We are exhuming the teeming Dead

Jan 11, 2024
Hand flipping wooden cube blocks to UP and Down arrow symbol with CO2 (Carbon dioxide) text on table background. Free Carbon, alternative energy and global climate change concepts

In one of our most macabre and diabolical acts, humans are unburying and reactivating the Earth’s teeming dead from ages long gone by, in a wild act that is sure to haunt every one of us for the remainder of our days.

Trillions of organisms that perished over hundreds of millions of years and whose carbon-rich remains had settled deep within Earth’s stony crust in the form of oil, coal, peat or natural gas, are now being unearthed and released into the atmosphere to generate a concentration of carbon which the planet has not seen for at least 4 million years.

The consequences are already plain. This week (9/1/24) European scientists confirmed that 2023 was the hottest year since climate temperature records were first kept in the 1850s. Originally, researchers had tipped a world average temperature rise to around +1.3 degrees C. The observed results annihilate this, surpassing even the previous peak hot year of 2016.

It has brought the planet within an ace of obliterating the maximum 1.5 degree goal set by 196 nations in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The thing that has climate experts shaking in their shoes isn’t the actual temperature however. It’s the rate of increase. From a more or less steady increase from 1850 to 2000, the heat has since climbed exponentially

Recent forecasts said this would take the Earth to +2.7 degrees C by the end of the century. The latest trend utterly belies this, threatening an outcome far more dire.

Things are bad enough as it is. As of early January 2024, Floodlist, the global flood watch service, was reporting serious floods in France, Britain, Italy, Australia, USA, Tanzania, Kenya and Dominica over the past two months, claiming lives and wreaking havoc in towns, cities and farms.

What goes up, must come down. The more the Earth’s temperature rises, the more water evaporates from the oceans and land, increasing the volume of rainfall and the violence of individual rain events. These floods are a direct result of our use of fossil fuels and of our clearing of the land for development, which raises its flood risk as well as the amount of carbon it emits.

But the waters are rising – as well as falling. Based on projections from past polar melting scientists anticipate an increase in sea levels of around 25 metres, which is where they were in the Pliocene, the last time atmospheric carbon reached its current 422 parts per million. 25 metres would immerse most of the world’s coastal cities and dramatically reduce their habitability, forcing tens of millions to relocate. To put this in perspective, here’s what Coastal Risk Australia projects Melbourne will look like with just 10 metres of rise:

To this must be added the effects of transient floods higher in the river catchments due to increased rainfall. The bare Australian landscape, heavily modified by land clearing, has exacerbated the impact of these floods, as does deforestation everywhere.

This is part of the price humanity must now pay for raising the dead of ages long past. Yet we continue to dig them up them, faster than ever.

There has been no shortage of warnings. Here, for instance, is the 1977 memorandum sent to US President Jimmy Carter by his technology risk-assessment team:

Almost half a century on, in 2023, the US just set a new record for domestic oil and gas production, churning out an extra million barrels a day. In Australia, a supposedly pro-climate Albanese Government has already approved four new coal mines (which will generate 156 million tonnes of CO2) and has 29 more in the pipeline. The world’s biggest climate polluter, China, increased output of coal to 4.9 billion tonnes in 2023, while gas and oil output set new records. China is opening two new coal-fired power plants a week.

The explanation for this vast attack of cognitive dissonance in H.sapiens is not far to seek. For the second year running, the COP29 world climate talks will be hosted by a petrostate and chaired by an erstwhile oil industry executive. The lunatics are firmly in control of the asylum. Their paralysing grip extends from the world climate conference to the governments of every major country on the planet. The game is to blindly speed human civilisation to its ruin – while making as much money as possible before the final whistle blows.

Money. Now there’s a dirty word. It is a substance that does not exist anywhere in the universe other than the human imagination. Unlike the Earth and its living bounty, money is a fiction. But our banks and policymakers keep on mass producing more and more of it, creating new money in infinite supply.

If you use an infinite commodity to exploit a finite planet you will run out of planet long before you run out of money. And that is just what is happening in this gigantic game of self-delusion we humans have created for ourselves. Our lust for illusory wealth will take us down. And the fossil fuels sector is the greediest of them all. The only comfort is that, when global collapse occurs (and it is already under way), money will be one of the first things to vanish. All that ‘wealth’ will suddenly be seen for the pipedream that it is. Just another crypto con.

There is a very simple answer to this particular problem: stop digging up the dead. Stop releasing the climate zombie that is hunting humanity to its grave. But we will not be permitted to adopt it – by the fossil fuel lobbies and our governments, whom they have suborned. They are driving the engine of ruin – because it is in their narrow, short-term self-interest to do so.

Can we stop them? Yes. But only if the 8 billion citizens of this planet are willing to give up their deadly addiction. First, like all addicts, we have to understand clearly the damage it is causing. And this, the fossil fuels industry with its pet politicians and multi-billion dollar propaganda machine built to mislead us, are determined we shall never do.

There is, unfortunately no other path open to us. We can wait for fossil fuels people to recover their sanity and altruism – but this seems improbable. Or we can leave them behind, in our quest for a world which our children can inhabit, safely.

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