It sometimes saddens me, to think that our planet is being pushed beyond tipping points where global warming continues until large parts of the world simply become too hot for vertebrates to survive during parts of the year. Consider the old 4 degree chart:
At “4 degree” of warming that still happens so you get graphs like this:
If this was emphasized more, perhaps people would take it more seriously. Just 1.5 degree of warming doesn’t sound like a lot, but it means almost 3 degree Celsius of warming on land, which is a big problem if you live in places vulnerable to severe heatwaves.
We know it’s going to get worse, but I wish to propose to you, that there are some factors that we haven’t sufficiently considered: The collapse of civilization and the rapid melting of the ice sheets.
The massive forest fires in Australia hurled dust into the stratosphere, where it depleted the ozone layer. On the surface however, temperatures dropped in Australia throughout 2020, as sunlight was blocked. Now imagine what happens, when cities are bombed out of existence. After a limited nuclear war, it takes fifteen years for global temperatures to return to normal. The big smoke could make a nice dent that buys us some time.
And so, if we blow our major cities to smithereens in a nuclear war, we could buy our friends some time:
The big threat they face after all, are unprecedented heatwaves and deforestation. But the deforestation is a product of international logistical chains that would rapidly fall apart: Soybeans grown in Brazil are exported to the Netherlands to feed animals, the cattle pastures in Brazil are there to export meat to China. The heatwaves come to an end, when the sun is blocked.
And so you say “alright, we can blow ourselves to smithereens to block the sun, but eventually we run out of stuff to blow up right?” And you would be correct. But there is another factor that is going to save the day: Ice sheet melting. It’s possible that we completely underestimate how rapidly the ice sheets will melt. All this cold water entering the ocean would have the effect of also decreasing global surface temperatures. Take a look at this graph:
There are some scenarios here that could be quite useful. The pink one, with just ice melt in the North Atlantic, would translate into a pretty nice global breathing pause. Similarly, the blue one would translate into a bit of a global breathing pause in the latter half of this century.
It’s possible that the ice sheets are what allows Mother Nature to slam the breaks when humans screw things up too badly. Gaia is a tough bitch, she’s been through some nasty shit. I think she must have some tricks up her sleeve. Is she just going to sit there and let a bunch of apes run amok and screw everything up? No, I’m pretty sure she has a backup plan.
But ultimately of course, the humans need to go. And that’s a difficult one, because seven billion people will be reluctant to go quietly into that good night. People will go out, hunting bushmeat in the forests. How do you stop that? Well, you would need something that prohibits them from fleeing the cities. Perhaps something that catches them before they are aware of it.
I always get annoyed with the zero COVID wokies because they give me false hope, but let’s imagine for a moment they’re onto something: The Wuhan batsoupflu infects your body and then causes your immune system to attack your own brain, translating into accelerated Alzheimer’s disease. You continue to have the cognitive capacity to go through your daily routines, but you won’t have the mental flexibility, the physical stamina, to go out into the forest in search of monkeys to eat.
Of course once our civilization lies in shambles, there’s another problem that emerges: The spent fuel pools. You need to keep these constantly cool, or they start emitting large amounts of radioactivity. For most animals this is not a big problem. You have a litter of 10 piglets and one is deformed? Well sucks, but the other nine are fine. Your cells are progressively damaged by radiation? Well good thing you only have a life expectancy in the wild of ten years! Leave it up to the humans to worry about what this radiation will do to them when they’re seventy years old!
“Build some more of those nuclear power plants fam!”
With all this radiation, the pace of evolution would be increased temporarily, as the rate of mutations would be increased. It would also lead to widespread immune suppression, setting humans up for more pandemics.
The problem I experience, is that humans have the tools for co-existence. Co-existence with the non-human world is a possibility that humans have the ability to choose. They just don’t choose it. They would rather dominate each other and the non-human world and cause everything to die, than to co-exist. It’s really pretty simple:
-You need to shut down all the factory farms. It’s the human habit of eating pigs, chickens and cows, being fed soybeans and grains grown where we once had forests, that is mainly causing this global crisis.
-You need to reduce your species fertility rate. There will be 4 billion Africans by 2100, who can think this is a good idea?
-You need to clean the oceans. You can grow seaweed and oysters and mussels, which eat the algae that grow from the soil minerals leaching into the ocean. If you would eat the seaweed, the oysters and the mussels, then this would return balance to the world.
-You need to abandon the airplanes.
-You need to outlaw cryptocurrency mining.
If you do this most emissions would stop, the forests would regrow on the land where once the soybeans grew that are fed to the animals. This is the part I just can’t wrap my head around. You can have most of the stuff that you already have. You can have your Internet, you can have your bicycles, you can have trains, you can have delicious food in various forms. You can have a lot of good stuff.
You can even have all of the good drugs. Cannabis? You can grow it in your garden. Mescaline? All you need is some dry land to grow the San Pedro cactus. Mushrooms? All mushrooms are ecofriendly. We can even have DMT, there’s an invasive plant in Hawaii that has it in its root bark, it can be perfectly sustainable.
You just can’t have everything. No, you can’t have space tourism. No you can’t have two cars. No you can’t have megayachts. No you can’t eat cattle. And no you can’t fly to the other side of the world twice a year. Perhaps if we had used it sparingly we could have had some form of tourism. But humans will just accept no limits. It’s never enough. There is never a moment of gratitude.
And now you see the consequences.