The World of 2108

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson (Co-Founder of Greenpeace)

I was asked recently what I thought the world would be like in 100 years. The question was meant to solicit if I am an optimist or a pessimist.
The fact is that I am neither an optimist nor am I a pessimist. I am an ecologist which means that I view the world through the eyes of the laws of ecology and I try to do so as objectively as possible. I have faith in the laws of ecology, and I believe that these laws will ensure that the planet takes care of itself for billions of years more as it has for a few billion years already.
I actually find all the hysteria over global warming and climate change to be somewhat amusing. As an environmentalist I was speaking and writing about this problem thirty years ago. Of course my opinions were dismissed then as were other voices of ecological realism.
It just made sense to me back then that if we pump carbon into the atmosphere in the volumes we have been doing for over a century that there would be serious ecological consequences.
(Read on Below)
The present annual release of carbon through the combustion of fossil fuels is around 5.6 billion tons in the form of carbon dioxide. The annual release of carbon from deforestation is another 2 to 3 billion tons. The amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from the livestock industry is an additional 1.5 billion tons. The atmosphere presently contains about 750 billion tons of carbon and another 2000 billion tons is contained in organic materials on and in the Earth and in the sea.
Photosynthesis on land absorbs about 100 billion tons of carbon annually. Prior to industrialization the amount of carbon absorbed by living organisms on land and in the seas was pretty much equal to the amount of carbon released by living organisms. The species homo sapiens has changed this by releasing approximately 3 billion tons more carbon annually than can now be absorbed.
An increase in temperature by even 1% Centigrade will increase respiration of carbon by 30 to 40%. Absorption however will not be affected by any significant percentage. Thus as the atmosphere gets warmer the effect on global warming will be acceleration and the melting of glaciers and ice caps will accelerate this process even more.
As biota, or the mass of non-human organisms is diminished, the rate of absorption will further decline causing an even greater amount of carbon to be released.
Thus diminishment of biomass diversity is a major factor contributing to global warming.
What makes our present situation so alarming is that we are moving from a relatively slow period of global warming to an accelerated period. Life adapts to slowing changing conditions but adapts with greater difficulty to faster ecological changes. In other words there is little time for transition and what would normally take millennium or centuries to occur will now take place within the context of decades.
Release of carbon through decay of biomass because of increased temperatures will soon exceed the release from fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels was simply the trigger for an even more massive release of carbon stored in the form of vegetation and living organisms. Increased temperatures will lead to more forest fires, more crop failures and changing oceanic currents causing massive plankton die-offs. Other factors are ozone depletion and acidification of the oceans.
Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions and this includes 9% carbon dioxide and 37 percent of all methane released and 65 percent of all nitrous oxide. These emissions exceed those of the entire transportation industry.
Eating a steak contributes more towards global warming than driving a car.
Methane and nitrous oxide are a cause for major concern. Methane has 23 times the global warming potential of CO2 and nitrous oxide has 296 times the warming potential of CO2.
Most of the gases that will be released due to rising temperatures and the thawing of the permafrost will be methane.
Although most people remain ignorant of the organic chemistry of Gaia, the world has woken up and discovered that yes there is a global warming problem and it is amusing to see just how surprised everyone seems to be.
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