Sunday, August 11, 2019

Oueinsteen's Ouild-Ass Guesses

Global warming has obviously started to hurt us. It is now more properly called the climate crisis. We are experiencing thousand-year storms with unheard-of floods. We have wildfires. We have droughts. We have water coming onto the roads on sunny days in South Florida.

So, with global warming actually happening, I have three questions: 1) What is the most optimistic scenario we can hope for? 2) What is the most likely scenario? 3) What is the worst we can expect?

Based on my having read more than seventy books about climate change as part of research for writing my climate novel, here are my Oueinsteen Ouild-Ass Guesses:
  1. MOST OPTIMISTIC SCENARIO: We must assume United States President #46 will be extremely concerned about global warming and do everything in his power to fight against it. He also must persuade the rest of the world to do the same. This would include a large tax on carbon as it comes from the ground, with all revenue from this tax driving two major changes to our civilization: carbon-free energy generation, and regenerative agriculture to draw down and sequester carbon. The oceans already store far too much heat and will not cool off for many years. So, even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, the glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica will continue to melt and seas will continue to rise. But the rise may be kept to under three feet, and the global temperature may rise to less than 4 degrees F (2 degrees C) by 2050. If we can maintain these numbers, by 2100, we will probably lose South Florida, Norfolk, VA, several island nations, and Bangladesh, among other places, and have many millions of climate refugees. Major coastal cities will each spend billions of dollars to combat damage of sea-level rise. Terrible storms and droughts will continue for more than a century. Tens of millions may die, as a result, but most major countries will survive. Civilization will continue onward and upward. My ouild-ass guess is that there is a 20% chance of this scenario occurring in the lifetimes of children being born today.
  2. MOST LIKELY SCENARIO: If President #46 and most of Congress are only somewhat concerned about glob al warming, lobbyists from the big energy companies and big agricultural companies will make certain that the change to fossil-fuel-free energy and regenerative farming happens slowly. Russia, India, and many other countries will continue to increase the amount of carbon they release into the atmosphere. As a result, temperatures will rise to well over 4 degrees F by 2050 and seas will rise by more than two feet by 2050 and more than ten feet by 2100. With the loss of mountain glaciers, many rivers will stop flowing during the dry seasons. By 2050, more than 100 million refugees will flee the coastlines and drought areas. In the United States, many of these refugees fleeing Florida and the dry Southwestern states, will move to healthy cities asking for food, water, jobs, housing, and healthcare. These refugees will have guns. Governments will not be able to help most of the refugees. There will be riots. Refugee camp sanitary conditions will be inadequate, resulting in disease. Many people will die. Throughout the world, perhaps a billion will die and many governments will fall before the world gets serious about climate change. By 2100, some Governments (probably including the U.S. Government) will survive, but most will fall and perhaps two billion will die before temperatures stop increasing. Civilization eventually will recover, but the damage will be very painful. My ouild-ass guess is that there is a 70% chance of this scenario occurring in the lifetime of children being born today.

  3. MOST PESSIMISTIC SCENARIO: Global warming’s feedback systems caused by man-made global warming, will make any of man’s effort to curb warming meaningless. The amount of such feedback currently is surprising climate modelers. Feedback includes soot from wildfires darkening Greenland glaciers, causing increased melting. Another surprising feedback is the amount of methane bubbling out of the permafrost, adding to greenhouse gases and thereby adding to the warming. The most frightening potential feedback, unaccounted for in most models, is the melting of methane clathrates from the Oceans' continental shelves. Some scientists say that the amount of this methane may put carbon into the atmosphere rivaling the amount that caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event 252 million years ago. This was the worst extinction in the history of oxygen-breathing life of Earth. More than 90% of all life died, and most of what survived did so in what has since become Antarctica. The oceans already have absorbed far too much heat. There is nothing man can do about that. Glacial melting forces hotter water to the lower reaches of the ocean. Methane can be expected to bubble out of the water. Methane is a stronger greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide (CO2). So global warming might very well be much worse than climate modelers have predicted. Also, the oceans have become more acidic (due to absorption of CO2). That can cause plankton to die, decreasing the planet’s ability to absorb carbon and release oxygen. So, not only do we have to worry about heat, we also have to worry about having enough air to breathe. Previous extinction events took thousands of years for carbon levels to rise. Many scientists believe that the speed of this rise is unprecedented, which may cause mass extinctions, even at lower levels of carbon. So, the worst-case scenario is that most or maybe even all mankind will die. If any life on Earth survives, it may be only in Antarctica and might be similar to pond scum. My ouild-ass guess is that there is a 10% chance of some form of a major extinction event happening within the lifespan of children being born today.
Of course, there is always the “miracle scenario.” Within the next five years, man could develop room-temperature superconducting, desktop fusion power, and/or a perfect smokestack scrubber that not only makes burning fossil fuels carbon free but also draws carbon down from the atmosphere. Or, Einstein's successor could come up with a perfect unified field theory and we will have full control of space and time. But if you believe such miracles can happen, there's a bridge in Brooklyn I could sell you.

Sorry folks, that’s the way I see global warming playing out. These are my best guesses.

I am writing a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. Please help. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn.  I need a great publishing company to market the novel and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me, and comment on what I post. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.