Should the human race bother paying its bills before the next century? That was the poll question put to viewers by CBS13 Mid-Morning today as anchors discussed the scientific details of mass extinction. (See answers below.)
According to a mathematician at MIT, the next extinction-level event for the planet could begin as early as 30,051 days from now. That’s when the earth’s cumulative ocean uptake of carbon exceeds the critical mass necessary to trigger a mass die-off of 75 percent of all species on the planet.
“From 1850 to the present, human activities have resulted in the addition of about 155 ±25 Pg C to the oceans, Kelly,” said Steve, estimating the amount with his hands.
“That’s right, Steve,” Kelly said, knifing the table for emphasis. “Projections for further carbon uptake depend strongly on the trajectory of fossil fuel emissions and land use, among other factors.”
“Of course, but the value of the empirical results lies not in any individual data points but rather in their collective trends,” said Angela solemnly. “Modern investigations of mass extinctions often emphasize a plurality of causes.”
Steve nodded in agreement. “Multiple causes may also be responsible for a sixth extinction, but the anthropogenic disturbance of the carbon cycle merits its own appraisal.”
“No one is discounting the possibility of a planet-killing impact from Planet X, but AGW is obviously the strongest candidate,” Kelly said. “If an anomalous flux greater than Mc/τx brings the carbon cycle past a stability threshold at time scales much greater than τx ~ 104 years, then the instantaneous addition of an anomalous mass greater than Mc will excite similar behavior.”
“Speaking of behavior, Kelly,” said Angela, “let’s get to our daily poll results. Should the human race bother paying its bills for the next 83 years? We asked our viewers, and here’s what they said.”
“Whoa!” exclaimed Steve. “97 percent of Sacramento viewers say they’d rather go out in a blaze of financial glory than hang on until the sixth extinction.”
“And who can blame them, Steve?” Kelly asked.
“Well, that’s all the time we have for the extinction,” said Angela. “Next on CBS 13 we’ll talk with a California lawmaker who says High Speed Rail is a criminal deception.”
“Don’t go away,” said Steve.