Inherent in the nature of insanity is the fact that those inflicted by it are unaware of their mental state.
As the emission of greenhouse gases continues, global warming accelerates, bushfires and floods engulf the planet, new fossil fuel projects are subsidised, climate science is ignored, climate change projections are kept away from the public eye, nations invest in killer submarines rather than water spraying aircraft and other fire-fighting equipment, politicians talk about clean coal, radioactive waters are spilled into the ocean, nuclear weapons are readied for a MAD scenario, the media reports sugar-coated part-truth or untruths, politicians routinely betray their pledges and playboy billionaires fire rockets at space with plan to settle on Mars.
Inherent in the nature of insanity is the fact that those inflicted by it are unaware of their mental state, nor do crowds of people, or for that matter political parties, and business elites, leading populations to catastrophe, from the scale of Jonestown all the way to Auschwitz, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the list goes on.
This has now reached a planet-wide scale. According to James Hansen, NASA’s former chief climate scientist, global temperature in the current El Nino is exceeding the previous El-Nino (2015-16) temperature rise rate of 0.18°C/per decade, representing the current increase of the Earth’s Energy Imbalance (EEI), with accelerated heating (Figure 1). The change is related in part to the decrease in the cooling effect of human-emitted aerosols. Despite consequent acidification of the oceans, atmospheric geoengineering using sulphur aerosols, which reflect solar radiation, are touted to constitute the last defence from an extreme temperature rise,
Figure 1. Global temperature (relative to 1880-1920 mean for each month) during the El Nino origin year for the 1997-98, 2015-16 and 2023-24 El Ninos. The impact of El Nino on global temperature usually peaks early in the year following the year when the El Nino originated. Hansen et al., 2023.
To date no effective method has been applied to draw-down greenhouse gases on a scale required to compensate for the emission and rise in atmospheric CO2 (Figure 2). A rise to a mean global temperature to 3oC or 4oC this century is projected by the IPCC. Possibly even before such temperatures are reached the flow of cold ice melt water from Greenland and Antarctica would lead to transient regional to global temperature reversals (Hansen et al., 1998; Bronselaer et al. 2018) (Figure 3). These authors state: “Meltwater from the Antarctic Ice Sheet is projected to cause up to one metre of sea-level rise by 2100 under the highest greenhouse gas concentration trajectory (RCP8.5) considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, the effects of meltwater from the ice sheets and ice shelves of Antarctica are not included in the widely used CMIP5 climate models, which introduces bias into IPCC climate projections.”. Sea level rises as high a 6 meters are projected by Kahn (2015).
But the habitability of Earth and the future of life are issues to a large extent avoided by the largely privately owned corporate media and even the state media, occupied as they are by advertisements, sports contests, fashion parades, cooking shows and popular frenzies such as recently generated by the forcible kissing of a football cup winner.
Figure 2. Annual CO2 emissions by world region. Source: Global Carbon Budget (2022). OurWorldInData.org/co2-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions • CC BY
Figure 3. A. Model surface air temperature (◦C) change in 2055–2060 relative to 1880–1920 for modified forcings representing the rise of temperatures in the tropics and decline in subpolar latitudes due to flow of ice melt water. B. Surface air temperature (◦C) relative to 1880-1920 for several ice melt scenarios, representing stadial (cooling) episodes related to the effects of ice melt (Hansen et al., 2016) and associated with increased.
According to Hansen et al. (2012) ‘‘Burning all fossil fuels would create a different planet than the one that humanity knows. The paleoclimate record and ongoing climate change make it clear that the climate system would be pushed beyond tipping points, setting in motion irreversible changes, including ice sheet integration with a continually adjusting shoreline, extermination of a substantial fraction of species on the planet, and increasingly devastating regional climate extremes’’.
Is there a way out for humanity and much of nature?
If the multiple $trillions spent by Sapiens on the military and war were directed to environmental defence, including down-draw of atmospheric greenhouse gases, the possibility may exist.