From Pine Beetles to Disappearing Glaciers, NASA Scientists Tell of ‘Dramatic’ Planetary Changes

Trees turning red in forests that have been attacked by the mountain pine beetle near a wildfire site in Montana, July 7, 2011. Some scientists are increasingly worried that as the warming accelerates, trees themselves could become climate-change victims on a massive scale. (Photo: Josh Haner / The New York Times)

Trees turning red in forests that have been attacked by the mountain pine beetle near a wildfire site in Montana, July 7, 2011. Some scientists are increasingly worried that as the warming accelerates, trees themselves could become climate-change victims on a massive scale. (Photo: Josh Haner / The New York Times)

Until very recently, popular thinking assumed that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) was in a “slow” period. However, last year, a study published in Geophysical Research Letters showed that the planet had experienced more overall warming in the 15 years leading up to March 2013 than it had in the 15 years before that. In case there was any doubt that the planet is warming more quickly than previously thought, a study published in the August 22, 2014 issue of Science has verified this.

Another study from July addressed how regional climate systems were synchronizing, after which “the researchers detected wild variability that amplified the changes and accelerated into an abrupt warming event of several degrees within a few decades.” Shortly thereafter, yet another study showed that rapid warming of the Atlantic waters, most likely due to ACD, has “turbocharged” the Pacific Equatorial trade winds. Whenever that phenomenon stops, it is highly likely we will witness very rapid changes across the globe, including a sudden acceleration of the average surface temperature of the planet.

The vast majority of the myriad studies generating our present data on ACD paint a dire picture of what our CO2 emissions, and now massive methane releases, have done to the climate of Earth.

Truthout recently spoke with several NASA-affiliated scientists about what they are seeing.

One of them, Dr. Phil Townsend, a professor of Forest and Wildlife Ecology who helps train astronauts in spotting ACD indicators as they look down from the International Space Station (ISS), noted that we must ready ourselves to confront “a planet that looks quite a bit different.”

“The planet will survive,” Townsend told Truthout, “But things we valued or were interested in preserving because we like them, like White Bark Pine Tree and Grizzly Bears, are things we don’t want to lose. But we have to be prepared for something that might look completely different and may not have things that we value.”

Read the entire story at Truthout

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