Tracking toward a greenhouse atmosphere and acid oceans

May 24, 2024
Planet earth split in two showing two extreme outcomes of climate change management.

Where “Two plus two equals five if the party says so” (George Orwell) and when drilling methane wells reduces global warming.

Having turned a blind eye to climate science, ignoring the evidence that extreme atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) rise and ocean acidification have led to mass extinctions of species through time, humanity allows an exponential growth of carbon emissions to track toward a global suicide marked by false pretexts and betrayal by the powers that be. The evidence suggests unabated global warming will lead to 3.4 million Deaths Per Year by Century End, fatal consequences calling for a preemptive Nuremberg-like trial exposing the crimes leading to the looming climate suicide (Figures 1 and 2).

Fig. 1a. CO2 levels over the past 500 million years.

Note the future estimates of CO2 levels:

Image: Supplied

Figure 1b. Geological temperatures estimates over the past 500 million years.

Note the sharp current and near-future rise

Image: Supplied

Figure 2. The rise in CO2 of the atmosphere and oceans and the rise in ocean acidity (decline in pH)

Image: Supplied

According to the IPCC, as stated by the late Prof Will Steffan, Australia’s foremost climate scientist, if the exponential rise in greenhouse gas emissions continues we will already have crossed the upper limit that gives us a two-thirds chance of limiting warming to <2.0°C. Other scientists estimate that we have already missed the boat.

During the 200-plus years since the onset of the industrial revolution, the burning of fossil fuels, changing land use and deforestation increased the concentration of atmospheric CO2. As the ocean absorbs about 30% of the CO2 its surface acidity increased by -0.1 pH units on a logarithmic scale, resulting in rising concentration of hydrogen ions, a process with far reaching implications for the survival of marine organisms, altering ecosystems.

Ocean acidification affects marine life by dissolving shells and skeletons made from calcium carbonate. Organisms that produce calcium carbonate structures, like corals, sea urchins, sea snails and oysters, need to spend extra energy repairing damaged shells or thickening them to survive.

Figure 3. The onset of the Sixth mass extinction of species.

Cumulative vertebrate species recorded as extinct or extinct in the wild by the IUCN (2012). Dashed black line represents background rate. This is the ‘highly conservative estimate’. Source: Ceballos et al. (2015).

Image: Supplied

There have been five Mass Extinction events in the history of Earth’s biodiversity, all caused by dramatic natural phenomena. The current rate of extinction is 10 to 100 times higher than in any of the previous mass extinctions in the history of Earth. Incorporating estimates of the true number of invertebrate extinctions leads to the conclusion that the rate vastly exceeds the background rate and that we may indeed be witnessing the start of the Sixth Mass Extinction Island species have suffered far greater rates than continental ones.

As systematic biologists, we encourage the nurturing of the innate human appreciation of biodiversity, but we reaffirm the message that the biodiversity that makes our world so fascinating, beautiful and functional is vanishing unnoticed at an unprecedented rate. These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way.

While multitudes of humanity are trying to escape climate disasters, such as Africa, or are engaged in fatal conflicts and geocidal wars, or are perched in front of electronic screens flaunting obscene hubris, cheap entertainment and commercial and political propaganda.

It is far from clear who, apart from the children, would be able to save life on Earth?

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