“30 years ago global warming was the crisis of our grandchildren. 10 years ago it became the crisis of our children. Today because it is escalating so fast, it is our crisis.” - - - Lawrence Wollersheim
Welcome to a not-so-happy summary of the current state of our escalating global warming emergency. Let's start out with a few of today’s shocking global warming facts:
In spite of all the media PR, all the 21 climate conferences over the last 30 years, and all the national reduction pledges, things are not just getting worse, they're getting worse exponentially! There is now no way to deny it. When we measure current rates of toxic carbon and methane pollution going into the atmosphere, we need to face the fact that we are not winning the escalating global warming battle!
In spite of 30 years of warnings by credible scientists, the environmental movement and an increasing body of compelling scientific evidence (now agreed to by almost all of the scientists qualified in climate science), the toxic carbon and methane pollution of the atmosphere has not slowed or even leveled off.
Leading climate scientists like James Hansen (former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies who also originally warned us about the global warming danger 30 years ago) say that we would remain safe if carbon in the atmosphere did not go over 350 parts per million (ppm). As of August 2012, carbon ppm was near 400 ppm and increasing at about 2-3+ ppm per year in a nonlinear, exponential progression. Worse yet, if you include methane and other greenhouse gas pollutants, our current adjusted carbon ppm is already near 430 ppm! (See the rapidly rising carbon only ppm graph curve farther below.)
We will be at carbon 450 ppm in 10 years or less if we include methane in our calculations. To put this in a time lapse perspective, from 1850 to about 1950, carbon pollution was steady at about a 1 ppm per year increase. From 1950 to 2000, the increase rose to 2 ppm per year, and now in its current exponential curve it is at 2.75 ppm per year and rising rapidly toward 3+ ppm per year in possibly just a few more years. If carbon continues to rise in this exponentially and nonlinear way and continues virtually unchecked by our ineffective actions as it appears it may, after the year 2025 the increase will reach a possible level of 4-5 ppm per year from its current level of about 2.7 ppm per year.
According to James Hansen, carbon 450 ppm would correspond to an average global temperature increase of 6 degrees Fahrenheit in this century and “the end of human civilization as we’ve come to know it.” Based on carbon ppm levels already in the system and soon reaching the 450 mark, this means that a 2.7-degree Celsius global temperature increase (6 plus degrees Fahrenheit) is already an inescapable reality.
Unfortunately, it gets much worse! It is also highly probable that because of our denial and delay in facing and addressing the escalating global warming emergency with honest and effective measures, carbon parts per million in the atmosphere will most likely continue to rapidly rise to and beyond carbon 550 ppm, which translates to a 3-4+ degree Celsius increase (6-8+ degrees Fahrenheit) in average global temperature. For every degree of Celsius temperature increase, global food production will drop 10% in many southern areas while the human population will continue to soar toward 9 billion. Climate scientists who are normally guarded in their language call a 4 degree Celsius increase (6-8 degrees Fahrenheit) in average global temperature "Hell on Earth."
Here are a few of today’s shocking big picture global warming facts:
We the general public are not being honestly told how bad escalating global warming actually is right now, or how bad it will become if we continue as we are now. The fossil fuel heavily lobbied or owned global media are telling us what will not alarm us to the real dangers and will allow the fossil fuel industry to continue “business as usual.” Current fossil fuel use values for toxic carbon air pollution are more than 400 parts per million (ppm.) This is higher than at any other time in the last 1 million years (and maybe higher than any time in the last 25 million years.) This new carbon pollution record represents an increase of 85 carbon ppm in the 55 years since David Keeling began making his revolutionary atmospheric carbon pollution measurements at Mauna Loa. (See graphs one and four below.)
Even more disturbing than the historic magnitude of this change is the fact that the rate of toxic carbon pollution accumulating in the atmosphere has been rapidly increasing over the last few decades. If we keep doing only what we have been doing to resolve global warming, this also means that future increases will happen even faster. (See graphs one and two below.)
- When averaged over 55 years, the increase in toxic carbon pollution has been about 1.55 ppm per year. However, the most recent data suggest that the annual increase is more than 2.75 ppm of carbon pollution per year.
Our 30-year inability to get the global warming emergency under control is in part due to:
The lack of national and international verifiable and enforceable international laws making large-scale toxic carbon and methane pollution of the atmosphere a strongly punished crime against both current society members and future generations.
The physical time lags in developing and deploying the infrastructure needed for the new green energy technologies (10-15 years if everyone on the planet and every government all agreed to do this immediately and there was no budgetary or resource restrictions in completing this life-critical project).
The existing carbon pollution momentum already in the atmosphere. It will take numerous decades if not the rest of this century to eliminate it if we could immediately get our carbon 430 ppm level back down to carbon 350 to 325 ppm.
If the escalating global warming emergency and its consequent climate destabilization
proceeds to the levels currently being predicted, it will eventually cost the global society hundreds of trillions of dollars in crisis recovery as well as soaring insurance rates, massive real estate depreciation, and massive coastal and other infrastructure losses, in addition to the vast amount of human suffering and death. The Stern Review
estimated that the costs of catastrophic climate destabilization will eventually grow to consume as much as 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of every nation on earth—and that is not even at climate destabilization's latter, or worse, stages! (The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is a 700-page report released for the British government
. The report discusses the effect of global warming on the world economy
Right now most nations are struggling with over indebtedness and their economies are in trouble with anemic annual growth. How will many of these nations, particularly the weakest ones, remain politically or financially viable, stable, or even in existence if another 5% or more of their total GDP is drained off each year into the continually escalating costs of climate destabilization?
The global warming emergency and its consequent climate destabilization is already here! Its super storms, flooding, wildfires, heat waves, migrating insect infestations, and droughts will continue increasing in scale, severity, and frequency.
The real battle now lies in how to keep from going off the climate cliff and keeping global warming from becoming irreversible or rising to an extinction-level event where human-caused carbon and methane pollution levels in the atmosphere push the global temperature increases to 5-6 degrees Celsius (8-12 degrees Fahrenheit) and beyond.
There is more, and unfortunately it gets still worse…
A 2-degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in global average temperature by year 2100 has been the official estimate of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC). But it is low and overly optimistic. The IPCC is a part of the United Nations charged with researching global warming and is currently recognized as the leading authority on the subject. If you have not read about the critical climate tipping points
, do so now. They are that important to your future!
This 2-degree Celsius IPCC estimate is based on the operating premise that everything happening in the very complex and highly interconnected climate system will always work perfectly as predicted in our favor, and no known or unknown critical climate tipping points
will be crossed. When is the last time relying on a perfection scenario has worked well for you?
Extrapolating from the current IPCC ’s own climate data and the IPCC’s glaring lack of climate tipping point
scenarios in its projections indicates that a 6-8-degree Fahrenheit increase is the far more realistic and balanced projection, to occur sooner than 2100 by far.
A 12-degree Fahrenheit average global temperature increase is based on these assumptions:
We continue increasing our toxic carbon and methane pollution of the atmosphere at our current exponentially rising levels, and/or
We cross any more of the many known or unknown critical climate system tipping points within any of the numerous critical subsystems of the climate master system.
According to the climate author Mark Lynas, if we let our planet’s temperature increase by 6 degrees Celsius (about 12 degrees Fahrenheit), “it would cause a mass extinction of almost all life and probably reduce humanity to a few struggling groups of embattled survivors clinging to life near the poles.” In May of 2014 we crossed another dangerous climate tipping point when scientists discovered that the West Antarctic Ice Shelf has gone into an irreversible and escalating melt.
There's another global warming shocker here as well. The first wave of escalating global warming super storms or "millennial storms" (storm severity levels that have not been seen for thousands or tens of thousands of years) will be coming much sooner than the 60-100 years from now as it is currently being told to us.
Our evaluation of the current climate data, when you include crossing one or more of the critical climate tipping points to some degree, implies that these new super storms, super droughts, super floods and super wildfires will begin replacing our current waves of extreme weather in as little as 15 to 30 years.
To be absolutely clear, we are already baking in a 2.7-degree Celsius average global temperature increase no matter what we do. It is unrealistic, bordering on irrational, for anyone to keep promoting that we can keep the average global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.
The battle to keep global warming less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) has already been lost! We all need to accept this harsh reality and move on to preparing for and adapting to what is coming next while we still have time!
In order for humanity to endure, we now have no other prudent choice but to do whatever we can to try to lessen and slow the long-term pain of this global warming emergency so that it does not become irreversible. The good news is that we may still have enough time to prepare ourselves, our families, our businesses, and nations for the tremendous stress that the increasing levels of escalating global warming will put us into; but again, only if we start preparing for it right now!
Some of the science behind our current global warming emergency
The popular media keeps telling us that the current climate target in average global temperature increase is no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), but as mentioned previously that threshold has already been crossed. A “no more than 2 degrees Celsius increase” is an impossible target due to the toxic carbon and methane levels already built into the system that cause global warming. This does not even include the current exponentially increasing carbon and methane pollution.
To make the global warming matter worse, almost every IPCC governmental 5-7 year update report coming out on the climate over the last 25 years has repeatedly adjusted the climate threat estimates to the negative by an average of 20-40%. This means almost every IPCC global warming report has been plagued with gross underestimation of the global warming condition. To help you see where we are in this losing battle, please review the "Keating" carbon in the atmosphere graphs below for toxic carbon pollution data:
a) since the industrial revolution (the first graph below)
b) extending closer to the present day (the second graph below)
c) for the last several hundred thousand years (the third graph below)
d) going back millions of years (the fourth graph below)
It is important to notice in Graph Three below that the average carbon parts per million (ppm) never rose much above 270 ppm until the Industrial Revolution of the 1880s. For hundreds of thousands of years before that, carbon ppm stayed in that general range. Only hundreds of millions of years ago were carbon ppm levels much higher, during Earth's turbulent developmental and volcanic periods.
Something has radically changed in toxic carbon ppm air pollution levels since the beginning of the fossil fuel-powered Industrial Revolution of the 1880s. For the first time in hundreds of thousands of years we have now crossed the unprecedented carbon 400 ppm level. (See Graph Two below.)
Even if we do not cross any critical climate tipping point,
by just extrapolating on the current exponentially rising carbon levels each year, we could be at carbon 550 ppm level in as little as 30-40 years or less. If we hit carbon 550 ppm—as it appears we will—this "seals the deal" on the coming radical and destructive changes for most life on earth.
What is hard to fathom is that even if we stopped all toxic carbon and methane pollution from fossil fuel use today, it is estimated that it would take hundreds of years to bring the atmosphere back into safe carbon ppm levels (the carbon 350 ppm range.) All this bad news indicates that we need to resolve the global warming emergency immediately as well as immediately start preparing for and adapting to a radically different world, both individually and collectively!
Extrapolating information from the carbon ppm Graph One below, it also appears that in spite of whatever we are doing now to stop or slow escalating global warming, the current global average temperature is increasing by about 1/2 degree Fahrenheit for about every 25 additional parts per million of toxic carbon going into the atmosphere. (See the first carbon graph below.) Please also keep in mind that this proportionalized trend in increased carbon ppm levels and temperature unfortunately does not also include:
The continued likelihood that more carbon ppm will enter the atmosphere each year due to increasing fossil fuel use, causing an ever faster rate of average global temperature increase.
The effects of additional methane going into the environment because of existing and new natural gas fracking, all of the existing leaks in methane storage and transportation systems all over the world and from agribusiness.
- Calculations for any critical climate tipping points that will be crossed as the atmosphere heats up more in a vicious positive feedback loop of ongoing or increasing fossil fuel use increasing carbon ppm and then increasing average global temperature..
Graph Number One
Graph Number Two
Increased or decreased carbon ppm in the atmosphere appears to have a direct or near direct relationship to rising and falling temperature all the way back to Earth's earliest times hundreds of thousands of years ago (see Graph Three just below). Please also be aware that life on Earth as we have known for it hundreds of thousands of years really flourished only when the carbon levels and temperatures were in a range of 200-270 ppm.
Graph Number Three
Graph Number Four
In Graph Four above one can see carbon pollution levels going hundreds of millions of years into our past. As you can see from the carbon ppm range disclosed near the bottom of the far lower left of the graph, modern life forms as we know them today appear to exist and function best when atmospheric carbon levels are quite low in about the 200 -270 pmm range. Life on Earth was much different with the much higher carbon levels seen hundreds of millions of years ago.
Crossing one or more critical global warming tipping points
will cause the temperature of the earth to rise rapidly by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius (5-8 degrees Fahrenheit) and then beyond. Eventually, if we cross one or more of the critical climate tipping points our average global temperature will rise to 6 degrees Celsius or more (about 12 degrees Fahrenheit) unless radical, costly, painful remedial action is taken immediately. (If you have not already read the detailed explanation at this link
on why we never ever want to cross any critical climate tipping point, we strongly recommend you do so now.)
How soon the world will go to a 5-, 8- or 12-degree Fahrenheit increase is uncertain. If we cross any critical global warming tipping points, we will soon be seeing sudden and radical increases in global temperature in just a few decades, far sooner than what is being predicted by the UN’s IPCC. In the climate history of Earth there have been numerous geologically sudden, large temperature changes over periods as short as several decades. This means another radical average global temperature change occurring within just a few decades would not be at all unprecedented.
Even if we don't cross one or more of these global warming critical tipping points, it now looks like we will be facing a 10-foot sea level rise by 2050. That's not even including the periodic King (full moon) tides and severe storm surges that could regularly add an additional 3-7 feet of sea water on top of the 10-foot sea level rise that will hit the coasts of the world. One doesn't need much of an imagination to grasp what the devastating aftermath would look like in our coastal areas where 50% of the world’s population currently lives.
We as individuals, corporations or nations are not prepared for the effects of crossing any critical global warming tipping point. For example, catastrophic effects are occurring more extensively and faster than expected at just 1 degree Celsius of warming—i.e., extreme storms like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, droughts and wildfires, Arctic Sea ice loss, and highly accelerated melting of the Greenland and Arctic ice sheets. One global warming expert, Kevin Anderson, states that an increase in average global temperature of 2 degrees Celsius is actually the real threshold between dangerous and extremely dangerous global warming and climate destabilization.
What we are also currently not being told by our leaders is that if we allow ourselves to unconsciously or inadvertently cross one or more of the most critical global warming tipping points
, humanity will likely be facing the unbearable reality of irreversible global warming or extinction-level climate destabilization that could eventually also lead to the runaway global warming known as the Venus effect (the name given to the climate event in which all of Venus’s atmosphere was stripped away into space.) The crossed critical climate tipping point peril makes the escalating global warming emergency a risk level that is even greater in scale, severity and in long-term destructive effects than global thermonuclear war.
In our ignorance about the danger of crossing one or more of the critical climate tipping points, we are currently living at extreme, unconscionable and intolerable risk levels as it relates to the future of society and humanity—something that should arouse and arrest the sensitivities of any rational person.
We must act now even if this immediate action means radical, painful and costly sacrifice and change. If we do not evolve wisely regarding this challenge, we and our children, grandchildren and future generations will suffer beyond anything that a rational person would ever want to imagine.
“Escalating global warming is not just an inconvenient truth as Al Gore brought to our attention in his famous movie of the same name. It is a truly unbearable truth for those who clearly understand what it will mean in suffering for our own lives, our children and future generations.” - - - Lawrence Wollersheim
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For more information
See the full definition of global warming
See the 20 deadliest effects of escalating global warming
See 2 short, popular and fun videos that explain climate destabilization
See more on the climate positive feedback loop
See the most critical climate tipping points
See the full definition of climate destabilization
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