Reposted from Arctic News
Editor’s Note: Recently I posted on this site a video of Guy McPherson’s presentation in Boulder, Colorado a couple of weeks ago. This article, however, contains links to most of the research he cited and some research that he did not cite. His remarks in the video are impeccably documented here.
Guy R. McPherson is Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources
and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at University of Arizona.
Below are some (slighly edited) extracts from a post at Guy
McPherson’s website: summary and update on climate change.
As described by the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases in 1990, temperature rise “beyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage”.
John Davies concludes: “The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040.” He considers only atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, not the many self-reinforcing feedback loops described below.
As nearly as I can distinguish, only the latter feedback process is reversible at a temporal scale relevant to our species. Once you pull the tab on the can of beer, there’s no keeping the carbon dioxide from bubbling up and out. These feedbacks are not additive, they are multiplicative. Now that we’ve entered the era of expensive oil, I can’t imagine we’ll voluntarily terminate the process of drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic (or anywhere else). Nor will we willingly forgo a few dollars by failing to take advantage of the long-sought Northwest Passage.
Robin Westenra provides an assessment of these positive feedbacks at Seemorerocks on 14 July 2013. It’s worth a look.
Earth-system scientist Clive Hamilton concludes in his April 2013 book Earthmasters that “without [atmospheric sulphates associated with industrial activity] … Earth would be an extra 1.1 C warmer.” In other words, collapse takes us directly to 2 C within a matter of weeks.
Several other academic scientists have concluded, in the refereed journal literature no less, that the 2 C mark is essentially impossible (for example, see the review paper by Mark New and colleaguespublished in the 29 November 2010 issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A).
The German Institute for International and Security Affairs concluded 2 June 2013 that a 2 C rise in global-average temperature is no longer feasible (and Spiegel agrees, finally, in their 7 June 2013 issue), while the ultra-conservative International Energy Agency concludes that, “coal will nearly overtake oil as the dominant energy source by 2017 … without a major shift away from coal, average global temperatures could rise by 6 degrees Celsius by 2050, leading to devastating climate change.”
At the 11:20 mark of this video, climate scientist Paul Beckwith indicates Earth could warm by 6 C within a decade.
If you think his view is extreme, consider:
- the 5 C rise in global-average temperature 55 million years ago during a span of 13 years (reported in the 1 October 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences); and also
- the reconstruction of regional and global temperature for the past 11,300 years published in Science in March 2013. One result is shown in the above figure.
How Do We Act in the Face of Climate Chaos?
Below is a video of a recent presentation by Guy McPherson.
Presentation by Guy McPherson in Boulder, Colorado on October 16, 2013.
Below are some extracts from the video, again slightly edited.
Malcolm Light in 2012 concluded, based on data from NOAA and NASA, that methane release had gone exponential and was leading to the demise of all life on Earth, not just human extinction, by the middle of the century.
Why is this happening? It’s civilization that drove us into population overshoot. We cannot go back anymore since 1939, since we invented nuclear armageddon. There’s no going back. If we ceased the set of living arrangements at this point, the world’s 400 or so nuclear power plants melt down catastrophically and we’re all dead in a month. We cannot terminate industrial civilization until we decommission all nuclear power plants. It takes at least 20 years to decommission a nuclear power plant.
People ask me: Why are you presenting this horrible information?
Action is the antidote to despair even if the action is hopeless. When a medical doctor knows that somebody has cancer, it’s malpractice if they don’t tell that. So I’m doing that. I think Bill McKibben and James Hansen and a whole bunch of climate scientists are guilty of malpractice. Because they know what I know. Almost every politician in the country knows what I know. All the leaders of the big banks know what I know. And they’re lying to us.
I’m just presenting the information from other scientists here. I’m trying to the widest extent possible not to infuse my opinion in the situation. It’s John Davies who on September 20, 2013, taking into account only carbon dioxide, says there will be few people left on the planet by 2040. It’s Malcolm Light, writing in February 2012, who assesses the methane situation. And so on.
Yes, I agree with them, and that agreement is illustrated by me showing you that information.
I promote resistance against this omnicidal culture, not in the hope that it will save our species, but in the hope that it will save other species. Because as E.O. Wilson, biologist at Harvard, points out, it only takes 10 million years after a great extinction event, before you have a blossoming full rich planet again. That’s what we’re working toward. We’re saving habitat for other species at this point.