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May 10 2013

We’re Number One! (Wait, That’s A Bad Thing…)

Shockingly, rockingly,
Scientist monitors
Looked at the bullet we’d
Hoped we had ducked

Argue no longer for
Periodicity—
Carbon’s new record means
Humans are fucked.

Yup. Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher they have been in the history of humankind. The highest in over six thousand three million years. The New York Times reports:

The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

“It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading.

While some groups have short-term economic reasons for denying reality, the truth is…

Carbon dioxide rises and falls on a seasonal cycle and the level will dip below 400 this summer, as leaf growth in the Northern Hemisphere pulls about 10 billion tons of carbon out of the air. But experts say that will be a brief reprieve — the moment is approaching when no measurement of the ambient air anywhere on earth, in any season, will produce a reading below 400.

“It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a Columbia University earth scientist.

Or as I put it above… humans are fucked. Read the article… and not for nothing, this month is bike-to-work month.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Argle Bargle

    There’s a problem. Unfortunately the politicians and oligarchs don’t admit there’s a problem or don’t want to do anything about it. Until we can convince the people who control the economies and the political structures that the problem needs fixing, nothing, and I mean that literally, will be done.

  2. 2
    Cuttlefish

    Yes, well… in the short term, those who burn their fuel fastest go furthest. And politics is all short term. Economics is often short term. If we set out on a marathon, and our competition sets off on a sprint, they overtake us. In the short term, they win.

  3. 3
    theignored

    Don’t forget religion; remember: The National Center for Science Education people now have to deal with climate change denialists as well.

  4. 4
    Kate Jones

    Bicycling is good. It’ll make you breathe harder,
    You’ll exhale more carbon to add to the larder.
    Or maybe Monsanto can genetically alter
    Humans to subsist on carbon before we falter.

    Better yet, increase the plant life on Earth
    To help us replenish the oxygen dearth.
    A greenhouse isn’t so bad to live in,
    Plenty of food for all will be a given.

    If only the short-term counts, as has been said,
    Because in the long term we’ll all be dead,
    What a sad commentary on our evolution
    To come all this way without a solution.

    On the other hand, mankind is at its best
    When dire need puts our brains to the test.
    Instead of wars, we need global consensus
    That all win or lose if our home world expends us.

  5. 5
    Johnny Vector

    I’m uncertain that your double dactyl
    Is the optimal form here, in fact I’ll
    Say there’s so much denial
    That logic’s a trial
    When wrongness is practically fractal.

    As the problem’s become irrefutable
    And human response is inscrutable.
    With a tear in my eye;
    I must laugh or I’ll cry,
    So a limerick may be more suitable.

  6. 6
    Don F

    I couldn’t figure out how to email this to you, so I’m posting it here:

    (Maybe you’ve already seen it — Doghouse Diaries: The Incredible Cuttlefish.)

    http://thedoghousediaries.com/5076

  7. 7
    David Marjanović

    Here comes the fun-ruining prose.

    Bicycling is good. It’ll make you breathe harder,
    You’ll exhale more carbon to add to the larder.

    That comes from food and thus from ongoing photosynthesis. It stays in circulation. It’s not added to the circulation from the outside, as carbon from fossil fuels is.

    Or maybe Monsanto can genetically alter
    Humans to subsist on carbon before we falter.

    You have no idea of the surface area you’d need to live off photosynthesis.

    Better yet, increase the plant life on Earth
    To help us replenish the oxygen dearth.

    There is no oxygen dearth. We don’t get in trouble as long as oxygen stays above 13 %; changes of a few hundred ppm are not noticeable.

    A greenhouse isn’t so bad to live in,

    Getting there is the problem. It may require evacuating Bangladesh.

    Plenty of food for all will be a given.

    What nonsense. Weather patterns shift, storms become stronger, and experiments have shown that plants invest the extra carbon in leaves and stems, not in reproduction – seeds, you know, cereals.

    On the other hand, mankind is at its best
    When dire need puts our brains to the test.

    That’s also when it’s at its worst.

    Jared Diamond: Collapse. The ends of the world as we know them

  8. 8
    Pierce R. Butler

    Crapping in your own nest seems a lot harder to resist when your poop is invisible and odorless.

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