Uncharted Territory Dead Ahead

Image by NOAA.

When America’s leading authority on the climate system Gavin Schmidt of NASA throws his hands up in the air, exclaiming, we’ve got a knowledge gap for the first time since satellites started tuning into the planet’s climate system, what does this imply about future conditions for the planet?

Gavin Schmidt, Director, Goddard Institute for Space Studies: “In general, the 2023 temperature anomaly has come out of the blue, revealing an unprecedented knowledge gap perhaps for the first time since about 40 years ago, when satellite data began offering modellers an unparalleled, real-time view of Earth’s climate system.” (Source: Gavin Schmidt, Climate Models Can’t Explain 2023’s Huge Heat Anomaly – We Could be in Uncharted Territory, Nature, March 19, 2024)

This admission by the nation’s top climate scientist, stating we may be in uncharted territory, is beyond disturbing, especially within the context of a chaotic climate system that, by all appearances, has gone haywire. Hopefully, it is only “an anomaly,” as stated by Dr. Schmidt because if it is the opposite, or a “new normal,” then big trouble is already at the doorstep. After all, 2023 was way beyond normal with an extraordinarily negative upward trajectory, but if it is now the new normal, what’s next?

Already, current temperature trends are knocking the socks off previously much lower trends, in fact, setting new records one after another in rapid-fire succession; it’s obvious that something is seriously out of kilter, March 2024 is the ninth consecutive month of record-setting heat, each month hotter, and according to NOAA scientists, ocean temperatures for 2023 were “off the charts.” Who’s guessing where this is headed?

Radio Ecoshock by Alex Smith, broadcasting on 105 radio stations, is one of the best sources (a gem) when searching for answers as to what’s going on with the planet. A recent Radio Ecoshock headline addresses this burning issue head on: “Why So Hot So Fast?” Gavin Schmidt is interviewed d/d April 3, 2024. Radio Ecoshock’s opening statement: “Climate models can’t explain 2023’s huge heat anomaly – ‘we could be in uncharted territory.’ Meanwhile, so much ice is melting at the Poles, Earth’s rotation is changing.”

That’s a mouthful that should rattle the cage of anybody who’s even the least bit concerned about the future of life support on Earth. Uncharted territory is not a welcomed concept in the context of a climate system that’s already off its rocker.

The evidence of ongoing climate chaos is found as animals of all stripes head for the hills or overpower foreign frontiers for survival. Animals, wild ones as well as tame humans (?) catch the scent early when things change and migrate northward. This is a prime example of what’s behind America’s sticky migration issue. Central American environs are a hot house where crops don’t grow so well any longer. According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2022 relative to 1991-2020 in central and eastern Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula and Guatemala and El Salvador registered +1°C to +3°C throughout the region. Whereas Paris ’15 set a key threshold holding temps to less than +1.5°C (but compared to 1850, not 1991) or trouble ensues. Well, the consequences of excessiveness are only too evident. One solution for too much heat – Migrate north. According to the US Institute of Peace: Climate change has disrupted up to 70% of crops in some regions of Central America. Solution – Move north. Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index claims Honduras is the single most impacted country by climate change in the world over the past decade.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations: “Climate migration occurs when people leave their homes due to extreme weather events, including floods, heat waves, droughts, and wildfires, as well as slower-moving climate challenges such as rising seas and intensifying water stress. This form of migration is increasing because the world has not been able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt global average temperature rise, which leads to more climate disasters.” (Source: Climate Change Is Fueling Migration. Do Climate Migrants Have Legal Protections, Council on Foreign Relations d/d December 19, 2022.

According to Schmidt’s Nature article: “For the past nine months, mean land and sea surface temperatures have overshot previous records each month by up to 0.2 °C — a huge margin at the planetary scale. A general warming trend is expected because of rising greenhouse-gas emissions, but this sudden heat spike greatly exceeds predictions made by statistical climate models that rely on past observations. Many reasons for this discrepancy have been proposed, but yet, no combination of them has been able to reconcile our theories with what has happened.”

What then is the outlook according to NASA?

“If the anomaly does not stabilize by August — a reasonable expectation based on previous El Niño events — then the world will be in uncharted territory. It could imply that a warming planet is already fundamentally altering how the climate system operates, much sooner than scientists had anticipated.” (Schmidt)

To say a warming planet is already fundamentally altering how the climate system operates is tantamount to saying that the climate system’s aberrant behavior is on automatic pilot.

Isn’t this what everybody has been dreading for decades?

According to Schmidt, the answer to that disturbing prospect will be obvious by August 2024. That’s only 4 months away.

Meanwhile, migrants are already at the doorstep, even as the climate system may only be 120 days away from entering uncharted territory, which can only mean things will get a lot worse. Assuming we officially enter uncharted territory, where will the massive overbearing onslaught of the hungry, the thirsty, the lost souls, these itinerants go?

The Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.