Category Archives: arctic ice melt

Menacing Methane:  An Analysis

“The story of methane really is a story of a very serious definitive threat to our future existence on this planet.” (Peter Wadhams)

Legendary Arctic explorers Sir James Clark Ross, who located the northern magnetic pole in 1831 and Sir William Edward Parry, who set a record in 1827 for the Farthest North exploration serve as footnotes in the context of the Arctic’s most prolific scientist, Peter Wadhams, professor emeritus, University of Cambridge, with more than 50 expeditions to the world’s poles under his belt.

Dr. Peter Wadhams (A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic, Oxford University Press) delivered the principal lecture for a very special presentation by Scientists Warning/Europe ‘20: “The Threat from Arctic Methane” November 24, 2020 (1:32 m)

Within two weeks of his presentation, the annual Arctic Report Card, December 9, 2020, was released by NOAA: “Record wildfires, dwindling sea ice and ecosystem disruptions all point to the rapid change besetting the region.”1

In his lecture, Dr. Wadhams accentuated profound Arctic changes unprecedented throughout recorded history that go well beyond the context of NOAA’s Arctic Report Card. He discussed far-reaching Arctic changes with a distinct possibility of dire consequences for the planet’s climate system.

Based upon his presentation, highlighted herein, unless and until ongoing experimental efforts in England for remediation of the Arctic are proven to work, meaning revival of the Arctic, the planet is destined to become a vastly different place, not for the better, and likely not in the distant future but much sooner than that. The Arctic is changing too fast for comfort.

“The Arctic is no longer the Arctic” (Wadhams). It is something entirely different. The change is palpable. It has morphed into a looming threat of radical climate upheaval.

Regrettably, neither the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) nor any major nation/state is braced for Arctic upheaval. It is not universally recognized as an impending threat in the near future.

World opinion is broadly shaped by the IPCC narrative, which does not recognize a methane threat from the seas off Russia’s northern coastline. But, according to Professor Wadhams: They’re wrong!

Explained in detail during Dr. Wadhams’ lecture, the Arctic’s disintegration stems from rapid loss of sea ice due to global warming, specifically over the past 40 years, which now exposes shallow continental underwater shelves along Russia’s northern coastline to unheralded bouts of solar radiation because of loss of albedo, meaning loss of reflectivity (sea ice is very reflective, 80%-90%, of solar radiation). Nowadays, dark water absorbs that same extra heat that had been reflecting back into outer space for centuries upon centuries.

The major issue is continental shelves above Russia in extremely shallow water, only 50-100m in depth. Solar radiated warming now extends all the way to the bottom of the seabed, in turn, thawing the underwater sediment, which contains eons of accumulation of frozen methane.

That dangerous thawing process is happening now. Recent Russian expeditions discovered water columns with methane bubbling, emitting directly into the atmosphere on a scale never witnessed before.

“That is the threat. The thawing of the seabed … giving us a rapid increase in emissions… in this case of methane.” (Wadhams)

When Dr. Wadhams recently sailed north of the Bering Sea, which divides Russia from Alaska, he found temps of 17°C (62.6°F) and 11°C (51.8°F) in the Arctic Ocean. “These are temperatures like you get in the North Sea in summer when people go swimming. It’s not typically Arctic conditions anymore.” (Wadhams)

“When we look at temperatures at the bottom on the seabed, we find temperatures above the freezing point… Under the water we find a layer of permafrost and underneath that permafrost a couple hundred meters of sediment, and that sediment is filled with methane gas which reacts with the sediment to produce methane hydrate, which is ice that contains methane molecules… remove it from the sea and put a match to it and it burns.” (Wadhams)

In the end, as the permafrost protective layer melts, like it’s actually doing, the methane hydrates in shallow waters become unstable and release methane gas.

Among the seas north of Russia, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is the one continental shelf that combines a curiously unique dangerous cocktail: (1) Extremely low water depth (2) High concentrations of hydrates in the sediment. The methane layer is approximately two kilometers (1.25 miles) thick. “So, that’s 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) of sediment that contains high concentrations of methane.” (Wadhams)

As the seabed warms, the permafrost melts, leaving naked hydrates. Naked hydrates are not stable. They quickly decompose into methane gas released in water columns directly into the atmosphere. Areas where naked hydrates are melting show methane measurements so extensive that a ship randomly sailing by, if it created a spark or dropped a cigarette overboard, would blow up.

“This is truly a frightening circumstance of huge amounts of methane released from the seabed coming up to the sea surface where it is released into the atmosphere.” (Wadhams)

Dr. Wadhams discussed the approach of mainstream science: “Scientists have been very complacent and the IPCC, in fact, has been totally complacent about this, because they say, oh well, methane released in the seabed dissolves in the ocean and doesn’t reach the surface. That’s actually wrong. It is true if the water depth is great, meaning in water depth greater than 200 to 300 meters. But, it is not true in water depth of only 50-60 meters because the methane gas rises quickly… it doesn’t have time to dissolve… a lot of scientists who’ve never been to the Arctic imagine that the methane dissolves in the water so we don’t have anything to worry about. They’re just not aware that the water depth is very shallow.”

The proof is convincing as methane emissions are rapidly increasing: “We know that something has been going on in the last few years because if we look at the amount of methane in the atmosphere, it rose steadily from the 1980s and then it reached a peak in the year 2000… since 2007, an increase once again, and it’s been going up ever since in an accelerating way.” (Wadhams)

What’s the risk?

Scientists who study the Arctic fear the whole complex of protective permafrost will thaw and expose the shelf along the East Siberian Arctic Sea, as well as other seas nearby, like the Laptev Sea and the Kara Sea. In turn, causing a big burst of methane, an outbreak. Russian scientists have estimated such an outburst could be 50 gigatons, but that’s only for the initial release. That’s equivalent to 50 billion tons.

“I did an analysis with two colleagues on what that would do to global warming… we’d be getting an extra 0.6°C more or less immediately, a sudden rise of global temperatures… Now, this is not good news because the entire move up since the 19tb century has only been one degree centigrade for the planet as a whole, and here we are… adding 0.6°C instantly, within a few months or weeks, we don’t know how instant, but it would be very instant. It’s something we’ve never experienced on this planet.” (Wadhams)

Unfortunately, o.6°C would be just the start followed by more, as additional sediment thaws. Furthermore, the economic costs would likely be one trillion pounds per year.

What can be done?

CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere via Direct Air Capture (DAC), but it is very expensive. However, it’s an enormous job on the scale of existing planet-wide fossil fuel infrastructure. Even then, DAC does not apply to removal of methane.

Emergency plans should be formulated by nation/states and especially by coastal cities because a “big burst” could happen at any time. Estimates are within the next few years. Certainly, the underwater permafrost is thinning. Russian scientists measure it.

Other geo-engineering measures for amelioration of Arctic disintegration are under study. For example, Marine cloud brightening via drone ships at sea is one study underway in order to reflect solar radiation back into outer space. It could reduce temperatures to help stem and possibly (hopefully) reverse Arctic sea ice loss. This can be attempted on a localized basis.

A group of scientists in England is currently working on solutions for the Arctic, experimenting with a technique that blows a powdered solution on the sea surface where it’ll thwart the methane before it emits into the atmosphere. This is still only theoretical, as experimentation is ongoing.

Throughout the virtual online session with Dr. Wadhams, he emphasized the disconnect between the scientific community and the reality of what’s happening in the shallow waters of the East Siberian Arctic Sea (ESAS), which region is equivalent in combined size to Germany, France, Gr Br, Italy, and Japan with 75% of the area in 50-80m, shallow waters, allowing methane (CH4) release from the subsea permafrost without oxidation in the water column directly into the atmosphere. That is a very bad setup, just itching for trouble.

“I think you should be worried about the methane threat despite the fact that the International Panel on Climate Change is keeping very quiet about it.” (Wadhams)

  1. “Three Signs a ‘New Arctic’ Is Emerging”, Scientific American, December 9, 2020.

The post Menacing Methane:  An Analysis first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Menacing Methane:  An Analysis

“The story of methane really is a story of a very serious definitive threat to our future existence on this planet.” (Peter Wadhams)

Legendary Arctic explorers Sir James Clark Ross, who located the northern magnetic pole in 1831 and Sir William Edward Parry, who set a record in 1827 for the Farthest North exploration serve as footnotes in the context of the Arctic’s most prolific scientist, Peter Wadhams, professor emeritus, University of Cambridge, with more than 50 expeditions to the world’s poles under his belt.

Dr. Peter Wadhams (A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic, Oxford University Press) delivered the principal lecture for a very special presentation by Scientists Warning/Europe ‘20: “The Threat from Arctic Methane” November 24, 2020 (1:32 m)

Within two weeks of his presentation, the annual Arctic Report Card, December 9, 2020, was released by NOAA: “Record wildfires, dwindling sea ice and ecosystem disruptions all point to the rapid change besetting the region.”1

In his lecture, Dr. Wadhams accentuated profound Arctic changes unprecedented throughout recorded history that go well beyond the context of NOAA’s Arctic Report Card. He discussed far-reaching Arctic changes with a distinct possibility of dire consequences for the planet’s climate system.

Based upon his presentation, highlighted herein, unless and until ongoing experimental efforts in England for remediation of the Arctic are proven to work, meaning revival of the Arctic, the planet is destined to become a vastly different place, not for the better, and likely not in the distant future but much sooner than that. The Arctic is changing too fast for comfort.

“The Arctic is no longer the Arctic” (Wadhams). It is something entirely different. The change is palpable. It has morphed into a looming threat of radical climate upheaval.

Regrettably, neither the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) nor any major nation/state is braced for Arctic upheaval. It is not universally recognized as an impending threat in the near future.

World opinion is broadly shaped by the IPCC narrative, which does not recognize a methane threat from the seas off Russia’s northern coastline. But, according to Professor Wadhams: They’re wrong!

Explained in detail during Dr. Wadhams’ lecture, the Arctic’s disintegration stems from rapid loss of sea ice due to global warming, specifically over the past 40 years, which now exposes shallow continental underwater shelves along Russia’s northern coastline to unheralded bouts of solar radiation because of loss of albedo, meaning loss of reflectivity (sea ice is very reflective, 80%-90%, of solar radiation). Nowadays, dark water absorbs that same extra heat that had been reflecting back into outer space for centuries upon centuries.

The major issue is continental shelves above Russia in extremely shallow water, only 50-100m in depth. Solar radiated warming now extends all the way to the bottom of the seabed, in turn, thawing the underwater sediment, which contains eons of accumulation of frozen methane.

That dangerous thawing process is happening now. Recent Russian expeditions discovered water columns with methane bubbling, emitting directly into the atmosphere on a scale never witnessed before.

“That is the threat. The thawing of the seabed … giving us a rapid increase in emissions… in this case of methane.” (Wadhams)

When Dr. Wadhams recently sailed north of the Bering Sea, which divides Russia from Alaska, he found temps of 17°C (62.6°F) and 11°C (51.8°F) in the Arctic Ocean. “These are temperatures like you get in the North Sea in summer when people go swimming. It’s not typically Arctic conditions anymore.” (Wadhams)

“When we look at temperatures at the bottom on the seabed, we find temperatures above the freezing point… Under the water we find a layer of permafrost and underneath that permafrost a couple hundred meters of sediment, and that sediment is filled with methane gas which reacts with the sediment to produce methane hydrate, which is ice that contains methane molecules… remove it from the sea and put a match to it and it burns.” (Wadhams)

In the end, as the permafrost protective layer melts, like it’s actually doing, the methane hydrates in shallow waters become unstable and release methane gas.

Among the seas north of Russia, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is the one continental shelf that combines a curiously unique dangerous cocktail: (1) Extremely low water depth (2) High concentrations of hydrates in the sediment. The methane layer is approximately two kilometers (1.25 miles) thick. “So, that’s 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) of sediment that contains high concentrations of methane.” (Wadhams)

As the seabed warms, the permafrost melts, leaving naked hydrates. Naked hydrates are not stable. They quickly decompose into methane gas released in water columns directly into the atmosphere. Areas where naked hydrates are melting show methane measurements so extensive that a ship randomly sailing by, if it created a spark or dropped a cigarette overboard, would blow up.

“This is truly a frightening circumstance of huge amounts of methane released from the seabed coming up to the sea surface where it is released into the atmosphere.” (Wadhams)

Dr. Wadhams discussed the approach of mainstream science: “Scientists have been very complacent and the IPCC, in fact, has been totally complacent about this, because they say, oh well, methane released in the seabed dissolves in the ocean and doesn’t reach the surface. That’s actually wrong. It is true if the water depth is great, meaning in water depth greater than 200 to 300 meters. But, it is not true in water depth of only 50-60 meters because the methane gas rises quickly… it doesn’t have time to dissolve… a lot of scientists who’ve never been to the Arctic imagine that the methane dissolves in the water so we don’t have anything to worry about. They’re just not aware that the water depth is very shallow.”

The proof is convincing as methane emissions are rapidly increasing: “We know that something has been going on in the last few years because if we look at the amount of methane in the atmosphere, it rose steadily from the 1980s and then it reached a peak in the year 2000… since 2007, an increase once again, and it’s been going up ever since in an accelerating way.” (Wadhams)

What’s the risk?

Scientists who study the Arctic fear the whole complex of protective permafrost will thaw and expose the shelf along the East Siberian Arctic Sea, as well as other seas nearby, like the Laptev Sea and the Kara Sea. In turn, causing a big burst of methane, an outbreak. Russian scientists have estimated such an outburst could be 50 gigatons, but that’s only for the initial release. That’s equivalent to 50 billion tons.

“I did an analysis with two colleagues on what that would do to global warming… we’d be getting an extra 0.6°C more or less immediately, a sudden rise of global temperatures… Now, this is not good news because the entire move up since the 19tb century has only been one degree centigrade for the planet as a whole, and here we are… adding 0.6°C instantly, within a few months or weeks, we don’t know how instant, but it would be very instant. It’s something we’ve never experienced on this planet.” (Wadhams)

Unfortunately, o.6°C would be just the start followed by more, as additional sediment thaws. Furthermore, the economic costs would likely be one trillion pounds per year.

What can be done?

CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere via Direct Air Capture (DAC), but it is very expensive. However, it’s an enormous job on the scale of existing planet-wide fossil fuel infrastructure. Even then, DAC does not apply to removal of methane.

Emergency plans should be formulated by nation/states and especially by coastal cities because a “big burst” could happen at any time. Estimates are within the next few years. Certainly, the underwater permafrost is thinning. Russian scientists measure it.

Other geo-engineering measures for amelioration of Arctic disintegration are under study. For example, Marine cloud brightening via drone ships at sea is one study underway in order to reflect solar radiation back into outer space. It could reduce temperatures to help stem and possibly (hopefully) reverse Arctic sea ice loss. This can be attempted on a localized basis.

A group of scientists in England is currently working on solutions for the Arctic, experimenting with a technique that blows a powdered solution on the sea surface where it’ll thwart the methane before it emits into the atmosphere. This is still only theoretical, as experimentation is ongoing.

Throughout the virtual online session with Dr. Wadhams, he emphasized the disconnect between the scientific community and the reality of what’s happening in the shallow waters of the East Siberian Arctic Sea (ESAS), which region is equivalent in combined size to Germany, France, Gr Br, Italy, and Japan with 75% of the area in 50-80m, shallow waters, allowing methane (CH4) release from the subsea permafrost without oxidation in the water column directly into the atmosphere. That is a very bad setup, just itching for trouble.

“I think you should be worried about the methane threat despite the fact that the International Panel on Climate Change is keeping very quiet about it.” (Wadhams)

  1. “Three Signs a ‘New Arctic’ Is Emerging”, Scientific American, December 9, 2020.

The post Menacing Methane:  An Analysis first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Expert IPCC Reviewer Speaks Out

Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion/XR recently interviewed Peter Carter, M.D., who has the distinguished title – Expert IPCC Reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The interview was conducted to get to the bottom of what science says about the state of affairs, specifically the health of the planet.

The following is a video link to that brilliant interview, inclusive of a treasure trove of contemporary science events (time: 41:21 November 11, 2020).

Additionally, a synopsis of the interview follows herein, but it does not do justice to the emphasis as expressed by the participants:

Dr. Carter is currently reviewing the 6th Assessment (AR6) of the IPCC. Additionally, he reviewed the IPCC Special 1.5°C Report of 2018 that exposed a new reality about the global climate emergency. As a result, the depth and breadth of a true emergency is gaining recognition throughout the world. The fact that 1.5°C above baseline is now the prescribed upper limit to global warming accomplished more than just turning heads.

Dr. Carter:  “We are in a climate emergency, in an unprecedented Earth emergency… it’s an emergency of our climate, an emergency of our oceans… this is not one of many challenges, this is the challenge for all of humanity.”

The upcoming 26th COP (Conference of the Parties) to be held November 2021 in Glasgow is on the docket for scientists and bureaucrats, as well as big moneyed interests, to knock heads in a formal setting to discuss the state of the planet. If all goes according to plan, like past COPs, powerful economic interests will sabotage what would otherwise be a rather dim forecast of a planet in various stages of collapse, some terminal.

We’ve seen this act (COP) repeat over and over, ever since COP1 in Berlin in 1995, as each successive COP-ending-ceremony finds the Parties congratulating each other, slaps on the back, for one more successful climate conference of 20,000-30,000 able-bodied professionals wiped-out from overconsumption of Beluga caviar and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, but subsequently carbon emissions increase the following year, and every following year thereafter. What’s to congratulate?

More to the point, the annualized CO2 emissions rate is +60% since COP1, not decreasing, not going down, not once. After 25 years of the same identical pattern, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the take-home-work from all 25 COPs mysteriously turns into the antithesis of the mission statement of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Dr. Carter has a unique front-row seat to science; thus, the following highlights of his interview include a wide range of topics that assuredly demonstrate new all-time climate records, none of them positive, successively, each and every year:

At the outset, Dr. Carter commended XR (Extinction Rebellion) for insisting on a target of “net zero emissions within a matter of years,” not decades. That dovetails nicely with his viewpoint that the climate story should be labeled “the terrible truth,” and something that society must face up to.

Correspondingly, Dr. Carter praised the current Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres (Portuguese) for telling the truth. In his first public statement about climate change, he famously zeroed in on the heart of the issue: “Climate change is an existential threat to the survival of life on Earth, particularly including human kind.”

At this late point in time, there are no easy choices. The challenge ahead is daunting: “Everything is accelerating, everything is at a record high. In a nutshell, everything is getting worse faster.” (Carter)

Global warming has morphed into a quasi-heat machine as global temperature for the first six months of 2020 registered 1.3°C above baseline, a number that has new significance ever since the IPCC Special Report/2018 about the risks of exceeding 1.5°C.

Accordingly, it is generally acknowledged that 2.0°C above baseline is, in Dr. Carter’s words: “Out of the question, a catastrophe!”

Carter: “A world at 1.5°C is a disastrous world, no question.”

Carter: “2.°C is an impossible world.”

The problem arises because global surface heat is accelerating, not decelerating. Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration, accelerating like never before, is widely acknowledged by scientists throughout the world. New research published only a couple of weeks ago shows atmospheric carbon dioxide now at the highest level in twenty-three million (23,000,000) years.

Carter: “That’s insane! It’s absolutely climate crazy!”

Moreover, there is random CO2 data that goes back as far as 40 million years, bringing to light one more bleak data point, namely: We are increasing CO2 faster than at any time over the past 40 million years that’s 100 to 200 times faster than natural background rates. As such, according to Carter: “It’s gotten so out of whack that we are now looking at survival for our children, not survival of our grandchildren.”

It’s not only atmospheric greenhouse gases that are gassing like crazy. We are also changing the chemistry of the oceans for the first time since humans first gathered around fire. The world’s leading expert on “ocean heat” has researched how many Hiroshima bombs equal the amount of heat added to the ocean on a daily basis. Which is a major byproduct of global warming. “As of a few years ago, the answer was three (3) Hiroshima bombs per second; now it is five (5) Hiroshima bombs per second… and that’s real” (Carter).

It’s impossible to fully comprehend numbers like that, which may be one of the biggest obstacles to fully understanding the depth and breadth of climate change. But still, 5 Hiroshima bombs per second!  Wow!

Meanwhile, according to Dr. Carter, the root cause of climate change is that countries are not de-carbonizing. It is at the heart of the problem, countries not de-carbonizing, the world not de-carbonizing. Moreover, making matters doubly worse, the rate of de-carbonization has actually slowed over the past few years.

Carter: “So, we’re doing things worse, instead of doing things better.”

The Arctic is a key factor in the planet’s unwieldy climate dilemma. According to Carter:  We are now looking at the Arctic switching from a cooling source to a warming source as the ice melts away, losing its big ice reflector, which in past years reflects 80-90% of solar radiation back into outer space where it belongs, but lo and behold, with the loss of most of the ice, the background is dark, not reflective, it absorbs 80-90% of solar radiation, heating things up double or triple time.

In one of the biggest human feats of all time, The Anthropocene Era (the current geological age of human influence) flexed its muscles enough to almost totally undermine the infrastructure of the planet’s largest solar reflector, Arctic sea ice.  It’s impossible to conceive how quickly multi-year ice, the true infrastructure of the Arctic, melted (almost a Blue Ocean Event, but not yet) in a very short time frame of only a few decades. Nobody knows the specific repercussions, but in general, it’s not viewed favorably and possibly really bad. It’s part of the global warming end game.

NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) publishes an Arctic report card every year. “In 2016 the results were downright shocking but surprisingly not picked up by the media. The report said that Arctic permafrost warming, thawing, and emitting had switched the Arctic from a ‘carbon sink’ to a ‘carbon source.” (Carter)

According to Dr. Carter re the NOAA report: “It is Earth catastrophic news. This is not modeling; it is actual catastrophic news happening in real time. There is no other way to look at it.”

And it’s not just the Arctic that is under siege: “We’ve lost the Great Barrier Reef,” which has been obvious over the past few years due to a heated ocean that is devastating coral reefs. The GBR suffered its third major bleaching in five years. “Nothing like this has ever happened before… to the Great Barrier Reef.” (Carter)

“We have two gems on Earth, (1) the Amazon rainforest and (2) the ocean. In the ocean, the GBR is the largest living organism on the planet, easily viewable from outer space. It is dying.” (Carter)

It hurts and hard to believe that we could lose the largest living organism on the planet. That’s all one needs to know that something is horribly wrong. The Amazon rainforest and the GBR are the planet’s two most significant canaries in the coalmine. They’re both under considerable stress, and dying.

Dr. Carter has tracked Amazon fires for six years via NASA satellite reports. Earlier in the month, he “was shocked to his core,” monitoring more fires in the Amazon rainforest than he’d ever seen, “Way-way-way more fires… Those fires, I look at them every couple of days now, they’re now encroaching and showing up in the entire Amazon. These fires, by the way, are intentional.”

With massive fires blazing around the world, on every continent this year, except Antarctica, Carter recommends the nations of the world come together to apply pressure to stop Amazon fires, “so that the Amazon is left in some kind of state of retrieval and not completely destroyed.”

Moreover, unprecedented endless fires are hitting Siberia hard. These fires will never extinguish. Russia calls them “Zombie Fires” because they subside but keep on burning at a lesser rate in smoldering peat in the winter and return with a vengeance the following spring/summer, emitting vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

In the final analysis, survival of civilization that resembles the current setup means the notorious neoliberal brand of capitalism needs a major work-over. The world community has been fully exposed to the ruthlessness and rapaciousness behind rampant, nearly unchecked, neoliberal capitalism; e.g., it searches out and captures the world’s lowest wages with the world’s weakest regulations to manufacture goods for the richest people… and that’s just for starters.

According to Dr. Carter: We must-must-must change the world’s economic direction as the current system destroys our planet faster and ever faster. It’s the sixth mass extinction, accelerating at an unbelievable pace: “It is, for certain, the most rapid extinction Earth has ever experienced.” (Carter)

Those are fighting words Down Under where they’ve already had a scrape, or a preview, with runaway global warming, circa 2019, as bats dropped dead out of the sky, streets buckled, and fruit on trees cooked from the inside out, too much heat for too long.

“If we continue to emit, there’s no question about what’s going to happen. Earth is going to become an intolerable place to live with intolerable heat waves, but those heat waves will not be just intolerable, they will crush our crops because there’s a definite limit to heat that crops can tolerate, even with irrigation.” (Carter)

The prominent Hot House Earth analysis (Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene, Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, et al) a couple of years ago alarmed people, discussing the danger of cascading climate feedbacks impacting individual components of the climate system.  Nowadays, there’s a rub, a very big rub: “They’re actually happening altogether at the same time.” (Carter)

Roger Hallam: “We’ve established two things so far in this interview: (1) If this (abuse, overuse of the climate) carries on, they’ll be no humans left; humans are going to die and it’ll be the end of the human race. (2) The mechanism for which this happens is the compounding effect of feedbacks triggering, and thereafter triggering more and more feedback loops and more trigger points.”

Accordingly, what’s evolving is a “slow death scenario” with hundreds of millions starving, which is the end game of excessive global warming. Similar climate conditions have occurred in the past, but not nearly as fast, not even close. Nature is much, much slower than the human fast lane as the two ingredients mix like oil and water.

Adequate food and water are the main risks to human survival in a world of collapsing ecosystems. It’s a known fact that excessive global heat causes multiple levels of damage to crops. Regrettably, with the world already at 1.3°C above pre-industrial, another 0.2°C pushes some crop growing regions into flashing red zones.

“We’ll lose food production at 1.5°C.” (Carter)

All over creation, danger is flashing in unison: “All of the accelerating data trends together result in a trend that the biosphere is headed in direction of collapse, meaning the human species will be lost.” (Carter)

Agriculture is one of the worst offenders of the climate system. In all respects, organic agriculture is the best form of agriculture. Modern agriculture is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases and other suspect chemicals. Ironically, changing agricultural practices is another “must do” for survival.

Carter: “We must change our agriculture in order to survive… All of our energy and climate plans of all governments and corporations throughout the world are, not only for more, but continued increasing greenhouse gas emissions… so, we’re headed for a post-agricultural world. We’re changing the climate of the past 10,000 years into a completely different climate which is not an agricultural climate.”

A post-agricultural world is defined as one without enough food to feed all of the people. Shortages hit hard… grocery stores carry empty shelves and on it goes.

In the face of scientific evidence of trouble looming ahead, the only plans society at large has to combat it all lead to “global suicide.” Today’s most prominent economic system has roots in the late 19th century, circa: The Gilded Age, when nobody had heard the word ecosystem.

Hallam: “If you have not got enough food and if you have infectious diseases, then, you’re going to get social breakdown; social breakdown gets you to the security issue of transporting food… in other words, like all these things, they’re are interrelated, and they go exponential, they happen fast, it doesn’t just gradually creep up on societies; once a society passes a certain point, it will cascade downwards with slaughter and death. That’s what we’re looking at.”

Carter: “We’re now facing what people call ‘the unthinkable.’ But, ironically, we cannot afford not to think about it. That’s one of the principal values of XR; it challenges people to sit up and think, pay attention.”

To date, it’s clear that warnings have not worked: “For example, the 2007 IPCC Assessment stressed over and over again, and again, that emissions had to be in decline by 2015 for a 2°C limit. We’re already years and years too late.“ (Carter)  That was 13 years ago.

According to Carter: The world community needs to sink their teeth into the science and wake up. The world needs to take a hard look because what’s happening is equivalent to “the crime of all time, undercutting all society… Our perverse form of economics is destroying the planet, disrupting all the oceans, poisoning the oceans, entire oceans with acidification, with heating, which disturbs and breaks down all the healthy ocean currents and… it is the definition of evil.” (Carter)

There are solutions: “The most effective, definitively effective, immediately effective, readily doable action that everybody in the world can do is Go Vegan. In theory, we can all do that. If we do that, emissions drop immediately.” (Carter)

Hallam: “Enormous changes in our personal lifestyle are now necessary. Let’s not beat around the bush, they’re necessary. It’s necessary for people to massively reduce their travel; it’s necessary for people to review their lifestyles, their jobs, and their careers. Because we’re facing a massive indescribable suffering of billions of people if we don’t… it seems unavoidable. I cannot avoid that conclusion.”

Hallam: Extinction Rebellion is at the forefront of a fundamental new message, which is: “If a government does not change, we shall… go into a rebellion via civil disobedience against the government in order to fundamentally reduce carbon emissions… It’s not actually that complicated, is it?”

At the end of the day, Dr. Carter suggests a glimmer of hope, the potential for a “Golden Age.” Acknowledging humanity has accomplished a lot that is good, which we must not forget, he suggests we need to build upon it and break away from that which is destructive.

But, time is short.

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A Troubling Discovery in the Arctic

A notable satellite-telephonic call to colleagues in late October from Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University briefly described a haunting discovery. On board the research ship R/V Akademik Keldysh, a 6,240-ton Russian scientific research vessel equipped with 17 on-board laboratories and a library, far off the coast of Russia, Dr. Gustafsson reported:

This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing. 1

That satellite call referenced a sleeping giant that has enough carbon firepower to adversely impact the world’s climate system. The expedition discovered methane (CH4) that had been securely frozen in shallow subsea permafrost waters forever, and ever, and ever, now “stirring.” Colloquially, “The Monster of the North awakened.” (Although, in fairness to accuracy, the ESAS has been perturbed and leaking/seeping into the atmosphere for some time… but, now it’s much worse than ever before, and terrifyingly, it’s more noticeable to passersby, like expeditions of discerning scientists).

After all, there are scientists who believe the East Siberian Arctic Shelf and neighboring Russian coastline continental shelf seas contain enough methane in frozen hydrates to change human history forever, unfortunately, not for the betterment of civilization.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf, as well as other Arctic seas off Russia’s northern coastline, has been the subject of clashing opinions within the scientific community.

Over the years, mainstream science has “talked down the risks” of a massive methane breakout in Arctic waters which could start a vicious cycle of runaway global warming that would be devastating on several fronts for civilized societies, and uncivilized too.

Three years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey labeled Arctic hydrates as one of the world’s four most serious causation events of abrupt climate change. Yet, according to USGS geophysicist Carolyn Ruppel, who oversees the USGS Gas Hydrates Project:

After so many years spent determining where gas hydrates are breaking down and measuring methane flux at the sea-air interface, we suggest that conclusive evidence for release of hydrate-related methane to the atmosphere is lacking.2

According to USGS calculations, sediments in the Arctic contain a huge quantity of frozen methane and other gases – known as hydrates. Along those lines, it’s important to note that methane (CH4) has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over its initial 20 years. Meaning CH4 has a sharper, quicker impact on global warming than does CO2.

That USGS position (“no conclusive evidence”) about the risk of methane release is now three years old. Thus, this new discovery prompts a logical question: Does the current expedition provide conclusive evidence of a change? Meaning, what’s the likelihood of an abrupt shift in the planet’s climate system as a result of the new discovery?

Assuming a major CH4 release, or big burp, is it possible it could lead to planet-wide upheaval?  Accordingly, the expedition team reported:

At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered. (Gustafsson)

Therein lies the problem: “It has been triggered.”

Along those lines, a Latin proverb suffices: “Forewarned is forearmed.”  Clearly, the results of the Akademik Keldysh expedition qualify as “forewarned,” no doubt about that.

All of which prompts a significant question: How will countries throughout the world respond to this newly discovered risk to climate systems with its potential to damage agriculture and coastal cities beyond recognition?

In that regard, and based upon the nations of the world failing to adhere to voluntary commitments to the Paris 2015 climate accord to reduce carbon emissions, which, in fact, increase (Oops) year-over- year, the answer is: “It’s not encouraging, not at all.” Indeed, it is questionable that any nation/state anywhere will actually “forearm” as a result of this new report signaling: “The East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed.”

Furthermore, what does “forearmed” even look like? Realistically, how does a country prepare for an all-out assault on agriculture and coastlines by an out of whack runaway climate system? Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, according to the initial report from the 60-member team onboard the Akademik Keldysh expedition, the findings are only “preliminary.” The true scale of the discovery will be confirmed when full complements of data are analyzed and published peer-reviewed in a scientific journal.

Significantly, and tellingly, the discovery includes six monitoring points over a slope area of 150km (93 mi.) by 10km (6 mi.) with “clouds of bubbles released from sediment.” It should be noted that “clouds of bubbles” obviously implies one helluva lot of methane erupting from the seafloor. In point of fact, some measurements registered “methane concentrations 400 times higher than should be seen if the sea and the atmosphere were in equilibrium.” (Gustafsson)

By way of comparison to planetary distances, “400xs higher than equilibrium” is a trip to Pluto.

  1. “Sleeping Giant Arctic Methane Deposits Starting to Release, Scientists Find”, The Guardian, Oct. 27, 2020.
  2. “Gas Hydrate Breakdown Unlikely to Cause Massive Greenhouse Gas Release”, US Geological Survey, February 9, 2017.

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Like a Rowboat in a Typhoon: Why 2020 Center-Right Yankee Election Outcomes are Dead in the Water

Image courtesy of our comrade Hermit

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed up the world….
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

— The Second Coming”, William Butler Yeats, 1919

ORIENTATION 

How dare you?

“Oh, great, that’s all we need. A cynical radical leftist who is so out of touch that you would jeopardize losing the elections to Trump out of some purity. Noam Chomsky thinks this is the most important election in U.S history. How can you be so apathetic at a time like this? We have to get Trump out of office or we will have fascism. If Trump wins there will be blood on your hands. I can’t believe any radical news site would even publish this article. Up yours.”

My claim

First of all, I am not cynical in general. I am, however, cynical that any capitalist party can keep Yankeedom from collapsing. Secondly, this article does not tell anyone whether or not to vote or which party to vote for. My claim is that both Yankee political parties have already demonstrated for the last 40 years they are incapable of managing to reconstruct or repair deep ecological, infrastructural and structural problems that are engulfing us right now. Yankeedom is collapsing and it will continue to collapse regardless of who wins this “election”. Thirdly, fascism is already here and it will continue even if Trump loses the election. Though I don’t make a case for socialism, I will say that our choices are either fascism or socialism.

WHAT IS POLITICS? RULING VS GOVERNING

One of the root meanings of the word “politics” is to steer. In other words, deliberative political bodies ask themselves big sociopolitical questions like – “where have we been based on past practice and where are we going, based on future plans?” Steering is something like the word “governing”. In cybernetics, to govern is likened to a heart in the human body.  It is the grand central station in which all subsystems of the body meet. These subsystems are integrated and monitored for feedback about the system’s past behavior and fed forward, anticipating where the system is going. No subsystems are left floating on their own, freely determining their own direction.  Applying the words “governing” and “steering” to politics in human societies, the sad truth is that with the possible exception of hunting and gathering and simple horticultural societies, agricultural state civilizations and industrial capitalist societies do not govern their populations, they rule them. We have oligarchies struggling for power, but part of their power should not be defined as steering. They are not steering. In fact, nobody’s driving, yet they imagine they are steering and governing.

Turning specifically to Yankeedom, it is a deeply stratified class system in which the ruling class controls the major resources and the lower classes are granted just enough resources to make it to the next day. The different parts of the political system have regional struggles between the core and periphery rather than cooperation. Technology is developed not in a systematic, forward-looking way to make life easier, but mostly as weapons of war for destruction. Spiritual institutions are organized by the rulers to terrorize, demoralize and mystify their own populations. The religious authorities sanctify the rule of the rulers, just as Marx said. On the whole, at their best, the ruling classes everywhere, not just the United States, are no better than the general population. They really can’t think beyond one generation. Neither ruling class party in the history of Yankeedom has governed their populations. They have taken turns ruling them.

SIGNS OF STRUCTURAL COLLAPSE

Part of the drumbeat of the “Lesser of Two Evils” folks, is the hope that a democrat will bring things “back to normal,” meaning Yankee social life as it was before March 2020. But thinking there is a “normal” to get back to is a pathological denial of the fact that the Yankee empire has been collapsing for 50 years. All this while both parties have ignored the long-standing ecological and infrastructural problems, including the fallout from the pandemic over the last six months of 2020.

COVID -19 has expanded rather than leveled off because the nation-state ignores what scientists say and it has no national plan that all states must follow, unlike countries that have resolved the pandemic crisis, often with half the resources of the U.S. Socialist countries like Cuba, North Vietnam and China have responded quickly and admirably. Here in Yankeedom, neither Republicans nor Democrats have risen to the occasion. Each party has had six months to step up to the plate. They have done nothing systemic.

Large parts of the population are in denial that there is a pandemic and are ignoring what scientists say, spreading the virus as they dance in the clubs and on the beaches. This self-destructive behavior is partly explained by the refusal of both ruling class parties to educate their populations in basic science. Both parties have been anti-science for 50 years and have allowed college courses to skimp on science classes. At the same time movie and television producers flood the air waves and movie screens with ESP claims, extraterrestrials and reports of people who have returned from the dead. Most of the Yankee population is scientifically illiterate and innumerate (without a basic knowledge of mathematics and arithmetic).

Extreme weather is a very serious problem that has been neglected for 50 years and there has been no long-term plan to address this. Every year we have record-breaking temperatures in the summer, along with massive fires in the West. In the winters, record cold spells hit the East and North-central states. Glaciers are melting and water is rising. Has either party come to the table with a long-term plan? They haven’t because both parties are beholden to capitalists who refuse to think beyond three months into the future.

Police departments have turned into state terrorist organizations which have been amassing more and more weapons for decades. There is no structural reform, as the police are handed bloated budgets while they are trained to mutilate and kill as a matter of course, treating the citizens as enemies. Neither party has done anything to reign in police violence. Self-destructively, by not reigning in the police, capitalists who own both parties keep people in the streets protesting – the very people they need to get off the streets and back to work if they are to rehabilitate the physical economy.

There is an open rebellion against police terror which the ruling class has failed to address structurally. Any claim for reparation for minorities, not just for being killed by police but also for being housed for decades in prison for minor crimes is like spitting in the wind. Sadly, some of the most rabid “Back the Blue” folks are white working-class people who are also most likely to be beaten by the police. Unbeknown to most white working-class in this country, there was a time when to be a redneck meant to be against the police.

Openly armed fascist groups wave confederate flags and white power signs that will probably get worse if the Idiot-King loses. Is this a serious political problem for either party that requires a long-term solution? Apparently not, as these right-wing groups have been three and a half years in the making, bringing to the surface a racist undercurrent that has been festering in Yankeedom for hundreds of years.

We are in the worst capitalist crisis in history because COVID-19 has crippled the physical economy. Respected political economist Jack Rasmus tells us the real unemployment rate is between 25-30%, not the much lower numbers publicized by the Department of Labor. Those who have jobs are often working at reduced work hours. Consumer spending is at a low point. Both parties sing a capitalist tune that workers can be sacrificed so the economy can live. This is an economic policy? Where are all the bourgeois economists who populate every university, pumping out ideological propaganda about the free market? Do they have any policies for fixing the existing physical economy other than to say “let ‘er (the market) ride!”? These same economists are consultants to each party. Are they recommending any governing policies? For them, the physical economy and the stock market are all the same thing.

Capitalists and the state want to open up the schools this fall to in-person learning despite the fact that the COVID-19 has not even reached its peak yet. It risks jeopardizing the lives of 7-14-year-olds, as well as college students, faculty and staff. In part, capitalists want children back in school to increase the chances of their parents going back to work. Parents are more likely to stay home to guide their children through Zoom sessions rather than go to work and leave them on their own. Capitalists need workers back at work – even if they are killed. This is an economic policy?

Economically, finance capital has produced a runaway fictitious capital bubble that was not even checked after the Great Recession. The neoliberal choir boy, Obama, offered no structural reform of banking institutions. Capitalist economists blithely ignore growing bad debt. They imagine that a gambling casino (the stock market) and the use of financial instruments, like derivatives, pose no problems.

The Federal Reserve has to pump blood transfusions (money) on a regular basis into financial markets to keep them from tanking. Does either party think this might be a long-term problem? Now, the Fed has promised to keep interest rates at 0% for the next 3 years in the hopes that even more people will fall into credit card debt. Does either political party think there might be something wrong with printing more money as an economic policy? Apparently not.

Both major political parties are hated by their populations, as evidenced by the winning party being unable to attract more than 20% of the population. When these politicians are told that 60% of the population doesn’t vote or is ineligible to vote, do they say, “hmm, this is a problem, especially if we claim to be a democracy”. The answer is no. They imagine the people who don’t vote are ignorant, stupid, poor or have mental health problems. It never crosses their minds that these potential voters might not vote because these two parties and their grandstanding, lying and back street deal-making have nothing to do with the lives of most of the population. This is a great example of a political system that ignores the feedback from its periphery – that its system simply isn’t working.

Short-term thinking – Another of the many problems with the political system of Yankeedom is that it is ruled by capitalists who refuse to think beyond a single quarter. They want their assets liquid and ready to move at any time. Capitalists are incapable of governing in the way we’ve defined the word. In addition, the electoral systems that capitalists control last only four years. As long as Republicans and Democrats switch administrations every four years, there can be no long-standing policy that would supersede the various revolving doors of regimes.

All these twelve points are signs of neglect and decay that are very typical of the research Joseph Tainter did for his book The Collapse of Complex Societies many years ago. In the face of all these deep, long-term systemic problems, Congress was adjourned for one month! Given these points, do either the Democrats or the Republicans “govern” our society today? For the 40% of the population who vote for either party, voters think whichever political party wins, they govern. But from their lack of response to any of these problems, these parties do not govern – they rule.

QUALIFICATION

As a socialist, I have absolutely no confidence that an enlightened long-term thinking capitalist could solve any of the problems above. However, since those of you are convinced that these presidential elections are so important, let me propose some things that an enlightened, long-term thinking capitalist might do to address these problems, whether the solution comes from a Republican or a Democrat. Then at the end I will ask you if you think the political party of your choice would implement even one of these solutions when they begin their term. The purpose of the proposals below is to get our bearings about what an overall plan might look like. I am not attempting to prioritize in what order this reform would come.  Under a socialist party, we would have both a short-term and a long-term plan so we could attack these problems systematically. However, I am not arguing for socialism. I am only arguing that neither party will lift a finger to address the multiple crises we are facing.

WHAT WOULD AN ENLIGHTENED CAPITALIST PARTY DO WITH THESE PROBLEMS IF THEY WERE CAPABLE OF GOVERNING?

Have a national plan to deal with the pandemic

First, we will follow the lead of countries who have successfully managed the COVID-19 virus and will implement a long-term plan even if it means shutting down businesses and schools for six months. We will have a national plan that every state will follow. No longer will states decide their own policy in the bumbling way that has been done so far.

Overcome scientific illiteracy and innumeracy

Furthermore, long-term, we will redevelop our higher education programs to stress mastering the sciences and expand courses on critical thinking. There will be scientific boards of directors who will redesign movie and television curriculum to emphasize stories based on science, not fantasy. Science fiction writers will have to demonstrate to scientists how their script is based on scientific findings and not just on fantasy. This will begin to cut into the rampant scientific illiteracy and innumeracy that has existed for two generations. There will be required courses in geography and international politics. The reign of businessmen determining course development while sitting on the boards of directors will end.  College instructors and scientific researchers will have prominent seats on those boards.

Redeploy the military for infrastructural building and repair

The enlightened capitalist party will reorient our resource base. As it is, we are currently involved in at least seven wars. We have come to realize that capitalism can only grow long-term if it invests in life rather than death. Therefore, all the troops will be called home and redeployed. Once home they will work at rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure that has been decaying for decades and will cost trillions of dollars. They will fix roads and repair bridges. They will also build low-cost housing to get every person off the street. City budgets will hold a certain percentage of land for low cost housing. City life will no longer be determined by the whim of real estate agents, given the virtue word “developer”.

Systemic climate change plan

An additional benefit to closing down our war machine will be its effect on global warming and pollution since the military is the world’s largest polluter. We will begin implementing the scientific recommendations to combat extreme weather and pollutions that have been sitting on the shelves of the U.N. for 50 years. A major part of the budget will be spent on trying to halt or reverse all the devastating fires, sickening smoke, pollution, ever more fierce hurricanes and tornadoes and melting of glaciers.

Full employment, satisfying basic needs

Next, we capitalists have come to realize that there are many needs people have that are not realized because they have low profitability returns. As capitalists we have tried to create needs that don’t exist to get people to buy products and services that do not last, either materially or by providing real emotional satisfaction. As it turns out, people have considerably more needs than we realized and so there will be no longer any unemployment. Everyone will work to satisfy the needs of all social classes. Capitalist societies are the only types of societies in history to have unemployment. This is a waste of our collective creative power. “Yes” says the short-term thinking capitalists, “but if you don’t have unemployment, wages will rise and cut into our profit margins.”  As long-term thinking capitalists, we learned in the 1950s and 1960s high wages and profitability can easily go hand-in-hand.  The amount of creativity that will be unleashed will more than make up the difference. In addition, a great deal of new revenue will be generated by a return to taxing corporations as was done in the 1950s and 1960s. Corporations used to be taxed at a far greater rate than today. These corporations took it in stride and still made a fortune.

Installing economic floors on the economy

Economically, everyone will receive a basic income so that no one ever has to be concerned about starving or not having a place to live. That is, in addition to increased investment in the “matriarchal” state, including universal health care, expanded pensions, mental health and physical care for veterans.

Alternatives to state terror

Police departments will be abolished, and the revenue redeployed into community defense councils following the recommendations of critical criminal sociologists who have developed alternative systems using recommendations that have been on the shelves for years. Up until now, they could never be put into practice because of the fear of police lobbies and their unions. Police will be replaced by social mediation teams, social workers and neighborhood review boards.

Next, prisoners of non-violent crimes will be released and put into rehabilitation centers and transition programs where they will either learn a trade or develop a skill they already have. They will be able to get a good college education if that is what they want. The pouring out of prisoners into the workforce will be a tremendous boon to the economy. Prisons will be modeled on the method currently in use in Norway, with the focus on rehabilitation, rather than punishment.

Attacking the National Rifle Association

As capitalists we want to invest in the reduction of violence in our population. All weapons beyond simple handguns will be illegal. The purpose of a gun should be simply for protection. No one needs machine guns to protect themselves. Open Carry gun laws will be abolished.

Long overdue reparations

The demands of the current uprising are larger than simply a reduction of police brutality. They are about restitutions.  Systemic racism has continued and even worsened since the civil rights movement. To begin to make up for this, we capitalists will follow the guidelines of criminal sociologists who have calculated what would be fair restitution based on centuries of slave labor. The reparations packet would include funding employment opportunities, grants in the arts and sciences and education, childcare tuition reduction for trade as well as other programs sociologists would recommend.

Savings banks and public banks free of stock market speculation

Economically we will be transforming banks that are reinstated and can be used for commercial purposes, rather than solely for financial investment and not tied to the stock markets. Furthermore, public banks will be established in most states in order for people to invest in community institutions that have no investments in the stock market. Banks will reinstitute the rule where there can be no investments made without a certain proportion of gold to back them up. Capitalist speculation will be discouraged and penalized.

Switching to political proportional representation according to social class

Politically we will begin a process of overhauling the two-party system, with which Americans have expressed frustration for decades. What we must face is that right now sociologists tell us that there are eight social classes. The two major political parties represent at best the top 1%; 5% of the upper class; and 10% of the upper middle class. As it stands now, about 85% of the population has no representation. The middle class needs its own separate party; the working class needs its own party and those below the working class need their own party. Each party can only have representatives from its own social class. If we want people to become more political and be real citizens, we must give them their own representatives and pay them the salary of a middle-class citizen. There will be no more political representatives who are millionaires pretending to represent the middle and lower classes.

Conclusion

I want to point out that none of these suggestions are socialist. There is no call for the abolition of private ownership of resources. There are no constraints on inheritance. There is no proposal to freeze the assets of the 1% and redistribute them. There is no call for workers to seize the workplaces and run worksites themselves. There is no call for the nationalization of banks and industry. There is no call for closing the stock markets. My proposals are all long-term structural reforms to do damage-control over the continuing collapse of Yankeedom.

I believe most of you reading this would agree that many of these improvements would be necessary. Yet you hold on to the belief that the political parties controlled by the capitalists would in some way address these problems. They have not and they will not. In all cases up until now, both parties have done nothing. They are either unaware of the level of crisis we are in, they are in denial there is even a problem, or they recognize a problem, but their response is anemic, erratic and not well thought out. What makes you think that after this election any of these politicians will do anything differently? Vote for whomever you want but whoever your favorite candidate is, understand they operate under a political party owned by an incompetent, myopic, irresponsible capitalist class who will go down dancing on the deck of the Titanic. Paraphrasing Freud, compared to the conflict between id and the superego within the individual, the ego is helpless, much like being in a rowboat with one oar in the middle of a typhon.  The ego doesn’t have a prayer. Neither do these existing political parties.

About seventy years ago, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. triumphantly proclaimed that centrist liberalism was a “Vital Center” against the twin dangers of left and right-wing totalitarianism. Today we can say the “vital center” has collapsed with both parties falling into the abyss. Our only solution to the collapse we are experiencing is to develop a mass socialist party with a plan and systemic steps to be taken over the next 5, 10 or 15 years. That is our only hope for reducing the fall as a result of the collapse. Capitalist parties are incapable of solving these problems.

• First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Like a Rowboat in a Typhoon: Why 2020 Center-Right Yankee Election Outcomes are Dead in the Water first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Thawing Arctic Permafrost  

It’s no surprise that first prize, or the blue ribbon, for exceeding 2°C above baseline goes to the Arctic with permafrost that covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere. Recognition is long overdue, as it’s been totally neglected far too long by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

This crucial nugget of knowledge comes by way of a recent virtual science session (1:27 in length) sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and can be watched in its entirety on YouTube:

The webcast is entitled: Thawing Arctic Permafrost: Regional and Global Impacts, hosted by John P. Holdren, Teresa and John Heinz, Professor of Environmental Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

The timing couldn’t be better. The Arctic Circle has been very newsworthy. As such, people must be wondering what to make of the disturbing news that’s unsettling, to an extreme.

According to Euronews, as of July 14th:

The extreme north and beyond the Arctic Circle has this year registered record temperatures. On June 20, the meteorological service of Russia recorded a peak of 38°C in Verkhoyansk, the highest recorded temperature since records began in the late nineteenth century.

This is contributing to the rapid melting of permafrost, the region’s frozen ground, on which are built many industrial construction sites and buildings, many for mining hydrocarbons.

The melting of the poles that act as temperature controls for atmospheric currents has consequences for the entire climate..

Decidedly, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.

According to Professor Holdren:

Temperatures across the Arctic are increasing 2 to 3 times faster than the global average… The Arctic will continue to be the leading edge of climate change.

The first speaker on the virtual webcast was Dr. Susan M. Natali, Associate Scientist and Arctic Program Director, Woods Hole Research Center, an Arctic ecologist focusing on the ecosystem and carbon cycling consequences of permafrost thaw.

According to Dr. Natali, the Arctic temperature anomaly is already 2°C warmer than the long-term average. The consequences include sea ice loss, melting of Greenland ice sheets, and permafrost thaw.

Permafrost thaw is monitored by boreholes drilled at depths of 20 meters (66 feet) throughout the Arctic. Thus, measured temperature changes avoid seasonal dynamics. These deep permafrost temperatures, in some instances, have been measured for up to 40 years. Results: Permafrost temps are markedly warming across the board, regardless of season.

Of note, Northern Hemisphere permafrost contains 1100-1500 billion tonnes of carbon in the form of ancient organic matter. For comparison purposes, this is twice the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere, and it is three times as much carbon as in the world’s forest biomass.

An obvious implication of Dr. Natali’s statements is humanity is playing with fire in a very big way by allowing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (cars, planes, and trains, etc.) to run wild, increasing by the month, by the year, by the decade with absolutely no end in sight, none whatsoever. At some point in time all of those billions of tonnes of carbon stored in frozen permafrost will start breaking lose beyond normal background rates and humanity will find its goose cooked, maybe well done.

According to Natali, permafrost carbon emissions are not included in the IPCC’s global carbon budget that targets 2°C or below, preferably below 1.5°C. Well, maybe a suddenly overheated Arctic will bring on an eventual recalculation of how the IPCC looks at and calculates the carbon budget. Better late than never.

And, here’s the distressing part (one of many): Fieldwork by scientists proved that permafrost is already a “net emitter of CO2,” this after thousands of years as a “carbon sink,” but no longer! As such, thousands of years of one of the largest carbon sinks on Earth erased by recklessness of human-generated over-heating ecosystems.

Not only that, according to Natali, permafrost thaw alone is equivalent to ~25% of the IPCC’s allowable emissions to stay below 1.5°C. Yet, the IPCC does not include permafrost in its carbon budget, meaning there’s a very nasty surprise down the line for the rah-rah climate mitigation crowd.

The second virtual speaker was Katey Walter Anthony, Aquatic Ecosystem Ecologist and Professor, Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska/Fairbanks.

Dr. Anthony has done fieldwork throughout Russia with a lot of work in Siberia (a hothouse nowadays). Her research focuses on thermokarst, lake formation, and greenhouse gas methane.

Per Dr. Anthony, current climate models in the world do not include carbon emissions from thermokarst lakes. Yet, they’re plentiful with millions of thermokarst lakes expanding and releasing methane all across the Arctic.

Not only that but permafrost soils contain 1500 gigatons of carbon which, according to Dr. Anthony, equates to 150 years of fossil fuel emissions under present conditions. Imagine turning lose a sizeable fraction of that carbon. Once again, nation/states’ carbon emission mitigation plans are dead certain to come up real short of professed goals.

Field tests on thermokarst lakes are conducted by lowering a bubble trap into the water to trap microbial methane seeps as the methane bubbles year round. Bubble traps exist in over 300 lakes throughout the Arctic.

It was 14,000 years ago, as the climate warmed, when permafrost thermokarst lakes flared up on the landscape, bringing 4°C warming over a period of 8,000 years. Nowadays, according to Dr. Anthony, a similar 4°C warming will likely occur over only 80 years in sharp contrast to 8,000 years in the paleoclimate record. Obviously, without her stating as such, it implies a climate system that’s on turbo charger training-wheels, real big ones.

We are standing at the threshold of abrupt change in permafrost carbon emissions.1

Mercy! And, all of those mitigation plans by 195 nations, but did they ever really get off the ground? The truth is emissions relentlessly climb upwards, ad nauseam. Thus, questioning who’s seriously watching the store?

John Holdren wrapped up the virtual session: We’re probably looking at 80 to 100 gigatons of carbon released from permafrost over this century. In turn, this takes a big bite out of the global carbon budget. According to Dr. Holdren, that prospect is in addition to a global temperature increase, to date, of 1.1°C to 1.2°C above baseline.

Permafrost, which is not included in the global carbon budget by the IPCC, could add 25% to 40%. That’s an enormous problem that lends itself to big trouble down the line. What’s a nation in the throes of carbon emission mitigation plans to do?

Nevertheless, Dr. Holdren, who co-chaired Obama’s President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, says it is still possible to mitigate enough to hold temps to 2°C. But at a cost of ~3% of world GDP. Ahem! He further nearly apologetically suggested that the hit to civilization for failure to mitigate would far exceed that cost, which happens to be 3% of $85T or a whopping $2.55T (that’s trillions). Hello, anybody still out there?

Meanwhile, after years of handwringing and gushing teardrops of green sympathizers, the world is still 80% dependent upon fossil fuels, a fact revealed by Dr. Holdren at the close of his presentation. That’s very troubling.

That’s the same 80% as 50 years ago and a clear signal of absolute failure by governments around the world and a resounding failure by the IPCC to fully implement/organize/promote its heavenly Paris ’15 plans to save the planet. It’s disgraceful!

As for final questions/thoughts via the virtual webcast:

According to Dr. Anthony: The East Siberian Arctic Sea is a place where “we’ve seen really large numbers of CH4 release.”

The following was not discussed in the webcast: Temperatures were recently 30-34C (86-93F) in the East Siberian Arctic Sea (ESAS) region, which region is equivalent in size to Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan combined and with 75% of the area in 50-80m, shallow waters, allowing quick and easy CH4 release from the sub-sea permafrost without oxidation. Drilling by other scientists has discovered enormous quantities of frozen methane, and noticeable thinning of the subsea permafrost. Trusted sources that closely follow CH4 emissions in the ESAS region are of the opinion: “It may be out of control.” But, it’s important to note that’s anecdotal information.

Also, disconcertingly, the heaviest season for methane release into the atmosphere has only just begun.

Making matters even worse, at the Top of the World, Arctic Ocean sea surface temperatures, which this time of year are typically 0.3°C (32°F) were recently 12°C (54°F). That’s downright spooky!

Postscript: Scientists have identified the first active methane gas leak in Antarctica, announced July 22nd, discovered by researchers led by Andrew Thurber/Oregon State University, who commented: “I find it incredibly concerning.”2

Speechless!

  1. Dr. Anthony
  2. Andrew R. Thurber, et al, “Riddles in the Cold: Antarctic Endemism and Microbial Succession Impact Methane Cycling in the Southern Ocean”, The Royal Society, July 22, 2020.

The Sky Is Falling: Yes? No?

The sky is falling is one of the more disturbing thoughts in society today, as to whether climate change is on a fast track collision course with doomsday amidst a collapsing society.

In that regard, according to the details of a scathing review by ScientistsWarning.org (“SW”) of Jem Bendell’s wildly popular “Deep Adaptation” the answer is no, not yet. Society is not ready to keel over, as postulated in Bendell’s paper.

Whew! Climate change handwringers, sleepless nights, can take a deep breath, exhale and relax based upon the critique of Bendell’s very popular paper, which crystal balls the “end to society” within only decades, or less, depending.

In strong terms, ScientistsWarning.org’s thought-provoking rebuttal expresses outrage over Professor Jem Bendell’s doomsday thesis in its article entitled “The Faulty Science, Doomism, and Flawed Conclusion of Deep Adaptation” d/d July 14, 2020 by Thomas Nicholas, Galen Hall, and Colleen Schmidt, fact-checked by scientists.

The full article can be accessed at www.ScientistsWarning.org.

Accordingly, within the opening two paragraphs of SW’s rebuttal: “In the past few years we have seen a troubling trend: a few figures in the climate movement using science — or what looks like science — to justify increasingly dire and prophetic, but ultimately unsupported claims about the future.”

Bendell’s Deep Adaptation became an overnight cult classic amongst many on the front lines of environmental justice, a brooding downcast thesis of the inevitability of “social collapse” because of the ravages of climate change/global warming, meaning there is no way out, humanity’s trapped in an insidious fireball of doom that’ll hit hard.

SW takes issue with Bendell: “(1) cherry-picking data (2) citing false reports (3) forwarding logical fallacies (4) disregard of robust scientific consensus.”

In SW’s words: “Neither social science nor the best available climate science support Deep Adaptation’s core premise: that near-term societal collapse due to climate change is inevitable.”

Furthermore: “This false belief undermines the environmental movement and could lead to harmful political decisions, overwhelming grief, and fading resolve for decisive action.”

SW offers past examples and discussion of the general harmful nature of “doomism” of which, according to SW, Bendell, head over heels, falls victim in his own overriding thesis. Not only that, SW felt compelled to critique Bendell because of the huge impact of his paper. Deep Adaptation has been downloaded more than 450,000 times and has been featured in several venues. It has had enormous impact, allegedly changing the “course of life” for some people. SW claims Bendell’s message has stirred those people to the “wrong course.”

Still, SW lauds Bendell’s exposure of the climate crisis by awakening the public to the intractable nature of global warming. SW: “Part of the paper’s value is its willingness to discuss the current, affective, and emotional impacts of the crisis… and, a crucial strength of the Deep Adaptation paper is the general idea that we need to brace for serious impacts from climate change.”

In other words, according to the critique, Bendell’s Deep Adaptation is not all bad. He inspires open discourse about the sensitive subject of climate change, the future of civilization, and the obstacles along the way.

Of considerable interest to SW and subject of its sharpest criticism, the core of Deep Adaptation’s argument is dependent upon two feedback loops (1) Arctic ice melt and (2) methane release from permafrost. According to SW, Bendell’s reliance upon those two feedback loops triggering and cascading the climate system into hells’ fiery hole is not a correct assessment of scientific fact. It’s only speculation.

According to SW, Bendell’s work is flawed to an extreme; thus, in their view, he sends out the wrong vibes to hundreds of thousands of people. Indeed, Bendell’s paper had enormous public impact, but as SW claims: “A narrative that destruction is inevitable justifies continued destruction, but ignores the human choices which cause it.”

Indeed, according to SW, Bendell avoids, ignores mainstream science and disputes the credibility of the IPCC, which is superseded by his reliance upon a thin layer of primary sources that carry forward his monumental thesis of self-afflicted human termination. In SW’s view, in the main, Bendell’s paper is an insult to the intelligence of the scientific community.

In conclusion, SW says: “We should publicly disavow the message that near-term collapse is inevitable, or that climate-induced total human extinction is plausible. There is uncertainty, but not so much that one can claim anything will happen.”

Therefore, and based upon ScientistsWarning’s critique, the sky is not falling, not yet anyway. It is too early in the anthropogenic-influenced cycle of climate change to consider tossing in the towel. And moreover, it would be an act of self-afflicting destruction to do so.

However, SW’s critique also carries an unstated undertone of caution and concern, an unwavering apprehension, meaning: “All is not well.”

In fact, from this writer’s point of view, a case can be made that an emergency situation is here now, if only because so many peer-reviewed scientific papers express alarm, surprise and deep concern over how much faster the climate system is changing vis a vis internal climate models as well as contrasted with paleoclimate history. Which, indeed, is part of Bendell’s argument.

Not only that, the volume of peer-review papers that express concern and surprise by the rapidity of climate change has mushroomed since the turn of this century, convincing evidence that the climate system is far out of balance.

As for only one example: Collapsing permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic is happening 70 years earlier than scientists expected, to wit: “Observed maximum thaw depths at our sites are already exceeding those projected to occur by 2090”.1

Still and all, according to ScientistsWarning.org, the sky is not falling… just not yet!

Meanwhile, kudos to Jem Bendell for bringing to the surface issues that haunt many followers of the planet’s very, very rambunctious, and unpredictable, changing climate. He’s opened the door to solid debate and criticism and an awareness of two important viewpoints that otherwise would not be so readily available in a public forum.

  1. Louise M. Farquharson et al, “Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic”, Geophysical Research Letters, June 10, 2019.

The Inertia Bugaboo  

Planetary heat is turning skeptics into climate change worrywarts with record temperatures galore!

But wait!  The worst is yet to come. It’s guaranteed, as future heat is already locked and loaded into the vast climate system. It’s the inertia bugaboo. Today, we’re living with yesteryear’s carbon emissions from the turn of the century. Meantime, the next decade-and-a-half of planetary heat is already baked into the cake no matter what is done to mitigate emissions.

A new study reveals details about climate change inertia, a sobering study that speaks to the absolute necessity of herculean efforts to stop emissions, full stop, now, not tomorrow.1

According to the aforementioned study, even if emission reduction started tomorrow, in earnest, like 5% per year, its impact on global warming would not show up before 2035. Which is climate change inertia. The planet is big. It takes time to process, a very long time.

It also means that today’s heat is wimpy compared to what’s directly ahead simply because today’s heat is based upon annual CO2 emissions >25% less than today’s emissions.

Meantime, Earth is melting.

And, the melting is getting out of hand. After all, it’s not a secret that the Arctic Circle is loaded, really loaded big time, with frozen carbon just itching to release into the upper atmosphere.

And, we now know it’ll only get worse because of the Samset study. We know future heat is already baked into the climate system no matter what we do today, thus, immediate efforts to mitigate a much, much worse scenario down the road are all the more compelling, assuming there is still time to do something, for example, a Super-Big Fixit (any chance?)

Layered on top of the big heat stroke complicating the issue of what to do about the ruthless anthropogenic heat machine, the USA is confronted by an ongoing Hobbesian Nightmare that hogties cultural/political/societal initiatives to do something constructive to stop the inevitable.

In reality, when the coldest spot of Earth hits 100°F, as happened in the Arctic only days ago amidst blasting heat that is roasting permafrost filled with gigatons of frozen carbon held over for millennia (which incidentally covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere, Ouch!) the message is loud and clear “we’re fast approaching an insurmountable problem.”

Meaning wretched news is topped off by awful news for a host of reasons including the totality of errors, missteps, and failures within an embarrassingly lackadaisical effort to fix climate-related issues by scientists and politicians and bureaucrats that society depends upon to warn and guide society through challenging, life-threatening issues. It’s simply not on the agenda in a big enough way.

For example, name one major climate mitigation solution that’s actually working to mitigate destructive climate change. Time’s up: Not one comes close to doing the job.

Of course, little efforts like installations of renewable energy solar, wind, and unfortunately biomass are tiptoeing through the tulips (by the way, woody biomass, the largest component of biomass, emits more CO2 than does coal). After decades, renewables count for less than 15% of energy production (excluding hydro); and frankly woody biomass does not count at all and should discount the 15% figure, as it emits more CO2 than does coal. Stop Woody Biomass!

Proof of abject failure to mitigate emissions is found in the numbers as CO2 and global heat crank up.

According to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, The Scripps CO2 Program: CO2 was 415.13 ppm on July 5, 2020 versus 413.11 ppm on July 5, 2019. The annual change in CO2 emissions has doubled since the start of the new century.  It has not gone down, it has doubled in a little over a decade! That’s geological rocket speed.

Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are the fuel behind the buildup of inertia in the climate system. Since CO2 accounts for 85% of greenhouse gases, it is used generically to reference greenhouse gas emissions of all stripes.

Very few voices in the world speak directly to the heart of the global heating problem, which is a failure to act in unison to mitigate emissions across the globe. Seventeen-year-old Greta Thunberg is one of the strongest voices: “How dare you” speech to the IPCC Paris crowd and at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “I don’t want y0u to be hopeful. I want you to panic!”

Yes, mounting evidence of a deepening crisis, by the year, indicates that panic is a proper course of action. People should panic and scream and bite and kick and fill the streets because nothing else seems to work. Pussyfooting around is for weaklings. It hasn’t worked.

Global heating is not waiting around to see whether humans decide to inhibit greenhouse gases, for the first time ever. The Northern Hemisphere, where 25% is covered with frozen carbon-rich permafrost, has turned into an oven. Global heating is in its sweet spot. The consequences are too far-reaching to cover in a short article like this. Truthfully, nobody knows for sure the exact consequences, other than real bad, real destructive, and really happening.

It’s an impending “too hot for comfort” tsunami.

But, there’s a bigger problem at stake as modern-day society lives on “Speed” and expects results yesterday, instantaneously. All of which exposes one of the critical components hindering the Big Fixit, meaning a system that evolves too deliberately, too slowly to sink into attention spans long enough to produce positive results. Greta seems to understand this so she drills home the issue. She screams at adults.

Why scream at adults?

She’s studied the impact of excessive levels of CO2 (James Hansen, the world famous climate scientist, says anything over 350 ppm is trouble…hmm). At only 17 years of age, she’ll experience the impact of climate change inertia. It’s 100% guaranteed!

But come to think about it, if Earth is melting now, what then?

  1. B.H.Samset, et al, “Delayed Emergence of a Global Temperature Response After Emission Mitigation”, Nature Communications 11, Article No. 3261, July 7, 2020.

Arctic Heat Overwhelms Green Infighting Issues

Arctic temperatures are soaring to new records… and staying there, ever since May of this year. Truth be known, the Arctic’s been heating up for years. Siberia recently hit 105°F. That’s not normal. It’s 30°F hotter than normal.

Farther south, the Amazon rainforest is hit with a drought every 5 years like clockwork, not regular run of the mill droughts but massive excessive devastating droughts. NASA’s GRACE satellite, measuring water levels stored deep beneath Earth’s surface showed Deep Red Zones beneath the Amazon rainforest, not watery blue.

Climate activists have been warning about overheating of the planet for decades, ever since Dr. James Hansen’s testimony before the Senate in 1987: “The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.” (Hansen)

Fast forward to June 2020: Since Hansen’s testimony, thirty-three years of climate activists bitching, protesting, kicking and screaming and bellyaching about excessive human-generated CO2 has gone nowhere but backwards as a relentless rise in CO2 emissions trudges ahead measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii.

Post-Hansen’s testimony the annual rate of CO2 increase has more than doubled, not gone down but doubled. Up, up and away, year-over-year, it never goes down.  It’s the main culprit blanketing the atmosphere, retaining heat for hundreds of years and fast becoming the Big Oven in the Sky.

Clearly, too much heat has already overwhelmed the Arctic and Amazon rainforest ecosystems. Along the way, greenie frustration is finally coming to a head as environmentalists “cat fight” in open public.

For example, Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs’ controversial film Planet of the Humans (Rumble Media) serves as an opening salvo, exposing a green movement that has turned a light shade of brown. The film paints a painful picture of a movement that, in certain instances, has gone off the rails.

Both Moore and Gibbs are lifetime greenies born green. Their film has spooked the green movement into bouts of self-examination and ferocious anger directed right at them, bull’s-eye. After all, the film pulls no punches by highlighting several rash infections of hypocrisy in the uppermost ranks of environmental leadership, acceding to big corporate interests that frankly could care less about the health of ecosystems, other than purely for show.

Otherwise, if they, meaning big corporate interests and billionaires, really cared and were truly concerned, by now they would’ve thrown everything they’ve got, including the kitchen sink, at fixing the climate change conundrum. But, they have not done that, have they?

Still and all, if the intention behind the making of Planet of the Humans was a “wake-up call” (Hey fellas and gals, this is not working) then it was enormously successful. After release of the film, green protestors protested the filmmakers like crazy, but not in the streets. Evidently, Moore and Gibbs struck a chord.

But still, what has 33 years of green advocacy wrought? Answer: Record high CO2 in the atmosphere and nearly 80% dependency upon fossil fuels, same as 50 years ago. Which advocacy group celebrates that?

Now, along comes another frustrated former greenie, Michael Shellenberger, an active environmentalist throughout his career, publishing a book that takes the green movement to the woodshed, as fully exposed in a recent Wall Street Journal review, d/d June 21st by John Tierney of Shellenberger’s book Apocalypse Never, Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All (Harper).

Based upon Tierney’s review, and assuming Tierney did not “cherry pick” and massage the facts to satisfy corporate interests; i.e., the WSJ, Shellenberger misses the target by a country mile. For example, Shellenberger’s “reach for credibility” includes claims such as: “No, climate change has not caused an increase in the frequency or intensity of floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes.” Really? Did Tierney get that right? (Maybe check in with Nebraska, Missouri, S. Dakota, Iowa, and Kansas re the Great Flood of 2019, the longest flood on record, just for starters)

Shellenberger, who evidently promotes industrialization as humanity’s savior, actually suggests, not facetiously, capitalist entrepreneurs saved whales by discovering cheap substitutes for whale oil, like petroleum. Ahem!

And, not to worry about plastics as sunlight and other forces break down the substances…. not to worry. And, solar and wind power are impractical and damage the environment requiring vast areas of land and harm flora and fauna. Oh, really! Did Tierney get that right…? (I know, I know! “Read the book,” but, based upon the review, no thanks)

And, finally, according to Shellenberger: “While industrialization causes a short-term rise in carbon emissions, in the long term it’s beneficial to the environment as people move to cities, allowing farmland to revert to nature, and as prosperity enables them to switch to cleaner and more compact forms of energy.”

Hmm – Just wondering, thinking out loud, where does sophism come into play here?

As a final note about Shellenberger’s book, a positive review in the WSJ is nothing to be proud of if you are an eco warrior of any stripe. It’s the ultimate sell-out, although, it’s not Shellenberger’s fault that the WSJ picked up on his diatribe of the green movement.

Still, aren’t Wall Street and its kissing cousin the WSJ responsible for promoting the neoliberal leviathan that “sucks up” to fossil fuel interests and literally destroyed America’s middle class and unions and checks and balances on pollution by shipping U.S. manufacturing offshore to the lowest common denominator of wages and avoidance of environmental regulations? Answer: Yes!

Based upon Tierney’s review, Shellenberger is simply one more lifeline for the fossil fuel industry and Wall Street’s neoliberal dreamland advocacy. Although its constituency is quite narrow, the one percent plus a few lesser want-a-be millionaire/billionaire luminaries. So, who’s really left to buy the book?

When it comes to neoliberal advocacy, it’s certainly worth mentioning Ross Perot nailing it during the 1992 presidential debate (Bush, Clinton, Perot) when he warned the country about the devastation to follow in NAFTA’s footsteps:

If you are paying $12 per hour, $13 per hour for factory workers, and you can move your factory to south of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor, have no health care, have no environmental controls, no pollution controls, and no retirement plans and you don’t care about anything but making money, there will be giant sucking sound going south.

Perot elaborated:

These kinds of deals will wreck the country.1

P.S. His speech is pretty good fodder for an American revolution.

Perot’s statement speaks volumes as it illuminates why America’s middle class and its unions are broken. Neoliberal ideology, along with its kissing cousin globalization, shipped labor offshore, shipped environmental/pollution regulations offshore, decimated unions, and as much as possible, adopted the green movement with largess of their own making. Motto: Whatever it takes! Overtake and dilute and/or use to market products.

Meanwhile, the planet itself, speaking on its behalf, likely disagrees with Shellenberger. Ecosystems are coming apart at the seams, which Shellenberger ignores and refutes by advocating as core values industrialism and fossil fuels and nuclear over renewables and eco economics. He misses an important point as far as the biosphere is concerned. Salvation for humanity and for the planet is dependent upon tossing out the entire neoliberal experiment in favor of eco economics that favors natural systems and human values over profits and inane infinite growth schemes.

Meantime, throughout the biosphere, ecosystems are breaking down. It is palpable, and Shellenberger knows it. And Moore and Gibbs know it and expressed concern about it.  Further to the point, how could anybody who’s knowledgeable about the climate system miss it?

Consider: It was a little over one year ago when tens of thousands of bats fell out of the sky in Australia because of excessive heat at 42C. According to Dr. Welbergen, president of the Australasian Bat Society:

This sort of event has not happened in Australia this far north since European settlement.2

In May 2020 bats dropped dead in the streets in India.

It appears the mass mortality of bats was caused due to brain hemorrhage, caused by excessive heat.” 3

Not only that, this June 2020 scientists verified the hottest temperature ever recorded in the coldest place on Earth:

The World Meteorological Organization is investigating a record-high temperature for the Arctic after the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk registered a high of 38 degrees Celsius 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 4

That’s Miami weather, and it’s not happening all of a sudden. The entire Arctic has turned into a heat machine that’s been coming on stream for years now.

Not only that, collapsing permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic is happening 70 years earlier than scientists expected, to wit:

Observed maximum thaw depths at our sites are already exceeding those projected to occur by 2090.5

In some locations of the Canadian High Arctic landscape collapsed by three feet, houses sunk into the earth, and roads slip slide in wavy curvatures.

Special Alert! Permafrost covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s loaded with all kinds of greenhouse gas carbon frozen in place just waiting for release.

Not only that, the Wet Bulb Temperature (WBT) effect has already arrived 50 years earlier than expected in some regions of the planet as measured by a recent study. 6

The human body has limits. If “temperature plus humidity” is high enough, even a healthy person seated in the shade with plentiful water to drink will suffer severely or likely die. A threshold is reached when the air temperature climbs above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the humidity is above 90 percent. Death ensues.

Previous studies projected that this (WBT) would happen several decades from now, but this shows it’s happening right now. (Raymond)

Not only that, a major study by 89 climatologists in the journal Nature revealed unprecedented rates of ice melt at the planet’s two greatest ice masses. The combined rate of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica averaged 89 billion tons per year in the 1990s. Yet, by the 2010s (if standing, please sit down) the average rate exploded to 523 billion tons per annum. 7

Not only that, throughout the world, mega droughts are hitting harder and more viciously than ever before. An Australian research paper identified the worst droughts in 800 years.8

Not only that, according to the UN World Food Program, as for Central America: “Five years of recurring droughts have destroyed maize and bean harvests, leaving poor subsistence farmers in the so-called Dry Corridor that runs through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua struggling to feed their families.” Solution: Pray for rain or migrate north.

And, central Chile is in the midst of what scientists have labeled a “Mega Drought,” an uninterrupted period of dry years since 2010. Half of the country has been designated “Emergency Status.” Farmers are going out of business.9

And, in South America’s Brazil, “The SPI-12 time series showed that from 2011 to 2019, excluding the south region, the other Brazilian regions have been exposed to the most severe and intense drought events in almost the last 60 years.” 10

Not only that, according to NASA, the Middle East’s drought cycle from 1998-2012 was the most severe in 900 years. According to Ben Cook of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. It continues to this day as the eastern and southern Mediterranean coastlines are drying out faster than anywhere else on the planet. Eco migrants follow in kind.

Not only that, throughout much of Asia drought is becoming the norm rather than the exception.11

Remarkably, the impact of global warming is just now starting to strut its stuff so visibly and so perceptibly that average people are recognizing its threat. Fox News reported on the Arctic temps of recent. That’s as average as it gets. But, is Fox really average, or is it something else altogether different?

Yet, according to Tierney’s review of Shellenberger’s book:

The trouble with the new environmental religion is that it has become increasingly apocalyptic, destructive, and self-defeating.

And, of course, as stated previously, Shellenberger claims:

No, climate change has not caused an increase in the frequency or intensity of floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes.

Not to worry, apocalypse never.

The truth of the matter is environmentalists have not screamed loud enough to make a difference as greenhouse gases are presently at all-time highs after three decades of screaming but not loud enough! Should environmentalists scream ever louder or adopt neoliberalism’s laissez-faire approach to business? BTW – Look where that got us.

Ross Perot’s statement at the 1992 presidential debate (see above) is a full description of laissez-faire economics in one long sentence. How’s that working for working people in America and around the world? And, for the greater environment?

Here’s a big part of the problem in a nutshell: In many respects, the Amazon ecosystem and the Arctic are facsimiles of the larger biosphere but more sensitive to climate change. In other words, some ecosystems are ultra-sensitive to changes in the climate system and thus serve as proxies or early warning signals prior to recognition of a looming threat by civilization at large.

Meantime, whilst climate change disrupts ecosystems on the fringes of civilization, society comfortably exists in artificial complexities of cement, steel, glass, and wood within a vast chemically induced world that only recognizes the danger of collapsing ecosystems after it’s too late. Then, it is too late!

Because of fabricated/artificial life styles, as just described, humans are the last living organisms to see and feel, and indeed, truly comprehend the impact of climate change. Artificial life styles masquerade the bigger issues. Thus, artificiality breeds ignorance and stupidity, as reflected in political elections. It’s the “Cement, Steel, Glass, Wood, Chemically Induced Syndrome,” and it’s deadly by stealthily hiding the truth from society at large.

Yet, there are thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers that see the truth. Some of those papers are quoted in this article.

Postscript: A fact worth repeating, time and again because it’s not going away: According to NOAA Climate.gov:

In fact, the last time the atmospheric CO2 amounts were this high was more than 3 million years ago, when temperature was 2°–3°C (3.6°–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today.

The lag effect is in-process.

  1. Perot in 1992 Warned NAFTA Would Create ‘Giant Sucking Sound’ The Washington Post, July 9, 2019.
  2. How One Heatwave Killed ‘a third’ of a Bat Species in Australia, BBC News, January 15, 2019.
  3. IVRI- Indian Veterinary Research Institute director, R.K. Singh.
  4. “Arctic Siberian Town Hit With Record Heatwave”, Al Jazeera, June 25, 2020.
  5. Louise M. Farquharson et al, “Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic”, Geophysical Research Letters, June 10, 2019.
  6. Colin Raymond, et al, “The Emergence of Heat and Humidity Too Severe for Human Tolerance”, Science Advances, Vol. 6, no. 19, May 8, 2020.
  7. “Ice Loss in Antarctica and Greenland Increased Sixfold in the Last 30 Years”, LiveScience, March 2020.
  8. Multi-century Cool-and Warm-Season rainfall Reconstructions for Australia’s Major Climatic Regions, European Geosciences Union, Vol. 13, Issue 12, November 30, 2017 by Mandy Freund and Benjamin Henley.
  9. “Chile Declares Agricultural Emergency as Extreme Drought Hits Santiago and Outskirts”, Santiago Times, August 26, 2019.
  10. Ana Paula M.S. Cunha, et al, “Extreme Drought Events Over Brazil from 2011 to 2019”, Atmosphere, October 24, 2019.
  11. China Daily News, August 12, 2019.

The IPCC’s Worst Case Scenario

A recent landmark study of massive ice loss in Antarctica and Greenland fulfills the “worst case” prognosis, as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It’s a nightmare come true, as the impact of global warming on the planet’s most significant/biggest masses of ice multiplied six-fold in only 30 years. It wasn’t supposed to happen so unexpectedly, so suddenly.

Studies in the journal Nature conducted by an international team consisting of 89 climatologists reveals an unprecedented rate of ice melt at the planet’s greatest ice masses. They assessed ice loss data from 11 satellites that monitored both Greenland and Antarctica over the past 30 years.

Here’s the horrifying truth: The combined rate of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica averaged 89 billion tons per year in the 1990s. Yet, by the 2010s (if standing, please sit down) the average rate exploded to 523 billion tons per annum. That’s a shocker. It’s inconvertible evidence that global heat is coming on strong, way too strong, especially for coastal dwellers.

Andrew Shepherd, University of Leeds, and Erik Ivins of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California agree that the assessment is a clear sign of global heating at work. In their words: “The satellite measurements provide prima facie, rather irrefutable, evidence.”1

Therefore, hands down, with the new data in hand, sea level rise of two-feet-plus over the course of the century looks like a done deal.  But, if it’s already happening faster (6xs) than scientists thought possible, what does that imply about tomorrow? Could the rate itself increase 8xs or 10xs or more? Then what?

The truth of the matter: Scientists’ models have been off course, meaning way too conservative. Similar to the rampant stock market run to unsustainable heights of recent in contrasts to expectations by a few smart hedge fund managers, global warming has blown apart analyses of the smartest and brightest, and based upon a series of recent studies demonstrating the onset of ecosystems collapsing; e.g., permafrost in the high Arctic collapsing 70 years ahead of expectations2

It is likely that global warming has morphed into global heating at its worst and thus more mercurial than ever thought possible. If so, then batten down the hatches as it will soon become politically a necessity to force unified global efforts, like the Marshall Plan, to take steps to combat the biggest threat of all time.

As such, powerful, clear evidence of anthropogenic impact on the climate system, well beyond the forces of nature, is beyond the scope of debate. After all, rising greenhouse emissions and rising temperatures run upwards in parallel fashion, nearly step-by-step, with a lag effect.

Meanwhile, of all the global proposals to combat climate catastrophe, one of the more interesting is World War Zero initiated by former Secretary of State John Kerry, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Ohio governor John Kasich. According to the Terminator: “It’s not a party issue at all because there is no Democratic air or Republican air. We all breathe the same air. There’s no Democratic water or Republican water. We all drink the same water. So don’t fall for those tricks. It’s not a political issue.”

They advocate net zero emissions as soon as humanly possible. Along the way, they grandstand the obvious benefits of conversion from fossil fuels to renewable energy, or the onset of a vast renaissance of global business with high-wage jobs galore, similar to the industrial renaissance of the early 20th century conversion from horse and buggy to gasoline-powered vehicles.

Nevertheless, by all appearances, the planet’s climate system has already been radically altered more so than ever before, or at least as far back as ice core evidence of a couple million years ago.

Alas, the risk of major breakdown of ecosystems throughout the planet has never been so prevalent. In fact, it’s already started. Greenland and Antarctica are clear, absolute proof. The overriding question therefore is whether humanity will go to work to mitigate the catastrophe as much as humanly possible.

After all, CO2 emissions and global temperatures have risen in lockstep, but what really counts in the final analysis is the actuality of physical responses, like the measured massive meltdown of the worlds’ largest masses of ice. That’s an incontrovertible fact, yet almost unbelievable, but still a measure of harsh reality.

Postscript:

One year ago one of America’s greatest climate scientist Wally Broecker, affectionately known as “the grandfather of climate science,” passed away at age 87. He coined the term “global warming,” and in 1984 warned the House of Representatives that urgent action was required to halt accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere because, in his words, “the climate system could jump abruptly from one state to another with devastating effects.”

Ergo, his warning of 36 years ago now lingers over Congress.

Post-Postscript: During a 2019 BBC interview, James Lovelock (100) the father of Gaia theory said:

There is a real danger of losing our tenure on the planet altogether…. We’ve got to care about this matter of global warming because if we don’t do anything about it, there won’t be anybody here… It’s about time we went back to taking an interest in the environment… What happens to the planet when more CO2 is put into the air? The earth will get hotter. It will heat up to a point where no life on it of our kind will be possible…When tough times come, it’ll be very rapid, indeed.

— James Lovelock, The Vanishing Face of Gaia, A Final Warning, Allen Lane, 2010

  1. “Ice Loss in Antarctica and Greenland Increased Sixfold in the Last 30 Years”, LiveScience, March 2020.
  2. Louise M. Farquharson et al, “Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic”, Geophysical Research Letters, June 10, 2019.