ANDREW GLIKSON. The climate and the extinction rebellion

“The first law of humanity is not to kill your children

(Joachim Hans Schellnhuber, Germany’s and the EU’s chief climate scientist.)

“we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will most likely lead to the end of our civilization as we know it”… “Now we probably don’t even have a future anymore, because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard. Greta Thunberg

In his novel “First and Last Man” Olaf Stapledon describes a future human species, realizing the Earth is about to be scorched by a growing red giant sun, attempting to disseminate human genes in spores through space.

Compare with the 21st century world where children conduct an extinction rebellion while climate denial advocates and their political mouthpieces proceed to overlook and even promote carbon emissions, dancing on the graves of future generations.

Every day news arrive of the opening of new coal mines, oil and gas fields around the world, as well as new coal combustion plants, including by countries like China which supposedly pledged to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, while climate change denial persists and misinformed people rally in support of carbon and nuclear mining.

As election cycles come and go and as the climate warms toward four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, the demise of much of the living world remains but a footnote in the mainstream media, owned by vested interests, the tail which wags the political dog.

Scientists know, many people know, many children know, yet those in power conveniently ignore it, dragging the living world to the greatest crisis nature and humanity have suffered since the rise of civilization some 10,000 years ago.

Yet it is almost impossible to speak directly to “democratic leaders”, with their umbilical ties to manufactured consent . The principal methods of mainstream mouthpieces and appended politicians are half-truths and Orwellian newspeak language, including:

  • “The economy”: the gross domestic product (GDP), but not the way it is distributed among the population, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
  • “Defense”: Preparations for the next regional or world war, profiting armament industries, in the meantime bombing the wretched of the Earth in their small fields and rice paddies.
  • “Sustainability”: While accepting domestic clean energy, increasing mining, drilling, fracking of hydrocarbons for export of coal, oil and gas to other parts of the world, as if these countries exist on another planet.

IPCC trends and global climate conferences, while highlighting the dangers, have been dominated by politicians and economists but remarkably divorced from contributions from climate science.

The specter of a runaway greenhouse effect elaborated by James Hansen, enhanced by continuing carbon emissions increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 2 to 3 parts per million per year, reinforced by amplifying feedbacks from melting ice sheets and the albedo flip, the oceans’ reduced CO2 intake, resulting in desiccated and burnt lands and the release of methane from thawed permafrost, is upon us.

This projection is underpinned by studies of the history of the terrestrial climate and modelling of global warming described by Hansen et al. (2016) in the paper ‘Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2◦C global warming could be dangerous”. A corollary of Hansen et al.’s projection is that global warming, rather than gradual, will include a rise in extreme weather events, including transient freeze events induced by the cooling effects of ice melt water such as the recent “Beast from the East” freeze in North America and Europe (Glikson, 2019).

According to Foster et al. (2017)Humanity’s fossil-fuel use, if unabated, risks taking us, by the middle of the twenty-first century, to values of CO2 not seen since the early Eocene (50 million years ago). If CO2 continues to rise further into the twenty-third century, then the associated large increase in radiative forcing, and how the Earth system would respond, would likely be without geological precedent in the last half a billion years.

According to Stephen Hawking a principal characteristic of a black hole resides in the loss of all information as matter and energy fall through the event horizon. In a similar vein, as the world’s “powers that be” ignore the basic laws of physics, the rise of extreme weather events bears portents of a demise of much of nature, and with it human civilization.

Andrew Glikson is an earth and paleo-climate scientist.


Andrew Glikson, Earth and paleoclimate scientist.

This entry was posted in Environment and climate, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

For questions regarding our comment system please click here.
(Please note that we are unable to post comments on your behalf.)