Beyond Survival; Planetary Death and Climate Disaster

I just read a fascinating post from a series about planetary death. The whole series sounds fascinating for a sci-fi nerd like me, but of course I started with the post about climate disasters.

The phrase climate disaster sounds so unusual, since we have usually focused on global warming and climate change. But the ominous phrase is more accurate, as disaster doesn’t always mean warming.

The author, Sean Raymond, explains there are four stable climates. Immediately, this description draws my attention to a serious implication; unstable climates. Climate change is likely referring to an unstable climate, and the host of increasingly dire storms is part of an unstable climate.

But we know from the laws of the universe, that stable is the goal. Entropy is always leading the universe back to a steady state. Yes, things change, but then that change becomes the norm. Earth, like the universe, will get to a steady climate, to any of the four steady climates that are possible.

Unfortunately, this climate is the only one that sustains life like ours.

There are ice ages, deep freezes, or what the author referred to as snowball climate. Most life cannot survive these temperatures, but our planet is made in such a way that it can come back from an ice age, like it has many times before. And since some life survives, eventually there is another thriving ecosystem.

Apparently, life can’t come back if Earth moves to one of the other two steady climates; the hot ones. If earth because “Steamball Earth,” the planet will be above boiling temperature, Earth’s water becomes vapor, and nothing can survive. Then, there’s the even hotter “Dry, Roasted Earth,” where the vapor becomes even hotter and basically boils away, leaving a planet without water.

Our earth is warming because of greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect. This warming isn’t really part of a stable climate, and eventually will warm to a point that flips the switch, and makes the planet change to a new, steady climate. According to Raymond, this switch will be flipped when the CO2 levels are 12 times what they are right now, from a pessimistic point of view, or 100-1000 times the current level from an optimistic point of view.

But that change is very bad for us, and we have to figure out how to stop climate change, and stay right here in our nice pleasant climate.

Well, unless you’re a pessimistic like me. I think the switch already flipped. Enjoy the next twelve years!

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