Collapse And Nowhere to run

August 8, 2012

Foggy, quiet and a bit chilly  again this morning up here on California’s north coast, the same ordinary for us the last few weeks — can’t remember the last time I woke up to clear skies and stars twinkling.
Not so on the other side of the US: The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University reported Tuesday that the average temperature in the 12-state region was 49.9 degrees from January through July. That’s the warmest seven-month period since 1895, the year systematic record keeping began.

No doubt global warming — no wait.
Kathy Vreeland, a climatologist for the center, however, doesn’t want anyone jumping to conclusions: “It could be global climate change. It could be an anomalous year, or anomalous run of years,” she said.
How does she say shit like that with a straight face?
Despite all the evidence now out one’s window, beyond the load of science?
Shame on you, gal.

(Illustration found here).

Jim Hansen begs to differ, and he’s been begging now nearly three decades.
Hansen, of course, of NASA and climate fame, and others of his ilk have a new report that says humanity is playing a loaded-dice game of Russian roulette, and there’s only a short space of time before the hammer snaps on a loaded cylinder.
Via UK’s Independent:

“Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change,” he said.
“To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”

It’s already here!

On Monday, The Automatic Earth noted another report — two month’s old! — published in Nature that the entire planet’s shebang is falling apart, and doing it quickly.
The report’s 21 scientific authors (a much-diverse group) say the Earth’s ecosystems are heading for an “imminent, irreversible collapse” well before the century is out.
Ashvin Pandurangi at Automatic Earth comments:

Sound a bit too extreme and alarming?
Perhaps, but the authors feel that the logic and data to back up such a conclusion are all there.
One key factor, for example, is the rapid loss of biodiversity in our ecosystems – something Brazilian federal de-regulators should know all too much about.
That’s just one factor among many others, though.
And while these scientists don’t focus much on human financial, economic, social or political systems, we must remember that they all play an integral part in preventing radical reversals of Earth-destroying policies at large scales.
At the same time, it is equally frightening to imagine what a desperate group of elite policymakers will do once they can no longer hide from reality, but can only think to act in extreme ways, perhaps at the behest of the masses.
I’m confident that there are at least a few of them who are already thinking about what they can get away with in such a scenario.
That’s why I cringe when I read the scientists proposing this – “Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly”.

The actual report can be found  at Nature (behind a $32 pay-wall).
A bit of the abstract: Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence.

However, a good look at the study can be found via a post at Simon Fraser University, where one of the study’s authors is on staff, Arne Mooers, a professor of biodiversity.
Some snips:

Human-generated pressures, known as global-scale forcing mechanisms, are modifying Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and climate so rapidly that they are likely forcing ecosystems and biodiversity to reach a critical threshold of existence in our lifetime.
“Global-scale forcing mechanisms today “include unprecedented rates and magnitudes of human population growth with attendant resource consumption, habitat transformation and fragmentation, energy production and consumption, and climate change,” says the study.
Human activity drives today’s global-scale forcing mechanisms more than ever before.
As a result, the rate of climate change we are seeing now exceeds the rate that occurred during the extreme planetary state change that tipped Earth from being in a glacial to an interglacial state 12,000 years ago.
You have to go back to the end of the cataclysmic falling star, which ended the age of dinosaurs, to find a previous precedent.

The need is way-yesterday, according to Mooers:

“Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly.
More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover.
Folks like us have to be forced to be materially poorer, at least in the short term.
We also need to invest a lot more in creating technologies to produce and distribute food without eating up more land and wild species.
It’s a very tall order.”

And added this as a jump-start kick to the ass: “In a nutshell, humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst because the social structures for doing something just aren’t there. My colleagues who study climate-induced changes through the earth’s history are more than pretty worried. In fact, some are terrified.”

Is the great wad of humanity terrified?
Or the mass of Americans waking up this morning in the blistering Northeast scared shitless?

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