Guy McPherson: Climate-change summary and update from “Nature Bats Last”

From Guy McPherson’s website, Nature Bats Last, comes a truncated report and climate change update. For the entire sobering article, go here.

Anthropologist Louise Leakey ponders our near-term demise in her 5 July 2013 assessment at Huffington Post. In the face of near-term human extinction, most Americans view the threat as distant and irrelevant, as illustrated by a 22 April 2013 article in the Washington Post based on poll results that echo the long-held sentiment that elected officials should be focused on the industrial economy, not far-away minor nuisances such as climate change.

This essay brings attention to recent projections and positive feedbacks. I presented much of this information at the Bluegrass Bioneers conference (Alex Smith at Radio Ecoshock evaluates my presentation here). More recently, I presented an updated version on the campus of the University of Massachusetts. All information and sources are readily confirmed with an online search, and links to information about feedbacks can be found here.

Large-scale assessments

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (late 2007): 1 C by 2100

Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (late 2008): 2 C by 2100

United Nations Environment Programme (mid 2009): 3.5 C by 2100

Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (October 2009): 4 C by 2060

Global Carbon Project, Copenhagen Diagnosis (November 2009): 6 C, 7 C by 2100

United Nations Environment Programme (December 2010): up to 5 C by 2050

These assessments fail to account for significant self-reinforcing feedback loops (i.e., positive feedbacks, the term that implies the opposite of its meaning). The IPCC’s vaunted Fifth Assessment will continue the trend as it, too, ignores important feedbacks. On a positive note, major assessments fail to account for economic collapse. However, due to the feedback loops presented below, I strongly suspect it’s too late for economic collapse to extend the run of our species.

Taking a broad view

Astrophysicists have long believed Earth was near the center of the habitable zone for humans. Recent research published in the 10 March 2013 issue of Astrophysical Journal indicates Earth is on the inner edge of the habitable zone, and lies within 1% of inhabitability (1.5 million km, or 5 times the distance from Earth to Earth’s moon). A minor change in Earth’s atmosphere removes human habitat. Unfortunately, we’ve invoked major changes.

Here are just a small sampling of positive feedbacks:

Methane hydrates are bubbling out the Arctic Ocean (Science, March 2010). According to NASA’s CARVE project, these plumes were up to 150 kilometers across as of mid-July 2013. Whereas Malcolm Light’s 9 February 2012 forecast of extinction of all life on Earth by the middle of this century appears premature because his conclusion of exponential methane release during summer 2011 was based on data subsequently revised and smoothed by U.S. government agencies, subsequent information — most notably from NASA’s CARVE project — indicates the grave potential for catastrophic release of methane.

Warm Atlantic water is defrosting the Arctic as it shoots through the Fram Strait (Science, January 2011). This breakdown of the thermohaline conveyor belt is happening in the Antarctic as well.

Siberian methane vents have increased in size from less than a meter across in the summer of 2010 to about a kilometer across in 2011 (Tellus, February 2011)

Drought in the Amazon triggered the release of more carbon than the United States in 2010 (Science, February 2011)

Peat in the world’s boreal forests is decomposing at an astonishing rate (Nature Communications, November 2011)

Invasion of tall shrubs warms the soil, hence destabilizes the permafrost (Environmental Research Letters, March 2012)

Greenland ice is darkening (The Cryosphere, June 2012)

It’s not merely scientists who know where we’re going. The Pentagon is bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks, as reported by Nafeez Ahmed in the 14 June 2013 issue of the Guardian. According to Ahmed’s article: “Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA’s Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.” In short, the “Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations” and is planning accordingly. Such “activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis — or all three.” The global police state has arrived.

Read the whole article at Guy McPherson’s Nature Bats Last Website



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2 Responses to “Guy McPherson: Climate-change summary and update from “Nature Bats Last””

  1. Robin C. Brown Says:

    See my email sent 6-26-16

  2. Robin C. Brown Says:

    I never said “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Nor do I know what “Your comment is awaiting moderation”means.
    Robin Brown

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