Ignored warnings?

I recall about 24 years ago doing work experience in Jersey at the zoological park founded by my great uncle Gerald Durrell. Each day I would ride on my bicycle to the zoo and spend the day immersed in the fruits of his labour. Jersey zoo, 'Durrell', has one very special quality. Every animal that has a home there is on the critically endangered species list and is part of a programme to reintroduce it to the wild. A happy memory I will take away from my work experience there was being allowed into the lemur enclosure with a bucket of grapes. The little fur balls climbed all over me, as if I were a tree and stuck their fingers up my nose and in my ears whilst stuffing their faces, gratefully, with grapes.

The other memory I will take to the grave from this trip was the short video presentation in the auditorium where Gerry speaks about his raison d’être. The analogy is one that speaks to me more and more as I get older and I muse upon it most days:

“The world is as delicate and as complicated as a spider’s web. If you touch one thread you send shudders through all the other threads. We are not just touching the web, we are tearing holes in it”

Brave new world?

There comes a point when we must realise that we have gone too far. The interglacial period of the last 8.5 thousand years, that has given us a stable climate between hot and cold, is now over. It was called the ‘holocene’. Life, not just humans but all life, prospered in the holocene. Every time we get to the edge of the temperature boundary, bad things happen. Crops fail, weather goes crazy, species (including humans) die.

We are now so far advanced in our systemic changing of the Earth’s climate that events are now taking care of themselves. Weather extremes are being felt around the globe. Droughts, floods etc. are impacting us on a daily basis. The mainstream media doesn’t even bother to report them anymore. Those effected are wishing them away but they are stubborn, and worsening. The Earth is doing what it has always done throughout its 4.5 billion years of life: responding to forcings. 

The carbon emissions from human industrialisation have now saturated the atmosphere and are causing some major feedbacks. The Arctic summer sea ice loss is the most visible. In the normal world no one really acknowledges it, except to say that “an ice free Arctic presents opportunities for resource extraction of fossil fuels and minerals”. 

The reality is that the loss of the Arctic polar ice-cap is the trigger that will bring about the biggest tragedy that people of my generation and the next will have to witness. At 0.85 Cº we are outside the temperature range of the holocene. Politicians and big business corporations have created a “target” of 2 Cº as the limit for how much the world should heat before climate change becomes dangerous.

IPCC and the 2Cº "target"

2 Cº is not safe. It is a lie to say that we can adjust the Earth’s temperature to 2 Cº and leave it there. It is a gross deception on a scale that even dinosaurs will understand. 

The bottom line is that the Earth is heating up and emissions reductions are miles away from being a meaningful cure. Yes, we should stop burning fossil fuels but in order to restore the biosphere and avoid the catastrophic global heating that is already coming our way from emissions to date, we will have to remove 1 trillion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere. The only sensible way to do that is to increase the global biomass in order to remove the greenhouse gas from the carbon cycle. 

Happy Earth day!

Is it doable? Who knows. There is talk and even conferences dedicated to it but will it happen within the timeframe needed? If it does, then it will be nothing short of a modern day miracle and only then I will inflate the balloons for Earth Day.



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