Category Archives: global warming

CO2 Removal?

Last year, worldwide energy-related CO2 topped 36B tons. That’s a new world record.

“Carbon dioxide removal is essential to achieve net zero [greenhouse-gas emissions],” Diána Ürge-Vorsatz, vice-chair of the working group that produced the nearly 3,000-page UN climate panel report.   1

“Removing the greenhouse gas from the air will likely be necessary, along with radical emissions cuts, to keep temperatures from rising 2°C.”2

According to the above-mentioned MIT report, we are now paying the price for long delays in addressing global warming despite decades of warnings. The levels of greenhouse gas the world can still release before pushing the planet past very dangerous warming thresholds has become alarmingly tight. Here’s betting the alarms will soon be blaring.

Along those lines, every global agreement to limit CO2, most recently Paris ’15, has bombed-out. A trail of broken promises has been ongoing now for decades. Will this time be any different, even with climate change turning brutally ugly?

Worldwide heat is on a tear: (1) Japan tops 104°F for the first time ever (2) Kuwait hits 127°F (3) Record heat hits Spain, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic (4) Norlisk, Russia posts an all-time record high (above the Arctic Circle) 89.6°F (5) Beijing’s hottest day ever 111.2°F (6) Parts of the world experience power cuts and water shortages, especially Pakistan and India where people are dying in the streets (7) the US summer officially began with 65 million Americans exposed to regular highs above 100°F. Suffocating heat is found throughout the four corners of the earth.

Yet, average global temperatures are only 1.2°C above pre-industrial, and yet all hell is already breaking loose, including the Doomsday glacier in Antarctica as melting Arctic permafrost morphs into blasts of methane CH4. And, they (IPCC) claim we do not want to exceed 1.5°C or especially 2°C. Really? Oh please! Shit’s already hitting the fan!

Meanwhile, America, purportedly the leader of the free world, downplayed global warming for four of the most crucial years to do something constructive in one more lost opportunity. In 2017 then-President Donald Trump was shown a Time magazine cover: “How to Survive The Coming Ice Age” by deputy national security adviser KT McFarland. It made Trump’s day by reinforcing his personal beliefs and policies against global warming science.

Of course, the magazine cover was photo shopped, a fake cover put into Trump’s eager hands by one of many, too many, unqualified staffers who, in fact, was a Fox News analyst in a previous life, propagandizing right-wing crap on a suicide mission of the planet amidst unspoken secrets and sui generis handshake codes defining the primary recipe of suicide of the planet, well, actually the majority of people but not all of the people.

Throughout the 2017-2020 term, the Trump administration restricted and/or misused, and abused, science in more than 200 significant instances that will continue to bite hard for years to come: “The disregard for expertise in the federal government is worse than it’s ever been.”3  For example, Trump’s rollback of Obama-era climate regulations likely account for an extra 1.8B tons of greenhouse gases 4

Donald Trump speaking to California state officials, when visiting burned-out fire scenarios: “It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch… I don’t think science knows, actually.” Trump saw CO2 as a positive force for the planet. His experts told him so.

How about another four years, starting in 2024?

But, reality is an altogether different story. As long as we continue to emit CO2, scientists, engineers, and chemists across the board, and this is universal opinion, agree that coastal cities will flood; e.g., Miami (already planning sea walls) droughts will empty reservoirs; e.g., Hoover Dam’s Lake Mead (dangerously close to “dead pool” status). That’s reality! Whereas, Trump is a photo shopped freak!

What to do?

Will carbon capture and removal save the planet?

Au contraire, the planet isn’t concerned in the least about carbon capture: “Earth is a wet rock floating through space; it doesn’t care if we drown our coastal cities or turn our farmland into desert.” 5

But society at large does care whether they express it or not. Assuming carbon removal doesn’t work, then, life is about to get very complicated very soon. Dark shoots, rather than green shoots, are already popping up on a synchronized basis with ecosystems across the globe. Everything is turning sour altogether all at once. Water rationing for major cities like Santiago are already a reality. That’s what global warming’s 12-year Chilean drought did to water supplies, and it ain’t gonna stop at Chile.

Meanwhile and of major concern, because very little that really needs to be done to save society gets done, according to the IPCC, roughly 40B metric tons of annual CO2 emitted into the atmosphere must be cut to zero by 2050, but there are plenty of scientists who’ll say 2050 is way too late. No surprise there. And, oh yeah, additionally, tons of CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere to return to any kind of semblance of equilibrium with the climate system. Good luck with that!

According to Global CCS Institute, a carbon-capture-and-storage think tank, the issue for carbon removal is compelling: “The target has been set; the timeline has been set.” And, the conversation has shifted from “What do we do” to “How do we do it?”

Well, the technology to accomplish carbon removal is available but the costs and the scale is nearly beyond human imagination, and, in fact, beyond any kind of practical achievement. For example, the UN report says it’s nearly impossible to prevent 1.5C without substantial removal of carbon and avoiding 2C will be a challenge as well.

“Preventing the former with only minimal levels of carbon dioxide removal would require cutting global greenhouse-gas emissions to about 31 billion tons per year by 2030, as the median estimate… That means nearly slashing emissions in half in eight years.” 6

But, already according to the International Energy Agency, commitments by countries to reduce emissions or “APS (Announced Pledges Scenario) cover less that 20% of the gap in emissions reductions that needs to be closed by 2030 to keep a 1.5°C path within reach.” (MIT)

However, it’s noteworthy: “As the IPCC warns against new fossil fuels, it’s business as usual for big polluters… the world’s biggest oil and gas companies … are projected to spend $932 billion by the end of 2030 developing new oil and gas fields, according to a new analysis of Rydtand Energy data by Global Witness and Oil Change International… And by the end of 2040, this figure grows to an even more staggering $1.5 trillion.” 7

And, coal is on the rise. China is now building or planning to build in China and elsewhere in the world new coal plants amounting to 176 gigawatts of coal capacity, enough to power 123 million homes. 8

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and environmental NGOs can advocate for net zero until the cows come home, until hoarse, until blue in the face, but the real world is headed in the opposite direction. The most appropriate watchwords should be “watch out below” or “fasten your seat belts” we’re about to liftoff with skyrocketing global temperatures and ecosystems collapsing as global drought combined with Wet Bulb Temperature turns society into a bunch of mush heads in concert with Trump’s new presidency.

  1. “UN Climate Report: Carbon Removal is Now ‘Essential’’, MIT Technology Review, April 4, 2022.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Michael Gerrard, director Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, 2019.
  4. Rhodium Group
  5. “The Life-or-Death Race to Improve Carbon Capture”, Chemical & Engineering News, Volume 99, Issue 26, July 18, 2021.
  6. “UN Climate Report: Carbon Removal Is Now ‘Essential’”, MIT Technology Review, April 4, 2022.
  7. “World’s Biggest Fossil Fuel Firms Projected to Spend Almost a Trillion Dollars on New Oil and Gas Fields by 2030”, Global Witness and Oil Change International, April 12, 2022.
  8. New Scientist, April 26, 2022.
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Buckle Up! The Arctic’s Sizzling

The Arctic is turning into a dream come true for doomsayers. It’s heating way too fast! Nostradamus is dancing in the street.

Record-smashing Arctic temperatures may brighten the outlook for those who thrive, actually enjoy, disaster scenarios, but the great majority of people only get off on disasters in a movie theater, not in the wide open spaces at the top of the world. Even Hollywood itself could never possibly capture the moment, the drama, the heightened level of deep concern of flabbergasted scientists, as temperatures in the Arctic skyrocket.

What’s happening?

Indisputably, it’s all about cars, planes, trains, cows, heavy industry, and electric power plants emitting tons of CO2 into the upper atmosphere where it blankets heat. In that regard, there are limits to what works and what doesn’t for nature’s climate system to continue functioning so that humans can live and breathe and survive. Global warming anomalous temperatures, which are beyond the norm of thousands of years, just don’t cut it. It’s at the biggest disruption level in human history, and it’s downright ugly and outright scary.

New studies have discovered: “Extraordinary global heating in the Arctic that’s seven (7) times faster than the global average” in the North Barents Sea region. This is awful news. Scientists are alarmed, viewing it as an early warning sign of what’s in store for the rest of the Far North, and ultimately the planet as a whole. Seven times faster is insane.

Shockingly, average annual temperatures have logged +2.7C per decade and as high as +4C in autumn months. That’s the fastest rate of heat on Earth. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change >2C spells big trouble.

Scientists have responded with adjectives like weird, simply shocking, crazy, chilling while expressing serious concern about a “signal of more abrupt climate breakdown.” Yes, climate breakdown, which unfortunately precedes societal collapse.

According to the prescience of William Ophuls: “Civilization is effectively hardwired for self-destruction… Insuperable biophysical limits combine with innate human fallibility to precipitate eventual collapse.” 1

As for the horrific Arctic discovery: “We expected to see strong warming, but not on the scale we found,” according to Ketil Isaksen, senior researcher at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute: “We were all surprised. From what we know from all other observation points on the globe, these are the highest warming rates we have observed so far.” 2

This is one more example of climate change ahead of schedule. According to Dr. Ruth Mottram, Danish Meteorological Institute: “This study shows that even the best possible models have been underestimating the rate of warming in the Barents Sea.” 3

Of more than passing significance, this is the first public release of “extraordinary high-quality” surface air temperature measurements from 1981 to 2020 demonstrating 5-to-7 times global warming averages, which is off the charts problematic.

According to Ketil Isaksen, PhD: “It’s off the scale.” Regrettably, it represents a “leading signal of global warming.” 4

The Isaksen study focused on three periods, covering 40, 30, and 20 years beginning from 1981, 1991, 2001 and all ending in 2020. The highest readings “were up to twice as high than hitherto known in this region from reference station series in the western and southern part… we showed that the warming has been strongly linked, both in space and time, to (1) the large reduction of sea ice and (2) increased SST (sea surface temperature)”. 5

The Arctic sets the tone for the rest of the world, which is a horrifying thought based upon this new data. Meanwhile, down south the Doomsday Glacier set another scary record.

Off the charts temperatures in the Arctic are only one-half of the horrific news: “Antarctica’s so-called Doomsday Glacier (Thwaites) is losing ice at its fastest rate in 5,500 years, raising concerns about the ice sheet’s future and the possibility of catastrophic sea level rise caused by the frozen continent’s melting ice.” 6

The finding comes from a study of prehistoric sea-deposits found on the shores surrounding Thwaites glacier and Pine Island glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet: “Antarctica’s glacial melt is advancing faster than ever before in recorded history.” 7 locene Ice-Mass Change in Pine Island Bay”, Nature Geoscience, June 9, 2022.))

Alas. with both poles setting new records, the evidence mounts that years of warnings from scientists have been right on target, 100% correct while the consequences have been much, much faster than the models expected.

As such, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to foresee impending disaster brewing on the horizon, especially with current rates of CO2 levels and meaningfully because of grim news:  “Some 176 gigawatts of coal capacity was under construction in 2021, and more than half of that was being built in China.”8   (176 gigawatts equal enough power for one hundred twenty-three million (123,000,000) homes).

The China/India news defines human insanity and unbelievable stupidity that’s responsible for repeated failure of climate mitigation efforts. This story is getting very old, way too late, in a perilous climate change cycle. Is it suicidal?

As both China and India ramp up new coal power plants, it’s also a direct assault on their own ports: Port of Shanghai, Port of Shenzhen, Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan, Port of Guangzhou, Port of Hong Kong, Port of Qingdao, Port of Tianjin, Port of Daliam, Kkandia Port, Mumbai Port, Chennai Port, Port Blair Port, Kolkata Port, Tuticorin Port, Cochin Port, and Ennore Port.

A Possible Solution: Convert the US defense budget to a worldwide renewables build-out. Otherwise, at current rates of change, there won’t be much to defend anyhow.

  1. William Ophuls, “Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail”, 2012.
  2. Damian Carrington, Environmental Editor, “New Data Reveals Extraordinary Global Heating in the Arctic,” The Guardian, June 15, 2022.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ketil Isaksen, et al, “Exceptional Warming Over the Barents Area”, Scientific Reports 12, Article No. 9371, June 15, 2022.
  5. Ibid.
  6. “Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’ is Hemorrhaging Ice Faster Than in the Past 5,500 Years”, LiveScience, June 15, 2022.
  7. Scott Braddock, “Relative Sea-Level Data Preclude Major Late Ho ((
  8. “China is Building More Than Half of the World’s New Coal Power Plants”, NewScientist, April 26, 2022.
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The Spoils of Empire

In the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, we take a look at some of the recent resistance waged by two nations rendered stateless by British cartographers.

First we visit Palestine where tensions have flared into several violent confrontations between Israeli settlers and the Palestinian intifada. Then we go to Kurdistan where neighboring Turkey has renewed it’s expansionist dreams putting Kurdish occupied areas under threat.

Finally a rather troubling weather report investigates the latest effects of climate change around the globe.

The post The Spoils of Empire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Overshoot Dilemma

Climate change and global warming, which is the largest part of the ‘change’ aspect, is suddenly getting the kind of special treatment that’s reserved for national tragedies. A special commission has been established to investigate a way out of the biggest human-caused failure of all time.

It wouldn’t be quite so disturbing if it were not for the fact that the truth about the widespread danger from fossil fuels has been in the public domain for decades now.

People in the highest positions academically, politically, and the business community have known for decades that CO2 emissions will eventually overheat the planet. But, none of them had the balls to stand up to the fossil fuel companies and right-wing hacks and the despicable denier core of charlatans. They are as guilty as the denier hacks.

Whenever society at large is under extraordinary threat, aka existential threat, special commissions composed of prominent members of the establishment pop up to study the situation and make recommendations. Only recently the 911 Commission (2002) and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (2009) are two prime examples. These special commissions have a common genesis of responding to a threat to the established way of life.

Hooray (maybe, maybe not, but at any rate sorrowfully) climate change has now joined the ranks. It’s officially designated an extraordinary threat to society. As of May 2022 the Climate Overshoot Commission has been established. Its first meeting is June 2022 at Lake Como, Italy.

The commission is composed of a wide swath of pristine leadership personalities, including past presidents, prime ministers, ministers of foreign affairs, professors, former heads of international organizations like the WTO. Indeed, they are a shiny brass group with credentials up the wazoo.

The commission will consider the risks attendant to overshooting 1.5°C and the range of response options for addressing overshoot. Based upon their mission statement, 1.5°C overshoot is preordained.

But honestly, isn’t this commission comparable to creating a commission to study what to do after the dam breaks?

Why study an overshoot of 1.5C? Ecosystems throughout the planet are already nearly overshooting or maybe actually overshooting in some cases at only 1.2C above baseline. By the time 1.5C hits there may not be enough pieces left to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

The commission may have the wrong idea and wrong target. If the commission is going to tackle the manifold risks of climate change, they should focus on the root cause, not the after effects. Why should a commission spend time and energy trying to figure out how to handle a totally unprecedented blowup of the climate system, when they should focus on the root cause of global heat and try to stop it before exceeding 1.5C?

Maybe the answer is to pivot to the Special Commission on Removing Fossil Fuel Infrastructure.

Several ecosystems (the Great Barrier Reef) are already in trouble. In that sense the commission may be needlessly spinning its wheels. Moreover, the signs of irreversible collapse is discussed in several key situations described in a recent landmark study. 1

The Bergstrom study examined 20 ecosystems from Australia’s coral reefs to terrestrial Antarctica and discovered forces of ecosystem collapse driven by global climate change and regional human impacts. Nineteen (19) of the twenty (20) ecosystems are already bordering on irreversible damage.

According to the study group, an estimated 30% of global land area is already degraded, directly affecting nearly one-half of the world’s population. Ecosystems are deteriorating globally. “The endpoint of disruption and degradation of ecosystems is potentially or actually irreversible collapse.” The study found destructive processes at an advanced stage.

We assessed evidence of collapse in 19 ecosystems (both terrestrial and marine) … extending from northern Australia to coastal Antarctica, from deserts to mountains to rainforests, to freshwater and marine biomes, all of which have equivalents elsewhere in the world.  2

In other words, their domain of study is a facsimile for what’s happening throughout the planet. In their words: “We assessed evidence of collapse.” The evidence was ubiquitous, wherever they looked. “Our analysis clearly demonstrates the widespread and rapid collapse, and in some cases the irreversible transition rather than gradual change at a regional scale.” (Bergstrom)

Here’s a summation of the Bergstrom study findings: “The 19 ecosystems presented have collapsed or are collapsing according to our four criteria (see Table S1 for details). None has collapsed across the entire distribution, but for all there is evidence of local collapse. Rapid change (months to years) has occurred in several cases (Figure 2c, Table S1). We identified 17 pressure types affecting the 19 ecosystems (Figure 1). The key global climate change presses are changes in temperature (18 ecosystems) and precipitation (15 ecosystems), and key pulses are heatwaves (14 ecosystems), storms (13 ecosystems) and fires (12 ecosystems). In addition, each ecosystem experienced up to 10 (median 6) regional human impact pressures (presses and/or pulses) (see Figure 1). Habitat modification or destruction has occurred in 18 ecosystems, often at substantial levels, but over a relatively small spatial scale in the Antarctic ecosystem. Run-off with associated pollutants was the most common single human impact pulse (6 ecosystems).”

Note that “the key global climate change presses” are all directly or indirectly a result of global warming. Hence, the primary target for any commission should be how to prevent global warming in the first instance, not what to do once it’s exceeded a flash point of 1.5C above baseline. Then, it may be too late.

More to the point, we as a society know much more about how to control greenhouse gas emissions at the source than we know about mitigation of ecosystem damage once 1.5C is breached or metaphorically after the dam bursts.

Where’s the commission to get off fossil fuels?

  1. Dana M Bergstrom, et al, “Combating Ecosystem Collapse from the Tropics to the Antarctic”, Global Change Biology, Vol. 27, issue 9, February 25, 2021.
  2. Ibid.
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Polar Scientist Explains Peril of Thwaites

 Rolling Stone

Ted Scambos, a polar scientist with 20 trips to Antarctica under his belt, makes a living trekking across glaciers, measuring the speed, thickness, and structure of ice. Dr. Scambos (University of Colorado/Boulder) recently penned an article: “Ice World: Antarctica’s Riskiest Glacier is Under Assault From Below and Losing Its Grip”. The Conversation, June 7, 2022.

Scambos is a lead principal investigator for the Science Coordination Office of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (SCO project). How many glaciers in the world have a team of scientists dedicated to an international collaborative research effort?

Answer: Thwaites is the single most dominate factor influencing the integrity (survival) of every coastal city in the world, and it is clearly at risk.

According to Scambos: “Antarctica is a continent comprising several large islands, one of them the size of Australia, under a 10,000-foot-thick layer of ice… Its glaciers have always been in motion, but beneath the ice, changes are taking place that are having profound effects on the future of the ice sheet – and on the future of coastal communities around the world.”

Significantly, the ice sheet was “nearly in balance as recently as the 1980s,” meaning annual snowfall replaced annual ice flows. As a result, the early ice research in Antarctica involved trying to find any kind of dramatic changes but with little success.

However, within only a couple of decades in the context of thousands of years of stability, everything suddenly changed. According to Scambos: “But now, as the surrounding air and ocean warm, areas of the Antarctic ice sheet that had been stable for thousands of years are breaking, thinning, melting, or in some case collapsing in a heap. As these edges of the ice react, they send a powerful reminder: If even a small part of the ice sheet were to completely crumble into the sea, the impact for the world’s coasts would be severe.”

West Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier is the continent’s prime candidate for a major collapse. In contrast to East Antarctica’s solid core of small mountain ranges underneath the ice bed, West Antarctica was once the ocean bottom. Its ice gets warmer and moves much faster. Only 120,000 years ago it was likely an open ocean and definitely 2 million years ago. Accordingly: “This is important because our climate today is fast approaching temperatures like those of a few million years ago… The realization that the West Antarctic ice sheet was gone in the past is the cause of great concern in the global warming era.” (Scambos)

Thwaites is the “big boy” glacier of West Antarctica. It is the widest glacier on the planet at 70 miles across. At issue, recent changes on the vast continent have been sudden and fast, much faster than ever expected. As for Thwaites in particular: The height of the surface has been dropping by up to three (3) feet each year. Huge cracks are forming at the coast, and ice now flows at over a mile per year. That flow rate has doubled since 1990.

The net result is a new era of geologically rapid ice flow officially underway for the 21st century. This is not a welcomed event. Nobody knows for sure how it will play out or how soon, but the risk is unfathomably scary, punctuated by the dispiriting fact that scientists’ models that predict future climate change are almost always late to the party. This makes it nearly impossible to plan for the next catastrophe, like Thwaites glacier.

As further explained by Scambos: Under the ice the geological structure of Thwaites is “a recipe for disaster.” Until only recently, Thwaites had not measurably changed since it was first mapped in the 1940s. All of that has changed now that global warming has intervened. It’s what’s happening hidden underneath that spooks scientists:  “Ocean water well above melting point is eroding the base of the ice.”

All of which impacts the entire structure. Mapping of Thwaites now exposes fractures and huge cracks along with the speed of flow all-in suggesting the monster may ‘give way’ within only a few years, which would be a horrendous step towards more rapid ice flow to the sea.

Bottom line: “West Antarctica could soon begin a multi-century decline that would add up to 10 feet to sea level. In the process, the rate of sea level would increase several fold, posing large challenges for people with a stake in coastal cities.” (Scambos)

But, when does the first foot of sea level register on shorelines? Nobody really knows for sure.

Meantime, as the world wonders aloud why and how the planet’s solidest long-standing ice sheet is ever closer to crumbling, it’s frankly disgusting and outrageous that it’s even an issue, especially considering decades of warnings by scientists about the risks of fossil fuels that spew CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, blanketing heat. Now, because of human recklessness in the face of warning after warning, an ominous horrific cycle of meltdown has already started at the worst possible location on the planet where 150-to-200 feet of water has remained frozen in time throughout all of human history… until now.

Forthwith, it’s payback time after decades of human stupidity bordering on lunacy in the face of science that has been right all along. Smart people know to adhere to the science.

Recommended reading: “How Trump Damaged Science – and Why it Could Take Decades to Recover”, Nature, October 5, 2020.

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John Kerry’s Global Fix-it Campaign

“I’m absolutely convinced we will get a low-carbon, no-carbon economy at some point in time. The challenge is will we get there in time to heed the warnings of the scientists and avoid the worst consequences of the crisis?” 1

In a soft pitch interview by Andy Serwer of Yahoo Finance on Saturday, May 28th at Davos World Economic Forum the Climate Czar expressed optimism about handling the climate change crisis, in part, based upon the fact that several of the world’s leading corporations are dead set on stopping the multitude of dangers associated with an out of whack climate system. They understand the risks.

According to Kerry, climate change is not complicated. It is basic physics: “There isn’t anybody I know today who doesn’t admit that the planet is warming and that life has changed as a result of this… this trend is pretty obvious… the climate crisis is getting worse, not better, and we have to more rapidly reduce emissions and take the necessary steps, not what politicians are saying we should do, but scientists whose lives are dedicated to determining the mathematics and the physics of this particular challenge.”

The Climate Czar presented an interesting viewpoint of how corporate CEOs are now coming together to take on the challenge. As explained by Mr. Kerry, there’s lots of money to be made, which, of course, is good enough to get the corporate juices flowing.

If Mr. Kerry’s message and climate plan is realistically on target, which is more inclusive than just CEOs and venture capitalists foaming dollar bills at the mouth, then the world may have a shot at containing the biggest threat of all time. But, there are plenty of ifs.

Kerry was quick to caution: “Assuming it can happen fast enough.” That is a key watchword for serious students of climate change/global warming.

There are serious-minded scientists who believe it’s already too late, and there are others who nod their heads in full agreement with the Doomsday Clock’s most recent reading at only 100 seconds to midnight. It is the closest to midnight of all time. Midnight represents a catastrophe. One of the principal factors taken into consideration for setting at 100 seconds to midnight was a warning by the IPCC: “This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” according to Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet.”

“Is there enough time” is a common theme amongst knowledgeable people. People whom have deep-dived the subject see serious threats. Major ecosystems, all of them, are rapidly approaching, in some cases exceeding, dangerous stages or tipping points: the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, Siberian permafrost, the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon rainforest, mountain glaciers: the Himalayas, the Caucasus, the Alps, the Rocky Mtn, the Andes, ocean acidification, marine heat waves, Patagonia, the Atlantic Gulf Stream… as examples.

Here’s a more specific example: During the 1990s, Greenland and Antarctica combined lost 81 billion tons of ice mass per year on average during that decade. Moving ahead to the decade of the 2010s, the ice mass loss was 475 billion tons per year on average throughout the decade. That’s flat-out breathtaking, almost exponential at face value. 2

It’s an understatement to say a six-fold increase of ice mass loss within only one decade is especially troubling and nearly impossible to comprehend. After all, it’s not within centuries, which wouldn’t be quite so alarming; it’s within only one decade. Whew! So then, what’s in store for the 2020s, or how about the upcoming knotty 2030s?

81 billion tons versus 475 billion tons can only mean one thing: The impact of global warming is a helluva lot worse than what’s expected at only 1.2°C above baseline or could it be that 1.2°C is not really accurate?

Beware: “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” 3

As it goes, Mr. Kerry not only has the mannerisms and cadence and stature and personal background to get the job done, he has depth of knowledge about the danger of advanced climate change/global warming that’s revealed within his choice of words and emphasis without openly proclaiming the horrific truth that “we’re screwed unless we act quickly,” but his message is just that.

The following synopsis of his interview is provided for readers to decide for themselves the likelihood of his success, or not:

As explained by Kerry, some months ago he started a movement called First Mover Coalition inclusive of thirty-five (35) major corporations that have volunteered leadership roles to create “demand for change,” e.g., Maersk Shipping, the largest container shipper in the world has agreed that the next 8 ships they build will be carbon free. Volvo promised that 10% of the steel they buy to be “green steel.” United Airlines, Delta, and Boeing and Apple agreed to buy 5% sustainable aviation fuel and eventually go to 85% reduction in emissions.

The First Mover Coalition is working in cooperation with the World Economic Forum. Kerry claims the CEOs are stepping right up to the plate and swinging away: “They understand the urgency.” They want to lead by example with “demand signals” to change behavior of industry throughout the world. Plus, a big plus, they are working on the “hard-to-do things,” like aluminum, steel, and concrete manufacturers.

When asked about the Russian Ukrainian invasion, Kerry said it has taught Europeans a lesson to be independent, and that is a motivating factor to spur ahead with renewable infrastructure development. Thus, Russia is working against its own self-interest and turning away future fossil fuel sales at a rapid clip via invading Ukraine.

According to the Climate Czar, President Biden sees a significant part of the solution of climate change to be nuclear power. He’s kept nuclear on the table. New designs for nuclear plants are being researched and worked on. France, for example, is doubling down on nuclear. According to Kerry, “we cannot get to net zero by 2050 without nuclear.” Really? Honestly?

Headline News:Electricite de France SA’s nuclear failures are sending ripples through European energy markets, threatening to undermine the continent’s plan to turn its back on Russian gas.” 4

“About half of EDF’s 56 reactors are currently halted, and EDF has estimated that output this year will be the lowest in more than 30 years. While many plants are offline for regular maintenance or refueling, a dozen are idled for checks and repairs following the discovery of stress-corrosion issues at units in late 2021.” 5

Nuclear power plants put more stress per square inch on foundational structure than any other form of energy production. It’s inherently dangerous! One small crack can make all of the difference between meltdown and no meltdown. That’s how risky it is to use nuclear to boil water. For example, the following Scientific American article discusses a real event descriptive of the inherent dangers of nuclear power plant structural pressure points:

“On Feb. 16, 2002, the nuclear power plant called Davis–Besse on the shores of Lake Erie near Toledo, Ohio, shut down. On inspection, a pineapple-size section on the 6.63-inch- (16.84-centimeter-) thick carbon steel lid that holds in the pressurized, fission-heated water in the site’s sole reactor had been entirely eaten away by boric acid formed from a leak. The only thing standing between the escape of nuclear steam and a possible chain of events leading to a meltdown was an internal liner of stainless steel just three sixteenths of an inch (0.48 centimeter) thick that had slowly bent out about an eighth of an inch (0.32 centimeter) into the cavity due to the constant 2,200 pound-per–square-inch (155-kilogram-per-square-centimeter) pressure.”  6

According to Kerry, the private sector is really moving. “There’s a gigantic shift with the private sector taking the lead in many places, and it involves all kinds of private sector institutions… some fossil fuel companies are now working to become energy companies and transition to producing electricity and doing it in a clean way either through hydrogen or nuclear or in other ways.”

As explained by Kerry: “This is one of the greatest economic opportunities that we’ve ever faced, potentially much larger than the industrial revolution” by building out new energy grids and new electric vehicles. By 2035, Ford and GM will only have electric vehicles. Everything has to be part of the solution, agriculture, shipping, buildings, transportation, and manufacturing.

Kerry is meeting with his Chinese counterpart to work together to see how best to achieve the promises made in Glasgow where the US and China agreed to reduce methane (CH4) and to meet about transitioning off coal, to perhaps gas or nuclear.

Headline News: ((“China is Building More Than Half of the World’s New Coal Power Plants”, NewScientist, April 26, 2022.))  “Some 176 gigawatts of coal capacity was under construction in 2021, and more than half of that was being built in China.” Note: 176 gigawatts equal enough power for one hundred twenty-three million (123,000,000) homes.

It looks like the Climate Czar is gonna have his hands full.

Still, according to Kerry: China has already committed to submit an ambitious national action plan on methane to the Conference of the Parties in Sharm El-Sheikh this coming November for COP 27, UNFCCC.

He says the world has now joined the methane battle, which is front and center in discussions. Kerry says it’s where “we can achieve some of the fastest reductions in greenhouse gases… 116 nations have now signed up to achieve a 30% reduction of CH4 by 2030. It is the equivalent of every car in the world, every truck in the world, every ship in the world, every airplane in the world going to zero emissions by 2030.” (hmm, really?)

Furthermore, Kerry claims the transition needs to happen all over the world. And, they’ll be working on deforestation, which he sees as a huge challenge. Illegal deforestation is the biggest threat to rainforests.

Still, the pre-eminent question is whether John Kerry and the CEOs carry enough cache around the world to achieve what decades of broken promises have failed to do? Not only that, but is it really enough? And, is the approach correct? Switching coal to gas or nuclear?

Frankly, aside from Kerry’s hopeful climate plans, what’s really desperately needed is something more, much more all-inclusive like a Climate Marshall Plan throughout the entire planet with a goal of zero fossil fuels by 2030. This is achievable if every major nation/state fully commits the funds and resources, similar to the rebuild of Europe post WWII. But sadly, that is only a dream, especially in light of the history of broken promises, one after another.

During the most recent IPCC meetings, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals: “A litany of broken climate promises by governments and corporations.” He accused them of stoking global warming by clinging to harmful fossil fuels. “It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track toward an unlivable world.”

Thinking out loud about Kerry’s monumental task… what’s with Kerry’s continual references to striving for net zero by 2050? Several really smart well-known climate scientists, many of whom I am sure Mr. Kerry knows, think net zero by 2050 should be taken off the table. That’s too late, and Kerry knows this. He’s the Climate Czar; he must know it. And, it’s not “net zero” that’s required; it’s “net negative,” and he likely knows this as well.

London. 26 August 2021: “The latest report published today by the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) warns that reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is now “too little too late” and will not achieve the long-term temperature goals identified in the Paris Agreement… Drawing upon findings recently published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), it states that current global emissions targets are inadequate and that net negative – rather than net zero – strategies are required.7

Members of Climate Crisis Advisory Group are accomplished scientists at prestigious institutions around the world, widely considered at the top of the field.

Regardless of the twists and turns of what Climate Czar John Kerry experiences, at the end of the day an overused cliché, “money talks” will either save the day or ruin it for good as it can work one of two ways going forward (1) funding positive results for climate mitigation programs or (2) buying denial.  Hopefully, funding mitigation prevails over the past several decades of “buying denial” with underhanded dark money, which has been the big winner, especially in America, Kerry’s home base.

Here’s wishing the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate the best of luck. He’ll need it.

  1. John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, May 2022.
  2. “Greenland, Antarctica Melting Six Times Faster Than in the 1990s”, NASA, March 16, 2020.
  3. Albert Bartlett 1923-2013, emeritus professor, physics, University of Colorado.
  4. EDF Nuclear Failures Undermine Europe’s Push to Exit Russian Gas, Bloomberg, US Edition, May 26, 2022.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Atomic Weight: Balancing the Risks and Rewards of a Power Source, Scientific American, January 29, 2019.
  7. “Net Zero by 2050 is ‘too little too late’: World-Leading Scientists Urge Global Leaders to Focus on Net Negative Strategies”, Climate Crisis Advisory Group, August 2021.
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Climate Change Wows the Polls

Australia’s federal election May 18th turned left with a new power broker named climate change. Major networks refer to the election as: “Australia’s Climate Election,” with newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese vowing to turn Australia into a “renewable energy superpower.”

The incumbent PM Scott Morrison led the Coalition opposed by the Labor party behind the candidacy of Anthony Albanese. At the end of the day, Labor overwhelmed by capturing the two most significant burning issues: (1) climate change (2) political integrity (What a gorgeous setup for US Dems).

According to NBC News, polling in the lead-up to the election showed that 8 out of 10 Australians wanted significant climate policies from the government. Seventy percent (70%) said climate change was already impacting the country. The environment was the prevailing issue on social media; it captured more interests than the economy or corruption.  1

Analysts claim the public is increasingly demanding climate commitments from leaders in a pronounced shift of political sentiment that could hold lessons for lawmakers in other developed and developing countries. Worldwide climate system failure is too palpable to ignore any longer. It’s showing up at the ballot box.

Segueing to America’s upcoming midterm elections on Tuesday, November 8th:  What if America pivots on the same climate and integrity issues? Who wins? The better question may be: How quickly will Republicans pivot, for political expediency purposes only, to support climate mitigation efforts and thus abandon the fossil fuel gravy train of dark funding? Naw! Won’t happen. Instead of abandoning a steady flow of surreptitious green stuff labeled with lots of serial numbers they’ll lie about climate change to “confuse the public.” That’s worked like a charm for decades now. Create doubt. Will it work once again in 2022 and invalidate the great Aussie climate change political reset?

Meanwhile, when it comes to political trends, according to Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy: “The trends across the country show a majority of Australians care deeply for bolder climate action and integrity in politics – it is a huge win for the environment, at a time when nature needs us most.” 2

CEO O’Shanassy was quick to point out: “Australians were frustrated by the Morrison government’s inert response to the urgent climate crisis, its reckless support for a ‘gas-led recovery’ and its attempts to water down already weak nature protection laws.”

Whereas, in stark contrast to the Morrison government, the new government under the leadership of PM Albanese will stress “climate action,” It’s what Albanese wants as his legacy.

According to The Sydney Post (May 23rd): “Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will seek a new consensus on climate change with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday in a plan to co-operate on clean energy and build support for global climate talks to be hosted in Australia… Albanese used a phone call with Biden on Sunday, when the US president congratulated him on winning the election, to canvass ways Australia and the US could co-operate on clean energy, including gaining US support for the Labor proposal to host a future United Nations climate summit in Australia and the Pacific.”

On the heels of the Aussie federal election, in a remarkable coincidence of favorable political circumstances and fortuitous timing, Tokyo is holding the Quad Leaders’ Summit with newly elected PM Anthony Albanese and PM Narendra Modi (India), PM Fumio Kishida (Japan) and President Joe Biden.

The White House: “Quad countries share serious concern with the August Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report findings on the latest climate science… Quad countries will focus their efforts on the themes of climate ambition, including working on 2030 targets for national emissions and renewable energy, clean-energy innovation and deployment.”

It is the first time India, Japan, Australia, and the United States have joined hands in concert with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as they agree to tackle a worldwide climate system that’s radically off-course for the first time in human history. But, will they succeed… soon enough? That is the sleepless night tossing turning crux of the matter.

One big loser in the Aussie election is Rupert Murdoch, whose powerful media outlets took a brutal whipping as Australians tossed his views aside and sought new sources of information. According to Bill Hare, CEO and senior scientist at Climate Analytics, a prominent think tank, the election demonstrated a transformation across the political spectrum: “We don’t have to believe that the Murdoch press controls public opinion.”

“The election outcome exposes a gaping disconnect between News Corp and Voters.” 3

“Anthony Albanese Defeats Rupert Murdoch to Become 31st PM of Australia.” 4

With America’s midterms right around the corner, the question arises, how will Fox News score?

According to Tom Rosenstiel, a media scholar and executive director at the American Press Institute, a non-profit focused on sustainable journalism: “Fox News is a propaganda machine for the far right and Republican Party.”5

Similar to Rupert Murdoch’s overpowering political clout in Australia, Fox News pounds the American airwaves with whatever “sells best du jour” while fulfilling the deepest suspicions of a rabid core of followers. Will Fox News’ far right extremists win in November or will Australian political sentiments sway America’s political fabric?

  1. “Australia’s ‘Climate Election’ Shows Shifting Priority For Voters”, NBC News, May 23, 2022.
  2. “Australians Have Voted For Bolder Climate Action and Integrity in Politics”, Mirage News, May 22, 2022.
  3. The Guardian, May 22nd.
  4. The Independent Australia, May 23rd.
  5. Sean Illing, “How Fox News Evolved into a Propaganda Operation”, Vox, March 2019.
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India: Birds Drop Out of the Sky, People Die

In case you have lingering doubts about the reality of human-caused global warming, hop on an airplane to parts of India or Pakistan and spend a few days. And, as long as you’re there, maybe be a good citizen and pick up a few of the dehydrated birds that drop out of the sky. Then, use the syringe you brought along to feed it some water before it dies in your hands.

And, maybe do the same for some of the people sprawled out on the roadside before they die right before your eyes. After all, people are already dying from the humid heat. Maybe you could help them survive and while at it maybe bring along that friend who’s a climate denier to assist in saving some lives. It’s good for their soul to open his or her eyes to reality.

According to a recent Business Insider article: “Birds Are Falling From the Sky in India as a Record Heatwave Dries up Water Sources”, May 14th, 2022. And, it’s not just a few random instances: “Vets in an animal hospital in Ahmedabad said they had treated thousands of birds in recent weeks.”.1

According to Yale Climate Connections: “The nearly ‘unsurvivable’ heat is increasingly as the result of human-caused climate change.”

Here’s a snippet from the Yale Climate Connections article entitled “India and Pakistan’s Brutal Heat Wave Poised to Resurge: Inferno-like temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122°F)”. The heat, when combined with high levels of humidity – especially near the coast and along the Indus River Valley – will produce dangerously high levels of heat stress that will approach or exceed the limit of survivability for people outdoors for an extended period.”

According to the prestigious UK Met Office: “The blistering heat wave in northwest India and Pakistan was made over 100 times more likely because of human-caused climate change.”2

The extraordinary blistering heat has prompted Umair Haque, a British economist (former blogger for the Harvard Business Review, but he attended University of Oxford, London Business School, and McGill University) to compose a special article about the scenario entitled: “The Age of Extinction Is Here — Some of Us Just Don’t Know It Yet”, published in Eudaimonia and Co, May 2022 in which he describes a world that has “already crossed the threshold of survivability.”

Umair has friends in the Indian Subcontinent. So, he hears first hand what’s happening without the filter of a news organization. Here’s one quote: “The heatwave there is pushing the boundaries of survivability. My other sister says that in the old, beautiful city of artists and poets, eagles are falling dead from the sky. They are just dropping dead and landing on houses, monuments, and shops. They can’t fly anymore.”

Here’s some more reporting directly from the streets, as related by Umair: “The streets, she says, are lined with dead things. Dogs. Cats. Cows. Animals of all kinds are just there, dead. They’ve perished in the killing heat. They can’t survive.”

People spend all day in canals and rivers and lakes. Some people in the streets are passed out and at the edge of a life or death scenario. He suggests the death count will not be known for some time and many probably won’t be counted.

Here’s an interesting take from Umair’s perspective: “You see, my Western friends read stories like this, and then they go back to obsessing over the Kardashians or Wonder Woman or Johnny Depp or Batman. They don’t understand yet. Because this is beyond the limits of what Homo sapiens can really comprehend, the Event. That world is coming for them, too.”

He claims: “We are at the threshold of the Cataclysm. Some of us are now crossing over to the other side, of a different planet, one that’s going to become unlivable. This isn’t ‘going to happen’ or ‘might happen,’ it is actually happening now.”

Here’s one more quote: “At 50 degrees, which is where the Subcontinent is now, life dies off. The birds fall from the sky. The streets become mass graves. People flee and try to just survive. Energy grids begin to break. Economies grind to a halt.”

Umair claims civilization collapses somewhere between 50 -60 degrees Celsius. “Nothing works after that point.” Animals die and systems shut down, economics crater, inflation skyrockets, people grow poorer, fascism erupts as a consequence. People become frightened and turn to fundamentalist religion or authoritarian rule to “give them answers.” The regular ole economics and politics don’t work any longer. Sound familiar?

Death by humid heat in India equates to the tolling of bells, slowly, repeatedly, as black pennants flutter along the distant horizon. Another one has died and another, and one more, and another and another, as the monotonous tolling becomes an atrocious irritation.

Postscript: It’s in every bird falling from the sky, every animal dropping dead from the heat, every democracy being shredded by lunatics, in all the deaths we will never count. Our systems — all of them — economic, social, political — are beginning to fail. (Umair Haque)

  1. Ibid.
  2. “Climate Change Has Made India’s Heat Wave 100 Times More Likely, UK Weather Service Says”, CNBC, May 18, 2022.
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The Biomass Peril

Woody biomass, or burning trees to produce renewable energy, is spreading beyond the shores of Europe, where it’s wildly popular and outpacing solar and wind. It’s headed for Japan and South Korea, where subsidies for woody biomass displace funding for solar and wind. Umm, what’s wrong with this picture?

In order to know specifically what’s wrong it’s pertinent to take notice of the factual details about the integrity of woody biomass to discover whether it’s truly one of the biggest blunders of the 21st century.

Woody biomass is not a viable solution for global warming mitigation purposes. It has been the subject of considerable scientific debate with several voices expressing alarm over the absurd concept of burning trees to reduce global emissions. It’s shocking!

Nevertheless, it is happening right under our collective noses and fully endorsed by the European Union (EU) yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does not endorse it. This is proof-positive that absurdity knows no limits.

After this article was written and before it was posted the EU Environment Committee voted to amend the European Union’s stance on woody biomass. It appears the EU is scrambling to save face. See more details at the end of this article.

The term “carbon neutral,” which is not the same as “zero carbon” and not a scientific term, but glorified by the EU when used to distinguish a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions really means this: “Someone else, at some other time, removes carbon, so I can emit more.”  1

If you’re worried about the deleterious impact of global warming, DUCK! You’re about to get hit right between the eyes as woody biomass emits as much CO2 as coal, or more. And, it’s popular. Developed countries like it better than coal. It’s cheaper than building solar or wind, and it’s easy, and it helps countries meet the Nationally Determined Contributions at the heart of the Paris Agreement. Here’s how: Stop shoveling coal into the furnace and replace it with woody biomass chips, Eureka! The lights go on!

But, there’s a catch: Woody Biomass is one of Runaway Global Warming’s favorite accomplices. It’s a stealthy renewable faux source emitting tons of excessive amounts of CO2 that people mistakenly think is just fine, whereas coal has a dirty image but emits less CO2 than woody biomass.

Contrary to popular opinion by proponents of woody biomass, replanting trees to offset CO2 emitted by burning woody biomass is not true (not even close to true), more on this later.

Furthermore and contrary to statements by forest biomass companies: “Despite claims from forest biomass proponents, the IPCC does not even assess, let alone support, the use of forest bioenergy and BECCS as a climate solution and has not determined that biomass is essential to addressing climate change. 2

According to the NRDC report on the IPCC position: “Cutting and burning forests in the southeastern United States – the leading global region for wood pellet manufacturing – leads to a net shift of carbon from the land to the air that lasts for decades.”3  That’s horrible news for the woody biomass industry, which is growing like a weed, spreading across the globe.

Bottom line, major developed countries that use woody biomass operate under the pretense that they are meeting carbon reduction goals under the guidelines of IPCC AR6 when, in fact, they are amplifying global warming.

That results in a hopeless scenario where nobody knows what to believe. The only reliable data points are CO2 levels from independent entities like NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory in Hawaii managed by NOAA scientists and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. For example, the CO2 weekly average for May 8th was 421.13 ppm versus 418.34 ppm one year ago. That’s a rapid rate of increase +2.79 ppm, which is far above the historical average, which means annual CO2 emissions are truly rapidly escalating. This has extremely negative ramifications for ecosystems, biodiversity loss, the climate system, and last but not least, Homo sapiens, the main protagonists of this Greek tragedy

And, oh yes, speaking of global warming, especially to the shrilly denier charlatans, it is notable that worldwide drought is on a chilling rampage. Name any continent, except Antarctica, which has its own problems, and destructive drought is there. For specific references, Google: (1) World Drought Gets Worse, Cities Ration, May 9, 2022 (2) Adapting to Drought, May 3, 2022 (3) Dangerous Heat Across the Globe, January 24, 2022 (4) Drought Clobbers the World, August 27, 2021.

The Woody Biomass Growth Industry

Woody biomass, a multi-billion dollar world market is growing from its major base in the EU and UK by spreading to Japan and South Korea. Those two economic powerhouses are rapidly adopting it as a solution to meet greenhouse gas emission mitigation standards by flipping coal usage to woody biomass tree burning.

Yikes! Don’t they know (their scientists or engineers or somebody knowledgeable) that woody biomass will increase CO2 emissions, the same as coal, and then some?

The only way they’ll legitimately meet their emission targets is by illegitimately (cheating) using fancy accounting principles which, of course, is the modus operandi, stating that woody biomass is carbon neutral and, of course, they’ve got the EU imprimatur to prove it. Even better yet as for falsifying records, the EU does not recognize CO2 emissions from woody biomass, and it is largely ignored by the IPCC. So, why count it? Yes, it is true that for some inexplicable reason (maybe the carbon neutral ruse) the EU does not understand that burning trees emits CO2, same as coal. Hence, it’s easy to falsify records about achieving targets towards net zero by 2050.

In all fairness, it should be noted that coal usage does not burn trees, which actually makes it a better solution than woody biomass (P.S.-this article does not endorse coal): “All of this wood burning is putting intensifying pressure on global forests — which are desperately important for the tremendous amounts of carbon they store.”. 4

Several recent studies have exposed false claims that woody pellets are manufactured from “waste wood or residues such as limbs, tops, scraps, or rotted trees.” Analyses of woody biomass operations in Canada (BC) and the US (southern states), in some cases, showed the vast majority of material consists of boles or tree trunks, not scrap waste material.

According to the Southern Environmental Law Center: “Despite industry claims, most of the wood used to manufacture pellets is not waste wood or residues – like limbs, tops, scraps, or rotten trees. Instead, the vast majority of material harvested for these wood pellet facilities were tree trunks or boles.”5

A study of Canada’s Inland Temperate Rainforest at the site of a major woody biomass manufacturer: “According to the NGO Sustainable Biomass Program, the use of whole logs has ballooned from 6% in 2019 to 50% in 2020 (Ed.-SBP claims 36% in an updated statement). Still, satellite imagery by the Living Atlas of the World “confirmed a shift to whole trees.” Furthermore, a 2021 Google Image shows log piles around the wood-pellet plant that are equivalent to four soccer fields, which is an eye-opening 6xs the area of wood residuals on the property.6

According to the Environmental Paper Network, a global coalition of forest advocates that tracks biomass, demand for pellets in Japan will rise to 9 million metric tons annually by 2027, up from 0.5 million metric tons in 2017. South Korea will hit 8.2 million metric tons annually by 2027, up from 2.4 million metric tons in 2017. That Asian combination is close to future demand predicted for both the EU and the U.K.

The South Korean government subsidy for biomass is so substantial that the country will reduce investment in wind and solar to make room for woody biomass, which is a prime example of out-and-out insanity at work.

Henceforth, Woody Biomass will meaningfully contribute to excessive greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to heating up the planet. Global warming is the only winner in this race to the bottom of upside down global warming mitigation craziness.

Even more perplexing, in the face of the EU not recognizing CO2 emissions from burning woody biomass, in November 2021 more than 100 nations agreed at the Glasgow UN climate summit to: “reduce global deforestation as a primary climate-mitigation strategy.” Yet, doesn’t woody biomass include chopping down trees, which works against the 100-nation declaration?

“Forest advocates have been arguing for years that burning wood for energy on an industrial scale, a practice virtually nonexistent little more than a decade ago, poses a host of environmental threats while undermining effective global warming mitigation efforts, these include: (1) increased deforestation (2) elevated carbon emissions (3) loss of carbon sequestration capacity and (4) adverse biodiversity impacts.”3

Woody Biomass proponents claim they replant trees to replace chopped down trees. So, no harm done as the newly planted trees will absorb the CO2 from burned trees. Wrong!

According to John Sterman (MIT), a biomass expert, the carbon released today by burning wood pellets “will take 44-to-104 years to be reabsorbed by new tree plantings.”3

That should be reason enough, standing alone as one primary fact about the negative impact, to abandon woody biomass altogether.

But there is more: Making matters even worse, wood pellets produce more emissions per unit of energy than carbon-intensive coal because wood isn’t as energy dense as coal, which is one more reason why coal is better than woody biomass.

“Increasing biomass burning for energy in place of coal [fails] to reduce emissions at the smokestack and actually increases them,” according to Peg Putt, a leader of the Environmental Paper Network in Australia. “Also, where forest biomass from natural forests is burnt, it is depleting the carbon stocks of those forests and undermines their potential to sequester carbon during the vital period for emissions reductions between now and 2050.”3

It’s nearly impossible to find a worse approach to fixing global warming than substituting woody biomass for coal. Maybe tar sands?

Facts About Woody Biomass:

“The wood pellet industry is a monster out of control… Burning wood puts out more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity produced than coal does.” 7

More than 500 scientists and economists signed a letter addressed to: (1) President Joseph Biden, (2) EU President Ursula Von der Leyen, (3) Charles Michel, President of the EU Council, (4) Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga and (5) So. Korean President Moon Jae-in: “We urge you not to undermine both climate goals and the world’s biodiversity by shifting from burning fossil fuels to burning trees to generate energy.” 8

The letter from the 500 scientists and economists states: “Overall, for each kilowatt hour of heat or electricity produced, [burning] wood initially is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels, refuting the policy and industry claims of zero emissions.”

Nearly 800 scientists and academics, including two Nobel laureates and three winners of the US National Medal of Science, signed a similar letter in 2018.

Under the EU’s second Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) — tolerated by the United Nations under the Paris Climate Agreement — emissions from burning forest biomass are not counted at all. This one shocking fact is nearly impossible to read without falling to one’s knees in utter disbelief.

In Europe 42,210 people signed a petition to end EU support for “fake renewables”; i.e., burning trees is not a climate solution. EU Bioenergy, News, January 25, 2021.  The petition did not influence the EU decision to continue championing woody biomass.

In the UK, the Drax Group converted 4 of 6 coal-generating units to biomass, powering 12% of UK electricity for 4 million households. The Drax biomass plant has an enormous appetite for wood; e.g., in less than two hours an entire freight train of wooden pellets goes up in smoke. That could be up to 12 freight train loads of wood pellets going up in smoke every 24 hours. That’s an amazing image to behold!

According to Drax’s PR department, the operation has slashed CO2 by over 80% since 2012, claiming to be “the largest decarbonization project in Europe.” “Biomass Energy: Green or Dirty? Environment & Energy – Feature Article, January 8, 2020.

Yet, when scientists analyze Drax’s claims, they do not hold up. Not even close! When wood pellets burn, Drax assumes the released carbon is recaptured instantly by new growth. That is a fairy tale. John Sterman (MIT), a biomass expert, claims the carbon released today by burning wood pellets “will take 44-to-104 years to be reabsorbed by new tree plantings.”

An article entitled The “Green Energy” That Might Be Ruining the Planet appeared in Politico, March 2021: “Here’s a multibillion-dollar question that could help determine the fate of the global climate: If a tree falls in a forest—and then it’s driven to a mill, where it’s chopped and chipped and compressed into wood pellets, which are then driven to a port and shipped across the ocean to be burned for electricity in European power plants—does it warm the planet? Most scientists and environmentalists say yes.”

“Burning wood puts out more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity produced then coal does.” 9

Carbon is emitted in the biomass combustion process, resulting in a net increase of CO2 10

Woody biomass power plants actually produce more global warming CO2 than fossil fuel plants.11

Europe now generates more energy from burning wood than from wind and solar combined, even though solar produces 100 times as much power per acre as biomass. Please reread that!

“The whole thing boils down to the obvious fact that burning things emits carbon quickly and re-growing things to sequester carbon takes a long time,” according to Mary Booth, director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, a US-based environmental nonprofit. “In other words, climate change will have wreaked havoc long before those young trees mature into an ecosystem that holds as much carbon as the one they replaced.”12

After this article was written, the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee voted to reduce “eligibility of heat and power from burning trees and other forest biomass as counting toward the EU’s renewable energy targets, and largely ending renewable energy subsidies for forest biomass, with certain exceptions.”13

NGOs are concerned by the amount of wood that would still be burned under the agreement. Lina Burnelius, Project Leader at Protect the Forest Sweden, said: “We are afraid that this half-step will be celebrated as some sort of victory, when in reality more than half of the biomass burned will, under this proposal, still receive subsidies and still not be included in the emissions statistics. The gap between what the science shows is needed and what’s been put on the table is severe.” 3

Meanwhile, over the past decade biomass power plants established solid operations in the U.K., the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Sweden. Asia is the new growth market, including Japan and South Korea with India ramping up and African nations looking to get involved.

“The result of this soaring demand: Trees are being stripped from old growth forests, boreal forests and/or native hardwood forests in Canada, Eastern Europe, the U.S. Southeast and Russia; and cut in tropical forests in Vietnam and Malaysia, all to produce wood pellets.” 14

By all appearances, woody biomass is an unstoppable behemoth initiated by the EU, which is now scrambling, as it tries to undo a monster of its own creation.

Forget about achieving net zero anytime this lifetime. Woody biomass is on the rise!

  1. Quote by Dr. William Moomaw, IPCC co-author of several reports.
  2. “What the IPCC Really Says About Forest Biomass & Climate Change”, National Resources Defense Council –NRDC- November 9, 2021.
  3. Ibid.
  4. “COP 26: E.U. is Committed to Forest Biomass Burning to Cut Fossil Fuel Use”, Mongabay, November 2022.
  5. New Study Confirms Harmful Impacts of Biomass Industry”, Southern Environmental Law Center, March 28, 2022.
  6. “Burning Up: The Controversial Biofuel Threatening BC’s Last Inland Rainforest”, The Whale, 2022.
  7. Bill Moomaw, emeritus professor Tufts University and co-author of several IPCC reports – 2019 Mongabay interview.
  8. “500+ Experts Call on World’s Nations to Not Burn Forest to Make Energy”, Mongabay, February 16, 2021.
  9. “Humanity’s Mortality Moment”, @ 25:00 on video, ScientistsWarning. TV, December 11, 2019.
  10. Columbia University study.
  11. Earth Institute.
  12. Burning Up: The Controversial Biofuel Threatening BC’s Last Inland Rainforests”, The Whale, 2022.
  13. “European Parliament’s Environment Committee Recommends Curtailing Burning Forest Biomass for Renewable Energy”, Forest Defenders Alliance, May 17, 2022.
  14. “COP26: Surging Wood Pellet Industry Threatens Climate, Say Experts”, Mongabay, November 9, 2021.
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“There Is No Way To Fool Physics”: Climate Breakdown And State-Corporate Madness

In the terrifying opening to his 2020 novel, The Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson depicts an intense heatwave in India. In an ‘ordinary town’ in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, people are struggling to cope with unbearable heat and humidity. It is the combination of the two, measured by the so-called ‘wet-bulb temperature’, that is potentially fatal. When it approaches the core body temperature of 36C, sweat cannot evaporate and humans can no longer cool themselves down. Dehydration rises to dangerous levels. Vital organs become seriously stressed, especially the heart. Unless the body temperature is reduced, death follows in a matter of hours.

In the novel’s opening scenes, there are shouts of:

‘Go to the lake! Get in the water!’

One man shakes his head:

‘That water is in the sun. It’s as hot as a bath. It’s worse than the air.’

Nevertheless, people jump in the lake, hoping it will help. But a catastrophe is unfolding.

‘People were dying faster than ever. There was no coolness to be had. All the children were dead, all the old people were dead. People murmured what should have been screams of grief; those who could still move shoved bodies out of the lake, or out toward the middle where they floated like logs, or sank.’

It is a nightmare vision of what may lie ahead for humanity in the very near future.

This month, an intense heatwave did indeed hit northern India with temperatures reaching a record high of 49.2C in parts of Delhi. This was the fifth heatwave in the Indian capital since March.

Last month was India’s hottest April in 122 years and Pakistan’s for 61 years. Jacobabad hit nearly 50C with night-time temperatures often staying above 30C. Exhausted and dehydrated birds fell from the sky, an apocalyptic portent if ever there was one. A UK Met Office study has concluded that global warming makes record-breaking heatwaves in northwest India and Pakistan 100 times more likely.

Meanwhile, the highest daily level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere was recorded. On 11 May, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, measured 421.37 parts per million of carbon dioxide. The previous record of 418.95 ppm was set in May 2021.

‘It is very concerning, extremely worrisome,’ Peter Tans, senior climate scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Financial Times.

‘This last decade, the rate of increase [of carbon emissions] has never been higher, and we are still on the same path. We’re going in the wrong direction at maximum speed.’

Scientists are warning that the 1.5C global heating limit set by governments is about to be breached. The probability of one of the next five years surpassing the limit is now 50 per cent. This is up from 20 per cent in 2020 and zero per cent in 2015.

A new report this week from the UN World Meteorological Organization revealed that 2021 was a record year for breaking critical global indicators of the climate crisis. These include rising sea levels and the amount of heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere.

António Guterres, the secretary general of the UN, said:

‘Today’s State of the Climate report is a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption. Fossil fuels are a dead end – environmentally and economically.’

On top of all that, climate scientists recently reported that global warming could cause the most cataclysmic extinction of marine life in the past 250 million years.

Her Majesty’s ‘Opposition’

If the news media were not owned and run for the benefit of state-corporate elites, all this would be huge headline news – day after day, month after month. There would be vigorous debate across all the main media outlets, building pressure on governments to implement the urgent radical changes required to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis.

But instead the general population is being held captive, caught in a tight death grip by powerful forces masquerading as our benefactors and protectors. As Jonathan Cook observed:

‘Corporate media is the glue holding our corrupt world together. They promote the Ukraine arms bonanza, helping the corporate war industries profit from mass death. Then they normalise profiteering from the resulting fuel crisis as “bumper” profits for the corporate energy sector.’

Is it any wonder we are in an era of climate breakdown when Business-As-Usual – characterised by short-term corporate greed, compliant mass media and careerist government politicians – is such a dominant factor in human ‘civilisation’?

For example, Corporate Europe Observatory, a non-profit research and campaign group which monitors and exposes corporate lobbying on EU policy making, recently warned that:

‘Fossil fuel giants are shaping the EU’s response to the energy crisis.’

Six big energy companies were named: Shell, BP, Total, ENI, E.ON and Vattenfall. Pascoe Sabido of Corporate Europe Observatory said:

‘The European Commission has been in bed with these corporations for decades. If we want to end our reliance on gas, Russian or otherwise, then we need to end the relationship between the fossil fuel industry and decision-makers, cutting fossil fuel interests out of our political system. In short, we need fossil free politics.’

There is little chance of that under the Tories. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has just drafted in the former UK boss of BP to supposedly oversee the UK’s transition to ‘a low-carbon economy’. Would a former CEO of Big Tobacco be rewarded by leading a reform of the NHS? Would a former slave owner be put in charge of the abolition of slavery?

In the never-ending corporate quest for profit, even as the planet’s life support systems are failing, oil and gas corporations ‘are planning scores of vast projects that threaten to shatter the 1.5C climate goal.’ If governments allow the projects to proceed, these ‘carbon bombs’ will ‘trigger catastrophic climate breakdown.’

As mentioned above, the head of the UN has called for an end to new fossil fuel projects, warning that climate change poses ‘an existential threat to us all – to the whole world.’ Speaking at a recent press conference, António Guterres said:

‘Main emitters must drastically cut emissions, starting now. This means accelerating the end of our fossil fuel addiction and speeding up the deployment of clean renewable energy.’

The UN chief’s urgent comments align with the aims of campaign groups, such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil, so often labelled by ‘mainstream’ media as ‘eco-zealots’, ‘eco maniacs’, ‘eco yobs’ or a ‘mob of environmentalists’. Indeed, on Twitter, Guterres effectively gave climate campaigners his support:

‘Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.’

In this country, the madness extends to all three of the main political parties – Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservative – calling for climate protesters to be ‘cracked down on’ and for their rational demands to be rejected.

Last month, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demonstrated yet again that he is a faithful ally of established power. Referring to Just Stop Oil protesters’ blockade of 11 fuel depots in southern England, Starmer tweeted:

‘The government must stop standing idly by and immediately impose injunctions to put an end to this disruption.’

He was later confronted publicly by Lauren MacDonald, a 21-year-old Scottish climate activist. According to one newspaper report, Starmer:

‘appear[ed] visibly flustered and fle[d] the scene without addressing the topic of the injunction.’

Fatima Ibrahim from campaign group Green New Deal Rising said:

‘We feel betrayed by Keir Starmer and the Labour Party for calling for more police powers to prevent young people worried about their future from peacefully protesting.

‘At a time when the country is desperate for a different vision of the future, the Labour Party could be calling for a massive shift towards renewables to bring down energy bills and deliver new jobs. Instead, they’ve relegated themselves to government cheerleaders.’

Starmer had shown once again how paper-thin are the differences between Her Majesty’s ‘Opposition’ and Her Majesty’s Government.

‘The Demise Of Civilisation Is Well And Truly In Sight’

Veteran climate scientist James Hansen, who warned the US Congress of the dangers of global warming as early as 1988, injected some reality missing from ‘mainstream’ reporting:

‘There is no indication that incumbent governments are even considering the fundamental actions that are needed to slow and reverse climate change.’

As we wrote at the time, last year’s UN Climate Summit in Glasgow was a greenwashing festival, full of empty rhetoric. Last month, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said it was ‘now or never’ to save humanity.

Climate scientist Simon Lewis observed of the most recent IPCC report:

‘the full 3,000-page report contains an astonishingly frank assessment of the organised efforts used to thwart climate action, noting: “opposition to climate action by carbon-connected industries is broad-based, highly organized, and matched with extensive lobbying”.’

Earth scientist Bill McGuire warned that:

‘it is now practically impossible to have any chance of staying this side of the 1.5C guardrail. The truth is that we can no longer sidestep dangerous, all-pervasive, climate breakdown.’

He added:

‘The demise of civilisation is well and truly in sight.’

These are remarkable and frightening statements from a senior scientist; in other words, the kind of sober, conservative, even ultra-cautious figure that the public has traditionally regarded as unwilling to speak out for fear of being seen to be too ‘political’.

McGuire also commented:

‘I have concluded that there will be no real pressure on governments to seriously tackle the #ClimateEmergency until we are all terrified. We are simply not sh*t scared enough – yet.’

In similar vein, Nasa climate scientist Peter Kalmus urged large-scale citizen action to pressure governments around the world. Last month, he wrote that:

‘Climate scientists are desperate: we’re crying, begging and getting arrested.’

He warned:

‘Earth breakdown is much worse than most people realize. The science indicates that as fossil fuels continue to heat our planet, everything we love is at risk.’

Kalmus continued:

‘Nothing has worked. It’s now the eleventh hour and I feel terrified for my kids, and terrified for humanity. I feel deep grief over the loss of forests and corals and diminishing biodiversity. But I’ll keep fighting as hard as I can for this Earth, no matter how bad it gets, because it can always get worse. And it will continue to get worse until we end the fossil fuel industry and the exponential quest for ever more profit at the expense of everything else. There is no way to fool physics.’

All this has motivated Kalmus to become involved in climate activism:

‘I’ve joined the ranks of those who selflessly risk their freedom and put their bodies on the line for the Earth, despite ridicule from the ignorant and punishment from a colonizing legal system designed to protect the planet-killing interests of the rich. It’s time we all join them. The feeling of solidarity is a wonderful balm.’

‘Our Morality Must Catch Up With Our Intelligence’

Noam Chomsky has also urged widespread participation in climate actions:

‘What we face is the greatest imposition of suffering and injustice in the history of civilization…I support the actions of the Just Stop Oil coalition. It’s imperative for us all to do so.’

He added:

‘Brave humans from all walks of life have chosen to not give up. We are fighting back because it’s the fight for all life. It’s now or never. It’s time for action. We need you to join us. We need everyone, everywhere. Now. Just stop oil.’

It will take truly massive, sustained public activism – perhaps on a scale never seen before in human history – to shift course away from climate catastrophe. Meanwhile, governments and corporations will claim their destructive policies, actions and threats are intended to ensure ‘security’ of energy supplies, or ‘security’ of the general population in ‘defending’ the West against Official Enemies.

In a recent interview, aptly titled ‘To Tackle Climate, Our Morality Must Catch Up With Our Intelligence’, Chomsky identified such elite statements as propaganda:

‘Whatever is driving policy, it is not security — at least, security of the population. That is at best a marginal concern. That holds for existential threats as well. We have to look elsewhere.’

Chomsky suggested that to understand why this happens, one could start with ‘the best-established principle of international relations theory’. This dates back to the 18th century and economist Adam Smith’s observation that:

‘the “Masters of Mankind” — in his day the merchants and manufacturers of England — are the “principal architects of [state] policy.” They use their power to ensure that their own interests “are most peculiarly attended to” no matter how “grievous” the effects on others, including the people of England, but most brutally the victims of the “savage injustice of the Europeans.” His [Smith’s] particular target was British savagery in India, then in its early stages, already horrifying enough.’

But in an era of climate breakdown and mass extinction of species, including perhaps our own, surely this principle no longer applies? Chomsky disagrees:

‘Nothing much changes when the crises become existential. Short-term interests prevail. The logic is clear in competitive systems, like unregulated markets. Those who do not play the game are soon out of it. Competition among the “principal architects of policy” in the state system has somewhat similar properties, but we should bear in mind that security of the population is far from a guiding principle, as the record shows all too clearly.’

The historical record also shows that improvements in society are rarely, if ever, bestowed as gifts from above. Power typically only ever makes concessions when it is forced to do so by pressure from below.

Time is running out too rapidly to fundamentally reform society and create a real democracy that people deserve. The immediate priority is to exert insurmountable pressure on existing power structures, not least our own governments, to change course away from climate catastrophe. If we cannot do that, there will be no human civilisation to reform or restructure.

The post “There Is No Way To Fool Physics”: Climate Breakdown And State-Corporate Madness first appeared on Dissident Voice.