Christmas we (and our planet) aren’t just toast — we’re that acrid black stuff that you get when the toast is looking a tad anaemic, so you pop it back in for just a little longer, but then forget to hit ‘eject’:
This is some of what David Wadsell, Director of the Apollo-Gaia Project, has to say in this video:
The distinction between just a feedback process and a runaway feedback process is very, very important indeed. You can have feedback that slowly increases, if you like, the risk, and puts the temperature up a bit higher. ‘Runaway feedback’ says the system responds so much to an increase in temperature that it becomes faster in the way it changes the climate with rising temperature.
So the hotter it gets, the faster it gets hotter… and the hotter it gets, the faster it gets hotter faster, until you move into a process that’s completely uncontrollable. And instead of coming up to a new equilibrium temperature that may be a bit high, it goes on going up faster and faster until something runs out — there’s no more methane to release or we’ve run out of forests to burn or something… or there’s no more ice to melt…
The danger of moving into a runaway climate change scenario is now clear and is beginning to be quantified, for the first time, in the last few months. It’s probably the greatest threat that we face as a planet.
The rate of change that we are generating in the current situation is between two and three hundred times faster than that experienced in any of the extinction events apart from the asteroidal impact.
If you look at the general background change — for instance, it takes about ten thousand years to change the concentration of carbon dioxide by about a hundred parts per million — we’re doing it in thirty years, at this year’s rate.
The rate of change in the climate is phenomenal compared to previous extinction events.
We are already in a mass extinction event.
(With thanks to Wit’s End.)