(Please Note: These pages are greatly expanded, including extensive footnotes, in the new book: Climageddon.)
Welcome to a not-so-happy summary of the current state of global warming and the climate emergency we now face. On the following pages you will discover the stark facts and science about our current level of global warming and how fast global warming is escalating. You will also discover:
Why we are in a global warming State of Emergency right now
Why we have just 6-10 years left to fix this emergency before we go over the climate cliff
While reading this candid briefing, keep in mind that if we act wisely together and with urgency, there is still a narrow window of hope. Before we can wisely end global warming, it is necessary to honestly face exactly where we are starting from…
Thirty plus years of global warming reduction failure
In spite of 30 years of warnings by credible scientists and the work of the environmental movement, plus a preponderance of collaborating scientific evidence, as well as numerous conferences and previous treaties, the carbon dioxide and methane pollution of the atmosphere has not stopped, slowed, or even leveled off. On the contrary, it is getting worse faster than ever before!
Image provided by NOAA ESRL Global Monitoring Division, Boulder, Colorado, USA (http://esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/)
Leading climate scientists like James Hansen, who originally warned us about the global warming danger 30 years ago, say we would remain safe if carbon in the atmosphere did not go over 350 parts per million (ppm). As of August 2016, carbon was near 407 ppm and increasing at about 3 ppm per year in a near exponential progression.
When you combine the heating effect of carbon with the other greenhouse gases, it is called the CO2e ppm rating. CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent. CO2e is a standard unit for measuring all greenhouse gases in terms of the amount of warming they create compared to CO2.carbon footprints.
When you include atmospheric methane and the other greenhouse gas pollutants, our current adjusted CO2e rating has already risen to the shocking level of 430 ppmv of CO2e! Worse yet, we will be at carbon 450 ppm in 10 years or less when we include atmospheric methane in our calculations.
To put this in a time-lapse perspective, from 1850 to about 1950, the increase in carbon pollution was steady at about 1 ppm per year. From 1950 to 2000, the increase rose to 2 ppm per year, and now in its current exponential curve, it is at about 3 ppm per year and rising rapidly toward 3-4 ppm per year. If carbon continues to rise in this exponential, nonlinear way, virtually unchecked by our ineffective previous actions, the increase could easily reach a level of 4-5 ppm per year by 2025.
Image via Stephen Stoft at zfacts.com
According to James Hansen, a carbon 450 ppm level would eventually correspond and develop into an average global temperature increase of 6° Celsius (10.8° 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 reaching the 450 mark, this also means at least another 2.7° Celsius (4.9° Fahrenheit) global temperature increase beyond where we are now is the eventual and inescapable future reality.
This 2.7° Celsius would also be the most realistic minimal temperature increase to project as part of any future planning over the next 10-30 years. Bear in mind that even this scenario applies only if everything goes perfectly and we cross no additional global warming tipping points.
Unfortunately, it is highly probable that because of our ongoing denial and delay in addressing escalating global warming, atmospheric carbon parts per million will most likely continue to rapidly rise beyond the carbon 450-550 ppm total, which translates to a 3° to 4° Celsius increase (5.4° to 7.2°+ Fahrenheit) up to as much as a 6° Celsius (10.8° Fahrenheit) increase in average global temperature. (A 4° Celsius increase [7.2° Fahrenheit] in average global temperature would become “Hell on earth” as Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, has stated.)
Hansen’s projections for “ending human civilization as we know it” are not the same as mass human extinction as we approach the 5° or 6° Celsius (9° to 10.8° Fahrenheit) temperature levels. In Hansen’s 6° Celsius rise coming from eventually crossing the carbon 450 ppm mark, what would be considered normal, comfortable, or predictable daily life in developed nations will be severely impaired. In undeveloped nations, there will be a level of chaos and breakdown that will rapidly render most of these nations politically and economically unsustainable. As it is already occurring, the chaos of existing less-developed nations destabilized by factors such as war and the global warming emergency will affect the more developed and stable nations far beyond just the current massive migrations of those escaping the suffering.
In spite of all the media PR, 21 UN / IPCC climate conferences, endless warnings from credible scientists over the last 30 years, and national reduction pledges and treaties, things are worsening in a nearly exponential progression (2,4,8,16, etc.). There is no way to deny we are not only losing the escalating global warming battle, but losing it at a progressively faster rate!
Instead of enacting the needed changes when they were far easier, more gradual, and far less costly, we must now take radical, painful, and costly tough medicine if we are going to save the future. The changes that would have been inconvenient 30 years ago will now become nearly unbearable.
Some of today’s most disturbing global warming facts
We are not receiving adequate accurate facts about how bad escalating global warming is now, or how bad it will become. The heavily lobbied global media decline alarming us to the real dangers in order to allow the fossil fuel industry to continue business as usual.
Current atmospheric fossil fuel burning-related carbon ppm values are now at 407. This is higher than at any other time in the last 1 million years (possibly 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 in this and previous chapters).
Carbon pollution accumulating in the atmosphere has been increasing even faster over the last few decades. It is now nearly certain that if we refuse to take immediate, effective measures to resolve global warming, future increases will happen at even faster rates.
Global average temperatures have the potential to rise far faster than what we normally experience. For example, about 9600 BC, in the Boreal climatic phase, global temperatures rose 7° C (12.6° F) in less than a decade, pushing the ice sheets into rapid collapse and sending sea levels soaring.
Our 30-year inability to control the global warming emergency is due in part to:
The lack of national and international verifiable and enforceable international laws that would make continued large-scale carbon and methane pollution of the atmosphere a strongly punished activity or crime.
The physical time lags in developing and deploying the infrastructure needed for the new green energy technologies. As we are progressing now, it will likely take another 30-50 years.
But, if everyone on the planet and every government simultaneously agreed to scale up green energy generation immediately and there were no budgetary or resource restrictions in completing this life-critical project, it could take just 10 years to put that infrastructure in place.
If escalating global warming and its consequent climate destabilization proceed 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 losses and depreciation, and massive coastal and other infrastructure losses, in addition to the vast amount of human suffering and death.
Right now, most nations are struggling with debt 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 continue to exist if another 5% or more of their total GDP (the Stern Review) is drained off each year into the continually escalating costs of global warming-caused climate destabilization? Current estimates from a book called Climate Shock project all global warming consequences will cost 10 percent and maybe far more of the world’s total GDP by 2100.
The global warming emergency is already here! Its superstorms, flooding, seasonal disruptions, wildfires, heat waves, migrating insect infestations, and droughts will continue increasing in magnitude and frequency. According to a recent analysis from scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), "[t]he worst case projections for global warming may be the most likely.”
The next battle now lies in keeping global warming from becoming irreversible or rising to an extinction-level event where human-caused carbon dioxide and methane levels in the atmosphere push the global temperature increases to 4°-6° Celsius (7.2°-10.8° Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels and beyond.
From the Climageddon book: