Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the Co2 Crisis?

By David Ray Griffin | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

The world is now experiencing unprecedented challenges.”

– U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, January 2013

It’s the unprecedented speed with which
we’re changing the climate that is so worrisome
.”

– Michael Mann, 2013


Global Warming and Climate Change

The term “global warming” refers to the phenomenon of the Earth’s average temperature becoming warmer, which occurs because the planet’s energy has been out of balance. “This energy imbalance is the difference between the amount of solar energy absorbed by Earth and the amount of energy the planet radiates to space as heat,” explained the world’s best-known climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, who had long headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “If the imbalance is positive, more energy coming in than going out, we can expect Earth to become warmer in the future.”1

This positive imbalance began with the industrial revolution. It initiated the heavy use of fossil fuels, which emit gases that are called “greenhouse gases” (GHG), because they trap heat from the sun, preventing it from returning to space. To grasp the importance of the current warming of our planet, it is necessary to reflect upon the context in which this is occurring.


Civilization and the Holocene

The most recent glacial period (popularly called an “ice age”) began about 110,000 years ago. About 19,000 years ago, the Earth started to warm up, because of changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun. By 11,700 years ago, these changes brought about a transition from the glacial epoch to an “interglacial” one, called the Holocene epoch, which brought the partial melting of glaciers, the formation of lakes, and the spreading of forests across much of the planet. It was in this context, about 10,000 years ago, that human civilization began.

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Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the Co2 Crisis?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Table of Contents 5
  • Preface 8
  • Part I - Unprecedented Threats 9
  • Introduction 11
  • 1 - Extreme Weather 24
  • 2 - Heat Waves 33
  • 3 - Droughts and Wildfires 40
  • 4 - Storms 54
  • 5 - Sea-Level Rise 68
  • 6 - Fresh Water Shortage 80
  • 7 - Food Shortage 94
  • 8 - Climate Refugees 106
  • 9 - Climate Wars 118
  • 10 - Ecosystem Collapse and Extinction 134
  • Part II - Unprecedented Challenges and Failures 151
  • 11 - Climate Change Denial 153
  • 12 - Media Failure 181
  • 13 - Political Failure 200
  • 14 - Moral Challenge 227
  • 15 - Religious Challenge 244
  • 16 - Economic Challenge 264
  • Part III - What Is to Be Done 301
  • 17 - The Transition to Clean Energy 303
  • 18 - The Abolition of Dirty Energy 362
  • 19 - Mobilization 391
  • 20 - Conclusion 421
  • EndNotes 425
  • Acknowledgments 503
  • Index 504
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