Saturday, July 15, 2017

New Yorker Article on Climate Change is Alarming

David Wallace-Wells' recent article in the New Yorker The Uninhabitable Earth
Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think is shocking over the ferocity of the anticipated affects of climate change. According to the author, "no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough..."

You can read the annotated version at, The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition, The facts, research, and science behind the climate-change article that explored our planet’s worst-case scenarios.

For all you UFOligists the article answers why we have not been able to contact life in other parts of the universe, because civilizations go extinct before they are able to develop their technological capability to reach out, and  the development of the Earth's civilization does not necessarily coincide with that of alien cultures.  Interestingly I have said such for years and discussed this during my talk at the ASD conference this summer at Saratoga Springs. We have a culture based on "self-interest" and not the Golden Rule of "do unto others, love" so we invariably resort to violence and go extinct. 

Many have been critical of the article. Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic, Are We as Doomed as That New York Magazine Article Says?, Why it's so hard to talk about the worst problem in the world says that Wallace -Wells goes beyond what researchers feel is likely and posits main points that mainstream climate change does not support. Yet argues the article is worth reading.

The Washington Post was more critical, Scientists challenge magazine story about ‘uninhabitable Earth’ 

Others were more supportive, Did that New York Magazine Article Freak You Out? Good. It’s okay to talk about how scary climate change is. Really.

Some are critical of the approach, Stop scaring people about climate change. It doesn’t work.

Others raise questions, Is it unethical to have kids in the era of climate change? A philosophy professor explains.

It is a bleak read, arguably fatalistic.

Wallace--Wells raises 9 points;


"[A]bsent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century."

 "The Earth has experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now, each so complete a slate-wiping of the evolutionary record it functioned as a resetting of the planetary clock, and many climate scientists will tell you they are the best analog for the ecological future we are diving headlong into. Unless you are a teenager, you probably read in your high-school textbooks that these extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs were caused by climate change produced by greenhouse gas. The most notorious was 252 million years ago; it began when carbon warmed the planet by five degrees, accelerated when that warming triggered the release of methane in the Arctic, and ended with 97 percent of all life on Earth dead. We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere at a considerably faster rate; by most estimates, at least ten times faster. The rate is accelerating."

II) Heat Death,The bahraining of New York.

"Since 1980, the planet has experienced a 50-fold increase in the number of places experiencing dangerous or extreme heat; a bigger increase is to come."

"Even if we meet the Paris goals of two degrees warming, cities like Karachi and Kolkata will become close to uninhabitable, annually encountering deadly heat waves like those that crippled them in 2015. At four degrees, the deadly European heat wave of 2003, which killed as many as 2,000 people a day, will be a normal summer..."

"As soon as several decades from now, the hajj will become physically impossible for the 2 million Muslims who make the pilgrimage each year."

III) The End of Food, Praying for cornfields in the tundra.

"Climates differ and plants vary, but the basic rule for staple cereal crops grown at optimal temperature is that for every degree of warming, yields decline by 10 percent. Some estimates run as high as 15 or even 17 percent. Which means that if the planet is five degrees warmer at the end of the century, we may have as many as 50 percent more people to feed and 50 percent less grain to give them. And proteins are worse.."

"Drought might be an even bigger problem than heat, with some of the world’s most arable land turning quickly to desert. Precipitation is notoriously hard to model, yet predictions for later this century are basically unanimous: unprecedented droughts nearly everywhere food is today produced. By 2080, without dramatic reductions in emissions, southern Europe will be in permanent extreme drought, much worse than the American dust bowl ever was. The same will be true in Iraq and Syria and much of the rest of the Middle East; some of the most densely populated parts of Australia, Africa, and South America; and the breadbasket regions of China."

IV) Climate Plagues, What happens when the bubonic ice melts?

"What concerns epidemiologists more than ancient diseases are existing scourges relocated, rewired, or even re-evolved by warming. The first effect is geographical. Before the early-modern period, when adventuring sailboats accelerated the mixing of peoples and their bugs, human provinciality was a guard against pandemic...You didn’t much worry about Zika a couple of years ago, either."

"As it happens, Zika may also be a good model of the second worrying effect — disease mutation."

V) Unbreathable Air, A rolling death smog that suffocates millions. 

VI) Perpetual War, The violence baked into heat.

"For every half-degree of warming, they say, societies will see between a 10 and 20 percent increase in the likelihood of armed conflict."

VII) Permanent Economic Collapse, Dismal capitalism in a half-poorer world.

VIII) Poisoned Oceans, Sulfide burps off the skeleton coast.

"That the sea will become a killer is a given. Barring a radical reduction of emissions, we will see at least four feet of sea-level rise and possibly ten by the end of the century."

"But the drowning of those homelands is just the start. At present, more than a third of the world’s carbon is sucked up by the oceans — thank God, or else we’d have that much more warming already. But the result is what’s called “ocean acidification,” which, on its own, may add a half a degree to warming this century."

"That isn’t all that ocean acidification can do. Carbon absorption can initiate a feedback loop in which underoxygenated waters breed different kinds of microbes that turn the water still more “anoxic,” first in deep ocean “dead zones,” then gradually up toward the surface."

IX) IX. The Great Filter, Our present eeriness cannot last.

"Surely this blindness will not last — the world we are about to inhabit will not permit it. In a six-degree-warmer world, the Earth’s ecosystem will boil with so many natural disasters that we will just start calling them “weather”: a constant swarm of out-of-control typhoons and tornadoes and floods and droughts, the planet assaulted regularly with climate events that not so long ago destroyed whole civilizations."

"Several of the scientists I spoke with proposed global warming as the solution to Fermi’s famous paradox, which asks, If the universe is so big, then why haven’t we encountered any other intelligent life in it? The answer, they suggested, is that the natural life span of a civilization may be only several thousand years, and the life span of an industrial civilization perhaps only several hundred. In a universe that is many billions of years old, with star systems separated as much by time as by space, civilizations might emerge and develop and burn themselves up simply too fast to ever find one another. Peter Ward, a charismatic paleontologist among those responsible for discovering that the planet’s mass extinctions were caused by greenhouse gas, calls this the “Great Filter”: “Civilizations rise, but there’s an environmental filter that causes them to die off again and disappear fairly quickly,” he told me. “If you look at planet Earth, the filtering we’ve had in the past has been in these mass extinctions.” The mass extinction we are now living through has only just begun; so much more dying is coming."

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