The Pre-extinction Party

Dimitri Orlov (possibly best known as the author of ‘Reinventing Collapse’) on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 published an article on his blog (http://cluborlov.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/extinctextincterextinctest.html#more). The article argues that the likliest outcome of current trends, particularly the trend of global warming, will be the near-term extinction of mankind along with most other living species. It’s certainly a gloomy prospect.

What I found most interesting was one of the comments to the article, made by
Gary Flomenhoft (http://www.uvm.edu/giee/?Page=flomenhoft.html). I have reproduced it in its entirety, because I generally agree with it:

Gaia has maintained the earth’s equilibrium temperature between 12C and 22C for 2 billion years, just fine without humans.

99.9% of all species that have ever existed are extinct. The average life span of a mammal species is 1 million years. Homo Sapiens are around 200,000 yrs old. Expiration date?

Most of the CO2 that is in the ground used to be in the air. That is where it came from.

100 million years ago the CO2 level in the air was 5500 ppm.
There will be no runaway greenhouse effect.

CO2 only becomes toxic to humans at 5% concentration which would be 50,000ppm.

60 million years ago the CO2 level was 3500ppm.

34 million yrs ago it dropped below 1000ppm for the first time and the ice caps formed.

About 23 million yrs ago it dropped below 300ppm where it has remained ever since, up to recently where it is now above 400ppm. the entire life span of humans CO2 was never above 300.

Bottom line is the earth will survive just fine without humans. Even at 22C large parts of the earth will be habitable if any humans manage to survive. Probably further north though (like northern Eurasia). The climate may be unstable for awhile. Then we’ll have a chance to screw it up again.

As a friend of mine says, the sole functions of humans in the scheme of things is to put the stored CO2 back in the the air for the benefit of plants.

One other point. Hubbert was smarter than you think. In his 1976 essay, “Exponential Growth as a transient phenomenon in human history”, Hubbert said world oil peak would be around 1995 (between 1990-2000), BUT “…oil production could be curtailed by the exporting nations to somewhat near the present rate. Were that to occur…curve…would be displaced…10-15 yrs.” IE: 2005-2015. Pretty dead on!

http://www.uvm.edu/~gflomenh/CDAE06/2010/06notes10.html

The reference to “Hubbert” will make some sense if you read Orlov’s article, If you’ve never heard of M. King Hubbert, then you might be interested in his Wikipedia article:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._King_Hubbert

Global warming/climate change/excess carbon dioxide emissions is a serious problem. It changes the environment on earth in ways we will not like. It is not, by itself, necessarily “game over” for humanity even if do burn up all the extractable coal, oil and methane. If, in the course of this extraction, the governments of our nations get into a thermonuclear war, that might well lead to near-term extinction. That’s definitely a gloomy possibility, but not inevitable. Barring such institutional insanity, it should be possible for life generally, and for humanity in particular, to adapt to the consequences of, let’s say, 1000 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere.

We won’t like the adaptation. It seems it would require a substantial reduction in human population, at a minimum, and the process of reduction is not likely to be a peaceful and controlled one. It’s survivable in the way that Rome survived the loss of empire, becoming a city of ruins inhabited by a few scavengers and sheep herders, so it is not a desirable outcome. Or, we could reduce emissions now and have less harsh conditions to cope with later.

If you conclude that extinction is inevitable, then the only sensible thing to do (as mentioned in other comments to Orlov’s article) is to hold a pre-extinction party. If you understand that there are a range of possible outcomes, and that it is possible to limit the damage from carbon dioxide and methane emissions (and other types of pollution), then you can work to ensure that your descendants have the best chance to live.

There are numerous ways to join with others people in the effort to prevent the worst outcomes for humanity. The Green Party in the United States (http://gp.org/index.php) is one for Americans who understand that the two-party system is directing us toward those worst outcomes with its endless wars for oil. We are the anti-extinction party.

Eventually, all the movements for social justice, protecting the environment, stopping senseless wars and building a sustainable economy will need to converge to achieve their common goals. The sooner, the better, I say.

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