by Andrew Glikson
|“in private conversations, many climate scientists express far greater concern at the progression |
of global warming and its consequences than they do in public” - Andrew Glikson (2016)
|Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists|
A climate chain reaction is believed to have pertained about 55 million years ago (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum [PETM]).
During the Anthropocene (post-1750 and in particular post-1900) greenhouse gas and temperature growth rates levels exceeded those of the PETM and of the end of the last glacial termination (LGT). During 2010-2020 an acceleration of global warming is reflected by an anomalous rise in greenhouse gas levels and temperatures (Figure 1).
|Figure 1. 1880-2020 temperature anomalies relative to the 1951-1980 base line (NASA, NOAA, Hadley, Berkeley)|
According to Peter Ward and others early examples of mass extinctions triggered by biological processes were related to ocean anoxia and acidification leading to CH4 and H2S release by “purple” and “green” algae and sulphur bacteria. Likewise, anthropogenic global warming constitutes a geological/biological process for which the originating organisms (humans) have not to date been able to discover an effective method of control.The critical criterion definitive of global warming is the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, rising from 280 to 419 ppm, i.e. by about 49% since pre-industrial time, only rarely mentioned by the media and politicians. Other parameters of climate change, such as the level of methane and nitrous oxide, have risen about 3-fold. While opinions by journalists, politicians, economists and social scientists proliferate, less attention is given to what is indicated by climate science, rendering the global response to the looming calamity increasingly irrelevant.
Thus, whereas most models portray linear rise in temperature, the evidence for the breading of the circum-Arctic jet stream, allowing cold and warm fronts to cross the boundary, would result in high storminess in high latitudes.
“Most scientists agree that climate change is happening faster than predicted. More than one-third of the world’s soil, which produces 95% of the world’s food supply, is currently degraded. By 2035, outdoor air pollution is projected to be a top cause of environmentally-related deaths worldwide, and half the world’s population will face water shortages.” However, many scientists are reluctant to warn the public about the full consequences of accelerating global heating. Namely, as Joachim Schellnhuber, Germany’s chief climate scientist has stated, the existential risk to the life support systems of the planet.
There is a heavy price to pay for communicating distressing evidence, Cassandra-like, including psychological factors and/or social and professional isolation. Personal optimism may overcome realism. Some scientists are either self-censored or have their work suppressed or dismissed within institutions or by the media, including in government and academia. Some scientists have lost their position.
As cited in the article titled “When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job“ … “Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can't really talk about it”, and elsewhere “in private conversations, many climate scientists express far greater concern at the progression of global warming and its consequences than they do in public”. It is not uncommon to hear people criticizing climate scientists for not telling them more about the future climate, although when they are told, many recoil. Then there is the plethora of false promises by politicians.
As the world continues to spend $trillions each year on military preparation for war or nuclear war, resources needed if serious attempts are made for protection of life on Earth, despair sinks in.
But the world is now waking up to the climate calamity.
There must be hope.
Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
The University of New South Wales,
Kensington NSW 2052 Australia
The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence
Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
The Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe
The Fatal Species: From Warlike Primates to Planetary Mass Extinction