Are We Past the Point of No Return? IPCC 2021 Report

August 14, 2021
Blog,

“There is something in the human spirit that will survive and prevail, there is a tiny and brilliant light burning in the heart of man that will not go out no matter how dark the world becomes.” – Leo Tolstoy.

The world is, quite literally, on fire.  There have been once-a-lifetime fires across the globe as temperatures bake traditionally wetter environments.  Greece is currently baking under one of the worst heat waves in decades, as they fight 586 wildfires in all corners of the country.  Wildfires rage in Turkey, Russia, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Brazil, Lebanon, Sicily, and Syria.  In California, the Dixie fire is already the second-largest in that state’s history at the time of recording this video.  It has consumed a half-million acres, burned nine-hundred structures to the ground , is only twenty percent contained, and has cast a pall of smoke and ash over a thousand miles from its source.  More than 100 large fires are burning across fourteen states right now.  More than three hundred wildfires raged across British Columbia just last month.  This summer, countries in the northern hemisphere are experiencing unprecedented heat and the worst wildfires in years of recorded history.  Massive areas of land and entire towns in Europe, North America, and Russia have been consumed and decimated by flames since the start of July, and the real hot, scorching, and drying weather for most is still a month away.  Think about that for a minute.  We’re not even in what’s considered fire season, yet we’re already setting records.  

The IPCC 2021 Report was just released this week discussing these exact issues and the conclusion is, well, depressing at best. The devastating cycle of gasses released from these once-in-a-lifetime fires driving up global temperatures and creating even hotter and drier conditions in future years cannot be denied.  Though the science is ignored by many, that’s not going to extinguish any future fires.  Are we at a point of no return?  Have we crossed the tipping point?  Can we alter our destiny at this point or prep in any way to at least ensure our own survival in a burning world?  In this video, I will examine the crisis we face as tiny humans in a larger ecosystem and provide you with a practical prepping strategy to create for yourself a more certain future.  So, let’s jump in…

CLIMATE CHANGE

There, I said it.  The two C words that trigger so many so passionately.  You can call it whatever you like.  You can argue that the causes are man-made or some part of a larger natural cycle that plays out over epochs of time.  You can point to geological cycles before the last ice age when man didn’t even walk the Earth.  You can argue that it’s from greenhouse gasses or natural solar cycles.  You can say the fire’s sparking source is arsonists, lightning, power lines, mismanaged forests, or whatever.  None of that is relevant to the reality of the resulting fires.  You can race to the comments section now and post your internet research that explains it all away as an orchestrated agenda or as nothing important at all.  These debates are in the minutiae of it all and fail to see the scientific data’s bigger picture.  The debate of causes avoids genuinely looking at what we face and devising a strategy to meet the threat.  The mathematician Archimedes posited that with a sufficient fulcrum and long enough lever, he could lift the world.  Mathematically, he’s not wrong, but it would put him very far from our planet to gain the proper leverage to enact the feat.  So, the Archimedes point, or God’s eye view, has become known as the full perspective view of any debate, especially one so embroiled in passionate rhetoric like climate change is.  

This blog will focus on the undeniable reality of what we can currently observe happening in our world.  So, if we look at just the facts we can glean from our own Archimedian point, we cannot deny that global temperatures are rising.  We cannot deny that after periods of extreme volcanism or comet strikes, global temperatures have fluctuated.  We cannot deny that industrialization and the trappings of modern living have led to some uptick in harmful emissions and temperature increases.  We cannot deny that glaciers and ice packs are melting.  We cannot deny the higher levels of methane are being released from thawing permafrost.  Science shows that large quantities of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gasses in the atmosphere create a greenhouse effect, raise temperatures, and acidify oceans as they struggle to sequester it from the atmosphere.  The European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said fires in Europe had unleashed 505 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere—already surpassing 2020’s record for emissions released in an entire fire season.  You don’t have to believe the scientists because your belief won’t change the data.  You can go to satellite imagery of the fires, temperatures, and CO2 and see for yourself that all of them are increasing. 

But have we reached a point of no return?  Are we all just doomed?  Are we strapped to our seats as the Earth’s climate hurdles over a cliff to our own extinction?  Can we change course?  This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report declaring a “code red for humanity.”  Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC.  The IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks.  The most recent, sixth report indicates that even if all of humankind completely altered their course and actively sought to scientifically and mechanically reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere, temperatures would continue to increase for at least the next 50 years.  

All the five scenarios outlined in the over 3,000-page report indicate continued warming.  Three of the five scenarios, which also factor in attempts to mitigate the rise, reveal the likelihood of exceeding 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over pre-industrial times.  That may not seem like a big jump to many.  Imagine sitting in your house during a heatwave, and it is suddenly almost 4 degrees warmer than the low temperature you set your thermostat at.  You would feel that almost instantly.  The kind of heatwave that used to happen only once every 50 years now occurs once a decade.  If the world warms as predicted, that once-in-a-lifetime heatwave will happen twice every seven years.  That once-in-a-lifetime heatwave will now occur 16 times over an average person’s life expectancy.  Heat waves kill more people in the United States than any other form of extreme weather.

That almost 4-degree rise in temperature is enough to destroy crops, puts copious amounts of evaporate moisture in the air, leading to floods for many, all the while depriving some areas all together through prolonged droughts and heatwaves.  It’s a global-level event that will lead to food shortages, massive migrations, and devastating natural disasters.  There is, literally, no safe place on Earth that will remain unimpacted, no matter how remotely you may feel you are.  No matter how hard you deny it or push it out of your mind or dismiss it, the effects of a shifting climate will come to your doorstep.  So, can you even do anything?  The answer is both yes and no.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Here’s the reason you can’t do anything to alter the planet’s fate at this point.  You could reduce your carbon footprint, snuff your fires, take shallow breaths, switch to renewable energy, walk everywhere, eat less meat, or whatever. Still, you won’t be able to alter the planet’s fate at this point individually.  You could even get your whole community, State, or country to follow suit, and you would only manage to reduce the magnitude of our fate just slightly, if at all.  And, it isn’t likely that you will see the world ultimately unite in a concerted effort to improve the climate.  

So, the world isn’t going to change in pace with the dramatic changes, and you can’t change enough to have an impact.  You could buckle up and close your eyes and pray, or you could at least try and steer your piece of the world in a more stable direction; and that is the core principle of prepping– creating self-sufficiency and independence away from failing systems.  You have to prepare for at least a half-century, if not more of a changing climate.  That’s a daunting task at first broach and one that 90% or more of the people won’t undertake until it is too late to do so.  If you are prepping now, you are likely already prepping for the three core insecurities that an altered climate will bring– food, water, and energy insecurities.

FOOD

In Walla Walla, home of the famous and sweet Walla Walla onion, 80% of the crop was wiped out this year because of the once-in-a-lifetime heatwave.  As measured by the thickness of the air column over British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, the core of the heat dome was – statistically speaking – equivalent to a 1-in-1,000-year event or even a 1-in-10,000-year event.  At least this year, that’s how we are defining it.  The 20% of the onion crop that was harvested was harvested early before the heatwave hit.  Even next year’s seed crop was wiped out.  Though this is just one area with one notably harvested product, it is indicative of a growing food scarcity crisis.  While some crops fail from heat, others will succumb to floods, others from sudden and prolonged frosts as patterns of severe weather cycle slowly from one polar extreme to the other.  While it might be easy right now to simply replace your Walla Walla onion with a Maui Sweet onion or Vadalia onion,  the effect on the supply and demand, price inflation, and further weather extremes will continue to plague crop after crop for decades into the future.

For the next century, crops will dramatically fail with increasingly more regularity.  When feed crops fail, meat production is reduced.  When staple grain crops fail, manufacturing has to slow, raw materials become scarce, and prices and demand skyrocket.  The personal ways you can combat this are to store food, practice food preservation techniques, and broaden what you eat by learning to forage, hunt, fish, or grow your own foods.  Farmers can’t just shift from corn to Amaranth and keep pace with significant climate oscillations.  Likewise, your food security in the future depends on your ability to set aside, store and preserve, grow and produce, and broaden yourself from a narrow reliance upon the few staple items you see on the shelves of your local grocery store.  While you will still suffer the effects of crop failures in the future, your suffering will be eased somewhat by the preps and knowledge you are building today.

WATER

The result of a slowing jet stream, high heat, and more evaporated moisture in the atmosphere will result in long periods of drought in one area while another area gets an unprecedented deluge of rain.  As the patterns shift to more extreme cycles, some areas will dry out, and the water demand will be high, even life-threatening and politically destabilizing.  Other regions will suffer from an overabundance of precipitation, and floods and blizzards will wreak havoc on the land and people who live there.  Our municipal water supplies, aqueducts, and hydroelectric dams were all planned and built during a time of relative climate stability.

Now, we see hydroelectric dams having to go offline because water levels are too low.  We see farmers having to surrender their crops to mother nature because droughts have destroyed them.  We see municipalities struggling to meet the water demands of their citizens, and we see the underground water table levels dropping and drying out wells.  When the water does return in copious amounts ending the cycle, we can’t store it, channel it effectively, or keep it from simply running off the land, sweeping away everything it picks up on its way to the ocean.

You can’t stop drinking water.  You and your future generations will all need it to survive.  So your water preps should have a three-pronged approach. Store, collect and treat.  For short to mid-range disasters, you need to have stored up the 1-gallon per person per day you need to survive minimally.  Fortunately, you can do the math and determine how many days you have based on how many water containers you have filled and stored away.  You can also factor in how much you could stretch that and reduce that minimum if you were in a life-threatening and rationing situation.  

Even with that, though, most people cannot store the water they need for months, years, or decades.  If you are one of those people, you also need to ensure you have the means to collect water when it falls from the heavens.  Any form of precipitation collection strategy and equipment will be an advantage to you.  If your gutters drain into the ground, buy a rain barrel or two.  If your land permits it, consider steel or plastic rain harvesting tanks.  Even if you are currently seeing rain clouds on the horizon and definitely if you haven’t seen a rain cloud in a while, consider some large-scale water collection and storage solution, from a 50-gallon water barrel to a 250-gallon underground water cistern to a 40,000 gallon underground potable water tank.  Find a solution that is right for you.

Finally, you need to treat the water you do manage to collect from the environment.  Know how to and have the equipment to treat and filter water for short-term disasters but also for the inevitable long-term disasters coming your way over the next half-century.  That stream, lake, creek, or river isn’t drinkable in its current state, and demand upstream could dry it out for you and leave you searching for alternate sources.  Maybe your solution is a portable filtration straw, a homemade filtration system, or other means, but make sure that you have a means of rendering the water you do collect drinkable.  While others are fighting over drops during any future extreme times, you will have what you need. 

ENERGY

Energy independence isn’t as simple as personally going without electricity and returning to the centuries-old wood-burning and steam engine ways.  While that may be a solution for a few rural folks aptly equipped and with a healthy supply of fuel resources, it’s an impractical transition for the masses.  Apartment, condo, even suburban dwellers, and exurban dwellers who constitute well over eighty percent of all Americans won’t be able to switch gears.  This was evidenced in the Snowmaggedon, as it has been called, that befell Texas and plunged millions into freezing temperatures without electricity and fuel.

Prepping for energy independence in a rapidly changing world requires you to assess your minimal power needs, be capable of generating what you need, and be capable of storing what you need.  Just like food, you should have some means and capabilities by obtaining energy from the wild.  Solar or wind are affordable alternative sources.  A small solar battery or more significant solar generator is another step in long-term energy security.  A more expensive but securer option is a home energy storage system coupled with a solar energy solution.  I recently installed one of these whole-house solutions, which I will discuss in another video.  Shortly after I was up and running with it, the power went out in my neighborhood.  I didn’t even notice.  When the power goes out, as it will with greater frequency, you have to have the minimum power needed to get you through.  One of these future outages is going to last significantly longer than anyone is prepared for.  This will cause all those around you to panic and struggle to survive by whatever means necessary.

While governments shift energy production like Japan is moving to commercially produced hydrogen power after the disaster of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, it probably won’t be fast enough or efficient enough to keep energy flowing.  Even though California companies know they have to bury thousands of miles of power lines because wildfires and sustained high winds have increased in recent years, it doesn’t mean that they’ll get it done in our lifetimes, if at all.

Assess your minimal power needs and work to develop a short-term, think days and weeks disaster solution.  Then look for a more long-term and more permanent solution to fulfill those minimal needs.

CONCLUSION

If it is so inevitable an outcome, should we sit by and do nothing, throw our hands in the air, and stop even trying to reduce energy consumption, switch to renewable energies, and actively science up pulling harmful C02 from the air and cleaning the oceans?  I don’t suggest we do.  If you are a prepper, “sitting by” isn’t a phrase you use.  It’s also a little late in the game and more than a little useless to continue the debate about causes, though most will.

As a prepper, you need to accept that a problematic but survivable future is in front of you.  You need to work towards your self-sufficiency and self-sustainability to make your ultimate long-term survival easier.  I have said this before, if the sky clears up tomorrow and inclement weather or fires never come your way, your quality of life will be better with each prep and each skill you learn.  If the world burns down around you, you will be safer and better able to transition and adapt.

What do you think?  What’s the most significant climate threat you see on the horizon?  What are you doing to prepare for it?  I love to hear what you are doing to prepare for what’s coming our way as much as I like to share what I’m doing and recommending.  

As always, please stay safe out there.

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