Imagine that US leaders were told that hundreds of nuclear weapons were set on a timer to detonate across the planet, progressively and in increasing numbers, over the coming years and decades. The lives of millions would be upended if not made nearly impossible by transformed weather patterns and resource scarcity. Tens of millions would become migrants as regions became uninhabitable. Millions would die, more and more as time went on. If this science fiction were reality, US leaders would lead an international effort to immediately disarm and dismantle the weapons.
But this isn’t science fiction. Climate change is a ticking time bomb, literally threatening to end human life on earth over the coming centuries. As climate journalist Peter Brannen describes it, Earth faced a similar crisis hundreds of millions of years ago during “The Great Dying” when volcanoes spewed so much carbon dioxide into the air – including magma that blanketed an area as large as the lower 48 U.S. states, one kilometer deep – that it almost killed all life. Today, Brannen says, “we’re shooting carbon dioxide up into the atmosphere ten times faster than the ancient volcanoes….”This article was originally published in The Guardian.