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Sunday, August 02, 2015

WM Essay #108: Civilization Is Imploding

Civilization has begun to implode.

The mammalian species that have gone extinct in the last ten years already outnumber the plant and animal species that died off during the Fifth Extinction, which took place some 66 million years ago and killed the dinosaurs; the rate of die-off is also faster. You may live to witness and be impacted by the Sixth Extinction. My guess is that homo sapiens will be replaced by cetaceans (dolphins, whales) as the dominant species. Maybe. In a few millennia.

The Fifth Extinction was caused by a 6-mile diameter meteor landing off the coast of Yucatan, darkening the sky with dust and dropping the temperature of the biosphere for decades. The coming Sixth Extinction is caused by humans burning fossil fuels in combination with over-population.

The battle against global warming is over. We lost. And there is no turning back or recovery possible. Meteorologists in Great Britain are recording all-time high temperatures across the country. The Arctic Ocean was largely ice-free this spring, the first-ever such condition, and Alaska has been warmer than the U.S. East Coast. Russia and Canada are building naval and coast guard bases along their northern coasts, expecting to need to monitor an influx of oil tankers and tourist ships.

The El NiƱo phenomenon in the South Pacific Ocean is medium strength so far this year, and yet is already seen as cause for warm and wet jet stream clouds moving northward to Alaska and Canada. So the water needed to support California agriculture is not arriving and the crops will not be growing – first the heavily-irrigated crops like almonds and rice and alfalfa, followed by drier crops like corn and cotton.

Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are produced in California. Oops, no water, no food. The glaciers in the Andes Mountains are mostly melted away, so no water for their crops, and no imported food either. We are already seeing spot shortages in the fresh and packaged food sections in our local grocery stores. Prices will skyrocket and the rest of the economy will disappear.

McDonald’s is the largest owner of meat and dairy cattle in the U.S.A. (plus herds down in Argentina and Brasil); as their herds shrink further there won’t be any Big Macs – no beef, no food, no jobs.

The CEOs of Wall Street are still raping and pillaging the economy. The Wall Street pirates take money out of the system and ignore the economics of Main Street. Money is quite like rain water: the less that circulates the harder it is to keep the system going. The Middle Class is shrinking in silence – under-reported, with little protest to the government, which doesn’t listen anyway. The solution is Keynesian economics, which is feared by the fascist Republicans (because it works); we also need to institute Reason-Based Taxation, which barely has a toehold among politicians.

Eco-activist Bill McKibben founded a group called back in 2007. The number was chosen because it signifies the parts-per-million (ppm) for CO2 that the atmosphere can healthily recycle – burn carbon fuels, plants and the oceans absorb the CO2, trees and plankton produce oxygen thru photosynthesis.

Recent news reports detail the several official scientific weather research facilities that have recorded CO2 levels at 400 ppm. Increased global warming is now inevitable and unstoppable.

The first six months of 2015 are the warmest on record (i.e. since 1880) all around the planet, with the second half of 2015 expected to continue to set high-temperature records.

The South Pacific Ocean contains a floating garbage pile the size of the State of Texas. That mostly-plastic garbage absorbs heat. As the warmer ocean waters there and around the world absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, the water is turned several pH levels toward the acidic. The acidity is already dissolving the shells of tiny animals at the bottom of the oceanic food chain, destroying sustenance for larger creatures.

The krill (swarms of tiny shellfish) near the Antarctic are decimated and near extinction. The melting of the Antarctic ice shelves and glaciers prevents penguins from swimming out to where the krill used to be. The melting in the Arctic prevents polar bears from swimming out to their seal herd food source, so the polar bears have started to learn how to kill elk and deer. (No reports yet of polar bears forming packs to attack Inuit/Eskimo settlements.)

The Republican Party blocked solving the ecological problems in the biosphere and now the problems have grown so dire that solutions no longer exist.

As you witness your children and grandchildren and neighbors starving to death over the next decade or so, be sure to thank a Republican.

Copyright 2015 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

{A variation of this essay was published in the Valencia County News-Bulletin on Thursday 30 July 2015 in the Opinion Section; I was given status as a guest columnist, which includes the display of a small headshot photograph.}

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