Now that the G-6 +1 is over I’d like to share some thoughts I’ve had while volunteering at the Discovery Cube L. A. When I’m asked about climate change/global warming/Amazon Rainforest fires. I shan’t boor you with the science we going into, it is after all for kids and you can get much better information just googling the subject or go to NOAA and/or NASA. Rather I’m going to take you on a thought Experiment into what will happen.
I was originally going to go thru a step by step process of my reasoning but it quickly turned into a very nice term paper. Quite long and equally boring. It has been set aside for another day. Instead I’m just going to dive into a positive view of what things will be like if we either do something or don’t do something about climate change and the rapidly global warming that is driving it.
First off, in the 4.6+ billion years that the earth has existed it’s climate has been changing. Most assuredly in the estimated 4 billion years that life has been around the earth’s climate has been changing and life has been a key player in that change. It is here I like to talk about the “Great Oxygen Catastrophe” that leads to Snowball Earth. I have seen estimates that go as high as 98% of all life on Earth went extinct but I usually say that it was over 90%. I then talk about the multiple Great Extinction events in the Earth’s history.
I now like to point out that life has existed on both land and sea when the Earth was so hot there were no polar icecaps. If fact some estimates of the temperatures were several degrees centigrade higher than current predictions for the current warming. If the conservative prediction of warming occurs then it is most likely all of the two polar icecaps will totally melt. If we go with the accepted estimates of how much ice is in the two icecaps we will see sea level rise just about 80 meters (262+ feet). It is here I bring up the SOS (Science on a Sphere) data set that shows the sea rise in 10 meter increments.
If you are wondering, the USA doesn’t do too badly. We loose two states for sure (Louisiana and Delaware) and most of about six others. California will loose the Great Central Valley and get a new, expanded San Francisco Bay. We will have to say bye bye to places like Denmark, Holland, Bangladesh, and maybe Vet Nam. Cities lost will include Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, London, and Beijing. All this happens if we do nothing. Not very likely to happen but still a possibility.
Now is when I like to point out that we, Americans, have faced economic and environmental crisis like this before in our history and have come thru all the better for it. For that mater the world has faced crisis like this in the last few centuries. I like to talk about the annual Typhus outbreaks that hit London in the mid 19th century. When the causal factor (using the river as a sewer) reached the Houses of Parliament action was finally taken. I feel very confident that when the rising sea level starts affecting the 1% they too will take action. An it may not take the annual flooding of southern Florida either.
Now for something I don’t share with the kids, ever. If the most pessimistic projects come true the earth can loose between 50% to 90% of both life and bio diversity. This has happen before in the list or of life on Earth and most likely happen again. We, like the first photosynthetic life, maybe the major cause of it. In any case, given the spread of humanity over the earth, and our numbers 7.7+ Billion it is unlikely we will go extinct (7.7 billion * 0.01 is 7.7 million). Also while this is all happening with lighting speed in geological time it is still taking either decades or centuries to happen.
In closing just remember this, Mankind has been slapped silly by Mother Nature many times in our history. An while we usually pick ourselves up, dust ourselves of and go on our way as if nothing has happened, sometimes we do learn something. An always, always we become wiser, stronger, better.