by Robert Hunziker
Human Extinction by 2026, a controversial/questionable idea, is examined in some detail on the web site: arctic-news.blogspot.com. Within the posted article, a bright red box highlights the hypothesis: “Will Humans Be Extinct By 2026?” Of course, simply posing the question is tantamount to endorsing the conclusion in the affirmative.
Also of recent, but not directly related to the extinction article, scientists moved the infamous Doomsday Clock ahead by 30 seconds closer to midnight because of rising global nationalism and failure to confront both nuclear weapons and climate change, coincidentally as Trump takes over control of the big red button, which is mythological.
By definition, an article dealing with human extinction is highly provocative and touchy and generally dismissed as balderdash. After all, it sounds kinda crazy. Still, the named article: “Will Humans Be Extinct By 2026?” warrants serious consideration. Here’s why: The Arctic News blog is an amalgam of serious research by topnotch scientists that “speak to truth.” They endorse the distinct possibility of an extinction event that will catch humanity flat-footed. They really believe it is a serious risk. These scientists go against the grain, telling it as they see it, not pulling any punches.
Conversely, it is well known that many climate scientists have been fudging their work; edits make bad seem less bad. Otherwise, those scientists stand to lose grants and funding. This is a fact confirmed by one of the world’s leading climate scientist (mentioned in prior articles). Ipso facto, fudging data is one of the bugaboos about accurate climate science, as scientists intentionally lowball.
Assuredly, submitting the interrogatory “Will Humans Be Extinct By 2026?” suggests the existence of solid evidence. But, in general, people do not, and will not, believe it. After all, how could it be true? Therein lies the major impediment to taking steps to prevent the problems of climate change. In point of fact, there are several good ideas to ameliorate climate change, if pursued in earnest.
For example, a recent NY Times headline: China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020 (New York Times, Jan. 5, 2017). All of which brings to mind: What if the United States spent $360 billion on renewables? That would be hugely helpful in worldwide efforts to combat climate change.
But, since the U.S. is diametrically headed the other direction, meaning a pinpoint sharp focus on fossil fuel exploration and production, which emits the CO2 that blankets the atmosphere and brings on severe global warming, what then are the facts behind the purported rendezvous with death by the year 2026?
Is the death threat by 2026 credible?
And, what is the probability it happens?
The probability of a human extinction event within 10 years is 50/50, a guess! But still, it is based upon extremely severe levels of planetary stress/damage that are not widely recognized as a threat to society, i.e., global warming (off the charts, and accelerating, especially in the ocean) and massive destruction of the ecosystem, e.g., acidification of the ocean, which, over time, kills off the base of the marine food chain.
Significantly, the scientific model that leads to a conclusion that human extinction happens by 2026 is based upon facts, not fiction. Scientists simply extrapolate current data about the rate of climate change into the future. Voila, extinction is right around the corner. Ten years comes fast. Thus, the scientific modeling is credible, but the 50/50 probability is guesswork.
The following quote from the Arctic News/blog article brings this bleak issue into focus: “The situation is dire. Little or no action is taken on climate change. Earth faces a potential temperature rise of more than 10°C or 18°F by 2026.”
Without a doubt, worldwide temp increases by 18°F essentially wipes-out global agriculture.
However, it’s worth noting that no universal consensus of opinion by scientists comes close to this prediction, not close at all. The scientific community at large believes temps will gradually rise, slowly, and manageably with human life continuing throughout the century, not by 18°F. Obviously, the Paris Agreement calls for holding temps to 2°C above pre-industrial. Thus, 195 countries are not looking for anything above 2°C. Otherwise, why select the 2°C upper limit?
Accordingly, a temperature rise of 10°C or 18°F within a decade is lights out for the human species. That’s bad news, leaving the planet to cockroaches.
The supporting facts behind the extinction thesis start with the Paris Agreement of December 12th, 2015 when 195 worldwide governments agreed to hold temps below 2°C above pre-industrial levels but doggedly pursue a lower limit of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
Here’s the problem with the Paris Agreement: Land+Ocean temps, according to the Arctic News/blog article, for most of the year 2016 have been above the 1.5°C guardrail, in fact it’s been above that level for ten of the months from October 2015 to November 2016. Therefore, in part, the Paris Agreement is already passé; it’s too late!
Going forward, the extinction cadre scientists foresee a series of feedbacks that cascade one upon another, in turn, cranking up temps to 10°C or 18°F by 2026. It all starts with the Arctic where temps are running 2-3 times significantly ahead of the planet, shaking lose millennia-old methane buried within ice for eons that is fast melting away. Methane, in turn, is a rip-snorting tiger at heating up the atmosphere, nothing compares, as it hits full stride, commencing runaway global warming.
Alarmingly, some scientists also believe a burp of 50 gigatons of methane (CH4) could happen within the extremely shallow waters of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf at any time without notice because of the striking loss of ice cover in the Arctic. Earth’s atmosphere currently contains 5 gigatons of CH4. If the big 50-gt burp hits, it’d be a powerful shot of testosterone for the runaway global warming monster.
In turn, and aggravating matters ever more, water vapor, a very potent greenhouse gas as every 1°C warming increase equals 7% more water vapor, is goosed up, accelerating temps even more. The warmer the atmosphere becomes, the more water vapor it holds, in turn, turbo-charging global warming into a frenzy, blanketing the atmosphere and retaining heat, like an oven with the thermostat stuck wide open, hotter and hotter it goes without doing anything new.
In all, there are several feedback loops that reinforce one another, each one influencing another such that, like a whirling merry-go-round of horse carvings that spins out of control to hyper speed, features of individual horses become a whirling blur. That’s runaway global warming! Morosely, the paleoclimate record has an example of temps cranking up rapidly within only 13 years.
Fifty-five (55) million years ago, global temps increased by 5° C within 13 years; CO2 in the atmosphere was 1,000 ppm, and there was no ice on the planet (today ice is melting like crazy, irreversibly in certain areas of Antarctica, which is extremely problematic). That’s remarkable, as it should take hundreds of years, or more, for global temps to increase by 5° C, not a measly 13 years. This fact alone, as discovered by scientists studying timeless ice core and sediment, unfortunately reinforces the “Human Extinction by 2026” thesis, somewhat. But, if 5° C within 13 years is considered warp speed in paleoclimate history, and it is, then the projection of 10°C or 18°F by 2026 seems awfully aggressive. On the other hand, because of human fossil fuel activity and the massive accumulation of warming yet in the pipeline (the latency effect), it’s within the range of possibility.
Furthermore, “no ice on the planet” (55 million years ago), equates to the imagery portrayed by the film Waterworld (Universal Pictures, 1995), post-apocalyptic science fiction when polar ice caps melted. One mythological storyline in the film claims dry land exists somewhere in the world. They search for it.
If the Doomsday Clock included everything that is wrong with Gaia, like the ocean absorbing up to 90% of planetary heat, which helps considerably to hold down land temps (tricking humans into thinking global warming is not as bad as it really is), but which also has a nasty habit of reversing the heat as a reverse feedback loop into nasty ole runaway global warming, then the Doomsday Clock is only a few seconds from midnight. That’s how dangerously close some scientists believe humanity is to extinction. Hopefully, they are dead wrong.
Alternatively, a counter-balancing course of action, the United States leads the world in renewables, but alas, Donald Trump is president and Scott Pruitt is Trump’s lead man for EPA (The Twilight Zone redux).
“Since President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, no prospective administrator has ever fundamentally questioned science or showed broad disdain for the work of the agency. That is until Scott Pruitt’s nomination” (Trump’s EPA Pick Scott Pruitt Won’t Stand up for Science. He Never Has, The Hill, 01/31/17).
Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos, strife, and discord, has flown by, dropping her Golden Apple of Discord, aka Scott Pruitt, into the lap of the U.S. Senate.