Propaganda and Alarmism - Could it really get this bad?

When previewing “The Climate Trail” some have questioned the premise of the game, that climate change has devastated cities and killed off as many as 90% of the world’s population.

On the surface that does sound ‘alarmist.’ So where does this ‘crazy’ scenario come from? Does it have any basis in fact?

Sadly it does. Here’s some evidence that the world portrayed in “The Climate Trail” is a possibility, particularly if current trends in carbon emissions and deforestation continue.

Here’s an excellent writeup on what could cause a Climate Apocolypse

What Lies Beneath, The Understatement Of Existential Climate Risk

Temperature rises that are now in prospect, after the Paris Agreement, are in the range of 3–5°C. At present, the Paris Agreement voluntary emission reduction commitments, if implemented, would result in planetary warming of 3.4°C by 2100,30without taking into account “long-term” carbon- cycle feedbacks. With a higher climate sensitivityfigure of 4.5°C, for example, which wouldaccount for such feedbacks, the Paris path would result in around 5°C of warming, according to

a MIT study.

If climate change was to reach 3°C, most of Bangladesh and Florida would drown, whilemajor coastal cities — Shanghai, Lagos, Mumbai — would be swamped, likely creating large flows of climate refugees. Most regions in the world would see a significant drop infood production and increasing numbers of extreme weather events, whether heat waves,floods or storms. This likely scenario for a 3°Crise does not take into account the considerable risk that self-reinforcing feedback loops set in when a certain threshold is reached, leading

to an ever increasing rise in temperature. Potential thresholds include the melting of the Arctic permafrost releasing methane into the atmosphere, forest dieback releasing the carbon currently stored in the Amazon and boreal forests, or the melting of polar ice caps that would no longer reflect away light and heatfrom the sun.

- The Global Challenges Foundation (GCF)

Warming of 4°C or more could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90%, and the World Bank reports “there is no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible”.36 Prof.Kevin Anderson says a 4°C future “is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable”. This is a commonly-held sentiment amongst climate scientists. A recent study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre found that if the global temperature rose 4°C, then extreme heatwaves with “apparent temperatures” peaking at over 55°C will begin to regularly affect many densely populated parts of the world, forcing much activity in the modern industrial world to stop.

A 2007 report on climate change and national security by the US Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security recognized that: “Recent observations indicate that projections from climate models have been too conservative; the effects

of climate change are unfolding faster and more dramatically than expected” and that “multiple lines of evidence” support the proposition that the 2007 IPCC reports’ “projections of both warming and attendant impacts are systematically biased low”. For instance:

“ The models used to project future warming either omit or do not account for uncertainty
in potentially important positive feedbacks that could amplify warming (e.g., release of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost, reduced ocean and terrestrial CO2 removal from the atmosphere), and there is some evidence that such feedbacks may already be occurring in response to the present warming trend. Hence, climate models may underestimate the degree

of warming from a given amount of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere by human activities alone. Additionally, recent observations of climate system responses to warming (e.g., changes in global ice cover, sea-level rise, tropical storm activity) suggest that IPCC models underestimate the responsiveness of some aspects of the climate system to a given amount of warming.”

“ While climate models incorporate important climate processes that can be well quantified, they do not include all of the processes that can contribute to feedbacks, compound extreme events, and abrupt and/or irreversible changes. For this reason, future changes outside the range projected by climate models cannot be ruled out. Moreover, the systematic tendency of climate models to underestimate temperature change during warm paleoclimates suggests that climate models are more likely to underestimate than to overestimate the amount of long-term future change.”

So what are the feedback loops that could hurl us into this apocalyptic scenario?

The world’s permafrost holds 1.5 trillion tons of frozen carbon, more than twice the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. On land, it covers an area of 15 million square kilometres. The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, and some permafrost degradation is already occurring.Large-scale tundra wildfires in 2012 added to theconcern, as have localised methane outbursts.

Phil Duffy, the Director of the Woods Hole Institute had this to say about Permafrost:

“the best example of reticence is permafrost... It’s absolutely essential that this feedback loop not get going seriously, if it does there is simply no way to control it.” 

“none of this is in climate models and none of this is considered in the climate policy discussion... climate models simply omit emissions from the warming permafrost, but we know that is the wrong answer because that tacitly assumes that these emissions are zero and we know that’s not right”

And from: Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic

Key Takeaways:

  • The Arctic permafrost melt now exceeding maximum thaw depth projected for 2090.

  • This permafrost contains 4x the total amount of CO2 we've put into the atmosphere plus untold amounts of methane and other stuff.

and finally:

The Dangerous Methane Mystery

Twice the amount of CH4 that is already in the atmosphere equals a CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) of 560 ppm, assuming CH4 is 150x’s the potency of CO2 in its initial years. And, adding that new number to current CH4/CO2e of 280 ppm to current CO2 levels of 415.7 ppm, according to readings at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, equals total atmospheric CO2 of 1256 ppm.

In other words, if ESAS (East Siberian Arctic Shelf) springs a big fat leak, the Big Burp, which would only be <5% of the existing frozen methane deposit; it is possible that atmospheric CO2e would zoom up go as high as 1256 ppm.

That would put us well beyond 5ºC warming.

So is “The Climate Trail” realistic? I contend it’s as realistic as the nuclear armegeddon as portrayed in “On The Beach.”

Alarmist? More like alarming. Let’s hope the game moves people to action.

William Volk