Few seem to realize how much our survival is at stake. If a 76% decline of insects was observed in 27 years in German nature reserves, the ‘decline‘ would reach 100% in 36 years (conservatively, ignoring ecosystem collapse feedbacks). Meaning *all* flying insects in these nature reserves could be gone by 2027. Oh, and plants are in decline too. These are all assuming linear decline rates, while all we observe is exponential rates of change. That‘s not good.
If 60 percent of the world’s fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have disappeared in the last 45 years, wouldn’t the remaining 40% also disappear in the coming 30 years? We’re not significantly changing that course of events, are we? And wouldn’t we, humans, then be part of those remaining 40%? If not: What bees do we expect pollinate our crops? Are we going to create sufficient artificial biospheres in time for it to actually function as a stable fake-earth, a replacement habitat? Do we know enough to get the details right? Where are we getting the resources and funding for that? Who gets to go inside that fake-earth when wet-bulb temperatures or radiation levels become too high? We can’t shut down all our nuclear facilities in time for it not to cause extinction level dosages worldwide, can we? There’s no miracle cure for thyroid cancer, or protection of the water-column against cesium-137 and iodine-131.
Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe I’ve “flipped a bit”, as they say in IT. But I keep evaluating this possibility and keep coming back to the fundamental and quantitatively convincing case:
We have built a life of growth and prosperity based on finite (and soon-to-max-out) resources with no equal replacement in sight. This is uncharted territory, and the fact that generations have experienced the fossil-fueled upswing holds no predictive power over our future. Just because growth has been thematic does not mean it will always be there. The failure of most people to treat this possibility seriously is disheartening, because it prevents meaningful planning for a different future. We can all hope for new technologies to help us. But this problem is too big to rely on hope alone, and in any case, no practical technology can keep growth going indefinitely.
In my lifetime human population has more than doubled, from 3.5 billion when I was born to almost 7.7 billion now. Yet during the same time more than 300 billion trees have disappeared and not been replenished/replaced. In fact, for every new born human about 100 trees go down and won’t come back. That’s just not going to be sustainable in any way, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Will the skies indeed turn red because of bulk methane releases from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf? See this educational article explaining why: http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/light/Lesson-2/Blue-Skies-and-Red-Sunsets
“If you think this is all a tad extreme, the man who led the work, Professor Gerardo Ceballos from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, wrote: The situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to use strong language.”
How can the changes observed more recently in a three decade period be conclusive?
Dr. Shakhova: For the permafrost, three decades is not a huge period of time, because the processes, the consequences of which we are studying right now and have to deal with, started long long ago. This was triggered by natural warming associated with replacement of the cold climate epoch with the warm interglacial period and followed by permafrost inundation by sea water. Scientists agree that submerged permafrost would eventually start degrading, but how soon and at what pace this degradation would occur became the major point of disagreement between them.
It was suggested by some scientists that subsea permafrost would keep its integrity for millennia, which means that in the areas submerged less than 1000 years ago (as we investigated in our study) it should not have occurred yet. Our study proved that not only has it already occurred, but it has been progressing to higher rates, which have almost doubled since this degradation started.
It is most likely that we are now dealing with the consequences of when natural warming is enhanced with anthropogenic warming and together they are accelerating the pace of natural processes. This appears to be continuing the processes of permafrost degradation at levels that we have never observed before.
(updated august 2018)