el-barteristo-escorpo, you’d be right to consider this totally unprecedented.
Let me put it this way: we’re entering a new era in Earth’s geological history. Carbon dioxide is now above 400 ppm. It hasn’t been this high ever in recorded history and even then we don’t think it’s been this high in millions of years.
Carbon dioxide is specifically the cause of climate change. When sunlight hits the Earth, the Earth’s surface heats up and re radiates the heat as infrared light. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide block infrared light which causes the “greenhouse effect” i.e. the Earth heats up without any heat getting to leave.
Once we hit a point where we receive more heat than is able to escape, you hit what’s called a “runaway greenhouse effect”. To get an idea of what happens then get a good telescope. Then look at Venus.
It takes hundreds, if not thousands of years for carbon dioxide to leave the atmosphere which means we’re in it to win it. There’s no turning around now.
Humanity’s concern should no longer be about preventing climate change, we’ve already messed that up. Now it’s time to start preparing ourselves for what we think will happen in the next few decades due to our incredible hubris.
The effects will be large scale and seen everywhere. First the ice caps will continue to melt until they’ve totally rerouted currents which will force the weather to take on radically more extreme and unpredictable patterns.
The sea levels will then rise. As extreme as it sounds, there are cities (think New Orleans during Katrina) that are going to be under sea level and thus conceivably under water.
Due to the difference in weather, climate, average temperature and local ecosystems, food chains will change. Certain animals will face immediate threat. Say adios to any species reliant upon a delicately balanced environment. By this I mean say adios to animals adapted specifically to their exact environment. Polar bears will face endangerment. Everything on the Galapagos. All of the worlds oceans will be different. Animals that migrate with warm currents will adapt or die and we don’t know beforehand which will adapt. Anything that does adapt had better hope the things it eats also adapts or it doesn’t matter if they do adapt.
The cost of minimizing the changes on our lives will be ridiculous. The global economy already walks like a newborn doe and will likely be utterly upturned should the effects grow too extreme too fast (which we kind of just need to cross our fingers and hope doesn’t happen). Consider that historically humans have built cities near the water - now consider that all such places face immediate threat and will need to be either moved or somehow protected. This will cost lots and lots of money.
Consider the places that can’t afford (i.e. all of the Third World) to protect themselves from such a change. Global refugees will hit an all time high.
Climate change is the single greatest threat facing all life on Earth right now. People need to start taking it as seriously as it deserves to be treated.
This may sound like a conspiratorially dark post but we’re no longer talking about “maybe”. To an uncertain degree all of the above is definitely going to happen. That’s not under debate anymore. Not at all.
Any diversity and variety of intensity with regard to climate change effects is up for some debate. What’s not up for debate is that some will happen. Soon. What is not up for debate is that when carbon dioxide goes above 450 parts per million the effects will diversify and intensify. There’s a 100% chance guarantee. No refunds.
It’s also a misconception that people think it’s the fault of fossil-fueled cars. That’s a huge issue yes, but so is the meat industry and coal-powered electricity plants.
We’ve put ourselves and our children in a sorry position. We aren’t likely to start getting real-world answers in regards to questions like:
- What country is under the biggest threat?
- Where will the weather be the worst?
- Are storms going to annually wipe out international cities?
- What animals are going to go extinct because of us?
- Will the economy be totally crashed from trying to deal with climate change?
until the right groups get research funding: ceilings need to be shattered in this regard. The same goes for alternate (green and sustainable) energy and the meat industry (specifically red meat).
For some information on what’s happened on the planet already due to man made climate change and what’s likely to happen soon, go to this NASA page on the effects of climate change. I took a screen shot of both diagrams and included them above.