This article directly focuses on one half of two purposes of my blog: to bring to the attention of web surfers credible information about the increasing threat of climate destabilization. The other half focuses attention on the threat of a nuclear conflagration in an age in which capitalist wealth and power has been heavily concentrated in one very aggressive US-led Empire that has a clear track record of moving toward world hegemony. Both threats to humans are propelled by the system of capitalism. Consequently the main agenda for humanity must be the termination of this deadly system before either of these threats end human existence, and replace it with a more benign and sustainable system that is compatible with the Earth's biosphere.
Science has long known that conditions on Earth have changed over time — that much of the planet has at times been covered in ice, and that areas that are now cold were once tropical — but it was believed that such shifts took place very slowly, over thousands of years or longer. One of the most surprising results of recent research into past climate is that rapid climate change has been the rule, not the exception. The climate is remarkably sensitive to quite small changes in the atmosphere and oceans, and rather than gradually warming or cooling, it has tended to lurch from one state to another, in years or decades rather than millennia. As one prominent scientist puts it, Earth’s climate is an ornery beast that violently overreacts even to small nudges.
That’s particularly relevant today, when greenhouse gas concentrations are not only high, but are rising more quickly than ever before.