Third Party & Independents: Archives

May 13, 2006

let's talk worst case scenario: Global warming=universal destruction

Scientist have come to the conclusion that yes, global warming is real and, yes, we need to act. However, science, being conservative, sends much of its predictions into the far future and limits scenarios to forseeable problems such as; three degrees of warming in a hundred years, a few feet of sea level rise in fifty, bigger storms, crop damage, population displacement, glacier retreat, etcetera.

Nobody wants to discuss the possible scenario that it is too late to prevent the complete elimination of life on earth...

The atmosphere of terrestrial planets is rich in heavy gases and gaseous combinations, CO2, Oxygen, Nitrogen and trace elements like Ozone and Argon. The atmosphere of gaseous planets is more problematic. Any available water is evaporated into the atmosphere and all the byproducts (perhaps oif previous ecosystems), such as methane and nitrogen are volitized into a soup of indigestible products hugging the surface and killing off any possibility of life(as we know it). Most other planets could never have supported life.

Sad but true. So I am asking, what if the planet Earth, lucky to find itself in a gentle zone, (called Goldilocks by planetary scientists "not to hot, not too cold", and I might add, not too filthy), is in bigger trouble than any one has contemplated?

What if the project of human industrialization has, in less than two hundred years, converted the prevailing atmosphere of the planet Earth into a soup of the byproducts of fossil fuel imolation and set the planet on an inexorable course towards a methane + nitrogen atmosphere that cannot, and will never again, sustain a form of life any ways near the highly structured human species, let alone frogs and butterflies?

Posted by Hank Chapot at May 13, 2006 06:29 PM

Hank, I assume that you mean total destruction of all things except humans, after all we are a lot like cockroaches.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 13, 2006 08:14 PM

I’d give an edge to the cockroach. At least their name starts with cock…

As for humans, maybe the chud will survive…

Posted by: hank chapot at May 13, 2006 08:17 PM

Hank, folks are not going to increase their taxes and deprive themselves of quality of life for the sake of what ifs. It is a simple sociological/economic phenomenon of the human species. We are no more capable of adpating to what if scenarios than T-Rex was able to downsize and go underground to survive.

If you are arguing we should err on the side of caution, it is a good argument, until it hits folks pocketbooks. Then the argument falls apart. When folks give up money, they want a guarantee for their purchase, or at least a money back warranty if doomsday does not arrive.

I am sympathetic to your cause, but, you are going to have to repackage it through some PR and marketing/advertising spin firms to sell it, and even then I would be hard pressed to invest in it for capital gains.

Of course, if you can come up with some hard empirical and replicable data, it would be potentially doable if you could get political gain out of it by one or other of the Republocrats.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 13, 2006 08:37 PM

Let us nominate David R. as a proponent of global extinction. Anyone want to join the green side?

Posted by: Hank Chapot at May 13, 2006 08:52 PM

Question: is the above post serious or tongue in cheek?

It’d be good to know what’s your actual position.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 13, 2006 09:12 PM


I believe increasing the price for oil. We should work on this. Yes.

But the apocalyptical thing is overblown. The world has been a lot warmers than it is today and life was profuse. Temperate forest grew within the arctic circle. The world has been a lot colder than it is today. Ice covered N. America as far south as Illinois only 10,000 years ago and life survived.

I agree that global warming is a problem. But I don’t believe it does the cause any good by postulating such extreme consequences. Especially since they way you describe it there really isnāt anything we can do PRACTICALLY to solve the problem. You have to give people alternatives.

Posted by: Jack at May 13, 2006 09:36 PM

I have to agree with Jack here, and disagree that scientist have come to a conclusion of anything cataclysmic, that global warming is a long term climate trend, or that anyone is afraid to speak about catastrophy. In fact, that’s all non-scientists talk about.

There is a failure here to understand long term and short term phenomenon. Climate is a long term phenomenon. There is not a greatly detailed understanding of it’s causes and effects.

That our modern industrial carbon production is causing a warming trend is very possible, and something we should look at and consider along with other economic impacts. Phrenology was once a popular “science”. Catastrophy fiction and speculation is not science.

Posted by: gergle at May 14, 2006 05:23 AM

Hank, I gave you a serious reply raising a number of issues which your position needs to address. I said I sympathize with your position. Nice dodge from each and every one of the issues I raised. If you didn’t want to debate the issue, or lack an understanding of the obstacles to convincing others of it, why did you write the article?

Your smart ass reply to the extremely important issues I raised would seem to indicate you yourself don’t take this issue very seriously.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 14, 2006 05:57 AM

Talk of the “worst case scenario” for the fate of the world is nothing new and I believe that much of the hype over apocalyptic global warming will subside, especially if the media finds a new, more grave threat to throw in our faces. Just like the scare in the 70’s over global cooling. This is rationalized well in an April 3 article by George Will:

Let cooler heads prevail: The media heat up over global warming

Posted by: Tim at May 14, 2006 11:01 AM

If you’re interested in doomsday scenarios, you might want to read “The Weather Makers” by Tim Flannery. Most people are aware of the possibility the Gulf Stream, a thermohaline current, could be interrupted. However, the best guesses put this at 1/20 odds in the next century.

Only a 5% chance of Europe and the northeastern US going into a deep freeze in the next century? Hey, no problem. Just ask that idiot, George Will.

Of greater concern is the possibility the Amazon rain forest will turn into desert. This possibility comes to us courtesy of TRIFFID (Top-down Representation of Interactive Foliage and Flora Dynamics), which is the vegetation model from the generaly acknowledged best climate model in the world, The Hadley Center model. The odds of this disaster happening are much higher. Rain forest collapse could enter advanced stages as early as 2040. How could this happen?

It turns out the rain forest creates its own climate through transpiration, which is like breathing for plants. Increased levels of C02 have surprising effects on transpiration, actually decreasing it by stimulating the need for fewer stomata, or plant pores; fewer stomata mean less water vapor exhaled by plants; and the final result is the collapse of the rain forest, with the consequence of greatly increased global heating.

No one is sure what will happen after that. It will probably not be good.

We are talking less than four decades here.

George Will writes political editorials. If I had a nickel for everytime George Will is hideously wrong on other issues, I would be a rich man. When it comes to Global Warming, George Will is truly a f****** idiot. There is no need to be polite about it, because George Will does not know what he is talking about. It’s just crap, man. Crap.

For example, George Will writes:
“Suppose the Earth is warming and suppose the warming is caused by human activity. Are we sure there will be proportionate benefits from whatever climate change can be purchased at the cost of slowing economic growth and spending trillions?”

This is intentionally stupid. He asks a stupid question, but does not answer it. He acts as if this were a stunner of a statement which somehow disproves the case for Climate Change.

When climate changes rapidly over a short period of time, various species cannot adapt quickly enough, and become extinct.

No problem?

When climate changes rapidly over a short period of time, droughts and other natural disasters occur, and tens of millions die. Consider the effects of El Ninos on India and China in the late 19th century.

George Will also writes:
“It suggests there has been a misinformation campaign implying that scientists might not be unanimous, a campaign by ā how did you guess? ā big oil. And the coal industry. But speaking of coal …”

George Will is a total piece of shit. There is, in fact, a campaign by big oil & the coal industry to prevent action on Global Warming, and has been some time. It is no “suggestion.” The effort was coordinated by the Global Climate Coalition and the Western Fuels Association. The GPC disbanded a few years ago when all but four corporations left- Exxon, Chevron, Mobil, & GM. The other 46 large multinational corporations concluded Global Warming was an issue after all, including BP & Ford.

To this date, Exxon continues to fund a substantial effort to prevent action on Global Warming. This effort has helped Exxon become the most profitable corporation in the history of the world, and it could only have happened with the despicable ignorant enabling of George Bush.

Posted by: phx8 at May 14, 2006 11:59 AM

Here is more in-depth refutation of George Will and the earlier linked article:

“Let’s start with the NY Times article from Sept. 14, 1974. Here’s how GW used info from this article:

“Newsweek agreed (“The Cooling World,” April 28, 1975) that meteorologists “are almost unanimous” that catastrophic famines might result from the global cooling that the New York Times (Sept. 14, 1975) said “may mark the return to another ice age.”

Here is what the actual article says. Note what a difference context makes:

“Recent long-term predictions of climate change have been contradictory. Some forecasters believe a cooling trend has begun that may mark the return to another ice age. Others say a natural 80-year cycle is nearing its coolest phase and that a marked warming is in store, reinforced by the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide from fuel burning.”

It gets worse, if possible. George Will writes:

“Science magazine (Dec. 10, 1976) warned of “extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation.”

Here is what the actual article states:

“A model of future climate based on the observed orbital-climate relationships, but ignoring anthropogenic effects, predicts that the long-term trend over the next several thousands years is towards extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation.”

Of course, dangerous anthropogenic effects are what we are so concerned about in the first place.


Posted by: phx8 at May 14, 2006 12:32 PM


Yes. Higher prices for energy and more CO2 free nuclear power.

Posted by: Jack at May 14, 2006 02:02 PM

George Will’s bank account has benefitted from companies ( ABC, Washington Post ) that don’t want you to know the truth so you don’t question anything and go back to buying the products they sell. Why would he tell the truth ??

Posted by: Tim at May 14, 2006 05:07 PM

As for the scenerio of total annihilation?? Very possible and because the American public and ,because of advertising, more and more of the world are spoiled and gullible- very probable.

Posted by: Tim at May 14, 2006 05:10 PM

There are means of staving off doomsday scenarios.

The first and most obvious one is conservation. It can be done fastest & with least cost.

Nuclear power and alternative energies offer possible solutions. So do carbon sequestration, which would be especially useful for burning in teh US, China, & elsewhere.

Finally, there are much more speculative enterprises, but I will leave it at that for now.

The key is to act soon. The Bush administration, Exxon, shills such as George Will, and others have done their best to prevent action. Unfortunately, the situation is a long term problem involving enormous & sometimes not readily apparent forces. It is the kind of problem we, as a capitalist society, are most ill suited to address.

Let us hope new leadership will take the first very necessary steps.

Posted by: phx8 at May 14, 2006 05:18 PM

Is there any way you can grow tomatoes in a fishtank?

Posted by: Weary Willie at May 14, 2006 07:27 PM

Would potatoes grown in human fecal matter provide a greater amount of nutrition than one grown in a manufactured fertilizer?

Posted by: Weary Willie at May 14, 2006 07:32 PM

There is one giant step that I—an evil, warmongering, environment hating conservative—am willing to take: buying Hybrid.
It’s only a matter of time before we wean ourselves from the sweet bosoms of oil-rich tyrants. In truth, there is no greater threat to our national security than our absolute dependence on oil. The threat goes far beyond the depletion of this natural resource. We are, in fact, funding the most vile dictatorships of our time.

Posted by: Dr Politico at May 14, 2006 09:00 PM

As it happens, I know a thing or two about this subject. In fact, in the mid-70’s, I wrote a thesis on the subject: “Inadvertent Man-Made Atmospheric Changes And Their Effect On Global Climate.” I remember how difficult getting baseline data was: practically no one was doing research into the matter back then.

Anyway, to the point: no, I do not believe we have come That Far. In fact, whereas it is possible that we may make ourselves extinct - the Planet Earth is such an huge system that to kill all macrobiotic Life on it is something only a full-scale nuclear - excuse me: *Noo-kew-lur* - exchange could do - at present

But then, do we really want to see 20%-50% of all Reptiles and Birds, and 10%-20% of all Mammals - including Humans - die off within a 50-100 year period?

I think not.

But that is what could happen, if we just keep doing as we have been, without waking up and trying to mitigate the effects of our presence here on Spaceship Earth.

Of course, to do that, we must first get rid of the Base Pollution which causes all other Pollution within our precious Home. I speak, of course, of Conservatism.

Whether its Fossil Fuels or Fission Plants, War-Profiteering or “Depleted” Uranium, it is Conservatism which drives the great Pollution Engine of this planet. Strip Mining, Clear Cutting, Oil-Drilling and transshipment, Nuclear Waste, you name it: Big Money (and hence Big Conservatives) are behind it all.

And it is Conservatism which stopped all chance of addressing Global Warming until now, when it is simply Too Big To Lie About anymore. Trust Betty on this: she knows.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 06:24 AM

I just wanted to comment on the methane + nitrogen environment that cannot support life. In fact, life spawned in exactly that type of highly reducing environment. Mostly methane, with nearly NO oxygen or atomspheric water. About a billion years after life began, some microbes began producing oxygen which was incredibly toxic to most early organisms and destroyed nearly 90% of all life at that time period. Since about 3.5 million years ago, the atmosphere was changed by these oxygen producing microbes forming the atmosphere we have today. Eventually life adapted to this condition and we have the flora and fauna we see today. You’re right that TODAY’S flora and fauna would not survive a methane-nitrogen environment but life itself would still prevail. Really my point we need to realize we wont destroy the planet or life per se but we will destroy our ability to live on by changing the condition which have been so perfectly balanced through billions of years of evolution. In effect, we only killing ourselves…

Posted by: Neil Hadfield at May 15, 2006 02:59 PM

In the third week of June 2006, on the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, a very hot one in northern California, I read that Steven Hawking spoke in China and became the second American political figure, after yours truly, to make the statement that humans might just fry the atmosphere and inadvertently reconnect the planet Earth with her dead neighbors.

Hawkings and I disgree on the chemical composition of the post-human atmosphere, I say a methane and nitrogen soup, he claims 250 degrees and sulfuric rain. I worry because we both agree that humans may not survive.

Hank Chapot

CHINA DAILY - Asked about the environment, Hawking, who suffers from a degenerative disease and speaks through a computerized voice synthesizer, said he was “very worried about global warming.” He said he was afraid that Earth “might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulfuric acid.”

Posted by: hank chapot at June 21, 2006 11:20 PM

I agree with Hank. What we ought to do is forget the past and it’s non-man-man warming and cooling and prepare to endure hotter, muggier, and increasingly unbearable weather and as a result, out own death. Wake up!

Posted by: Jim at July 1, 2006 05:15 PM
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