250 million years ago, this planet suffered the greatest mass extinction of multicellular life in the long history of the planet. The ocean conveyor current stopped. The ocean became anoxic, meaning it had little or no oxygen. Fish died; sulfur producing bacteria thrived. As the anoxic layer of the ocean reached the surface, hydrogen sulfide gas was released into the atmosphere in toxic quantities. The sky turned green. The mass extinction was brought onto land.
95% of all species on the planet died. This was due to global warming.*
Of course, global warming at that time could not have been caused by humans. However, it was global warming nonetheless. And, the temperature that caused this greatest of all mass extinctions was just 6 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial times, or 5 degrees Celsius warmer than today.
That same 6 degrees Celsius is well within the worst case scenario estimates of the most conservative climate scientists on the planet, the IPCC. So, you might say that the worst case should not concern us much. Clearly, that is an extreme prediction. And, you’d be right. However, the truth is that reality is more extreme. We are not on the path to the worst case scenario.
Our current global carbon emissions are dramatically higher than those assumed in the worst case scenario and are still increasing geometrically. Humans will not survive in a hydrogen sulfide rich atmosphere.
In order to survive as a species, we must put a simple tax on carbon. And, we must do so with all possible haste. We need to tax it at the wellhead, mine, or point of entry. This tax must be high. It can be revenue neutral if it funds an income tax break for those who need it most. The carbon released from mining coal or drilling for oil and gas is known. It is easy to calculate the carbon that will be released from the burning of any fossil fuel. A tax of at least $100 per ton will have a dramatic impact on how we get and use our energy.
We can’t drill our way out of this. We can only drill our way into extinction.
Our choice is clear. The reasons for it must be publicized to gain support. But, we must act fast. Already some of the predictions that were forecast as feedbacks and turning points are occurring. If we are to avoid certain human extinction, we have little time for playing politics as usual. If Republicans wish to filibuster, hold them to the original rules that they must stand there and talk the whole time. We can’t accept their political blockades to action. We will not survive.
Please make this your top priority.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this urgent matter of human survival.
* Note: That the Permian/Triassic extinction 250 million years ago was caused by global warming is well documented in the book “Under a Green Sky” by Peter Ward. For a shorter read that also explains the process and mixes in some potential medical applications of the knowledge, try this SEED Magazine article: