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Abrupt Climate Change: A Shallow Dip Displaying the Complexity of Climate Change

By Keith Antonysen

On a New Zealand radio station Guy McPherson suggested that humans would be extinct within 10 years, he made these comments on 24 November 2016. (1) McPherson thankfully is an outlier in the concept of human extinction in such a short time frame.

Other commentators debunk McPherson (2); though, in research terms the referred article has been bypassed by new research. Powell, when assessing climate science journals suggested that there are something like 12,000 peer reviewed articles published each year (3).

In 2016 meta Reports have been published in relation to the Oceans (4 ), the state of the Arctic (5), and a UNEP Report on Emissions (6 ). These Reports have used hundreds of references, and represent the work of numerous climate scientists. It is facile to merely write these major Reports off with the comment that they belong to some kind of conspiracy which has an ideological basis, or they are being promoted for monetary reasons. The Reports rely on observed data, satellite data, and modelling.

All of these meta Reports have as an underlying theme of CO2 being a greenhouse gas. Already in the 1850s Eunice Foote was experimenting with CO2 and found that the interaction of light and CO2 created warmth (7).

The lead comments from chapter 2 of the Oceans Report states:

“Rapid and substantial reduction of CO2 emissions is required in order to prevent the massive and effectively irreversible impacts on ocean ecosystems and their services.”

“It is thus of critical importance that changes in the ocean are taken into account in climate talks, and a relevant architecture for this must now be developed. “ (8)

Also, from the Executive Summary:

“Sea surface temperature, ocean heat content, sea-level rise, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations are increasing at an accelerating rate with significant consequences for humanity and the marine species and ecosystems of the ocean.” (9).

The Report comments on how there are already changes in Oceans providing difficulties for coral reefs, trouble for particular species and ecosystems. These matters need to be dealt with in a changing and uncertain future (10).

Through the warming of Oceans there has been significant changes in the distribution of sea weeds. Warm water based sea weeds have moved their habitat range from 26 to 1,250 kilometres North and South of the Equator from environments they had traditionally been found at (11).

An assertion from UNEP Report: “The strengthened long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement require even stronger actions than previously identified, calling for accelerated efforts pre-2020, as well as increasing the ambition of the Nationally Determined Contributions. “ (12)

The Oceans and UNEP Reports provide information that indicate the enormity of the scale of climate change; in relation to Oceans normally sea level rise and acidification are discussed; whereas the Oceans Report extends discussion through broaching aspects of flora and fauna, some examples being micro-organisms, plankton, sea weeds, sea birds, and marine animals. The UNEP Report stresses the need for more action to be completed by nations to keep emissions lower than discussed at COP21 in Paris.

In relation to the Arctic “The fact that the Arctic is changing fast is well known: extent of sea ice, the condition of the Greenland ice sheet, the unusually warm temperatures are all widely reported – as are the new shipping routes opening up, and the oil exploration efforts. Less prominent, but also reported, are the stories of Indigenous Peoples whose livelihoods are disappearing, or whose villages are becoming uninhabitable.” (13) The Arctic Resilience Report discusses a number of changes; including shift to ice free summers, collapse of fisheries, and changes in the landscape (14).The Arctic is subject to human driven climate change which has an impact on risk factors in the Arctic Region (15).

A matter of concern: “The great ice sheet of Greenland was long believed to be resistant to climate change, as it takes thousands of years to respond to changing conditions. Recent observations suggest, however, that major changes in the dynamics of parts of the ice sheet are occurring over time scales of only years. The ice has been thinning at rates higher than expected due to warmer summers as atmospheric temperatures rise.” (16)

The ABC (US) found some stark comments in the Arctic Resilience Report: “While some changes, such as warming temperatures, are gradual, others, such as the collapse of ice sheets, have the potential to be not only abrupt, but also irreversible,” says the Arctic Resilience Report. “This means the integrity of Arctic ecosystems is increasingly challenged, with major implications for Arctic communities and for the world as a whole.” (17).

Temperatures have been extremely high in the Arctic over the last months with measures being up to 20C above normal. (18) (19).

In conclusion, it is very difficult to do justice to the meta Reports discussed; the aim of these comments was to display the complexity of climate change. Clearly, many matters which have a bearing on what is happening in relation to climate have not been discussed. The meta Reports provide some optimism providing real attempts are made to reduce carbon emissions. Though real efforts to create change have not yet occurred, McPherson states that extinction is inevitable; a more likely situation is that the carrying capacity of humans, and flora and fauna species on Earth will be heavily reduced.









(9) ibid

(10) ibid

(11) ibid

(12) (through second hyperlink)


(14) ibid

(15) ibid

(16) ibid




Keith Antonysen is retired. He is a keen gardener, photographer, and recreational fisher. The Vietnam War and later the flooding of Lake Pedder created an interest in politics which led to a passion for social justice issues. Currently very concerned about lack of action on climate change. Not a paid up member of any Political Party.

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  1. stephentardrew

    Great article.

  2. Stephen Griffin

    10 years isn’t such an unrealistic POV IMO. This summer will see major changes to the world’s climate, and, based on what we are seeing thus far, I’m convinced a major climate catastrophe is just around the corner.

  3. Keith


    Mainstream scientists certainly are not suggesting extinction in ten years.

  4. Pingback: Abrupt Climate Change: A Shallow Dip Displaying the Complexity of Climate Change. — The AIM Network – law260

  5. John Brame

    There are others out there giving humans not much longer to go. Dr James Lovelock (gaia theory fame) believes catastrophe is inevitable, carbon offsetting is a joke and ethical living a sham. James Lovelock says in addition to the increasing Co2 warming the planet, we have clear felled the lungs (forests) of the earth. His estimate is about 20 years before the shit hits the fan. His conclusion is enjoy it while you can.

  6. Blinky Ewok

    Last time I had a conversation with a climate scientist, he said his research over the last 20 years had convinced him that human life on this planet will be extinct within 200 years.
    No wonder a consortium of physicists and billionaires are developing tech to build a space habitat to orbit out near the moon.

  7. Harquebus

    A pretty good summary of what is happening now and is only going to get worse. Some of the potential consequences not mentioned are even scarier.
    “increasing at an accelerating rate”This is what most do not get.

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” — Prof. Albert Bartlett

    Rations and quotas, economic decline, high unemployment, population control measures and severe reductions in living standards which, includes sacrificing infrastructure are some of what is required to address this issue and as yet, none are on any list of things to do.


  8. Johno

    It seems so hard to imagine humanity taking the much needed change in lifestyle to reduce / reverse co2 output. The graph showing the increase in co2 in the last decade is going off the effing scale. Australia per capita is on par or above the US with co2 emissions. We are very lucky the average Indian or Chinese person does not live like the average Australian..
    Whoops, I am late for my flight to Paris. Need to do a spot of shopping, can’t miss the latest fashions. (sarcasm)

  9. Keith


    A problem with meta Reports is that they use peer reviewed papers as references; it can take up to a year before papers are published in journals through the peer review process.

    In the meantime we have a situation such as:

    The Tech Times article can be wrongly put down as variation in weather by deniers.

    A very worrying abstract in relation to paeoclimate about to be published:

  10. Johno

    Keith.. Yes, methane hydrate never gets much of a mention. The melting of the permafrost by increased Co2/warming is releasing more and more methane which is many times stronger than co2. MS is still getting to grips with co2, soon they will have to understand about methane hydrate.

  11. Anomander

    Add to this methane, reduction in surface albedo, oxygen deprivation in the oceans and acidification and we could be looking at the collapse of the marine ecosystem well within 20-30 years. And considering how many billions rely on the sea as a primary food source, mass migrations and wars over land, water and food is almost inevitable.

    I recently read a George Monbiot article about how we are so poorly managing our soils, some scientists are predicting we only have around 50-60 harvests left before they are depleted.

    All this is well within the lifetime of our children and grandchildren – is this really the legacy we want to leave them?

  12. Harquebus

    Thanks for the links.

    “Nevertheless, forget all of the handwringing over 2°C, or 1.5°C for that matter, because humongous problems are already here, right now!”
    “We have reason to believe that such emissions may change the climate. This is due to the fact that the reserves of methane under the submarine permafrost exceed the methane content in the atmosphere by many thousands of times”
    “At some point in time, that’s immensely problematic for life on Earth. Still, nobody really knows for sure when runaway global warming hits hard, 5 years, 20 years, 100 years. It happens unannounced!”
    “the planet hasn’t even come close to hitting the 2° C marker, yet all hell is breaking lose!”

    The Arctic Goes Bonkers

  13. michael lacey

    We will be having the changes whether we like it or not ! Our question is how best to adjust and for some that will be impossible!
    What I still find amazing with humans is that quite a number still believe no problem exists amazing!

  14. John Brame

    One way to convince yourself that nothing is happening is to go diving in the most southern areas of the small barrier reef.

  15. Harquebus

    “This means that even if all human fossil fuel emissions were halted immediately, soils would continue to release approximately the same amount of CO2 and methane emissions as the amount produced by the fossil fuel industry during the mid-20th century.”
    “The discovery of the soil feedback loop intensifies concerns about our rapidly warming climate. Increasing soil respiration — also known as “the compost bomb” — is set to add between 30 and 55 billion tons of extra CO2 to the atmosphere over the next 35 years, as Earth’s temperature warming approaches 2C.”

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