A fantastic version of the apocalypse is alwaysIt starts with a long-awaited event - a rocket launch, a virus leak, a zombie invasion - and quickly moves from a complete crash to a new, stable state. Something happens, and in the morning you are already rolling a creaking cart from the supermarket among the abandoned Tesla, with a sawn-off shotgun. Only an event is important: it is a baptism, a fiery sword that separates the past from the present, the history of the origin of the future you. However, catastrophic global climate change is not an event, and we are not expecting it. We already live in it. In August 2018, as a result of forest fires and record heat, for the first time in history, the most powerful and oldest ice in the Arctic Ocean cracked, foreshadowing the death spiral of the Arctic glaciers.
In September 2018, the Secretary GeneralUnited Nations António Guterres delivered a warning speech: “If we don’t change course by 2020, we risk losing moment when we can avoid rampant climate change.” In the following months, disputes began in the United States over whether to build a wall on the southern border in order to keep refugees out of climate change; there was news that greenhouse gas emissions are not decreasing, but growing; in France, a populist uprising broke out, caused by the refusal of a gas tax.
In the early days of 2019, new scientificreports that we may have passed the point of no return. One study found, in particular, that particulate aerosols could have twice the cooling effect than previously thought, which means that global warming could have occurred faster if it had not been contained by air pollution. Another showed that the melting of the Greenland ice may have passed a turning point and will lead to a significant rise in the level of the ocean in this century. It also showed that Antarctica is losing six times more ice mass than 40 years ago. Some of them said that the Tweits glacier in Antarctica showed a depression the size of Manhattan, indicating a catastrophic collapse of the Western Antarctic ice sheet, which could lead to an increase in sea level by 2.5 meters in a century.
In another report, described as extremeClimate events, such as droughts and heat waves, reduce the soil’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide — almost doubled — and this means that global warming not only aggravates extreme weather events, but also, in turn, accelerates global warming. The permafrost in the Arctic has warmed significantly - by a full degree from 2007 to 2016. The level of methane in the atmosphere has increased significantly over the past decade.
The growth of atmospheric methane is so big thatit effectively nullifies the commitments made in the Paris Climate Agreement. Even if anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are limited, the unexpected and steady growth of methane will overshadow all the progress made during other restrictions. Another study found that early spring rains in the Arctic, caused by global warming, increase methane emissions from permafrost by 30%.
Meanwhile, the oceans are warming up to 40% faster thanpreviously considered, according to recent studies. Given current carbon emission trajectories and feedback dynamics, it is likely that global surface temperatures will be 2-3 degrees higher than in the pre-industrial era, by 2050 already. It will also push the trajectory of the Earth’s global climate beyond what is possible for stabilization by human forces. There is an opinion that even a warming of 1.5 degrees can lead to a cascade effect that will lead the Earth to the path of the “hot greenhouse Earth”. And this is with an error of 0.2 degrees. And we can cross the red line at 1.5 degrees not in 20 years, not in 10 - but in 5 or 3.
New Dark Age
Imagine that now is the year 2050. I will be 72 years old. My daughter will be 33. The broad lanes of the now inhabited coastlines and equatorial jungles and deserts are likely to become uninhabited: they will either be under water or become too hot for life. People from all over the world will probably see countless local and regional climate catastrophes, survive global economic shocks and a catastrophic fall in crops, random acts of aggression from starving citizens will become the norm, resulting in new repressive governments as the only way to take control. In response to this political, environmental and economic instability, angry people are likely to sell their freedom in exchange for security guarantees, while security forces will build walls and nations will struggle for abundant sources of drinking water.
If political and social consequencesglobal warming will be at least a bit like what happened during the last major climate change, the “little ice age” of the 17th century, we should expect similar and terrible consequences in the form of famine, epidemics, wars. Historian Jeffrey Parker believes that the effects of the secondary effects of global cooling on 1 degree, which began in the 1650s, led to the death of a third of the world's population. Records from some parts of China, Poland, Belarus and Germany speak of a 50 percent loss.
It is likely that everything will be even worse. According to London-based Lloyd’s, which ordered research on food security in 2015, any significant shock to the global food system "could lead to serious economic and political consequences." But since the Earth's climate is transformed into something that human civilization has never seen before, we must realistically expect not one shock, but a whole series of such. And this is assuming that global warming will occur at current rates, and will not be accelerated nonlinearly as a result of the cascading effects of feedback.
All this will happen day after day, month aftermonth after year after year Surely there will be "events" like those that we have seen in the last decade - heat waves, massive destructive hurricanes, slowing down of the most important Atlantic flows, political changes - the civil war in Syria, the Mediterranean refugee crisis, the unrest in France and the like. But if nuclear war does not happen, we are unlikely to see a global “event” that marks the transition we have been waiting for, “legalize” climate change and force us to change our path.
The next 30 years will probably resemblea slow catastrophe of the present: we will get used to every new shock, to a new shock, to a new “new norm”, until one day we find ourselves in a new dark epoch - unless, of course, we are still in it.
It will not be the apocalypse that you saw inmovies. It will not be the apocalypse to which you can prepare or hide from. It will not be an apocalypse with a beginning and an end, after which the survivors rebuild a new world. It will not be a “event” at all, but a new world, a new geological epoch in the history of the Earth, in which the planet may well not be hospitable to the two-legs Homo sapiens. The planet is approaching — or has already overcome — several key thresholds, after which the conditions in which people have undecided over the past 10,000 years cease to exist.
This is not our future - this is our present: a time of transformation and struggle for which it is difficult to see a clear path. Even in the best case, the rapid, radical, mass transformation of the energy system, on which the world economy is based (which would entail a complete restructuring of the collective human life), combined with large investments in carbon capture technology, when all this happens under the auspices of an unprecedented global cooperation - the problems and thresholds that we face will put tremendous pressure on a growing population of people.
Goodbye good life
Global warming impossible rightunderstand or treat separately. Even if we somehow solve the geopolitical, military and economic difficulties on the way to restructuring our global energy system, we will still have to deal with the ongoing collapse of the biosphere, carcinogenic toxins that we have spread around the world, ocean acidification, the crisis industrial agriculture and overpopulation. There is no realistic plan to mitigate global warming, for example, which would not include control over population growth - but what exactly does this mean? Control of education and birth is good, but then what? One child policy? Forced abortions? Euthanasia? It is easy to notice what problems might arise in extreme cases. In addition, the Earth’s climate is not a thermostat. It will not be enough just to throw carbon into the atmosphere, damaging the entire global climate system, and then pause it, like in a video game.
It is difficult to reconcile with our situationpsychologically, philosophically and politically. Rational thinking fades before such an apocalypse. We have taken a leap of faith in the new world, and the conceptual and cultural framework that we have developed to reflect on human existence over the past 200 years seems completely inappropriate to cope with this transition, not to mention helping us to adapt to hot and chaotic planet.
Our life is built around concepts and values,which are constantly threatened by a sharp dilemma: either we radically transform the collective life of people, no longer use fossil fuels, or, more likely, climate change will lead us to the end of capitalist civilization using fossil fuels. Revolution or collapse - in any case, the good life will end. Think of everything that we take for granted: continuous economic growth; endless technological and moral progress; world market, able to quickly satisfy all possible desires of people; easy travel on long distances; regular trips to other countries; agricultural abundance; an abundance of synthetic materials to create cheap, high-quality consumer goods; air conditioners; wildlife conservation; vacation on the beach; vacation in the mountains; skiing; morning coffee; wine before bedtime; teaching children; salvation from natural disasters; pure water; their homes, cars and land; an abundance of experience, impressions and emotions; freedom to choose where to live, whom to love, who to be, what to believe; the belief that we will cope with climate change. All this may not be if we change nothing.
Climate change is inevitable - this is clear. But the problem remains beyond our comprehension, and any realistic solution seems inconceivable in our current conceptual framework. Although the situation is terrible, overwhelming, intractable and unprecedented in scale, it is not without historical counterparts. It is not the first time when a group of people has to deal with the inconsistency of their conceptual basis for navigating through reality. Not the first time the world comes to an end.
When cultures are crumbling
Poets, thinkers and scientists regularly reflect oncultural catastrophe. The ancient Sumerian epic about Gilgamesh tells how people survived the collapse of civilization caused by environmental transformation: Gilgamesh “brought back the wisdom that was before the flood”. Virgil's Aeneid tells not only about the fall of Troy, but also about the survival of the Trojans. Several Torah books tell how the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Jewish people, destroyed their temples and expelled them. This story gave subsequent generations a powerful model of cultural endurance.
One historical analogy is differentby force: European conquest and the genocide of the indigenous peoples of North and South America. This is where the world really ended. Many worlds. Each civilization, each tribe lived in their own sense of reality - but they all saw how these realities are crumbling, and were forced to fight for cultural continuity beyond just survival. The poet Gerald Wiesenor called this struggle "survival."
Today, many other "tribes", or communities,trying to cope with poverty, suicide and unemployment. But in these "tribes" poets, historians, singers, dancers, thinkers are also born. The point here is not to find charm in proximity to “nature” or in the naive desire to return the values of warriors-hunters, but to ask what we could learn from people who survived cultural and environmental catastrophe.
Need to live on
We face the destruction of ourconceptual reality. Catastrophic levels of global warming at the current moment to survive almost not work, and they can also lead to the end of life known to us.
We have two separate problems. First, will we be able to cope with the worst effects of climate change and prevent people from dying out by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Second, can we find a new way to live in the world that we have created.
It’s not at all clear whether we, the modernpeople, psychological and mental resources to meet these problems. The outcomes of our struggle also look unobvious. A successful response to the threat of survival may not make sense at all if we do not immediately see significant reductions in global carbon emissions. Recent studies suggest that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels of about 1,200 parts per million, which are waiting for us in the next century, will change the atmosphere so that clouds reflecting sunlight over subtropics will dissipate, adding another 8 degrees Celsius over 4 degrees, which we We are already waiting for this moment. So fast warming - 12 degrees in 100 years - will lead to such large environmental shocks that a large warm-blooded mammal like Homo sapiens may not survive. Billions will die if our species ever remains able to exist. Earth's history is full of extinct species. We burn their remains to drive cars. Why should ours be an exception?
And yet, the lack of good prospects is notfrees us from the obligation to seek the way forward. Our apocalypse takes place daily, and our biggest task is to learn to live with this truth, while remaining committed to some unimaginable form of future human prosperity - to live with a desperate and reliable one. We must continue. We have no choice.
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