish stocks. They have become zombie ecosystems, neither dead nor truly alive in any functional sense, and on a trajectory to collapse within a human generation. There will be remnants here and there, but the global coral reef ecosystem — with its storehouse of biodiversity and fisheries supporting millions of the world’s poor — will cease to be.”
Roger Bradbury’s “A World Without Coral Reefs” and Gary Pearce’s “Zombie reefs as a harbinger for catastrophic future”.
Half of the world’s oxygen is produced via phytoplankton photosynthesis. The other half is produced via photosynthesis on land by trees, shrubs, grasses, and other plants. Current rates of ocean acidification and deforestation are decreasing photosynthesis in the ocean and world’s forest.
4.0C/6.4F is the die-off threshold of oceanic phytoplankton which currently regenerates 50% of the planet’s oxygen, and the shut-down threshold of most land plants.
Ocean warming due to fossil fuel CO2 has reportedly caused the 40% decline in phytoplankton population since 1950, according to a study published on 29th July in Nature (Morello, 2010). Ocean acidification is also said to disrupt phytoplankton organisms, particularly the calcifying types like coccolithophores and foraminifera. The decreased pH appears to slow down calcification rates of these phytoplankton species and compromise their structure as well as their survival and abundance. Atmospheric Oxygen Decline Due to Fossil Fuel Combustion
It is roughly true that the oxygen depletion is equivalent to a displacement by carbon dioxide. But it is not exactly true. First, some of the carbon dioxide produced has been absorbed by the oceans. This process involves inorganic chemical reactions which have no effect on O2. Second, the O2:C combustion ratio of a fossil-fuel depends on the hydrogen content. The ratio varies from about 1.2 for coal, 1.45 for liquid fuels, and 2.0 for natural gas. Taking these factors together, we are losing nearly three O2 molecules for each CO2 molecule that accumulates in the air.
A former post, Oxygen Levels Are Dropping, reveals just how serious this problem is (more links).
There is also this – billions upon billions of trees being wiped out in Canada:
Wet-Bulb Temperatures Will Wipe Out All Mammal Species
“We found that a warming of 12 degrees Fahrenheit would cause some areas of the world to surpass the wet-bulb temperature limit, and a 21-degree warming would put half of the world’s population in an uninhabitable environment,” Huber said. “When it comes to evaluating the risk of carbon emissions, such worst-case scenarios need to be taken into account. It’s the difference between a game of roulette and playing Russian roulette with a pistol. Sometimes the stakes are too high, even if there is only a small chance of losing.” Science stunner: On our current emissions path, CO2 levels in 2100 will hit levels last seen when the Earth was 29°F (16°C) hotter
Peak heat stress, quantified by the wet-bulb temperature TW, is surprisingly similar across diverse climates today. TW never exceeds 31?°C. Any exceedence of 35°C (95 degrees Fahrenheit) for extended periods should induce hyperthermia in humans and other mammals, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible. While this never happens now, it would begin to occur with global-mean warming of about 7°C, calling the habitability of some regions into question. With 11–12°C warming, such regions would spread to encompass the majority of the human population as currently distributed. Eventual warmings of 12°C are possible from fossil fuel burning. One implication is that recent estimates of the costs of unmitigated climate change are too low unless the range of possible warming can somehow be narrowed. Heat stress also may help explain trends in the mammalian fossil record.
Despite the uncertainty in future climate-change impacts, it is often assumed that humans would be able to adapt to any possible warming. Here we argue that heat stress imposes a robust upper limit to such adaptation. Peak heat stress, quantified by the wet-bulb temperature TW, is surprisingly similar across diverse climates today.TW never exceeds 31°C. Any exceedence of 35 °C for extended periods should induce hyperthermia in humans and other mammals, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible. While this never happens now, it would begin to occur with global-mean warming of about 7 °C, calling the habitability of some regions into question. With 11 – 12 °C warming, such regions would spread to encompass the majority of the human population as currently distributed. Eventual warmings of 12 °C are possible from fossil fuel burning. One implication is that recent estimates of the costs of unmitigated climate change are too low unless the range of possible warming can somehow be narrowed.
Excessive Wet-Bulb Temperatures Will Kill
The human body is designed to maintain a core temperature of 37?C. Health specialists say that the physical impact of heat is often neglected, and should be considered in discussions about climate change.
A multi-centre international study programme called Hothaps (high occupational temperature: health and productivity suppression) is examining the issue, particularly in relation to increasingly high temperatures being recorded in some regions due to climate change.
“If the ambient air temperature is higher than 37?C, heat transfer goes into the body and only evaporation of sweat can reduce body heat,” Hothaps says. “However, such evaporation is less and less effective as the humidity level goes up and, at 100% relative humidity, sweating continues but creates no body heat loss.”
Studies have shown that when the core body temperature rises above 38?C, physical and mental capabilities diminish rapidly and there is an increased risk of accidents.
When the body temperature is above 39?C, heat stroke occurs, while above 40.6?C there’s the strong possibility of life-threatening “severe hyperpyrexia”, or high fever – leading to death.
The really bad news is relative humidity is rising, significantly is some parts of the world. The ability of the human body to sweat and cool itself is diminishing and leading to more deaths. Future projections of wet-bulb temperatures due to climate change indicates that mortality rates will increase quite a lot. If projections prove to be true (and there is no valid reason to consider them untrue now), most mammals including humans will be driven to extinction, unable to maintain proper body temperatures.
Rising temperatures and humidity will also of course affect respiration rates for plants, which will also have high mortality rates (leading to starvation of most species – even if they can be kept cool enough by some means).
Damages to the planetary environment (biosphere) are cumulative and additive. As each mechanism increases, it adds to the speed, severity, extent and difficulty of survival. The sum total is simply this: human extinction.
2795 gigatons of carbon remain in the world’s fossil fuel reserves. This is already represented in virtually all of the world’s stock prices ($27 trillion) and a primary reason energy companies refuse to consider leaving these reserves in the ground, unburned. Does anyone honestly think that we will not burn it?
Mass extinctions due to rapidly escalating levels of CO2 are recorded since as long as 580 million years ago. As our anthropogenic global emissions of CO2 are rising, at a rate for which no precedence is known from the geological record with the exception of asteroid impacts, another wave of extinctions is unfolding.
In February 2013, CO2 levels had risen to near 396.80ppm at Mauna Loa Atmospheric Observatory, compared to 393.54ppm in February 2012. This rise – 3.26ppm per year – is at the highest rate yet recorded. Further measurements show CO2 is at near 400ppm of the atmosphere over the Arctic. At this rate the upper stability threshold of the Antarctic ice sheet, defined at about 500–600ppm CO2 would be reached later this century (although hysteresis of the ice sheets may slow down melting).
Our global carbon reserves – including coal, oil, oil shale, tar sands, gas and coal-seam gas – contain considerably more than 10,000 billion tonnes of carbon (see Figure 5). This amount of carbon, if released into the atmosphere, is capable of raising atmospheric CO2 levels to higher than 1000ppm. Such a rise in atmospheric radiative forcing will be similar to that of the Paleocene-Eocene boundary thermal maximum (PETM), which happened about 55 million years-ago (see Figures 1, 2 and 4). But the rate of rise surpasses those of this thermal maximum by about ten times.
“…governments world-wide are now presiding over the demise of future generations and of nature, tracking toward one of the greatest mass extinction events nature has seen.”
How Much Time Do We Really Have Left?
About 38 years, give or take a decade, before the cumulative and additive effects of all the above totally destroy civilization as we know it. However, this does not mean that any of us actually has this much time left. The human community is already experiencing these effects, which should be fully expected.
Each of these points has the potential to completely collapse human civilization.
There is quite a bit more that could be said, but in brief, it does little good to tell it like it is. The world would much rather be told something else altogether, such as “it’s not happening”, “the evidence is fabricated”, “the planet is cooling”, “we dont’ have to worry” or some other such nonsense.
The truth is we are in extremely serious trouble as an entire species, and so is everything else on the planet. Almost nobody seem to understand how incredibly difficult survival will be under these temperatures or whether or not if it will be even possible.
For most species, the answer is “Not possible”. Extinction is already a certainty. For the remaining species, including humans, we will suffer terribly as we attempt to find enough food and water, events which are happening NOW in 2013 and will only worsen in the years ahead.
The reality is, we may very well not survive this at all. Most projections have proven to be hopelessly optimistic, with some truly catastrophic oversights, and even the ‘worst case scenarios’ being found to be far too optimistic.
The only thing we can do now is to speak the (whole) truth and hope that this will FINALLY come to mean something – Admin.