Despite the widespread governmental denial of anthropogenic climate disruption, many signs indicate we are already past the point of no return, headed toward a “dead planet.”
“I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches.”
– Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota Sioux
At the beginning of June, the Obama administration proudly announced the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan, the goal of which is to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. It was trumpeted as the strongest proposal ever put forth by a US president to reign in greenhouse gas emissions.
However, Kevin Bundy with the Center for Biological Diversity‘s Climate Law Institute was unimpressed, commenting, “This is like fighting a wildfire with a garden hose – we’re glad the president has finally turned the water on, but it’s just not enough to get the job done.”
Given the increasingly rapid pace of the impacts of runaway anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), Bundy’s remark is well placed, and these recent machinations by the Obama administration are clearly too little, far too late.
This April was the second-warmest April on record globally, and marked the 350th month in a row (29 years and counting) that saw above-average temperatures.
Temperatures continue to rise across the planet.
In Australia, the last two years have been the hottest ever recorded, and there’s no sign that the heat wave is going to stop any time soon, according to a recently released report. According to data compiled by Australia’s Climate Council, the period from May 2012 to April 2014 was the hottest 24-month period ever recorded in the country, and the trend is increasing.
Meanwhile, even broader impacts of ACD continue to make themselves evident. A new report shows that the world’s oceans are acidifying ten times faster than they did 56 million years ago during an upheaval that caused a large die-off of planetary species and from which the planet took 70,000 years to recover. During that period, like now, a wave of CO2 surged into the atmosphere and raised global temperatures, and scientists believe that ocean acidification was the cause of the crisis.
The Arctic Ocean is leading the way in acidification. Just as there is a long lag time between increasing greenhouse gas emissions and increased temperature, changes in ocean acidity lag very far behind alterations in atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to the February 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters.
I was recently on a news program with Arctic sea ice expert Dr. Peter Wadhams from Cambridge University, who spoke of his 2008 prediction that by 2015 there would begin to be ice-free periods in the Arctic. As I’ve written in this column before, the US Navy predicts an ice-free Arctic by summer 2016, but this is a year later than expected by the UK Parliament, which points out that the six lowest September ice extents have occurred in the last six years.
The February 2014 issue of Geophysical Research Letters showed that sea-surface temperatures have increased 0.5 to 1.5 degrees Celsius during the last decade, and underscored the fact that the seven lowest September sea ice extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the past seven years.
All of these ominous signs point toward a world heading into a very stark future; they indicate that we are already past the point of no return.