No may. No might. Only is.

“As I have been reporting for a few years in this space, anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have led to abrupt, irreversible climate change. We’ve been warned about this outcome for decades. As ancient Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu reportedly said, ‘If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.’ We did not change our collective direction, despite many warnings. It seems we are nearing the end of the road for our species.”—Dr. Guy McPherson

Going Dark

By Dr. Guy McPherson

These guys are not our enemies. (Image via GhoulishMedia

These guys are not our enemies. (Image via GhoulishMedia.)

Guy McPherson

POULTNEY Vermont—(Weekly Hubris)—1 August 2021—I recently watched the 2021 film, Godzilla vs. Kong. Godzilla has been the peoples’ protector for centuries. He turns against the people after they create a mechanized Godzilla (and, also, when they begin to meddle with nature).

Kong is the last of his kind and is the traditional enemy of Godzilla. He is the protector of the natural world and its wild places, and also of individuals that he cares about. Kong faces off against Godzilla when it looks as though Godzilla has lost his mind. But, in the end, Godzilla and Kong realize they are fighting the same enemy: technology! Only together will they be able to beat the real monster: technology gone bad.

With respect to climate change, we have triggered dozens of self-reinforcing feedback loops. These are the “bad guys” in the reality show currently playing out on Earth. As I have pointed out several times, any one of those “positive feedbacks” indicates that climate change is irreversible. And, as I have also pointed out on several occasions, these self-reinforcing feedback loops keep getting reported in the peer-reviewed literature and the corporate media as if they lie in the future, rather than already having been triggered.This short essay provides two examples, from among many.

First up: The headline at phys.org on 30 April 2021 reports, “Amazon may be turning from friend to foe.” The caption for the photograph atop the page tells the story in a few words: “The Brazilian Amazon released nearly 20 percent more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the last decade than it absorbed, according to a stunning report that shows humanity can no longer depend on the world’s largest tropical forest to help absorb manmade carbon pollution.” The first line of the paper further illustrates the damage done: “From 2010 through 2019, Brazil’s Amazon basin gave off 16.6 billion tonnes of CO2, while drawing down only 13.9 billion tonnes.” If this description makes it seem as though the Amazon has become a source of atmospheric carbon dioxide during this last decade, then your understanding is the same as mine.

The phys.org paper refers to a paper in the peer-reviewed literature, as usual. Specifically, according to the title of a paper published last 29 April 2021 in Nature Climate Change, “Carbon loss from forest degradation exceeds that from deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.” As reported in the abstract of this peer-reviewed paper, “During 2010–2019, the Brazilian Amazon had a cumulative gross loss of 4.45 Pg C against a gross gain of 3.78 Pg C, resulting in a net aboveground biomass loss of 0.67 Pg C.” Bear in mind that a petagram is one quadrillion grams, or a trillion kilograms. That’s a lot.

I have reported on the Amazon basin as a carbon source, rather than a carbon sink, at least four times at Nature Bats Last. I mentioned it within my Climate-Change Summary in self-reinforcing feedback loop number 22 based on peer-reviewed papers dating back more than a decade ago. As my friend Glen Osbourne recently pointed out to me, “Amazon grows, while the Amazon burns.” Yet the headline of the phys.org paper claims, “Amazon may be turning from friend to foe.”

Example No. 2 of self-reinforcing feedback loops being reported in the peer-reviewed literature and the corporate media as if they lie in the future, rather being triggered already comes again from phys.org via headline on 30 April 2021: “Methane release rapidly increases in the wake of melting ice sheets.” 

From the first paragraph comes this nugget: “Melting of the Arctic ice sheets drives the release of the potent greenhouse gas methane from the ocean floor.” According to the peer-reviewed paper’s lead author, “as the ice sheet melted and pressure on the seafloor lessened during the Eemian, methane was released in violent spurts, slow seeps, or a combination of both. By the time the ice disappeared completely, some thousands of years later, methane emissions had stabilized.”

A quote later in the article tells us, “[T]he present-day acceleration of Greenlands (sic) ice melt is an analogue to our model. We believe that the future release of methane from below and nearby these ice sheets is likely.”

The lead author’s bottom line is telling: “The projections of future climate change should definitely include the release of methane following in the wake of diminishing ice sheets. Past can be used to better inform the future.”

The peer-reviewed article is titled, “Ice-sheet melt drove methane emissions in the Arctic during the last two interglacials.” Published in the journal Geology on 22 March 2021, it makes a solid case for methane as 1) a powerful greenhouse gas that 2) forms a self-reinforcing feedback loop as the ice melts.

It happened in the past. It is happening even more rapidly today.

The abstract of the peer-reviewed paper begins, “Circum-Arctic glacial ice is melting in an unprecedented mode, and release of currently trapped geological methane may act as a positive feedback on ice-sheet retreat during global warming.

May act as a positive feedback? It’s already happening. Just as the Amazon Basin has already become a carbon source, so, too, has atmospheric methane already become a self-reinforcing feedback loop. I have reported on this topic at least a dozen times at Nature Bats Last, and methane plays a role in 14 different irreversible, self-reinforcing feedback loops.

As I have been reporting for a few years in this space, anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have led to abrupt, irreversible climate change. We’ve been warned about this outcome for decades. As ancient Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu reportedly said, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

We did not change our collective direction, despite many warnings. It seems we are nearing the end of the road for our species.

In light of this probable outcome, we have options. Living with urgency, integrity, and love come to mind.

To order Dr. McPherson’s books, click the cover images here below:

About Guy McPherson

Dr. Guy McPherson is an internationally recognized speaker, award-winning scientist, and one of the world’s leading authorities on abrupt climate change leading to near-term human extinction. He is professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, where he taught and conducted research for 20 years. His published works include 16 books and hundreds of scholarly articles. Dr. McPherson has been featured on television and radio and in several documentary films. He is a blogger and social critic who co-hosts his own radio show, “Nature Bats Last.” Dr. McPherson speaks to general audiences across the globe, and to scientists, students, educators, and not-for-profit and business leaders who seek their best available options when confronting Earth’s cataclysmic changes. Visit McPherson's Author Page at amazon.com.
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13 Responses to No may. No might. Only is.

  1. james j brefeld says:

    Hi Guy,

    I have been following you for a couple of years. You have opened my eyes to new found catastrophes. However I believe the nature of the beast is unstoppable and it is time for this show to end to start anew again in a different place and time. The show will go on. Tis but human nature I believe.

  2. Guy R McPherson says:

    I would love to be so optimistic, James. Alas, the rapid rate of environmental change is sufficient to cause the extinction of all life on Earth. So is the forthcoming uncontrolled meltdown of the world’s nuclear facilities as humans exit the planetary stage. In other words, we will “sanitize” Earth when we depart. I’m not a fan of these conclusions, both of which are supported by abundant peer-reviewed literature.

  3. Alex S. says:

    Nice analogy!

    Anthropogenic climate change is the ultimate monster movie. Our reckless actions created this beast and now it’s going to take us out. Will we adopt the MEER:ReflEction Project and save the day at the last moment (0r at least buy ourselves a bit more time)? Or will we all be dead by 2026? The choice is ours.

    https://www.meerreflection.com/how-it-works

  4. Guy R McPherson says:

    Thank you, Alex S. I could not agree more.

  5. Paul Chace says:

    Thank you doc, great to “meet” you and Pauline and Kevin, glickson, Erlich, Jamail, massa, Wallace wells, Carter,box,rignot,beckwith,Shackleton,mop,Jennifer Francis among others.
    Seems like it’s too late for MEER
    I’m just doing what I love, with intention!

  6. Guy R McPherson says:

    I’d guess you’re right, Paul. And I’m still pushing for the kind of miracle in which I stopped believing years ago. Retention of life on Earth seems worthy to me.

  7. John A. Joslin says:

    

    ”But we now expect nature to be kind to us and if we are able to achieve NET ZERO we hopefully won’t get any further temperature increase…” -Professor Piers Forster( University of Leeds & a co-author of latest IPCC Report )

    When I first encountered the adventures of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ , my laughter was not lessened by realizing that Eeyore, Tigger & co. were pretend characters . I had begun to ‘understand’ as a 3 or 4-year old that making up stories was a legitimate way to entertain children. Dramatic fiction wasn’t a lie in the normal sense of that word .

    Professor Foster is so wrapped up in thoroughly entertaining chronological ‘adults’ w/ authoritative sounding reassurances about the future , like a juggling scientific busker…he happily deploys fairy-tale imagery, framing ‘Nature’ as a generous Mona Lisa smiling on all our fates in spite of everything.

    These are the invented convections of a childish person who just happens to hold scientific credentials.

    He completely believes every word.

    – J. Joslin ( electrician / lineman @ Detroit, Michigan, near Canadian border )

  8. Guy R McPherson says:

    John A. Joslin, thanks for your comment. The frequent attempts at humor infused with lies through the years have brought us to this horrific outcome. Seems there is hardly a paid climate scientist, journalist, or politician capable of telling the truth.

  9. John Mendenhall says:

    Guy, you have been the unsung hero in this fight for a long time. You have my great respect and gratitude for doing so.

    Unfortunately, I agree with you that all we can do at this point is planetary hospice. Because of that, I left my rat race job, we downsized everything, sold our house in Philly and moved our family to a small New England town for, well the end of the world. Damn if I was going to sit in an urban hellscape for the end game. My family and I will at least seize some happy days here at the end and maybe in a couple of million years another form of life will emerge here that will take better care of the place.

    We had our shot. We blew it. Time to act like grownups and face the end with a measure of dignity vs lying, infantile behavior. Treat each other with kindness and love, avoid the madness of “civilization” if you can and enjoy the shrinking number of good days we have left.

  10. John A.Joslin says:

    An interesting thing !

    Apparently ( according to Eric Holthaus ) , the entire 4,000 page IPCC Report does NOT contain a single ‘ explicit mention ‘ of coal, oil, or gas .

    So, if we briefly imagine ourselves as simply amazed & bedazzled spectators @ the Spectacular Climate Change Circus ( a la RINGLING BROTHERS, BARNUM & BAILEY …) , then all this time Guy McPherson has been volunteering nightly on the high wire mostly w/o a net, and the IPCC has dutifully been supplying an endless stream of hired performers who pour out of the ‘clown car’ called the ‘report ‘ that pulls up in the center ring every few years in a cloud of sawdust &
    Buttery popcorn smells to remind us that the show must go on ….

  11. Guy R McPherson says:

    John A. Joslin, no mention of fossil fuels. No mention of aerosol masking. The circus … er, show, must go on. At least you recognize it for the circus … er, show it is.

  12. RONALD FOX says:

    I just heard you on the Jolly Heretic. Your fact-based, and peer-reviewed science-based presentation made sense to me, especially in light of the description of positive feedback loops of warming events exacerbating warming events.

    I’m going to have to read more of your work, but it doesn’t seem like the pathways to avoid a close call are very clear, especially if reducing aerosol activity by reducing industrial output makes the problem worse. If the solution lies in implementing the mirror-reflection technology and also in reducing the stress of exploding population, Ed Dutton would probably be an invaluable ally in tracking the evolutionary pressures producing leaders who do not react, and populations that increase exponentially.

  13. Guy R McPherson says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Ronald Fox. I encourage you to study the materials at meerreflection.com, and to encourage Mr. Dutton to do the same.

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