Futureproof your home – buy a cave!

Amongst relevant experts, it has been widely accepted for over 13 years that early humans were almost wiped-out by the Mt Toba volcanic eruption 71,000 years ago. Although already in the grip of the last Ice Age, this eruption caused a further drop in average global temperatures, which scientists believe reduced humans to the level of just a few thousand breeding pairs. Earlier this month, however, we were told that Homo sapiens were living in caves in England 41,000 years ago and sharing the land with Neanderthals, although co-habitation did not last long… Was this perhaps the first case of human-induced species extinction? Therefore, received wisdom states that all humans on the planet today are descended from those that survived the worst of the last Ice Age by living in equatorial Africa, and who spread out across the Earth, as and when permitted by the retreat of ice sheets, culminating in migration from Asia to the Americas – briefly possible before sea level rise created the Bering Sea/Strait between Siberia and Alaska. As anyone who owns a house with a cellar will know, cellars tend to maintain a fairly constant temperature (if that is they are actually underground!). In caves, the insulating effect of overlying rock is more pronounced and, depending on their depth and the extent of their connections to the surface, underground temperatures can be remarkably uniform. So, early humans did not live in caves just because bricks had not yet been invented! Therefore, although I think we are yet a long way from caves being the cause of a new property-boom, the time may come (within say 200 years?) when humans will once again have to take to living underground in order to stop wasting energy trying to keep their homes at a habitable temperature: 70,000 years ago we did this to escape the cold but, in the future, because we will not all be able to migrate to higher latitudes and/or altitudes, our descendants may well have to do this to escape from the heat. Is this really just “environmental alarmism“? If so, what possible purpose does it serve? None that I can see. However, if we can suspend our disbelief long enough, what is the basis for such drastic predictions? How does the Second Law of Thermodynamics grab you? Pretty-widely accepted as fact the last time I checked, this states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it is merely converted from more useful forms (e.g. chemical energy in fossil fuel) into less useful forms (e.g. heat in our atmosphere and oceans). So what if it gets a little warmer? That may not be so bad? Errm, hello…? Just look how many people die as a result of a single heat wave lasting little more than a month! Even if we paint all our building white to reflect as much heat as possible, are they all going to be equipped with super-efficient air-conditioning? I guess that would not be impossible (especially if powered by renewable energy generated on-site). However, as is now becoming clear, it will not just be heat we have to deal with: The warming of the oceans is giving rise to ever-more frequent and ever-more powerful storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires. Therefore, so long as you chose your location wisely, that’s four more reasons to live underground right there! One thing seems certain, in the future that people who deny climate change is happening have almost certainly made inevitable, we will not have to worry about over-population: If the accelerated melting of Arctic sea ice, permafrost, mountain glaciers and ice caps (and all amplifying feedback mechanisms that these thing invoke) are indeed the first sign of Earth reaching the point at which runaway global warming becomes unstoppable, it is likely that sea level rise will continue to accelerate; ultimately reaching speeds of 4 to 5 metres per century. This will then only stop when, after the best part of 2,000 years, the Earth will – for the first time in 35 million years – be entirely ice free. Sea level will be 75 metres higher than it is today and global average temperatures somewhere between 3 and 5 Celsius warmer than today. It will be a case of not just “run to the hills“; but run into the caves as well. So, one other thing seems certain, with the likes of James Hansen having made the situation very clear, neither we – nor our governments – can claim that we have not been warned!


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Civil Disorder, Civilisation, Climate Science, Environment, James Hansen, Limits to Growth, Mass Extinctions, Modernity, Optimum Population, Scepticism, Storms of my Grandchildren and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Futureproof your home – buy a cave!

  1. I would love to buy a cave but can’t find any for sale, or the few I have found were ridiculously overpriced


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