Friday, October 26, 2012

The Peak Oil Crisis: The End Game - Tom Whipple

It is becoming clearer all the time that mankind is approaching a major turning point in its tenure on this planet. Recent reports on the speed with which our climate is deteriorating suggest that much of our earth will become uninhabitable sometime within the next 100 to 200 years.

Small pockets of humanoid DNA may make it through the climatic catastrophe ahead to establish new civilizations in coming millennia; however, very few of the some 7 billion of us running around on earth today are going to have living descendants a few hundred years from now.

Without going into the myriad of details, the new reports forecast that the temperatures will get very high; the oceans will flood the coasts and no longer contain much fish; pandemics will be prevalent; and the storms will be so fierce that there simply will not be enough food or habitable areas to keep us all going.

As recently as five years ago we badly underestimated just how quickly climate change would seriously affect civilization as we know it. The reason the climate problem has become more serious in recent years is that nobody has done anything of real significance to control carbon emissions since the problem was recognized 20 some years ago. Moreover, there is no indication that any of the earth’s major carbon emitters are planning to do anything but keep emitting the same or still more carbon in the foreseeable future

We, our children or grandchildren are likely to be living on a world where atmospheric carbon hits 800 to 1000 parts per million and higher – far worse than had been forecast as likely in previous studies. New analyses, while varying in numbers, put global temperatures by the end of the century some 9o to 11o F higher in the mid-latitudes and 20o higher in the arctic leading to sea levels that would flood most of the world’s coastal cities. Some studies even have temperatures 13-19o F higher over much of the US and 27o higher over the arctic. Sea levels could be as much as six feet higher by the end of the century and then rise as much as a foot each decade thereafter to 20 or 30 feet.

As these misfortunes will build up gradually over the rest of the century, somewhere along the line, be it 5, 10 or 50 years from now, climate change will become so harmful to everyday life that a critical mass of people will coalesce around the idea that anything, even giving up “economic growth”, would be better than letting life on earth dry up around us. Whether the day of taking carbon emissions seriously comes before the fabled “tipping point” where the forces of nature take over and drive temperatures ever higher, remains to be seen. Some serious observers believe that day has already past. If so, there is not really much left to do except carve our history in granite in case some successor or extraterrestrial life form comes along before our tectonic plates sub duct below the planet’s surface. More