Connecting the dots on the unfolding 6th Great Extinction

Todays guest on  Nature Bats Last is evolutionary biologist Professor Guy McPherson former host of the show. This latest episode is embedded here, please bare with the brief opening audio hiccups!


Professor McPherson and I discussed the tragic die off of Little Blue Penguins on the coast line around my home on Rakino Island and the Noises Island Group “Penguin habitat destroyed, chicks wiped out by storms battering New Zealand coastline” Sadly it’s adults as well as chicks that are sucumbing! The marine ecosystem is collapsing on my coastline now, not long off in the future.
“In 2014, one of New Zealand’s most respected scientists, Alison MacDiarmid, commented that, “Rock lobster was the third most trophically important benthic invertebrate group in the region [Hauraki Gulf ] before human arrival. Rock lobster are now the least important”. “Backing her is another scientist, marine ecologist Tim Haggit. In 2016 Haggit said the numbers of crayfish are so low in the Gulf that they no longer contribute to the marine ecology. Crayfish are “functionally extinct”.
A link to the marine heatwave in Tasman Sea breaking records which we discussed is embedded here

Professor McPherson mentioned the danger of a sea ice free Arctic occuring at any time and I quoted President Niinisto of Finland speaking in  North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’
Central to the discussion was the collapse of the global insect populations first covered on this blog in the November 2017 interview with Professor Paul Ehrlich.
Subsequently we have discovered that this aspect of the extinction event is also happening in Australia, France and no doubt world wide. Not only are we losing insects we are losing scientists to monitor the event: Fewer Scientists Are Studying Insects Here’s Why That’s So Dangerous
‘The sound of crickets could become a thing of the past’, imagine that?
Another important presentation from Professor Paul Ehrlich titled: The Present Mass Extinction: How do the Tropics Fit from which the quote about “Blizzards of moths” was derived.
“The 2016 version of WWF’s biennial Living Planet Report, published Thursday, found a 58 percent overall decline in vertebrate populations from 1970 to 2012, the latest year with available data. The nonprofit warned that if current trends continue, the world could lose more than two-thirds of wildlife by 2020.”
In case anyone thinks that the dominant culture has any intention to slow down the armageddon: “Within the next two years, more than 60 million acres of monarch habitat will be sprayed with an herbicide that’s extremely harmful to milkweed, the only food for monarch caterpillars, according to a new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity.” Via Desdemona Despair

“Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a historic high of 32.5 gigatons last year, after three years of being flat, due to higher energy demand and the slowing of energy efficiency improvements, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.”
So much for us taking capitalisms foot off the pedal! 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars

Also mentioned via Kevin Lister the author of The Vortex of Violence and Why we are losing the war on climate change:
The UN Talanoa Diaolgue is the key initiative that came from COP21, which said that “ambition must be increased on climate change to limit temperature rises to 1.5degC,” and it is the attempt to garner ideas and ways forward to this end.”
“Our submission to this has just gone in; a summary of the key points in the 70 pages that make it up are:
Atmospheric CO2 is already at unsurvivable levels which will lead to sea level rises of up to 30m and catastrophic temperature rises, yet it is still increasing at a rate that is faster than exponential.There is an unspoken paradox with climate change; as climate change intensifies then the increasing competitive rivalries between nations that it causes prevents the co-operation needed to agree to the mutual sacrifices needed for a zero carbon economy.The coal reefs started dying and the Arctic polar ice cap started melting in 1980 when CO2 was 336ppm, thus the world then was already well on the way to disaster. So, planning for a 1.50C temperature rise is a suicide note; this target needs to be replaced with a new target, which is that the maximum temperate rises should not exceed 0.5OC over the pre-industrial baseline. ANY temperature rise will lead to catastrophic heating due to the interacting nature of the amplifying effects such as methane, sea ice melt and increased water vapour content, so if the temperature increases to 1.50C (which is where we most likely are today) it will lead to unstoppable temperature increases. It also means that even the more radical 0.50C target that we propose could be too high.”
“NO measurable levels of CO2 have been sequestered by natural processes since the start of the industrial revolution and natural processes will take approximately 250,000 years to return the planet to an upper CO2 threshold of stability (approx 300ppm), and even at this level of CO2, then sea levels would be at least 10 meters higher than today. So even the emergence of a zero-carbon economy tomorrow would not help due to the persistence of legacy CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans.”
“There is a very high level of hysteresis (irreversibility) in the climate system caused by ocean heat content and ice albedo loss, but in particular due to the logarithmic relationship between CO2 and radiative forcing. The implications of this have been completely ignored by policy makers.”
“Proposed methods for CO2 removal from the atmosphere that the COP temperature projections are based on, such as BECCS and DAC are so fundamentally flawed, they are likely to add more CO2 to the atmosphere than they will take out.”
“The only way of removing CO2 is through bio enhancement, such as increasing carbon content in soils and biomass in the oceans, but natural limits means this will most likely take thousands of years to remove sufficient CO2 for a return to stability.”
“To survive we must immediately start a solar radiation management program, and marine cloud brightening is probably the only option, in as much that it is scalable, controllable and sustainable over long periods. The scale of the cooling needed will increase at least exponentially with delay, and as we will soon be at the point where the climatic changes under way will be irreversible then there is a moral imperative to make an immediate start.”
“The techniques that we develop now for climate restoration (cooling and bio enabled CO2 sequestration) must be capable of continued operation by future societies that have become dysfunctional due to the pressures imposed on them by climate change.”

Here’s the link to the Deep Green Bush School where I will be speaking next month:

To explain the dire predicament we find ourselves in Robin Westenra has just published this article showing with data from Sam Caranas’ excellent Arctic News blog that we are now at 1.73 C above the true baseline

Professor McPherson was interviewed for an article in the New York Magazine titled “The Unhabitable Earth” This article went on to become the most read article ever published by the magazine. In a total breach of journalist ethics David Wallace Wells failed to credit Professor McPhersons input.

At NBL we acknowledge what is happening in our dying biosphere and we refuse to lie to the youth.We are sleep walking to extinction. The true severity of the crisis can only be understood when you “Connect the Dots” and also remember that we do not know the whole story and the unknowns can only make the situation worse than we know. We are staring at the ultimate Black Swan event, one like no other.
Many thanks to the callers who phoned in with interesting, emotional responses. Managing our grief going forward will be one of our greatest challenges.
We’re Sleepwalking Ino A Mass Extinction’ Say Scientists

I'm an anti-imperialist, environmental activist and blue ocean sailor, who is passionate about the earth and all it's inhabitants without favour. Brace for imminent impact as we bare witness to the non-linear unraveling of the biosphere and habitability disappearing for most if not all complex life on the only habitable planet we know of. To quote President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’. Folks we have lost the Arctic.

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change, Collapse, Near Term Human Extinction--NTHE, Podcasts
62 comments on “Connecting the dots on the unfolding 6th Great Extinction
  1. Kevin Hester says:

    Many people concentrate on the charismatic species but it’s the small species that hold the biosphere together or should I say used to hold it together.


  2. Kevin Hester says:

    The corporate media like The Guardian are more recently covering the climate and extinction crisis but repeatedly projecting the catastrophe off into the distance.
    This closing paragraph is a classic example;
    “When I think at how this place will be in the next 50 years, it is extremely worrying.”

    What the dominant culture wants us to believe is these disasters are long off in the future, not unraveling non-linearly now.
    We all need to connect the dots, prepare for ‘Black Swan’ events and follow the precautionary principle.


  3. Kevin Hester says:

    There will be any number of authors considering how they will present this latest bit of new scientific data and how they will correct previous articles. I’ll just add this latest link from my co-host on Nature Bats Last detailing a missed extinction.
    What it does reflect is that we are still learning every day whilst we continue to conduct the biggest science experiment in history.


  4. Kevin Hester says:

    The evidence mounts and a new player on the scene connects the dots. None of us ever wanted Guy, Malcolm Light, Natalia Shakova or Sam Carana to be right.


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Kevin Hester

Kevin Hester is currently living on Rakino Island, a small island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand, monitoring the unravelling of the biosphere and volunteering at the Rakino Island Nursery is currently developing a proposal to create a marine reserve near by. The Island has no grid tied electricity or reticulated water.  I catch my own water from the roof and generate my electricity from the ample solar radiation on the island.

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