Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Climate Change Black Death Surrounds Us: "The Truth Is Out There" but it needs to be dramatized

It is a most depressing thing to know that...
  • truth,
  • justice, and 
  • the American way 
                                                        ...inherently conflict.

For instance, at the end of WWI Americans could have faced some truths and applied some justice at the expense of its own economy to prevent the inevitability of WWII. But that isn't the American way. And that second war could have been averted by Americans at any time over the next 15 years if the truth had been presented. But it wasn't.

In the 21st Century, the inevitability appears to be catastrophic climate change.

Two books have been published recently - The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells released on February 19, 2019 and Losing Earth: A Climate History, by Nathaniel Rich released on April 9, 2019.

Neither is a scientist.

Wallace-Wells is a journalist whose book was previewed as "The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think" in the July 10, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

Rich is a novelist whose book was previewed as "Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change" in the August 1, 2018, issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Every American who has and cares about their descendants should read these two books, or at least the preview articles. But they likely won't. That is unfortunate as Wallace-Wells' book, definitely the one to read if you are thinking of having children, bluntly begins:

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

The next two dozen paragraphs are equally blunt with the truth that is out there, albeit more confusingly. 

As noted in posts here, scientists keep providing us with more and more data such as Greenland is melting even faster than experts thought, study finds. At the end of global warming, if the last human to die is a climate scientist, she will gather the final data that proves out the cumulative, though earlier data, presented confusingly by the science community. One reviewer of Wallace-Wells' book says it clearly:

    Here is a modest proposal: Climate scientists should shut up about global warming. The gatekeepers for what we know and think about climate change should take a vow of silence and let some other people get a word in edgeways. Because, important though the science is, we need to stop defining the great issue of the 21st century in scientific terms.
    If climate change is, as this book successfully argues, a game-changer for everyone, everywhere, all the time, then let’s reflect that in the discourse. We’ve got the science. Let’s bring on the philosophers and playwrights, lawyers and priests, economists and comedians. Society’s response depends on it.
    David Wallace-Wells offers a good starting point. His book, “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,” scares us with tales from a future climate-changed world that transcend climate science. Not since Bill McKibben’s “The End of Nature” 30 years ago have we been told what climate change will mean in such vivid terms. “It is worse, much worse, than you think,” Wallace-Wells begins the book. Not least because, in those 30 years, we have doubled our cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
    Climate change upends the certainties of 10,000 years of post-ice-age climate stability, an era that allowed human civilization to evolve to our current crossroads. But to move forward, to make sense of what we are learning to call the Anthropocene, requires new perceptions that probably lie far beyond the imaginings of climate modelers. “It is not a subject that can sustain only one narrative, one perspective, one metaphor, one mood,” Wallace-Wells concludes. Step aside, scientists. Please.

Which leads to the high level of frustration reflected in this article Ordinary people want radical climate policies so why do we not have policies that mirror that? which reports:

    The reluctance of politicians to propose real environmental action might seem bizarre, given a context where that action would be not only right but also popular.
    Addressing the environmental crisis isn’t as easy as beating up on defenceless asylum seekers. A meaningful response entails challenging powerful vested interests.
    In particular, you can’t decarbonise an economy without defeating the corporations whose business practices depend on the despoliation of the planet.
    A recent study noted that just a hundred companies were responsible for more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. But those companies include some of the most significant corporate entities in the world – and mainstream politicians regard going toe to toe with multinational capital as “courageous” in the Humphrey Appleby sense of the word.
    To put it another way, in our system, the wishes of the voters don’t necessarily prevail.

The sad reality of that expressed frustration is that it could be about the U.S. but it is about Australia with additional reference to the British Extinction Rebellion.

The concern this writer has is that even Wallace-Wells book offers slim hope that somehow the Paris Accords goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-2.0°C is possible. That simply is not going to happen, as explained here in the post As the midterm election approaches we should be in great fear of Climate Change. Why aren't we?.

As pointed out there, unfortunately in 2018 in both the U.S. and China formal findings have been made that we have "locked in warming" of 4°± Celsius most likely within 60 years.

Under the direction of the Trump Administration the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with the cooperation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Year 2021–2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks proposing reduced average fuel economy standards for those vehicles.

The DEIS has determined that the draft official policy of the United States government will be acceptance of a near worst case scenario, a 4.387°C (7.876°F) global temperature rise since 1880 by 2100. That is because any lesser scenario would require deep cuts in carbon emissions to avoid this drastic warming. A lesser scenario “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels...which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”

In China, home to the world's second largest (and sooner or later, largest) economy, the same conclusion was reached.

In May a collaborative research team from China published a new analysis that shows the Earth's climate would increase by 4 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels, most likely by 2084. They found that most of the models projected an increase of 4°C as early as 2064 and as late as 2095, with 2084 appearing as the median year.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of the mean and extreme climate changes associated with higher levels of global warming based on state-of-the art climate models, which is of high interest to the decision-makers and the public," said Dabang Jiang, a senior researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Perhaps some would want to dismiss both governments as being too pessimistic. But the reality is much worse, so much worse.

For Climate Change will not stop "as early as 2064 and as late as 2095." In fact if an increase of 4°C is reality by 2100, the impacts will continue to expand and worsen for the next two centuries and as of today an increase of 4°C is not the maximum increase likely.

There are projections of an increase of 7°C which would eliminate life on almost all of the Earth.

The problem is in 1995, now 23 years ago,  then Vice-President Gore reflected on his experienced reality in a 1995 New York Times article:

"We are in an unusual predicament as a global civilization," Al Gore said when I interviewed him early in his Vice Presidency. "The maximum that is politically feasible, even the maximum that is politically imaginable right now, still falls short of the minimum that is scientifically and ecologically necessary."
It is the lack of response to Gore's early efforts to stimulate action that is the subject of Rich's book along with the reviewing the successful efforts of the petroleum industry to assure that no serious action would be taken at the federal level.

Al Gore was, of course, the first Presidential candidate of the 21st Century to win a majority vote in the election but lose in the Electoral College, and then only after the intervention of the Supreme Court.

In the end, just as between the two World Wars, the American way will always override truth and justice. And as usual we are condemning our grandchildren and their descendants to suffering. Then those human family trees will literally stop sometime in the late 22nd Century.

The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.
                                                                                                          If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series:  climate change black death surrounds us 

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