I know what you’re thinking. Really, Lana? Another cryptic, conspiracy-ridden article about the end of the world and civilization as we know it?
Well, yes reader, if that’s what you’re thinking, you would be correct. I did write another. Buckle your seat belts, friends, because I’m about to take you on a caffeine-fueled semi-tangent (that I wrote at 1:38 am) about climate change. It’s real. If the damage we’ve inflicted upon the environment has become irreparable, mankind will wipe itself from the Earth.
The damage is already done.
According to engineer and science writer David Auerbach, within the next century, the world as we know it will end (not with a bang, but a whimper).
Let’s face it: Earth, our beautiful planet, is kind of messed up. It is by no means flawless, and our careless mistreatment of its natural resources certainly don’t do it any better. Whether you believe in it or not (and I’m sorry, but you’re completely and utterly ignorant if you believe this is false. I’m looking at you, Donald Trump), one of the biggest threats facing mankind is global warming. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard all about how reducing your carbon footprint will save the planet, but at this point, as Auerbach simply puts it, “there is no way emission reductions will be enough to save us from our trend towards doom.”
Pleasant, right? But if you’ve researched this topic or something similar before, you know that Auerbach is definitely not the first to say this. Among a handful of others, Australian microbiologist Frank Fenner has also made predictions about the end of days; with a declining food and water supply and a worsening climate, some scientists claim our civilization is making a beeline towards the same fate of the inhabitants of Easter Island, who became extinct after exhausting their natural resources. According to Fenner and Auerbach, “the human race’s days are numbered once we reach 2100.”
If any of this is news to you, you’re probably waiting for some proof. Show us some cold, hard facts, Lana. Prove that the planet is sick, and that we’re the fever. Well, my dear, inquisitive reader, strap yourself in. There are a few things you need to know ahead of time, so let me brief you on the science of ice cores and greenhouse gases.
Ice cores are core samples removed from ice sheets, usually from polar caps. Basically, scientists study these and the inclusions within the ice–such as dust, pollen, etc–to “reconstruct climate change over thousands of years.” These levels within the ice reflect past climate conditions–in an example brought to us by Crow Canyon, “a layer of ash in the ice might be a record of a major volcanic eruption, which in turn may have triggered a period of cooler temperatures.”
For centuries, atmospheric carbon dioxide stayed below a metaphorical line. In parts per million, the level of CO2 never rose above 300. Samples taken from ice cores provide significant evidence that carbon dioxide levels have soared since the Industrial Revolution, and since then, that level of CO2 in the atmosphere has now risen to 400 (parts per million).
Use this chart as a reference if you prefer a visual.
Well, water vapor, methane, and–you guessed it– carbon dioxide are the main gases in Earth’s atmosphere that block heat from escaping. Usually, this is fine. We need heat to survive. However, rising levels of CO2 mean that it’s even harder for that excess heat to escape. These newly-recorded increased levels of greenhouse gases are causing the Earth to warm. Tired of hearing about why saving the planet is important yet? The continued global warming of Earth will, worst case scenario, eventually result in the end of the human race. This is unequivocal–that is, leaving no doubt.
I know, I know. “Wow, Lana, how are you so sure? You’re just being dramatic.” Alas, my friends, this expectation for our future is almost certain because of what can only be referred to as the domino effect. Post-Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide emissions rose (and are still rising) dramatically. This increase affects the atmosphere, which affects global temperature, which in turn affects the ice caps… Are you starting to understand the not-so-pretty picture I’m painting? This slightly coincides with my previous article Species with Amnesia, so you might already know what I’m talking about.
Melting ice caps = global flooding. With intense heat, the glaciers at the poles will start to melt. Sometimes, there are massive pools of already melted water within these caps, and when the outsides are breached, there’s a sudden outpour. In the past, meltdowns like these have led to sea levels rising significantly, which results in sinking land masses, peninsulas becoming islands, and such.
But we’re not here to talk about the theory of Atlantis.
While the Earth’s climate has certainly changed throughout history, the point is that this time, it’s different. I’ll let NASA say it, because I can’t word it any better:
“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.” -Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This could be the end of the line (aha, see what I did there). With ocean acidification (which is actually caused by the extra CO2 emissions that are absorbed by the ocean and have thereby increased the acidity by as much as 30%), glacial retreat, warming waters, and otherwise extreme events, I don’t know what other proof is needed. Something needs to be done, but even if we, as in humankind, tried, most experts think it’s already too late.
At this point, lowering emissions is just half the story – the easy half. The harder half will be an aggressive effort to find the technologies needed to reverse the climate apocalypse that has already begun.
At a G7 conference– the G7 is a group consisting of France, Germany, Japan, Canada, the United States, Italy, and the UK, but the European Union is also represented–in June of 2015, no agreement was made to make emission cuts by 2030… And as a result, the International Energy Agency warned that temperatures could actually rise by 2.6C in that time. According to Mr. Auerbach, “the only consensus reached was the agreement to reduce carbon emissions to zero in 85 years, but even then, it’s still too late.”
Even if there is a lesser temperature rise within the next 95 years, let’s say, less than 2C, there would still be a devastating rise in sea level, and millions of people could be displaced. As you can see, our situation is bleak. We have the option of exhausting our natural resources or causing global flooding, unless an asteroid hits us first, or the zombie apocalypse breaks out. Maybe it’ll be all four. At the same time.
BUT, I implore you to keep in mind that naturally, Mr. Auerbach and other scientists have to fear the absolute worst. It’s their job to explore these possibilities, to speak about the climate and how it could bring about famine and drought. While immediate action is certainly needed, and our situation is dire, this information doesn’t mean that everyone is going to die. Rather, it should serve as something like a wake-up call. We need to be aware of the destruction we’re wreaking upon our planet (using science-y words, because maybe then, you’ll believe me). I mean, let’s be honest. We take Mother Earth for granted. The proof is on Google, at the ice caps, and in our very backyards. Recycling isn’t a joke, kids. REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE.
It will take a lot to reverse the damage, but with modern technology and a global effort, it’s possible. We don’t have to just wait out the end of the world–we can prevent it. Take this as a global warning: go forth and make a change. Save the planet. Save our home.
. . .
References (because I did some scholarly research to keep you, my dear readers, woke):
Definition of woke, courtesy of Urban Dictionary, for those who are unaware:
stay woke: “Deriving from ‘stay awake,’ to stay woke is to keep informed of the shitstorm going on around you in times of turmoil and conflict, specifically on occasions when the media is being heavily filtered– such as the events in Ferguson Missouri in August 2014.”
Austin, Jon. “Humans ‘won’t Make next CENTURY Because Global Warming Damage Already Done’ Claims Author.” Express.co.uk. N.p., 24 June 2015. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.
NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.
“Ice Core Studies – Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.” Ice Core Studies – Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.