And if the ground’s not cold/Everything is gonna burn/We’ll all take turns/I’ll get mine too. — Pixies, “Monkey Gone to Heaven.”
Bad news. Thanks to perfectly timed, premeditated reality assassinations like so-called ClimateGate, nearly half of Americans may now believe that the various threats of climate change are exaggerated. That’s the highest quotient ever since polling on the issue commenced.
But there is good news: They’re on the wrong side of history and science, and Earth will still get the last laugh on all of them, and us for that matter.
Welcome to our existential nightmare. From rising seas and runaway droughts and storms to the outer limits of dystopian catastrophes like the fart apocalypse — I’ll explain later — our planet has no shortage of ways to slap us back into our dangerous reality, whether we want it to or not.
Of course, we could stave off some of the more egregious probabilities of extinction, if we acted now to limit global warming’s inexorable rise to 2 degrees. But that means a determined destruction of the status quo, and that’s always messy for those who like things just the way they are, thank you very much. But they’ll still get theirs. How? Let us count the ways.
If you’re one of those righteously indignant climate change deniers who also hates immigration, you’re in for a world of hurt. According to scientists and scholars, climate refugees could hit 50 million this year and explode to 150 million over the next 50. Hordes of these envirogees, as I call them, will be turned out of their environmentally sensitive homes in China, India, the United States and elsewhere.
They will doubtless end up in the backyards of disgruntled citizens who like to mumble or scream about things they won’t settle for in their backyards. If you think immigration is a problem now, just wait until Mother Earth starts cleaning house.
Deniers might like to point out that hypoxic oceans and lakes, known as dead zones in ecological parlance, could be just as attributable to overpopulation as to global warming. Whatever. Their increased frequency is making climate change worse, no matter the prime cause, as if there could ever be such a thing. From shrinking the sex organs of our planet’s fish to fucking up its food chain and escalating the ocean’s nitrous oxide emissions, dead zones are deep threats.
More nitrous oxide, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, means more ozone depletion, which means more cancer, crop depletion and much worse.
Of course, most deniers, especially those who live near oceans, probably won’t be worrying about their chemical content once catastrophic climate change’s more severe symptoms arrive. They’ll be too busy fleeing the rising tide.
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report prophesied that global warming would increase sea levels by 190-580 millimeters by 2100. More recent research has doubled the bar to an upper limit of two meters. Which probably means that in another few years, the already catastrophic limit will be raised again, perhaps by another 100 percent, at which point there won’t be much point in measuring anything at all. Coastal metropoles like Los Angeles, Miami, London, Sydney and others will literally be drowning in data.
It’s an object lesson in ironic reversal: ClimateGate deniers were partially right about the IPCC’s projections, although they were wrong in thinking they were too severe. In fact, they were too conservative.
The hits just keep on coming, when it comes to global warming and the oceans. Take methane, for example, which like nitrous oxide is a killer greenhouse gas. Plus, it smells terrible, like someone took a crap right in your head.
Now imagine being choked by it, as it is belched from the oceans in a toxic feedback loop and dominates the atmosphere. It’s probably happened before in one or more of a variety of extinction events like the Permian-Triassic, more scarily known as the Great Dying. But it could be happening again, as the permafrost melts and farts methane into the ocean and thereby the sky.
According to recent science, atmospheric methane has steadily risen each year since 2007, and whether it’s factory farming of beef or melting permafrost, the threat remains the same. Earth has serious gas, and it’s not afraid to use it. Hey, at least it’s not hydrogen sulfide, an extinction executioner you’ll never smell coming. Methane has the decency to stink up your nose and future.
Drought and desertification are surely the least glamorous ravages of global warming, but they are immediate. Parched rivers and declining precipitation, especially in once-fertile regions in America, India, China, Africa and elsewhere, are fueling everything from crop failure to gender inequality and “famine marriages.”
Drought news has eased somewhat, thanks to recent record-breaking storms and freezes that have balanced water accounts for some regions, especially in the United States. But if you think climate change is going to bring more water your way instead of less, I’ve got a subprime condo in Australia I’d like to sell you.