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Op-Ed: Climate change and way too many unexplored future issues  — An overview

The entire useless multi-decades-long argument boils down to one thing – Do you believe in thermodynamics, yes or no?

Scientists say extreme weather is becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change - Copyright AFP Sakis MITROLIDIS
Scientists say extreme weather is becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change - Copyright AFP Sakis MITROLIDIS

If there’s anything that singles out humanity as utterly unfocused and irresponsible, it’s climate change. “The climate always changes!”, says someone. So it does. That’s no reason to go extinct because of it. This simplistic idiocy, however, isn’t quite enough of an assessment of either the issues or the outcomes.

The headlines are irritatingly normal. Much verbosity, not much in the way of results. Some ideas, recycled or otherwise, like refreezing the poles with sulfur dioxide. There’s still a bit of denialism, now much muted by the massive heatwaves and droughts predicted 30 years ago.

The entire useless multi-decades-long argument boils down to one thing – Do you believe in thermodynamics, yes or no? If your answer is no, go browsing for your urn or coffin.

To simplify these issues – So what? Reality is making a point, and that is the absolute bottom line. This is the arrival of an uncharted climate. Doing nothing is not an option. Denial is now simply absurd. There’s a lot more to this situation than simply keeping sycophants in their useless overpaid jobs. There’s also far more to it than simply number-crunching.

Uncharted climate fundamentals

Predictions have been pretty much right, or even under, actual outcomes. We’ve had plenty of the predicted wild weather, floods, and droughts. The trouble is that there’s always an extension of those outcomes. How do you predict heat and physical cycles you’ve never seen before?

Try these scenarios:

A permanent La Nina. This means rewriting the script for weather worldwide. The big US drought could be permanent, or not.

Gulf Stream collapse. This is a long-observed issue with multiple factors involved. It’s the likely transformation of the existing Atlantic dynamics into another, largely imponderable, range of currents and heat transfer. It’s even been predicted to cause a mini Ice Age in Europe.

Drastically increased atmospheric mass. This is the result of spewing so much gas into the atmosphere. It directly affects thermodynamics, heat transfer, effects of air pressure, and all related climatic functions.

Ocean chemistry. The rapid acidification of the oceans means new chemistry, and a lot of it. Is it possible, do you think, that this might impact the general environmental chaos?

Atmospheric chemistry. The sheer range of chemicals released into the atmosphere and their toxic effects are well-known. The effect of superheating these chemicals in a much denser atmosphere is something we may find out about soon enough.

Put simply – You’re looking at a lot of very large-scale and potentially hyperactive unknowns. These unknowns will probably be happening simultaneously.

From this not-very-impressive lack of obtainable information come a few scenarios:

  • What happens if hurricanes, packing a lot more mass, become persistent?
  • What if tornado season is all year?
  • What if sea levels destroy new coastlines after rising? (All that extra water could easily do that.)
  • What if the weather is so out of whack you get four seasons in a day every day?
  • What’s the capacity to recover from these obviously dangerous things?
  • How often can you recover?   
  • What if the northern hemisphere is in drought for any sustained period of time due to changes in the water cycle?
  • What if it’s a “drought or deluge” situation with nothing else happening?
  • How long does it take for stable weather patterns to establish?
  • What if the equator continues to heat up as it did this year?
  • How do people move out of dangerous climates, and to where?
  • How much displacement of people and food can the global economy take?
  • Can places like China, North America, and Europe survive massive climatic issues? …Because if they can’t, you’re looking at economic disasters on a Biblical scale.
  • How do you feed people with no crops? Because the transition to any other ways of producing food, during a global catastrophe, may not be quick or simple.

Plenty of questions, and no answers available. It’s not a great outlook, is it?  

The much less obvious, and insidious, problem is that it’s being assumed that outcomes will continue to be predictable. I’d say that’s highly unlikely. The paleo record of climate really just proves anything is possible and whatever that may be does and will happen.

Given the many incredible cataclysms in Earth’s history, assuming the ability to predict may be fatal. The sheer number of mass and local extinctions isn’t too reassuring, either.

Climate had a lot to do with most of those extinctions. The need is to get ahead of the problems and have something reliable and preferably idiot-proof in place with which to manage them.

More to the point – How fast can predictions adjust to changing conditions? That’s the problem that will define the solutions.

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Disclaimer
The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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