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C4: The explosively dangerous Climate Cliff

December 14th, 2012 · 2 Comments

We all know that C4 is one of the dangerous explosives created by mankind.

C4 is also one of the most explosively dangerous risks ever created by humanity:

Cliffs of Moher- DON'T FALL OFFC4 =
Catastrophic
Climate
Chaos
Cliff

For decades, climate scientists and those concerned about what scientific work is telling us have struggled with the right terms to describe what humanity is doing to the planetary climate system and to, in just a few words, capture the meaning in a way that provides insight into the complexity and risks associated with this. “Global Warming”, “Climate Change”, “Climate Disruption”, “Global Weirding”, “Global Change”, … the list can on and on.

In the shadow of “The VIllage” myopic attention to “The Fiscal Cliff”, we are increasingly hearing calls for attention to be paid to the real challenge, our Climate Cliff. Even that term, however, falls short of conveying how serious our situation really is …

Catastrophic

How does one describe catastrophic?

Does the extinction of a good percentage of global species count as a castrophe?  This is already happening. And will only get worse.

How about helping drive significant (100,000s) numbers of deaths per year? This is already happening. And, will only get worse.

Damaging crops, driving up prices and contributing to famine situations? This is already happening. And, this will only get worse.

Climate

This is about changing the planetary conditions in which human civilization has developed and evolved. This isn’t about a single weather event but about long-term shift to the climate for everywhere around the world … for the indefinite future.

Chaos

While ‘weather’ is complex and chaotic, human civilization evolved with some understanding as to predictability. Agriculture is a prime example. Consider, for example, the planting of olive groves with the intent to harvest olives for generations to come.  The disruption to the climate system is setting the stage for chaotic variation from year (or decade to decade) , with changing weather patterns within areas and shifting climate patterns, such that predictability is weakening — whether for agriculture, urban planning. or otherwise.

Cliff

We have been driving, heedlessly, into disaster for decades. We will have catastrophic implications (since we are already having them) no matter what we do. There is already mounting chaos.  We are increasingly seeing ‘positive feedbacks’ (note that positive is not a positive thing) (such as methane bubbling in the Arctic and reducing ocean ability to absorb CO2). These positive feedbacks create an ever-mounting risk that humanity will lose the ability to ‘control’ the rate of Co2 (and other climate forcing) emissions. This is the ‘cliff’: the risk that we will not be able to step back from the worst scenarios of unchecked catastrophic climate chaos.  And, an increasing number of scientists seem to be mounting in concern that we are hurtling toward leaping off that cliff.

While we hear all this noise about “The Fiscal Cliff”, the item of most serious concern and most serious risk for our collective security, prosperity, and future viability remains unspoken and unaddressed in The Village’s polite society.  It is the worst of reckless endangerment to so heedlessly ignore explosive C4.

Tags: Energy

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