T Nation

Abrupt Climate Change & Human Extinction

I’ve never considered myself an alarmist, but a lot of the recent data on the severity and acceleration of climate change is terrifying to me. Where to even start - mass insect extinction predicted by 2100, arctic sea ice depleting with an ice-free summer predicted over the next few years, mass decline of fish stocks, coral and aquatic life, unprecedented heatwaves and forest fires around the world, and absolutely no end in sight.

It’s looking like we are going to surpass the IPCC’s 1.5 degree limit within a couple of decades at most. This increase is felt much more in the arctic region, which plays an incredibly important role in modulating the climate of most of the planet. No sea ice leads to increased heat absorption of the northern oceans, which could lead to mass amounts of methane released from the slush it currently resides in at the bottom of the ocean. Due to the power of methane as a greenhouse has and its resiliency in the atmosphere, this would be very, very bad.

I think a lot of people picture climate change as a few more storms, a bit warmer summers, and trouble for a few South Pacific islands, and the media likes to use the year 2100 in their most dire forecasts (you’ll be deceased, your kids will be either deceased or very elderly, business as usual), but there is a growing body of evidence that shit could really hit the fan in the next couple decades, potentially even years.

Guy McPherson is the most vocal and one of the most extreme in his views. He thinks humanity will be extinct by 2026. He gets criticized a lot because he incorrectly forecast “peak oil” a few years ago, but a lot of the science he draws from is hard to argue. Him aside, more and more climate scientists are entering the “we’re fucked” mindset, that climate change is already baked in and that we’re looking at a future that is too horrific to picture. Even Canadian climate scientist David Suzuki, who has been a call-to-arms optimist about climate change over the past 30 years, has in recent interviews been very pessimistic and even seemed full-blown depressed about the current path we are on.

What are everyone’s thoughts on this?

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I think that if we think immigration is a problem now, we are in for a serious shock when thousands of people fleeing drug lords and war turns into millions of people who just watched their cities drown. India is going to have the biggest logistics problems, I suspect, and Vietnam has been going green because if climate change goes as bad as some people think they could lose 40% of their agricultural production.

I also think warming climate means the spread of disease carrying insects. I also wonder how many rich people are quietly buying land in Canada because even if they won’t admit it for political reasons, they know they’re going to want to move north. It will be really interesting if China’s ecology collapses and they suddenly want to move to Siberia, but that could happen even without global warming because they’ve polluted so much of their country.

On the other hand, since any suggestion that climate change might be more moderate gets pounced on by climate change deniers as evidence against any change at all, scientists with more moderate opinions keep them to themselves.

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My grandkids will inherit what will have become beachfront property so woo hoo!!!


Where do you think the line will be once the ocean’s start to rise? like should I invest in property in like Western Mass/Midlands South Carolina or more like Tennessee or Pittsburgh?

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Not even the ocean could make Pittsburgh attractive.


This. So much this.

Fuck Pittsburgh.

The methane release thing is truly frightening, however I wish these fuckers would stop predicting the future. They’ve made many predictions in the past, for example London and New York are already supposed to be submerged. Maybe that wasn’t a mainstream theory, but us lay people heard it, the forecast dates came and went, and now climate change deniers point to those failed predictions as proof that it’s all bullshit.

So, stop predicting such and such a catastrophe by such and such a date, it does more harm than good.


Science is never wrong.

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Tennessee, 100%!

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In that case Tennessee will become the East Coast Cali … mountains and beach a hour away


What is his basis for thinking humanity will be extinct by 2026? That sounds like preachers who predict a random date and say this is the apocalypse.

Not dismissing what he says about other things but that jumped off the page at me.

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Ah, fuck all yinz.


Climate change is not settled science, but sea level rise of more than a few feet is absolute hog wash. Obviously a few feet would be pretty serious for many coastal cities and catastrophic for some islands. But there simply isn’t enough ice when you spread it out across all of oceans to move the coast much more than that.

I don’t think alarmist statements like humanity will be extinct in less than 10 years does anything to move the conversation forward. There are a lot more sensible positions to take. From the recent hearings on the green new deal from a climate scientist:

“Bipartisan support seems feasible for pragmatic efforts to accelerate energy innovation, build resilience to extreme weather events, pursue no regrets pollution reduction measures, and land use practices. Each of these efforts has justifications independent of their benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation”


Was curious so took a sec to look it up:

Add thermal expansion of all water in the oceans + ice sources on land like the Greenland ice sheet melting to the equation.

It also so happens that any moderate opinion gets pounced on by alarmists as proof that the moderates are closet deniers, so there’s another widespread reason that moderates keep mostly quiet.

Much like anything in politics really. Only the polar opinions get voiced due to blowback.


Frankly I don’t really worry about it all that much.

I’m not a climate scientist but I stay abreast with as much of the primary literature and the intra community conversation as I can.

The consensus among all the but the most extreme is that we’re not going extinct. I don’t think it does any good to say stupid things like “we’ll all be extinct”. The consensus among most of the believers of more serious warming is that the “messaging” of extreme death and destruction, including dire predictions in the near-ish future, is justified to raise the public to action (I.e. not because it’s a reasonable prediction to make or will actually happen). This is something I also don’t believe. Science is science, and while there are many different opinions that could be supported rationally, once you compromise what you actually believe the science supports in the name of “messaging” you are officially a political activist rather than a scientist.

There are not many lower forms of life than political lobbyist activists in my opinion.

Most of the skeptics don’t actually believe physical warming is all a lie, they believe it’s vastly overblown in consequences. As such they obviously don’t believe that “messaging” as previously mentioned is warranted. Most of the moderates believe warming can cause serious issues, and have serious consequences that should be planned for and addressed in advance as well trying to address feasible mitigation. However, as they are sufficiently lukewarm on “messaging” to piss off alarmists they also tend to be labeled deniers.

I think politics has polluted the entire field frankly. But that doesn’t mean that good science isn’t being done or published


If I remember correctly water expands negligibly

But you know what? Ice is much less dense than water, thats why ice cubes float. So when it melts it will take up less space.

Did you read otherwise?

Nah you’re right. Water contracts when going from solid to liquid but in liquid form it expands like any other matter with increased temperature. So like this is more relevant to the water that’s already in the ocean

The density of water at 4C is 1 g/ml. At 80C it is about .97g/ml. However, we’re talking about an increase in ocean temperature of only a few degrees C. That won’t change the density much at all.