Will the Human Race Survive Past the Year 2100?

Arizona Professor Emeritus Guy McPherson gave up his comfortable tenured position in his late forties and “went back to the land, where he raises goats and gardens and works with his neighbors.” Why would he do that? Here’s a clue:

MacPherson, who makes Bill McKibben sound like Dr. Pangloss, continues to travel and lecture in his area of expertise, which is climate change and what he sees as the likely destruction of most of the Earth’s oxygen and the extinction of the human race sometime between 2050 and 2100.

This probably sounds like a sick joke, right? It isn’t. See his latest talk below, and decide for yourself:

MacPherson mentions that the methane “torches” (vents) discovered in Siberia in 2010 (see video below) had by 2011 expanded from 1 foot in diameter to 1 kilometer in diameter.

Change is happening fast … MacPherson calls such phenomena “positive feedback loops” … and here “positive” is bad, very bad.

Acccording to MacPherson, referring to a graph from the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, “Arctic warming went exponential in 2010:”

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3 Responses to “Will the Human Race Survive Past the Year 2100?”
  1. Anna says:

    Maybe he’s right, but my impression is that he’s not in the mainstream, and he’s not a climate expert ( “…in his area of expertise…” – based on this CV http://ag.arizona.edu/~grm/history.html he’s no more a climate expert than I am. If he’s channeling the experts’ views, no problem, but if he’s not, take with some salt.)
    (Caveat/confession: this is my cursory view, I didn’t watch the videos or see arguments therein, so take this with salt too. Sorry.)

  2. depelton says:

    Thanks Anna. I’d be glad if someone could prove to me that Guy McPherson is a crackpot, because I’m horrified by his basic message, which is that the only way we can avoid the worst ravages of climate change now is if industrial civilization worldwide suffers a major collapse. That idea alone certainly puts him outside the mainstream.

    But, I’d urge you to actually listen to what he has to say before deciding that he’s a crackpot.

    Sources he quotes with apparent familiarity include reports from …

    * The IPPC fourth assessment (2007)
    * UN Advisory Group on Global Warming (1990)
    * Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (2008 and 2009)
    * IEA’s World Energy Outlook (2012)
    * UN Environment Program (2009 & 2010)
    * Global Carbon Project Copenhagen Diagnosis (2009)
    * IEA (2010)

    He cites these various mainstream sources in support of a range of predictions of nominal global temperature increases of from 1 to 6 degrees C by sometime between 2050 and 2100.

    But — and here’s the kicker — he points out that none of these predictions include “positive feedback loops,” processes that act as amplifiers of the nominal temperature increase. For instance, he claims that a 1 degree nominal increase quickly ramps up (due to positive feedback loops) to a 6 degree C increase.

    Here are a few comments from McPherson:

    “If we include those feedbacks, according to a now ancient report [2011] by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, we are headed for a SIXTEEN degree warmer world by the year 2100.”

    “Paul Beckwith, a University of Ottowa climate scientist, said last month [December 2012], we could experience a SIX degrees warming in a decade or so.”

    “When the United Nations Environment Program talked about ‘rapid unpredictable and non-linear responses’, this is what we’re talking about. These are the kinds of things that everybody is ignoring. Rapid, unpredictable, non-linear responses.”

    So, what are some of these feedbacks (amplifiers) that McPherson is talking about?

    * Arctic Ocean Methane Hydrates
    * Arctic Defrosting (warm Atlantic water is invading the Arctic)
    * Siberian methane vents (permafrost “torches”)
    * Drought in Amazon (in 2010 decomposition of plant material exceeded carbon emissions of U.S.)
    * Peat in worldwide boreal forests is combusting
    * Antarctic methane contains 10 x carbon as Northern hemisphere
    * Russian forest and bog fires
    * Arctic drilling (the only one in this list that’s reversible)

    Each of these positive feedback loops (amplifiers) is triggered by as little as a 1 degree average global temperature rise, and result in “rapid, unpredictable, non-linear responses.” This is why, according to McFarlane (and the climate science sources he cites) 1 degree warming can rapidly get amplified to 6 degree warming.

    That’s his argument. About whether he is credible enough to make it convincingly, I would only point out that — while he’s not a climate scientist himself — he IS a scientist (an ecologist and a conservation biologist) who seems pretty well versed in the climate science literature.

    That makes him a notch (or several notches) below a climate scientist in credibility, but well above the average lay person.

    What makes him so susceptible to attack is the unpopularity of his message, not any inherent problem with his credentials.

  3. RickD says:

    Regardless of ones opinion of the “expertise” of this man’s opinions, the evidence seems all around us and increasingly problematic. If Anna is troubled by the qualifications of Dr. McPherson she might look to the opinions of most of the scientific community who basically echo the “gloom and doom” theory in some degree or other.

    We seem like the myth of the Ostrich, avoiding problems by refusing to see them. Our collective head in the hole bodes ill for both common sense and a common future.

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