I’ve seen some pretty scary things in the news recently ? and I’m not talking about global terrorism or the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Scarier even than anarchy, violence and crumbling social fabric is the idea that global warming is RAPIDLY ACCELERATING, and pretty soon, we will have passed the point at which we can do anything to stop it.
“A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years. The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a “tipping point” beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.”
Concurrently, researchers who have recently returned from Siberia have found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres – the size of France and Germany combined – has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. The area is the world’s largest frozen peat bog and as it thaws, it will release billions of tons of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. This “ecological landslide” will cause a dramatic change in the environment which will itself trigger a far greater increase in global temperatures.
PLEASE PEOPLE, PAY ATTENTION TO THIS!
Four years ago scientists were predicting a rise in global temperatures of 4 ? 12 degrees Fahrenheit (2-6 degrees Celsius) in the next century. Now experts realize they will have to quickly recalculate this, because the climatic change is likely to happen faster and on a much more dramatic scale.
If you thought hurricane Katrina was bad – imagine hurricanes and other natural disasters of this scale happening every year. Imagine living in a place where malaria and other infectious diseases run rampant and where thousands die of heat stroke in the summer. This is likely to be the situation all around the world by 2025. Rising sea-levels will erase islands like the Maldives and flood low-lying areas like Bangladesh, and they will also wreak havoc in temperate industrial countries like the U.S.
While the media has been focused on the immediate disasters occurring in places like Iraq and New Orleans, very few people have been paying attention to this slow-moving but insidious transition which will dramatically alter (and possibly end) life as we know it. I don’t want to sound alarmist here ? but I think this is something that should be pretty alarming to anyone who plans to be alive in the next 20 years.
Photos (Smiley N. Pool/Dallas Morning News & James Nielsen/AFP/Getty Images) courtesy of National Geographic