Sixteen typhoons and a record breaking monsoon devastate Asia. Florida gets struck by back-to-back hurricanes, each bizarre in its own way. Meanwhile, fires devastate forests in Indonesia, Morocco and Alaska, which an astonishing five million acres burning in Alaska.
Scientists announce that carbon dioxide emissions measured in Hawaii increased at double the expected rate in 2003. CO2 levels worldwide reached a level not seen in fourteen million years, and, most crucially, NEVER seen during the time that we have had the unstable climate that we have been in for the past three million years.
We have entered uncharted territory, and things are not going to get better. In fact, the planet will, over the next ten or so years, become unable to support as many people as it does now. A dieback of the human species will begin during the next decade. Where it will stop is unknown, but if it cannot be controlled, it might, by the end of the first century of the new millennium, involve as much as half the species. In a best-case scenario, over the next hundred years, mankind will see around a billion lives lost due to climate-related events and excess population effects, such as disease and warfare.
Three key population areas have the organization necessary to affect their carbon dioxide emissions: Europe, China and North America. Unfortunately, only one of them, Europe, has the will. China and the United States are not willing to do anything significant to reduce emissions. While Canada is a conservation leader, its emission footprint is too small to make a difference.
Even if, at some time in the next ten years, China or the United States realize their peril and change their policies, it gets more likely every day that the effort will prove to be too little, too late.
Therefore, it can be concluded that the planet is going to experience the worst effects of global warming, most notably interruptions in the food chain, problems with key food crops, and devastating weather, ranging from extreme drought to extreme storms.
The most serious initial problems with the food chain will take place in the oceans. The footprint of these problems have already been laid down. There are two: large and growing dead zones where the waters oxygen content has dropped too low to support life; and excessive water heating that is overwhelming the heat exchange of fish and shellfish, causing them to die.
These two problems are growing so quickly and are so far out of control at this time that it can only be assumed that they will not be controlled. Therefore, mass extinctions of sea life can be expected over the next fifty years, beginning now. The dieback of lobsters south of Maine along the US coast this summer was due to excessive water temperatures, as was the dieback of plankton around the Orkney and Shetland Islands and well into the North Sea. This dieback caused a catastrophic population drop among a large seabird population in that area.
It has also been discovered that excessively high water temperatures are going to reduce rice yields in Asia, and probably end rice growing in crucial areas within a decade. Stored world food supplies are already at dangerously low levels, and, within five years, are going to drop below consumption needs, which will initiate a process of famine that will not be resolvable by the transfer of food from rich to poor areas, because the rich areas will, themselves, be without reserves.
Climactic disaster will become commonplace, and, should there be a temperature spike in the high arctic during spring, summer or fall, the result could be a catastrophic group of northern storms along the lines of those described in The Coming Global Superstorm. If they take place in the fall, they will leave significant snowfall on the ground, which, if it is added to during the winter, will persist through the next summer.
This will raise the reflectivity of the northern hemisphere, resulting in a catastrophic climate change similar to the one that glaciated Greenland. Plants found frozen at the base of the Greenland glacier prove that the shift from temperate weather to ice-age conditions takes place over a single season, and can persist for millennia.
However, in this case, global warming could be so aggressive that a melt will take place during the spring and summer following the storm I have just described. In this case, epochal flooding will devastate the whole riparian area of the southern half of the northern hemisphere, with results that are beyond contemplation.
The primary areas affected by these disasters will be the developed world, meaning that it will need to concentrate on its own recovery at a time when the undeveloped areas are most in need of help. If double-blind conditions like this emerge, the coming dieback will be even more intense.
In the absence of effective policy in the two key countries, the US and China, the only thing that might pull us back from the brink we have reached would be radical scientific innovation, but that would be a matter of chance and we should not trust ourselves to chance.
Given the geopolitical situation in which we find ourselves, with the two most important CO2 emitters unwilling to even consider the sort of aggressive and innovative policies that are needed to forestall this problem, we must now begin to contemplate the unthinkable: mankind is likely to experience an extinction event.
Sadly, this was not necessary at all. Appropriate leadership could have prevented it quite easily. As the world's most powerful government, in possession of the greatest political and scientific resources on the planet, that leadership had to come from the US.
Instead, the US has done everything possible to reduce the amount of scientific information being gathered and restrict its dissemination. The government has done nothing and said less regarding this extraordinary problem, indeed, the greatest crisis the human species has faced in at least ten thousand years.
Because of the level of official indifference, the American public has been lulled into a state of complacency and indifference. The environment isn't sexy or politic, therefore it's ignored. The very idea of "Global Warming" is routinely derided by most of the most-listened to media pundits, and a large religious group in the US actually consider that it's impious to do anything that will forestall disaster, which they believe will trigger a process of transportation into paradise for them.
The result of America's national malaise on this subject has meant that other countries have felt free, and been left free, to become murderous polluters, without regard for the human future or even any awareness of the danger.
During its phenomenal and devastating expansion, for example, China has made essentially no effort at all to reduce CO2 emissions. American pressure is the only thing powerful enough to change that, and it has not been forthcoming.
Therefore, the die has been cast by nature, and it is unlikely that anything done now, no matter how aggressive, will prevent massive change, and massive suffering, on this planet.
Unknowncountry.com is the only place in the world where you can obtain reliable information that offers the missing third dimension of climate change stories: how they relate to the bigger picture.
Here are some of the stories we have published relating to this article (each is a live link):
The dieback of Scottish sea birds.
The crisis in rice farming.
Climate change and how to fix it.
Ocean dead zones.
The coming of Sudden Climate Change.
And, last but not least, a HOPEFUL story. For hundreds of years, inventors have been trying to create a motor that uses only two permanent magnets as its motive force and requires no outside energy. There have probably been thousands of attempts and hundreds of hoaxes, some of the costly to unwitting investors.
Now, a South African inventor, Michael G. Brady has licensed such a motor, which is going into production in Germany. He and the licensing company claim the motor produces 26 horsepower, enough to provide sufficient electrical power for an average home, and emits no exhaust of any kind. Allegedly, the motor will be on sale in Germany and Russia before the end of this year, assuming that it lives up to its inventor's and its manufacturer's claims. Both say that it has been extensively tested. A media demonstration is scheduled for the week of September 6, 2004. If this is, indeed, successful, it will change the world. But it must not be forgotten that such claims have been made before, and, so far, all have failed.
It is unusual, however, that the manufacturer would be so convinced of the design, and that they are not using it to gather investment capital, but plan to simply put it on the market.
So, who knows, if things like this actually happen, and keep happening, mankind, nature's miracle, may create a miracle of his own: the survival of what seems at the moment to be a species on the edge of disaster.
To read more about Mr. Brady's motor, click here.
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NOTE: This Insight, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.