Algae Blooms

Living near the Finger Lakes I hear about these a lot in the late summer. Not only are the world’s 37aquifers running low, but our fresh, surface waters are becoming toxic. Farming and gardening practices, and overpopulation drive climate change, resulting in these blooms.

This could create a tipping point which could threaten public health on a grand scale.

www.nytimes.com/2018/08/29/science/lake-superior-algae-toxic.html

Sea Level Rise

Peaks Island
Peaks Island, Maine

According to National Geographic, the annual rate of sea level rise over the past 20 years has been 0.13 inches a year, roughly twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years. This is due to human activity that results in the thermal expansion of sea water, the melting of glaciers and polar icecaps, and the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

The result is the flooding of wetlands, contamination of aquifers and agricultural soils, and lost of habitat for fish, birds, and plants. Higher sea level, combined with more intense storms (e.g., super storm Sandy) create much greater storm surges.

The result will be far more than property losses. As more of the coast is gradually lost to the sea, there will be a great migration inland, putting evermore demands on limited resources.

How bad could it be? A recent study says we can expect the oceans to rise between 2.5 and 6.5 feet by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast. Should a complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet occur, sea level could rise to 23 feet, submerging London.

Earth analysis from data collected by the deep space probe, Xertox

The Xertox deep space probe from the planet Outlandia entered a polar Earth orbit and collected data from every surface area for a period of twelve months. These data included photos of the planet’s surface, along with atmospheric, oceanic, and continental compositions and temperatures (collected by deployed robotic labs).

Analysis (based on data received by Outlandia, 200 years later) reveals that the planet’s atmosphere contains high levels of greenhouse gases contributing to an average surface temperature of 65.4° F. The oceans appeared to have risen significantly over the past 150 years before major evaporation.  The planet has no glaciers, with very little ice during the winter at the southern pole. The northern pole has almost no ice during winter.

There is no life on the planet beyond the bacterial, algae, and fungi groups. Given soil analyses and the planet-wide remains of buildings and large structures, it appears the planet had a wide array of higher life forms, including intelligent. Further analysis shows a sudden release of methane from warming oceans over a hundred-year period, likely due to the extensive burning of fossil fuels. This is demonstrated by the unique fossil fuel signature contained the planet’s CO2 molecules.

Conclusion: Since this advanced civilization would have had decades warning of rising temperatures and their implications, we conclude this species rapidly developed technologically, well ahead of the time necessary to evolve beyond the stage of focusing only on meeting its immediate needs. Famine, disease, mass migrations, and conflict would have drastically reduced the populations of most species. Eventually,    temperatures too high to support most life forms completed the extinction process.

This is a fictionalized account of a deep space probe mission conducted from the planet Outlandia located 200 years away in our Milky Way Galaxy. They launched Xertox in Earth’s year 1950 after spectrographic analysis indicated Earth was located in what we call, the Goldilocks zone (not too hot, not too cold . . .). Unfortunately, by the time it got here in 2150, we were toast.

Does our fate sound far-fetched? Maybe it is not. According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the average global surface temperature has increased about 1.53° F since 1880. Scientists warn of a threshold effect if the average surface temperature rises another 1° C (for a total of 3.6° F above the average 1880 temperature). Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, stronger storms, and the current (sixth) extinction of species all attest to the implications of these rising temperatures related to burning fossil fuels.

Perhaps it is time for us to evolve a lot faster.