Time marches forward, no matter the bullshit tossed up into the fan of life — distraction is the byword now, and there’s plenty.
Even as we digest T-Rump Jr.’s asshole antics, and the Senate’s confirmation hearings this morning for Christopher A. Wray as FBI director, the real, reality continues unabated.
A massive Antarctic iceberg, more than 2,200 square miles in area and weighing in at a trillion tons, is now free to roam and melt. (Washington Post): ‘In other words, the iceberg — among the largest in recorded history to splinter off the Antarctic continent — is close to the size of Delaware and consists of almost four times as much ice as the fast melting ice sheet of Greenland loses in a year.’
And there’s about a trillion distractions out there, too…
(Illustration: Pablo Picasso’s ‘Seated Pierrot,’ found here).
Climate change is by way-far the greatest threat ever to humanity’s good graces. Yet despite just a short window to do something, there’s shit for nothing…
Last Sunday, a piece at New York Magazine painted an ugly future portrait — key points:
Even when we train our eyes on climate change, we are unable to comprehend its scope.
This past winter, a string of days 60 and 70 degrees warmer than normal baked the North Pole, melting the permafrost that encased Norway’s Svalbard seed vault — a global food bank nicknamed “Doomsday,” designed to ensure that our agriculture survives any catastrophe, and which appeared to have been flooded by climate change less than ten years after being built.
The Doomsday vault is fine, for now: The structure has been secured and the seeds are safe.
But treating the episode as a parable of impending flooding missed the more important news.
Until recently, permafrost was not a major concern of climate scientists, because, as the name suggests, it was soil that stayed permanently frozen.
But Arctic permafrost contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, more than twice as much as is currently suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere.
When it thaws and is released, that carbon may evaporate as methane, which is 34 times as powerful a greenhouse-gas warming blanket as carbon dioxide when judged on the timescale of a century; when judged on the timescale of two decades, it is 86 times as powerful.
In other words, we have, trapped in Arctic permafrost, twice as much carbon as is currently wrecking the atmosphere of the planet, all of it scheduled to be released at a date that keeps getting moved up, partially in the form of a gas that multiplies its warming power 86 times over.
Maybe you know that already — there are alarming stories every day, like last month’s satellite data showing the globe warming,
since 1998, more than twice as fast as scientists had thought. Or the news from Antarctica this past May, when a crack in an ice shelf grew 11 miles in six days, then kept going; the break now has just three miles to go — by the time you read this, it may already have met the open water, where it will drop into the sea one of the biggest icebergs ever, a process known poetically as “calving.”
But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough…
And also the cry to not be worried — via Mashable yesterday:
Katharine Hayhoe, a climate researcher at Texas Tech University, posses the optimism that Wallace-Wells writes about.
“The problem is that we’ve continued smoking long after the physicians have warned us of its impacts, and some of the damage is already setting in,” she said in an email.
“Yet the choices we make today will still have a profound impact on our future. The worst and most dangerous outcomes can be avoided, and to do so we need to understand that our actions DO make a difference.”
Hayhoe said that doomsday fears won’t get us where we need to go.
“The time to act is now — but not out of fear, with panicked, knee-jerk reactions that burn us out,” Hayhoe said.
“We need to act based on measured hope and confidence that the science is right, the impacts are serious, and there are solutions to the gravest threats climate change poses if we choose them now.”
The big problem is the solution is overwhelming — even beyond climate change.
Supposedly, we’re in the midst of a horrifying species extinction.
Per the New York Times yesterday:
From the common barn swallow to the exotic giraffe, thousands of animal species are in precipitous decline, a sign that an irreversible era of mass extinction is underway, new research finds.
The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calls the current decline in animal populations a “global epidemic” and part of the “ongoing sixth mass extinction” caused in large measure by human destruction of animal habitats.
The previous five extinctions were caused by natural phenomena.
Gerardo Ceballos, a researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City, acknowledged that the study is written in unusually alarming tones for an academic research paper.
“It wouldn’t be ethical right now not to speak in this strong language to call attention to the severity of the problem,” he said.
In other words, we be fucked.
Meanwhile, back to T-Rump Jr…