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December 7, 2019

Climate of protest

Opinion

 
December 7, 2019

Robert Hunziker

For tens of thousands of years, the Arctic’s carbon sink has been a powerful dynamic in functionality of the Earth System. However, that all-important functionality has been crippled and could be permanently severed.

According to new research based upon field observations conducted from 2003 to 2017, a large-scale carbon emission shift in the Earth System has occurred.

The “entire Arctic” now emits more carbon than it absorbs, a fact that can only be described as worse than bad news. “Given that the Arctic has been taking up carbon for tens of thousands of years, this shift to a carbon source is important because it highlights a new dynamic in the functioning of the Earth System,” says Susan Natali at Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts (Source: Thawing Permafrost Has Turned the Arctic Into a Carbon Emitter, NewScientist, Oct. 21, 2019)

The 14-year study showed annualized 1.66 gigatonnes CO2 emitted from the “entire Arctic” versus 1.03 gigatonnes absorbed. It’s a major turning point in paleoclimate history, a chilling turn for the worse that threatens 10,000 years of the wonderful Holocene era of “not too hot, not too cold.” Alas, that spectacular Goldilocks climate, a perfect environment for life on the planet, is now a remembrance of the past.

In time, it’ll bring in its wake difficult/challenging lifestyles across the board, across the planet, as life turns onerous and quite possibly worse.

When scientists researched permafrost over the years, they found a few isolated regions that flipped from carbon sinks to sources of emissions, but this new “research now shows the phenomenon has happened across the region as a whole,” Ibid.

Meanwhile, 25,000 people gather, as of December 2-13, in Madrid for the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference known as COP25. Only recently, the conference was forced to scramble in a move from Chile because of uncontrollable, unprecedented “protests in the streets.” The Chilean protests are mega-numbers of extremely angry citizens sparked into action by a simple increase in transport rates, proving that the world is once again a tinderbox similar to July of 1914.

The 25,000 attendees of COP25 should take heed of an entire city Santiago shut down by angry citizens one million strong. That nagging scenario may be as important as the climate data they analyze because Chilean mass demonstrations are merely a reflection of a worldwide phenomenon that has everything to do with the failure of neoliberalism, as it casts its dark shadow over climate mitigation.

According to Amnesty International: The past few months have seen a seemingly massive surge in protests globally. From the streets of Hong Kong to La Paz, Port-au-Prince, Quito, Barcelona, Beirut and Santiago, we have witnessed a huge wave of people taking to the streets to exercise their right to protest and demand change from those in power.

Increasingly, people are frustrated by the abject failure of neoliberalism’s austerity measures that destroy social programs, including near total collapse and/or avoidance of proactive climate policies.

Excerpted from:‘Permafrost Hits a Grim Threshold’.

Counterpunch.org