Mankind One “Burp” Away From Mass Extinction

What remains of a melting iceberg.
What remains of a melting iceberg.

Word on the street is we’re all going to die. That’s what the global warming, apocalyptic scientists are saying. But rest assured — the point-of-no-return deniers such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tell us it’s not all that bad. We still have maybe three to five decades before the jenkum hits the fan. You might make it (maybe), but your kids sure won’t, and you can forget grandkids if any of these folks (even the deniers) are anywhere close to right.

No doubt you’ve heard talk of the concern regarding the global ice caps melting at some point. You may have even heard that plankton is starting to die off in vast droves due to rising temperatures in the ocean, and that plankton is, essentially, the foundation for the food chain, but did you know that we could have ice-free arctic summers as soon as 2018? The U.S. Navy has predicted ice-free arctic summers by 2016! That’s little more than two years away, folks! And those estimates come from data that gives speculators “95 percent confidence.”

Again, we’re not dealing in millennia or centuries, but in decades! DECADES! Sometimes less.

University of Arizona professor emeritus of evolutionary biology, natural resources and ecology Guy McPherson (or Guy “McStinction” as some of his colleagues refer to him) has said:

We as a species have never experienced 400 parts per million [ppm] of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We’ve never been on a planet with no Arctic ice, and we will hit the average of 400 ppm… within the next couple of years. At that time, we’ll also see the loss of Arctic ice in the summers… This planet has not experienced an ice-free Arctic for at least the last three million years.

But what does that mean? What are the ramifications of an ice-free Arctic summer?

Arctic ice caps melting in 2007.
Arctic ice caps melting in 2007.

Without the massive ice caps acting as soft mirrors for solar radiation, the planet will absorb more energy, raising global temperatures across the board. Such developments would begin to change weather patterns, intensify storms, vary the flow of the winds, perhaps even altering the jet stream at some point, which would in turn change weather patterns to a much greater extent.

Cambridge University’s Peter Wadhams, a prominent Arctic expert who has been studying Arctic ice for 40 years, concurs with “McStinction”. McPherson also stated that studies illustrating temperature increases are “only looking at CO2 in the atmosphere,” but there is another culprit in the global warming process, as well, that is potentially far more devastating than CO2 according to McPherson, Wadhams and others — methane.

There are some among such “apocalyptic scientists” who believe that current rates of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere due to burning fossil fuels, coupled with massive methane releases due to permafrost melting, could end life on this planet as we know it. Crossing the line of no return may happen extremely quickly, too, if we haven’t passed it already.

Methane leaking through the ice cracks as observed by NASA.
Methane leaking through the ice cracks as observed by NASA.

Chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, John Nissen, suggests that without the polar ice caps we may quickly pass “the point of no return”. If methane starts bubbling to the surface from the thawing permafrost, we’ll be in an “instant planetary emergency”.

According to Dahr Jamail in his Mother Jones article, “What These Climate Scientists Said About Earth’s Future Will Terrify You“, methane “is 23 times as powerful as CO2… 105 times more potent when it comes to heating the planet on a 20-year timescale.”

Professor Wadhams says of methane and the melting Arctic permafrost:

We are now seeing great plumes of methane bubbling up in the Siberian Sea… millions of square miles where methane cover is being released.

Simultaneously, “Nature Geoscience” claims the Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf is releasing “twice as much methane as previously thought”. Between 2010 and 2011, a NASA study found that methane vents measured at only 30 centimeters across had grown a kilometer wide by the following year. Containing nearly 40 times the amount of carbon dioxide released since the Industrial Revolution began beneath its surface, the sea looked like a giant seltzer bottle as far as the eye could see.

Nature” also released a study last July stating that a methane “burp” from Arctic permafrost amounting to nearly four times the amount of carbon released since the Industrial Revolution is “highly possible at any time.” Imagine what that could do to exacerbate global warming further.

Though the human body is capable of withstanding a rise of six to nine degrees Celsius, according to McPherson, our habitat and crops — our food production — would be devastated. And that rise in temperature is coming on fast — ten times faster than any other time in the last 65 million years, according to “Science“. Director of the Apollo-Gaia Project, David Wasdel, has said:

We are experiencing change 200 to 300 times faster than any of the previous major extinction events.

Melt ponds on the ocean.
Melt ponds on the ocean.

Due to the extreme speed at which our demise approaches even by conservative terms, University of California, Santa Barbara marine scientist Ira Leifer stated:

One wonders what portion of the living population now could adapt to such a world, and my view is that it’s just a few thousand people [seeking refuge] in the Arctic or Antarctica.

McPherson agreed, stating:

We will have very few humans on the planet because of lack of habitat… Humans have to eat and plants can’t adapt fast enough to make that possible for seven to nine billion of us — so we’ll die.

Melting glacier.
Melting glacier.

And as history illustrates for us so well time and again, lack of food brings about blood and conflict on a large scale. Famine and disease are prominent. Some scientists worry that we could be entering unprecedented suffering of such nature.

And don’t go thinking these doom and gloom scientists pick the worst, most sensational data to concoct these theories. (If only that were true!) Such major studies rarely assume the worst about any given piece of data.

Unfortunately, though, it looks like it’s already too late. Both CO2 and methane are rising at alarming rates that we are unable to slow down or reverse, namely due to greed, profit, and denial by the human conscience on a massive scale. Even the IPCC has stated:

The possibility of abrupt climate change and/or abrupt changes in the earth system triggered by climate change, with potentially catastrophic consequences, cannot be ruled out.

And to what degree are we in denial?

According to a report published by a group of Harvard scientists in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences“, the amount of methane being emitted in the U.S. from both the oil and agriculture industries could be 50 percent higher than previous estimates and 1.5 times higher than Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates.

Marine scientist Leifer — one of the authors of the recent Arctic Methane study — noted that “the Permian mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago is related to methane and thought to be the key to what caused the extinction of most species on the planet.”

The Great Dying.
The Great Dying.

Roughly 95 percent of all species were extinguished in that period, known as “The Great Dying”. Many scholars believe we are currently living through the sixth mass extinction in planetary history. Nearly 200 species go extinct every day at a rate 1,000 times greater than nature. Our current rate is, perhaps, already comparable to the intensity of “The Great Dying” but is likely man-made and at an extremely accelerated pace. This acceleration of both CO2 and methane in the atmosphere could trigger a process similar to, if not greater than “The Great Dying”. Scientists worry that we may be, in fact, causing our own early extinction, and in only a matter of decades.

Massive tragic storms are as common as school shootings these days. There are an estimated five million climate change related deaths every year. Those numbers will surely only grow higher.

Canadian Wildlife Service biologist Neil Dawe believes we’re all doomed regardless of a massive methane burp. He sees human extinction imminent for the world’s very next generation. Everywhere around him he claims to see the crumbling and decay of “the web of life… [and] it’s happening very quickly.”

Dawe continued:

Dirty industry marches on for that not-so-mighty dollar.
Dirty industry marches on for that not-so-mighty dollar.

Economic growth is the biggest destroyer of the ecology. Those people who think you can have a growing economy and a healthy environment are wrong. If we don’t reduce our numbers, nature will do it for us… Because ecosystems are so resilient, they don’t exact immediate punishment on the stupid.

David Wasdel feels similar to Dawe:

This is already a mass extinction event. The question is, how far is it going to go? How serious does it become? If we are not able to stop the rate of increase of temperature itself, and get that back under control, then a high temperature event, perhaps another 5 – 6 degrees [C], would obliterate at least 60 percent to 80 percent of the populations and species of life on Earth.

It’s no surprise that such stark, dire sounding scientists are often dismissed as alarmists, but to that McPherson replies:

What you can expect...
What you can expect…

I’m just reporting the results from other scientists. Nearly all of these results are published in established, esteemed literature. I don’t think anybody is taking issue with NASA, or ‘Nature’ or ‘Science’, or the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’. [Those] and the others I report are reasonably well known and come from legitimate sources, like NOAA [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], for example. I’m not making this information up, I’m just connecting a couple of dots, and it’s something many people have difficulty with.

Leifer feels regardless of the grim data, it is our moral obligation to push forward and combat global warming with a victor’s confidence, but McPherson is more pessimistic and considering his logic, rightly so.

There’s not much money in the end of civilization, and even less to be made in human extinction… but there is money in [the destruction of the planet], and as long as that’s the case, it is going to continue.

Perhaps rightly so for this world, it appears we are only one burp away from extinction.

Edited/Published by: SB