Is Climate Catastrophe Closer Than We Think?

Is Climate Catastrophe Closer Than We Think?Is Climate Catastrophe Closer Than We Think?

The livability of planets is most likely dependent on an atmosphere comprised of a fine balance of heat trapping greenhouse gasses which is known as the greenhouse effect. At least in our solar system that appears to be the case.  The three planets most in the livable zone, although there may be others like Jupiter's moon Europa,  are Mars, Earth and Venus. Mars has no atmosphere to speak of and is a cold rock and Venus has too much and is a hot mess. And Goldilocks Earth is just right -- for now.

Is Earth's livability disappearing?

The geological record shows us that earth has gone through many warming and cooling phases. Some so drastic that life itself was in peril like the Permian Extinction some 250 million years ago when 83% of genera died. We are now living in an era that some are calling the 6th great extinction. Recent discoveries may indeed make it the 7th.

Is Earth's livability disappearing? That many species of animals, birds, fish, and insects are in swift decline is indisputable.

Life's ability to adjust to changes in conditions shows it to be remarkably resilient, but certainly not indestructible. But being a bit more specific, we humans have existed only a short time in the history of life on earth and in a very narrow global temperature range of about 3C. On a specie basis, our maximum temperature endurance is close to 35C (95F) wet bulb temperature which takes into account temperature and humidity. It is at that temperature that the human body can no longer cool itself and our internal organs cook.

Where Are We In The Global Temperature Range?

The media, researchers and governments have settled on a global temperature rise of 1.5C and 2.0C from a certain point though they have not yet agreed as to what the starting point actually was. At this temperature range it is thought that the extreme weather events are more numerous or some tipping points might be reached. A tipping point is one where factors combine to produce at least an acceleration in warming or worse a runaway train.

So where are we in the global temperature range? While it is obvious we are moving towards the highest part of the acceptable range, what is in question is how close are we to exceeding both the acceptable and the human livable range.

Physical changes on the planet have been emitting greenhouse gases its entire existence and so has modern man and his evolutionary predecessors. But it has only been in the last couple thousand years that human population has been in numbers capable of shifting this fine balance. Throw in technological innovation, use of coal, oil, and gas and this onrushing train is gaining speed.

The population of the earth has more than doubled since 1960.

Is Climate Catastrophe Closer Than We Think?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has increased dramatically along with an increase in the global temperature.
Is Climate Catastrophe Closer Than We Think?

So where are we in the global temperature range? Global temperature is made up of ocean temperatures and land temperatures. And to complicate that even more, it depends on at what depth or height one measures. However, what is important in determining a trend is consistency in how and where the measurements are taken.

So where are we in the global temperature range? Well, we have to take into account the passage of time. It would be best to start at the beginning of time but hey that ain't gonna happen. We will have to use what is in the geological record, ice cores, or recorded record by man.  And to that we must mesh the imprecise records as well as the more exact to determine the trend.

So where are we in the global temperature range? It's complicated and ripe for for criticism by those wanting to deceive others. Be that as it may, the trend is indisputable by the honest. Some have settled on roughly 1750 and the beginning of the industrial revolution and the mass introduction of burning coal as our measurement starting point. Others will point to 1880-1900 and the introduction of the burning of oil. Eiother way, 1980 shows a definite acceleration that something is up. One thing for sure is the lack of an agreed upon or shifting starting point is at best confusing and at worse an injection point for climate deniers to spread their nonsense and purposeful redirection away from polluters.

Is Climate Catastrophe Closer Than We Think?

Temperature rise accelerated in the last 10 years only to back off a bit. But another surge like this could push us to 1.5C. And if one considers the year 1750 as the beginning point we must add about .3C and that pushes us over 1.5C.

Another thing to consider is the the El Niño and La Niña cycles.

Is Climate Catastrophe Closer Than We Think?

So where are we in the global temperature range? Let's throw in another wrinkle and perhaps the most important. Global temperature means average. Some areas on earth are hotter and some areas are colder. And humans do not live in a global location but a specific one.

Is Climate Catastrophe Closer Than We Think?

So where are we in the global temperature human livability range? So you see it's complicated. It is certainly more complicated than "rocket science". But very talented people are working on it furiously with super computers.

So if you are waiting for me to answer the question "Is Climate Catastrophe Closer Than We Think?" I can't and neither can anyone else with absolute certainty. But we are pretty sure, from the geological records when greenhouse gasses were at this level, that extinctions were increasing and life was hard. The difference between then and now is the speed the temperature is rising.

Lord Almighty, I Feel The Temperature Rising

In previous periods, these temperatures rose over thousands of years and now it is rising in only decades. At this speed, most species can not evolve to adapt. Man has managed to squeeze thousands of years of greenhouse emissions into a mere moment of time. Burning fossil fuels has enabled us to quickly multiply and emit more greenhouse gasses.

Here's what I am sure of. The IPCC has been consistently wrong to the low side. Changes to the climate and weather are happening faster than they thought. This is not at all surprising as scientists are a bit conservative. They often wait until they are absolutely sure and the evidence is indisputable. No one likes to be criticized for being wrong. Put them in a group and they are even more conservative. This ultra conservatism may be changing as new reports from the IPCC are more alarming.

Here's the rub. There is a lag in greenhouse emissions and temperature rise just like there is a lag when you turn on your oven. So if we wait until all the evidence is in it will most likely be too late. So who should we listen to for guidance?

Make no mistake, scientists and politicians are important, but some scientists are too conservative and some politicians too powerful, too irresponsible, and too greedy. So, we must look to the visionaries who seek the guidance of those that can evaluate risk and catastrophe.

Why Must We Act?

The consequences of not taking action are dire. To be wrong is to be dead in the short run, or extinct in the long run. The ultimate risk is certainly unacceptable and any effort to avoid it is certainly justified. But the methods we use and efforts we make in themselves must not create a catastrophe by trying to avoid a catastrophe.

That is why we must act both intelligently and diligently but with great haste. Now is not the time for either hair splitting, petty bickering, or analysis paralysis. Now is the time for all hands on deck, full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes to quote an old cliche that certainly applies now. And those individuals, corporations, or countries not pulling or pushing the wagon uphill need to be left at the bottom isolated until they learn to play well with others.

About the Author

jenningsRobert Jennings is co-publisher of InnerSelf.com with his wife Marie T Russell. InnerSelf is dedicated to sharing information that allows people to make educated and insightful choices in their personal life, for the good of the commons, and for the well-being of the planet. InnerSelf Magazine is in its 30+year of publication in either print (1984-1995) or online as InnerSelf.com. Please support our work.

 Creative Commons 3.0

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com

Related Books

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming Kindle Edition

by David Wallace-Wells
0525576703It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, “500-year” storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually. This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century. Available On Amazon

The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption

by Dahr Jamail
1620972344After nearly a decade overseas as a war reporter, the acclaimed journalist Dahr Jamail returned to America to renew his passion for mountaineering, only to find that the slopes he had once climbed have been irrevocably changed by climate disruption. In response, Jamail embarks on a journey to the geographical front lines of this crisis—from Alaska to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, via the Amazon rainforest—in order to discover the consequences to nature and to humans of the loss of ice.  Available On Amazon

Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves: How to Thrive While Creating a Sustainable World

by Ellen Moyer
1942936559Our scarcest resource is time. With determination and action, we can implement solutions rather than sit on the sidelines suffering harmful impacts. We deserve, and can have, better health and a cleaner environment, a stable climate, healthy ecosystems, sustainable use of resources, and less need for damage control. We have so much to gain. Through science and stories, Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves makes the case for hope, optimism, and practical solutions we can take individually and collectively to green our technology, green our economy, strengthen our democracy, and create social equality. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

 
 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

EVIDENCE

Americans Are Worried About Climate Change, But Underestimate How Serious It Is
Americans Are Worried About Climate Change, But Underestimate How Serious It Is
by Bobby Duffy
The world is often better and getting better than people think. Murder rates, deaths from terrorism and extreme poverty…
Fossil Fuel Production Plans Could Push Earth off a Climate Cliff
by The Real News Network
The United Nations is beginning its climate summit in Madrid.
UN Report Warns Only Rapid and Transformational Action Can Stave Off Global Climate Disaster
UN Report Warns Only Rapid and Transformational Action Can Stave Off Global Climate Disaster
by Jake Johnson
Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly…
Hothouse Earth: Here's What The Science Actually Says
Hothouse Earth: Here's What The Science Actually Says
by Richard Betts
A new scientific paper proposing a scenario of unstoppable climate change has gone viral, thanks to its evocative…
'4°C Of Global Warming Is Optimal' – Even Nobel Prize Winners Are Getting Things Catastrophically Wrong
'4°C Of Global Warming Is Optimal' – Even Nobel Prize Winners Are Getting Things Catastrophically Wrong
by Steve Keen
William Nordhaus was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics for “integrating climate change into long-run…
Did Scientists Get Climate Change Wrong?
by Sabine Hossenfelder
Interview with Prof Tim Palmer from the University of Oxford.
How Climate Change Affects Wildfires
by NBC News
NYU environmental studies professor David Kanter explains how climate change is creating the perfect conditions for…
Warning of 'Untold Human Suffering,' Over 11,000 Scientists From Around the World Declare Climate Emergency
Warning of Untold Human Suffering, Over 11,000 Scientists From Around the World Declare Climate Emergency
by Julia Conley
"Scientists have a culture of reticence when it comes to making statements like this, but the emergency is rapidly…

LATEST VIDEOS

Fossil Fuel Production Plans Could Push Earth off a Climate Cliff
by The Real News Network
The United Nations is beginning its climate summit in Madrid.
Big Rail Spends More on Denying Climate Change than Big Oil
by The Real News Network
A new study concludes that rail is the industry that's injected the most money into climate change denial propaganda…
Did Scientists Get Climate Change Wrong?
by Sabine Hossenfelder
Interview with Prof Tim Palmer from the University of Oxford.
The New Normal: Climate Change Poses Challenges For Minnesota Farmers
by KMSP-TV Minneapolis-St. Paul
Spring brought a deluge of rain in southern Minnesota and it never seemed to stop.
Report: Today's Kids' Health Will Be Imperiled by Climate Change
by VOA News
An international report from researchers at 35 institutions says climate change will threaten the health and quality of…
How Supercharged Trash Gas Could Produce More Green Energy
by InnerSelf Staff
Synthetic compounds called “siloxanes” from everyday products like shampoo and motor oil are finding their way into…
300 Million Face Severe Risk of Climate-Fueled Coastal Flooding by 2050
by Democracy Now!
As a shocking new report finds that many coastal cities will be flooded by rising sea levels by 2050, Chile’s President…
Climate Warning: California Continues To Burn, Data Estimates Of Global Flooding
by MSNBC
Ben Strauss, CEO and Chief Scientist of Climate Central joins MTP Daily to discuss alarming new information about…

LATEST ARTICLES

Lessons From The Hockey Rink Could Help Ontario Tackle Climate Change
Lessons From The Hockey Rink Could Help Ontario Tackle Climate Change
by Jennifer Lynes and Dan Murray
The Auditor General of Ontario’s recent report found the province’s current climate change plan is not based on “sound…
Climate Change Threatens A Scary Number Of Plant Species
Climate Change Threatens A Scary Number Of Plant Species
by InnerSelf Staff
Almost 40% of global land plant species are very rare, and these species are most at risk for extinction as the climate…
How Drought Is Affecting Water Supply In Australia’s Capital Cities
How Drought Is Affecting Water Supply In Australia’s Capital Cities
by Ian Wright and Jason Reynolds
The level of water stored by Australia’s capital cities has steadily fallen over the last six years. They are now…
How Jet Stream Changes May Hit Global Breadbaskets
How Jet Stream Changes May Hit Global Breadbaskets
by Alex Kirby
Food shortages and civil disturbances may result from changes in the jet stream winds which circle the Earth,…
How To Design A Forest Fit To Heal The Planet
How To Design A Forest Fit To Heal The Planet
by Heather Plumpton
Reforestation has enormous potential as a cheap and natural way of sucking heat-absorbing carbon dioxide out of the…
Investors Fight Back Against Climate Wreckers
Investors Fight Back Against Climate Wreckers
by Paul Brown
Investors are using their shareholdings to force polluting companies to change their ways and cut carbon emissions.
Americans Are Worried About Climate Change, But Underestimate How Serious It Is
Americans Are Worried About Climate Change, But Underestimate How Serious It Is
by Bobby Duffy
The world is often better and getting better than people think. Murder rates, deaths from terrorism and extreme poverty…
How Climate, Not Conflict, Drove Many Syrian Refugees To Lebanon
How Climate, Not Conflict, Drove Many Syrian Refugees To Lebanon
by Hussein A. Amery
People who fled Syria in recent years are often viewed as war refugees because of the violence that has engulfed much…