Monday, June 15, 2020

417 and Still Rising

Atmospheric CO2 levels have hit 417 ppm, the highest level in about three million years and that means the highest level in human history.

The last time the atmospheric carbon dioxide was this high, sea level was 50 to 80 feet higher than it is today and 3.6°–5.4°F warmer than pre-industrial temperatures. There is a delay in the physical response of a forced increase in carbon dioxide to temperature and sea level, meaning this acts as a benchmark for where we are likely headed into the future.
Here's the thing. Nature isn't nearly as efficient as humans at screwing everything up. We've achieved the latest record in just a couple of centuries. The natural impacts of what we've done will be unfolding for a few centuries only there's a fair chance we won't be around to see how this ends.

Think of it as an over-inflated balloon. Everyone knows it's about to burst but we just can't bring ourselves to stop blowing more air into it. And we're the most knowledgeable, affluent, powerful and technologically advanced creatures ever, the very zenith of life on Earth.  Kind of a giggle, isn't it?
“Well-understood physics tells us that the increasing levels of greenhouse gases are heating Earth’s surface, melting ice and accelerating sea-level rise,” said Pieter Tans, senior scientist with NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory. “If we do not stop greenhouse gases from rising further, especially CO2, large regions of the planet will become uninhabitable.”
We are going to see some amazing changes unfold before this decade is out.


Northern PoV said...

"We are going to see some amazing changes unfold before this decade is out."

We are all the sorcerer's apprentices.

The Disaffected Lib said...

What's that line, NPoV? Something about "with great power comes great stupidity"? Maybe that's not quite it, I can't remember. Sorcerer's apprentices. That sounds about right. Well done.

Owen Gray said...

We don't lack knowledge, Mound. We lack will.

The Disaffected Lib said...

I've tried to make sense of it, Owen. My guess, and it's a guess, is that we cannot handle the enormity of our circumstances. It wasn't that long ago, certainly not more than 20 years, for many less than 10, when we believed that we weren't really in any great peril either because we imagined someone would surely come up with a fix as they always had (itself a myth) or we rejected the science as the work of a bunch of trouble makers chasing grants. The public disinformation/doubt sowing machine was going full bore and it was working. It never was about the long term. It only set out to buy time and it did. The longer we delayed, the more our options shrank, the higher the cost of the remaining options. We began to discount the future to an irrelevance, something to be ignored as much as possible. And so here we are.