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STANFORD STUDY: Climate Change Threatens Freshwater Source for Billions
Stanford University November 11, 2012 by Rob Jordan
Snowpack, an essential source of drinking water and agricultural irrigation for billions of people, could shrink significantly within the next 30 years, according to a study led by Stanford climate change researcher Noah Diffenbaugh.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, forecasts the effect of climate change on Northern Hemisphere snowpack through the 21st century in the Western United States, Alpine Europe, Central Asia and downstream of the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. The news is particularly troubling for snowpack-dependent California – the largest producer of agriculture products in the country and the sixth-largest agriculture exporter in the world.
"The Western U.S. exhibits the strongest increases in the occurrence of extremely low snow years in response to global warming," Diffenbaugh said. "It also exhibits some of the strongest decreases in runoff that occurs during the growing season." Diffenbaugh is an assistant professor in Stanford's Department of Environmental Earth System Science and a center fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
Less snow accumulation, increased cold season runoff and decreased warm season runoff could lead not only to overwhelmed reservoirs and flooding in winter, but also to insufficient water for agriculture in spring and summer when demand is highest. Hydroelectric production, water-dependent ecosystems and snow-dependent recreation industries could also suffer. On top of that, early spring snowmelt has been associated with an increase in wildfires, insect pests and species extinctions in the Western United States and elsewhere.
By filling reservoirs and watering crops when warmer, drier weather sets in, mountain snowpack has become vital to people and ecosystems in regions such as the Western United States, Alpine Europe, Central Asia and downstream of the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau – home to more than 50 percent of the world's population.
"If we look at the systems that humans currently have in place for managing water resources, we see that much of the Northern Hemisphere is dependent on snowpack for water storage," Diffenbaugh said. "Our results suggest that global warming will put increasing pressure on both flood control in the cold season and water availability in the dry season, and that these changes are likely to occur in some of the most densely populated and water-stressed areas of the planet."
The connection between rising global temperatures and disappearing snowpack has long been evident. Diffenbaugh and his fellow researchers took a new look at the issue by examining predicted extremes in snowpack accumulation and runoff. Using advanced climate modeling techniques, they compared a century's worth of predicted future data for precipitation, accumulation and runoff with the average and extreme rates for the same phenomena during the 30 years between 1976 and 2005.
The researchers found that the occurrence of low snow years will likely intensify throughout most snow-dominated areas of the Northern Hemisphere during this century, becoming the norm more than 80 percent of the time over most of North America, western Eurasia and southeastern Eurasia by 2070.
The areas of North America and Eurasia predicted to have the highest number of low-snow years are also predicted to have extremely low snow accumulation.
"Our analysis highlights the potential impacts of climate change if greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectory," Diffenbaugh said. "While the greatest impacts are likely to occur at higher levels of global warming, our results highlight the fact that continued emissions over the next few decades are likely to substantially reduce snow accumulation in a number of regions, increasing the risk of both flooding and drought in different parts of the year."
The study's co-authors include Moetasim Ashfaq, a research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Martin Scherer, a research assistant in Stanford's Department of Environmental Earth System Science. The study was made possible by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Rob Jordan is the communications writer for the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment: cell (650) 223-9425, office (650) 725-7510 firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine Harrison, Communications, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment: (650) 725-824
Nancy Peterson, Communications, School of Earth Sciences: (650) 776-2276, email@example.com
Dan Stober, Stanford News Service: (650) 721-6965,
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CLIMATE CHANGE TRIGGERING NATIONAL SECURITY THREATS
Politico by Alex Guillen
Climate change will likely lead to more frequent extreme weather events as well as droughts and floods, triggering serious social and political disruption that poses a potential threat to U.S. national security, a National Research Council report shows.
(see Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis, by the Committee on Assessing the Impacts of Climate Changer in Social and Political Stresses, edited by John D. Steinbruner, Paul C. Stern, and Jo L. Husbands)
“National security decision makers do not like surprises and expect the intelligence community to provide sufficient warning to make it possible to avoid, ameliorate or alter the undesired consequences of emerging developments,” says the report, released Friday. “Fundamental knowledge of climate dynamics indicates that many types of extreme climate events are likely to become more frequent, even though we do not know enough to predict which extreme events will occur where or when.”
Whether a specific event can be attributed to human-caused climate change or natural variations is irrelevant from a national security standpoint, it says. What matters is that those events are becoming more common, largely because of human activity’s contributions to climate change.
Though unpredictable weather events are increasingly damaging and could ultimately prove a security risk by requiring international response efforts, the report is more concerned with long-term disruptions to critical resources and supply chains.
The oil trade provides an example of a global market that is heavily integrated and could be disrupted easily by climate change events.
“Tropical storms and the increased storm surges that result from sea-level rise and, in some cases, land subsidence can disrupt production, refining and transport of petroleum,” the report says. “In addition, because offshore oil and gas platforms are generally not designed to accommodate a permanent rise in mean sea level, climate-related sea-level rise would disrupt production.”
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2008 caused global oil spikes after disrupting production, refining and transportation, the report notes.
The report, conducted at the request of the U.S. intelligence community, was set to be released earlier, but it was delayed by Hurricane Sandy.
The U.S intelligence community should support research efforts taking place at agencies across the government that would help project more accurate climate forecasts, particularly for areas of vulnerability and adaptation methods.
National security analysis will have to draw on climate science, political concerns and social science.
“An important need is to integrate the social science of natural disasters and disaster response with other forms of analysis,” the report says.
“This body of knowledge is particularly important for assessing the security consequences of climate change because disruptive climate events will typically be perceived and responded to as natural disasters.”
The U.S. needs to set up a “whole-of-government strategy for monitoring threats connected to climate change,” the report concludes.
Meanwhile, the intelligence community itself should create “stress tests” to evaluate certain countries or supply chains for managing disruptive climate change-related events.
“The intelligence community presumably already uses an analogous process to consider the ability of foreign governments and societies to withstand various kinds of social and political stresses,” the report says. “The results of stress tests would inform national security decision makers about places that are at risk of becoming security concerns as a result of climate events and could be used by the U.S. government or international aid agencies to target high-risk places for efforts to reduce susceptibilities or to improve coping, response and recovery capacities.”
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Climate Change And Hurricane Sandy: How Global Warming Might Have Made The Hurricane Sandy Superstorm Worse
Will this be just the first of global climate destabilization storms to hit the east coast? Will Sandy re-ignite the climate destabilization prevention conversation?
As officials begin the arduous task of pumping corrosive seawater out of New York City’s subway system and try to restore power to lower Manhattan, and residents of the New Jersey Shore begin to take stock of the destruction, experts and political leaders are asking what Hurricane Sandy had to do with climate change. After all, the storm struck a region that has been hit hard by several rare extreme weather events in recent years, from Hurricane Irene to “Snowtober.”
Scientists cannot yet answer the specific question of whether climate change made Hurricane Sandy more likely to occur, since such studies, known as detection and attribution research, take many months to complete. What is already clear, however, is that climate change very likely made Sandy’s impacts worse than they otherwise would have been.
There are three different ways climate change might have influenced Sandy: through the effects of sea level rise; through abnormally warm sea surface temperatures; and possibly through an unusual weather pattern that some scientists think bore the fingerprint of rapidly disappearing Arctic sea ice.
If this were a criminal case, detectives would be treating global warming as a likely accomplice in the crime.
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VENEZUELAN FISHERY COLLAPSE LINKED TO CLIMATE CHANGE
University of South Carolina, by Steven Powell
Even small increases in temperature from global warming are causing climatology shifts harmful to ocean life, a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. Modest changes in temperature have significantly altered trade wind intensity in the southern Caribbean, undercutting the supply of key phytoplankton food sources and causing the collapse of some fisheries there.
“Global warming isn’t occurring uniformly over the earth’s surface – it’s been much greater at the high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere than it has been for the low latitudes,” said co-author Robert Thunell, a University of South Carolina researcher. “Because of that, some people have said, ‘Well, we’re probably not going to see much biotic change at low latitudes,’ but we show nicely in this paper that even when the climatological changes are relatively modest, they can have a big impact on the marine ecosystem.”
The paper is the product of nearly 15 years of observations in a highly collaborative NSF-funded effort between researchers at USC, Stony Brook University, the University of South Florida and several Venezuelan institutions. Since late 1995, monthly observations of a range of variables, from nutrient and chlorophyll concentrations to meteorological readings, have been collected at a single location off the coast of Venezuela to establish a long-range record.
The sea surface temperature was found to have increased somewhat, about 1 degree Celsius, over the decade-and-a-half. But the effect on the sea life was much more pronounced: beginning in 2006, the population of microscopic diatoms, dinoflagellates and coccolithophorids plummeted, along with the local harvest of sardines.
The team thinks the drastic change in ecology results from climatology shifts that go beyond a small temperature increase.
“The intertropical convergence zone is where the northeast and southeast trade winds converge,” said Thunell, of the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences in USC’s College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s basically the thermal equator, and it doesn’t sit right on the geographic equator because it’s a little bit warmer in the north. That’s because there’s more land mass in the northern hemisphere.
“And because of that extra land mass, the northern hemisphere is actually heating more than the southern hemisphere through global warming. We’ve proposed that this thermal equator, over the last 15 years, has moved a little bit farther northward. So the strength of the trade winds now over our region of study has decreased.”
That diminished wind is cutting the food supply for some fish, the team concludes. The upwelling of ocean water, which is a source of nutrients for phytoplankton, depends on the mixing that winds provide. Less wind thus means less mixing, fewer nutrients for phytoplankton, and fewer phytoplankton to sustain the fish population.
“That’s a big deal. The plankton near the surface of the ocean are the base of the food chain,” Thunell said. “This climatological change is driving a change in the food web structure, which we’re now seeing affect the fisheries.”
Article at Science Daily (October 18, 2012)
CLIMATE CHANGE THERMOSTAT SET ON URGENT
Medill School of Journalism Northwestern University October 17, 2012
By Anthony Raap
Curbing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels may seem like a luxury “when everybody’s worried about paying the bills,” said Justin Gillis, renowned environmental reporter for The New York Times.
“Worrying about the environment is something people do after they’ve got the basics of life satisfied,” Gillis said Tuesday at a packed Northwestern University lecture on climate change and media coverage of it.
But Gillis warned that the dramatic acceleration of climate change no longer leaves room for procrastination.
Global warming is already driving the rapid melting of sea ice in the Arctic, an air conditioner for much of the Earth, he said in a talk appropriately called “Hot Copy! Journalism in the Greenhouse.”
Gillis said a 40 percent rise in greenhouse gas emissions since the dawn of the Industrialized Revolution is the thermostat linked to global warming. This is melting the polar ice caps and causing sea levels to rise.
Even conservative climate models, Gillis said, predict a 30-foot rise in sea level in coming decades, wiping out many low-lying islands and coastal communities around the world.
Finally, prolonged drought is expected to burn up crops, exacerbating world hunger.
Gillis laid it on the line. Climate change, he said, “is the mother of all problems.”
He spoke before a packed forum of science professors, researchers and journalism students — people he says realize how urgent the climate crisis is.
But for many Americans, global warming isn’t a priority, Gillis said, and it probably won’t receive serious attention until “we have a robust economic recovery.”
The partisan divide isn't helping either. Congress can’t seem to agree on how serious the climate problem, Gillis said, despite overwhelming scientific evidence showing the earth is warming at an alarming rate due to human activities.
In his first budget proposal, President Obama called for a cap-and-trade program that would curb emissions 14 percent by 2020. The program would have set a ceiling on how much carbon could be released into the atmosphere.
Under cap and trade, individual companies would be assigned an allowable emission rate. Manufacturers, utilities and refineries essentially would be charged for the greenhouse gases they emit.
A company could acquire more allowances for emission through auctions or by buying unused allowances from other companies. Republicans have derided this system as “cap and tax.”
In 2009, the House passed a cap-and-trade bill, but it was shot down in the Senate. On Jan. 1, California will become the first state in the nation to implement a cap-and-trade program.
“National politics is just a disaster on this subject right now,” Gillis said.
Asked at Tuesday’s lecture how the government could be persuaded to do more about global warming, Gillis advised getting the message heard.
“Governments don’t do things until people … go out and march in the streets and demand,” he said.
“It’s only when the public gets loud enough and insistent enough that the government finally moves and responds.”
Gillis said that if people fully understood the climate crisis, there would be a stronger clamor for carbon reductions. He said the purpose of “Temperature Rising,” his ongoing series for The Times, is to take readers “back to the basics of climate science.”
His aim, he said, is to illustrate “how much trouble we’re in” through richly worded descriptions of the melting sea ice in the Arctic, where he has traveled to report firsthand. In other articles, he has gone directly at climate naysayers, exploring their best arguments and showing why those arguments aren’t “very good,” Gillis said.
Last year, the series won the Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.
Gillis said it’s possible for the U.S. to “move the needle in the right direction” by reducing emissions. Just look at Denmark, he said in an interview before Tuesday’s lecture.
About 30 percent of that country’s electricity comes from offshore wind power. It also relies on solar, biomass and geothermal energy as well as heat pumps.
Denmark has announced it is moving toward becoming carbon neutral - removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as is emitted - by 2050. So it can be done, Gillis said, but in order for the U.S. to replicate the Denmark experience, the country’s political leaders have to get on board.
“We’re nowhere close to where we need to be,” he said. “But we have to start somewhere.”
One No-Cost, Easy Action that Everyone Can Do to Help Reverse Catastrophic Climate Destabilization
Change the Climate Conversation Framing!Stop using the terms global warming and climate change in your climate discussions. Please use climate cliff, climate destabilization or catastrophic, irreversible or extinction level climate destabilization because --- that's exactly what is really happening or could soon happen!Use these terms where applicable in every conversation to replace the terms global warming and climate change. Use these new terms and watch how the conversation evolves to a richer more informative and lively process.Click here for ALL the key reasons why this simple terminology change and re-framing of the climate conversation is so critical to success!Please encourage your friends and other non-profit organizations to do the same. This truly is something easy and simple to do and that everyone can afford to do immediately.Re-framing the climate conversation is critical because as unbelievable as it seems, no one can say with any accuracy "at what point do we finally across the last tipping point into irreversible catastrophic climate destabilization" or, even if, we have already crossed that final irreversible climate destabilization tipping point. That is really scary because nothing less than humanity's whole future is at risk.Human-caused carbon pollution of the atmosphere with its still unknown irreversible climate destabilization tipping points is the single most dangerous and potentially destructive "blind experiment" in all of human history. Please be a part of the effective solution. Start by using only climate destabilization and catastrophic or irreversible climate destabilization when ever you are in a global warming or climate change conversation. They are far more accurate and appropriate in describing the growing catastrophic climate destabilization challenge we all are facing.
Essential Climate Info 5: The World's Most Valuable Financial and Security Information
The World's New Most Valuable Information!
Are our families, businesses, and nations prepared to adapt to increasing climate destabilization already manifesting in weather extremes, growing economic losses, international security issues, and increasing food and resource shortages? Global warming-caused climate destabilization promises far more that just increased resource wars, political instability, and hundreds of trillions of dollars in climate related financial losses.
If we ignore the current climate tipping point science, are we prepared for the increasingly severe consequences as we march toward catastrophic and finally irreversible or extinction level climate destabilization? (Extinction level here is defined as the projected potential extinction of approximately half or more of the species on earth and most [60-90%] if not all, of humanity. Irreversible whenever used is defined as severe climate destabilization consequences that could take hundreds or even thousands of years to correct or re-balance or never correct or re-balance.)
One can hardly turn on the news and not hear about another catastrophic heat wave, drought, wildfire, extreme storm, or flood breaking previous all previous records. Hurricane Sandy on the east coast was just one of those 100 billion dollar disasters.
According to a leading global climate scientist on global warming these are NOT just naturally caused or random weather anomalies! They are real signs that human-caused carbon pollution is a driving force in the warming (from more heat energy in the atmosphere). Climate destabilization is already here! (A link to extreme weather global warming research is at the end of this copy.)
Some Consequences of Global Warming Induced Climate Destabilization:
The current climate destabilization problem is rather simple at its core, but more complex upon further examination. Human-caused carbon pollution of the atmosphere is causing a greenhouse effect, trapping more solar energy in the form of heat inside our atmospheric greenhouse. This additional trapped increase in atmospheric heat energy is then available for use in and by the planet's weather (monsoons, hurricanes, typhoons, [and their storm surges]) heat waves, droughts, dust storms, wildfires, floods, etc).
That extra available energy then amplifies existing weather patterns. This continually increasing trapped heat energy from the i greenhouse effect will continue to create a positive feedback loop of greater climate destabilization and more and greater weather extremes. And -- this climate destabilization will increase in both unpredictable and irregular cycles of weather extremes of increasing scale, frequency, and severity if left unchecked, leading to irreversible catastrophic climate destabilization.
These weather extremes mean many new and extreme adaptive challenges for the world. Our current infrastructure (dikes, dams, levees, water and sewage treatment plants, and much of our other infrastructure) has most often been designed to withstand the extreme climate events that occur about once every hundred years ( aka storms of the century). The increasing extreme weather and storms caused by our ever-increasing human-caused atmospheric carbon pollution and its additional trapped energy will eventually become known as millennial storms --- climate events of such an extreme and severity that there has been nothing like them seen on the planet for thousand of years.
That is the simplicity of what are some of the consequences of climate destabilization, but there are other critical and complex contributing sub-factors such as the key climate tipping points.
The following video Wake Up, Freak Out - Then Get a Grip is 11 minutes long. If you have not viewed it already, it gives a basic yet detailed animated explanation of the key climate tipping points and how they work, changing states of historic climate stability, what is actually happening now to destabilize the global climate. This video has been viewed over a million times and has been translated into 22 different languages.
(Please note: The above animation gives temperature degrees in Celsius. For a quick rough Fahrenheit temperature conversion, double the Celsius amount. The video also presents near the end a polarized viewpoint of us against them [that is, us against the vested fossil fuel interests, corporations, and heavily lobbied governments.] It is still a well done animation that does an amazing job of explaining the basics of how and why catastrophic climate destabilization is unfolding. Our organization does not promote polarizing or dualistic approaches. We try to see things from the big-picture viewpoint of progressive universe evolution in which everyone and everything is learning from feedback and then either adapting and growing or if they down learn from feedback being broken down and being recycled.)
The Global Climate and Its Mysterious Tipping Points:
Small changes in one sub-system can cause massive unpredictable changes in the master system or other related sub-systems. In complex adaptive systems, tipping points in the master climate system or in its subsystems can unpredictably whipsaw into each other or back into the master climate system, worsening it even faster.
(If you do not understand the basics of complex adaptive systems and their high levels of unpredictability we strongly recommend that you click this complex adaptive systems link because understanding the climate as a complex adaptive system and its tipping point paradoxes will be greatly aided and simplified...)
In the face of more good climate destabilization science, even some leading global warming critics are also changing their long time positions. Additionally, the terms global warming and climate change have recently evolved into the new terms of climate destabilization or catastrophic climate destabilization. These new terms better reflect the existing and accurate reality of the human caused atmospheric pollution problem immediately before us.
Because overall research on climate destabilization is still so poorly funded, the world still does not know most of the actual tipping points of climate destabilization. When it comes to the climate destabilization tipping points we are still flying nearly blind -- even with the ultimate future of humanity's total evolutionary experiment at stake.
Current climate destabilization research cited in Six Degrees: Our Future On a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas has projected that climate destabilization related damage and losses will soon cost nations 5% of their total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and will likely continue rising far beyond there with each new level of climate destabilization's unfolding. This comes as devastatingly bad news for the economic markets because this additional 5% drain on the GDP can hardly be afforded by almost all nations still struggling to get out of the slowly resolving global recession and near depression.
Many countries are already experiencing resource shortage based spikes in food costs. The normally insulated US will likely follow at some point because of the year-to-year averaging of the resilience-reducing effects of escalating climate destabilization.
In spite of all the new science on climate destabilization and its projected effects, few individuals, corporations or nations have worked out even the most basic preparation and adaptation plans to cope with the increasing scale, severity and frequency of the effects of catastrophic climate destabilization.
The Key Climate Destabilization Tipping Points Are:
(If you have not done so already, we strongly recommend that you view a very well done 10 minute video animation that graphically explains many of the different climate tipping points as well as the overall climate tipping point crisis. To view this video illustration of climate tipping point issues, click here. This video will help make the following tipping point descriptions easier and more useful...)
How can we resolve any problem without accurate information? The most scary thing about climate destabilization is that the research is far too sparse right now on the accurate tipping points catastrophic of climate destabilization. It is so sparse that no one can yet conclusively tell us:
a.) is the global average temperature going to go up an additional maximum of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 degrees Celsius? That is 4-16 degrees Fahrenheit. And, no one can tell us exactly which of those temperatures will we be at in the next 5, 10, 15, 25, 50 or 100 years.
b.) Is sea level going to go up less than one meter, 1-3 meters, 8 meters (if all Greenland ice melts,) or up to 25 meters (if all the other polar and glacial ice melts too). Again, no one can tell us exactly which of those sea level ranges will we be at in 5, 10, 15, 25, 50 or 100 years. (The current conservative estimate for sea level rise in the next 100 years is 1-2 meters of sea level rise, but that is if no tipping points are crossed!)
This estimate of 1-2 meters in sea level rise simply does not factor in any major climate tipping points being crossed during the projected time period, which could throw the climate into a sudden and steep decline toward greater destabilization. This sea level rise also does not include any of the additional temporary rises in sea level at this new level caused by storm surges.
Even if you do not include these two factors, just the 1-2 meter rise in sea level would cost the global human society hundreds of trillions of dollars in losses in coastal real estate and coastal infrastructure. (Highways, water treatment and wastewater systems, etc. close to the water would all have to be rebuilt and relocated.)
To put this in perspective, in 2008 the Wall Street market crash cost an estimated 28 trillion dollars and brought the world to the edge of global depression. At 8 meters of sea level rise (the melting of the the Greenland ice sheet,) an estimated half of the world's population would have to migrate. This would result in hundreds of trillions of dollars in real estate and infrastructure losses.
c.) What level of carbon and methane pollution (measured in parts per million [ppm],) produces each specific level of temperature increase or sea level rise? When exactly will we reach the various levels of projected human-caused atmospheric carbon pollution levels measured in parts per million; i.e. carbon 450, carbon 550, carbon 650, carbon 850, etc?
We are currently at about 400 carbon ppm. (Carbon 430 if you include methane in the atmosphere.) Some our best scientists warn that anything over carbon 350 is courting climate catastrophe and that carbon 450 is near certain and potentially irreversible climate destabilization. We are currently adding approximately 2 ppm of carbon to the atmosphere per year, but that current annual 2 carbon ppm amount except for 2014, appears to be rising in a nonlinear, exponential growth curve as well.
d.) Will the many wildcard climate feedback loop variables amplifying the speed of temperature rise and sea level rise occur faster and more unpredictably than anyone could have imagined or, worse yet, have we already crossed these tipping points? Will these wildcard feedback loop variables whipsaw back on each other and between each other in unpredictable ways that are absolutely normal to complex adaptive systems like the climate?
These feedback loops and climate tipping point wildcards would be things like:
1.) massive loss of the atmospheric carbon-eating forests because of heat, drought, and wildfires,
2.) massive releases of methane from the warming and decaying of the permafrost near the polar areas (methane produces 20 times the greenhouse heat-holding effect that carbon does for three years in the atmosphere before it decays back into simple carbon again),
3.) massive die offs of the carbon-eating sea plankton because of the growing carbonization and acidification of the oceans,
4.) massive loss of white polar and glacial ice that reflects much earth-heating solar heat back into space in what is called the Albedo effect and, the greatest threat of all ---
5.) what level of rising ocean temperature will thaw and release the gigatons of frozen methane hydrate crystals trapped along the continental shelves of our oceans and in the permafrost of the frozen tundra around the world.
A sudden mega release of carbon into the atmosphere from methane hydrate crystals has been predicted to be to what could become the last great planetary extinction event that will leave either no one left or as few as 200 million of us left living close to the poles. Scientists have theorized this massive methane release occurred once before millions of years ago and was the most probable cause of one of the 5 previous great mass extinction events of our planetary history. It was called the PETM extinction event. Also see Six Degrees: Our Future On a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas for more information on this. The 200 million survivor scenario is from The Vanishing Face of Gaia by James Lovelock.
Inside the methane release wildcard, whether it's from the frozen tundra or from the ocean's coastal shelves is a another even more dangerous wildcard.
6.) the climate destabilization caused pandemic wildcard. When ice or frozen tundra that is hundreds of thousands of years old melts, the melting releases bacteria and viruses that are still alive that have never been seen by the human body or human species in its total history. This means we could be unleashing the ultimate pandemic upon humanity. With the rapid melting of global ice, glaciers, and tundra we could be releasing so many different types of bacteria and viruses that even our best scientists could not keep up with creating the new vaccines in sufficient global quantities in time to contain the new disease outbreaks and pandemics…
7.) there is also the whipsaw multiplier effect. The whipsaw multiplier effect occurs when the tipping points of one system crash into another inter-connected system. Of everything mentioned so far, this may be the most dangerous--and unfortunately the least currently predictable--of all tipping points and wildcards. This is due to the woeful inadequacy of current tipping point research funding.
Tipping points even in seemingly unrelated systems can mean a lot for getting the climate re-stabilized. For example, the seemingly unrelated tipping points of peak oil being fully known could make a tremendous difference and boost political will to resolve climate destabilization and move to low carbon and methane pollution green energy generation. If we are already out of enough easy to reach, cost effective and environmentally safe to extract "cleaner" fossil fuels, knowing that fact will be a tremendous additional incentive to move rapidly to green energy generation. (Yes, there still are very some very hard to reach, cost ineffective [unless we go to $150 per barrel or more prices,] environmentally unsafe to extract, dirty to burn fossil fuels such as oil from tar sands. Extracting those remaining fossil fuels should be seen as the beginning of the end of hope in the climate battle.)
Because fossil fuels provide so many other product like fertilizers, drugs, and other critical plastics, knowing the peak oil tipping points as they relate to the destabilizing climate and new forms of green energy generation is a must! What if we discover there is only enough easy to reach, cost effective, and environmentally safe to extract "cleaner" fossil fuels for just our fertilizers, critical plastics, and some reduced transportation for the next 25-35 years? We urgently need to know what is the prediction for the minimal years needed to make the transition to green energy generation to power our transportation needs without putting the climate into irreversible destabilization or an extinction level event.
e.) What is the momentum and/or inertia tipping points of heat capture in the oceans caused by the increasing temperature in the atmosphere? Oceans take up and release atmospheric heat slowly, and there is a lag time because of this inertia/momentum issue. This means that any changes we make now to reduce atmospheric carbon pollution may not have any significant effect for 50 years or more because of inertia/momentum of previously captured heat by the oceans.
This additional set of ocean temperature inertia/momentum tipping points must also be factored into all the climate model calculations with all of the other still unknown climate tipping points. The population of earth needs to prepared. If we immediately stopped all human caused carbon pollution today, the temperature of the planet still may continue going up to critical levels for another 50-100 years or more--just due to ocean heating inertia/momentum and tipping points.
Aside from the tipping points of carbonization, plankton, and heat absorption, there is the potential effect of carbon pollution and warming on major ocean currents that help to stabilize our weather and seasons. Research is now being conducted on this and how it might affect things like the critical North Atlantic current. If the North Atlantic current were slowed or diverted, it would create significant changes in weather patterns, which would affect growing seasons, rain, snowfall, and temperature--all of which have strong effects on crop yields.
Another tipping point relating to the oceans is whether the heat now being captured by the oceans and sent to lower levels of the ocean will reach a tipping point in the near future. These masses of deep warm water could suddenly rise to the surface again and radically change global weather even faster.
f.) There are other key tipping points in the complex adaptive global climate system such as the total amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. That increases with more heat, which then creates more water vapor and then more heat in an endless heat increasing positive feedback cycle. The quantity and quality of trees in the planetary environment that can remove or add carbon to the atmosphere. These and many other climate tipping points must be discovered so we have both the right risk analysis and can create the right first things first plan for the challenge.
g.) There are also new potential critical climate tipping points being discovered such as the total weight of the melting ice tipping point. New research predicts that as the ice melts off areas where the ice is sitting on land masses that that the unweighting of these land masses can cause shifts in the tectonic plates of the planet--causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions at a scale that we have not seen on the planet for ages. If the shifting of these tectonic plates causes numerous or massive volcanic eruptions around the planet,we could go into a sudden volcanic winter. If the shifting tectonic plates trigger a supervolcanic eruption, the years that the sun would be blocked could kill off most of the human population.
h.) There are also human system tipping points. Political and social inertia also has to be factored into realistic solution calculations. It takes about 25-50 years to evolve a whole industry from one product, manufacturing, and distribution system to another. It has been estimated that if every nation on the planet immediately enforced heavy penalties on all forms of carbon pollution and stopped constructing coal energy generation plants, in 25-50 years we would have only about a 50-80 drop in current human caused carbon pollution levels. That has not happened yet. Based on current attitudes and politics it has almost no chance of happening.
Estimating political, economic, and social take-action tipping points will also be critical to all climate destabilization supercomputer models if we are ever going to enact a calculated solution to this shared global threat. Who knows when there will be verifiable and enforceable international environmental law on carbon pollution and the key human system action tipping point will be reached.
Now consider this scary thought: most of the above climate wildcards and inaccurately predicted tipping points are NOT currently built into and used by current professional climate prediction models. The research on when these tipping points and wildcards will occur is just not there yet. Even the IPCC's 2014 four scenarios on what level of carbon ppm in the atmosphere will produce exactly what degree of temperature increase or sea level rise do not include the above relevant climate tipping point information. Nor do they tell us with any real or dependable specificity when various temperatures and rising sea level predictions will be met under current conditions.
Also keep in mind that in IPPC reports the IPPC predicted that Arctic summer sea ice would remain to some degree until about 2050. New research shows the tipping point for Arctic summer ice being gone will occur in 2017-2025. This means that in 2007 they were 38 - 25 years off on a key prediction just 43 years into the future. That is a key climate prediction that is approximately 60-80 percent wrong!
If the IPPC was that far off with just one tipping point linked item, how far off and overly enthusiastic or conservative are they with their other prediction calculations? The unspoken fear is that catastrophic climate destabilization is proceeding much faster toward irreversible climate destabilization than any of our predictions because of all the missing tipping point data and missing wildcard factors in our current climate prediction models.
If that was not bad enough, there are also many ways these tipping points and wildcards can whipsaw against each other and the overall climate and become multiplying or reinforcing positive feedback loops that would make sea levels rise and the temperature rise far faster and sooner than anyone has predicted. What if the rise in temperature causes the melting permafrost to cross its tipping point where, instead of releasing methane in a linear progression, it tips over into an exponential progression, releasing far more methane into the atmosphere. (To make matters even worse methane has 20 times the heat-holding greenhouse effect of simple carbon.)
This surge in atmospheric greenhouse heat energy retention from the exponential tipping point release of methane then also causes the global temperature to surge exponentially. This triggers the ice melting tipping points where the already vulnerable West Antarctica ice shelf breaks off, destabilizing much of the the surrounding ice causing it too to break off the ice shelf and begin melting in the sea. Because the West Antarctic ice shelves have broken off, it then accelerates the slide the West Antarctica inner ice towards release into the ocean as well. Sea levels will rises dramatically beyond all predictions with so much ice sliding into the ocean.
The temperature surge causes massive melting in Greenland and other areas causing another tipping point to be reached. This massive loss of sun reflecting ice called the Albedo effect causes another surge in global temperature. The previous crossed climate system tipping points will add so much additional heat energy to the atmosphere that new more frequent and intense droughts and wildfires would kill off atmospheric carbon eating trees. This then crosses another tipping point because far less carbon is being naturally absorbed by trees.
This then causes another spike and surge in global temperature which causes the other tipping points to further whipsaw into each other and deteriorate even faster. This then causes a massive die off of sea plankton (that also "eat" and absorb carbon) due to the acidification of the oceans.
The whipsawing and self reinforcing positive feedback loops of all the above tipping points and wildcards collectively cause another climate tipping point to be crossed as the ocean begins to warm exponentially as well. (The oceans are the main place that atmospheric heat is eventually captured. When heat is captured in the oceans, the heat causes the seas to expand also contributing to sea level rise.) The oceans keep heating up until the major catastrophic tipping point is crossed where frozen methane hydrate crystals begin to thaw in mass and suddenly release gigatons of additional methane into the atmosphere, spiking both temperature and sea levels once again to near extinction level events.
Still missing from the above climate tipping point issue is that no one can currently say with any accuracy at what point do we finally cross from near extinction climate destabilization to extinction level climate destabilization. No one can tell us what single or collection of tipping point actions will do it or, if we have already crossed that final irreversible tipping point. This is again because the science is so incomplete and underfunded. This ultimately makes our growing human-caused carbon and methane pollution of the atmosphere the single most dangerous and potentially destructive blind experiment in all of human history.
Increasing human-caused carbon pollution in the atmosphere has the potential to cause more human suffering and death as well as political, social and economic destabilization than the total sum of all wars in all of human history. In spite of this shocking and real climate-caused possibility, as of yet, it is believed that no national intelligence agency in any country (even some with their supercomputers and unlimited budgets,) has either discovered or published accurate tipping point research or answers to any of the climate tipping point questions and wildcard issues mentioned above.
This in and of itself should be viewed by every citizen as the greatest single national security failure by the world's intelligence agencies. In not briefing the politicians and the general public on the full risk analysis and tipping points of climate destabilization tipping points they are failing in their most basic of duties ---- to protect their own populations and respective national security interests from real threats. These escalating and potentially game-ending threats to our nations, our civilization and human life as we know it lie absolutely at fair core responsibilities to their nations.
Some experts fear that when more science is available on these climate tipping points we may be too late. We will suddenly discover ourselves to be either already beyond or soon beyond the critical climate tipping points.
If we have already passed any major climate tipping point unknowingly, we may be experiencing significantly worse climate extremes in as little as 5-15 years. Others researchers suggest we have 20-30 years while other researchers say it will take 30-60 years.
Good climate destabilization tipping point research is simply just not available or robust enough yet. If it was, it would allow us to do a much more accurate risk analysis and decide which researchers are more right or more wrong. Without this critical climate tipping point research being completed, it is also impossible to propose and implement a properly sequenced, optimally effective and rational plan that is properly prioritized and know it will work in time to prevent the worst of the consequences of irreversible or near extinction climate destabilization.
"Under any condition, circumstance or excuse, not resolving global warming in time to avert the increasing probability of irreversible climate destabilization (and its dangerous average global temperature increase,) is simply a "bet" that no individual, corporation, nation or humanity can EVER afford to place! This is because gambling with the known and unknown tipping points of irreversible climate destabilization and losing this gambling bet comes with such a "gambling debt" no individual, corporation, or nation (or even all nations together,) will EVER be able to pay off or recover from even a fraction of it during their life cycles.
This global climate truth means we have to stop gambling with the future of humanity now and remove the escalating climate destabilization bet that we have currently and unknowingly placed on the table. Not making radical and immediate change to remove our bad climate bet is like a government leaving nuclear reactors unattended and nuclear weapons unguarded.
No government official in their right mind would do this, but that is exactly what we are doing with our escalating climate destabilization "nuclear time bomb" when we continue to gamble foolishly betting that we will be safe from the known and unknown tipping points of irreversible climate destabilization.
We must now begin preparing and adapting for the worsening climate destabilization. We must also do our utmost to lessen global warming just enough to prevent it from ever becoming an irreversible climate destabilization that could last for either hundreds or thousands of years. If irreversible climate destabilization does occur, it will create unimaginable suffering beyond any scale, scope, or severity that we have ever seen before in human history and it will continue for generations to come." --Lawrence Wollersheim
When you look at all of the climate tipping points and wildcards listed above, you then clearly see the climate destabilization risk that simply cannot ever be taken! No nation, leader or corporation ever has the right to to act for all humanity and its future and place the bet that we will not cross these critical climate tipping points and go over the climate cliff.
Also, if any of the above tipping points do occur, no one has the right to promise" some new technology will soon be found "just in time" to save us from extinction as a species. This is another foolish climate bet that encourages us to go on as we are now. This dangerous promise should never be placed or relied upon anywhere, at any time by any person or group.
Don't rely on last minute undiscovered new technologies to save us from climate destabilization. The responsibility is ours. It is now up to us to worked diligently and with urgency to reverse climate destabilization with a full commitment from every level of government, business and every individual citizen because of the unknown climate tipping points and wild cards mentioned above...To continue reading in this Job One for Humanity booklet, click the links to the right or left below. Click the UP link to see all of the linked pages in this booklet at the bottom of that page.
Why We Must Replace the term “Global Warming” with “Climate Destabilization” in Climate Debates and the Media
Farmers in Africa’s Sahel region have planted trees on 5 million hectares of degraded land, since 1975
"How we frame the climate conversation matters --- it matters a lot." Andrew Guzman on NPR Radio
More non-profit environmental groups, responsible media, NGOs, enlightened corporations and governments are beginning to abandon the terms climate change and global warming for the new terms or phrases "global warming and its consequent climate destabilization," climate destabilization, catastrophic climate destabilization, irreversible climate destabilization and extinction level climate destabilization. (If you have not yet read the full and concise definition of what climate destabilization is, click here.)
If we are ever going to create the necessary awareness within the public to lessen and slowdown global warming and hope to eventually ever resolve it, it is imperative that we stop using the term global warming by itself and we stop using the term climate change. The terms global warming by itself and climate change are often confusing to the general public. They are also simply not accurate enough in describing the real climate emergency that humanity now faces.
The term global warming used by itself is problematic for several reasons. First of all, it leads people to believe that the whole world will be getting warmer. Yet as the average temperature of the planet increases, certain places will actually become colder.
With global warming we'll also be dealing with more frequent and more severe storms, which will take new pathways never seen before. Flooding will increase in certain places while desertification will be the issue in others.
Global warming used alone hides the truth that the end result of global warming is global climate destabilization and this climate destabilization then creates a whole chain off much worse global and national consequences than just “it's getting a little warmer and I will have to use my air-conditioner more.”
Climate change as it term is so vague it is all but useless to reflect what's really going on. It also should not be used in part, because we live our lives with ever changing weather. Changing weather is so normal we give it little attention or concern unless we are warned it's going to be severe and it will affect our specific plans.
Climate change is also a term used most often by fossil fuel industry paid lobbyists, think tanks and media to control the climate discussion’s framing and confuse us about what is really happening to our global climate. The global climate isn't just changing--it is destabilizing and its searching for a new equilibrium level that will most likely be very unfriendly to our well-being. Because of the before mentioned, climate change should never be used by informed individuals who understand the climate destabilization issues.
Thus the phrases, “global warming and its consequent climate destabilization” or “climate destabilization” by itself are the first terms to use. We also suggest you use the terms catastrophic climate destabilization, irreversible climate destabilization and extinction-level climate destabilization as the conversation gets going! All of the preceding terms more accurately reflect what is already happening with our current climate and it is what will continue to happen in the near future with increasing severity, scale, and frequency.
Please use the above new climate terms in every climate conversation you have and watch how the conversation evolves to a richer, more informative, and transformative process when you do. Keep in mind that accurate climate destabilization fear is not a bad thing. It is an critical evolutionary mechanism used to mobilize the resources of the body and mind to better resolve a real threat relating to accurate fears.
Additionally and worth repeating:
1.) It has now become public knowledge that lobbyists, think tanks and PR firms on the payroll of the fossil fuel industry have been working behind the scenes to very intentionally, and with great concerted effort, use their power to replace the term global warming with the far more nebulous, benign and confusing term climate change. They are doing this at every level in the local, regional, national and even international discussions of the climate crisis; you will find both the media and government using climate change where they used to use global warming. Even large environmental organizations have unconsciously been duped by the clever fossil fuel PR firms and lobbyists and have started using the confusing and crisis-diminishing language embodied in the term climate change.
2.) The clever fossil fuel PR firms knew that redefining global warming into climate change was brilliant. It completely reframed the way you interpret what you are hearing. Again, ecause the climate is always changing in our daily experience of our weather, there is no big deal or implied importance within such an innocent term as climate change! This makes the climate change term meaninglessly and benign, and it certainly would not alarm anyone or call him or her to action, even when action and alarm is appropriate.
The Terms Global Warming and Climate Change Does Not Reflect the Seriousness of the Challenge We Face in Our Future:
The terms global warming and climate change has been confusing to the general public's personal experience of the ever-changing global weather. Global warming or climate change is also not accurate enough to describe the current climate conditions that humanity now faces since the idea of global warming was first introduced to the public in the 1970's.
We will soon be dealing with rising sea levels (possibly up to 2 to as many as 8 meters before the end of the century), causing storm surges like the planet has not seen in tens of thousands of years.
Global warming and its consequent climate destabilization, climate destabilization, catastrophic climate destabilization, irreversible and extinction level climate destabilization are also the new terms of art, because they are far more accurate and useful in reflecting what is already happening or what will continue to happen with increasing severity, scale and frequency --- unless we take effective planet-wide action immediately! (Extinction level here is defined as the projected potential extinction of approximately half or more of the species on earth and most (60-90% if not all, of humanity. Irreversible, whenever used, is defined as severe climate destabilization consequences that could take hundreds or even thousands of years to correct or rebalance or may never be corrected or rebalanced.)
Destabilization is a more accurate term, because the global climate is being destabilized from a relatively stable post ice age state toward a much hotter state resembling an earlier time in the planet's fiery evolution. Destabilization reflects what will happen to our economic, political and social systems as increasing human-caused carbon pollution accelerates climate destabilization.
If we do not take action and solve this challenge, catastrophic, irreversible and extinction level climate destabilization is the perfect way to describe what will probably lead to the eventual catastrophic reduction or extinction of the human population from almost 8 billion to several hundred million people forced to live near the poles.
Using the terms global warming with its consequent climate destabilization, climate destabilization, or catastrophic, irreversible and extinction level climate destabilization conveys the true urgency of the situation. They reframe and redefine the climate discussion toward the real problems and rapidly escalating catastrophic consequences of the issue rather than toward vague or misleading descriptions that promote ambiguity..
If you’re a farmer, and you lose your annual crop to a climate destabilization-caused drought, that's a catastrophe with urgency! If you’re a home owner, and you lose your home to climate destabilization-caused floods or wildfires, that's a catastrophe with real urgency! If you’re a consumer, and your food prices keep going up because of climate destabilization-caused droughts and shortages, and you cannot afford enough food to eat, that's an urgent, serious potential extinction problem and, at the least, a catastrophe in the making for billions of people -- just like you and me.
If climate destabilization goes out of control to its potential projected maximums and 7.8 billion people die, that is the ultimate catastrophe. It will be the extinction or near extinction of the human species, and many other species will go with us. This growing loss of species is already being called the sixth great mass extinction event.
Bringing up the subject of the climate cliff and catastrophic or irreversible climate destabilization with others also engenders a whole new level of reaction and engagement. It sounds bad -- is bad -- and can convincingly be argued that it is the most important single issue related to our species' survival and our descending environmental quality of life in the 21st century.
Simply put, resolving the climate cliff and climate destabilization has become the single most important task in all of human history. Continuing to use older, confusing and vague terms such as global warming and climate change hides the real consequences and the criticalness of the problem to all of humanity.
"The greatest fear for the future of humanity is the still unknown critical tipping points involved in today's accelerating catastrophic climate destabilization. Without discovering these quickly, we could find ourselves facing complete extinction as a species without even knowing that we had passed the climate tipping points of no return (or reasonable recovery,) until it was too late to do anything about it. No other fear or human problem today matches the destructive scope, probability and immediacy of this climate destabilization challenge.
Catastrophic, Irreversible and Extinction Level Climate Destabilization should be thought of in the same scope of potential global destructiveness as a massive asteroid on a direct, certain and imminent collision course with earth. You certainly would not sit idle in that situation without demanding more and better information from your leaders on arrival dates, consequences and necessary preparations. Why aren't we collectively doing this now for catastrophic climate destabilization?" Lawrence Wollersheim
Please stop using the confusing, misleading and non-specific terms global warming and climate change, and start using global warming with its consequent climate destabilization, climate destabilization or catastrophic, irreversible and extinction level climate destabilization, and watch what happens. From an evolutionary perspective, we have not evolved to adapt effectively to non-specific and vague threats to our survival. We need to communicate a real and specific danger to mobilize our common adaptation abilities and resolve the climate cliff and climate destabilization challenges.
The older non-specific, confusing and misleading global warming and climate change conversation has been going on for over 30 years with little success. Please encourage individuals and organizations to help change the climate conversation by using more specific, accurate and useful terms climate cliff, climate destabilization, catastrophic climate destabilization, and irreversible and extinction level climate destabilization.
This is something simple and easy that everyone of us can do. This long overdue, appropriate and more accurate re-framing of this issue alone will do a tremendous amount to move us closer to its resolution. Or as the Buddhists might say "right speech (words,) leads to right action."
If you know of any environmental organizations, media or government branches still using the fossil fuel industry’s misleading and misdirecting term climate change, please forward this information to them as soon as possible. Please ask them to stop using climate change and start using climate destabilization, and keep asking them until they do. Let's get the attention of the Public Will focused on a real, serious and now unfolding challenge to our global, national, regional and local well-being.
To learn what global warming-caused climate destabilization is, click here.
To learn what you can do to reverse global warming and climate destabilization, click here.
Please note, the term climate destabilization appears to have been first used by Greg Craven in his book, What's the Worst that Could Happen? A rational response to the climate change debate.
Effective Steps to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Destabilization
The following is a prioritized list of the key things that can be done by anyone who understands that we cannot delay action on this issue any longer. The first two items on this list are ranked in order of highest priority, effectiveness and need.
It is urgent that we act now. Averting the looming global climate catastrophe will take the most massive and immediate human effort ever coordinated in human history. For all of the effective actions you can do to prevent irreversible catastrophic climate destabilization, click here.