Three Bad Things Regarding a Climate Change Timeline and Its Effects on Humanity

We are at the beginning of apocalyptic changes and most of us don’t understand what that means.

Glen Hendrix
Oct 7 · 5 min read

1.Currently, we just don’t have the sense of urgency that this crisis requires. It is existential. So why aren’t we on a war footing to fight it?

Climate change doesn’t seem apocalyptic because we don’t live long enough to appreciate the extreme differences that will occur over time.

An adult isn’t experiencing weather all that different from when they were a child. It may be hotter in the summer time now, but there were hot days when they were kids. More storms and stronger storms occur but not so different as to think the end of the world is nigh.

Extreme weather events from our past become inflated by our imagination over time and ameliorates our perception of how bad current events are. This will happen generation after generation even as the climate deteriorates.

We are caught in the boiling frog syndrome both as a species and as individuals.

If a frog is dropped into a pot of hot water he immediately jumps out. If a frog is dropped into a pot of tepid water which is slowly brought to a boil, he won’t notice until it’s too late and drowns.

Climate change will happen over several centuries; seas rising a hundred feet, the increase of temperatures on average by 9 degrees Fahrenheit, increasing numbers of Category Four and Five hurricanes, and tropical diseases in Nebraska and Illinois. If we don’t fix it, it could last for thousands of years. The problem is it’s happening fast — geologically speaking, in the blink of an eye. To us earthlings it seems super slo-mo.

Another slowdown is propaganda by the fossil fuel companies duping a large portion of the population into thinking its not legitimate science or it’s still up in the air about human culpability. To quote a famous cartoon possum, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

On a positive note we have Greta Thunberg rooting for humanity and shaming us into action.

2. This climate change is happening 10 times faster than the last one we know about. The only faster mass extinction pace was the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs.

The last time atmospheric CO2 was this high was about 3 to 5 million years ago during the Pliocene. Seas were 100 feet higher and there was very little ice anywhere on the planet. Estimates are CO2 was over 400 ppm. At the rate we’re going we’ll hit 475 ppm by the year 2043. Before the Pliocene, it was the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) 56 million years ago. Average temperatures during that time period were about 13 degrees Fahrenheit above today’s average.

The rate at which we are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is 9–10 times the rate during the PETM. Whereas the injection of CO2 during PETM was spread over 20,000 years and the warm period lasted 200,000 years; human civilization is on track to inject the same amount of CO2 in only three or four hundred years and we have no idea how long the effects are going to last. That depends on us.

And that is the problem for setting a timeline. We don’t really have any historical comparisons. We are in uncharted waters at the edge of the map labeled “Here Be Dragons.” We are pouring CO2 into the atmosphere much faster than nature has been able to during the past 50 million years.

Ultimately, equatorial regions may become nearly uninhabitable. At just a 2 degree Celsius increase in temperature, the oceans will rise 5 to 10 meters. According to predictions from the IPCC, a 1.5 degree C. rise will occur by 2035 if nothing is done to curtail emissions.

Although migration due to climate change has already begun, most people will not be affected for another generation. Here is a link to determine your city’s average temperature in 2050. After 2050, though, it is very speculative with one side promising annihilation and the other saying it won’t be that bad.

We do know without a doubt it’s going to happen. We’re not sure how quick or bad it’s going to be. Looking at similar periods in the past, however, should make anyone believe it could happen very fast and be very bad. That brings up bad thing number three.

3. We don’t know what to do about it yet. We’re not even funding research and development of those technologies that might save us or cutting back on fossil fuels.

The world economy is so tied to fossil fuels, it will be extremely painful to wean off oil and gas. Not to mention the fact that oil and gas companies seem reluctant to change even with the prospect of eventually losing most of their customers. That means business as usual until the government steps in and that will only come about by voting concerned politicians into office.

Humans will adapt. We’ve already begun. As mentioned, some are already moving. Some are changing political affiliations to more climate conscious candidates. Some are changing what they study in school so they can help with the technical stuff in trying to fix it.

Governments will adapt as well. As it gets worse they will investigate more and more incredible schemes as an alternative. Giant orbiting shields or massive injections of reflective aerosols into the atmosphere will block the Sun’s rays, bringing temperatures back down. CO2 will be sucked out of the atmosphere and turned into biodegradable plastic. Mega-tree reforestation is very probable in the planet’s future. New, safer forms of nuclear fission and nuclear fusion will be tried.

Most of these ideas will be implemented because we’re dragging our feet on cutting back fossil fuels now and will be playing catch-up. Hopefully, this process will result in mankind having some control over the planet’s climate. It may create a thermostat by which we can better control our environment.

You can help. The role you have right now is to vote for those people you perceive as no-bullshit advocates of initiatives to combat climate change. It’s more important than quitting meat or buying an electric vehicle. It’s the future of the human race.

Glen Hendrix

Written by

Artist, writer, poet, inventor, entrepreneur

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the education system

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade