We humans are modifying our planet, and the people in control have no idea what they are doing. Could they, by stopping our timely action, cause Earth to become Venus-like, inhospitable to life?
People who inform themselves beyond what one finds in the Main Stream Media are aware of a collection of facts that frame the background for this article, including facts such as that we are now in the 6th great extinction event, that the correlation between public opinion and public policy has always been low (this citation, based on old data, says 31% correlation overall) and in recent times (since, say, 2000) approaches zero, and, of course, we all know that we're in a period of anthropogenic global climate change driven by global warming.
The key issue here is called ERB, Earth's Radiation Budget. The key is the albedo of the earth; if it's to far one way, earth will capture heat and too far the other, it will lose heat and as humans found the place it was in pretty good balance. While earth's albedo swings throughout the year and over longer cycles, too, (including both with the 11 year solar cycle, and the various orbital cycles), the average is very nearly at a net zero gain, zero loss of energy. And this is what's responsible for Earth's remarkable biosphere - long-term stability.
(article continues below image)
While this is not my field, I worked for some 5 to 7 years or so (both through NASA research grants and consulting) with Bruce Barkstrom, one of the field's first scientists to deeply study this, and I think he was either the PI or at least a CI on a project known as ERBI, pronounced like you might expect, Erby. I came along at a time when the original ERBI had wound down and there were new projects replacing it and I worked with Bruce to help analyze the new satellite data for much deeper understandings. What was desired was to gain as much knowledge as possible about surface level effects, but one limitation was that the resolution of our satellite data was just too coarse for most types of analyses we wanted to perform. I made a significant contribution, along with my co-investigator at JPL regarding wave surface effects as wind speed and direction over water has a large effect on its albedo, especially when taken in consideration with the angle of inbound solar radiance. And I helped Barkstrom to make new innovations in surface level analyses of his own over terrestrial surfaces (land) by helping him with his software development.
...I have always thought that we could be at risk for a Venus-like runaway effect, but the scientists I've worked with and spoken about this with have said that Earth is known to have been far hotter than at present and has had far higher concentrations of greenhouse gasses. What's not well known, or, at least wasn't at the times of my various conversations, was what the detail of how the planet managed to cool from the more warm, more greenhouse states it was in previously. And therefore, the claim of a Venus runaway being likely seems very premature from a scientists' perspective.
Reportedly famous physicist Stephen Hawking has posited that Earth could turn into a Venus-like planet. I seriously doubt that Hawking had a better understanding of these processes than the scientists I was working with simply because it's not his field. On the other hand, it's never a good idea to bet against the stupidity and folly of humans.
In any event, the right thing to do here is develop and use the appropriate nomenclature and turns-of-phraise. ... What's going on here is terraforming - literally "earth shaping" - but a key problem in using that word is that the common definitions one finds of the word all state that it's the intentional altering of a celestial body to be similar to that of earth to make it habitable. But what humans are doing to the earth is just the opposite. ... So, to preclude any backlash over saying humans are terraforming earth, I therefore hereby coin the term "Anti-terraforming", which I define as the intentional alteration of a habitable planet (or, indeed, any celestial body) in ways that disrupt an existing biosphere.
What We Progressives need to be doing is publicizing that whether or not Earth has a runaway event that transforms it into a Venus-like planet, clearly humans are intentionally altering a habitable planet in ways that disrupt the existing biosphere. ...We're not destroying the planet, we're transforming the planet on literally a planetary scale, and in ways that are destructive to life. What's worse, "We" are not in control! It's the ultra-rich who control our public policy (the world over) who are preventing us from reacting to this imminent threat.
Discus this article below, or come join us in our Progressive Chat Forum for more general Progressive discussion.