What is Climate Destabilization Caused by Global Warming?

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“People do not consciously connect global warming and the global climate as being the essential foundation that keeps their daily personal and business lives stable and successful. If the global climate continues to destabilize because of escalating global warming or we cross any critical climate tipping point, our normal lives will eventually destabilize as well.

When food production drops due to drought, floods, and extreme heat, food prices will soar. As global warming-caused storms continue to grow more violent, costly and cataclysmic damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure will occur in more areas. As global warming continues to escalate our normal daily lives as we know them will gradually grind to a halt.

It is not an overstatement to claim most people take for granted how much of the stability, predictability and success of their daily lives is completely dependent upon maintaining the foundation of a stable temperature and stable climate.”  —Lawrence Wollersheim

To understand climate destabilization, it is helpful to know what a stable climate is. It is also helpful to understand how the climate has worked over long periods of time to create both stable and destabilized climate periods--which have had both good and bad effects on humanity and other species

Our global climate has held many different, relatively stable states over Earth's 4.5 billion year history. It also has many climate subsystem processes that can affect the stability of the overall global climate.

Within the climate’s main subsystem processes, there are factors that directly and indirectly affect the overall stability of the global climate system. This also applies to its carbon and methane-eating or releasing qualities, or other heat reflecting or heat absorbing qualities.

The climate’s main carbon and methane eating or releasing qualities or other heat reflecting or heat absorbing conditions that can affect the climate’s stabilization are:

  1. The carbon-eating and carbon-releasing oceans, with their currents, different water temperatures, and descending layers holding various amounts of absorbed carbon. Initially, the oceans absorb carbon and help us. But when too much carbon is absorbed, the oceans begin the process of emitting carbon back into the atmosphere.
  2. The glaciers and massive Arctic and Antarctic ice packs that are heat-reflecting. This ice reflects heat back out into space.

  3. The carbon-eating and carbon-releasing forests. Forests can either eat or release carbon based on the temperature and conditions.

  4. The carbon and methane-releasing volcanoes.
  5. The carbon-eating or carbon-releasing soils. Soils can also eat or release carbon depending upon their condition under heat variables.

  6. The total area of heat-reflecting snow and ice cover on the planet at any one time (known as the albedo effect).
  7. The carbon-eating plankton and oxygen-producing plankton in the oceans. If the oceans absorb too much carbon from global warming, they become acidic--specifically carbonic acid. This acidity will eventually kill some or all of the carbon-eating and oxygen-producing plankton. If we kill off these highly necessary plankton, we will find ourselves in a world that no one will be able to endure.

  8. The total amount of heat increasing water vapor in the atmosphere. Atmospheric water vapor is the number one greenhouse gas increasing atmospheric temperature. And unfortunately, the more the heat goes up, the more water vapor escapes into the atmosphere, turning this cycle into a vicious positive feedback loop of ever increasing temperature.
  9. The amount of heat-increasing methane released by tundra and permafrost.

  10. The amount of heat-increasing methane released from methane clathrate crystals from ocean bottom sediments. If this happens as quickly as scientists theorized it did millions of years ago, we're looking at mass extinction.
  11. The total amount of human-caused carbon and methane polluting the atmosphere from our fossil fuel burning, big agribusiness and other uses, as well as

  12. Slight changes in the earth’s axis position also affects the average global temperature range.

These climate subsystems, as well as other minor climate subsystems, share common characteristics to complex adaptive systems. They can be:

  1. High impactful
  2. Highly unpredictable, and
  3. Have nonnlinear effects, sometimes on key climate tipping points within subsystems or within the total global climate system.

When the global climate system or its key subsystem processes destabilize sufficiently, the global climate moves from one fairly stable state of dynamic balance and equilibrium into a new transitional state of instability and greater unpredictability. Eventually the global climate finds a new, but different, stable state of dynamic equilibrium and balance at some new level and range (a dynamic equilibrium is not static or unchanging; it is an equilibrium that varies within a general or average range of some quality, i.e., average temperature).

This implies that a useful and accurate definition for climate destabilization would be:

“A transitional state of escalating global climate instability. This state is characterized by greater unpredictability, which lasts until the global climate eventually finds a new and different stable state of dynamic equilibrium and balance at some different level of temperature and other climate qualities from what it has held for hundreds or thousands of of years." 

A destabilizing climate is a very dangerous thing

For hundreds of thousands of years, our planet has moved between a fairly stable state of dynamic equilibrium, known as an Ice Age, into an alternating one where the ice recedes and no Ice Age exists. Humanity has flourished since the last Ice Age ended about 12,000 years ago because of the warmer, agriculture-friendly temperatures and lack of glacial ice cover.

As our current global climate moves into a human-caused global warming destabilization period (from its previously stable state of the Ice Age to non-Ice Age periods) into a new state of dynamic equilibrium, many rapid changes are occurring. These changes are characterized, in part, by all kinds of:

Droughts, floods, wildfires, superstorms, and the changing of previously established seasonal weather patterns. These changes are now also occurring with increasing unpredictability and at an increasing scale of size, frequency, and severity because of the escalating temperature.

We are now also experiencing major changes in rainfall and snowfall, with either too much or too little at one time. There are many other changes that occur in a climate destabilization process. These transitional conditions will remain unstable or worsen until we have completed the transition and a new, more stable, climate temperature equilibrium range.

The new conditions described above are a significant and core part of the current climate destabilization process! The long-term good news is that sooner or later, a destabilized global climate will seek to establish equilibrium at some new level of temperature and other climate quality states. Remember that stable is generally always better than unstable when it comes to global climate.

Fueled by the increasing population and human-caused global warming, we have already radically increased the destabilization and average temperature of our global climate. This increasing global average temperature in both the atmosphere and the oceans then directly or indirectly acts to, once again, increase the destabilization of our global climate in a positive feedback loop. This climate destabilization process will eventually increase the rates of reef collapse, desertification, deforestation, coastline loss, wildfires, droughts, superstorms, floods, productive soil degradation, growing season changes, water pollution and species extinction.

The bad news is that if we continue polluting the atmosphere with carbon and methane and we fail to slow, then reverse global warming and its consequent climate destabilization, we will eventually experience a new, fairly stable, climate dynamic equilibrium. Unfortunately, it probably will not be a temperature equilibrium range in which we will be able to survive very well, if at all.

The really bad news is that we are also likely to hit some unpredictable climate tipping points that could suddenly change the global climate in drastic, unpredictable ways the planet has not seen for eons--and these changes could last from hundreds to thousands of years! Many predictions say we are looking at an 8 to 12°F increase in temperature over the next hundred years if we do not change our ways. Other predictions say this can occur much sooner if we cross a few key climate tipping points—in as soon as 25 to 50 years from now 

Some scientists predict we may irreversibly tip the climate into a new, fairly stable, dynamic equilibrium completely unlike the last 12,000 year Ice Age dynamic equilibrium cycle we have been experiencing for hundreds of thousands of years. The very worst news is that some climate predictions forecast billions of humans suffering and dying because the escalating climate destabilization process will radically destabilize our global financial, agricultural, political, and social systems.

The Three Levels Of Climate Destabilization 

The three levels of climate destabilization help individuals and organizations think about the different types of climate destabilization consequences more easily. The three degrees of climate destabilization are 

1.  Catastrophic climate destabilization. When global warming-caused storms, floods, wildfires, and droughts begin to cost a nation in the range of 150 billion to 500 billion dollars per year to repair, we will have reached a level of climate destabilization that should really be considered catastrophic climate destabilization.

Catastrophic climate destabilization is also associated with a measurement of carbon parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere in the range of 450 ppm. The eventual temperature range commonly associated with catastrophic climate destabilization is an increase in average global temperature of about 2.7 degrees Celsius or 4 to 6°F.

2.  Irreversible climate destabilization. This level occurs when we have moved away from the relatively stable dynamic equilibrium of temperature and other key weather conditions we are currently experiencing in our cyclical Ice Ages. Once this new dynamic equilibrium stabilizes, we will have crossed from catastrophic climate destabilization into irreversible or near-irreversible climate destabilization. 

Irreversible climate destabilization, as defined here, is associated with a measurement of carbon parts per million in the atmosphere in the range of 550 ppm. The eventual temperature range associated with irreversible climate destabilization is an increase in average global temperature of 4 degree Celsius or about 5 to 8°F.

Irreversible or near-irreversible climate destabilization is used to define a new average global temperature range and a set of climate destabilization consequences we might never recover from--or that could take hundreds or even thousands of years to correct or re-balance. Irreversible climate destabilization could cost the nations of the world hundreds of trillions of dollars.

3.  Extinction level climate destabilization. Extinction level climate destabilization is defined as the projected potential and eventual extinction of approximately half or more of the species on earth and most, if not all, of humanity.

This occurs when the climate destabilizes to a level where the human species and/or other critical human support species can no longer successfully exist. Not surprisingly, extinction level climate destabilization has occurred previously during Earth's evolution--and some scientists suggest it has also happened in some form on both Mars and Venus. If it did occur on both Mars and Venus, it robbed them of what may have once been (or could have been) a productive atmosphere and environment.

Extinction level climate destabilization will cost the nations of the world hundreds of trillions of dollars and potentially billions of lives--maybe the survival of the human species itself. Extinction level climate destabilization as defined here is associated with the measurement of carbon parts per million in the atmosphere in the range of 650-750 ppm. The eventual temperature range associated with extinction level climate destabilization is an increase in average global temperature of 6°C, 8 to 12° plus F.

There is a possibility that extinction level climate destabilization may never correct or re-balance itself to some new equilibrium level. If the climate were able to correct or re-balance itself, it could take hundreds or even thousands of years.

How the global climate works in relation to climate destabilization

Climate destabilization describes both the process and the state of the climate that includes the chain of interrelated climate sub-processes involved in creating global climate stability. To understand the full meaning of climate destabilization, it is also useful to understand how our global climate works.
Our global climate is also what is known as a complex adaptive system. Complex adaptive systems are by their nature:

  1. complex
  2. rapidly changeable
  3. self organizing (They can organize themselves into new states or make changes without involvement or actions from outside the system. Self organization in response to some change in the environment or mutation dramatically increases the unpredictability potentials of the system.)
  4. evolving and adaptive (They can respond with both reactive and adaptive changes as needed to maintain balance and system integrity and stability.)
  5. contain elements of spontaneous emergence (Something coming into being that was not predicted or completely unpredictable)
  6. contain linear and nonlinear cause-and-effect relationships between the various parts of the system and it subsystems

For now, keep in mind that complex adaptive systems like the global climate are highly unpredictable, self organizing, and often include spontaneous emergence and nonlinear cause-and-effect relationships between the master climate system and its subsystems.

In summary

  1. Because of escalating global warming, the climate isn't just changing--it’s rapidly destabilizing.

  2. Climate destabilization is also being used to replace global warming as a term when one wants to speak about the whole process of global warming, as well as all of its direct and indirect consequences. Sign the Stop Saying climate change Pledge.

  3. As climate destabilization continues, our local and national weather, as well as our global climate will become much more unpredictable. Our storms, droughts, floods, sea level rise, and wildfires are going to become more severe, frequent, and occur at larger scales.
  4. Climate destabilization is a new and more accurate term to replace the misleading fossil fuel industry-sponsored term of climate change. Please click here to sign important petitions regarding escalating global warming and climate destabilization.

See the 20 deadliest effects of escalating global warming

Click here to see short, popular and fun videos that explain climate destabilization

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