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Monday, June 11, 2012

Warming Oceans: Humanity’s Death-Wish

Released in 2012, a study published in Nature Climate Change found an "anthropogenic fingerprint" (human influence) on the warming oceans. The study, "Human-Induced Global Ocean Warming On Multidecadal Timescales," is based on observations of rising upper-ocean temperatures. The researchers used improved estimates of ocean temperatures to examine the causes of our warming ocean. The warming is explained only when greenhouse gas increases are included in the models.

                Scientific evidence now points to human air-pollution as a major cause of warming oceans.  HP

Lead author and climate scientist Peter Gleckler said in the press release, "The bottom line is that this study substantially strengthens the conclusion that most of the observed global ocean warming over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities. Although we performed a series of tests to account for the impact of various uncertainties, we found no evidence that simultaneous warming of the upper layers of all seven seas can be explained by natural climate variability alone. Humans have played a dominant role." According to oceanography expert Nathan Bindoff, "This paper's important because, for the first time, we can actually say that we're virtually certain that the oceans have warmed, and that warming is caused not by natural processes, but by rising greenhouse gases primarily." He added, "We did it. No matter how you look at it, we did it. That's it."

Lest it be supposed that shorter winters and warmer water for swimming represent a net-gain for the human species, arctic monitoring stations were measuring over 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is higher than the 350 ppm that many scientists consider the upper limit of “safe.” It turns out that the loss of coastal real-estate is the least of our worries; humanity, acting like an unstoppable virus, may be making the air unfit for human consumption. In other words, our economizing (and our related zest to consume and reproduce) may spell the eventual end of the species, rather than a technological utopia of effortless living.

Assuming a general knowledge of the findings discussed here exists in human society, the campaign by polluting industries and their sycophants in government for deregulation can be interpreted as a species’ death-wish. The question is perhaps whether the species will continue to allow itself to governed by that instinct, which at the species level is oriented to what can be termed specicide

Even if we have the technology to get the oxygen and CO2 back to levels that can sustain the species, the greed-fueled instinct, if allowed to stay in charge at the level of the species as a whole, could continue to undermine the species itself, even bringing it to extinction through the suicide of the species. This is not to say that such an end is consciously intended by the forces dominated by that instinct, but such an end can nonetheless occur down the line, and sooner rather than later if the scientists are correct. Of course, the same popular arrogance that is so dismissive of them is also within the specicidal instinct of the species. 

Perhaps it is self-hate (i.e., humanity's hatred of human nature) even more than greed that is motivating the sordid instinct to dominate all others in directing the species. If so, the resulting specicide can be interpreted as the species' own verdict on itself. More particularly, it could be the species' verdict on the instinct. To the extent that it hates itself, self-hatred is driving the human race. As self-hatred enervates or weakens a thing (or person's instinct), it a curious thing that a self-ashamed, and thus weakened instinct can nonetheless direct the species. In other words, how is it that that of the species not fueled by the instinct is somehow beguiled into viewing the instinct of denial and greed as somehow strong and thus as incapable of being taken down from its dominance? 

Nietzsche's question was essentially, how is it that the strong are so beguiled by the weak who are driven by an instinct to dominate that the strong defer to the weak in self-shame for being strong? It is the weak who should be ashamed of themselves for demanding power beyond what naturally corresponds with their innate strength. In terms of polluting industries (and their sycophants in government), how is it that the species even lets them in the room (not to mention to dominate the result) when regulation is being discussed and determined? If on some level the short-sighted and greedy vested-interest is ashamed of itself, it must be weak rather than how it appears to others of other instincts. It is the appearance here that is particularly problematic, as it is paralyzing (as well as specicidal). If indeed the non-specicidal instincts are stronger, this would have to be recognized before the species can regain control of itself from the hypertrophy of an over-aggrandizing faction that unconsciously hates itself and the species.


P. J. Gleckler et al, “Human-Induced GlobalOcean Warming on Multidecadal Timescales,” Nature Climate Change, June 10, 2012.