Category Archives: Antarctica ice melt

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.
The post The Oceans Are Overheating 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.

Here’s to our Health: Well, To the Health of the Profiteers!

“You know what I think?” she says. “That people’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel. Advertising fillers in the newspaper, philosophy books, dirty pictures in a magazine, a bundle of ten-thousand-yen bills: when you feed ’em to the fire, they’re all just paper. The fire isn’t thinking ‘Oh, this is Kant,’ or ‘Oh, this is the Yomiuri evening edition,’ or ‘Nice tits,’ while it burns. To the fire, they’re nothing but scraps of paper. It’s the exact same thing. Important memories, not-so-important memories, totally useless memories: there’s no distinction–they’re all just fuel.”

– Haruki Murakami, After Dark

I’m thinking about nuclear energy, the waste, the fallout, radioactive new elements. I’m thinking about all those antibiotics, about all those rat-roach-flie-mosquito poisons. I’m thinking about the sprayed-on litany of food enhancers (sic) and the artificial colorings, and the Round-up Ready, for sure. I am thinking about opiod deaths for 18-50 year olds in USA as the number one cause of death for that demographic, at 80 K last year.

But I am also thinking about immune-compromised folk, the gut diseases, the array of diseases of the liver, kidneys, thyroid, stomach. Really, all of those malnourished and over-nourished and oddly chemicalized humans sucking up sugar sugar sugar. All of the combinations of bad in utero bombardments; i.e., epigentics, and then all the fun once coming out of the birth canal or c-section cut. DNA collected. How many jabs at birth? Then, how many (pre-mRNA maintenance series forever) vaccinations before age 5, 8 10, 12?

But thyroids, man, they are so compromised (in women especially) because of a variety of reasons that the entire ranch has been sold down the river. Thyroid issues here; chronic pain, brain fog, gut issues, psychological issues.

Serious-serious chronic illnesses associated with thyroid issues. And, this chart below is cartoonish, but if you look into thyroid diseases and the effects, you will shiver. And this is a common problem, becoming bigger with poisons, background radiation, pregnancy, bad food, bad nutrition, stress, plastics in the air-blood-intestines. Oh, what a world, and, of course, AMA, CDC, NIAID, NIH, WHO, you name the outfit, they are so hobbled by their germ theory crap, all other things really killing people (and planet) are not only a drag on a broken medical system, but on their economy.

Common symptoms of hypothroidism: depression, brain fog, fatigue, muscle cramps, cold intolerance, weight gain, dry skin

So, that’s just one arena-terrain of issues, the thyroid. Add up the entire issues flooding our endrocrine systems, then add up the microbiome maladies, add up the weathering of humanity under inflammatory capitalism, and here we are going into 2022.

Shoot, let’s inset doomsday #999 just to get gargantuan — the glacier down under:

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.

Well, Greta and COP26, and the bagpipes of Glasgow. Another fun reality TV show, is the blank mentality of mainstream and left-stream media: how stories about Omicron and about mandated vaccination boosters x 5, and the complete loss of critical thinking when attempting to challenge the narratives/motives around the shifting baselines on steriods; i.e., fully vaxxed was one (1) J & J and two (2) Moderna’s. Now? The schedule of boosters will be determined not by doctors, not by us, not by the public, us, not by the thinkers, but by them, the elites, and those oh-so-perfectly honest and heroic folks working for Big Pharma which by the way foots the bill for most media in the mainscream, and foots the bills of many university research facilities, and foots the bill for NIH, WHO, FDA, etc.

a vaccine syringe

This is the Atlantic Magazine, one of the elites’ best source of information. When I say elite, I mean highly college degreed folk, the woke folk, all those beautiful and wannabe beautiful people. Note, when you read these rags, and I include The Nation or even Mother Jones, you get no other perspective outside the mainstream Big Pharma Has All the Answers for SARS-CoV2. DARPA?

For nearly a year now, the phrase fully vaccinated has carried a cachet that it never did before. Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is a ticket for a slate of liberties—a pass to travel without testing and skip post-exposure quarantine, per the CDC, and in many parts of the country, a license to enter restaurants, gyms, and bars. For many employees, full vaccination is now a requirement to work; for many individuals, it’s a must for any socialization at all. (source)

I could write this entire blog just looking at the Atlantic’s story here, and how cavalier and how snobby and so tragically hip the verbiage is and the folks cited and interviewed so much on the same sheet of music, which is entirely planned. This is how these writers do their journalism — no push back, no alternative views, no outside the paradigm thinking. Here, last point I can make by pasting another paragraph:

Countries such as Israel have already done it; Anthony Fauci has been gunning for the switch. As he told me this summer, “I bet you any amount of whatever” that three shots, spread out over several months, will ultimately be the “standard regimen for an mRNA vaccine.” Even the CDC told me this week that it “may change [the] definition in the future”—a line it’s never used with me before. For a cautious government agency, that’s kind of a gargantuan leap. A new floor for full vaccination, one that firmly requires what we’re now calling booster shots, is starting to look like a matter of when, not if.

No other sources of medicine and immunology or virology to be consulted??? These writers are dangerous, but they always have been on all given topics — war, surveillance, finance, everything in the Complex. They have credos and pledges to not drill into capitalism. And that means, that this pig of a human, Tony Fauci, can play “I bet” shit word games about boosters that well, hmm, sort of work. Imagine that, funny Tony. And, what the fuck is happening in Israel? Please, look into that mess of vax madness there. “Israel.” How quickly the vaxxed lose immunity, which they never had.

Hands up, or else:

kids covid

Kids who are exposed to COVID-19 can stay in class as long as they are tested in schools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news release on Friday.“Test-to-Stay is another valuable tool in a layered prevention strategy that includes promoting vaccination of eligible students and staff, requiring everyone age 2 and older wear a mask inside schools and facilities, keeping at least 3 feet of distance between students, screening testing, ventilation, handwashing, and staying home when sick,” the news release reads. The Test-to-Stay initiative was put into motion by the CDC to help “minimize absenteeism and learning loss which can occur during traditional quarantine at home.”

Again, read the story on “Test to Stay,” and you will get no person or journalist pusing back on the policy, on the stupidity of testing, on the masking requirements, on the 3-foot distance lies, man, so-so much wrong with this picture. (Source)

But again, it’s not the air, stupid. It’s not the water, stupid. It’s not the food, stupid. It’s not the chemicals offgassing and in every product a child first comes in contact with up until the grave, stupid. It’s coronavirus, and, it’s compliant people, labeling and creating the “Dirty You,”which in the old days (not so old) was the Dirty Jew-Japanese-Indian-Irishman-Chinaman-Gypsy-Communist-Catholic-Disabled-et al.

I am asked about climate change, as the existential set of crises for humanity. How to stop it, how to mitigate it, how to prepare for it?

Here, from friend, Joe, then my snarky answer —

Paul– It’s pretty fucking obvious the government doesn’t plan to do anything except to promote more air travel, more military use of hydrocarbons, more roads for increased auto and truck travel, more planet destroying corporate agriculture and the list goes on. Besides that most people are not willing to change their lifestyles one bit. They will continue to support the things that kill the planet as they shroud themselves in selfrighteousness because they recycle and separate their food waste and put it in their compost bins made of plastic. They will pat themselves (and on each other’s) backs as they eat organic cucumbers flown in from Chile for their Super Bowl parties. Sick cognitive dissonanced bastards riding towards Hell on earth.

+–+

Joe — And the same tools to say stop companies from forcing low wage workers working in warehouses while tornadoes are about to hit and then once those workers are killed injured and traumatized will be the same needed to reorganize humanity for a world without ice: compassion, moral compass, communitarian guidance, systems thinking, socialism, democracy, resiliency, end of economic classes, justice, integrity, regional & multinational planning, valuing safe/ food/ air/ water/ soil, those plus redistribution of work and economic well being …. some or all of these needed to solve little things (sic) and yet we can’t tackle opioid crisis or housing crisis or industrial torture factory animal crisis.

A world without ice without those human values above? Road Warrior and The Road and Minority Report and Soylent Green and Bladerunner all mashed up

Seagulls stand on the Caddebostan shore, in Asian side of Istanbul, Monday, June 7, 2021, partially covered with marine mucilage, a thick, slimy substance made up of compounds released by marine organisms, in Turkey's Marmara Sea. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised Saturday to rescue the Marmara Sea from an outbreak of "sea snot" that is alarming marine biologists and environmentalists.

Again, the loopy writing of this mainstream and influential rag, The Atlantic. “Climate Change is Going to be Gross: The thick layer of mucilage that covered the Sea of Marmara for weeks was an unsettling glimpse of climate change’s more oozy effects” by Jenna Scatena This Jenna will not interview ecosocialists or those looking at the systems of collapse. Putting one part into the system, and then looking at the system. So, all this dead algae and plankton, off-gassing, mucking up ocean floors and coming to the surface and destroying fish stocks. And yet, no one interviewed looking at how this is just a slice of the destruction pie, and that, yes, bacteria and viruses live in the muck, and, yes, they can get passed on and on and on.

Under a Green Sky by Peter Ward

Under a Green Sky : Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us about Our Future

Paleontologist Peter Ward’s book on mass extinctions and climate change provides a deep-time perspective that is both sobering and necessary. Under a Green Sky puts the present within a geological context while also making the climate crisis feel even more personal and pressing. Before getting that perspective in full, however, readers encounter several fetching narratives of paleontological and other scientific fieldwork across the globe. Captivating as they are, the stories are mostly used to set up later passages that aggressively dismantle an argument Ward clearly loathes: that most past mass extinctions — especially the Permian, some 250 million years ago — were caused by huge meteorite impacts. Ward takes scientists and the media to task for, in his mind, recklessly embracing impacts as the culprit du jour for nearly all prior mass extinctions, when an impact is clearly responsible for just one such die-off: the famous dinosaur-killer 65 million years ago.

Ward presents a powerful alternative model for explaining these extinctions. In short, an increase in carbon dioxide — from volcanism (in the past) or from humans (in the present) — warms the oceans enough to change circulation patterns. When this happens, sulfur-eating microbes sometimes thrive. These bacteria produce hydrogen sulfide, which, in sufficient quantities and under certain conditions, outgasses into the air, shreds the ozone layer, and poisons other living things. The warming also causes methane ice under the seas to melt and, well, burp, adding to the nasty mix. The end comes not in a bang but a stinky whimper. (Source)

Quoting: “Where is the “Misanthropocene” right now in relation to past extinction events? The chart below tells the tale. Notice that our current rise in GHG’s is essentially instantaneous in relation to past warmings which took place over thousands of years. As far as scientists can tell, the current warming from industrial civilization is the most rapid in geologic time. Ice core and marine sediment data in the paleoclimatology archive have revealed brief periods of rapid warming and there is no reason to believe modern man is immune to such catastrophic and abrupt climate events. In fact, we know that the Arctic is already warming twice as fast as anywhere else on the planet. Earth sensitivity to climate change is now thought to be possibly double that of previous estimates. An entirely different planet can result from just a slight change in temperature:

Snap 2015-01-14 at 23.36.48
We’re about halfway towards the same CO2 levels as the Paleocene Thermal Extinction, but our speed of trajectory surpasses even that of the Permian Extinction:
wardco2big

In 2005, Lee R. Kump and fellow scientists published a paper describing what would become known as the Kump hypothesis, implicating hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as the primary culprit in past mass extinctions. According to OSHA, “a level of H2S gas at or above 100 ppm is immediately dangerous to life and health.” Prior to Kump’s study, the working theory had been that some sort of singular, cataclysmic event such as an asteroid strike was to blame for all mass die-offs, but Kump and colleagues proposed that a global warming-induced asphyxiation via hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) was to blame for snuffing out life under the sea, on the land, and in the air. In past mass extinctions, volcanic eruptions and thawing methane hydrates created greenhouse-gas warmings that culminated in the release of poisonous gas from oxygen-depleted oceans. Humans with their fossil fuel-eating machines are unwittingly producing the same conditions today. The Kump hypothesis (elevated CO2 with lowering O2 levels) is now regarded as the most plausible explanation for the majority of mass extinctions in earth’s history.”

The post Here’s to our Health: Well, To the Health of the Profiteers! 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.

GPI vs. GDP

U.S House Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) recently introduced a bill in Congress to overhaul GDP, the nation’s most watched economic indicator. July 30th she introduced the Genuine Progress Indicator (“GPI”) Act. It would be a significant change for the trajectory of the socio-economic system.

GPI is a new way to calculate GDP, but passage of the act in Congress is dependent upon whether it can displace the all-important “only size matters” syndrome that underlies and determines GDP. In contrast, GPI offers considerable substance and a new way to measure economic performance that’s in concert with the planet and with its inhabitants.

Hopefully, GPI gets a decent hearing in Congress because major turning points in socio-economic and political affairs can make a difference for generations to come.

A prime example of a positive turning point is the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 victory by the colonists over the British, which was the world’s greatest army at the time. It was a crucial turning point in the American Revolution, convincing France to enter the conflict on behalf of the colonists. That turning point brought forth a new nation.

In contrast, an example of a negative turning point is the Supreme Court 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision upholding Louisiana’s statute mandating segregation in all public facilities, thus legally embedding bigotry for nearly 60 years. That turning point still stings.

Today, we may be witnessing one more major turning point via Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Her proposal has the potential to change the socio-economic trajectory of America and the world in a multitude of ways by leveling the playing field for income distribution, infrastructure development, fair labor practices and ecosystem sustainability, none of which GDP recognizes.

GDP only measures the “size of the economy” whereas GPI measures the true breadth of economic benefits and losses, such as: (1) unpaid labor (2) sustainable job skills (3) infrastructure and (4) ecosystems services, as well as accounting for the costs of growth and its collateral issues: (a) resource depletion (b) greenhouse gases (c) income inequality, and (d) domestic abuse. GDP ignores all of the aforementioned.

GPI may be the only way to unify attention for badly needed mitigation efforts of life-sourcing ecosystems. Without them, the planet will die.

Meanwhile, as for GDP, certain questions must be addressed: Growth for whom and at what costs? GDP does not husband life-sustaining resources, but it does consume those same resources, which is an overt expression of a civilization that has lost its way on a trip down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Omar’s proposed bill says: “To direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish an alternative metric for measuring the net benefits of economic activity, and for other purposes… the ‘genuine progress indicator’ to measure the economic well-being of households, calculated through adjustments to gross domestic product that account for positive and negative economic, environmental, and social factors that contribute to economic activity….” That is brilliant!

The “costs” listed within GPI actually define the impending extinction risks for the world at large, for example, costs that are missing from GDP but included within GPI: (1) water, air, and noise pollution at the household and national level (2) loss of farmland and productive soils, including soil quality degradation (3) loss of natural wetlands, primary forest area and other at-risk ecosystems (4) high amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions (5) depletion of the ozone layer (6) depletion of nonrenewable sources of energy.

Unfortunately, it’s not likely that GPI will get out of committee in the House of Representatives for several obvious reasons: If the costs listed in GPI were adapted to GDP, actual reported GDP would be all minuses, like -5% to -25%, not +2% to +6%.

Oops! How would the Dow Jones Industrial Average react? Most likely, it would go haywire, directionless, out of control, similar to many ecosystems of the planet that have gone haywire, like the Amazon Rainforest (alarmingly becoming a carbon emitter instead of a carbon sink) or the Great Barrier Reef (>50% of corals bleached in only 5 years) or Siberian permafrost (biggest fires ever recorded) or the Arctic (tragic loss of world’s biggest reflector of solar radiation) or Greenland (big super meltdown underway) or Antarctica (glacial ice flow accelerating way beyond expectations) or the 2/3rds loss of wild vertebrates in less than 50 years.

So, yes Representative Omar’s GPI bill is an excellent idea, but it will likely fail because only size matters in America, and America’s GDP proves it by ignoring reality: (1) pollution costs ignored (2) loss of crucial farmland (3) toxic poisoning (pesticides) of soil (4) monoculture artificial fertilized crop soil degradation (5) paved wetlands destroy “kidneys of the planet” (6) excessive greenhouse gases (the US emits 28% of world emissions with only 5% of world population) (6) subsidizing depletion of nonrenewable sources of energy.

It’s little wonder that the planet is regurgitating a sickness that is endemic to anthropogenic influence throughout the biosphere with raging fires, destructive flooding, and killer heat waves.

Alas, focus on GDP will never heal a broken planet.

GDP does not calculate its own costs of infinite growth. It cannot because the calculation would be negative every year. And, in an act of absolute absurdity, GDP is measured quarterly, as are corporate profits. So, every three-month performance is meaningful, which is insane, childish, and flat-out stupid. This “hurry up and report the quarter” dicta resembles a shell game. In contrast, ecosystems require a lot of time, much longer than three months. Nature doesn’t compute by the quarter. Conversely, GDP is in such a hurry.

Ilhan’s proposal for GPI is geared to a society that values sustainability of resources and concern for the health of the biosphere and for its inhabitants. But, sad to say, it doesn’t realistically fit into today’s world of neoliberal capitalism. There’s no open slot for anything other than profits. We all pay a price for those profits.

Moreover, it is doubtful that an accurate calculation of depletion and destruction of ecosystems is possible at today’s rapid rate. Who could possibly keep up with it?

Still, it’s brilliant to get the concept into the public domain, and one can only hope.

The post GPI vs. GDP first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Doomsday Glacier Lives up to its Billing

Earth.com

The 21st century serves as an inflection point of acceleration of climate instability caused by human-generated greenhouse gases, as CO2 emissions increase well beyond the rate of the prior century. It’s also a defining timeline of an astonishing ice mass loss rate of 500% more than the last decade of the previous century. Throughout human history, this has never happened with such far-reaching extent so rapidly.

The proof is found in the numbers. For example, Greenland and Antarctica combined ice mass loss is truly an eye-opener:

“The assessment is supported by NASA and the European Space Agency… The team calculated that the two ice sheets together lost 81 billion tons per year in the 1990s compared with 475 billion tons of ice per year in the 2010s—a sixfold increase.”1

In all honesty, this article should end right here as 475 billion tons of ice mass loss per annum versus 81 billion tons per annum within only two decades is so riveting and daunting and over the top that nothing more needs to be said. But, there is more….

That troubling signal is only a starting point of much bigger trouble down the road. Recent research conducted in West Antarctica has exposed a whole new ballgame, the prospect of collapsing glaciers, in toto, big glaciers, and big meltdowns, unbelievable but yet distinctly possible and yet largely ignored by every major country. If it were otherwise, countries would be flip-flopping fossil fuels to renewables and installing mirrored technology to reflect solar radiation back to outer space, for example, contact: Dr. Ye Tao at Harvard University, and/or paint rooftops with “ultra-white” paint known as “cool roofs” that reflect 98% of sunlight:.  NYC and California are already promoting “cool roofs.”

Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier (100 miles across by 4,000 feet deep), aka: The Doomsday Glacier, labeled “A Climate Time Bomb” by research scientists is an ice shelf in West Antarctica that’s nestled next door to the equally notorious Pine Island Glacier.

A new discovery at Thwaites is bone chilling and nearly impossible to fathom. Thwaites is melting at key points that anchor it to land. The consequences of total release would be/will likely be earth shattering as, and when, the 74,000 square mile ice block breaks lose, but even more earth shattering yet, it could take down the entire West Antarctica Ice Sheet. That’s 10+ feet of sea level rise!

How soon? Stay tuned for updates.

But, seriously, how could anybody know for sure when it’ll completely collapse? Guesstimates may be forthcoming. Will it be decades or less or more or much more? It’s worth noting that climate models have been way too conservative, many estimates by climate scientists have already proven to be off the mark by decades. Climate system scientist Paul Beckwith, University of Ottawa, says global warming has advanced so unexpectedly, so rapidly that “2030 is the new 2100.” The implications of that are simply too much to contemplate.

Significantly, new research techniques employed at Thwaites are leading to much better scientific analyses than ever before. The techniques have given scientists the best-ever look at what’s happening under the massive ice sheet, providing reams of new data that will take time and additional research to properly analyze.

A robotic submarine named Ran, after the Norse goddess of the sea, is exploring the underneath side of the glacier, measuring the strength, temperature, oxygen content, and salinity of the ocean currents flowing beneath the glacier. Simultaneously, ship sonar from above enables high-resolution ocean mapping of the cavity floor. As a result, scientists have already spotted three main inflows of water that warm the underneath connections of the glacier to land. The upshot is for the first time ever scientists have the capability of more precise data to model the dynamics of the glacier. This is important in helping to clarify the uncertainty throughout the world about the prospects of global sea levels.

According to the initial reports by the scientific team: “Our observations show warm water impinging from all sides on pinning points critical to ice-shelf stability, a scenario that may lead to unpinning and retreat,” according to the study published April 9th in the journal Scientific Advances. In other words, the entire ice-shelf could detach and then flow into the ocean. 2

Thwaites is only one-half of a bigger potential problem on a scale that people would rather not think about. Recently, researchers published an article about neighboring Pine Island Glacier surpassing a tipping point because of warming waters, similar to the dilemma surrounding the surprisingly advanced stage of deterioration found at Thwaites. 3

It’s difficult, in fact, almost impossible, to imagine the consequences of actual complete glacier collapse(s) especially since it’s never happened on such a scale throughout human history. The referenced article in Cryosphere gives a generalized viewpoint:

Mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet is the main source of uncertainty in projections of future sea-level rise, with important implications for coastal regions worldwide. Central to ongoing and future changes is the marine ice sheet instability: once a critical threshold, or tipping point, is crossed, ice internal dynamics can drive a self-sustaining retreat committing a glacier to irreversible, rapid and substantial ice loss.4

Thereupon, it’s not exactly rocket science to figure out the meaning of “rapid and substantial ice loss.” As such, it’s probably not too early for every major coastal city in the world to start formulating plans to build sea walls. Already, low-lying areas like Miami Beach are raising streets by 2-to-3 feet (a photo can be seen at: “Miami Beach is Raising Streets by 2 Feet to Combat Rising Seas”).

Meanwhile, CO2 emissions continue setting new record highs by the year and unfortunately, methane emissions, which amplify global warming more so than CO2, are cranking up like never before, thus, locking in ever more global warming as these greenhouse gases blanket the atmosphere and retain heat. More CO2 into the atmosphere equals more heat.

The current scorecard for atmospheric CO2 reads as follows at Mauna Loa, Hawaii:  417.64 ppm (March 2021) versus 414.74 ppm (March 2020) versus 368.13 ppm (2000).

Fossil CO2 emissions are up nearly 40% at 36B tons per year now versus 26B tons at the turn of the century. That’s a whopper of an increase that relentlessly continues increasing. As such, the outlook for some semblance of a stable climate system is decidedly negative. In due course, the repercussions of a whacked-out climate system will shock people beyond their darkest nightmares and catch the world’s political leadership obliviously flat-footed.

By then it’s too late, tipping points cannot be reversed!

Postscript:

The last time the atmospheric CO2 amounts were this high was more than 3 million years ago, when temperature was 2°C–3°C (3.6°F–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today.5

Logical question: What about sea level 50-80 feet higher back then with CO2 the same as today’s CO2? Answer: The normal time lag between increasing atmospheric CO2 and increasing temps leading to rising sea levels is one decade, or more.

  1. “Greenland, Antarctica Melting Six Times Faster Than in the 1990s”, Global Climate Change, NASA, March 16, 2020.
  2. “Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’ Close to Tipping Point, Unmanned Sub Reveals”, LiveScience, April 14, 2021.
  3. “The Tipping Points and Early Warning Indicators for Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica”, European Geosciences Union, The Cryosphere, March 25, 2021.
  4. Ibid.
  5. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, Climate.gov August 14, 2020.
The post The Doomsday Glacier Lives up to its Billing first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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.

Drilling for Oil:  A Global Problem on Our Doorstep

These days, local is global.  Dorset is a small rural county on England’s south coast.  That doesn’t mean that its inhabitants aren’t worried about climate change.  They are.  Very.  Unfortunately, Dorset Councillors are more concerned about following government policies, policies that back using public money to invest in climate-damaging projects.  ‘Global’ doesn’t do ‘local’.  Global makes money for corporations and their investors, not the people who have to live with the result.

Sometimes it takes a threat to our own neighbourhood, our own county or country, before we wake up to what is happening across the world.  It will take food shortages before we accept that industrial farming is gradually killing the soil that all life, bar marine life, depends on.  It will take repeated storms and flooding to get the message that weather patterns really are changing; that places are becoming too wet, too dry, too hot – but not too cold.  It will take the flooding of coastal cities before everyone acknowledges that the Arctic, Antarctic, the permafrost and glaciers have melted and the sea-level risen because humans have heated up the earth.

By then it will be too late.  The damage will have been done.  To be honest, we won’t experience the effects of the carbon emissions we are, right now, pumping up into the atmosphere for another 20 years.  Climate change is happening now and it will be bad.  We can’t go backwards.  All we can do is to make it not as bad as it could be (i.e. killing most of the life we know).  The floods, the melting of the ice, the wildfires – that all comes from what we did some years ago.

The conversation has gone on for far too long.  In 1972 the Stockholm Declaration first laid the foundations of contemporary environmental policy.  The first World Climate Conference was held in 1979.  Thirteen years later, the 1992 Earth Summit (dealing with the environment and sustainable development) was held in Rio de Janeiro.  Since then there has been a constant succession of conferences on development, climate and the environment, including the yearly Conferences of Parties (COP), the UN conferences on climate change.  The first COP conference was held in 1995.   1997 gave us the Kyoto Protocol, but it was another eight years before it came into force.

In 2015 Paris hosted COP21, ending with an agreement that the UK ratified in 2016.  In April 2018 it was announced that the UK would be the first major economy to examine how it would meet its commitments and review its long-term target to cut carbon emissions.

Later this year, Glasgow will host COP26.  Note the number: 26.  That’s how many times the ‘world’ (aka politicians and business leaders as well as environmentalists) have met to discuss the problem, and we are still nowhere near seriously addressing climate change.  The ideas are there. The proposals are there.  The ‘in-place-by’ dates are there.  Real actions are not so visible.

On May 1st 2019 the UK Parliament declared a climate change emergency.  Big deal?  No.  It simply demonstrated the will of the Commons on the issue, but it does not legally compel the government to act.  Environment Secretary Michael Gove acknowledged there was a climate “emergency” but did not back Labour’s demands to declare one.  In other words, we’ll make the right sounds but not implement the very necessary actions.

What about all the local authorities?  It seems they take things more seriously – or perhaps they are closer to the people.  According to a list dating from early February, 67 percent of District, County, Unitary and Metropolitan Councils have declared a Climate Emergency, plus 8 Combined Authorities/City Regions.  Many of those authorities have committed to target dates for net-zero emissions, ranging from 2030 to 2050.  This only applies to the authorities’ emissions, not the general public’s, but it does encourage us to follow their lead.

Among the declarations is Dorset Unitary Council.  However – and there is always an ‘however’, no target date for actions or results is given.  Seeing that the motion was backed by 69 councillors, with only two against and six abstentions, you would think they’d give a target date.  Again, right noises but little action.

Surely, politicians and global business should be taking note of what is already happening to the climate – while the UK was hit by weeks of storms and floods, Australia burned.  Yet Australia’s Prime Minister refused to accept those horrendous wildfires had anything to do with climate change.  For too many people, their lives were destroyed.  For the ‘climate deniers’ it is business as usual.  In the UK it means building more houses on flood plains and installing more of the same flood defences, despite the fact that they’re really not working any more.  And in case you didn’t know, in 2010 the Labour government’s plan for flood defences got cancelled by David Cameron’s austerity policy.  In Australia business as usual means carry on mining and exporting coal.

The Paris Agreement aimed at keeping the global warming to 1.5 degrees.  We can no longer achieve that.  Even keeping the warming to 2 degrees would require us to pretty well stop everything now.  The global refusal to actually act is putting us on course for 3-4 degrees warming; with sea levels rising and extreme weather events getting worse, we face chaos and disaster.  So – the target dates themselves are questionable.  For one thing, aiming to be ‘net-zero emissions’ by 2050 makes us think ‘we’ve got 30 years, no need to hurry.’  At least the EU is calling for a target date of 2030.

There’s every need to hurry.  Report after report is coming out from worried, despairing scientists, observing and recording how much more rapidly climate change is happening.  Everything is speeding up.  The latest news is that polar icecaps are melting 6 times faster than in the 1990s.  What climate action might have been expected to happen by 2040 could now happen by 2030 or 2025.   New models on climate sensitivity are showing big increases in global temperature.

Here and there authorities and courts are taking the right decisions, based on the rule that every decision, every development, must now take climate change into account.  Bristol Airport’s expansion plans were refused on ‘environmental grounds’ by local councillors.  A third runway for London Heathrow was ruled as illegal by the court of appeal, because ‘ministers did not adequately take into account the government’s commitments to tackle the climate crisis’.

Which puts Dorset Council in an awkward position.

They are being asked to approve a planning application  by South Western Energy Ltd. (SWEL) to ‘allow for the drilling of a single vertical well for the appraisal and production of oil, together with the establishment and construction of the site compound’  in the village of Puddletown.  If enough oil is found, they could be extracting it for the next 20-25 years.  That’s hardly going to help the UK’s ‘net zero emissions’ target of 2050.

With the climate emergency now being one of the main concerns of the public, it goes without saying that first in the queue of objectors were the parish council and residents of Puddletown.  It’s bad enough worrying about global climate change, but when one of the causes turns up on your doorstep that’s another matter entirely.  (It’s worth noting that fracking at various English sites, though given permission by the government, has so far failed to actually produce any gas, largely due to determined residents and their supporters getting in the way, plus some good science.)

SWEL’s justification is:

Oil is critical to transport requirements and will likely remain so in the near term as cars may be adapted to electrification and alternative fuels but aircraft, shipping, military vehicles and large goods vehicles are currently, due to their engine capacities, less adaptable to conversion.

Wrong.  Many manufacturers are already following that path.  DAF and Tesla are selling them, and as the Irish Baku transport team says:

The most exciting thing about the arrival of electric HGVs has to be the environmental benefit. Any truck that can produce zero carbon emissions over the course of its lifetime is a world-changing investment worth making.

It doesn’t mean electric HGVs will be here tomorrow, but they will be here and probably quicker than SWE would like to think.  As new cars are scheduled to be ‘all-electric’ by 2030 (and depending on climate events, that date might be sooner), then this well could prove to be ‘surplus to requirements’.

At a Council meeting on February 18th Kira Robinson, a member of XR, put a question to the councillors.  ‘This proposal,’ she said, ‘is obviously inconsistent with the Council’s efforts to move towards a more sustainable future for Dorset…. The Government’s own wildlife adviser, Natural England, Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency have all criticised the application’s flawed ecological assessments, especially regarding the threat of pollution to potable water supplies.

Apparently the drilling could go through one of the local aquifers, prompting people’s real concerns about potable water pollution.  SWEL promises to return the proposed site (currently part of an arable field) to its former state after drilling is finished – in two weeks, no less.  How will they repair the compacted soil that will have been contaminated and made inert by the surfacing materials?

Kira Robinson pointed out in her question to the Council that the Dorset Council’s draft 4-year plan had said “It is clear that the climate and ecological emergency must inform the council’s decisions and actions for the foreseeable future“.  Well, that didn’t last long.  The approved 4-year plan has watered that down to something meaningless.

In reply to her plea for the Council to show leadership in saying no to this proposal, the response from Cllr David Walsh leant heavily on ‘government policy’ on minerals and energy that, of course, the Council has to follow.  Not to do so would cost them money.  He said that ‘Dorset hosts nationally important energy minerals which society is still dependent upon until such times as human energy needs can be entirely decarbonised.’  The thing is, you encourage businesses to invest in renewables by not supporting new fossil fuel projects.  You can’t carry on as usual until energy is entirely decarbonised.  It doesn’t work that way.  But, claims Councillor Walsh:

Dorset Council is not in a position to refuse planning permission for oil and gas development on climate grounds. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Dorset Council would be able to change its local policies to resist hydrocarbon development on climate change grounds unless and until there is a change in national policy.

Poor powerless Council.  Not brave enough to do what the earth needs, not as brave as many authorities that are aiming to be net-zero by 2030, and certainly not as brave as Cheshire East Unitary authority that has a target date of 2025.

That all sounds terribly reasonable until one considers the facts that David (‘greenest government ever’ to ‘get rid of all the green crap’) Cameron’s government:

  • Cut down the feed-in tariffs for small solar panel installations in 2015, a real blow to people who wanted to go green but couldn’t afford the total cost.  Under Theresa May, tariffs were scrapped altogether in April 2019.
  • Also in 2015, the government introduced strict regulations which effectively banned onshore wind farms in England.  This year Boris Johnson has given the go-ahead for wind farms because the lower prices of wind farm energy makes it significantly cheaper than other forms of low-carbon electricity.  However, Scotland’s wind farms are way ahead, and are on track to supply 100 per cent of its needed electricity in 2020.

And, regardless of climate change, the Conservatives love fossil fuel (and, through their lobbyists, fossil fuel companies have a huge influence on their politics and policies) they:

  • Have consistently backed fracking and although that is confined to England and on hold, they would be quite happy to allow it in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty such as West Dorset.
  • Continue to subsidise fossil fuel companies at a bigger level than renewable energy, and spend more on fossil fuel than the rest of the EU.  Germany, for instance, provided the biggest energy subsidies, with €27bn for renewable energy, almost three times the €9.5bn given to fossil fuels.  And the UK’s nuclear energy has historically got more funding than renewables.
  • Give tax breaks to major oil companies.  According to DeSmog: ‘Since 2015, the Treasury has given the industry tax breaks worth £2.3 billion’.  DeSmog also reports that UK ‘is the worst of G7 countries for ‘hiding’ fossil fuel subsidies.
  • In 2018 a Platform report showed that, via the government’s Prosperity Fund, money earmarked to support overseas development had been spent on supporting China’s fracking industry, to the tune of £2 million.
  • The Prosperity Fund also financed oil and gas projects in India, Brazil and Mexico.  Twelve of the 16 fossil fuel projects funded by the Prosperity Fund reference the creation of “opportunities for international, including UK businesses”, or an “improved business environment” as an expected outcome.

And as Mike Small, editor of Bella Caledonia, wrote: In this week’s much celebrated budget we were told to expect a “Budget that put climate and environment first” but we got a fuel duty freeze and £27 billion more spent on roads”.  Roads mean vehicles, means petrol, means oil. 

Clearly, oil is there to be invested in, made money from by a chosen few.  The corporate world is not environment-friendly, nor apparently worried about the effects of climate change.  The environment-friendly Triodos Bank’s 2018 annual report. said that: ‘The world’s top banks have poured US$1.9 trillion into fossil fuels since the adoption of the Paris Agreement.’

And surely, if government bodies Natural England and the Environment Agency are strongly critical of the Puddletown proposal, one could and should claim they are also part of ‘government policy’.  They should be listened to.

Damien Carrington, writing in the Guardian, said that:

There is no deadline to save the world.  Everything we do now has to pass the climate test… Taken together, the justice and economic arguments make it imperative that every decision taken every day by governments, businesses and communities must pass the climate test: will it cut emissions? From power plants to buildings, transport to farming, projects commissioned today will be running well beyond 2030. (My emphasis)

But, while West Dorset people fight against the Puddletown oil well, others in Longburton in the northern part of West Dorset are fighting against a plan for a solar park. Puddletown wants to fight climate change, and protect its ecology and water.  Dorset is a good place for solar energy as it is, despite the endless rain over the winter, rated as the sunniest county in England, but Longburton doesn’t want its pretty rural views spoilt.  Climate change doesn’t come into it.  Hence Dorset Council’s dilemma.  If they back the solar park project and reject the oil well, they are recognising the climate emergency.  If they back the Puddletown oil well and reject the solar park, they are saying the climate emergency is unimportant.

And if they back both projects and reject both projects, the Council is suffering from a bad schizophrenic episode based solely on party ideology.

Global Warming on a Rampage

Global warming is not waiting around for the signatories to the Paris climate accord ‘15 to go to net zero emissions 2030/50. Sorry, those bold plans are way too little way too late. Already, across the board, the planet is on a hot streak that defies all projections. It’s starting to look downright scary!

Listen… when Helsinki has no snow in January/February accompanied by inordinate heat, it’s a powerful signal that “something is not right.” According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute: “Monthly records were not just broken, they were shattered with large margins.1

Not only that, across the planet, heat-heat-heat too much heat is altering ecosystems beyond expectations, as, for example, an “uncharted granite island” suddenly emerged from rapidly melting ice in Antarctica, surprising researchers stationed off the coast of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, which has the troubling distinction as one of the fastest retreating glaciers in the world. The research team named the new discovery Sif Island.

Similar to global warming’s recent onslaught, Pine Island Glacier also is not waiting around for Paris ’15 signatories to take mitigation steps to avert catastrophic “Global Warming,” which likely will be officially renamed “Global Heating” at some point in time in the near future, not global warming, which term is already out-of-date.

Perilously, Pine Island Glacier experienced yet another monster iceberg calving event February 2020 the size of a U.S. state.  Monster calving events used to occur every 5-6-7 years but have become annual events. Making matters scarier yet, “large cracks in the ice shelf are forming in places that scientists hadn’t seen before, such as the middle of the ice shelf.”2

Scientists are deeply concerned and closely monitoring Pine Island Glacier and nearby Thwaites Glacier for signals of “runaway melting” that would free up inland ice flow. The ice shelves that are calving hold back rapid glacial flow to the sea. According to NASA, just those two glaciers hold back a surrounding region of potential glacial ice flow that could raise sea levels by 4 feet, which is a mere 2% of total Antarctic sea level rise locked in ice.

Therefore, the sudden emergence of Sif Island out of the blue is not a comforting signal. Not only that, but according to Carlos Schaefer, a Brazilian government scientist who’s analyzing recent Antarctica temperatures of 68°F (sizzling hot for Antarctica): “We have never seen anything like this.”

Dreadfully, the entire planet is being hit with hot stuff. French ski resorts had to import snow with helicopters. Snow-less Moscow shattered previous record temperatures by an astonishing 3.5°C.

And, heaping one disaster on top of another disaster, Japan’s Daisen White Ski Resort had to shut down early in January because it was so hot that fake-generated snow melted as soon as it was generated. And, for the first time ever, ever, ever Germany was unable to make ice-wine in any of the German wine regions. The 2019 ice-wine vintage will go down as the first-ever no harvest. It was too hot!

Still, by all appearances, global average temperatures are a misleading indicator for public instruction of global warming’s true impact. Global averages miss the true impact of regional global warming events that have the power to undercut life, as we know it.

For example, Yakutia, an eastern Siberian federal Russian republic, has heated up by more than 3°C preindustrial or three-times the global average, bringing on disastrous results. Yakutia, one-third the size of the U.S., has seen its arable land for farming plummet by more than 50% as a result of cascading permafrost. And, buildings are sagging into the ground, hillsides are collapsing, and lakes suddenly appear throughout the region. Life is turning chaotic.

All of which brings to mind the ever-dicey East Siberian Arctic Shelf where massive quantities of subsea permafrost contains and holds back vast reservoirs of methane frozen in ice in extremely shallow waters, unfortunately. Even though mainstream science believes the risks are low of a major eruption of methane out of the ESAS, which in turn could ignite powerful damaging Runaway Global Warming, there are serious scientists who have studied the ESAS in detail and who adamantly claim otherwise by assigning a high risk to the event, which would take civilization down to its knees by decimating agricultural regions across the planet as well as turning several latitudinal zones uninhabitable.

Meanwhile, according to the IEA (International Energy Agency) fossil fuel companies plan on increasing oil and gas production by 120% to 2030. Demand for oil is irrepressible. And, not only that, China is embarking on mega-mega construction plans for new coal-burning power plants, and so is India, and Japan recently announced its intention of building 22 new coal-burning plants over the next 5 years.

All of that in the face of irrefutable evidence of acceleration of climate change well beyond the influence of natural events. Still, Trumpers refuse to recognize and act upon that reality, thus unofficially blessing other nations increases in fossil fuel usage and thus silently encouraging rejection of Paris ’15. Is that wayward influence a plot hatched in America?

As a result, and with great fanfare, trumpets blaring, and drums rolling, Trump has been crowned “the Worst President for our Environment in History” by nine major green orgs: Alaska Wilderness League Action, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, EDF Action, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society. Trump is Global Warming’s Man of the Year 2019.

The year 2019 is the 43rd consecutive year, since 1977, with both land and ocean temperatures above the global 20th century average. And, of extreme significant deep concern, the global rate of global warming has doubled, specifically since 1977. That is an ominous and clear signal of acceleration of an unwelcoming rate of global warming. Frankly, it’s horrible news. Brace yourself!

  1. “9 Freaky Phenomena Revealing How Warm This Winter Was”, Treehugger, March 3, 2020.
  2. “Iceberg That’s Twice the Size of Washington Cleaves off Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica, in a Sign of Warming”, The Washington Post, February 10, 2020.

A Climate Time Bomb With Trump’s Name Inscribed

Thwaites, in West Antarctica, is the world’s most dangerous glacier. As of January 15th, scientists have labeled it: “A Climate Time Bomb.”

Thwaites is crumbling apart on the underneath side where warm ocean currents circulate, which is clear evidence that global warming is really, truly hitting its stride even as America, obeying President Trump’s orders, rejected its commitment to Paris ’15, a major climate agreement of almost all the nations of the world.

In point of fact, America is too focused on ceaseless (mindless) NYSE trading at new heights to give even a passing thought to something as remote as Thwaites Glacier crumbling apart from inside-out (9,072 miles away, forever far away in the mindset of simple-minded folks).

Still, the cold, hard facts are irrefutable, to wit: NASA’s studies, referenced as “IceBridge,” have revealed an enormous cavity lurking beneath the icy surface of Thwaites; it’s the size of NYC hidden within its core. Along the way, Thwaites glacier loses 35B tons of mass per year.

Beyond question, “What happens at Thwaites affects the whole ice sheet.”1

After all, Thwaites is the primary backstop for the entirety of West Antarctica, which contains enough ice to take sea level up 11-12 feet. If Thwaites collapses, it’ll trigger an impending collapse of monstrous proportions. Although, truth told, nobody knows the timing, decades or centuries before serious collapse occurs, but judging by recent behavior, Thwaites is giving off plenty of chilling tip=offs, enough to generate some cold-sobered pause and very deep thought.

Thwaites Glacier is 100 miles across and 4,000 feet deep. It’s melting a lot earlier and much, much, much faster than ever thought possible. That’s bizarre since the glacier, ever since the dawn of humanity, has been a permanent feature on West Antarctica.

Meantime, in the face of crumbling ecosystems found at the fringes of civilization, where the initial impact of global warming is felt first, the United States, under the direction of President Trump, dismantles decades of federal regulations that protect life and ecosystems. Nearly 100 federal regs designed to curb climate change, protect human health, and limit ecosystem ruination are being rolled back. It’s Trump’s infamous Great Dismantling of Federal Agencies (GDFA).

As such, crucial ecological and social welfare policies are on a fast track of obliteration, somewhat similar to the impact of human-generated global warming’s influence on ecosystems; e.g., permafrost shockingly collapses 70 years early in the high Arctic. Alert! Is global warming 70 years ahead of schedule? If so, if really true, awful climate-related upheavals will manifest very soon.2

As for the status of America’s scientists, Trump is their worst nightmare come true in full living color — orange. No president throughout the history of America comes close to his purity of ignorance and utter failure to understand basic words, concepts, and rudimentary science. After all, it was his own secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who said, “He’s a f__king moron!”3

As for Thwaites, the good news is it will take hundreds of years for the final ice of West Antarctica to melt away. However, along the way, possibly sooner rather than later, the bad news is that it will likely wreak unimaginable havoc, meaning big time damage, by altering coastlines around the world, year-by-year, decade-by-decade, and inch-by-inch, but over time stretching to foot-by-foot. It’s an extraordinarily dangerous prognosis, filled with all kinds of challenges for the world’s coastal metropolises.

Significantly, and most importantly, the implied message within the NewScientist article is: Somebody in a position of authority in the world with powerful leadership skills (forget the U.S.) must wake up to the fact that global warming has already started taking human civilization down for the count, down to its knees… already in its earliest stages at the furthest latitudes, where it is hitting real hard; e.g., Thwaites’ internal ice collapse.

Thwaites Glacier, as big as the country of Great Britain, is but one of several examples of early stage ecosystem collapse in the world, but people don’t live where it’s happening. Who sees it other than scientists?

Alarmingly, Thwaites’ ice loss has doubled over the past two decades to 35B tonnes per year; that fact, standing alone, sends a haunting message. In time Thwaites will account for 2 feet of sea level rise. But that’s only the start of a much, much bigger dilemma as it buttresses the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

It was only 5 years ago when scientists confidently said the Western Antarctica Ice Sheet collapse had officially started but those same researchers said: “Even though sea level rise (10-13 feet) cannot be stopped, it is still several centuries off, and potentially up to 1,000 years away.” No sweat!

Now… they are sweating.

  1. Adam Vaughan, “Antarctica’s Doomsday Glacier is Melting. Can we Save it in Time?” NewScientist, January 15, 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.
  3. Vanity Fair, May 23, 2019.