Monday, August 29, 2016

Climate Change Stole My Future

There's no such thing as Global Warming.  Right?

Let me ask you a question.

Why bother writing about Climate Change, or Global Warming, or whatever you prefer to call it?  Why bother talking about it, or even thinking about it?

It seems to me that there are two likely possibilities here:

1) Donald Trump and Exxon and the coal industry and the hydraulic fracturing industry and Fox News and all the rest are right - Climate Change is a hoax (possibly concocted by the Chinese!), perpetuated by thousands of scientists as part of the single greatest (and well-disciplined) conspiracy in human history.  

If this is true, then there's really no reason to worry about it.

2) Climate Change is real, so real in fact, that it's already too late to do anything about it.  A global catastrophe is right around the corner, and it's going to graphically illustrate just how inhuman people can be to one another when crunch time comes, and just how indifferent this fellow God is.  

If that's the case, then there isn't much left to do besides gnaw our fingernails down to the bone, and teach our children ninja warrior skills.  

A flooded NYC subway station during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  The thick yellow line is where the platform ends - in other words, where it gets deep.  Jump on in, the water's fine.

Who doubts Global Warming?

The truth is, no objective observer doubts the reality of climate change anymore.  Donald Trump doesn't even doubt it.  He just claims he does.    

You can bet that the people who work as Climate Denial Trolls in the comments sections of major online newspapers also don't doubt it - these are clever people, doing what they do to pay the bills.  Dealing with the fallout from their behavior is someone else's problem.

And of course their bosses at the oil and coal companies know that climate change is real (they have actual scientists who work for them), but acknowledging it would be bad for business.  

So who are the real climate deniers?  Very silly people who are easily duped and suckered.  The evidence is all around them, and accumulating all the time.

More than six million people in Pakistan were displaced by the record-breaking rainfall of July 2010.  Nearly 2,000 people were killed. 

What does the evidence suggest?

There's a lot of scary evidence for climate change.  And the scariest thing about it isn't that it confirms what scientists have been saying.  The scariest thing is that it refutes what scientists have been saying.

Since the late nineties or so, scientists have been strenuously suggesting that we're going to have real problems with climate change by the year 2100.  

Well, that's kind of scary, but I'll be about 130 years old in 2100.  Unless we can get some kind of human immortality going pretty soon, I'm not going to be around by then.

The problem is that climate change is happening a lot faster than the scientists initially predicted.  It's happening now, it's speeding up, and all signs point to a sudden acceleration coming right along any moment.

- 2015 was the hottest year on record.

- July 2016 has been confirmed as the hottest month ever recorded.  The previous hottest?  June 2016.  2016 itself is on track to become the hottest year ever recorded.

- Arctic summer sea ice is less than half as extensive, and much much thinner, than it was in 1970.  This is scary, not so much in and of itself, but because it is creating something called a "positive feedback loop."

The way the loop works is this: less ice means that the vast Arctic Ocean becomes darker (instead of white).  Dark absorbs more heat from the sun, white repels the heat back into space.  The absorption of more heat makes the ocean hotter, melting the ice even more, making more of the ocean dark, attracting more heat, and so on.  Until all the ice that was once there is gone.  

What's so positive about that?  Nothing.  It's unrelentingly negative.  It's described as "positive" because it's self-reinforcing, increasing its own momentum. 

- The permafrost in traditionally cold places like Alaska, the Northwest Territories and Siberia is melting.  What's fun (in a Mad Max sort of way) about this melting permafrost is it has all this methane gas trapped beneath it.  Methane gas only lasts in the atmosphere for a decade or two, but while it's up there, it heats the planet about 86 times faster than carbon dioxide.  

Here comes another positive feedback loop.  Methane gas gets released from melting permafrost, which heats up the planet faster, which melts more permafrost, which in turn...

You get the picture.  Some scientists describe the result of permafrost melt as "runaway global warming."  So bad that it could make Earth uninhabitable for humans.  This is actually a much more dire scenario than the Arctic Ocean problem described above.  

The cool thing is you don't have to pick one or the other.  They're both happening at the same time.  Here's a neat video of an underground methane gas bubble in Siberia just waiting to pop:

See?  Science is kind of interesting.

And you are about to live in interesting times.  

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, but there are people in the fossil fuel industry who make a lot of money while eventually destroying humanity. Not me. I'm in one of the "helping professions." But I sure hope that if I invented something that makes me a lot of money but kills people and planets, I could bribe politicians so that no one would try to stop me either.