With a bang and a whimper? This article, based on Bill McKibben's new book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, is not likely to make those already concerned about the potential impacts of climate change feel better. Among the scenarios for disaster planners:
"In 2015, a study in the Journal of Mathematical Biology pointed out that if the world’s oceans kept warming, by 2100 they might become hot enough to 'stop oxygen production by phyto-plankton by disrupting the process of photosynthesis.' Given that two-thirds of the Earth’s oxygen comes from phytoplankton, that would 'likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans.' A year later, above the Arctic Circle, in Siberia, a heat wave thawed a reindeer carcass that had been trapped in the permafrost. The exposed body released anthrax into nearby water and soil, infecting two thousand reindeer grazing nearby, and they in turn infected some humans; a twelve-year-old boy died. ... [S]cientists have managed to revive an eight-million-year-old bacterium they found beneath the surface of a glacier. Researchers believe there are fragments of the Spanish flu virus, smallpox, and bubonic plague buried in Siberia and Alaska. Or consider this: as ice sheets melt, they take weight off land, and that can trigger earthquakes — seismic activity is already increasing in Greenland and Alaska. Meanwhile, the added weight of the new seawater starts to bend the Earth’s crust. 'That will give you a massive increase in volcanic activity. It’ll activate faults to create earthquakes, submarine landslides, tsunamis, the whole lot,' explained the director of University College London’s Hazard Centre. Such a landslide happened in Scandinavia about eight thousand years ago, as the last Ice Age retreated and a Kentucky-size section of Norway’s continental shelf gave way ... wiping all signs of life from coastal Norway to Greenland and 'drowning the Wales-sized landmass that once connected Britain to the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany.' When the waves hit the Shetlands, they were sixty-five feet high."
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