During my brief hiatus from this blog, I did a lot of looking about, both locally and regionally, as well as keeping a close eye on news events. The hiatus wasn’t intentional, by the way. Life just got extremely busy, and the blog’s priority started slipping down a notch or two. Of course, because I love this blog, the fact that I wasn’t writing left me with feelings of guilt. So I’m back…maybe not in full swing, but doing my best to get there. In the meantime, my look about left me convinced that there was no need for me to change any of my notions where Climate Change was concerned. No, I am more doubtful than ever that we hold any promising developments for resolving our predicament on the planet. Some terribly rough times lay ahead for us humans, I believe, and I’m certainly not alone in that perspective.
When I say that I “looked about,” I mostly mean that I did a lot of reading. What I continually discover is discouraging in the strongest sense of the word. Downright depressing is a more apt description.
Because I do keep such a close eye on Climate Change news (even though I’ve vowed not to because it’s changing my entire world perspective much faster than I would like to shift…I’m dizzy), I can tell you that I am perceiving a palpable increase in the number of stories readily accessible to the average reader concerning Climate Change, and of course none of them uplifting or holding much promise for the future. The warning signs are becoming more prevalent, and this must be the cause behind the more focused attention that is being paid to the scientific community and its persistent alarms.
Here are ten random factoids about the climate, ranging from the very cold to the very hot. With these kinds of observations, as with many others, the term “feedback loop” comes to mind, and it’s important not to consider such unfoldings in a linear manner. The way that the Big CC is proceeding would appear to suggest exponential acceleration, and that’s about as frightening as things can get:
- Larsen C is scheduled to calve off from its parent ice shelf any day now, becoming one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, comprising about a ten percent loss to the ice shelf it has always called home. Some scientists say this will only accelerate the rush to the sea of the glacier that is “held back” by the shelf.
- According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, glaciers around the world have been retreating, with few exceptions and at unprecedented rates for decades now. Some have disappeared altogether, and other are retreating so rapidly that they may vanish by mid-century. (Note that, because glaciers are so sensitive to weather fluctuations, they are one of the most reliable indicators of change. It would be hard to draw any other conclusion about the planet, based on this collective glacial retreat, other than the fact that it is warming up, and fast).
- The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet is accelerating at an alarming rate. So much can be said about that fact alone, but mostly all you need to hear is the collective alarm of all those who research the ice on Greenland as a vocation to send chills up your spine. As I’ve said before in this blog, rejoinders to most quotes included in media stories, such as, “We knew it was bad, but not this bad,” or “It’s happening so much quicker than we expected” almost seem obligatory now.
- Last winter’s temperatures in the Arctic were record-setting, with highs that could only be categorized as “extreme” in nature (30 to 35 degrees above norms). As a result, sea ice melt is occurring months before it normally would. Instead of the ice becoming thin and sparse more toward August and September, these conditions are already present in May and June. An Arctic that is free of sea ice in the summer becomes more of a potential reality with each passing season.
- When I began this blog nearly a year ago (August 2016), reporting that we had reached 400 ppm for the very first time (2013) seemed like a big deal for the scientific community, at least in a symbolic context. Since that time, we’ve already breached 410 ppm, and are seriously flirting with 415 ppm. The take away here is that these same levels of CO2 in the atmosphere occurred millions of years ago.
- As of March 2017, the world has experienced 627 consecutive months of warmer than normal temperatures.
- Some 93% of all Climate Change heat is absorbed by the ocean. It’s an incredible heat sink. Lucky us. The downside is that the coral reefs that live there are taking a huge hit as a result of all this excess heat. The corals are now experiencing the worst bleaching event (most widespread and longest lasting) on record. The worth of the Great Barrier Reef was recently valued at approximately $40 billion or so. Reefs occupy only about one percent of the ocean’s floor, but support about 25% of all marine life. A disproportionate loss of marine life could be experienced if we lose the coral, not to mention the millions of livelihoods directly connected to the vitality of this eco-system.
- The Doomsday Clock is now set at two and a half minutes before midnight. The clock is now closer to midnight than it has been since 1953. If you’d like to know the primary reason for this extremely concerning move, look no further than the current resident president and his utter failure to lead politically.
- Scientists tell us that the sixth mass extinction event to ever occur on the planet is actually taking place right now. Every day, scientists estimate that some 200 species go extinct, well above any rate of occurrence we have experienced as a species since the dawn of civilization.
- Food production around the globe is diminishing, and will continue to do so as a result of Climate Change. While most human population growth in the future is expected to occur in the tropics, the food produced there will decrease in those same zones as a result of higher temperatures, increased plant disease and pest predatation, and a migration toward the poles by plant and animal species (fish) that will only be able to adapt and survive by moving toward colder temperatures. As another surprising result of the Big CC, researchers tell us that increased levels of atmospheric CO2 also results in a lower nutritional value for crops grown under these elevated CO2 conditions. People will develop zinc, protein, and iron deficiencies as a result.
Let’s say someone walks up to me on the street and asks me to participate in their poll (I wouldn’t, by the way, but this is for illustration purposes). The survey is about Climate Change. One of the questions is “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most optimistic, what are the chances for homo sapiens continuing to thrive into the future as they have until now?” My answer: 1 (the textual translation would maybe be “Don’t Hold Your Breath.”)