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.

 

 
 

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

EVIDENCE

Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
wind turbines
A controversial US book is feeding climate denial in Australia. Its central claim is true, yet irrelevant
by Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor, School of Science, Griffith University
My heart sank last week to see conservative Australian commentator Alan Jones championing a contentious book about…
image
Reuters' Hot List of climate scientists is geographically skewed: why this matters
by Nina Hunter, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of KwaZulu-Natal
The Reuters Hot List of “the world’s top climate scientists” is causing a buzz in the climate change community. Reuters…
A person holds a shell in their hand in blue water
Ancient shells hint past high CO2 levels could return
by Leslie Lee-Texas A&M
Using two methods to analyze tiny organisms found in sediment cores from the deep seafloor, researchers have estimated…
image
Matt Canavan suggested the cold snap means global warming isn't real. We bust this and 2 other climate myths
by Nerilie Abram, Professor; ARC Future Fellow; Chief Investigator for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes; Deputy Director for the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science, Australian National University
Senator Matt Canavan sent many eyeballs rolling yesterday when he tweeted photos of snowy scenes in regional New South…
Ecosystem sentinels sound alarm for the oceans
by Tim Radford
Sea birds are known as ecosystem sentinels, warning of marine loss. As their numbers fall, so could the riches of the…
Why Sea Otters Are Climate Warriors
Why Sea Otters Are Climate Warriors
by Zak Smith
In addition to being one of the cutest animals on the planet, sea otters help maintain healthy, carbon-absorbing kelp…

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

trees to plant for climate2
Plant These Trees To Improve City Life
by Mike Williams-Rice
A new study establishes live oaks and American sycamores as champions among 17 “super trees” that will help make cities…
north sea sea bed
Why We Must Understand Seabed Geology To Harness The Winds
by Natasha Barlow, Associate Professor of Quaternary Environmental Change, University of Leeds
For any country blessed with easy access to the shallow and windy North Sea, offshore wind will be key to meeting net…
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.