The world is being called to action on climate change, and Forbes is denying that it is even happening.
We’re All Going to Be Killed by Giant Hornets
I don’t want to scare you or anything, but I know how you’re going to die. You’re going to be stung to death by giant hornets. We all are, and it’s going to be excruciating. In a plot twist straight from a SyFy Channel mockbuster, we all laughed at Mother Nature for too long, and now she’s coming after us in the form of huge, horrifying, toxic insects. I know, because I read a lot of internet news.
A Chinese woman named Mu Conghui told Xinhua News Agency:
"The hornets were horrifying.They hit right at my head and covered my legs. All of a sudden I was stung and I couldn’t move. Even now, my legs are covered with sting holes."
Al Gore Explains Why Civilization Might Not Survive the Next 100 Years
Al Gore is worried about the future. We’ve reached a point, he says, where the very survival of our civilization is at risk. But he’s optimistic that we can turn things around, too. Motherboard sat down with the United States’ most famous—and surely busiest—former vice president at this year’s Social Good Summit, where we talked about two possible futures Gore sees confronting humanity.
I asked him to describe the best and worst case scenarios for what civilization might look like 100 years from now. In one, Americans undertake an “Occupy democracy movement” to restore our political system, which Gore says has been “hacked” by money and special interests, and come together to fight climate change. In the other, the whole of human civilization lies in ruin.
The First World Is Destroying the Third World Through Climate Change
About 500 years ago, capitalism started to displace feudalism as the dominant socioeconomic system on the planet. There were about half a billion humans wandering around then, and about 80 percent of them were living hand-to-mouth existences and relying on subsistence agriculture. It wasn’t until the replacement of animate energy (biomass) with inanimate energy (fossil fuels) in the West during the 19th century that the global population started to grow exponentially, ballooning to its current level of over 7 billion. (To understand what powered this increase, consider that a teaspoon of diesel fuel contains as much energy as a human can expend in a day.) This transition from diffuse/currently available solar energy to stored/concentrated solar energy transformed every aspect of society, from manufacturing to agriculture to transportation to life expectancy. Basically, the last 200 years of exponential industrial and population growth have been subsidized by ancient, compacted sunlight.
It took about 200,000 years for the human population to reach 1 billion (~1800 CE), 130 years to reach 2 billion, 30 years for 3 billion, 15 years for 4 billion, and around 13 years each for 5, 6, and 7 billion. The UN is predicting that reaching 8 and 9 billion will take 16 and 19 years respectively, meaning the rate of population growth might have peaked around the year 2000. It’s probably not a coincidence that this growth corresponds pretty closely with the easy availability of ancient stores of fossilized energy. It has been argued that without fossil fuels, the carrying capacity of Earth would be around 1 to 2 billion humans.
To put it bluntly, we’re reaching peak everything. We’ve blown through our one-time inheritance of natural capital (fossil fuels, topsoil, groundwater, biodiversity) like the crazy, hairless apes we are.
The Ocean Is Melting Antarctica
Some 60% of the planet’s fresh water stores are locked away in Antarctica’s barren tundra. That’s a lot of water. For the obvious reasons, we’d all rather keep that water frozen away in the icy interior of the world’s southernmost continent than loose it into our already fast-rising oceans.
Unfortunately, new research from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows that we may be closer to unleashing an Antarctic flood than previously thought. The study shows that much more of Antarctica’s total mass loss is due to warm ocean water than to iceberg calving—which is what scientists previously thought drove shrinkage in the great white south.
So the question is, does that mean Antarctica’s ice stores are now more vulnerable to global warming than we thought?
Eric Rignot, a senior scientist at JPL, told me in an email that “the short answer is yes.” That’s because “existing ice sheet models do not include a warming ocean and realistic ice ocean interactions,” he says.
Kangaroo Scrotums Are the New Victims of Global Warming
Climate change is a huge concern for many, many reasons: the ice caps are melting, droughts are sweeping the world, and mega-hurricanes are striking cities that have never before had to weather such storms. But it’s only recently that climate change has threatened Australia’s hilarious but substantial kangaroo nutsack trade. The hopping marsupials’ scrotums, which are crafted into souvenir bottle-openers and key rings, have made manufacturer John Kreuger, hereby known (by me) as the King of Ballsacks, hundreds of thousands of dollars. These days, however, John’s trade is suffering due to a series of floods in Queensland—which some meteorologists believe to have been caused by climate change. The flooding has purportedly pushed kangaroos inland and away from the areas where they’re normally killed for their testicles. John told me how it feels to have his balls literally on the line.
VICE: How have the floods affected the scrote business?
John Kreuger: The older animals tend to sense weather patterns. They know it’s going to rain. They then head to the desert country away from cull areas, especially the big guys. Consequently, I’ve found it harder and harder to get people to supply me with the bigger scrotums I need.
Scientists are blaming the floods on climate change and saying that this has caused kangaroos to flee to habitats that would normally be of no interest to them. Do you believe global warming is the cause of the Great Kangaroo-Scrotum Shortage?
You’d have to be pretty dumb to not notice the signs. I’m 72, and if you talk to the older people, they say, “Oh, everything is changing, we weren’t getting these cyclones as regular as we are now.” A cyclone might have hit the coast once every seven years, but now it’s once every few. So many things are pointing to a change—scientists have been saying this for years.
Where are all the kangaroos heading now?
They head inland away from the lower-lying areas. By instinct or whatever, I don’t know, they know they can get trapped in the lowlands. The ones left behind are the younger, which are not so smart, and of course their scrotums are not big enough for what I need.
What will you do if they don’t come back?
I am stockpiling a lot of scrotums; I’ve probably got about 50,000 in storage. We process about 1,000 a week, so we have a 12-month supply there. And we’re buying them as soon as they become available. The basis of my successful business is having all products. If I haven’t got them, I’m out of business.
So you’re prepared for an environmental scrotum crisis of immense proportions?
I’m well aware of climate change. I think we create heat and it’s affecting the world. I plan ahead, but I take things one day at a time. I can afford to at my age.
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