“One does not sell the land people walk on.”
— Crazy Horse
A massive collapse of an ice sheet in Western Antarctica has begun and, according to scientists, is most likely an unstoppable event that will cause an inevitable rise in global sea levels of at least 10 feet.
The rise will be relatively slow at first, but by 2100 will ramp up sharply. This could happen sooner, warn the scientists, as the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD/climate change) continue to intensify.
“This is really happening,” Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said. “There’s nothing to stop it now.”
On April 13, the world’s leading scientific body for the assessment of ACD warned of a “devastating rise of 4-5C if we carry on as we are.”
According to Mike Childs, the head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, an increase to 4C warming would mean a “devastating” impact on agriculture and human civilization. Childs added that we would face even more extreme weather events and lose approximately 20-30 percent of the wildlife on the planet. This assessment may even be overly hopeful, given that humans have never lived on a planet at 3.5C or higher.
A report released in April by a joint Australian/US research team states that escalating CO2 emissions now threaten the entire marine food chain, given that more than 90 percent of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans.
The extreme temperature duality witnessed across the US this past winter is likely to become the norm, thanks to ACD, and it was again revealed who the largest CO2 emitters are. China, the US and India lead as the world’s largest polluters.
The rapidity with which ACD is progressing now is truly astounding. Greenhouse gas emissions grew in the first decade of the 21st century at a rate nearly double that of the previous 30 years combined – this, despite the massive economic downturn in 2008.
With full steam ahead for the industrial growth society that dominates the planet, this dispatch reveals another month of dramatic impacts and stunning reports that show, starkly, how humans are disfiguring all facets of the earth.
According to a recent study published in Nature, increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere could be lengthening the growing seasons of grasses and other plants. This might seem like good news, except that another study published in Nature about two weeks later revealed that increased CO2 emissions are making the world’s staple food crops of wheat, rice, maize and soybeans less nutritious, which is worsening the already serious health problems already suffered by the billions of malnourished people on the planet.
ACD is also playing a role in causing a dramatic increase in wheat rust, a fungal disease known as “the polio of the food world,” spreading from Africa to South and Central Asia, the Middle East and now Europe. This is causing calamitous losses for the world’s second most important grain crop after rice, and scientists are very concerned about the dangers this poses to global food security.
This is in addition to the increasing frequency of agricultural shocks caused by extreme weather events that are resulting in a surge in food prices that is hitting consumers, as well as everyone in the food chain, from farmers to agricultural traders to food manufacturers.
In the US, beef prices have already hit an all-time high, since extreme weather like massive droughts has thinned the country’s beef cattle herds to the lowest levels since 1951, when there was only half the number of people to feed.
The San Jose Tico Times in Costa Rica reported that ACD is causing the collapse of wildlife habitats, widespread animal extinction, water scarcity and the spreading of diseases across the already extremely vulnerable populations of Latin America. The region already has the highest biodiversity on the planet, but one-third of all coral-building species there are already threatened with extinction, and 40 percent of the mangrove species along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Central America are threatened with extinction.
Escalating temperatures across the US Southwest are causing changes for birds and reptiles – and while some are benefitting from said changes, others like jays and other birds could lose as much as 80 percent of their breeding range by 2100, are losing and becoming threatened with extinction.
In the Arctic region of the planet, permafrost stores vast amounts of organic material that is teeming with microbes. Scientists are now reporting that as the permafrost thaws, as it is now at ever-increasing rates, it is changing the composition of the vegetation in the Arctic by releasing these microbes and accelerating ACD. According to Jeff Chanton, an environmental scientist who was involved in the study, when the peat in the permafrost thaws, water floods the soil and the chemistry change in the soil increases greenhouse gas production.
Speaking of the Arctic, in Alaska the landscape is radically changing in the north as melting permafrost is causing forests to no longer grow straight, as trees are tilting and falling over.
Meanwhile, child psychiatrists, psychologists and educators are reporting escalating anxiety levels in youth, who are flooded with disconcerting talk and news about the destruction of our planet.