Rapid Environmental Changes Coming

It seems the more deeply one is involved in studying environmental changes, the more one is alarmed to realize the extent and speed with which the damages are going to be coming.

We know that climate prediction models have consistently, significantly underestimated the extent and speed of changes that have already occurred.

I believe we are entering a time of very rapid environmental, climate, and social deterioration for a number of reasons:

  • There is a delay of as much as 10 years between injecting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and when the thermal effects of that appear.  In other words, the effects of the entire past decade of increasing, global greenhouse gas emissions have not appeared yet, but are coming.
  • The oceans have responded by absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide and heat, dampening the effects of the greenhouse gases.  But the rising ocean temperatures, and amount of CO2 already absorbed, mean the oceans will no longer be able to serve as a buffer against greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere.  Nor as a buffer against the increasing atmospheric temperatures that result from the increased greenhouse gases.
  • Increasing temperatures, especially in arctic regions, are melting the permafrost, which is releasing huge amounts of the even more potent greenhouse gas, methane.
  • Ice all over the world is rapidly melting.  That contributes to rising temperatures because the white glaciers no longer reflect sunlight, but the exposed water and land will absorb sunlight, adding heat.  Also the shift in weight, as all of that ice melts, is affecting the Earth’s rotation.  What the effects of that might be are not yet known.
  • Rapidly increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane, and decreasing ability of the oceans to absorb the heat,  will mean that atmospheric temperatures are about to begin to rise much more rapidly, and to much higher levels than previously expected.
  • Precipitation patterns are changing, and will continue to do so.
    • Warmer air holds more water vapor, leading to
      • drought and desertification in some areas, and
      • huge downpours of rain, with flooding and mudslides, in other areas.
    • Water supplies are threatened by these changing precipitation patterns.
      • We water protectors understand this, and cannot understand why corporations are allowed to put water supplies at risk by continued pipeline construction and other fossil fuel development.
    • Crops/food production will be adversely affected, leading to food insecurity, famine, disease, mass migration and conflict.
  • Marine life is being massively destroyed by increasingly warm and acidic ocean waters.  This will also result in food insecurity.

And yet most people in Western, industrial societies have yet to engage in addressing these issues.

We are going to find ourselves woefully unprepared and overwhelmed as the chaos approaches.  It will be difficult enough to do when we are aware of what we are facing.  The longer our society continues to refuse to believe this, the more unprepared we will be as the disasters continue to come at us with increasing ferocity, at an accelerating rate.

We are facing two significant tasks at this time:

  1. We need to be exploring the moral and justice issues of the choices we will be forced to make, many of which we are already embroiled in.
    1. How do we respond in the face of these insecurities?
      1. food
      2. water
      3. land
      4. energy
      5. health, including mental
      6. physical/shelter
    2. How do we care for others when we don’t have enough to care for ourselves?
  2. How to adapt to a hostile environment?
    1. Nomads?
    2. Shelter from heat, wind, rain
      1. In ground or cave dwellings
    3. Water supply
      1. Know where water sources are
      2. Ways to purify water
    4. Food supply and preservation
      1. Adapt to
        1. increasing temperatures
        2. drought conditions
        3. migrating flora and fauna
        4. migrating pests and diseases
      2. Underground agriculture
    5. Medicines and health supplies
      1. Preserve sustainable diagnostic tools
      2. Stockpile drugs and medical equipment and supplies
      3. Train many people in basic medical care
    6. Energy
      1. Rugged, long lasting renewable devices
      2. 3D printers to produce solar cells or wind turbines
    7. Parts and supplies
      1. 3D printer manufacturing
    8. Community organization
      1. Safety in a chaotic, lawless world
      2. Education
    9. Faith and spiritual
      1. leaders
      2. practices

Can we, should we, preserve things that are important to us from our current digital lives?  That may be the only practical way to preserve knowledge (besides oral histories).

Addendum: Or drawings on the walls of the caves people will be living in.

We need to be joining others who are working on disaster preparedness now.  http://www.gcint.org/green-star-awards/

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