01 June 2014

Mike Adams may need another class or two of high school biology.

The problem with coming at science with a pre-determined conclusion is that you can always find minor facts to back you up while ignoring the major pieces that show the exact opposite. Mike Adams' heart is in the right place and, indeed, some of the pieces of information he shares are very true while completely ignoring the wealth of evidence, including overwhelming historical data, that show his conclusion is not correct. I will not bother pointing out all of the inaccuracies in his article and where his numbers are refuted by scientists (unless he reaches out to me - in which case I would be happy to), but instead focus on the bigger picture of where his conclusion missed the mark.

Yes, humanity, there is now an end date to the mostly peaceful world the first world lives in. Will humanity survive? No doubt. But the world our grand children will live in will be a far more difficult planet for homosapiens than today.

Historically speaking, the climate does not change overnight - it evolves over tens of thousands of years. Six hundred million years ago the atmosphere had far more oxygen than today because we had a planet filled primarily with plants. Over a couple of hundred million years, giant insects evolved that enjoyed the pleasures of their skins absorbing all the oxygen they could. As animals joined them to suck in that lovely gas, the eagle-sized dragonflies eventually became significantly smaller. The enviornment changes gradually and plants and animals adjust accordingly.

There are times in history when sudden changes to the environment occurred. Sometimes it was due to massive volcanoes erupting, or global temperatures plummeting, or a multi-mile meteor slamming into the planet - sometimes multiple of these simultaenously. These cause mass extinction events where large percentages of the planet species suddenly disappear. Over the course of tens of thousands of years the life rebounds to best fill the new world.

The climate we live in today has changed overnight, and it will change even more. In the course of a few hundred years, humanity will have wiped out, directly or indirectly, two thirds of the species on our planet. That is not speculation - that is the reality of today. Without humans our planetary past says we would have one species going extinct every hundred years or so. The estimates today are that hundreds (perhaps thousands) of species are disappearing every year. We are in the middle of one of the sixth largest life destroying events that Earth has experienced.

While Mr. Adams is right that plants love more carbon dioxide, that is only useful if we are allowing plants to live. Humans are tearing down rain forests and have inhabited over 50% of the entire planet. Yes - if we were to abandon North America then the plants would happily reap the rewards, but I do not see any initiative to do so. As long as humans continue to kill forests to make way for our modern lifestyle, the additional carbon dioxide is not helping our oxygen creating evolutionary siblings. In fact, we are destroying them far faster than they are growing.

It is also true that non-human species create more carbon than humans. (His numbers are off, but that is another discussion.) However, it is you and me burning fossil fuels and tearing down forests that have changed the "natural" order. It is our actions that have raised the CO2 levels to over 400ppm. Worse yet, even if we stopped all fossil fuel use today, that number would continue to rise for the next 50 years.

It is also true that there were times when there was far more carbon in the air than today, much like there was a time when there was far more oxygen in the air. Life evolved to take advantage of these differences in climate. The issue is not whether there was a time when things were different - it is that this massive change is happening at a pace that life cannot adapt to before they are wiped out.

Massive change in a short period of time that is the core issue. If CO2 were to raise to 500ppm over ten thousand years then the impact would be far less severe. In fact, it would be beneficial to some species. Unfortunately, it is happening over a couple of hundred years. This change is killing off huge numbers of species. That is a scientific fact. We know that from looking at regions of the planet where carbon levels in the ocean are already that high and tracking what it has done to marine life. We know that at least two thirds of the ocean will not survive this change.

Mark is right that eventually we will have marine and land photosynthesis life to take advantage of this adjustment to our air. Perhaps in as little as a couple thousand years. The reason treehuggers are so up in arms is the shape of humanity when we reach that date.

Ocean levels will be rising dramatically over the next two hundred years. Ocean currents will have severe changes. Weather patterns will get far more severe. Many of the species of animals we consume today will no longer exist. We will have far less land to grow crops and live on. There will be far less fresh water to drink.

What will all these changes do to the nations and lifestyle we hold so dear? No one knows. But, while the plant life in the year 4014 may be happy, humanity may have a really rough road getting there to see it.