It never fails to amaze me, and dismay me, that the world’s best and brightest, gathered in one place, at the 2009 climate convention in Copenhagen to be exact, that they would be so off-target.
“Scientists are expressing particular concerns about:
– runaway global warming driven by positive feedback loops between melting permafrost, methane hydrates, and methane releases potentially capable of increasing mean global temperature by 10°C [New Scientist, 28 March 2009. p32];
– polar ice cap instability and associated sea level rises of several to tens of metres; and
– increasing oceanic acidity and associated adverse impacts on: coral reefs [bleaching, loss of biodiversity]; shellfish; and krill, the base of the food chain on which cetaceans [whales, dolphins] depend. An acidic ocean largely devoid of life is a sobering possibility.”
Well, true enough, but is this all there is to it? Is this all they have in mind, and to say, and to act, in saving the planet from the most destructive process it has ever seen since the End-Permian Mass Extinction (Mass Extinction #3, 251 million years ago, which by the same “doomsday machine” caused the extinction of 75% of all land species and 95% of all marine species)? To put this in perspective, the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 64 million years ago (Mass Extinction #5) terminated “only” about half of the species of the End-Cretaceous period.
Now, Mass Extinction #6 is about to equal or possibly surpass Mass Extinction #3, the only difference being that while ME3 was caused by geological activities in the early fragmentation of the then supercontinent Pangaea, ME6 is being caused by humans.
It is too late to prevent ME6 from happening, since it is already well under way, and accelerating, currently at the rate of over 100 KNOWN species per DAY, plus an unknown number of unknown species per HOUR. What we must do now is to prevent ME6 from becoming the catastrophe that ME3 was.
What we must first attempt to do is to prevent the M-BOMB from detonating, which does involve disarming its fuse.
Where the M-BOMB is concerned, CH4 (methane) is the bomb, CO2 (carbon dioxide) is only the fuse. To defuse the M-BOMB, we must control and, ASAP, end carbon emissions into the atmosphere from all human sources, be it in the form of CO2 from the transportation system or in the form of CH4 from the meat and dairy industries, the latter actually worse than the former by about 25% in CO2 equivalent.
CO2 emission by country
About CO2, the first thing to remember other than that it is the most voluminous of all greenhouse gasses, is that while CH4 is short-lived, half-life in terms of years, CO2 is long lasting, half-life in terms of millennia. What is already in the atmosphere is here to stay, and it will continue warming the planet and acidifying its oceans for centuries to come, even if we stopped burning fossil fuels yesterday.
Second, the last 500,000 years have seen major global average temperature fluctuations 4 times, and at fairly regular intervals. As a rule, the temperature corresponded almost exactly to the atmospheric CO2 concentration of the time. The important point to note is that at no time did the CO2 concentration fall below 200ppm or rise above 300ppm. This had held true all the way to as late as the year 1880 AD, the demarcation point of the human-caused Industrial Revolution, when the CO2 was at a very sustainable 280ppm. Today, 130 years hence, the CO2 concentration has risen to 390ppm, increasing at about 1ppm per year, and accelerating.
It has been determined that 350ppm is the maximum the planet can sustain without global warming escalating into Runaway Global Heating. We already are in dire straights as to how to reduce the current 390ppm back down blow 350ppm, when, just last week, the oil nations proclaimed a target of 450ppm minimum – a suicide scenario. Long before 420ppm, the Arctic ice cap will have disappeared in the summer, the Arctic Ocean temperature will have risen enough to melt the surrounding permafrost for hundreds of miles inland, releasing the methane (CH4) hitherto frozen therein, thus detonating the M-BOMB, Doomsday Machine.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)