January 08, 2007

Consequences: End of the World

Civilization is on it’s way out. It’s Armageddon time. And it’s within our lifetimes. And it’s ALL MY FAULT because I didn’t warn people, wasn’t active enough, wasn’t an activist, even though I knew it was going to happen back 35 years ago. It’s what Gray Crinkled Paper was getting at, I finally understand. And now it’s on our doorstep with the visage of Global Warming, only it is not just a maybe or how well people adapt, it is THE END OF THE WORLD.

Russia, like much of the eastern U.S. has had an unusually warm winter, and has had absolutely no snow. Their permafrost is thawing, and has the capacity to release, just in Siberia alone, 1000 gigatons of methane, a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, which will initiate a much faster global warming trend and with a feedback cycle that is unstoppable. The temperature will rise by 5-10 degrees, meaning average global degrees, so that extreme temperatures of 130 F or even 140 F and higher could occur in some places with regularity. (Phoenix sees 120 F now). The ice sheets would melt and raise sea levels by 20-30 feet, obliterating coastlines for miles inland. The coral, being flooded beyond the light of the sun, would die, and all the sea life dependent on it would no longer have a ready food supply. Much of it would die as well, leading to a huge loss of the food chain in the ocean, and huge losses to the fishing industry and the food available to humans, who now would have less cropland because coastal inhabitants would have squeezed into what land is left. This cropland has to feed even fish eaters now, and can no longer support cattle, leading to mob outbreaks when meat is no longer available, or is rationed. But the temperature keeps rising, and even the crops fail with drought and unreliable weather. Then what? Then what? If people live even that long, your guess is as good as mine.

This can happen amazingly quickly, within 50 years or less, a lot less and will end civilization and eventually end all life as we know it. When word gets out that nothing can save Life on the planet, war will break out with nukes raining down on the US for what they’ve done, and what I didn’t warn them enough not to.

But nothing will help. Nothing can. It’s over. It’s the end. Maybe something will survive, but probably all water will evaporate from the planet and all that will be left will be a desert world with a hot atmosphere of methane and CO2 and H2O vapor. Even if the ocean still exists, it will be the only site where life remains, and whence life might emerge again some tens of thousands of years hence, when the atmosphere has cooled again. If you think this is alarmist and not going to happen, fine, don’t believe it. It won’t do you any good either way since the congress hasn’t the political will to do the drastic things that could be done that might save the world.

I feel like I can’t live with this understanding, this knowledge, this fear. I don’t want to be here when it happens, or when the angry mobs of terrorists and terrorist countries send their nukes towards us. I just want to be dead and gone. But I won’t do anything, not right now. I’m desperately afraid of what I know, and I feel like I can’t breathe, but I know it will pass, that I won’t be thinking this way forever. At least I hope not. I, too, will go back to living as if the situation were not as dire as it is, to forgetting that the world is at its end point. Because that’s the only way I can live. Otherwise, I’d have to end my life, the despair would be too much for me.

Posted by pamwagg at January 8, 2007 08:07 PM


Dear Pam,

It is not YOUR responsibility, it's all of us. A little fear might be good for us to get us off our collective asses but you have plenty to deal with in your life and it is not your fault or responsibility. As you said, if we all do a little towards changing the world then something can happen. Don't give up on that possibility. Despair can do nothing to help but hope and action can do something to help, a lot to help. Don't give up so easily. We all have to work together. Writing about what we can do is very important. You might consider writing a reasoned essay on the environment and possible solutions and try getting it published. You have a gift with words and we need words now to motivate us. Do not despair. Hope and act!

Posted by: Kate K. at January 9, 2007 03:02 PM

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