Is “doomer” Guy McPherson right, after all? Or is he actually optimistic, re: timing of near-term extinction. It does seem that the Arctic methane issue may be the trigger. If so, how are we to respond? Besides urgent action, please read again Joanna Macy, How to Prepare Internally for WHATEVER Comes Next.
July 14, 2014
By Michael Byron
Exclusive to OpEd News
and you’ve got no place to go.
Soon you’ll attain the stability you strive for,
in the only way it’s granted:
In a place among the fossils.”
Jefferson Airplane, Crown of Creation
Imagine that somewhere out in the vastness of the Cosmos, there exists a species that knows, or reasonably should know, that its economy is organized in such a manner as to inevitably trigger its own total extinction, likely within the lifetimes of all but the oldest members of that species. Suppose that this species’ collective reaction was to simply ignore this unpleasant reality and continue with business as usual!
Such a species would surely be thought of as not only doomed to extinction, but perhaps deserving of that fate. Surely, though, no seemingly intelligent, technologically adapt species as this could exist in reality–right?
Think again. Such a species does indeed exist–it’s US!
The present moment represents the final interlude before our self-triggered extinction becomes unstoppable. Right now between one and ten TRILLION tons of methane ices exist in shallow (i.e. less than 100 meters/yards) waters in the Arctic Ocean. (1) This means that the ONLY thing preventing these ices from sublimating (transitioning directly from a liquid to a gas) is the year-round icy temperatures of the water in which they are immersed.
Unfortunately, the arctic is warming MUCH faster than is the rest of the planet. As a consequence sea ice is projected to disappear entirely in this ocean during late summer within one to two years. (2)
This is a critical threshold because so far most of the energy warming this ocean has been taken up melting the surface ices. Once that is no longer true, the methane ices just below the surface (methane can exist in ice form in as little as 20 feet of water at Arctic Ocean temperatures) will begin to sublimate in ever-growing amounts.
From that time, until the self-reinforcing process becomes unstoppable, is a period of no more than perhaps ONE decade. (3) Since the process of methane sublimation has already begun to accelerate, we may have less time than this before temperature runaway occurs. (4) That is to say, it is very likely that by the middle of the next decade, humanity will have doomed itself to extinction.
Recently a group of very alarmed climate scientists, specializing in the arctic region, declared a planetary emergency and formed the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG). (5) Since that time they have been tirelessly attempting to bring this issue and the absolute need to respond quickly to it to avert certain catastrophe to the attention of the world’s leaders–to little avail.
Among climate scientists, opinion is divided not over whether the arctic methane ices will sublimate due to warming ocean waters, but only as to WHEN this extinction-causing process will be triggered. Once it is triggered, we go extinct within the following 30-40 years. Game over for humanity. Currently, the majority opinion of the climate scientists is that this won’t be a problem until later in this century. (6)
That’s it! The entire debate is whether we will trigger this extinction event in the near future (ten years or less), or several decades from now!
Those climate scientists arguing in favor of the near-term emergency tend to be specialists in the arctic, while those arguing otherwise tend not to be. All available evidence suggests that the near-term group have a better command of the facts.
However, either way, we know with certainty that this arctic methane “bomb” will “explode” killing all life on Earth within a matter of decades unless our CO2 emissions are RADICALLY reduced NOW. Yet, we do essentially nothing!
Put very simply: our entire human organizational system–political, economic, even cultural–is wildly out of synch with actual reality. We are all so caught up in our self-constructed worlds as to be oblivious to our certain impending doom.
Our planet is run by elites for elites, with public opinion manufactured via corporate media to convince the masses that whatever serves the interests of these elites, is actually the PUBLIC interest. The chances that this group–the .01 percent–can and will respond in time to the looming existential danger we face, can be computed with 100% accuracy: it is ZERO.
If the powers that be remain in control, we die–every human, every bird, every flower–all life dies. There will be no 22nd century, no starships, no romantic evenings–nothing but a second Venus orbiting lifelessly around the sun.
Humanity’s leadership represents the worst of our species. Their thinking is characterized by insatiable desire for power and wealth. Their time horizon is always short term. They CANNOT provide the solutions required in the time available.
Given this reality it is up to the rest of us to act–NOW. The indispensable requirement for our successful action is an informed global public.
Get the word out–it’s now or never. Begin by reading the information available at Arctic News, the online journal of the concerned arctic climate scientists I’ve just mentioned. Encourage others to do so also.
We are rapidly approaching a point beyond which we cannot be saved from extinction. ACT. NOW.
We need to abandon fossil fuels regardless of costs. It is not convenient, but nature does not bargain. It’s either act now, or our species goes extinct as part of the extinction of all the rest of life on Earth.
Michael P Byron is the author of The Path Through Infinity’s Rainbow: Your Guide to Personal Survival and Spiritual Transformation in a World Gone Mad. This book is a manual for taking effective action to deal with the crises of our age including (more…)