Monday, September 02, 2013
When You Look At It This Way, Digging Dead Things Out of the Ground Only to Kill Live Things Above the Ground is Madness.
We have become a world obsessed with digging carbon out of the ground and transporting it into our atmosphere just as fast as possible. We say we're not, but the collieries, the refineries, the pipelines and supertankers say otherwise. We take carbon from places and states where it's harmless to us and then transform and transfer it into states and places where it's devastating to us.
Welcome to my world, as it then was.
The moon would appear six and a half feet closer to Earth, and the continents of Europe and North America would be four feet closer together. Zooming in, you would be able to spot some of the industrial clambering of the Golden Age of Capitalism in the West and some of the stilted attempts at the Great Leap Forward in the East. Lasers, bar codes, contraceptives, hydrogen bombs, microchips, credit cards, synthesizers, superglue, Barbie dolls, pharmaceuticals, factory farming, and distortion pedals would just be coming into existence.
There would be two thirds fewer humans on the planet than there are now. Over a million different species of plants and animals would exist that have since gone extinct. There would be 90 percent more fish, a billion less tons of plastic, and 40 percent more phytoplankton (producers of half the planet’s oxygen) in the oceans. There would be twice as many trees covering the land and about three times more drinking water available from ancient aquifers. There would be about 80 percent more ice covering the northern pole during the summer season and 30 percent less carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. The list goes on...
That was the world in 1950, the world into which I was born. 90 per cent more fish, 40 per cent more plankton, twice as many trees, three times as much precious water remaining in our ancient aquifers. Two-thirds fewer humans. If this doesn't make you think of malignancy, you might be insensate.
And yet we keep digging, faster and faster. As fossil fuels are just that, fossil remnants of life long past, we are digging up the dead the better to kill the living.
The link between rapid climate change and human extinction is basically this: the planet becomes uninhabitable by humans if the average temperature goes up by 4-6°C. It doesn’t sound like a lot because we’re used to the temperature changing 15°C overnight, but the thing that is not mentioned enough is that even a 2-3°C average increase would give us temperatures that regularly surpass 40°C (104°F) in North America and Europe, and soar even higher near the equator. Human bodies start to break down after six hours at a wet-bulb (100% humidity) temperature of 35°C (95°F). This makes the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed over 70,000 people seem like not a very big deal.
Factoring in the increase we’re already seeing in heat waves, droughts, wildfires, massive storms, food and water shortages, deforestation, ocean acidification, and sea level rise some are seeing the writing on the wall.