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View Diary: Secrets Under The Melting Ice (29 comments)

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  •  I doubt it. (4+ / 0-)
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    Gooserock, Sandino, Dvalkure, Lujane

    Depending of course on how hot it eventually gets. Civilization will fall well before it gets all the way to universally fatal. Which would be an issue with the sun, not gases in the atmosphere. Predicted over the next ~300-500 years of already supposedly irreversible human contribution. From models that are weighted with climate extremes we [think we] know from geo-historical evidence. Unless our planet's orbiting radius gets a lot smaller, we are never going to be Venus (where the surface temperature is hot enough to melt lead).

    A few hefty volcanoes could cool things down considerably, in lieu of which I'm sticking with what's predicted - with a fast-forward they neglected to account for in the models.

    Unless the sun decides to expand or contract all of a sudden, this planet won't get THAT hot. However hot it gets, we'll have to adapt. All of the humans I've ever known are smart enough to go to higher ground as the water rises (or have someone lead them to higher ground). Sea level rise is a few centimeters a year. Coastal cities will move uphill when they have to. If the cities don't, the people who used to live in them will. I promise.

    Biggest threats are intensified storms. Quite apart from that but possibly linked to what's happening system-wide (even Saturn is experiencing global warming, it seems), tectonic movement seems to have reached a higher average magnitude. Which will eventually translate to those volcanic forces, but we'll ignore that...

    Climate change is not the same kind of threat, by magnitude or by immediacy. It's something we can use to unite humanity rather than divide it, if we so choose. It's a potential, but one that hints something relatively 'good' in human relations could be made of it. If we tried hard. You never know.

    •  Except for political boundaries being an issue (3+ / 0-)
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      Joieau, Dvalkure, Lujane

      To get this part out of the way, nuclear war and climate change are not comparable in that their reasons for being and both the size and scope of their respective damage is not going to be quantified so similarly.

      All of the humans I've ever known are smart enough to go to higher ground as the water rises (or have someone lead them to higher ground). Sea level rise is a few centimeters a year. Coastal cities will move uphill when they have to. If the cities don't, the people who used to live in them will. I promise.
      In order to assess the scale of catastrophe associated with climate change, we should take into consideration our standing in human history. We're only about 100 years forward from a time when empires and colonies still very much ran political boundaries. Prior to that, the Old World of Europe and Asia stood juxtaposed to continents with majorities of the populations as indigenous people, for a grand total world population of an eighth less than present day.

      Prior to that, before feudalism and empires and civilization in general, you could say that nomadic people were freer to escape to higher lands and had the ability to glean the particular knowledge of the natural world that comes with centuries of learning and teaching during a relatively stable climate that isn't happening today. The change is far too dramatic now and the system is only beginning to adjust in response to our dramatic change to the atmosphere. Secondly, the natural world doesn't adjust with the same autonomy or "flexibility" as human adjustment, and the very threat of mass extinction alone can stymie our hubris. Dangers in migration 150,000 years ago were largely secluded to hardship from the elements. Human encounters less frequent. Now, we have hardship from the elements to combine with ubiquitous human contact. We have environmental catastrophes like Chernobyl, slavery, tribal warfare and terrorism, on a scale never before seen.

      We're a world now divided into over 210 sovereign countries. Each one is experiencing climate change in unique, but similar, ways. What do you do if you live in Maldives? With what do you replace New York? Obviously, these are abstract, rhetorical scenarios. But again, it's not the best exercise to compare nuclear war with climate change.

      I would agree climate change is not the same kind of threat. But it's a form we're seeing for the first time in recorded history with 7 billion souls living about. Volcanoes are a threat in their own right, but I disagree that they are not taken to consideration. The reality is that volcanoes like Krakatoa and Pinatubo are the most memorable in the past several centuries, yet have not dramatically cooled the climate over the long term. In my view, they are simply not frequent enough to be a major part of a risk assessment on a time scale lasting a couple hundred years, which is the crux of the major warming period we're entering. It's like doubting the likelihood that every box of crayons will have a red one, because of the chance that some goof up in the factory left it out in one box. Volcanoes may be stochastic, but then the change in the atmosphere predicts something of very high probability in terms of physics. If you extend the time scale by tens of thousands of years, yes, volcanic events like Toba would begin to appear more likely.

      But back to politics, I can't even comprehend the xenophobic hostilities and wars that will likely come to pass against this backdrop. El Nino episodes alone have been associated with sharp increases in civil conflict. There's not a good alternative to a situation in which sea level rises and depressed economic output push people, literally, to boundaries and the flashpoints that would develop. If anything to make this all relevant, I'd argue that climate change makes nuclear war far more likely, and that's how climate change is inherently more dangerous.

      "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

      by rovertheoctopus on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 01:04:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  To be honest, (3+ / 0-)
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        rovertheoctopus, Dvalkure, Lujane

        the debateable (on scientific levels) scale of climate change over centuries really isn't that big a deal for me. What is a big deal is doing what I can while I'm still here to stop human contributions to it, and teaching the younger generations that it's important to keep on engaging that fight. I'd love nothing better than to go with the old Native American (was it just Souix?) weighing of current desires against the likely ramifications 7 generations down the line. It's not likely short-sighted and terminally greedy humans - er, white guys - will ever be able to accomplish that, though.

        This planet has experienced some radical climate changes in the totality of its existence, not all of them amenable to the survival of human (or other) life. Granted that there's microbes around who can survive most anything. It's livability for humans we are most concerned about.

        Our perpetual internecine warfare makes us blind to the bigger picture, where very survivability is concerned. But since in the movies it's always the greater outside threat that unites us in the end, we could be taking global warming that way. We could at least determine amongst ourselves that we shouldn't keep pushing the envelope with filth. Less filth is good for all, for however long that lasts.

        If it's fated in the stars that this planet become uninhabitable by the forms of life it has evolved so far, then there's nothing we can do to stop it. The universe won't miss us when we're gone. But if it's anything less than that, it's one of the more significant tests of our adaptability ("Crown of Creation" and/or Evolution). I hope we pass, but we might not. No skin of any individual's teeth, since we're all mortal by design or happenstance anyway.

        Challenge and hardship is the story of our existence. We either survive or we don't - it's an adventure writ large, constantly renewing cast of characters. As is the nature of life and its evolution. If we can't get past our thirst for the blood of our own kind, we deserve to be extinct.

        The world will do what it does. We can't stop it from turning, we cant stop it from shrugging us off as a failed experiment if that's the luck of the draw on cosmic billiards (or something less dramatic). We can at least attend to our own filth, the stoopid tendency to foul our own nest. The effort can bring us together. And if any generation is to be "the last," isn't it best that we atone for our sins as best we can before we go into the night?

        Thanks for the thoughtful post.

        •  No shit. (0+ / 0-)
          To be honest, (0+ / 0-)
          the debateable (on scientific levels) scale of climate change over centuries really isn't that big a deal for me.
          It's never been a big deal for you.
          If it's fated in the stars that this planet become uninhabitable by the forms of life it has evolved so far, then there's nothing we can do to stop it.
          Bullshit. We still have a chance to beat climate change, and we had an even better chance back when you started campaigning against nuclear power.
          •  May I respectfully ask (0+ / 0-)

            why the personal animosity? I honestly don't get it. You act as if I am solely responsible for anthropogenic global climate change, and I know for a fact I'm not. Since I don't think we've ever met in real life, I'm wondering where that comes from. Because it's so bizarre on its face.

            Can you help me out here?

    •  Climate change is going to set off a series (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, Lujane

      of catastrophes. Warming and rising sea levels is only the beginning.

      A model put forward by Lee Kump, Alexander Pavlov and Michael Arthur in 2005 suggests that oceanic anoxic events may have been characterized by upwelling of water rich in highly toxic hydrogen sulfide gas, which was then released into the atmosphere. This phenomenon would likely have poisoned plants and animals and caused mass extinctions. Furthermore, it has been proposed that the hydrogen sulfide rose to the upper atmosphere and attacked the ozone layer, which normally blocks the deadly ultraviolet radiation of the Sun. The increased UV radiation caused by this ozone depletion would have amplified the destruction of plant and animal life. Fossil spores from strata recording the Permian extinction show deformities consistent with UV radiation. This evidence, combined with fossil biomarkers of green sulfur bacteria, indicates that this process could have played a role in that mass extinction event, and possibly other extinction events. The trigger for these mass extinctions appears to be a warming of the ocean caused by a rise of carbon dioxide levels to about 1000 parts per million.
      link
      •  Sure, that's entirely possible. (0+ / 0-)

        So is the likelihood we end up as a target of the cosmic billiards game from "The Oort-Thing Cometh." We could go on indefinitely describing possible Armageddons. None of it would change anything real.

        We can only do about the ramifications of what's coming what we have the power to do. About our own contributions to the processes. Beyond that it's just extinction porn. A rather depressing exercise in doomsday thinking. The sun is going to go all red giant one of these days, you know. Talk about deep-fried!!! So what? You and I and everyone we'll ever know will be so long gone by then that the universe not noticing will be absurdly anticlimactic, to say the least. No one will care. Least of all the impersonal mechanics of the universe we've had the privilege of inhabiting for a blink of time. In time.

        We are currently enmeshed in a mass extinction event, largely of our own making. The only point in noticing it would be to see if there's something we could possibly do to stop it. If so, we need to get busy. If not, we should enjoy what's left.

    •  recced for optimism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau
      It's a potential, but one that hints something relatively 'good' in human relations could be made of it. If we tried hard. You never know.
      Which we sorely need. Tx !

      “Good things don’t come to those who wait. They come to those who agitate!” Julian Bond

      by Dvalkure on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 03:03:36 PM PST

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