Guest view: why we are doomed

From Paul Chen, Dean of the Facebook group: Near Term Human Extinction SUPPORT Group.From Paul Chen, Dean of the Facebook group

The world’s tropical jungles/rainforests now emit more carbon than they absorb. Total forests are half the size they were 40 years ago. And deforestation is accelerating, not decelerating. As climate heats up, even soils in temperate regions will also be unable to hold onto as much carbon as they currently do, and even more forests will be unable to take in more carbon then they release. How will we get carbon sequestration and oxygen production, then?

Marine phytoplankton, responsible for half of all the oxygen we breathe, are now down 40% in population compared to the 1950s. Oceanic warming, chemical contamination, and acidification are taking their toll. There is a real prospect that they will die off in just the next few decades due to these factors. Again, where does that leave us for carbon sequestration and oxygen production?

The frozen methane locked in shallow Arctic sea beds [East Siberian Arctic Shelf] and in Arctic permafrost soils have already begun to outgas a decade ago: constant streams of bubbles fizz to the surface from thousands of seeps, and on land sometimes in spectacular explosions that leave massive craters that look like the aftermath of an artillery bombardment across Siberia. That pace is accelerating faster than scientists thought. We know methane is some 100 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon, but there is also twice the amount of carbon locked in these Arctic regions than currently exists in the atmosphere, ready to let go. These are runaway warming threats.

The runaway train ain’t stopping. We know we will have a Blue Water event by 2020 to 2025, meaning no more free-floating Arctic sea ice. Guess what that means for the albedo effect? These damned feedback loops will reinforce each other in a vicious cycle.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and predictions are overly optimistic. They ONLY account for manmade carbon emissions. Not warming soil, not deforested lands. Not methane, nor water vapor, nor positive feedback loops like loss of albedo from receding ice and glaciers.

Worse, the vast majority of the IPCC’s projections/scenarios do how humanity will “solve” this predicament INCLUDE the miraculous effect of un-invented, un-tested, un-scaled negative emissions technology. In other words, they are actually far too optimistic about humanity’s ability to develop, test, and scale technological breakthroughs to save the planet.

Plant trees?!? To even compensate for one tenth of one year’s worth of current global carbon emissions, we need to mass plant fully grown trees on an area of land equal to the 48 contiguous United States. Want to sequester a whole year’s worth? You need ten such areas that large, fully grown. Impossible. There is not enough arable land on Earth.

And the overly modest emissions targets the IPCC has set? No country has met targets under the Paris Agreement, which still allows countries like China and India to INCREASE carbon emissions until the 2030s before leveling off. Since the 1990s, world carbon emissions have doubled. Emissions increased worldwide in 2017 and even further in 2018. 2019 looks like it will be even higher.

So-called “renewable resources” like hydro, geothermal, nuclear. solar, wind, and tide… still account for less than 2% of all energy use worldwide (including transportation). Of new power generation capacity placed on-line worldwide in 2017 and 2018, 75% of these power plants burned fossil fuels (coal is cheap).

Stop thinking there will be a transition. The amount of concrete and steel alone necessary to build renewable energy plants to replace all current fossil fuel plants (not including transportation):

  1. Is more than the world can mine and produce in decades,
  2. Is a massive carbon intensive process,
  3. Would take decades, even if all other building and construction worldwide were halted.
  4. Wind turbines and solar panels are only good for about 20 to 30 years, so you’d have all the environmental costs associated with replacing them.

Remember, the vast majority of new power plants under construction or in planning stages across the globe are going to be coal-fired.

For decades, every environmental article or film in mainstream media has put in a few words of hopeful messaging. But like World War 2 German reports of victories, the battles being “won” seem to keep getting closer and closer to Berlin. The “hopium” being pushed at the end of every article or film today strains credibility. It is time we were honest with ourselves.

Everything is happening faster than expected. Insects are in massive decline. Animals and plants are in such decline, we are in the Sixth Great Extinction event. Heat events and changes in food and water availability are wiping out large fractions of entire species in the span of a few years (penguins) to a few days (flying foxes). The Arctic is seeing unprecedented wildfires across Siberia, Greenland, etc. Greenland ice sheets are melting at rates scientists predicted wouldn’t happen until 2070.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.