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Warming causes extinction and outweighs nuclear war

Lynas 07 (Mark, winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books, advisor on climate change to the President of the Maldives, Visiting
Research Associate at Oxford Universitys School of Geography and the Environment, The Guardian, Six Steps to

Scientists estimate that we have at best 10 years to bring down global carbon emissions if we are to stabilise world temperatures within two
degrees of their present levels. The impacts of two degrees warming are bad enough, but far worse is in
store if emissions continue to rise. Most importantly, 3C may be the "tipping point" where global warming could run out of
control, leaving us powerless to intervene as planetary temperatures soar. The centre of this predicted disaster is the
Amazon, where the tropical rainforest, which today extends over millions of square kilometres, would burn down in a firestorm of epic
proportions. Computer model projections show worsening droughts making Amazonian trees, which have no
evolved resistance to fire, much more susceptible to burning. Once this drying trend passes a critical threshold,
any spark could light the firestorm which destroys almost the entire rainforest ecosystem.
Once the trees have gone, desert will appear and the carbon released by the forests' burning
will be joined by still more from the world's soils. This could boost global temperatures by a further 1.5C - tippping
us straight into the four-degree world. Three degrees alone would see increasing areas of the planet being rendered essentially uninhabitable
by drought and heat. In southern Africa, a huge expanse centred on Botswana could see a
remobilisation of old sand dunes, much as is projected to happen earlier in the US west. This would wipe out
agriculture and drive tens of millions of climate refugees out of the area. The same situation could also
occur in Australia, where most of the continent will now fall outside the belts of regular rainfall. With extreme weather continuing to bite -
hurricanes may increase in power by half a category above today's top-level Category Five - world food supplies will be
critically endangered. This could mean hundreds of millions - or even billions - of refugees
moving out from areas of famine and drought in the sub-tropics towards the mid-latitudes. In
Pakistan, for example, food supplies will crash as the waters of the Indus decline to a trickle because of the melting of the Karakoram glaciers
that form the river's source. Conflicts may erupt with neighbouring India over water use from dams on
Indus tributaries that cross the border. In northern Europe and the UK, summer drought will alternate with extreme winter
flooding as torrential rainstorms sweep in from the Atlantic - perhaps bringing storm surge flooding to vulnerable low-lying coastlines as sea
levels continue to rise. Those areas still able to grow crops and feed themselves, however, may become some of the most valuable real estate
on the planet, besieged by millions of climate refugees from the south. At four degrees another tipping point is almost certain to be crossed;
indeed, it could happen much earlier. (This reinforces the determination of many environmental groups, and indeed the entire EU, to bring us
in within the two degrees target.) This moment comes as the hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon
locked up in Arctic permafrost - particularly in Siberia - enter the melt zone, releasing globally
warming methane and carbon dioxide in immense quantities. No one knows how rapidly this might happen, or
what its effect might be on global temperatures, but this scientific uncertainty is surely cause for concern and not complacency. The whole
Arctic Ocean ice cap will also disappear, leaving the North Pole as open water for the first time in at least three million years. Extinction for
polar bears and other ice-dependent species will now be a certainty. The south polar ice cap may also be badly affected - the West Antarctic ice
sheet could lift loose from its bedrock and collapse as warming ocean waters nibble away at its base, much of which is anchored below current
sea levels. This would eventually add another 5m to global sea levels - again, the timescale is uncertain, but as sea level rise accelerates
coastlines will be in a constant state of flux. Whole areas, and indeed whole island nations, will be submerged. In Europe, new deserts will be
spreading in Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey: the Sahara will have effectively leapt the Straits of Gibraltar. In Switzerland, summer temperatures
may hit 48C, more reminiscent of Baghdad than Basel. The Alps will be so denuded of snow and ice that they resemble the rocky moonscapes
of today's High Atlas - glaciers will only persist on the highest peaks such as Mont Blanc. The sort of climate experienced today in Marrakech will
be experienced in southern England, with summer temperatures in the home counties reaching a searing 45C. Europe's population may be
forced into a "great trek" north. To find out what the planet would look like with five degrees of warming, one must largely abandon the
models and venture far back into geological time, to the beginning of a period known as the Eocene. Fossils of sub-tropical species such as
crocodiles and turtles have all been found in the Canadian high Arctic dating from the early Eocene, 55 million years ago, when the Earth
experienced a sudden and dramatic global warming. These fossils even show that breadfruit trees were growing on the coast of Greenland,
while the Arctic Ocean saw water temperatures of 20C within 200km of the North Pole itself. There was no ice at either pole; forests were
probably growing in central Antarctica. The Eocene greenhouse event fascinates scientists not just because of its effects, which also saw a
major mass extinction in the seas, but also because of its likely cause: methane hydrates. This unlikely substance, a sort of ice-like combination
of methane and water that is only stable at low temperatures and high pressure, may have burst into the atmosphere from the seabed in an
immense "ocean burp", sparking a surge in global temperatures (methane is even more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide).
Today vast amounts of these same methane hydrates still sit on subsea continental shelves. As the oceans warm, they
could be released once more in a terrifying echo of that methane belch of 55 million years
ago. In the process, moreover, the seafloor could slump as the gas is released, sparking massive tsunamis that would
further devastate the coasts. Again, no one knows how likely this apocalyptic scenario is to unfold in today's world. The good
news is that it could take centuries for warmer water to penetrate down to the bottom of the oceans and release the stored methane. The bad
news is that it could happen much sooner in shallower seas that see a stronger heating effect (and contain lots of methane hydrate) such as in
the Arctic. It is also important to realise that the early Eocene greenhouse took at least 10,000 years to come about. Today we could accomplish
the same feat in less than a century. If there is one episode in the Earth's history that we should try above all not to repeat, it is surely the
catastrophe that befell the planet at the end of the Permian period, 251 million years ago. By the end of this calamity, up to 95% of species
were extinct. The end-Permian wipeout is the nearest this planet has ever come to becoming just another lifeless rock drifting through space.
The precise cause remains unclear, but what is undeniable is that the end-Permian mass extinction was associated with a super-greenhouse
event. Oxygen isotopes in rocks dating from the time suggest that temperatures rose by six degrees, perhaps because of an even bigger
methane belch than happened 200 million years later in the Eocene. Sedimentary layers show that most of the world's plant cover was
removed in a catastrophic bout of soil erosion. Rocks also show a "fungal spike" as plants and animals rotted in situ. Still more corpses were
washed into the oceans, helping to turn them stagnant and anoxic. Deserts invaded central Europe, and may even have reached close to the
Arctic Circle. One scientific paper investigating "kill mechanisms" during the end-Permian suggests that methane hydrate explosions "could
destroy terrestrial life almost entirely". Acting much like today's fuel-air explosives (or "vacuum bombs"),
major oceanic methane eruptions could release energy equivalent to 10,000 times the
world's stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Iranian prolif risks a prolif snowball and nuclear war:
Eric S. Edelman, 2011 (Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary
Assessments, The dangers of NATO a nuclear Iran: the limits of containment, Foreign Affairs,
Jan-Feb. 2011, Accessed via General Onefile, 10/16/2013, rwg)
The reports of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States and the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons
of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, as well as other analyses, have highlighted the risk that a nuclear-armed Iran could
trigger additional nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, even if Israel does not declare its own nuclear arsenal.
Notably, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates--all signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty (NPT)--have recently announced or initiated nuclear energy programs. Although some of these states have legitimate economic
rationales for pursuing nuclear power and although the low-enriched fuel used for power reactors cannot be used in nuclear weapons, these
moves have been widely interpreted as hedges against a nuclear-armed Iran. The NPT does not bar states from developing the sensitive
technology required to produce nuclear fuel on their own, that is, the capability to enrich natural uranium and separate plutonium from spent
nuclear fuel. Yet enrichment and reprocessing can also be used to accumulate weapons-grade enriched uranium and plutonium--the very
loophole that Iran has apparently exploited in pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. Developing nuclear weapons remains a slow, expensive,
and difficult process, even for states with considerable economic resources, and especially if other nations try to constrain aspiring nuclear
states' access to critical materials and technology. Without external support, it is unlikely that any of these aspirants could develop a nuclear
weapons capability within a decade. There is, however, at least one state that could receive significant outside
support: Saudi Arabia. And if it did, proliferation could accelerate throughout the region. Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been
geopolitical and ideological rivals. Riyadh would face tremendous pressure to respond in some form to a
nuclear-armed Iran, not only to deter Iranian coercion and subversion but also to preserve its sense that Saudi Arabia is
the leading nation in the Muslim world. The Saudi government is already pursuing a nuclear power
capability, which could be the first step along a slow road to nuclear weapons development. And concerns
persist that it might be able to accelerate its progress by exploiting its close ties to Pakistan. During the 1980s, in response to the use of missiles
during the Iran-Iraq War and their growing proliferation throughout the region, Saudi Arabia acquired several dozen CSS-2 intermediate-range
ballistic missiles from China. The Pakistani government reportedly brokered the deal, and it may have also offered to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear
warheads for the CSS-2s, which are not accurate enough to deliver conventional warheads effectively. There are still rumors that Riyadh and
Islamabad have had discussions involving nuclear weapons, nuclear technology, or security guarantees. This "Islamabad option" could develop
in one of several different ways. Pakistan could sell operational nuclear weapons and delivery systems to Saudi Arabia, or it could provide the
Saudis with the infrastructure, material, and technical support they need to produce nuclear weapons themselves within a matter of years, as
opposed to a decade or longer. Not only has Pakistan provided such support in the past, but it is currently building two more heavy-water
reactors for plutonium production and a second chemical reprocessing facility to extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel. In other words, it
might accumulate more fissile material than it needs to maintain even a substantially expanded arsenal of its own. Alternatively, Pakistan
might offer an extended deterrent guarantee to Saudi Arabia and deploy nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and troops on Saudi territory, a
practice that the United States has employed for decades with its allies. This arrangement could be particularly appealing to both Saudi Arabia
and Pakistan. It would allow the Saudis to argue that they are not violating the NPT since they would not be acquiring their own nuclear
weapons. And an extended deterrent from Pakistan might be preferable to one from the United States because stationing foreign Muslim
forces on Saudi territory would not trigger the kind of popular opposition that would accompany the deployment of U.S. troops. Pakistan, for its
part, would gain financial benefits and international clout by deploying nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia, as well as strategic depth against its
chief rival, India. The Islamabad option raises a host of difficult issues, perhaps the most worrisome being how India would respond. Would it
target Pakistan's weapons in Saudi Arabia with its own conventional or nuclear weapons? How would this expanded nuclear competition
influence stability during a crisis in either the Middle East or South Asia? Regardless of India's reaction, any decision by the Saudi government to
seek out nuclear weapons, by whatever means, would be highly destabilizing. It would increase the incentives of other nations in the Middle
East to pursue nuclear weapons of their own. And it could increase their ability to do so by eroding the remaining barriers to nuclear
proliferation: each additional state that acquires nuclear weapons weakens the nonproliferation regime, even if its particular method of
acquisition only circumvents, rather than violates, the NPT. N-PLAYER COMPETITION Were Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear
weapons, the Middle East would count three nuclear-armed states, and perhaps more before long. It is unclear how
such an n-player competition would unfold because most analyses of nuclear deterrence are based on the U.S.-Soviet rivalry during the Cold
War. It seems likely, however, that the interaction among three or more nuclear-armed powers would
be more prone to miscalculation and escalation than a bipolar competition. During the Cold War, the United States and the
Soviet Union only needed to concern themselves with an attack from the other. Multipolar systems are generally considered to be less stable
than bipolar systems because coalitions can shift quickly, upsetting the balance of power and creating incentives for an attack. More
important, emerging nuclear powers in the Middle East might not take the costly steps necessary to
preserve regional stability and avoid a nuclear exchange. For nuclear-armed states, the bedrock of deterrence is the
knowledge that each side has a secure second-strike capability, so that no state can launch an attack with the expectation that it can wipe out
its opponents' forces and avoid a devastating retaliation. However, emerging nuclear powers might not invest in expensive but survivable
capabilities such as hardened missile silos or submarine-based nuclear forces. Given this likely vulnerability, the close proximity of states in the
Middle East, and the very short flight times of ballistic missiles in the region, any new nuclear powers might be compelled to "launch on
warning" of an attack or even, during a crisis, to use their nuclear forces preemptively. Their governments might also delegate launch authority
to lower-level commanders, heightening the possibility of miscalculation and escalation. Moreover, if early warning systems were not
integrated into robust command-and-control systems, the risk of an unauthorized or accidental launch would increase further still. And without
sophisticated early warning systems, a nuclear attack might be unattributable or attributed incorrectly. That is, assuming that the leadership of
a targeted state survived a first strike, it might not be able to accurately determine which nation was responsible. And this uncertainty,
when combined with the pressure to respond quickly, would create a significant risk that it would
retaliate against the wrong party, potentially triggering a regional nuclear war.