Three monster climatic events are currently shaping up to collide. It’ll be like an asteroid collision. In that regard, this article, in two parts, explores real, already happening, indisputable climate change that is starting to take down ecosystems throughout the biosphere. It’s happening now.
For perspective on asteroids, the last one, 7 ½ miles wide, hit 65 million years ago (dinosaurs wiped-out), vaporizing sulfate rocks, filling the atmosphere with sulfuric particles, blocking out sunlight, temps dropped 18-29F, followed thereafter by vaporized carbonate rocks, emitting CO2 at the rate of 0.2 ppm over 100,000 years as temps increased by 5C.
Today, CO2 increases at the rate of 3.0 ppm after only 200+ years of anthropogenic (human) influence. Ergo, humans are 15xs more powerful than an asteroid! Try that one on for size mister extinction!
The three monsters are: (1) A State Shift in the biosphere; (2) Human-caused greenhouse gases –GHG- alter the planet, disrupting the Holocene Era of 10,000 years of Goldilocks’ climate, not too hot, not too cold, going away fast; (3) Collapsing ecosystems 100% due to human footprint, inclusive of excessive toxic chemicals galore, worldwide.
Monster #1, A State Shift has been detected in a landmark study by twenty-two biologists and ecologists (“Approaching A State Shift In Earth’s Biosphere,” Nature, June 2012), concluding that when more than 50% of ice-free land converts to crops, livestock, highways, schools, towns, bridges, cities or the human footprint in toto, the ecological web collapses. As of today, human impact is fast approaching that milestone, as the Great Acceleration smothers the planet with human footprint.
The crux of monster #1 involves inventory of ecologically productive land. How much and for whom? Estimates are 3-4 acres of ecologically productive land per capita for 7.5B people. The problem is: Twenty-five percent (25%) of the world’s population, i.e., the developed/industrialized countries, requires nearly 100% of ecologically productive land to support sustainability of lifestyles, like razor blades, automobiles, houses, and bread & butter and ice cream, beyond which natural capital goes into deficit. It’s why 3B people live on $3/day. There’s not enough room for everybody’s lifestyle like the top 25%, period, end of story as human influence nears the planetary boundary, forcing State Shift, which implies collapsing ecosystems. This is already happening.
Monster #2 greenhouse gases (“GHG”) alter ecosystems, which disrupt the Holocene Epoch (The Age of Man) over the past 10,000 years of a Goldilocks’ climate, not too hot, not too cold, coming to an end. The key driver is excessive amounts of carbon dioxide, CO2. Today, CO2 registers 410 ppm in the atmosphere.
Prompting the question: How is it that CO2 dictates climate change? The answer is found in paleoclimate history, especially when viewed at extreme levels:
(1) Fifteen million years ago CO2 registered 400 ppm for a sustained period; temps were 5° to 10° warmer than today; sea levels were 75’ higher than today (UCLA science research).
(2) Whereas, 20,000 years ago, CO2 was 200 ppm; temps were icy cold; seal level was 400’ lower than today; Florida was twice its size; it was the last Ice Age.
Ergo, proof positive of a direct relationship between levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, temps, and sea levels, high or low, as the amount of carbon dioxide dictates planetary habitability.
But then again, what about that 400 ppm 15 million years ago with sea levels 75’ higher vis a vis today’s 410 ppm?
Answer: Back in the day, geological-time, meaning 1000s of years, dictated the climate versus today’s version or anthropogenic time (human-caused) putting CO2 on steroids with little jets attached, accomplishing as much in 200 years in CO2 emissions as did sluggish ole geological-time over multiples of centuries. A natural change of 100 ppm normally takes 5,000 to 20,000 years. We’ve just exceeded an increase of 100 ppm (280 ppm to 410 ppm) in about 200 years, hyper speed. Temps have not had enough time to catch up and rise up!
As such, today there is a latency effect, as today’s CO2 will register in temps down the road. Problem is: This means the near future is destined to heat up big time as CO2 is/has been accelerating at rates beyond imagination, from 0.6 ppm to 3.0 ppm per annum in only 70 years, thus likely tipping monster events into various stages of RWG (“runaway global warming”)… it’ll be hot as blazes one day in the near future, already baked in the cake, as temps naturally slowly catch up with turbo-charged CO2.
Monster #2 GHG disruption: The Arctic has warmed up 2-3xs faster than the planet as a whole, thus losing its infrastructure of thick multi-year ice, thus exposing its normally ice-covered frigid water to solar radiation for the first time in eons. The consequences are profound, really profound, no kidding about it, impacting the entire Northern Hemisphere in a boundless negative twist of fate.
According to Peter Glick (Pacific Institute/California), who has studied the Arctic for decades: “What is happening in the Arctic now is unprecedented and possibly catastrophic.”
It’s already catastrophic, e.g., (a) the jet streams at 30-39,000 feet have gone loopy berserk becuz of radical change in the Arctic. Result: Colorado, which is one of several examples of wacko, weird weather dictated by wacko jet streams, was hit with tropical weather for one-month in 2013, Noah’s Arc flooding, 10 dead, 6 missing, $4B damage, and (b) Methane clathrates frozen for eons are suddenly exposed, threatening RWG with consequent loss of agriculture. This scenario is already active, bubbling to surface right now, ouch! And, (c) Greenland ice melt is amplified by changing Arctic, as the entire surface turned to slush in only four days for the first time in geologic history, scaring the daylights out of climate scientists (See – “Shocking: Greenland Ice Melt: Global Warming or Just Heat Wave” National Geographic)
Monster #2 GHG disruption: Antarctica’s meltdown turns dead serious as the great white continent loses three massive ice shelves 1995- 2002- 2017 with the final crashing shelf of last year a one trillion ton massive splintering ice cube, forcing National Geographic to redraw the World Atlas. Previously, over millennia, ice shelves served a key purpose by holding back the rapid flow of inland glaciers. Oops, that scenario is suddenly seriously dangerous for coastal cities, like NY and Miami as scientists recently detected Antarctic ice flow three times faster than 10 years ago (Google: “Antarctica is Melting Faster Than We Knew” June 2018). This is horrible news for the world’s coastal cities, and it’s already started.
Monster #2 GHG disruption: The consequences of ice melt are manifold. Mainstream science (IPCC) claims sea levels will rise by 2 feet by 2100. Who knows? That could be conservative, but so what, sea level rise is already impacting America: (1) Outer Banks, North Carolina, 200-mile island chain, 57,000 population, major tourists’ destination, down to 25% original width at some points because of rising seas; moving beach houses inland, iconic Highway 12 repeatedly washes out; (2) Miami Beach raising streets by 2 feet because of rising seas (To see photo of raised streets, Google: “Miami Beach is raising streets by 2 feet to combat rising seas”); (3) America’s first eco migrants / climate refuges at Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana have been moved to higher grounds by HUD at costs of $50M.
Monster #2 GHG disruption: Headwater glaciers are a favorite target of global warming: China’s Lancang “Danube of the East” River is the longest in S.E. Asia at 3,500 miles flowing thru China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. According to senior geological engineer Cheng Haining of China, global warming has taken out 70% of the headwater glaciers that feed the river.
A major branch of the Slims River in the Yukon disappeared over a period of 4 days because of the rapid retreat of Kaskawulsh Glacier beyond the headwaters, now a dusty riverbed. It’s one more victim of GHG and global warming/climate change.
Monster #2 GHG disruption: Andes glaciers hit hard by global warming as the World Bank (Google: “Andean Glaciers Could Disappear”) warns 100 million people endangered by loss of glacial water towers for irrigation, drinking, and hydropower.
Monster #2 GHG disruption: Amazon Rain Forest (the planet’s lungs) targeted by global warming (it’s too big of a target to miss) with back-to-back-to-back severe droughts 2005-2010-2016 as atmospheric warming shifts rain away from the rain forest, a major, major, really significant ecosystem trouble spot.
Plus, making matters much, much worse, within a couple hours of every day the equivalence of 200 football fields of rain forests chopped down, as the forces of globalization strike hard.
Monster #2 GHG disruption: Permafrost thrives on global warming, like bees to honey, as it releases massive quantities of methane (“CH4”). The Siberian region may be on the verge of collapse, which would/could heat up the planet by several degrees; agriculture couldn’t possibly survive. Russian scientists identified 7,000 pingos or mounds of earth pushed upwards by melting permafrost and erupting methane gas, often times imploding into huge craters. Russian scientists believe there may be as many as 100,000 pingos. (See- The Siberian Times, 3-29-2018: “Crater Formed by Exploding Pingo in Arctic Erupts a Second Time From Methane Emissions”).
Alaskan permafrost is mimicking Siberia as global warming strikes hard, and a tipping point is triggered, as a 2-yr flyover scientific expedition registered 220 million tons of carbon emissions spewing out of Alaska permafrost, equivalent to all U.S. commercial emissions per year. This is extremely horribly bad news as Alaskan permafrost naturally competes with human carbon emissions. Absolutely horrible news! (Read all about it, Google: “We All Knew This Was Coming: Alaska’s Thawing Soils Are Now Pouring Carbon Dioxide Into the Air.”)
Curiously, ecosystem disruptions, as mentioned herein, all occur where nobody lives, nobody sees, nobody hears, except for the occasional scientist on expedition. It’s little wonder that people do not really understand climate change; they’re completely out of touch.
And, just think, Trump is president.
To be continued as Part 2 – Three Monsters With Asteroid Impact, coming soon.