Gleick: Humans can ‘overwhelm slow geological cycles’

Gleick thinks that 390 parts-per-million carbon dioxide can swing the 999,610 ppm atmosphere.

In his latest hand-wringer in Forbes (“Climate Change, Disbelief, and the Collision between Human and Geologic Time“), Peter Gleick writes,

… Human-caused climate changes are different. As the planet’s population has grown to 7 billion people, and as we have learned how to mobilize vast quantities of carbon-based fossil fuels (ironically, created over geologic time scales) to satisfy our short-term energy demands, we have become powerful enough to overwhelm slow geological cycles. We are, for the first time in the 4+ billion year history of the Earth capable of altering the largest geophysical system on the planet – the climate – and we are doing it on a human time scale of years and decades, with consequences we are only just beginning to comprehend. And ironically, our effect on the climate is still slow enough for policy makers, climate contrarians and skeptics, and those simply not paying attention to either actively deny it or to just look the other way, committing the planet to more and more change. [There are other examples of human influences on a global scale: our construction of dams and storage of massive quantities of water behind reservoirs has literally, albeit modestly, altered the rotation of the planet. But none are as significant as our effect on the climate.]

Some will never be able to accept this, no matter the evidence. They will continue to conflate geologic and human time scales and assume that what is occurring today must be what has always occurred in the past — natural. But the inability to comprehend the planetary influence of humans isn’t based on reviewing and rejecting the scientific evidence, which is clear to 97-98% of climate scientists publishing in the field. It is based on ignoring or disbelieving it, just as some dogmatically refused to abandon their belief in a geocentric universe for reasons that had nothing to do with science. And alas, these modern-day dogmatists are unlikely to change their minds, at least not on a human time scale.

5 thoughts on “Gleick: Humans can ‘overwhelm slow geological cycles’”

  1. Im glad he said 97-98% because if he used that now infamous 99% number , that would mean 1% of us were at fault for messing up the climate while 99% of us simply “Occupy Earth”. Just cause it did’nt work on Wall Street……

  2. Gleick is a very special person. He is able to review books that he has not read. He is able to criticize technical papers that he has not read. He knows enough about everything scientific that he is able to single-handedly determine who has done bad science and issue awards for those who do. You cannot argue successfully with Peter Gleick.

  3. A favorite area for me. I have a unique view of this topic from my days in the US Navy Submarine force. I recall what the CO2 levels on CAM’s was in home port (Groton CT), and while training off Florida. I also recall what the levels were just after ventilating (exchanging the internal air with fresh from the surface) just away from the icepack in the North Atlantic. Lets just say the numbers differed by 2 orders of magnitude, and the proof in the pudding is trying to access the raw metrologial data from the ice sheets – good reason you can not see the numbers above the ice that “proves” the increase in CO2 levels.

  4. I just scan these things now. As soon as I see a 97%, I feel it is not important enough to waste time reading.

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