Published on News24: 25 May 2018
The last thing on our minds whilst driving a car, flying between cities or using grid-supplied electricity, is that our actions are contributing to the global phenomenon of climate change.
Unfortunately, we may only take climate change seriously once it’s escalated to a point of all-out climate chaos … and by then it’ll be too late to reverse it. In fact, there are some people, like Mayer Hillman, who believe that our planet’s climate may have already passed a ‘point of no return’.
In his recent article, ‘The climate reality no-one will dare mention’, he laments humanity’s reluctance to acknowledge the lethal nature of climate change; and also our unwillingness to adopt broad-spectrum lifestyle changes that would decrease our carbon footprints and, in turn, reduce the chances of a climate catastrophe.
CO2 Emissions in perspective
The single most important graph in the world right now is shown below. It depicts global average atmospheric CO2 concentration levels and respective temperatures versus time:
(Refer to Infographic #1 at end of article)
Using three-kilometre deep core samples taken from ice-sheets across Antarctica and Greenland, scientists have been able to measure atmospheric CO2 and temperature fluctuation over the past 800 000 years and show that they are inextricably linked.
Of particular significance is that for almost 800 000 years, CO2 levels have remained steady within the 170 parts per million (ppm) to 280 ppm range.
Dramatic rise in atmospheric CO2 levels
However, since the beginning of the industrial revolution 250 years ago, the world has witnessed exponential growth in man-made carbon emissions – shown by the brown spike at the end of the CO2 graph.
And, according to readings taken by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, average atmospheric CO2 concentration blasted through the 410 ppm mark in April 2018:
(Refer to Infographic #2)
As the chart above reveals, the annual rise in CO2 will not cease while major carbon contributing nations continue to delay meaningful reductions in their use of fossil fuels.
To back this point, just last week US President Donald Trump reinforced his contempt for climate science by cutting funding to NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System, which compiles data from satellites and aircraft to monitor global greenhouse emissions – including both CO2 and methane.
Temperatures set to rise in line with atmospheric CO2
One doesn’t have to look further than the graph below to deduce that rising atmospheric CO2 concentration is the primary driver behind rising average global temperatures.
(Refer to Infographic #3)
In fact, an article in Science American suggests that if CO2 levels rise as projected to 550 ppm by 2100, then the world could see average global temperatures rise as much as 6°C. This will almost certainly precipitate climate chaos, unprecedented seal level rise, widespread environmental collapse, and a mass-extinction event that not even we could escape.
Thus far, average global temperatures have only risen by 0,9°C from pre-industrial levels, but as the graph above shows, they’re set to soar.
Major CO2 contributing nations
The Miller-McCune 'Tracking Carbon Emissions' infographic below is particularly relevant as it shows two perspectives of CO2 emissions. The footprint on the left shows ‘total carbon emissions by nation’, and the footprint on the right shows ‘total carbon emissions per capita’:
(Refer to Infographic #4)
Immediately apparent is that while China and the United States are by far the largest carbon contributors on the planet, they are in fact fairly modest in terms of their carbon contribution per capita. But this shouldn’t exempt these nations from leading the world in phasing out fossil fuels.
Hence the outrage at President Trump’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord … a decision that places the future of our entire world in jeopardy.
Forget North Korea’s miniscule nuclear arsenal, the United States presents a far greater threat to global health and security via its leader’s rogue snub of a landmark global CO2 reduction initiative.
It’s time we accept that climate change threatens our existence far beyond that of any other existential threat, and that stinging sanctions should be imposed on those nations that flout global efforts to mitigate the CO2 threat – no matter how powerful those nations might be.
It’s the final countdown…
The hard truth is, climate change is one of those nebulous threats that humanity still doesn’t fully appreciate. As if the low-probability, natural threat of an asteroid strike wasn’t scary enough, climate change is a high-probability, 100% man-made apocalyptic threat that will soon pass a tipping point if people around the world remain indifferent to it.
Every day we choose to ignore the reality of climate change and delay global efforts to reduce fossil fuel use, is a day closer to climate chaos … and mass extinction.
The final countdown is underway and humankind’s time on Earth is running out!
---------- end ----------