The Loma Prietan - December 2013


Last Hours

by John Maybury

C02 and smoke     Photo: H. Mack Horton
C02 and smoke Photo: H. Mack Horton

"Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists say that climate change is happening and that humans have made it so, but only four in 10 Americans realize it’s true. According to a new study in the journal Public Understanding of Science, the more that people listen to conservative media like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, the less sure they are that global warming is real. And even worse, the less they trust science.” (from “The Lies That Will Kill America” by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship)

"Carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels is changing our climate and transforming our world. From more destructive and more frequent climate-related extreme weather events and rising sea levels, to climate refugees, crop failure and water scarcity, the consequences are profound. Last Hours expertly explains how we got here, and what will happen if we don't work together to stop it. It is a needed and urgent call to action." (Al Gore, Chairman, Climate Reality Project)

"We've been talking about rising sea levels and extreme weather events. Now we need to talk about extinctions." (from “The Last Hours of Humanity” by Thom Hartmann)

Filmmaker Leila Conners and producers George DiCaprio, Earl Katz, and Mathew Schmid have joined with Hartmann and writer/researcher Sam Sacks to produce "Last Hours" ( or on YouTube), an 11 minute short film about the most extreme possible outcome of global warming. 

Our planet has nearly died before. Five times in the deep geologic history of planet Earth, massive quantities of greenhouse gases have been released through the Earth's crust. One was provoked by a meteorite strike, others by tectonic and volcanic activity. In each case, these massive releases of greenhouse gases warmed the planet enough to cause global mass extinctions – the death of more than half of all life.

"Last Hours" explores the possibility that we could be close—centuries or perhaps just decades—to tipping points that could lead to a sixth mass extinction, and relies on input from some of the world's leading scientists.

While climate scientists rarely study mass extinctions, geologists are quite familiar with them. And increasingly they are speaking out about how our extraction of carbon fuels from beneath the earth and burning them into the atmosphere is mimicking processes that, in the deep geologic past, have caused mass extinctions.

“Geology is a patient teacher and it repeats its lessons over and over again," says DiCaprio. "‘Last Hours’ explains that the same chemical circumstances will yield the same results... . There is no reason to suppose otherwise. It's time to tell everyone that global warming may cause a calamity; we have no time to waste.” 

Katz says, "’Last Hours’ describes the methane Sword of Damocles that we must avoid to prevent global environmental catastrophe. Watch ‘Last Hours’ because our last chance to save humanity is right now.”