Showing posts with label clouds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clouds. Show all posts

Monday, June 10, 2019

When Will We Die?

A rise of more than 5°C could happen within a decade, possibly by 2026. Humans will likely go extinct with a 3°C rise and most life on Earth will disappear with a 5°C rise. In the light of this, we should act with integrity.

When will we die?

The outlook for people living now is that they will die before the end of the century. After all, even in more developed regions, people statistically die at an age below 75 years, as the image on the right illustrates.

The image calls up questions regarding possible shortening of life expectancy due to global heating.

A 2018 study by Strona & Bradshaw indicates that most life on Earth will disappear with a 5°C rise (see box on the right).

The first question therefore is whether and how fast such a rise could eventuate.

Furthermore, global heating projections for the year 2100 may seem rather irrelevant to many people, as they do not expect to be alive by the year 2100.

A second question therefore is what makes most sense, focusing on the year 2100, or on how much temperatures could rise over the next decade.

Clouds tipping point

A recent study points at a tipping point of 1,200 ppm CO₂e when marine stratus clouds start to disappear, resulting in an additional global heating of eight degrees Celsius (8°C or 14.4°F).

In other words, such a rise from clouds feedback would clearly suffice to cause extinction of most life on Earth.

Could this tipping point be crossed soon?

At its high-end, the A1F1 scenario used by the IPCC reaches a CO₂e level of 1550 ppm by the year 2100 (see screenshot below).

As discussed, the year 2100 is rather distant. The question is, could this 1,200 ppm CO₂e tipping point be crossed earlier, say, within one decade?

On May 15, 2019, recorded a carbon dioxide level of 415.7 ppm at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. NOAA recorded a methane level of 1.867 ppm for December 2018. As shown at the FAQ page, methane is 150 times as potent as a greenhouse gas over the next ten years compared to carbon dioxide. Accordingly, this 1.867 ppm of methane causes global heating of 280.05 ppm CO₂e.

Seafloor methane

Imagine a burst of methane erupting from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean that would add an amount of methane to the atmosphere equal to twice the methane that is already there. Twice the 1.867 ppm of methane is 3.734 ppm, which at 150 times the potency of carbon dioxide translates into a CO₂e of 560.1 ppm.

Adding this to the current levels of carbon dioxide and methane results in a level of 1255.85 ppm CO₂e, well exceeding the 1,200 ppm CO₂e tipping point and thus triggering the extra 8°C rise.

Above image was created with content from a recent paper by Natalia Shakhova et al. It shows that the outlook is much more grim than many people realize.

Above image illustrates the danger, as an ominous sign of what's on the way. Methane levels as high as 2.975 ppm were recorded on June 11, 2019, at 469 mb. A peak this high is likely to have originated from the seafloor.

Above image shows a solid-colored magenta area over the ESAS that afternoon, further indicating that large amounts of methane did erupt earlier that day from destabilizing sediments in the ESAS.

Koalas declared functionally extinct

The Australian Koala Foundation has declared Koalas "functionally extinct". While there still are some 80,000 Koalas left, it is unlikely that Koalas will be able to escape full extinction for long.

Climate change-driven droughts and heat waves are causing dehydration and heat stress, leading to organ failure and premature death.

A rapid temperature rise could make virtually all species on Earth go extinct. As the above-mentioned study points out, even the most robust lifeforms on Earth will likely disappear with a 5°C rise, as species on which they depend will die.

Near Term Human Extinction

For mammals, which depend on a lot of other species, extinction is likely to come earlier.  When looking at near-term human extinction, a 3°C rise from preindustrial will likely suffice to cause extinction.

In 2019, the global temperature could already be 1.85°C above preindustrial and a rapid temperature rise could take place over the next few years.

A lot of good action is possible, as described in the Climate Plan, which offers the greatest amount of flexibility in local implementation, within the constraints of the need to act on climate change as acknowledged, e.g. at the Paris Agreement.

Nonetheless, humans likely are already functionally extinct, as is most life on Earth. This may come as a surprise to many people, but that shouldn't stop people from doing the right thing.

The above image reflects the joint CO₂e impact of carbon dioxide and methane. In addition, there is the impact of further greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide and CFCs, as described in a recent post. There are more warming elements, such as albedo loss associated with the decline of the snow and ice cover. These warming elements could jointly push up the temperature rise to some 10°C above preindustrial, while the clouds feedback could add a further 8°C on top of that.

Sulfates do have a cooling effect, but this effect may fall away as society grinds to a halt and stops co-emitting sulfates alongside other emissions in the process of burning fuel, as Guy McPherson has pointed out repeatedly, e.g. in this recent post.

In the video below, recorded at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks on 4 April 2019, Guy McPherson explains how loss of habitat can lead to extinction of species and how global heating can lead to extinction of virtually all life on Earth.

Added below is a video edited by Tim Bob of Guy McPherson talking in Juneau, Alaska, in April, 2019.

In the video below, Examples of Rapid Extinction, Guy McPherson gives examples of species that went extinct rapidly in the past, warning that to rule out rapid extinction of humans would be foolish.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


• United Nations, world population prospects, 2017, Life expectancy

• Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR4 (2007), Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis

• Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change, by Giovanni Strona and Corey Bradshaw (2018)

• Climate Plan

• Extinction

• Possible climate transitions from breakup of stratocumulus decks under greenhouse warming, by Tapio Schneider et al.

• FAQ #13: What is the global warming potential of methane?

• Methane hydrates

• Methane, measured by the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) residing on the MetOp polar orbiting satellites

• A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

• Greenhouse Gas Levels Keep Accelerating

• Stronger Extinction Alert

• Understanding the Permafrost–Hydrate System and Associated Methane Releases in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, by Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov and Evgeny Chuvilin

• Guy McPherson at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, April 2019

• Guy McPherson in Juneau, Alaska, April 2019

• Seven Distinct Paths to Loss of Habitat for Humans, by Guy McPherson


Koala habitat 1788 versus 2018

• A report claims koalas are ‘functionally extinct’ – but what does that mean?

• Australian Koala Foundation calls on the new Prime Minister to protect the Koala

• Koalas become 'Functionally Extinct' in Australia with just 80,000 left

• Koalas declared “functionally extinct”

• Why the Heck Do So Many Koalas Have Chlamydia?

Thursday, February 28, 2019

A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions is unfolding. Life is disappearing from Earth and all life could be gone within one decade. Study after study is showing the size of the threat, yet many people seem out to hide what we're facing.

In the Arctic alone, four tipping points look set to be crossed within a few years:
  1. Loss of the Arctic sea ice's ability to act as a buffer to absorb incoming ocean heat
  2. Loss of Arctic sea ice's ability to reflect sunlight back into space (albedo)
  3. Destabilization of sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean
  4. Permafrost melt (melting of snow and ice to such an extent that soils thaw and don't stay permanently frozen anymore)
Crossing these tipping points triggers a number of feedbacks that kick in at accelerating speed, including even more absorption of heat by the Arctic Ocean, further changes to the Jet Stream resulting in even more extreme weather, seafloor methane release, water vapor feedback and emissions from land such as CH₄ (methane), N₂O (nitrous oxide) and NO (nitrogen oxide), due to permafrost melt, storms and forest fires. Temperatures also threaten to rise strongly over the next few years as sulfate cooling falls away while more black carbon and brown carbon gets emitted as more wood gets burned and more forest fires occur.

A recent study points at yet another tipping point, i.e. the disappearance of marine stratus clouds, which could result in a global temperature rise of eight degrees Celsius (8°C or 14.4°F). In the model used in the study, the tipping point starts to occur at 1,200 ppm CO₂e, i.e. a stack of greenhouse gases including CH₄, N₂O, CO₂ and H₂O, and changes in clouds resulted in global surface warming of 8°C at 1,300 ppm CO₂e, as stratocumulus decks did break up into cumulus clouds and evaporation strengthened, and average longwave cooling at the level of the cloud tops dropped to less than 10% of what it was in the presence of stratocumulus decks.

This 8°C rise would come on top of the warming that would already have occurred due to other warming elements, resulting in a total rise of as 18°C or 32.4°F from preindustrial, as pictured on the right and below.

What would it take to reach 1200 ppm CO₂e? The IPCC's AR4 contains a scenario of 1,200 ppm CO₂e getting reached with a corresponding temperature rise of between ~5°C and ~10°C above preindustrial. NOAA's figures for greenhouse gases add up to a current level of 500 ppm CO₂e. NOAA's figure for methane's GWP is too low, especially when considering a rise within a decade. When using this 500 ppm CO₂e, it would take 700 ppm to reach 1,200 ppm, and if 1 ppm equals 7.81 Gt of CO₂, then 700 ppm equals 5467 Gt of CO₂, which may seem a lot, but at a GWP for methane of 130 (10-year horizon) it could be reached instantly with a burst of methane of some 42 Gt, i.e. less than Natalia Shakhova's warning that 50 Gt of methane is ready for release at any time. In above image, further warming elements are included, in addition to methane and CO₂ and it takes until the year 2026.

As an earlier study points out, life on Earth will already have disappeared with a 5°C rise (see box on the right).

How precious life is

It took a long time for life to evolve on Earth. At first, hardly any species could live on land, as there was no ozone layer to protect them from UV radiation. Also, there was no oxygen in the air to breathe. Life formed some 3 billion years ago and bacteria first developed the ability to decompose carbon dioxide (and produce oxygen) some 2.3  billion years ago.

Then, worm-like creatures started to multiply strongly, using more and more oxygen and producing more and more carbon dioxide. Eventually, this resulted in a sharp fall in oxygen levels, leading to extinction of these species. This first mass extinction was followed by a spike in oxygen as both the species in the oceans and plants on land continued to produce oxygen, while these first animals went extinct.

Temperature changes dominate in subsequent mass extinctions, and each time it took life a long time to recover. We've now entered the Sixth Mass Extinction, as oxygen levels are falling, oceans are acidifying and species are going extinct at accelerating rates. A 2013 study calculated that species are facing warming that occurs 10,000 x faster than their natural ability to adapt.

A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?

The speed at which temperatures and greenhouse gas levels are now jointly rising is so large and so unprecedented in Earth's history that many doubt that there will be any life left on Earth by 2026.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.

Can humanity change its course? 

Given that humanity appears to be on a course to omnicidal destruction, what position can we best take in response? In the light of the dire situation, dramatic reduction in pollution is needed, as well as further action. Indeed, the Paris Agreement constitutes a global commitment to comprehensive and effective action. The Climate Plan calls for multiple parallel lines of action (the green lines on the image below).

The green lines of action each need to be implemented in parallel, i.e. no line of action should wait for another, nor should action on one line be used as an excuse to delay action on another line. Where lines of action are grouped together in three parts, numbers merely show relationships with the kinds of warming pictured at the top of the image.
While implementation of some of these lines of action requires U.N. supervision, the Climate Plan prefers local implementation, with communities deciding what works best locally, provided a community does take sufficient action to achieve the necessary dramatic reductions in each type of pollution. Examples of implementation of some of these lines of action are depicted in the image below, showing examples of how progress can be achieved through local feebates.

Where progress is lacking, swift escalation is recommended as follows:

1. Where a local community fails to make progress, state (or provincial) fees are imposed in that locality.
2. Where a state fails to make progress, national fees are imposed in the state.
3. Where a nation fails to make progress, other nations impose fees on imports from and export to that nation with revenues used to fund clean development in the other nations.

Warm air and water moving toward the Arctic Ocean

The need for action such as marine cloud brightening is illustrated by the following two images. The image below shows that, despite the presence of large amounts of meltwater off the North American coast, sea surface temperatures on March 2, 2019, were as much as 13.8°C or 24.8°F warmer than during 1981-2011, indicating how much more ocean heat is now carried to the Arctic Ocean along the Gulf Stream.

How is it possible for anomalies to get this high? As the Arctic is warming up faster than the rest of the world, the Jet Stream is becoming more wavy. A more wavy Jet Stream enables more cold air to move out of the Arctic. As a result, cold Arctic air can descend deep into the North American continent. At the same time, a more wavy Jet Stream enables more warm air and water to move into the Arctic. This is illustrated by the February 24, 2019, combination image that shows temperature on the left and the Jet Stream on the right.

As oceans get warmer, the temperature difference between land and oceans also increases in Winter. This larger temperature difference results in stronger winds that can carry more warm, moist air north in the North Atlantic. These winds can also speed up the amount of heat carried by the Gulf Stream toward the Arctic Ocean, with the threat that a large influx of warm, salty water will destabilize sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and trigger eruption of huge amounts of methane.

In conclusion, the situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the action, policies and feebates pages at the Climate Plan.


• Possible climate transitions from breakup of stratocumulus decks under greenhouse warming, by Tapio Schneider et al.

• High CO2 Levels Can Destabilize Marine Layer Clouds (News release associated with above study)

• Early Palaeozoic ocean anoxia and global warming driven by the evolution of shallow burrowing, by Sebastiaan van de Velde et al.

• Brock University-led team discovers way of tapping into and testing Earth’s prehistoric air

• Rates of projected climate change dramatically exceed past rates of climatic niche evolution among vertebrate species, by Ignacio Quintero et al.

• Extinction Alert

• Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change, by Giovanni Strona and Corey Bradshaw (2018)

• Climate Plan

• Extinction