By Whitley Strieber

The eastern half of the United States is experiencing one of the harshest winters ever recorded. In many places both snow accumulation and temperature lows are breaking century old records. Because of all this cold air and the heat that is rapidly building in the southern Caribbean, the stage is set for a spring and summer of great weather violence as well. Meanwhile, in Australia, two fierce cyclones hit on the same day, Friday, February 20. In Europe, last summer was characterized by violent weather, and that is likely to happen again this year. In Siberia more massive craters are appearing, leading some scientists to issue serious warnings.

So what has happened, and where is it leading? The reason that Europe is having warmer winters and the eastern US colder ones is that, as it weakens, the western arm of the Gulf Stream has tended to drift away from the American East Coast and toward the central Atlantic. The result is that Atlantic waters around Ireland, the United Kingdom and Western Europe have remained warmer, while the atmospheric jet stream, no longer pushed north over the Americas, has looped far down into the North American continent, resulting in the winter weather that is unfolding now.

These are only the latest signs of what is going to become a dramatic climate situation over the next few years. It is likely that arctic summers are going to continue to break records, to the point that methane hydrates now frozen beneath cold northern waters are going to melt, releasing extraordinary amounts of the gas into the atmosphere. In the past, methane spikes like this have followed a decline in the circulation of ocean currents, bringing on very rapid heating of the atmosphere and the oceans. We are at the beginning of that stage now. What will follow will be a dramatic temperature spike in the atmosphere, accompanied by a decline in air circulation. This will lead to profound disruptions to all life on the planet, in particular larger creatures that have evolved relatively inefficient heat exchange systems. In general, most of these species will become extinct. Because of the enormous human population and its extent, we will not become extinct, but our population will be greatly reduced.

There is no way to know how fast this is going to unfold, but judging from things like the speed of the rise of ocean climate temperatures, it is going to pretty much catch us napping. It seems possible that some of the climate change deniers might actually want this to happen, on the theory that the world would be better off with a smaller human population.

Since there is now little question but that things are going to unfold pretty much without any planning on our part, the question becomes, ‘what can I do to save myself and those I love?’

The only realistic answer is hope that, on seeing what is happening, which will become obvious over the next few years, we will finally start the kind of planning necessary to save our social structures and as much of our population as we can. How well we can succeed at this depends on how fast the methane release unfolds. For our governments and industries to overcome resistance to change, there have to be dramatic environmental disruptions. Unfortunately, such disruptions also imply a much faster methane release, meaning that they will be motivated to plan only when it is too late.

What sort of planning would be useful? There are two critical areas here: water and food. A warming Pacific is going to disrupt the monsoon. If there were to be two years of drought in Asia, famine would quickly become generalized. Similarly, if grain production in the US Midwest or Ukraine and Southern Russia should be compromised, hunger will spread inward from peripheral importers to the producing nations themselves.

The Arab Spring is an example of what can happen when there is food disruption. The Middle East relies on Ukrainian and Russian wheat. When those imports were interrupted in 2010 due to drought in the producing region, there was immediate unrest. This was exacerbated the disruption to the regional balance of power that had been caused by the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

We need to replace stupidity and lack of foresight with intelligent, forward-looking planning, Such planning would accept that negative climate changes are here and start to make real efforts to preserve as much of the threatened populations, cultures and infrastructure as possible. Hopefully, we will finally face our peril and start to act in real ways to preserve mankind.

Unknowncountry’s Climate Watch predicted the coming harsh winter in May of 2014. It is updated quarterly. Keep up to date: Click here.