This brief guide is intended to rapidly orient you to THE MOST relevant topic on Earth: Abrupt Climate Change resulting in Near-Term Human Extinction. The slides in this page explain the basic scientific principles required to grasp the reality of the situation and, ideally, to inspire “responsible action” in ways that are suitable to you individually.
To gather a complete understanding of the topic, you must learn about both “The Greenhouse Effect” and “The Aerosol Masking Effect (aka Global Dimming).” As shocking as it may seem, humanity must collectively and thoroughly understand the implications of these phenomena to have any chance at all for a future, and in so doing combine their collective (global) might to accomplish four monumental tasks: “clean up a gigantic atmospheric mess,” “slowly wean off the atmospheric drugs,” “grow up psychologically/emotionally,” and “embrace a sustainable Earth/human paradigm.” The details of these four monumental tasks will be elaborated upon further below.
One of the obvious challenges for everyone will be to face the information with courage and make every attempt to work through any associated emotions (e.g., fear, loss of control, guilt, shame, sadness, etc.). The benefits of working through the information (and emotions) considerably outweigh the costs because of the potential to learn essential lessons about how to exist in healthy relationships with nature, with self, and with others. The actual outcome of the Earth/human relationship (i.e., whether or not it lasts) is less important than the potential for enlightenment and transformation as events unfold and nature takes its course.
If necessary, please refer to the BreakAway MHE information that comes free with your Silent Revolution Partner Program (SRPP) membership, 9-Steps to Mastering Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It may assist you with gaining new skills for thought and emotion management needed to work through the information here in “The Rabbit Hole.” Please also note: The information available in 9-Steps to Mastering Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be applied generally to anyone interested in learning more about mental health, not just to those who have a disorder.
The first scientific principle to understand: “The Greenhouse Effect”
There are various greenhouse gases that are emitted naturally and through human activities (e.g., burning fossil fuels). These gases all serve important purposes in nature, but also have the ability to trap heat in the atmosphere if their balance exceeds a certain threshold. For instance, the ideal concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is around 280 parts per million (ppm), but as of February 2019 sits at approximately 410ppm. The more that greenhouse gases exceed a certain threshold, the more heat that gets trapped in the atmosphere and can result in all sorts of effects not conducive to sustainable Earth-life (e.g., heatwaves, fires, food shortages, thawing, floods, oceanic warming, intense storm activity, etc.).
Despite the fact that various “scientific opinions” exist regarding the reality of “The Greenhouse Effect” and its degree of harmful effects on humans (and non-humans alike), it is indeed a reality and you are encouraged to perform your own due diligence by engaging in information searches and investigating credible sources. To protect their financial interests, there are numerous political and business agendas currently at work that are aiming to induce ongoing controversy and confusion regarding the reality and harmfulness of “The Greenhouse Effect” related to human activities, and this is another important reason to perform your own due diligence.
Here is a starter list of credible sources in the areas of climate and extinction research and journalism:
- Jason E. Box (Professor in Glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland) – https://www.jasonbox.net
- Camille Parmesan (Prof: NMA Chair in Public Understanding of Marine Science and Human Health) – https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/camille-parmesan
- Jem Bendell ( Professor of Sustainability Leadership and Founding Director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability) – https://jembendell.wordpress.com
- Rupert Read (Academic and a Green Party Politician in England) – https://rupertread.net
- Jennifer Francis (Research Professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences) – https://www.jenniferafrancis.com
- Eric Rignot (Professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine, and Principal Scientist for the Radar Science and Engineering Section at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) – https://www.ess.uci.edu/people/erignot
- Paul Beckwith (Professor in Climatology; Working on Ph.D. in Abrupt Climate Change) – https://paulbeckwith.net
- Peter Wadhams (Professor of Ocean Physics, and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Wadhams
- James Hansen (Adjunct Professor Directing the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions of the Earth Institute at Columbia University) – http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/
- Guy McPherson (Professor Emeritus at The University of Arizona, Conservation Biologist, World’s Leading Authority on Abrupt Climate Change Leading To Near-Term Human Extinction) – https://guymcpherson.com
- Natalia Shakova (Tomsk Polytechnic University, Arctic Seas Carbon Research Lab) – https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Natalia_Shakhova4
- Dahr Jamail (American Journalist) – http://www.dahrjamail.net
- Paul R. Ehrlich (President, Center for Conservation Biology, Bing Professor of Population Studies) – https://ccb.stanford.edu/paul-r-ehrlich
There are various signs indicating that “The Greenhouse Effect” has been happening (and escalating) consequent to human burning of fossil fuels over the last 150 years. The “human fingerprints” indicated in the slide below suggests that “The Greenhouse Effect” makes itself known in a variety of ways, and that it is not simply a matter of natural variation, but rather phenomena appearing as humans have been increasingly burning fossil fuels to meet their increasing demands for energy. “The Greenhouse Effect” is, therefore, not something that naturally corrects itself in the current situation, but rather becomes more of a problem as humans increase in population, burn more and more fossil fuels, and infuse a greater imbalance of gases into the atmosphere. The basic (but often disregarded) truth is that the continuous and escalating burning of fossil fuels over the last 150 years has elevated the concentration of certain greenhouse gases beyond a point that the Earth can remain habitable for humans and non-humans (i.e., remain cool enough to produce food and otherwise meet essential needs).
There are literally hundreds of gigatonnes of excess carbon in the atmosphere that are exacerbating “The Greenhouse Effect” and dangerously warming the Earth. One gigatonne or metric gigaton (unit of mass) is equal to 1,000,000,000 metric tons, and a metric ton is exactly 1000 kilograms. This amounts to a gigantic atmospheric mess that humans have made since burning fossil fuels and, if being responsible and desiring to have any chance at survival, must combine their intellectual abilities and other skills to develop scaled-up technology to clean it up and restore the atmospheric balance. The investment would indeed be massive and require global collaborative action. And please keep in mind, as indicated at the beginning of “The Rabbit Hole,” this is only ONE of four monumental issues that must be dealt with for humanity to take responsible action and have a future.
Many people maintain the misguided belief (likely due to their consumption of mainstream media) that simply cutting fossil fuel emissions will solve climate-related problems. Even though cutting fossil fuel emissions is absolutely necessary, this type of thinking on its own assumes that “The Greenhouse Effect” (and related atmospheric imbalance) can naturally resolve itself without any further intervention, and that humans will thus be freed from climate catastrophe if only they can switch over to various forms of clean energy. It assumes that there is no “mess that needs to be cleaned up,” as described above. But even more incorrectly, it assumes that humans do not need to take FULL responsibility for the actual situation by making other vital changes and developing other vital technology to survive (to be described below). Isolated beliefs such as these and the related assumptions are, in a word, delusional.
In regards to “cleaning up the atmospheric mess,” the partial good news is that there are various technologies being attempted, such as afforestation, reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, bioenergy with carbon capture storage (BECCS), carbon mineralization, direct air capture, enhanced weathering, ocean fertilization, and coastal blue carbon. Even so, the reality thus far is that the technologies have not been sufficiently tested or scaled-up to the size needed to realistically address the issue. In the face of climate-catastrophe denying political and business interests, and similarly in the face of incredible odds for harnessing such a monumental clean-up AND energy-transitional effort, how can humans collectively take this level of responsibility? Well, one step at a time, and the first step is for billions of people to fully and properly understand the situation as it is.
The second scientific principle to understand: “The Aerosol Masking Effect” (aka Global Dimming)
Most people don’t know this, but there is another monumental issue that needs addressing if humans are to take FULL responsibility for their actions and have any chance at a future. It is called “The Aerosol Masking Effect.” This issue has arisen due to burning fossil fuels for the last 150 years as well, but will require another entirely new and different technology to deal with it. The gist of “The Aerosol Masking Effect” is that the large-scale burning of fossil fuels by humans has resulted in a constant short-term gathering of particulates in the atmosphere that has been acting as an “umbrella,” and thus, shielding humans from ultra-violet radiation and the subsequent heating effect. This means that humans have not had the opportunity to gradually adapt to their “real environment” over the last 150 years while fossil fuels have been continuously burned and “The Greenhouse Effect” has been worsening. The truth is that the actual temperatures would be much different right now (much hotter) if there was no “Aerosol Masking Effect.”
Therefore, in addition to moving away from burning fossil fuels and developing scaled-up technology to effectively “clean up” the 100’s of gigatonnes of excess carbon, there also needs to be a newly developed (and massively scaled-up) technology to maintain AND slowly reduce “The Aerosol Masking Effect,” thus allowing humans and other species a chance to adapt to “the real” environment as it would be if “The Greenhouse Effect” and “The Aerosol Masking Effect” had never developed in the first place. A good comparison to make in this regard would be initiating a process of “slowly coming off drugs,” such that if potent drugs were removed from a human body too quickly then the person would perish due to rushed/forced adaptation. In other words, we can’t remove “the shield” (The Aerosol Masking Effect) too quickly or it will kill us because the environment would heat up too quickly. Therefore, the only option is to invent an artificial “Aerosol Masking Effect” technology that doesn’t involve burning fossil fuels and can be slowly tapered off over many years, while at the same time, the excess carbon is being removed from the atmosphere by another separate technology.
There is some growing awareness of the relevance of “The Aerosol Masking Effect” and how it requires our attention in order to maintain habitat. Experiments are even being conducted to artificially induce “The Aerosol Masking Effect,” but again, the technology is yet to be fully tested and scaled-up to determine if it may effectively address the issue.
Civilization, as we have thus far imagined and created it in modern times, has come part-in-parcel with the above-noted issues, namely “The Greenhouse Effect” and “The Aerosol Masking Effect.” It has also come with the challenge of realizing that these issues even exist and what they mean regarding loss of habitat. Now that we know what is happening, the monumental challenge is finding ways to enlighten masses of others regarding the great damage that has been caused and the great responsibility that needs to be taken by all of humanity.
Civilization in pretty much any format as we know it is a “heat engine” due to the fact that our survival-based activities under the current paradigm continuously emit carbon in large quantities (e.g., large-scale tilling the soil, large-scale harvesting crops, large-scale raising livestock, and large-scale burning of raw materials). The more we attempt to “civilize ourselves” in this particular format, the more we inevitably heat up the Earth and risk undermining our habitat and civilization right along with it. Indeed, civilization as we know it… the one that uses these methods of survival and continuously overproduces, overpopulates, overheats, and ignores the natural consequences of its actions, does need to collapse in order for humans to have any chance at a future.
The question, therefore, becomes: How can humans organize themselves and survive such that they are not overpopulating, not emitting too much carbon, not overheating the Earth, and not undermining habitat for all species? This yet to be accomplished trick seems to involve establishing a healthy balance (and relationship) with nature with regards to how much is taken and how much is given back. The new and improved relationship would furthermore require listening-to and cooperating-with nature, rather than routinely ignoring the natural consequences of the demands of civilization.
In order to establish this new relationship, dramatic shifts in the meanings humans attach to their lives will be required, including abandoning belief systems supporting notions of infinite growth and individual worth and accomplishment rooted in the acquisition of currency, property, and status. Perhaps the most tricky part of transitioning humans away from these old patterns of thought, belief, and behavior that no longer serve is that all of it must done voluntarily in order for new patterns to take root and have a lasting environmental benefit. If a new relationship with the Earth isn’t wanted, then a new relationship will never begin.
Short of coming to terms with the above-noted issues and taking some form of “responsible action” to enlighten the minds of all involved (the entire human race), and likewise thereafter, initiating the necessary movements and developments, we are all left with two paradoxes. The reason that the word “paradox” is used is because seemingly contradictory statements or propositions can still make sense when adequately explained.
The first of these paradoxes is that “civilization is heat engine driving us to extinction”, but “terminating civilization heats Earth even faster.” This makes sense when you consider the explanation earlier in the article about “The Greenhouse Effect.” In other words, the longer we maintain civilization in the current format, the more we disturb the balance of atmospheric gases and increase heating leading towards civilization collapse and extinction. Over the last 150 years of burning fossil fuels, a great imbalance of atmospheric gases has indeed been established. Now if you also factor in ”The Aerosol Masking Effect,” we can say that terminating civilization in the current format will heat up the Earth even faster because “The Aerosol Masking Effect” terminates very shortly after burning fossil fuels is halted, and hence, THE FULL “Greenhouse Effect” is then experienced.
This all means that without the newly invented technology to capture carbon on a massive scale, and without the technology to maintain and gradually reduce “The Aerosol Masking Effect” without burning fossil fuels, then no matter what you do the end result is the same (catastrophic overheating, societal collapse, and extinction). The second paradox follows from understanding the conclusion of the first paradox, meaning that we currently need the geoengineering technology to address “The Greenhouse Effect” and “The Aerosol Masking Effect,” but it does not yet exist at the scale needed to adequately address the atmospheric issues we are all faced with.
We now reach the end of “The Rabbit Hole” and know what the full reality is. We know that the situation is dire and that the bulk of the world’s people must be fully informed to have any chance at all for a future. We know that we must face the full truth and develop the emotional capacity to follow through with this. We must mature in these ways and use all available intellectual resources to do so. We know that we must use every collective ability we currently possess to develop the scaled-up technologies needed to realistically address BOTH “The Greenhouse Effect” and “The Aerosol Masking Effect.” We know that simply arguing for cutting fossil fuel emissions is delusional on its own, even though moving away from fossil fuel use is still required. We know that we must collectively drop belief systems that reinforce notions of infinite growth and false sense of self-worth contributing to endless and thoughtless taking from the Earth without any consideration for the whole. We know that we must grow up and out of these beliefs because of the deadly natural consequences associated with them. We must form a new relationship with our provider (Earth) that is healthy and sustainable, and seek out ways to establish this new relationship.