All posts by Robert Hunziker

Dangerous Heat Across the Globe

The planet is heating up like never before, as “ground temperatures” hit all-time records in the Northern Hemisphere as well as the Southern Hemisphere, and ocean temperatures threaten the world’s major fisheries of the Far North, which are imperiled beyond any known historical precedent.1

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) July 2021 was the hottest month in recorded history for the world. The European Union (EU) satellite system also confirmed that the past seven years have been the hottest on record.

Too much heat brings unanticipated problems of unexpected scale, putting decades of legacy infrastructure at risk of malfunctioning and/or total collapse. Nobody expected so much trouble to start so soon. Nobody anticipated such massive record-breaking back-to-back heat, north and south, to hit so soon on the heels of only 1.2C above estimated baseline for global warming.

In that regard, and with deep concern, the Council on Foreign Relations (founded, 1921) stated: “More than one-fifth of the global population now lives in regions that have already experienced warming greater than 1.5°C (2.7°F), an increase that almost all nations have agreed should be avoided to significantly reduce the risk of harm from climate change.” 2

Moreover, as further stated by the Council: “Exposure to a sustained wet-bulb temperature of 35°C (95°F), a point of intense heat with extreme humidity (90+), has been identified as the limit for human survival. When wet-bulb conditions develop, sweat can no longer evaporate off a person’s skin and the body cannot cool down. Just a few hours of this kind of heat exposure can lead to death… Some regions, including southwestern North America, South Asia, and the Middle East have already endured conditions at or near this limit, and certain areas will experience the effects more intensely than others. One projection indicates that, by 2030, this type of heat wave could afflict over two hundred million people in India alone.”

Notably, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA): Only 8% of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world have air conditioners.

Furthermore, the Council claims: “The infrastructure of today was not built to withstand surging temperatures.” As follows, global heat is rapidly outpacing infrastructure capacities. This is a surefire pathway to disaster on a scale seldom, if ever, witnessed.

Over time, excessive heat impairs and/or destroys infrastructure. Hot weather, when too hot, causes power lines to sag. When water used to cool power plants becomes too hot, electricity production measurably decreases, and drought conditions lower water levels beyond effectiveness for hydropower plants. This is already threatening in Brazil where hydro amounts to 62% of its total installed electric generating capacity. 3

In America, the Hoover Dam, which serves electrical power to 8 million people, is at it lowest level since 1937 when its lake was still being filled.

And, too much heat causes steel-comprising damage to drawbridges. Train tracks can bend under intense heat, which actually caused train cancellations in Europe in 2019. 4  And, planes can struggle to fly in extreme heat conditions.

According to the EPA, when cities are exposed to extreme heat, it can magnify heat conditions by up to 15C above surrounding rural conditions, effectively turning major cities of the world into furnaces of trapped heat.

Already, South America’s summer of 2022 is hot as blazes: “Practically all of Argentina and also neighboring countries such as Uruguay, southern Brazil, and Paraguay are experiencing the hottest days in history.” This is according to Cindy Fernández, meteorologist at the official National Meteorological Service.5

Argentina, as of January 12, 2022 reported: 129°F ground temperatures that brought blackouts. “This is a heat wave of extraordinary characteristics, with extreme temperature values that will even be analyzed after its completion, and it may generate some historical records for Argentina temperatures and persistence of heat,” according to meteorologist Lucas Berengua.6

Thereafter, Argentina’s infrastructure sagged and 700,000 people were without power, and drinking water purification systems went on the blink. Argentina’s ground temperatures echoed readings from the Northern Hemisphere of only 6 months ago, which, in retrospect, served as a foreboding for the southern continent, as it now begins its summer.

The heat has been so bad in Argentina that it was briefly the hottest place in the world, surpassing parts of Australia that usually carry that dubious honor during austral summer.

According to BBC News, Australia equaled its hottest day on record at 50.7C or 123.26F in Onslow, Western Australia on January 13th, 2022. The normal average temperature for Onslow (a coastal town) this time of year is 36.5C, not 50C. Additionally, Mardie and Roebourne, two other towns in the area, reported temperatures over 50C. And, in South Australia Oodnadatta reported 50.7C on January 2, 2022.  7

The summer of 2021 up north found the Anthropocene, the geological period of human influence, turn into the Pyrocene, when a shocking number of wildfires consumed vast areas of the Northern Hemisphere. It was “the summer of hell.” Global warming dried out grasslands and forests turned to tinder. The chief of the US Forest Service declared a “National Wildfire Crisis.” 8

Oregon and California fires were powerful enough to create stand-alone weather systems. The town of Lytton, British Columbia burned to the ground like a smoldering matchstick. Ground temperatures in Washington State in June 2021 hit 145F (63C) during an unprecedented Pacific Northwest heat wave too hot to even walk near concrete or squishy asphalt.

In Canada’s northwest, Ontario and Manitoba experienced 157 severe wildfires intense enough to create stand-alone weather systems.

Siberia experienced Biblical-scale fires like nobody has ever seen. A study showed the extreme heat driving the fires to levels calculated as 600 times more likely to occur because of climate change. Siberia at its most northern reaches registered a shocking 118 degrees F (48C) in June.

In the Mediterranean region, the summer of 2021 experienced wildfires raging out of control in Turkey and Greece with ground temperatures of more than 127F degrees (53C).9

There is a point to be made about this disheartening litany of the world succumbing to heat since it’s happening with global warming at only 1.2C above pre-industrial. But, is pre-industrial (same as post-industrial) really since 1880 or 1950, or should it be 1750, or is the entire affair really worse than we’ve been told at any rate? Answer: Look at the evidence and make a judgment.

The aforementioned facts are about climate conditions over the past 12 months throughout the world, which are worse than anybody projected, especially at only 1.2C above the alleged pre-industrial level. Along those lines, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established a red warning at 1.5C beyond which serious climate trouble will occur with 2C as an extreme limit not to be exceeded, but based upon the challenging climate conditions already evident at 1.2C, how challenging will things be at 1.5C?

The fact is at only 1.2C the world has got its hands full of infrastructure failures combined with an emergent Wet Bulb potentiality of people dropping dead in the streets.

All of which points to the upcoming significance of the US midterm elections this year. If Republicans, aka: Deniers, gain control, you might as well “pack it in.” In other words, global heat will celebrate!

On the other hand, if the Democrats gain enough control to actually do something constructive about greenhouse gases and provide global leadership towards net zero emissions within the decade, there’s a slim chance for survival, but the odds are rapidly diminishing.

So far, excessive levels of damaging global heat, in part, have been the result of the failure of political leadership of both major parties that have repeatedly been warned by scientists to minimize CO2 emissions. The warnings have been ongoing for decades, like a scratched record that replays the same song over and over again but to no avail.

America’s leaders have miserably failed to safeguard the American people from the most advertised, the most talked about, the most obvious existential threat the country has ever experienced!

Human-generated global heat is easy to describe: Whether it’s emissions via carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4) from cars, trains, planes, trucks, cows, power plants, oil and gas wells, or industry that blankets the atmosphere, thus trapping heat; i.e., “the greenhouse effect,” it predictably and relentlessly causes global temperatures to increase, which have now surpassed all-time highs going back to when humans first rubbed two sticks together.

  1. See: “The Oceans Are Overheating“, January 14, 2022.
  2. “A World Overheating”, Council on Foreign Relations, October 18, 2021.
  3. “Brazil Hydro Plants May Go Offline From Drought, Bolsonaro Warns”, Bloomberg News, August 27, 2021.
  4. “Sag, Buckle and Curve: Why Your Trains Get Cancelled in the Heat”, Wired, July 26, 2019.
  5. ‘Another Hellish Day’ ”South American Sizzles in Record Summer Temperatures”, The Guardian, January 14, 2022.
  6. Copernicus Sentinel 3 Satellite data discussion.
  7. “Australia Equals Hottest Day on Record at 50.7C”, BBC News, January 13, 2022.
  8. “Here are the 6 Major Regions Literally on Fire Right Now”, Gizmodo, July 20, 2021.
  9. EU Earth Observation Program, Copernicus Sentinel 3 Satellite.
The post Dangerous Heat Across the Globe first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Oceans Are Overheating

A polar bear and her cub on sea ice in the Arctic north of Svalbard (Image © Larissa Beumer / Greenpeace)

The world’s oceans in 2021 witnessed the hottest temperatures in recorded history. 1

According to the Ocean Conservancy:From the beginning of industrialization until today, the ocean has absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat from human-caused global warming and about one-third of our carbon emissions. But we are now seeing the devastating effects of that heat and carbon dioxide.”

This brings into focus big questions about the overall condition of the ecosystems of the planet. The oceans, by far the biggest, cover more than 70% of the planet. As readily seen from outer space, the oceans are the essence of the planet.

Indeed, every ecosystem on the planet is nearly stressed to its limit and showing alarming signs of deterioration. This is factual. It’s not hard to prove. The evidence is compelling and straightforward.

Yet, that evidence shows up first where nobody lives in the least populated regions of the planet like the Arctic, Siberia, Patagonia, Antarctica, rainforests, mountain glaciers, Greenland, and, of course, the oceans.

The great cities of the world are the last to experience the loss of wildlife and to witness deterioration of ecosystems supportive of life. However, interestingly enough, rural residents throughout the world do see the radical changes in ecosystems and send messages or emails about the devastating, nearly unbelievable, loss of insects and wildlife. Their personal messages say, “it’s different now, something is missing,” a void or emptiness stares them in the face every morning.

This past year 2021 is the sixth consecutive year of increasing ocean temperatures. It’s the hottest in recorded history and a threat to marine life. In fact, it’s already impacting marine life, as increasing numbers of emaciated birds, whales, and fish wash ashore. Who will take notice of this tragedy and do something with enough international impact that it truly makes a difference?  That important question is searching for answers.

A team of journalists from the LA Times traveled to the Far North only recently. Here’s what they reported:

Forces profound and alarming are reshaping the upper reaches of the North Pacific and Arctic oceans, breaking the food chain that supports billions of creatures and one of the world’s most important fisheries.2

People do not cherish articles like this, or the referenced LA Times article or any article that deals with loss of wildlife and loss of habitat and loss of ecosystems. The negativity is too much to handle on a personal basis. Nevertheless, if reality is not recognized for what it really truly is, then nobody will ever strive to change things for the better.

For some time now scientists have been beating the drums about the risks of loss of ocean life. Now, their warnings have turned real. Alas, scientists’ warnings have not stopped the ravaging of CO2 emissions, heat, plastic, pollution, agricultural runoff, overfishing, or garbage.

It is important to contemplate the possibility that the human footprint is altering ocean life so much so that it risks not only the world’s fisheries, it risks loss of all marine life. In fact, at the current rate, scientists believe ocean life will be gone by mid century. It can already be seen right before our eyes.

An article by the Natural History Museum/London claims: “Nature is stretching to a breaking point. If we don’t stop, the ocean could be drastically changed within our lifetimes.”

One year ago the Alliance of World Scientists, 13,700 members, delivered a biting report, not mincing words: “Scientists now find that catastrophic climate change could render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable.” 3

As a follow up: It’s already happening.

According to Janet Duffy-Anderson, who is a marine scientist, interviewed by the LA Times team, and the leader of surveys of the Bering Sea for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center: The ripple effect of what’s happening in the Far North could shut down fisheries as well as leave migrating animals starving for food, which, in fact, is already omnipresent. For the third year in a row, Gray Whales have been found in very poor condition or dead in large numbers along the west coast of Mexico, USA and Canada.

Since 2019 hundreds of Gray Whales have died along North America’s Pacific coastline. Many of the whales appeared skinny or underfed. 4

Even though protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Gray Whale is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (“IUCN”) Red List of Threatened Species.

Starving whales at the top of the food chain can only mean the ocean is sickly. Too much heat and overfishing and discarded fishing nets (4,600,000 commercial fishing vessels either legally or illegally prowl the seas. (See the Netflix documentary: Seaspiracy) and too much CO2 combined with pollution cause a multitude of deadly problems for marine life.

It’s estimated that one billion sea creatures died off the coast of Vancouver, as extreme heat hit the Pacific.  5

Recent studies of the Pacific Ocean inflow to the Arctic from 1990-2019 registered significant annual mean temperature warming of plus 2°C to 4°C It’s believed that 4°C above pre-industrial for the planet as a whole is a killer for terrestrial life. 6

Moreover, according to scientists interviewed by the LA Times team: “Data from a Bering Sea mooring shows the average temperature throughout the water column has risen markedly in the last several years: in 2018, water temperatures were 9F degrees above the historical average.”

Not surprisingly, people do not want to accept the facts about how bad things really are, but it is becoming only too apparent that to maintain life on the planet, the world economy must stabilize with massive reduction of greenhouse gases accompanied by flat-line economic activity. It is not difficult to make that case with plenty of evidence readily available.

Changing, mitigating, even moderating the world’s massive economic growth trend is as big of a problem as it creates for the planet’s ecosystems because of the carelessness of the growth machine. Economic growth and the condition of the planet work inversely, and, of course, the planet loses. Why is that? Answer: According to the Global Human Footprint Network (14,000 data points), humanity is using 1.75 Earth’s whilst “failing to husband its resources.” That’s an on-going formula for disaster.

What has already happened is hard to accept: “Today’s seas contain only 10% of the marlin, tuna, sharks and other large predators that were found in the 1950s.” 7

Yes, only 10% left within only 70 years.

How about the next seventy?

  1. Lijing Cheng, et al, “Another Record: Ocean Warming Continues Through 2021 Despite La Niña Conditions”, Advanced in Atmospheric Sciences, January 11, 2022.
  2. Susanne Rust, “Unprecedented Die-offs, Melting Ice: Climate Change is Wreaking Havoc in the Arctic and Beyond”, Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2021. The Susanne Rust research trip was covered in more detail in “Warnings from the Far North.” December 27, 2021.
  3. William J. Ripple, et al, “The Climate Emergency: 2020 in Review”, Scientific American, January 6, 2021.
  4. Mary Lou Jones and Steven Swartz, Aarhus University, “A Large Number of Gray Whales are Starving and Dying in the Eastern North Pacific”, ScienceDaily, January 22, 2021.
  5. “Heat Wave Killed An Estimated 1 Billion Sea Creatures, And Scientists Fear Even Worse”, NPR Environment, July 9, 2021.
  6. “Warming and Freshening of the Pacific Inflow to the Arctic from 1990-2019 Implying Dramatic Shoaling in Pacific Winter Water Ventilation of the Arctic Water Column, Geophysical Research Letters, April 2021.
  7. “Will the Ocean Really Be Dead In 50 Years?” Natural History Museum, London.
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Fukushima Takes a Turn for the Worse

Tokyo Electric Power Company-TEPCO- has been attempting to decommission three nuclear meltdowns in reactors No. 1 No. 2, and No. 3 for 11 years now. Over time, impossible issues grow and glow, putting one assertion after another into the anti-nuke coffers.

The problems, issues, enormous danger, and ill timing of deconstruction of a nuclear disaster is always unexpectedly complicated by something new. That’s the nature of nuclear meltdowns, aka: China Syndrome debacles.

As of today, TEPCO is suffering some very serious setbacks that have “impossible to deal with” written all over the issues.

Making all matters nuclear even worse, which applies to the current mess at Fukushima’s highly toxic scenario, Gordon Edwards’ following statement becomes more and more embedded in nuclear lore: “It’s impossible to dispose of nuclear waste.” 1

Disposing of nuclear waste is like “running in place” to complete a marathon. There’s no end in sight.

As a quickie aside from the horrendous details of the current TEPCO debacle, news from Europe brings forth the issue of nuclear power emboldened as somehow suitable to help the EU transition to “cleaner power,” as described by EU sources. France supports the crazed nuke proposal but Germany is holding its nose. According to German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke: “Nuclear energy could lead to environmental disasters and large amounts of nuclear waste. 2   Duh!

Minister Lemke nailed it. And, TEPCO is living proof (barely) of the unthinkable becoming thinkable and disastrous for humanity. Of course, meltdowns are never supposed to happen, but they do.

One meltdown is like thousands of industrial accidents in succession over generations of lifetimes. What a mess to leave for children’s children’s children over several generations. They’ll hate you for this!

In Fukushima’s case, regarding three nuclear power plants that melted all-the-way (China Syndrome), TEPCO still does not know how to handle the enormously radioactive nuclear fuel debris, or corium, sizzling hot radioactive lumps of melted fuel rods and container material in No. 1, No 2 and No.3, They’re not even 100% sure where all of the corium is and whether it’s getting into underground water resources. What a disaster that would be… what if it is already… Never mind.

The newest wrinkle at TEPCO involves the continuous flow of water necessary to keep the destroyed reactors’ hot stuff from exposure to air, thus spreading explosively red-hot radioactivity across the countryside. That constant flow of water is an absolute necessity to prevent an explosion of all explosions, likely emptying the streets of Tokyo in a mass of screaming, kicking, and trampling event to “get out of town” ASAP, commonly known as “mass evacuation.”

The cooling water continuously poured over the creaky dilapidated ruins itself turns radioactive, almost instantaneously, and must be processed via an Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) to remove most radioactive materials (???) housed in a 17-meter (56 feet) tall building on the grounds of the disaster zone.

Here’s the new big danger:  as it processes radioactive contaminated water, it flushes out “slurry” of highly concentrated radioactive material that has to go somewhere. But where to put it?

How to handle and dispose of the radioactive slurry from the ALPS is almost and, in fact, may be, an impossible quagmire. It’s a big one as the storage containers for the tainted slurry quickly degrade because of the high concentration of radioactive slurry. These storage containers of highly radioactive slurry, in turn, have to be constantly replaced as the radioactivity slurry eats away at the containers’ liners.

Radioactive slurry is muddy and resembles a shampoo in appearance, and it contains highly radioactive Strontium readings that reach tens of millions of Becquerel’s per cubic centimeter. Whereas, according to the EPA, 148 Becquerel’s per cubic meter, not centimeter, is the safe level for human exposure. Thus, tens of millions per cubic centimeter is “off the charts” dangerous! Instant death, as one cubic meter equals one million cubic centimeters. Ahem!

Since March 2013, TEPCO has accumulated 3,373 special vessels that hold these highly toxic radioactive slurry concentrations. But, because the integrity of the vessels deteriorates so quickly, the durability of the containers reaches a limit, meaning the vessels will need replacement by mid 2025.

Making matters ever worse, if that is possible, the NRA has actually accused TEPCO of “underestimating the impact issue of the radioactivity on the containers linings,” claiming TEPCO improperly measured the slurry density when conducting dose evaluations. Whereas, the density level is always highest at the bottom, not the top where TEPCO did the evaluations, thus failing to measure and report the most radioactive of the slurry. Not a small error.

As of June 2021, NRA’s own assessment of the containers concluded that 31 radioactive super hot containers had already reached the end of operating life. And, another 56 would need replacement within the next 2 years.

Transferring slurry is a time-consuming highly dangerous horrific job, which exposes yet a second issue of unacceptable risks of radioactive substances released into the air during transfer of slurry. TEPCO expects to open and close the transfers remotely (no surprise there). But, TEPCO, as of January 2, 2022, has not yet revealed acceptable plans for dealing with the necessary transfer of slurry from weakening, almost deteriorated containers, into fresh, new containers. 3

Meanwhile, additional batches of a massive succession of containers that must be transferred to new containers will be reaching the end of shelf life, shortly.

Another nightmarish problem has surfaced for TEPCO. Yes, another one. In the aftermath of the 2011 blowup, TEPCO stored radioactive water in underground spaces below two buildings near reactor No.4. Bags of a mineral known as zeolite were placed to absorb cesium. Twenty-six tons (52,000 lbs.) of bags are still immersed with radiation readings of 4 Sieverts per hour, enough to kill half of all workers in the immediate vicinity within one hour. The bags need to be removed.

TEPCO intends to robotically start removing the highly radioactive bags, starting in 2023, but does not know where the bags should be stored. Where do you store radioactive bags containing enough radioactive power to kill someone within one hour of exposure?

Additionally (there’s more) the amount of radioactive rubble, soil, and felled trees at the plant site totals 480,000 cubic meters, as of 2021. TEPCO is setting up a special incinerator to dispose of this. Where to dispose of the incinerated waste is unknown. This is one more add-on to the horrors of what to do with radioactive material that stays hot for centuries upon centuries. Where to put it?

Where to put it? Which is the bane of the nuclear power industry. For example, America’s nuke plants are full of huge open pools of water containing tons of spent nuclear fuel rods. If exposed to open air, spent fuel rods erupt into a sizzling zirconium fire followed by massive radiation bursts of the most toxic material known to humanity. It can upend an entire countryside and force evacuation of major cities.

According to the widely recognized nuclear expert Paul Blanch: “Continual storage in spent fuel pools is the most unsafe thing you could do.” 4

It’s not just Fukushima that rattles the nerves of people who understand the high risk game of nuclear power. America is loaded with nuclear power plants with open pools of water that hold highly radioactive spent fuel rods.

What to do with it?

  1. Gordon Edwards in The Age of Nuclear Waste From Fukushima to Indian Point.
  2. “EU Plans to Label Gas and Nuclear Energy ‘Green’ Prompts Row”, BBC News, January 2, 2022.
  3. “TEPCO Slow to Respond to Growing Crisis at Fukushima Plant”, The Asahi Shimbun, January 2, 2022.
  4. “Nuclear Fuel Buried 108 Feet from the Sea”, March 19, 2021.
The post Fukushima Takes a Turn for the Worse first appeared on Dissident Voice.

When to Build Sea Walls

During the month of December 2021 two warnings of impending sea level rise were issued by highly respected groups of climate scientists. These are professional scientists who do not deal in hyperbole. Rather, they are archetypical conservative serious-minded scientists who follow the facts.

The most recent warning on December 30th is of deteriorating conditions at the Arctic and Greenland. The second warning is the threatening collapse in Antarctica of one of the largest glaciers in the world. As these events unfortunately coincide so close together, one at the top of the world, the other at the bottom, should coastal cities plan to build sea walls?

The scale of time and material and costs to build seawalls is nearly overwhelming. In fact, it is overwhelming. The US Army Corps of Engineers is already drafting plans for a gigantic seawall to protect New York-New Jersey Harbour and Tributaries from surges and flooding. It’s a multi-year study that should be completed this year, 2022. The estimated cost is US$119 billion built-out over a period of 25 years for 6 miles of seawall. Yet, already there is concern that it may prove inadequate, only defending against storm surges, not rising sea levels. NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer has suggested 520 miles of exposed shorelines as an alternative plan. 1

The Army Corps of Engineers also estimated $4.6 billion for a one-mile wall for Miami-Dade and $2 billion for an eight-mile seawall around Charleston. It’s not known if these bids are only for storm surges or sea level rise but most likely it’s the former.

A study by the Center for Climate Integrity at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, Washington, D.C. concluded: If seawalls were built in every coastal community, the national cost over the next couple of decades would be $400+ billion, which would be designated for storm surge protection. According to YaleEnvironment360: “That’s nearly the price of building the 47,000 miles of the interstate highway system, which took four decades and cost more than $500 billion in today’s dollars.” 2

Jason Box, professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, created a seven-minute video on December 30th entitled: Recent Developments in Arctic Climate Observational Indicators.

His final statement in the video sums up the facts: “At these levels of CO2, the world needs to prepare itself for abrupt sea level rise.”

This can only mean nation/states need to start planning on either building continent-wide sea walls, which will hit taxpayers right between the eyes, or prepare residents of coastal cities, like Miami, to move to higher ground. There are no alternatives. For decades now it has become only too obvious that world governments are not going to seriously tackle CO2 emissions to slow down greenhouse gases from warming the planet with a resulting onslaught of rising sea levels.

Here’s Jason Box’s opening statement: “I am part of a team of about 20 scientists/authors where we look at all kinds of observational records of Arctic climate. We take in everything like rivers, temperatures, snow cover, and so I am going to quickly take you through our updated summary survey of these observati0nal records,” as follows herein:

The Arctic is getting wetter. There is more rain falling instead of snow. This is the largest trend in the Arctic, the increasing rainfall trend.

That’s an incredibly disturbing statement. Isn’t the Arctic supposed to be “the brutal cold of the North” that freezes over as endless solid ice and importantly serves as the planet’s biggest reflector of incoming solar radiation? Answer: Yes, that’s true, but that was pre-global warming. Nowadays, the planet’s Coppertone; i.e., multi-year thick ice, is almost gone, exposing it to severe sunburn.

Moreover, counter-intuitively, most of the warming occurs in the cold season of October thru May. It’s the most dynamic season in the Arctic and some of the biggest changes in the permafrost are happening in that cold season. Yes, but doesn’t permafrost mean “permanently frozen?” In fact, Dr. Box claims that permafrost is changing in the middle of the winter. Really!

According to the study details, using new more authoritative data sets, looking at the rate of warming in the Arctic, since 1971, it is warming at a rate of 3.3 times the globe. But, on a seasonal basis, it’s warming at 4 times the global increase during the cold season of October thru May.

Not only is it warming faster in the winter, but the studies also found a “non-surprising coincidence of extreme wildfires” when temperatures are extremely high. For example, only recently Biblical-scale fires, never before witnessed, hit Siberia. At the time, SciTechDaily’s headline stated: “Meteorologists Shocked as Heat and Fire Scorches Siberia,” June 23rd, 2020.

The crux of the matter links “land ice surveys” of Greenland and the overall Arctic, which are some of the largest sources of sea level rise, illustrated on a chart displayed in the video, demonstrating “an increase in sea level contribution every decade.”

Sea level rise, which has been relatively quiescent throughout the Holocene Era over the past 10,000 years is starting to accelerate. This is extremely bad news, meaning the climate system is breaking away from the wonderfully stable Holocene Era of the remarkable forgiving Goldilocks climate, “not too hot, not too cold.” But now, all of a sudden, it’s no longer ”remarkably forgiving.”

As a result of so many years of the wondrous Holocene Era, humanity got spoiled rotten with very stable sea levels and as a result far too complacent. But complacency gives rise to repercussions.

According to Jason Box “future sea level rise contribution from land ice, and especially ice sheets, is very difficult to project into the future.” However, here’s what sends a shiver down the spine, he went on to say: “At best, we can say at these levels of CO2, the world needs to prepare itself for abrupt sea level rise.”

“At best… prepare for abrupt sea level rise” is a powerful warning from scientists who do not take warnings lightly. He did not say prepare for “sea level rise.” He said prepare for “abrupt sea level rise.” There is no subtlety about abrupt. It means “sudden and unexpected.”

Which brings on climate change warning #2, Antarctica: The Thwaites “Doomsday Glacier” in West Antarctica. Satellite images shown at a recent meeting on December 13th of the American Geophysical Union showed numerous large, diagonal cracks extending across the Thwaites floating ice wedge. The ice sheet/glacier could collapse. And, it’s big, 80 miles across with up to 4,000 feet depth and with a 28-mile-wide cracking ice shelf that extends over the Amundsen Sea.

NewScientist d/d December 13, 2021 discussed the satellite images of Thwaites’ massive cracks: “Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier could break free of the continent within 10 years, which could lead to catastrophic sea level rise and potentially set off a domino effect in surrounding ice.”

Meanwhile, by year-end 2021, both poles, North and South, are rumbling and threatening coastal life throughout the world, but frankly, nobody knows how soon or how high the seas will react, 1-3 feet this century, 1-3 feet within a couple decades, or more in less time, maybe 10 feet, or how about “several meters” this century, which is a calculation used in a study in 2015 by Dr. James Hansen of Columbia University before scientists knew what they know today. Dr. Hansen’s paper was published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms Evidence From Paleoclimate Data, Climate Modeling, and Modern Observations that 2°C Global Warming Could Be Dangerous, March 22, 2016.

Part of the Hansen argument is paleoclimate evidence during the Eemian Period 120,000 years ago when “Earth’s oceans were six to nine meters higher (20-30 feet) at less than 1C warmer than it is today.” For perspective purposes, that was 6 years ago, today scientists claim we’re at 1.2°C above pre-industrial, or 0.8°C off the dreaded 2C level.

Six years after Dr. James Hansen’s warning, scientists who study the Arctic and Antarctica are echoing his words but with more immediacy and concern. In plain English, Jason Box did say: ““At these levels of CO2, the world needs to prepare itself for abrupt sea level rise.” After all, who else has a better grasp of the situation than Dr. Jason Box, professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland?

Warnings today are more pronounced than ever before even though the biosphere is not yet at 1.5° C above pre-industrial, widely considered the IPCC safe limit, or is it? That depends upon how pre-industrial is calculated. Is it 1750 or 1880 or 1950? But even if we’re not there yet, the damage caused to critical ecosystems at only 1.2°C above pre-industrial, where we are today, is enough to write a book, a very long book.

Nevertheless, what is known today is that preparations and build-outs of sea walls will be decades in the making and dreadfully costly. Is there an alternative? Once sea level makes its mark, higher and higher, it’s too late to start drawing sketches and drafting plans.

Climate scientists who are on the frontlines of climate change are sending smoke signals of a looming threat on the horizon. It’s much closer than anybody expected.

Alas, considering the disquieting fact that climate change in real time has been outpacing the climate models of scientists by quite a wide margin for quite a long time, abrupt sea level rise needs to be respected as a distinct reality.

An article by M. Farquharson, et al in Geophysical Research Letters d/d June 10, 2019 stated: “Observed maximum thaw depths at our sites are already exceeding those projected to occur by 2090.” In other words, fieldwork in the High Arctic found cataclysmic impact of climate change happening 70 years ahead of what the scientific models expected.

Do something!

  1. “US Army Weighs Up Proposal For Gigantic Sea Wall to Defend NY From Future Floods”, ScienceAlert, January 20, 2020.
  2. “Who Will Pay for the Huge Costs of Holding Back Rising Seas?” YaleEnvironment360, August 9, 2019.
The post When to Build Sea Walls first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Bright Green Lies Torpedoes Greens

Bright Green Lies (Monkfish Book Publishing, 2021) grumbles and growls like a rambunctious thunderstorm on an early spring day opening up darkened clouds of acid rain across the world of environmentalism, including celebrated personalities.

According to Bright Green Lies authors Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert: “We are writing this book because we want our environmental movement back.” As such, they charge ahead with daggers drawn, similar to Planet of the Humans (2019-20), nobody spared.

As explained therein, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) brought on the environmental movement as well as establishment of the EPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. She did not call for “saving civilization,” which is the common rallying cry today (Civilization’s Last Chance by Bill McKibben or Lester Brown, The Race to Save Civilization). Rachel Carson called for “saving nature.”

“Today’s environmental movement stands upon the shoulders of giants, but something has gone terribly wrong… Mainstream environmentalists now overwhelmingly prioritize saving industrial civilization over saving life on the planet.” (pp. 26-27)

Losing the essence of environmentalism is part of the true grit of Bright Green Lies, a smart book that fascinates and teases the mind with solid usage of the “laws of physics” as it drills down into the depths of the nuts and bolts of green energy, renewable devices, and how this dream of Green has gone off track.

Bright Green Lies is a very controversial book within the environmental community because it is “deep green” in the sense that their argument leaves almost no room for modern-day civilization, and it is overly critical of today’s brand of environmentalists.

For example: “It should be noted that Deep Greens like JK&W are a tiny fraction of the environmental movement and a micro-sliver of the population. They are completely outnumbered by the activists fighting industrialism to defend our future on this precious planet… Bright Green Lies debunks the notion that modern civilization can be ‘greened. It obliges readers to face two vexing truths: industrialism is unsustainable and ecocidal—even if it embraces “renewable” energy.”  Bright Green Lies and Deep Green Deceptions, Craig Collins Ph.D. California State University East Bay)

In spite of JK&W’s penchant for reducing industrial civilization to a dust heap, their criticisms of “going green” inclusive of the public misconception of its structural viability, the actual build-out, is crucial for a proper public understanding of the challenges in combating global warming and loss of biodiversity, which is why this article was written.

Unfortunately, some of the big names in climate activism are roasted in JK&W’s analysis to make the point that industrial civilization is wrong-headed.

Environmentalists of the highest order, in the limelight, probably dislike the book because it tears apart statements and theses by the likes of Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben of how solar will heal the planet with the miracle of Germany as evidence to the world that the planet is so worth saving, just go green!

But according to Bright Green Lies, no, it is not a miracle, not at all. The public has been deceived by believing the books, articles, speeches, TV appearances boldly praising the quintessential green… a big drumroll please: It’s Germany!

For example, regarding “Naomi Klein’s quote from an interview with Democracy Now: ‘Twenty-five percent of Germany’s energy now comes from renewable energy’… She’s just plain wrong.” (p. 50) For the full breakdown see pp.  59-64.

“Recall Bill McKibben’s claim that ‘there were days this month when they (Munich) got half their energy from solar panels’… “He was referencing a two-hour period on a single day (not days) in the previous May. Munich did not get half its energy from solar panels. First, it got half its electricity from ‘renewables,’ which means, if Munich follows the German pattern of electricity accounting for 20 percent of total energy, then ‘renewables’ provided about 10 percent of Munich’s energy (for about two hours, on a Saturday).” Oops! (pp. 64-65)

Klein at 25% and McKibben at 50%, but it just isn’t true. According to Bright Green Lies, “Even with huge subsidies to renewables, wind and solar combine for a whopping 3.3 percent of all German energy consumption.” (p. 41)

But wait one moment!  Greens claim German renewables account for 25% or maybe 30% or maybe 74%, maybe a lot more soon to come. No, no, according to Bright Green Lies: Greens inaccurately conflate “energy” and “power” in ways that serve their political ends and thus unintentionally or intentionally deceive the public. Most likely, they accept numbers at face value and do not drill down to see where and how the numbers are really derived. Jensen and co-authors do just that; they drill down.

The “drill down” covers several pages, which readers of the book can easily access. Meantime, and most importantly: “Bright greens consistently fail to mention that electricity is only 20 percent of Germany’s energy usage.” A fact that is confirmed by scientist Robert Wilson, University of Strathelyde (est. 1796), a public research university: “Germany gets only 3.3 percent of its energy from wind and solar. Ignore the headlines.” (p. 66)

Read the book.  It’s easy to confirm only 3.3%. The authors lay it out in graphs and facts. It’s 3.3%. Bright Green Lies is therefore aptly named, and thus it’s a sad day for contemporary Greens, even though their hearts are in the right place. Sorry to say, if one accepts Bright Green Lies’ arguments, then renewables stink for a whole bunch of reasons, throughout 471 pages of detailed information.

Moreover: “The German Physical Society (the world’s second-largest organization of physicists) concluded: ‘Essentially, solar energy cannot replace any additional power plants.” (p. 71)

Hopefully, Bright Greens are not counting on dirty woody biomass as a renewable energy, which the EU has fallen in love with. It emits more CO2 than burning coal, as discussed in Bright Green Lies, and additionally, search: “The Woody Biomass Blunder”, Dissident Voice, 16 November 2021 to find opinions about woody biomass by climate scientists.

According to Bright Green Lies there are no easy answers to the inherently destructive forces of industrialization, especially when heartfelt Greens emphasize “saving civilization.” That’s the wrong target.

Accordingly, on page 54: “We’re going to suggest what is for this culture a radical redefinition of what it means for an action to be ‘green’ or ‘environmental,’ which is that the action must tangibly benefit the natural world on the natural world’s own terms. Not that the action helps fuel the industrial economy.”

That very important distinction is the essence behind chapter after chapter exposing lies that fuel the raison d être for the Green movement. Publicizing incorrect figures, hyped numbers about the success of renewables, creates false comfort “everything will be just fine” in the mindset of industrialists, politicians, and the general pubic. Not to worry.  This is working just fine.  Just look at Germany, we’re saved!

No, you are not!

All of which prompts serious consideration of the real world, inter alia, with the avalanche of renewable installations the past couple of decades, why do CO2 emissions keep on going up every year?

Mauna Loa Observatory (est. 1965)

November 2021 – 415.01 ppm

November 2020 – 413.12 ppm

November 2019 – 410.48 ppm

December 2012 – first crossover above 400 ppm

Ever since Mauna Loa recorded CO2, the number has gone up every year. Even worse yet, since the start of the new 21st century, annual CO2 has doubled over the 20th century.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, more than half of all industrial carbon dioxide emissions, since 1750, have been released over only the past 30 years. That’s a lot for the atmosphere to absorb in such a short time span. The repercussions have not really hit, yet.

As for wind energy, Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, whom mainstream environmentalists carry in highest regard because of his detailed plans to go 100% renewable by 2030 plans for wind power to fulfill ½ of global industrial energy needs by 2030. Among environmentalists he’s nearly a folk hero.

However, according to the authors, the scale of steel, copper, cement and assorted materials needed for Jacobson’s wind turbines is beyond enormous, to wit: “The scale of this project, then, is the equivalent of building perhaps 60,000 Hoover Dams in 12 years, more than 13 Hoover Dams per day.” (p. 115)

Yes, per day. And, the earth-moving equipment, mining, heavy transport, processing, tailing ponds, fossil fuels, toxic chemicals, composite fiber, steel rebars, and assorted materials in motion throughout the world supply network consumes herculean amounts of energy and raw material from Earth. It’s overwhelming.

Ever been to the Hoover Dam? Yeah, it’s a monster. The Hoover Dam elevator ride is 54 stories. Just imagine 13 dams per day? Hmm.

Wind turbines don’t function without massive amounts of earth moving. It needs to be stated that the mining centers and smelters for copper and production of steel and cement are environmental nightmares, as fully explained in the book, namely: “Green energy is made from: the dust of shattered mountains, lakes of acid, and the agony of our winged and scaled kin.” (p. 128)

Bright Green Lies is a thick book filled with facts that dissect the renewable energy platform and environmentalists to the nth degree. It should be required reading for anybody who really cares about the planet.

On page 151 the authors state their case in a couple of paragraphs: “Shiny fantasies of a clean, green future are being built on numbers that aren’t real. Most of us don’t have the time or the training to investigate past an article or two. We know there’s an emergency; we believe the educated, earnest leaders; we read headlines that ease our fears, and isn’t Germany doing it already? Someone has a plan- an engineer, a senator, an environmental group- and even if the details are difficult, surely the idea is basically sound? What we are asking you to consider is that the idea of ‘green energy’ is not sound- neither in the broad strokes (continuing to fuel the destruction of the planet is in fact a bad idea) nor in the particulars (that nondestructive sources of industrial scale energy exist).”

As a follow up to that address to readers of the book, they, the three authors, then go on to explain the results of two Harvard University researchers, David Keith and Lee Miller, who studied wind energy. The numbers do not add up. They took data from 57,000 wind turbines. The estimates of efficiency used by the US Department of Energy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and green energy proponents do not match reality.

Since the wind energy reference is only one of many others mentioned in the book, it is important to state the evidence clearly so readers understand the depth of research, to wit: “For wind, ‘the average power density- was up to 100 times lower’ than common estimates. The power density for solar energy was also much lower than in widely used estimates.” (p. 151)

Also, any meaningful transition to renewables would require 5-to-20 times more land than the plans on the table. Here’s the big downer: “To provide for the U.S.A.’s total energy consumption, fully 72 percent of the continent would have to be devoted to wind farms. At the scale required, wind farms would be an active player in the climate system. They would change the climate. Please read that again.” (p. 152)

Bright Green Lies has 15 chapters of devastating facts and figures that take the entire Green edifice down onto its knees. It leaves a sense of hopelessness mixed with downright anger, wondering if this fact-filled tome is really as seriously damaging to the Green movement as it reads. That’s a very scary thought. It is very scary indeed. Whose voice can you depend upon?

Chapter 14 is titled Real Solutions. By and large, the only real solution is to stop industrial civilization. OMG! Does that mean no more hot showers, no more texting? What it does mean is: “Industrial civilization is incompatible with life on the planet.” And, as for a solution, it means: “Changing our lifestyle dramatically.” (p, 433)

In other words, instead of reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, change the direction of the ship.

Roughly speaking, the options in chapter 14 are quite clear, change lifestyles or lose the planet. Take your choice. The chapter discusses the rebirth of nature with actual cases actually happening today. There is a way out of the morass. Read the book.

Meanwhile, here’s one example of human fortitude healing the planet, no technology involved: Location- India, “the Kuttemperoor River was used for illegal sand mining, sewage dumping, and worse. As more and more of the watershed became concrete, the river shrunk from 120 feet to barely 20. But then a group of 700 locals, mostly women, began cleaning up the river- primarily by physically wading into it, removing trash and plastic, and dredging out toxic silt. One of the participants, P. Viswambhara Panicker, wrote, ‘Initially many discouraged us saying it was a mere waste of money and energy. But we proved them all wrong.’ Within 70 days of the effort starting, the river had been restored to full flow. Local wells began to fill, and the stench of sewage was gone.” (pp. 441-442)

And, this statement: “The first step is to stop believing in bright green fairy tales that technology will save the planet. Instead, put your belief in soils, grasses, forests, seaweeds, and the billions of living beings who every moment are working to regenerate the conditions that support life and beauty on this planet. That is why we’ve written this book” (p. 441)

Pages 441-445 contain nine specific goals necessary for re-establishing a truly green world, starting with carbon reduction of current emissions of 20% per year for the next 5 years.

Bright Green Lies does have a conclusion. Here’s part of that conclusion: “We can debunk each and every piece of bright green technology, and ultimately it won’t make a bit of difference to bright greens or anyone else whose loyalty is not to the earth but to the economic and social system that is dismantling the earth.” (p. 467)

This article you are reading about Bright Green Lies only deals with a portion of a voluminous amount of research covering 471 pages of challenging facts. This has been written for the express purpose of bringing it to people’s attention because Bright Green Lies appears to be a well-researched gem.

Gems are rarely found!

The post Bright Green Lies Torpedoes Greens first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Warnings from the Far North

Forces profound and alarming are reshaping the upper reaches of the North Pacific and Arctic oceans, breaking the food chain that supports billions of creatures and one of the world’s most important fisheries. 1

“Breaking the food chain that supports billions of creatures” is horrific to contemplate. It sends a powerful signal of trouble dead ahead. In that regard, scientists agree that what happens up North signals what’s in store to the South, and what’s happening up North is a gut-wrenching reality of life on a knife’s edge of catastrophe.

It’s never been more urgent and timely for the world to change its ways and abandon the current economic maelstrom that haunts all life on the planet. The pros and cons of capitalism’s experiment with neoliberal tendencies that enrich the few and bury the many should be debated in the context of strained resources throughout the biosphere, including all life forms. The GDP-to-infinity paradigm is barreling towards a wall of impending extinction. It’s already on a fast track.

In the aforementioned LA Times, aka The Times, article:

Kuletz, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist who has been observing birds in Alaska since the late 1970s, said she’s never before seen the large-scale changes of recent years. In 2013, the dead birds did not show signs of being emaciated, but in 2017, hundreds to thousands more began to wash up dead on beaches with clear signs of starvation. 2

A team from The Times traveled to Alaska and spoke with dozens of scientists conducting field research in the Bering Sea and the High Arctic from whence they describe the harsh reality of a vastly/rapidly changing climate system that threatens basic food resources for marine life, as well as for humanity.

The fingerprints of anthropogenic global warming are all over the discernable shifts of sea life and/or loss of species captured in a whirlwind of unpredictability. According to boots-on-the-ground scientists in the far north, these radical shifts in the ecosystem have… “ramifications that stretch far beyond the Arctic. Moreover, the Bering Sea is one of the planet’s major fishing grounds.”

Janet Duffy-Anderson, a marine scientist who leads surveys of the Bering Sea for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center said:

Globally, cold-water ecosystems support the world’s fisheries. Halibut, all of the cod, all of the benthic crabs, lobsters, this is the majority of the food source for the world.

She emphasized the fact that the ripple effect of what’s happening in the far north could shut down fisheries as well as leave migrating animals starving for food, which, in fact, is already omnipresent. And, of concern: “Alaska is a bellwether for what other systems can expect.”

The top of the marine food chain is in deep trouble. Since 2019 hundreds of gray whales have died along North America’s Pacific coastline. Many of the whales appeared skinny or underfed.

Addressing the whale issue, another scientific study from a year ago stated:

It is now the third year that gray whales have been found in very poor condition or dead in large numbers along the west coast of Mexico, USA and Canada, and scientist have raised their concerns. An international study suggests that starvation is contributing to these mortalities.” 3

When the top of the marine food chain (whales) starve, it’s only too obvious that the lower levels are failing. This one fact is cause for serious concern and thus demands action by the leaders of the world to commit to a series of international studies of marine life and ocean conditions with recommendations on how to solve the anthropogenic cause of excessive greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet, it appears that as some species in the far north struggle, some do adapt and even thrive. Thus, there may be some tradeoffs on a slightly positive note, but still, it’s the emaciated animals en mass that cannot be overlooked. The fact of the matter, stated in The Times: “Data from a Bering Sea mooring shows the average temperature throughout the water column has risen markedly in the last several years: in 2018, water temperatures were 9 degrees above the historical average.”

It should be noted that if overall global temperatures averaged 9 degrees above average, it would be “lights out” for terrestrial life.

Warmer waters appear to be at the heart of the problem, e.g., as the planet warms both humans and wildlife become more vulnerable to infectious diseases that were previously confined to certain specific locations and environments. Additionally, toxic algae that kills marine life thrives in warmer waters. Plus, marine animals do not naturally mature, and reproduce as waters warm far above historical averages. Furthermore, ocean acidification, caused by excessive CO2, is already threatening sea life by reducing carbonate, a key building block in seawater.

Only recently, a death march of extreme heat hit the Pacific. A study in Canada showed the enormous impact of heat, as an estimated one billion sea creatures off the coast of Vancouver died because of excessive ocean heat. According to professor Christopher Harley, University of British Columbia: “”I’ve been working in the Pacific Northwest for most of the past 25 years, and I have not seen anything like this here. This is far more extensive than anything I’ve ever seen.” 4

The oceans are suffering a triple whammy, and as a result scientists believe it is distinctly possible that life in the wondrous blue seas could be gone by mid century, unless humanity changes course. Overfishing, pollution, and climate change are battering the oceans. It’s all human-caused. The question then becomes, if humans have caused the onslaught, can they reverse it, or at least stop?

In all, it’s becoming only too apparent that to maintain life on the planet, the world economy needs to stabilize by massive reduction of greenhouse gases accompanied by flat-line economic activity, forget the death wish of GDP up and up “whatever percent every quarter,” which runs roughshod over the planet’s ecosystems. Worshipping GDP growth is akin to idolatry, and its moral corollary is greed. Maybe try worldwide socialism and see how that works for the planet’s life-sourcing ecosystems.

Not only that, but plain and simple, we’re running out of nature’s resourcefulness. “Today’s seas contain only 10% of the marlin, tuna, sharks and other large predators that were found in the 1950s… Overfishing puts the whole ocean ecosystem out of balance.” 5

Of additional interest, the documentary Seaspiracy/Netflix by Disrupt Studios, March 2021 is an eye-opener on the goings-on of marine life, what’s left of it, in the oceans.

Museum scientists have studied past periods of climate change:

Research leader Prof Richard Twitchett says, ‘We have a really good idea of what oceans look like when the climate warms. It has happened to Earth many times before, and here in the Museum we have collections of fossil animals and plants that date back millions of years, so we can see how they responded. The rocks and fossils show us that as temperature increased in the past, oxygen levels fell and huge areas of the seafloor became uninhabitable. 2

“The same oceans that nourished human evolution are poised to unleash misery on a global scale unless the carbon pollution destabilizing Earth’s marine environment is brought to heel.”6

  1. Susanne Rust, “Unprecedented Die-offs, Melting Ice: Climate Change is Wreaking Havoc in the Arctic and Beyond”, Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2021.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Mary Lou Jones and Steven Swartz -Aarhus University- “A Large Number of Gray Whales are Starving and Dying in the Eastern North Pacific”, ScienceDaily, January 22, 2021.
  4. “Heat Wave Killed An Estimated 1 Billion Sea Creatures, And Scientists Fear Even Worse”, NPR Environment, July 9, 2021.
  5. Katie Pavid, “Will the Ocean Really Be Dead In 50 Years?” Natural History Museum, London.
  6. “Oceans Turning From Friend to Foe”, Warns Landmark UN Climate Report, Agence France Presse, August 29, 2019.
The post Warnings from the Far North first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What if the Doomsday Glacier Collapses?

Rolling Stone

The Thwaites “Doomsday Glacier” in West Antarctica is spooking scientists. Satellite images shown at a recent meeting December 13th of the American Geophysical Union showed numerous large, diagonal cracks extending across the Thwaites’ floating ice wedge.

This is new information, and it’s a real shocker if only because it’s happening so quickly, much sooner than expectations. It could collapse. And, it’s big, 80 miles across with up to 4,000 feet depth with a 28-mile-wide cracking ice shelf that extends over the Amundsen Sea.

Meanwhile, and of special interest because of the underlying threat posed by Thwaites, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) COP26 meeting in November 2021 held in Glasgow was panned by scientists as one more sleepy affair, failing to come to grips with Western Civilization’s biggest challenge since the Huns trampled Rome. This outrageous failure by the world’s leaders, evidenced by weak-kneed proposals, is decidedly threatening to coastal cities throughout the world, especially with Thwaites glacier showing signs of impending collapse.

According to glaciologist Erin Pettit of Oregon State University, the weak spots on the Thwaites ice sheet are like cracks in a windshield: “One more blow and they could spider web across the entire ice shelf surface.” 1

An article in NewScientist d/d December 13, 2021 discussed the AGU meeting of the satellite images of massive cracks: “Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier could break free of the continent within 10 years, which could lead to catastrophic sea level rise and potentially set off a domino effect in surrounding ice.”

Thwaites is a monster, one of the largest glaciers in the world. A 2017 Rolling Stone article, which followed the footsteps of a team of glaciologists at Thwaites glacier, summed up the situation, according to Ohio State glaciologist Ian Howat:

If there is going to be a climate catastrophe, it’s probably going to start at Thwaites… if we don’t slow the warming of the planet, it could happen within decades.  2

That was five years ago but after rapidly changing conditions on the ice sheet in only five years, scientists are no longer saying: “It could happen within decades.” Now the timeline has changed to: “Within a decade,” meaning by 2032. Moreover, as suggested in the aforementioned SFGATE article, there’s some speculation that it could burst wide open “sooner rather than later.”

The world is not prepared for a major disaster on a scale that spreads across the planet unimpeded and totally out of control. In that regard, it’s unfortunate that the world’s leaders have failed to take adequate measures, especially since scientists have been warning for decades of dire consequences for failure to limit and/or stop CO2 emissions. The truth of the matter is the world’s leaders have failed to protect their own people because of ignorance, greed, and tons of dark money.

Thwaites is what scientists refer to as “a threshold system.” Which means instead of melting slowly like an ice cube on a summer day, it is more like a house of cards: It’s stable until it’s pushed too far, then it collapses with a resounding thud!

What happens after the Ice Shelf collapses?

Thwaites’ ice shelf is one of the most significant buttresses against sea level rise in West Antarctica. New data provides clear evidence that warming ocean currents are eroding the eastern ice shelf from underneath. Meanwhile, a major risk is that the series of cracks spotted on the surface shatter into hundreds of icebergs. In the words of glaciologist Erin Pettit: “Suddenly the whole thing would collapse.”

A collapse of the ice shelf would not immediately impact sea level rise as the ice shelf itself already floats on the ocean surface. Its weight is already displaced in the water. But, once it collapses, the landlocked glacier containing a much larger volume of ice behind the ice shelf will be released, or sprung lose, and dramatically increase its rate of flow to the sea.

A collapse of Thwaites is no small deal. Depending upon several factors, it would trigger the onset of raised sea levels by some number of feet, and paradoxically, it would be happening in the face of IPCC guidance expecting sea levels to rise by a foot or so by 2100, assuming business as usual. That could turn out to be peanuts compared to a collapse of Thwaites if it triggers a domino effect of surrounding ice in West Antarctica, as alluded to in the aforementioned NewScientist article.

Thwaites’ significance to the normal course of life is so potentially impactful as a negative force that a team of scientists studies the glacier under the title: The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. According to the lead glaciologist of the team, Ted Scambos (University of Colorado, Boulder): “Things are evolving really rapidly here… It’s daunting.” He spoke on Zoom from Thwaites glacier.

Once the ice shelf collapses, it’ll lead to massive “ice cliff collapsing,” ongoing collapse of towering walls of ice directly overlooking the ocean that crumbles into the sea. And, once ice cliff collapsing starts, it will likely become a self-sustaining “runaway collapse.”

This alarming signal of impending collapse of one of the world’s largest glaciers underscores a potent political message: What do the world’s leaders, e.g., the US Congress, plan to do about the fossil fuel-derived greenhouse gas emissions from cars, trucks, trains, planes, agriculture, and industry that blanket the atmosphere and heat up the oceans to the extent that a bona fide behemoth of ice is getting much closer to splintering apart and collapsing with attendant sea level rise that will flood Miami, just for starters?

Does Build Back Better include funding for continent-wide seawalls?

And yet, the biggest unknown in this grisly affair is timing, assuming Thwaites does collapse within a decade, how soon will ice cliff collapses bring on sea level rise that drowns the world’s coastal metropolises? Nobody knows the answer to that daunting question, but it certainly appears to be forthcoming.

  1. “Crucial Antarctic Ice Shelf Could Fail Within Five Years, Scientists Say”, SFGATE, December 13, 2021.
  2. “The Doomsday Glacier”, Rolling Stone, May 9, 2017.
The post What if the Doomsday Glacier Collapses? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Japan’s Upcoming Nuclear Waste Dump

Nuclear waste is an interminable curse that eternally haunts the future of civilization for hundreds/thousands of years.

The challenge of making nuclear power safer doesn’t end after the power has been generated. Nuclear fuel remains dangerously radioactive for thousands of years after it is no longer useful in a commercial reactor.1

There are 440 nuclear power plants in the world, all of which use nuclear fission, prompting one simple question: Is the process of generating heat via nuclear fission with a byproduct of extremely toxic radioactive waste lasting hundreds, or more, years for purposes of simply “boiling water” the epitome of human stupidity?

In April 2021, the Japanese government announced its decision to discharge nuclear waste from Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean via a sub-seabed pipeline. At least 1.2 million tons of tritium-laced toxic water will be discharged.

As it happens, nuclear powers of the world regularly dump nuclear waste into the ocean in violation of the London Convention (1972) and the London Protocol (1996), which are the two principal international agreements against dumping nuclear waste into the oceans. But, they get around the rules by dumping under the cover of “detailed environmental impact assessments.”

The last known “deliberate nuclear waste dumping into the ocean,” outside of the “good graces” of what the industry refers to as “detailed environmental impact assessments” that somehow (questionably, mysteriously, are you kidding me!) seem to justify dumping toxic nuclear waste was October 1993 when the Russian navy illegally dumped 900 tons of nuclear waste into international waters off the coast of Vladivostok near Japan and Korea. Moscow claimed they were running out of storage space and that “radioactive waste is not hazardous and the dumping would be according to international norms.” Sound familiar?

In 1993 Japan called the Russian dumping “extremely regrettable.” Yet, at the time, Tokyo Electric Power Company was itself discharging radioactivity into the ocean. At the time, Japanese power stations were allowed to dump nuclear waste into the ocean based upon “detailed environmental impact assessments.” (OMG is this real?) 2

Jinzaburo Takagi, a physicist working with the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre in Tokyo, says: ‘If the Russians had done an impact assessment for their dumping, it would have proved safer than the Japanese power plants.’ He says local authorities in Japan have measured elevated levels of radionuclides in shellfish and seaweed near the nuclear plants. If the Japanese criticize Russian dumping, says Takagi, ‘then they will have to abandon the option of dumping nuclear waste,((Ibid.))

The abovementioned series of conflicting events surrounding disposal of nuclear waste brings to mind the complexity and hypocrisy that runs throughout the nuclear industry. It stems from the hideous fact that the industry does not know what to do with radioactive waste, which is the most toxic material on the face of the planet; they do make up weird excuses and protocols to actually dump the toxic material into international waters. Not only that, but, as mentioned in the quoted article above, “local authorities in Japan have measured elevated levels of radionuclides in shellfish and seaweed near the nuclear plants.” That’s a prime example of human insanity at work. And, that was 30 years ago, but it’s a safe bet that it’s the same today.

The bitter truth is that the citizens of the world are stuck with nuclear power and its offbeat craziness and its horrific potential destructiveness because the major powers have it and want to keep it.

Greenpeace has experts with “boots-on-the-ground” at Fukushima since the beginning. Here’s Greenpeace’s take on the situation, as of recent:

There are many technical and radiological reasons to be opposed to discharging Fukushima waste water into the Pacific Ocean. And Greenpeace East Asia has reported on these and continues to investigate. But the decision also affects you on a fundamental level. It should rightly trigger an outrage. In the 21st century, when the world’s oceans are already under the most severe threats including the climate and biodiversity emergencies, a decision by any government to deliberately contaminate the Pacific with radioactivity because it’s the least cost/cheapest option when there are clear alternatives seems so perverse. That it is Japan, given its historical role in securing the prohibition on nuclear dumping in the London Convention and London Protocol, makes it all the more tragic. 3

Further to the point of the future impact of dumping toxic radioactive water from TEPCO’s storage water tanks into the Pacific Ocean: Tsinghua University analyzed the diffusion process of the treated Fukushima contaminated water to be discharged into the ocean from 2023 onward. The results show that the tritium, which is the main pollutant, will spread to the whole of the North Pacific in 1200 days. 4

The Tsinghua University analysis went on to discuss the risks, stating:

Large amounts of radionuclides can affect marine biological chains and adversely influence marine fisheries and human health. The global effects of Fukushima discharge, which will last 30 to 40 years, remain unknown.

As stated by Tsinghua, the pollutants will reach as far as the coast of North America to the east and as far as Australia to the south. Eventually, the South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean (2400 days) will be affected. On day 3600 the pollutants will cover almost the entire Pacific Ocean.

According to a UN news release d/d April 2021:

Three independent UN human rights experts expressed deep regret on Thursday over Japan’s decision to discharge potentially still radioactive Fukushima nuclear plant water into the ocean, warning that it could impact millions across the Pacific region.

The experts call the decision by Japan “very concerning,”

Moreover, according to the UN:

While Japan said that the tritium levels are very low and do not pose a threat to human health, scientists warn that in the water, the isotope organically binds to other molecules, moving up the food chain affecting plants and fish and humans.

Moreover, they say the radioactive hazards of tritium have been underestimated and could pose risks to humans and the environment for over 100 years.

  1. Nuclear Waste, Union of Concerned Scientists, April 22, 2016.`
  2. “Nuclear Dumping at Sea Goads Japan Into Action”, NewScientist, November 6, 1993.
  3. Shaun Burnie, The Japanese Government and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster – History Repeating Itself? Greenpeace, November 17, 2021.
  4. “Tracking Contaminated Water From The Fukushima Nuclear Accident”, Phys.org, December 2, 2021.
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Burned-out Forests Are Not Re-Growing

Trees are not re-growing in burned-out forests. This strange occurrence is becoming more frequent as global warming turns verdant flora into flammable tinder, causing more and bigger wild forests fires.

This article will examine the science behind failure of trees to regrow in burned-out forests. Additionally, and as a collateral issue, this puts one more distorted face on the consequential impact of the multi-billion dollar business called “woody biomass,” which burns trees in place of coal to meet carbon neutral protocols.

As a consequence, between the twin impacts of burned-out forests failing to regrow and woody biomass chopping down mature trees that are strong carbon sinks replaced by frail seedlings, one has to wonder about nature’s “carbon sink” capacity. Is it shrinking just when it’s needed like never before?

Woody biomass is as bad, if not worse, as burning coal. (See “The Woody Biomass Blunder“, November 15, 2021.)

Regarding the effectiveness of CO2 uptake by commercial tree plantations used to produce wood chips for sale in the international woody biomass market:

Single-tree commercial crop plantations may meet the technical definition of a ‘forest’ – a certain concentration of trees in a given area- but factor in land clearing to plant the crop and frequent harvesting of the trees, and such plantations can actually release more carbon than they sequester. 1

There are several studies and outspoken scientists’ statements about woody biomass emitting more CO2 than burning coal. Yet, in order to meet carbon neutral standards, 60% of EU renewable energy is from wood chips. Somebody at the EU is cuckoo.

Failure of Tree Regrowth

A University of Colorado/Boulder study shows that when forests burn across significant portions of the Rocky Mountains, the forests do not regrow.  Even after 15 years post-fire, 80% of the surveyed plots contained no new trees. 2

The study looked at 22 separate burned-out areas from southern Wyoming thru central/western Colorado to northern New Mexico. The study included regions that had burned as long ago as 1988, including land ravaged by the 2002 Hayman Fire near Colorado Springs; the 1996 Buffalo Creek Fire southwest of Denver; the 2000 Eldorado Springs and Walker Ranch fires near Boulder; and the 2002 Missionary Ridge fire outside of Durango.

This study and others clearly show that the resilience of our forests to fire has declined significantly under warmer, drier conditions.3

Global warming has contributed to a doubling of the number of acres burned across the country since the 1990s.

Increasing global temperature wipes out seedlings, especially in the US West where summer temperatures have increased so much that young trees do not have a chance to develop thick protective bark, and failure of regrowth in dry conditions finds seedlings shriveling before roots can grow deep enough to reach groundwater.

Anthropogenic global warming is inhibiting and/or destroying one of nature’s biggest, and best, solutions for combating CO2 emissions. And, even worse yet, humans are chopping down trees to burn for energy, thereby releasing years and years of stored CO2 from the trees into the atmosphere.

Global Warming Ravages Forests Throughout the World

“New studies show drought and heat waves will cause massive die-offs, killing most trees alive today.” 4

According to Bill Anderegg, a forest researcher at the University of Utah:

Global warming has pushed many of the world’s forests to a knife edge… in the West, you can’t drive on a mountain highway without seeing how global warming affects forests.5

Giant Sequoias, the Grand Daddy of the world’s trees are “dying from the top down.” This has never been documented before. According to Christy Brigham, chief of resource management for national parks: “We’ve never observed this before.” 6

According to the National Geographic article: The loss of Giant Sequoias is but one example of a worrisome worldwide trend:

Trees in forests are dying at increasingly high rates, especially the bigger, older trees.5

Nate McDowell, an earth scientist at the US Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the lead author of a major worldwide study of tree loss, says:

We’re seeing it almost everywhere we look. 7

The numbers are staggering: From 1900 to 2015 the world lost more than a third of its old-growth forests. Ever since, the numbers are accelerating. The causes are mostly anthropogenic, meaning logging and land-clearing, plus fossil fuel emissions that bring forth rising global temperatures significantly magnifying the rate of dying, as droughts extend longer and harsher, resulting in extremely brittle tinder, leading to massive wildfires. The upshot is a world on fire like never before as dead trees burn quickly and easily.

According to Henrik Hartmann of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, in central Europe:

You don’t have to look for dead trees… They’re everywhere,. 5

Africa and South America are likewise feeling the brunt of massive tree deaths. Global warming has brought drought conditions that are severe, repeating within ever-shorter time sequences that don’t give nature enough time to revive, to regrow, to survive.

Recent Siberian fires have been Biblical in scale and intensity. A June 2020 article in SciTechDaily headlined: “Meteorologists Shocked as Heat and Fire Scorches Siberia.” One half of the massive fires are peatlands, which, once started can burn almost forever if the heat is intense enough, which it was/is, emitting both CO2 and CH4.

The CO2 Cycle at Work

The curse of CO2 blanketing the atmosphere and trapping heat, as the planet gets ever-hotter, it causes the atmosphere to suck excessive levels of moisture, which causes trees to shed leaves and/or close pores to hold in as much moisture as possible. This, in turn, curtails CO2 uptake. It’s a vicious cycle that impedes the carbon uptake cycle that’s key to maintaining an ecological balance for the planet.

In the final analysis:

Forests are our last, best natural defense against global warming. Without the world’s trees at peak physical condition, the rest of us don’t stand a chance. 8

  1. Simon Lewis, forest ecologist/University College London:  “Why Planting Tons of Trees Isn’t Enough to Solve Climate Change”, Science News, July 9, 2021.
  2. Lisa Marshall, “Forests Scorched by Wildfire Unlikely to Recover, May Convert to Grasslands”, CU Boulder Today, August 25, 2020.
  3. Co-author Tom Veblen, professor of geography, CU Boulder, Ibid.
  4. “We Need to Hear These Poor Trees Scream: Unchecked Global Warming Means Big Trouble for Forests”, Inside Climate News, April 25, 2020.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Craig Welch, “The Grand Old Trees of the World are Dying, Leaving Forests Younger and Shorter”, National Geographic, May 28, 2020.
  7. Nate G. McDowell, et al, “Pervasive Shifts in Forest Dynamics in a Changing World”, Science, Vol. 268, Issue 6494, 29 May 2020.
  8. Eric Holthaus, “Up in Smoke”, Grist, March 8, 2018.
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The Dreaded Rainforest Shift

Photo Credit:  Rainforest Trust

Major portions of the Amazon rainforest have shifted from a carbon sink to a carbon source. This shift has severe planet-wide negative implications.

Studies of the Amazon rainforest over the past decade have shown telltale signals of an impending shift from a carbon sink of heat-trapping gases to a source of greenhouse gases. It’s a dangerous shift that will destabilize the atmosphere of the entire planet. Alas, the dreaded shift has been confirmed via a laborious ten-year airborne detailed study.

The study shows the eastern Amazon rainforest has become a significant source of carbon emissions, competing with cars, trains, planes, and power plants. This travesty is officially confirmed via hundreds of aircraft vertical profiling measurements of the air above the rainforest over a period of nearly one decade. 1

The implications of the world’s largest rainforest competing with human-generated greenhouse gases is alarming and foreboding of danger ahead, especially in consideration of current circumstances which guarantee further deterioration of the rainforest, thus putting at risk the world’s climate system.

Recent deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is beyond the pale, up 22% in one year at the highest level in nearly two decades. This according to Brazil’s National Space Research Institute, INPE. This is the third year in a row of increases under the Bolsonaro government.

In a remarkable coincidence of timing, in October of this year, on the doorstep of COP26/Glasgow, INPE said deforestation registered the worst month of October on record.

Within two weeks, Brazil was a signatory to an international pledge at COP26 to end deforestation by 2030. The world waits and watches to see if that promise is kept. Bolsonaro’s strong anti-environmental stance will be put to the test.

Marcio Astrini, head of the Climate Observatory that brings together environmental groups operating in Brazil, said:

The latest figures were ‘the result of a persistent, planned and continuous effort to destroy environmental protection policies’ under the Bolsonaro administration. 2

The aforementioned airborne study published in Nature found “a massive continental-size swath of tropical forest releasing more carbon dioxide than it accumulates, thanks to deforestation and fires. ”3

It is the first-ever study to actually measure carbon dioxide in the air above the forest and not dependent upon estimates by models that rely upon imprecise measurements. The airborne measurements were taken in a descending column starting at 14,500 feet down to just under 1,000 feet. These measurements were reproduced every two weeks for a period of nine years to assure accuracy.

The analyses point to a convergence of factors behind the shift from carbon sink to carbon emitter; i.e., global warming, deforestation, and fire all happening in the eastern Amazon where the forest no longer takes up CO2. As a consequence, the temperatures across the southeastern Amazon have risen dramatically in comparison to the western part of the rainforest.

Luciana Gatti, senior researcher Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, the lead author of the study, stated:

The southeast is 28 percent deforested and has 24 percent precipitation loss, and the temperatures in August and September have changed 3.1 degrees. This is unbelievable in tropical latitude to have this kind of change in temperature. Is this a rainforest?

Gatti is concerned that western Amazon will soon look like eastern because of pressure from logging, agriculture and mining extending deeper into the forest.

Of utmost importance to life on the planet, the Amazon rainforest serves as the generator of “flying rivers” for the planet. The millions of trees work together like a “biotic pump” that releases water vapor into the air and circulates water and weather patterns throughout the globe.

Dr.Antonio Nobre (retired senior research scientist INPE) in an interview with National Public Radio described the invisible flying rivers of the rainforests: “Trees are like geysers acting as conduits that pump water vapor up into the sky. Transpiration is evaporation, but it’s evaporation of water that went through the tree,’ he says, ‘so this huge flow of vapor into the atmosphere is like an irrigation [system] upside down.’ That creates these immense, invisible flying rivers. ‘Rivers of rainfall,’ Nobre says. He points out that a calculation for the entire Amazon was done. ‘Twenty (20) billion tons of water evaporate per day’ in the region. To put that number into perspective, it is more water than what the Amazon River discharges into the Atlantic Ocean in one day.”4

As the “collapse phase” of the Amazon rainforest is underway an emerging worldview acknowledges the interconnectedness of all living things, as one of the most important roles for humans to act as caretaker and protector of natural systems. This new worldview is spreading like wildfire among the young, and it signals hope for humanity, assuming it can break through the veneer of neoliberal capitalism’s dicta of growth at any costs, trampling ecosystems along the way to riches for the few tacitly supported by right-wing charlatans that easily overpower very weak traditionalist national parties that are filled with pushovers.

This new emerging worldview is concentrated among the youngest, for example: (1) SustainUS, dismantling the political elite’s narrative and demanding “urgent climate action” (2) Youth Lawsuits in defense of climate to hold governments accountable; e.g., 21 young plaintiffs suing the US government over fossil fuel support (3) Uplift tackling “energy sacrifice zones” or millions of acres of federal land in the Southwest abused and polluted for energy extraction (4) University Divestment Campaigns with 133 schools divested from fossil fuels, including Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, and Yale (5) Sunrise combining protest organizing and electoral organizing together into one strategy, for example, support of the Green New Deal and in support of 100% US renewable energy by 2030.

The insultingly anemic response by nation/states to warnings by scientists at COP26 is indicative of a world order out of touch with an upside down broken climate system that is in a perennial state of upheaval.

Only the youth can change this distortion of reality because only the youth recognize adult stupidity for what it truly is, a reality.

  1. Amazonia As A Carbon Source Linked to Deforestation and Climate Change, Nature, July 14, 2021.
  2. Brazil Amazon Deforestation Up 22% in a Year, 15-yr Record, Phys.org, November 19, 2021.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Flying Rivers of the Amazon Rainforest – A Critical Rain Generator for the Planet, Pachamama Alliance, October 4, 2016.
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