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What we talk about when we talk about climate change

Being a reasonable person is becoming a radical position. Having a conscience is becoming an activity for insurrectionists. If you agree with any of the following, look out, you might be put on some kind of watch list of people who trust scientific consensus.

We now live in a geologic era known as the Anthropocene: "The age of humans." Coming from geologists, this is not congratulations for a job well done.

The International Union of Geological Sciences has confirmed: human industrial activity has altered; even at nearly undetectable levels the geology of the planet.

Among the other detritus (steel, sports stadia, asphalt) of industrial civilization -- now a global force -- activity associated with industrial civilization (like deforestation or the burning of fossil fuels) has altered many other functions of the planet's ecosystems. Additionally and perhaps importantly moving forward, a changing atmospheric chemistry causing irreversible consequences through the activation of "feedback loops."

In 2016, another atmospheric carbon milestone was produced. This time, a permanent threshold was passed. The NASA observatory at Mauna Loa, Hawaii recorded a yearly low concentration of atmospheric carbon above 400 parts per million. You and I will never see an atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere below 400ppm again in our lifetime.

A decade ago, climate scientists agreed that 350 parts per million was the "safe" level of atmospheric carbon that will not affect drastically the earth system -- the complex net of relations (ecology) of large ecosystems that sustain life. Now with the concentration above 400, they are suggesting the new safe level could be 450ppm.

However, if methane (CH4) is added to the atmospheric carbon load, thinkers like Guy McPherson suggest we are "already above" 500ppm, a level not experienced by humans in the last 11,700 years (since the global emergence of agriculture). Meaning: we are in terra incognita.

In Janurary, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved their "Doomsday Clock" up thirty seconds, now set to 2 minutes and 30 seconds to midnight. The last time the clock was this close to midnight was in 1954, when the United States and Russia both tested nuclear weapons within one year of each other. A spokesperson for the Bulletin said they moved the clock up because of the "disrespect of expertise" (regarding climate scientists) and the dangerous rhetoric from the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

Spring came early in the southeastern United States this year. The U.S. National Phenology Network released a map on February 2 depicting many southern states experiencing budding and flowering of trees and flowers more than 20 days before what has typically been


Children are already being born into a world where they ask, "What did clean water taste like?" or "What's a tree?" or "What color was the sky?"

If the majority of people in this country continue to systematically reject or ignore events and evidence that illustrate the growing evidence of the reality of climate change, not only will we have invoked disaster, we will deserve it.

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