Friday, June 3, 2016

Stephen Hawking: worst case scenario

Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist, was interviewed by a British tv news station:
“I can’t,” Hawking responded, when asked to explain Trump’s rise as part of an exclusive interview with British news station ITV News. “He is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”
 But here’s the thing: in that same interview, Hawking also said he didn’t believe Trump was the greatest threat facing America, or even the world. The greatest threat, he said, is human-caused climate change. 
“A more immediate danger is runaway climate change,” Hawking said. “A rise in ocean temperature would melt the ice-caps, and cause a release of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the ocean floor. Both effects could make our climate like that of Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees.”
He is describing the worst case scenario, one that is possible if nothing is done about global warming. What he's mentioning, the release of greenhouse gases from the ocean floor I've posted about before. If the oceans warm sufficiently, methane clathrates will release tons of methane into the atmosphere massively accelerating warming.  The ocean methane isn't the only threat to dramatically amplify warming.  There is also the methane stored in Arctic permafrost that will be released if sufficiently warmed.  

If the methane is released from the oceans and permafrost, the worst case scenario Dr. Hawking describes is very possible.  I wish people really understood that the situation could be far worse if nothing is done about global warming, worse enough to render this planet uninhabitable.  If they really did understand what could happen perhaps people would be demanding that we do something about it, right now.