Can Humans Survive Rapid Climate Change?

I’m in San Diego today enjoying perfect 18ºC weather. But am headed to Fort Collins soon, where I will experience a 40C Mann-made polar vortex cool down.

ScreenHunter_5558 Dec. 25 11.02

The good news for the Broncos is that their game is on Sunday, rather than Monday.

About stevengoddard

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46 Responses to Can Humans Survive Rapid Climate Change?

  1. rah says:

    “Can Humans Survive Rapid Climate Change?”

    Of course not! We all died out about 12,700 years ago during the Younger Dryas and subsequent rapid warming didn’t you know?

  2. Dave says:

    You are a climate refugee.

  3. Gail Combs says:

    We have done just fine in our 2-3 million years on this dirt ball. Even when we got a climatic boot in the rear that cause us to ‘smarten up’

    Our brain case size has experienced dramatic increases, in fits and starts, of course, to go from about 500 cubic centimeters (cc) to about 2,500cc in the last 2-3 million years...

    The genus homo diverged from the australopithecines about 2-3 million years ago (mya), after a sea level maxima (also called Global Warming) of between 3.2 to 2.8 mya. This period is presumed, by some, to have ended with a meteoric impact (0.5 km across) in the southeast Pacific Ocean at around 2.95 to 2.82 mya with the onset of the late Pliocene glacial event known as the Northern Hemisphere Glaciation (NHG), which it probably precipitated. This period of global cooling caused temperatures to plummet in Africa. The cooler drier air resulted in humid woodlands to die off giving way to wide, dry grasslands. Campfires were at least a million years away, and we were relatively small in number. So we have to figure we didn’t do this one. But we had to smarten up quick and deal with it. Paranthropus boisei made it through this one, and a few more, adapting from soft rain forest fruits and vegetables, to roots and grasses. Although Paranthropus boisei succeeded in transitioning to the savannah grassland environment in the early stages of going into the late Pliocene glacial period, he apparently did not develop tools, or any other diet. He had a braincase size of about 500-550cc and ranged eastern Africa from about 2.6 to 1.2 million years ago.

    The glaciation in the late Pliocene appears to have spanned the interval from between 2.95-2.82 mya to about 1.8 mya. Late Pliocene faunal turnover, as known from the Turkana Basin in Kenya and Ethiopia, indicates that from 58-77 percent of the mammal species were replaced during this long-lived cooling event. The majority of this replacement occurred between 2.5 and 1.8 mya.

    At roughly 2.4 mya, the first members of the genus Homo arrived on the scene. Homo rudolfensis (2.4-1.9 mya) and Homo habilis (1.9-1.6 mya). Rudolfensis was slightly smaller brained than habilis and many anthropologists place them in the same species (habilis). With a 30% larger braincase (500-800cc, or about 680cc average) than Paranthropus, and having just survived or evolved during what we now call the NHG event. His name habilis means “handy man”. During the NHG we had evolved crude stone tools with our more plentiful grey matter. The Stone Age had begun, and with it a prolonged cooling trend in East Africa, both of which are believed to be responsible for rapid evolutionary changes among the hominids stirring around in those times…..

    Eventually, via numerous glaciations, and the increased braincase size that these wrenchingly long freezing events spurred, we made it intact… So the question really begs to be asked. Will it take another (let’s call it the next, since its actually time for the next one now) ice age to “smarten us up” some more? And the answer to that really depends upon whether or not you have glommed on to what the real problem is yet.

    • rah says:

      According to what I have read the great increase in brain size was most likely precipitated by a radical change of diet brought on by the changing habitat due to climatic change (ie. a cooling and wetter world). The new diet was much richer in animal proteins. IOW once Hominids adapted and learned to hunt animals, as opposed to just scavenging, they had the nutrition needed for their brains grow quickly. That same adaptation served them well for surviving the coming ice age.

    • Gail, you don’t have to wait that long for an answer. When my wife saw the snow coming down this morning, she instantly smartened up and told me to fire up the wodstove.

      • Gail Combs says:

        I was smarter than your wife. When I saw another snow storm coming I said lets move SOUTH and we did. (The wood stove was already running.)

        • Ernest Bush says:

          But you moved Southeast, right in the path of the weather that brings on glaciation. Had you moved to the southwest desert you would have learned that snow really is a thing of the past here (1931, to be exact). Today it will reach 62-degrees, according to Weather Underground, which is normal here for winter. Last year it was hitting 80 degree highs most of the winter because of the California high (pun intended).

        • rah says:


          It snowed in Phoenix in Feb. 2006 and again last year?

        • philjourdan says:

          Also in 66. That was the first time I went through the area (on the old 66).

        • Gail Combs says:

          Earnest, I checked out this map first.

          and this


        • rah says:

          Hey where they have temperate scrub seems to be southern FL and in my book it should be labeled “Swamp”.

        • Ernest Bush says:

          rah, I live in Yuma where our weather patterns are mostly tied to Baja and Sonora Mexico. You are further north and a 1000 feet higher in elevation with mountains north of you. In the time I can drive to the middle of Phoenix you can be on the ski slopes outside of Flagstaff which extend to 11,500 feet. I need to correct the date, however, for Yuma. It snowed on Dec. 12/13, 1932. Elevation matters. Sorry for the wrong year.

        • Jason Calley says:

          Hey rah! It won’t stay swamp for long, not once the sea level drops a hundred meters.

        • Ernest Bush says:

          Gail, thanks for the map. I see the climate in Yuma hasn’t changed much during the last 18,000 years, except maybe it’s a little warmer. LOL.

        • philjourdan says:

          Residents do not need radiocarbon dating to know that, right? 😉

        • Ernest Bush says:

          Obviously, you are attached to trees. I was in Maryland and Virginia at the end of September. All that green around me was a little frightening after 20 years on the desert.

        • philjourdan says:

          You sound like my BIL – he came back to visit one year (he lives in Brawley) and got claustrophobia! We actually have major roads that are completely covered with tree bowers! Try Route 5 (that takes you to Berkeley and Shirley Plantations).

        • I’m with you, Ernest. The thought of living in the woods gives me the heebidabajeebies. It brings out the glum Germanic thing in me. Colorado foothills are not exactly the desert but I need the open vistas. At the most reassuring, the idea of living in deep woods brings back the memory of this passage:

          As regards the question, there also lingers in my memory very distinctly a hot school afternoon. The class was for English literature, and the proceedings commenced with the reading of a certain lengthy, but otherwise unobjectionable, poem.

          “No, no,” interrupted the Professor; “I do not want you to repeat the poem. I want you to tell me in your own words what sort of a wood it was where the girl lived.”

          The Professor tapped his foot impatiently; the top boy made a dash for it.

          “Please, sir, it was the usual sort of a wood.”

          “Tell him what sort of a wood,” said he, pointing to the second lad.

          The second boy said it was a “green wood.” This annoyed the Professor still more; he called the second boy a blockhead, though really I cannot see why, and passed on to the third, who, for the last minute, had been sitting apparently on hot plates, with his right arm waving up and down like a distracted semaphore signal. He would have had to say it the next second, whether the Professor had asked him or not; he was red in the face, holding his knowledge in.

          “A dark and gloomy wood,” shouted the third boy, with much relief to his feelings.

          “A dark and gloomy wood,” repeated the Professor, with evident approval. “And why was it dark and gloomy?”

          The third boy was still equal to the occasion.

          “Because the sun could not get inside it.”

          The Professor felt he had discovered the poet of the class.

          I do not recall much more about this wood in detail. I only recollect that the sky was introduced into it. In places where there occurred an opening among the trees you could by looking up see the sky above you; very often there were clouds in this sky, and occasionally, if I remember rightly, the girl got wet.

          I have dwelt upon this incident, because it seems to me suggestive of the whole question of scenery in literature. I could not at the time, I cannot now, understand why the top boy’s summary was not sufficient. With all due deference to the poet, whoever he may have been, one cannot but acknowledge that his wood was, and could not be otherwise than, “the usual sort of a wood.”

          Three Men on the Bummel
          by Jerome K. Jerome
          J. W. Arrowsmith, 1900

          The only good thing in dark green woods is a clearing, but just barely.

        • philjourdan says:

          Having traveled these 50 states (I have been to 42, but cannot find the final 7 of the 57 that our “Dear Leader” refers to), I have seen it all (and lived in almost every type). I am fond of the “dark and gloomy” (on a dark night, it is that here) as I prefer the rush of spring and the greening of the world (but I do hate the leaves in the fall). I also love driving down a road and seeing a town 50 miles off in the desert that Ernest lives in. And I adore looking UP to the mountains of your area as well (we have small foot hills back here, but enough to get a taste of it).

          The variety of environments in this country is astounding, and wonderful! And there is a place of each of us to love and live.

        • rah says:

          Are you saying I should be investing in land in the Everglades?

        • Gail Combs says:


          The map is for the middle of the Wisconsin Ice Age. The sea level would be a lot lower. Much of the H2O would be bound up in ice and due to the cold the hydro-cycle would be slower so everything would be drier

        • Gail Combs says:

          That is what the goats are for, clearing out the underbrush beneath my trees. I like trees.

        • rah says:

          Some of you folks might be surprised by how many grown men are actually afraid of being in a deep dark forest alone at night.

        • True, but Special Forces would cease to exist if the trainers showed the guys everything there is, rah. You don’t know half of what lives in deep dark forests and comes out at will, be it night or day:

          Im Wald, im grünen Walde
          (In the forest, in the green forest)

        • On the other hand, I have to admit that the many grown women there seem very unafraid of the frightening forest creatures …

        • rah says:

          I don’t remember any German Frauliens that were afraid of me even if I did come out of the woods in camouflage and hadn’t had a bath in awhile. In fact once I was married I became more wary of them sometimes. But I do remember heading back to our camp one night during a nontactical climbing excursion and running into a boar in an alpine meadow. He grunted and I almost had an embarrassing accident in my pants and then we both went opposite directions as quickly as possible.

        • The boar may have been telling the same story, sans pants …

  4. philjourdan says:

    I spent 6 years of my life in SD (well, the county). Greatest time! It actually snowed there in 68. It did not stick, but sure looked pretty coming down.

    • Ernest Bush says:

      In the past I visited San Diego to remember what rain was like. I live 2.5 hours away in Yuma. Lately, there hasn’t been any reason to do that.

      • philjourdan says:

        My in-laws live in Brawley, and we go there at least once a year. Last year, we went in late summer and a tropical system turned the valley into a pond. But we go every February as they have a fund raiser (to raise money for college scholarships) that the whole family works on. And in the 11 years (it is now into its 21st year) I have been doing the event, the worst we got was some sprinkles one year (and it is ALWAYS the 4th Saturday in February).

        So come on by! We have great food and great entertainment, and almost a perfect record of NO rain (it is an outdoor event).

  5. gallopingcamel says:

    “Climate Cultists” obsess over changes in the average temperature amounting to a few tenths of a degree Centigrade, yet we experience wild temperature swings from day to night and from summer to winter.

    You have to wonder about people with such a poor grasp of reality.

  6. gallopingcamel says:

    I like the concept of “Climate Cultists”…………their delusions are similar to “Cargo Cultists” in Borneo who built mock runways to enable the bountiful aircraft to deliver the cargo.

    Climate Cultists build useless windmills and solar power installations. I would have no problem with that but for the fact they are using our money rather than their money.

    • Ernest Bush says:

      Even stupider are those individuals who use their own money to install solar panels on their roofs expecting to save money on their electric bills.

      • philjourdan says:

        They will save money on their electric bills – but not enough to pay for the panels. And around here, some idiots are pushing it as “get in now or lose out!”. I just wonder how many are buying that crap.

  7. Ernest Bush says:

    It would be possible to experience a hundred degree difference in temperature in 24 hours by flying from Fort Collins to Alice Springs, Australia. If you left in the middle of the night it could be even more extreme.

    • philjourdan says:

      Tony will tell you that you can experience that when the Chinook winds come through Colorado. 😉

      • rah says:

        It’s possible to experience about any kind of weather in the mountains. The real danger is how quickly it can change. Sweating one moment and freezing the next. Calm and then without warning a blast of wind so hard it tries to blow your precious butt off the face. Quiet snow field one second and the next “swimming” for your life in a snow avalanche. Nice and clear and dry one moment and then a thunderstorm with lightning that makes you wish you were about anywhere else the next. You just gotta love it. And there is a lot to Love in the mountains. Nothing like looking down upon the morning fog ebbing down the slopes and dissipating in the sunlight or climbing up through the clouds and startling a herd of Rehbock. or opening the flap of your bivisack to see a Red deer grazing right next to you. Looking down on a glacier from above.

        • Gail Combs says:

          One of my most vivid memories of my visit to the Tetons was climbing up and straddling a Symmetry Spire ridge and looking off into the distance and seeing nothing but row upon row of mountain peaks with no sign of humans.

          SInce I am scared of height it was also freaky. (Don’t ask why someone scared of heights likes to climb…)

        • gator69 says:

          One of my favorite hikes of all time was up into ‘Death Valley”, in the Tetons, I just wanted to keep going, and never return to pavement. It rivaled hikes I enjoyed in the Alps years before, unlike any other trail since.

          As for the deep dark woods, sign me up, unless it involves a swamp. For years I would spend every weekend backpacking in wilderness areas, often alone, testing and breaking in new equipment. I also used to guide wild cave spelunking tours, but thankfully never witnessed a quake from the inside like you did, as that might have stopped me. Winter camping is also something I enjoy, with the exception of one very cold night that proved my sleeping bag was not all that.

          The only time I have been in nature, and wished to be somewhere else, was in the desert. It was beautiful, and tons of fun for about a week, but after seven days I had had enough. I wanted to see green trees (shade, woohoo!), hear running water, and enjoy wildlife again.

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