Brains, Evolution, and Climate
as studied by
William H. Calvin
professor emeritus, University of Washington
The recent surprise from my work on the evolution of big brains: there is a feedback loop triggered by lightning strikes. Bush fire boom-and-bust occurs far more often than does climate change, and it promotes trait hitchhiking in our meat-loving ancestors. Some functions can evolve without having to pay their own way. I had to set aside the unpublished manuscripts in 2018 when I realized how serious the extreme weather surges had become.
Supplementary (i.e., old) home pages
They are full of links that I have not yet incorporated into this 2021 homepage version.
It's not necessarily so.
There are effective actions we can still take to repel the extreme weather invasion, if we only get our act together in a hurry.
Like war, it is risky—but properly focused actions can greatly improve our chances.
The trip to 'hell' is not a sure thing.
--from the conclusion of Extreme Weather
(and What to Do About It).
Using an Emergency Medicine Mindset to Guide Climate Action
for the 2020 American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting.
Where are we are going?
Four half-hour talks
“The climate crisis has been a lot to wrap our hearts, heads, and strategic policy around. However, climate urgency took a big step up a decade ago as extreme weather surged and stayed.
We have been “betting the farm” on emission reductions, which will not do the job in time. We now need a big CO2 cleanup before we miss even more exits on the Freeway to Hell.”
A Carbon Diet is too Slow. "We now need a paradigm shift, away from focusing on the next fractional-degree temperature rise (merely reducing CO₂ annual emissions, rather like cutting back to one pack per day), to a new focus on backing out of the extreme weather shifts with CO2 removal.
The Wrong Target can be Dangerous. "When we assume that emissions reduction is still the appropriate target for responding to the Climate Problem, as our leaders do, we not only fail to acknowledge the urgency of cooling things off but we set the stage for misguided responses--say, quickly reducing the world's population in order to reduce emissions. It seems only a matter of time before someone offers emissions reduction as an excuse for genocide, or for not intervening in a pandemic.
That would not do a thing for the overhead accumulation of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the near term, and thus little towards cooling us before extreme weather destroys the global economy and our ability to save civilization via a Big Project.
My two cover stories serve to illustrate how I became interested in global overheating and climate dynamics.