WE CANNOT STOP GLOBAL WARMING
It is time to accept the fact that humanity is unwilling and thus unable to slow down the coming catastrophic, irreversible, climate change. It is simply impossible for us to change directions so drastically and so rapidly to achieve any significant reduction in greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions.
Many, if not most, respectable environmental scientists believe that past climate modeling and temperature-rise predictions were too timid and too low. Therefore, we must realize that in all probability, we are unable to do almost anything useful to slow down the catastrophic destruction of life on Earth. This reality was evident for several years: In the US, for example, the country with the largest economic ability to change from fossil fuel - based economy, even a Democratic president that promised real action on global warming paid only lip service to it. In addition, a Democratic Congress was not able to pass any laws of substance. In China, the central government must focus on rapid economic growth to placate a massive population emerging from deep poverty and it therefore built one large coal power station a week. Simply put, humanity cannot reverse its focus on short-term gains in order to sustain long-term human survival.
Here is partially what science tells us:
[There are many aspects to the coming catastrophic climate changes, but my focus is on the immensity of human suffering.]
To be acceptable, most scientific and environmental papers want to show us that there is still hope, they also say the damage would be in the future and thus allow the public, environmentalists and national and international leaders to disregard the issue. However, it cannot be ignored, it is already well established. All that was done in the last two decades to cut GHG is insignificant - feel good, window dressing: "Global carbon emissions from energy are up 48% on 1992, when the original Earth summit took place."*
The likelihood that the Earth will be able to maintain a stable atmosphere suitable for human habitat is quite small. The rise in global population coupled by a rising demand for a higher standard of living is forcing a sharp demand for more energy. This massive energy consumption, mostly from fossil fuels, generates an immense amount of greenhouse gases [over 30 billion metric tones of CO2 a year]. All evidence is pointing to a continuous rise in greenhouse gases that will force a rise in average global air temperature well beyond the hoped-for 2 degrees C, which was considered manageable and stable just 5 years ago. It is already approaching one degree C. Note also that there is sufficient likelihood that unknown surprises could aggravate the severity and speed of this global atmospheric destruction.
The respected, Nobel Prize winner, economist Dr. Paul Krugman wrote two years ago: "So, what I end up with is basically Martin Weitzman** argument: it's the nonnegligible probability of utter disaster that should dominate our policy analysis. And that argues for aggressive moves to curb emissions soon."
But no significant action has taken place yet, and it is unlikely to happen in the next few years to save the Earth's environment.
The only way to slow down, and maybe reduce the likelihood of sudden unforeseen catastrophic events, (but not stop this destructive process,) is by a massive and rapid cut of global fossil fuel use in the next few years. However, almost all modern life is dependent on fossil energy. Since CO2 gases lasts for hundreds, possibly a thousand years we can not stop this process, even if we stopped emitting GHG today. ***
The drastic change in economic direction to cut down GHG emissions requires government - directed, complete and rapid reorganization of most of the economies on Earth. However, no government will stay in power if it tries to do it properly. It is simply not possible. Therefore, we will continue on our current path to catastrophic destruction of the global climate with its related destruction of the food and water supplies, and much of the living organism, including human beings!
An example, the oceans upper layers are already warmed by a half degree, reducing their ability to absorb CO2, and their acidity is increasing, thus reducing the oceans' ability to supply much of the world's fish-protein.
It is clear that we are unable to slow down this destructive process, and the Earth's temperature almost certainly will increase way pass the unstable 4 degrees C and continue to heat up. It is estimated that at 6 degrees at least half the earth land surfaces would turn into desert. The last time the Earth experienced this range of temperatures was fifty millions years ago when at 11 degrees higher than current level almost all life of Earth was extinguished.
There is no known natural Earth process that will limit the continuous rise in average global air temperature, thus the ability of our natural habitat to sustain life.
The catastrophic impacts would be on an unprecedented scale we are now unable to fathom: Climate fluctuations, which destroy forestation and agriculture, would be world wide and would vary in impact and timing. We would not be able to use large agricultural projects that now feed most of humanity because of weather unpredictability. It is projected that dry areas would become deserts, and wet regions would be much wetter with more floods. Tornadoes would be more frequent, cover larger areas with increase severity. Coastal areas, where much of the world's population resides now, would be flooded by rising seas.
Those with meager incomes just scratching a living, (India has now 500 millions people like that, Africa hundreds of millions more,) may see their livelihood disappear. Some in the US and Europe with their higher level of wealth may be able to endure longer since they would be able to pay the very high prices for the diminishing supply of food and water. Many more would not be able to. Over time, civil society as we know it would collapse. The more powerful may stay alive longer, by forcibly taking what they want for survival. Use of atomic weapons to obtain the diminishing meager resources is a strong possibility. The starvation and death of tens of millions of people would not be a surprise
The only question is how quickly this process will take place. It is already affecting our lives, but will it be momentous in the next few decades if we trigger a massive GHG feedback effect and/or unexpected massive emissions of GHG burst into the atmosphere? Or, will it take a little longer. It is fairly certain that the heating will continue to disturb our way of life on a larger and larger scale.
We must focus now on reducing the coming vast human suffering. "Clean Coal", natural gas, and Geoengineering are not practical solutions, and may cause more climate disturbances than solutions. Despite these immense difficulties we must try any viable adaptation approaches to reduce some human suffering, if at all possible.
And a personal note:
For the last decade I have studied a wide range of global warming literature spending much of my time on it. However, it took me years to accept the reality of GW, to integrate it into my being beyond just the intellectual level. It was very hard for me emotionally to accept the enormity of destruction expected. Although I knew it, it still took me over three years of personal agony to finally write these current conclusions since I did not want to accept the mounting evidence and the reality that humanity would not rise up to save our offspring, our future generations. I finally made peace with it and am able to write my understanding of the situation above. As I have written several times: it is extremely difficult to accept this reality emotionally since it is contrary to almost everything we want: a continuous improvement of our life and standard of living, peace and harmony in the future. And I did not want my family to see it. What hope can I give them?
As I am editing this, I do not want to believe this sad reality. My emotions are trying to subdue facts and logic.
Sadly, we are unable to overcome our deep limitations: Most of human decisions are driven by short term feelings, focusing on immediate gratification. We are reasonably good in running away from immideate danger but are unable to develop a viable future.
The end of ten thousand years of civilization is in our hands and we can not act on it!
Doctor of Environmental Science and Engineering
& Electrical Engineer
** [Dr. Martin Weitzman, Harvard professor of environmental-economics, http://ws1.ad.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/weitzman/files/GHGTargetsInsuranceAgainst
*** Some 10% of the surface of the Earth has been covered by ice and snow, a massive reflector of sun energy back into space. The positive feedback processes of melting of these ice and glaciers, and deforestation, have been going on for many years and will continue to warm the Earth even without additional GHG.
**** Fossil fuel consumption generates some three quarter of global GHG, agriculture and deforestation the rest.
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