Category Archives: greenhouse gas emissions

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.
The post John Kerry’s Global Fix-it Campaign first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Climate Change is Killing Trees

A long time ago in the Milky Way galaxy on a planet named Earth the trees died. It only happened once in the planet’s history. It was during the Permian-Triassic 252 million years ago.

Henk Visscher, PhD, Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University makes a living studying exposed fossil beds of the transitional period of the Permian to Triassic era, aka: “The Great Dying.” Significantly, layers of fossils prior to the great extinction event contain lots of pollen, typical of a healthy conifer forest. But, in the Permo-Triassic boundary the pollen is replaced by strands of fossilized fungi, representing an exploding population of nature’s scavengers feasting on dead trees.

“Visscher and his colleagues have found elevated levels of fungal remains in Permo-Triassic rocks from all over the world. They call it a ‘fungal spike.’ The same rocks yield few tree pollen grains. Visscher’s conclusion: Nearly all the world’s trees died en masse.” 1

A dreaded repeat performance of tree deaths of 252 million years ago may be starting to re-appear. Throughout the world trees are dying en masse. It’s troubling. Scientists are studying this strange phenomenon in the context of a rugged past event of 252 million years ago.

The upshot, scientists figured out in just the past decade, is that many trees in most landscapes, from the hot, rainy Amazon to cold, dry Alberta, are operating at the limits of their hydraulic systems, even under normal conditions, with little safety margin. That means a hot drought can push them over the threshold. The 2002 drought in the Southwest did exactly that: Tree-ring records would later show it was the driest and worst year for growth in a millennium. No other year even came close.  2

From the Amazon to the Arctic, wildfires are getting bigger, hotter, and more frequent as the climate changes… In many places, forests are no longer regenerating. Some of the world’s most significant stands are instead transitioning to something new. Some will never be the same. Others may not come back at all.3

Trees throughout the world are vulnerable to excessive heat. A warmer atmosphere sucks more moisture from plants and soil. During droughts, trees close pores in leaves, called stomata, or shed leaves entirely, which limits CO2 uptake, leaving trees both hungry and parched all at once.

When soil gets dry enough, trees can no longer maintain pressure in the internal conduits that carry water up to their leaves. Air bubbles interrupt the flow, causing fatal embolisms (obstructions).

Even though the planet has 3, 000,000,000,000 (3T) trees and 10,000,000,000 (10B) acres of forests, scientists are increasingly concerned with the quickening pulse of extreme climate events that essentially prevent forest regeneration such as fire, extraordinarily powerful storms, insect infestations, and most notably, severe heat and drought, all unique to today’s climate change environment.

Climate change undercuts trees in various ways, for example, yellow cedars in Alaska are freezing to death because of early snow melt due to global warming. As the trees lose their snow-cover warming blanket, recurring cold snaps kill them by the thousands. At Africa’s Sahel (SW Morocco) heat and drought has killed 20% of the trees. And, according to the most recent IPCC report, 5-out of-8 of the most abundant tree species in America’s West have significantly declined since 2000.

Camille Stevens-Rumann, a forest ecologist at Colorado State University, examined 1,485 sites from 52 fires in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Washington. The number of burned sites that didn’t recover jumped from 19% before 2000 to 32% thereafter. “And by ‘not recovering,’ I mean not a single tree—not one.”3

Craig Allen, a landscape ecologist, has been warning of danger to trees for the past 20 years: “All this awakened Allen to what he now sees as a grave global threat. ‘Seeing the transformation of this landscape that I’d studied my whole adult life … climate change wasn’t theoretical anymore’…  He started tracking the mass mortality events elsewhere. Over the next two decades, heat and drought would kill billions of trees directly and indirectly—in Spain, in South Korea, throughout Australia. In central Siberia, Russia lost two million acres of firs. In Texas in 2011, drought killed more than 300 million trees—one out of every 16 in the state.”3

Tree deaths skyrocketed when the worst drought in 500 years hit central Europe in 2018. Summer temperatures hit nearly 6°F above average. Additionally, from 2018 to 2020 in Germany 750,000 acres of forest died because of excessive heat.

Majestic sequoias in the Far West that have stood the test of time as far back as Julius Caesar’s reign (100-44BC) are under attack. For eons the giants withstood every type of disaster until the Castle fire in August-December 2020 tore through Sequoia National Park, igniting one crown after another. Forest ecologists had never seen anything like it. Up to 14% of large sequoias in the Sierra Nevada were killed or mortally wounded.

Why did the majestic sequoias succumb to a disaster for the first time in centuries? Climate change/global warming was clearly the protagonist. A severe dry spell in the surrounding area had previously killed millions of sugar pines, incense cedars, and white firs in densely packed forests nearby the sequoias where the Castle fire started, which erupted into an inferno like nobody had ever experienced.

A second fire hit a year later in 2021: “The 2021 fires claimed another 3 to 5 percent of large sequoias. Up to 19 percent of these magnificent trees—trees that had weathered everything for a millennium or more—had been lost in just two years.”3

Regarding land temperature impact on tree death, it should be noted, according to James Hansen’s (Earth Institute, Columbia University) “March Temperature Update” as of April 15, 2022: “Note that monthly temperature anomalies on land now commonly exceed +2°C (+3.6°F), with the Arctic anomaly often exceeding +5°C (+9°F).”

Hansen expects 2022 to be substantially warmer than 2021. March 2021 registered 1.3°C warmer than the average for March 1880-1920… “ due to surging growth rates of GHGs (greenhouse gases), etc.”

In that regard, it’s well known that surging growth rates of CO2 and Ch4 are preventable but politically foreordained.

Alert: If monthly temperature anomalies on land (1/3rd of the planet) “commonly exceed +2°C,” as explained by Dr. Hansen, isn’t that the red flashing light danger zone described in IPCC reports, meaning more deadly climate-related disasters come into play much sooner than predicted in climate models?

Yikes!

  1. “The Permian Extinction – When Life Nearly Came to an End”, National Geographic, June 6, 2019.
  2. “The Future of Forests”, National Geographic, April 14, 2022.
  3. Ibid.
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Climate Breakdown

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — IPCC — has issued its direst warning of all-time: “Climate breakdown is accelerating rapidly.” Additionally, they readily admit to overly conservative predictions: “Many impacts will be more severe than originally predicted.” 1

The crowning blow of this heavy-hitting report is a chilling statement: “There is only a narrow chance left of avoiding its worst ravages.”

Moreover, the IPCC claims that even at current levels dangerous widespread disruptions threaten devastation of swathes of the natural world: “Many areas will become unlivable.”

Interestingly enough, the world is fully aware that climate change is on a collision course with life.  At some level people know this. This is true because of media exposure of organized climate marches and protests across the globe for decades now. It’s doubtful that you could find one person that has not heard about global warming and climate change, although almost all chose to ignore the details. Indigenous people live with it on a daily basis. The climate change/global warming story is decades old.

However, what is different now is the emphasis and tone of the IPCC. Clearly, climate scientists are running scared of what the future holds. There’s no more time to waste. The window to do something is rapidly closing.

All of which leads to the conclusion that the warning, as dreadful as it sounds, by one of the most noteworthy institutions in the world, may not be enough to change the course (curse) of climate change soon enough. For example, some things never change, the climate change/global warming issue has been a storyline for far too long, and worn thin, and not taken as seriously as the situation warrants. It is a hackneyed complexity that people easily brush off.

Oh sure, people will talk about it on the radio and comment about how horrible things are, yadda-yadda-yadda (Greta Thunberg effectively used that phrase in reference to all of the ‘hot air’ at climate conferences). And, she was right to couch it that way because greenhouse gases far outpace any kind of mitigation efforts by nation/states. In reality, greenish tokenism is all that’s been accomplished.

According to an International Energy Agency (IEA) Paris July 2021 press release: “Global electricity demand is growing faster than renewables, driving strong increase in generation from fossil fuels… notably coal, threatening to push CO2 emissions from the power sector to record levels in 2022.”

Meanwhile, surging demand has fossil fuels at $100/barrel and headed in that direction well before Russia invaded Ukraine. Spending for oil and gas exploration is on the rise as CO2 rises in tandem, knocking on the door of 420 ppm for the first time in human history, lo and behold, it’s accelerating! Does this mean that nobody is serious enough about mitigating the impact of CO2?

It sure looks that way as the most recent year over year change in CO2 emissions from February 2021 @416.51 ppm to February 2022 @ 419.63 ppm equals +3.12 ppm, or 28% above the last 10-year average.

CO2 growth, or ppm/year data for 60 years from the Keeling Curve demonstrate decadal average annual rates registered at Mauna Loa Observatory (est. 1965) elevation 11.135 feet on the north flank of Mauna Loa Volcano on the Big Island, Hawaii:

Average annual rate of CO2 (ppm) over past 60 years:

Past 12 mos+3.12 (as of February 2022)

2011-2020 + 2.43

2001-2010 + 2.04

1991-2000 + 1.55

1981-1990  + 1.56

1971-1980  + 1.35

1961-1970  + 0.91

Over the past 60 years CO2 has increased every decade, and of even more concern, acceleration has picked up steam since the turn of the 21st century. Recent CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa are at all-time new record highs. Furthermore, today’s rate is 250% above its average annual rate of +0.91 ppm from 50-60 years ago.

As of March 2022, there is no evidence that mitigation efforts have slowed down the rate of increase of CO2 even though scientists and the IPCC have been warning of excessive levels of CO2 in the atmosphere for decades. In fact, Dr. James Hansen (Columbia University, but with NASA at the time) warned the US Senate of threatening greenhouse gases way back in the 1980s, a warning that made NYT headlines.

A perspective on the growth rate of CO2 is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography: “Today’s rate of increase is more that 100 times faster than the increase that occurred when the last ice age ended.”

Which means what? It means urgent mitigation must be employed, or buckle up.

Here’s what 100 times faster looks like, according to Dr. Katey Walter Anthony, Aquatic Ecosystem Ecologist and Professor, Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska/Fairbanks: “It was 14,000 years ago, as the climate warmed, when permafrost thermokarst lakes flared up on the landscape, bringing 4°C warming over a period of 8,000 years.” Nowadays, according to Dr. Anthony, a similar 4°C warming will likely occur over only 80 years, which is 100-times faster than 14,000 years ago. 2

When will 4C happen? Answer: Nobody knows for certain, but Dr. Anthony suggests, unless strong mitigation efforts are taken, this century. Is 4C above pre-industrial a killer, lights out? Indeed, humanity is playing with fire.

Already, the IPCC warning contains a long list of potential horror stories, especially if global temperatures are allowed to exceed 1.5C pre-industrial versus 1.2C today from (1) shortages of food and water owing to climate change, and even at current levels of temperatures, (2) to mass die-offs of species, including die-offs of trees and corals, (3) as key ecosystems, like rainforests, lose carbon sink capacity, becoming sources of carbon emissions directly into the atmosphere in concert with cars, trains, planes, and cows in a powerhouse CO2-fest. Under those circumstances Earth’s innate beauty becomes unrecognizable.

The degree of danger has become so unbearably conclusive to climate scientists that they are letting it all hang out, for example:  “Dave Reay, the director of Edinburgh Climate Change Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘Like taking a wrecking ball to a set of global dominoes, climate change in the 21st century threatens to destroy the foundations of food and water security, smash onwards through the fragile structures of human and ecosystem health, and ultimately shake the very pillars of human civilization,” 3

A feature story in the February 28th edition of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine by Megan Lowry is entitled: “Latest IPCC Report Says Impacts of Climate Change Are Irreversible and Widespread; Urges Efforts to Cut Emissions and Adapt”:

In a statement released today, IPCC chair Hoesung Lee said, ‘This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.

The IPCC’s report also finds that nations are not doing enough to reduce emissions and protect themselves from climate hazards and few countries escape unscathed.

Based upon several unnerving descriptions in the IPCC report, one would expect the world community to convene an emergency all-hands-on-deck meeting with checkbooks in hand to fund a rapid transition to a fossil-free world.

Otherwise, IPCC warnings of destruction of the core sources for life on this planet will materialize and maybe sooner than expected. In the chilling words of the authors of the report: “The assessment report is the sixth since the IPCC was first convened by the UN in 1988, and may be the last to be published while there is still some chance of avoiding the worst.” 4

Repeating that IPCC statement: “… while there is still some chance of avoiding the worst” is a message of foreboding that reverberates across land and sea, all of which, for the first time since humans gathered around fires, depends upon humanity to defend, protect, and husband. Will it happen, soon enough?

Here’s what the failure of countries to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions has wrought. New York Times March 1st headline: “These Climate Scientists Are Fed Up and Ready to Go on Strike”. According to the article: “Evidence on global warming is piling up. Nations aren’t acting. Some researchers are asking what difference more reports will make.”

Climate scientists on strike!

Who can blame the scientists for frustration and anger when record-setting CO2 emissions follow in the footsteps of 26 COPs (Conference of the Parties) and six Assessment Reports, all starting in 1988, and decades of warnings to leaders of the world foretelling what has now become so obvious.

  1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group II Sixth Assessment Report, 2022.
  2. “Thawing Arctic Permafrost-Regional and Global Impacts”, National Academy of Sciences, May 11, 2020.
  3. Ibid.
  4. “IPCC Issues ‘Bleakest Warning Yet’ on Impacts of Climate Breakdown”, The Guardian, February 28, 2022.
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Dangerous Heat Across the Globe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warnings from the Far North

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Museum scientists have studied past periods of climate change:

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

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

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

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.

Saving Our Planet Requires Systemic and Behavioural Change

The natural environment has been poisoned, vandalized and trashed in accordance with the demands and values of the all-pervasive socio-economic system, and as long as it persists it is impossible to imagine the steps required to save the natural world being taken. Economic considerations and short term self-interest will continue to be applied and the devastation will continue.

Neo-liberalism is an extreme form of capitalism, like its founding ideology but darker, even more unjust and brutal. It sees every aspect of life – waterways, forests, the air, people, you name it –  as a potential product to be exploited, profited from, drained of all value and discarded. The “free market” (does such a thing exist, anywhere?), and its power to regulate supply and demand, is a cornerstone, as is competition and private ownership of everything, including health care, education, even prisons. Whatever area, the aim is the same, maximize production, limit costs and generate wealth for the business, most importantly the shareholders, no matter the impact on the environment and society.

A value system and integrated way of life has evolved consistent with the ethos of this poisonous ideology: individual ambition – personal success over group well-being; greed or excess; sensory pleasure; materiality; tribal nationalism (strengthened by competition); distrust of others who are different, and a fabrication of individuality. True individuality is impossible within the constraints of the doctrine which demands conformity, assimilates and dilutes creative expression to the mechanics and trends of the machine, and like all ideologies, moves towards crystallisation, maintains itself supreme and claims there are no viable alternatives.

Societies have been fashioned around these ideals and values, as has individual and collective behavior; behavior resulting from conditioned ways of thinking about ourselves, of other people, of the environment and the purpose of life, which, whilst openly undeclared, is hinted at from the values promoted: Purpose it says is related to pleasure, sensory gratification and material success; all of which are sold as means to achieving self-happiness and self-fulfillment, without ever questioning what this “self” is.

Such self-centred happiness is derived from pleasure and the quelling of desire, which, as the architects of the system know well, is not possible, because desire is insatiable. This fact is instinctively known, but the messaging to the contrary is relentless and for many, most perhaps, the trials of daily living are so great, the separation from oneself and the natural world so acute, that relief is essential. The diverse and endlessly malleable World of Consumerism provides the means of momentary alleviation: Alcohol, drugs, (legal and illegal), sex, shopping, TV, sport, more shopping, holidays, organised religion, shopping and food. And to excess; greed, ownership of things (homes, cars, clothes etc.), and the general accumulation of stuff is insisted upon, for the simple reason that it is consumerism that feeds the monster. This very same consumerism, which is perpetuating unhappiness and fuelling ill health, is also the underlying cause of the environmental emergency.

It is the irresponsible consumption of animal-based foodstuffs and manufactured goods, many of which are made in the Asiatic world (where the West has outsourced its production-based greenhouse gas emissions), that is driving the crisis.

A massive “if”…

Complacency, ignorance and selfishness have been the principal weapons of environmental destruction wielded by western governments, big business and the rich for decades. Adopted now by nations in other parts of the world, the global environmental impact has been devastating, in many cases catastrophic: destroying ecosystems, massacring animal life, poisoning the air and water, draining the soil of all goodness and disrupting natural climate patterns.

In order to stop the carnage and begin to heal the planet, a radical change is needed, not just more pledges and corporate greenwashing; fundamental change in behavior and attitudes that will usher in a kinder, more considerate way of living. The needed values and actions, however, are incompatible with Neo-Liberal capitalism, or any form of capitalism, and the greedy, selfish behavior that it promotes: cruel modes of living fashioned in rich nations, where the most extreme levels of consumerism occur.

It is not after all the villagers in India, China or Sub-Saharan Africa where rabid consumption is taking place, it’s the rich that are overwhelmingly responsible – the obscenely rich in particular; the private jets, numerous homes, cars, constant travel and piles and piles and piles of things. A study by Oxfam, published in 2015, found that, “Fifty percent of the world’s carbon emissions are produced by the world’s richest 10%, while the poorest half – 3.5 billion people – are responsible for a mere 10%.” In the 25-year period studied (1990-2015), global carbon dioxide emissions rose by 60%, and “the increase in emissions from the richest 1% was three times greater than the increase in emissions from the poorest half” of the world’s population, that’s around 3.6 billion people.

Wrapped in selfishness and protected by governments, it is the really rich, and the corporations (which they own) that own everything and are consuming most of everything. This overindulged, hideously wealthy collective, have benefitted enormously from the socio-economic machine and are extremely resistant to the systemic change that is needed if, and at this stage it’s a massive “if”, the natural world and all that lives within it, is to be saved.

The structural limitations (financial, political, social) and behavioral expectations of the Ideology of Greed and Exploitation, prohibit the needed changes taking place within the time frame required, hence the perpetual procrastination, excuses and delays, even as the planet burns. The inherent constraints and relentless demands – to consume, to exploit, to compete, to divide –  run completely contrary to the needs of the environment, and indeed the health of humanity; sacrifice is required, it is not possible to have our materialistic consumer filled cake and eat it; sacrifice of a materialistic way of life that has resulted in divided societies of unhappy anxious people and the destruction of the natural world.

Last year, as with each year during the previous decade, global greenhouse gas emissions were the highest ever recorded; this, despite an economic quietening resulting from Covid restrictions and high levels of awareness of the environmental emergency throughout the world. As COP26 draws to an unimpressive close, governments haggle over emission targets, funding of fossil fuels and money for the global south, and a new poll reports that most people  (in the 10 countries polled, including UK, US, Germany, France) say they are unwilling to alter their way of life to save our planet. We must once again ask, what will it take for humanity to wake up and change?

For the environmental emergency to be faced with the intensity needed, and healing to occur, a dramatic shift is required. A systemic shift, together with a fundamental change in attitudes, values and behavior, particularly among those living in the rich nations. A shift away from complacency and selfishness towards responsibility, cooperation and simplicity of living; united action rooted in love, as Elizabeth Wathuti (youth climate activist,) from Kenya told COP26 in her wonderful speech,“please  open your hearts….care deeply and act collectively.”

The post Saving Our Planet Requires Systemic and Behavioural Change first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Existential Threat of Global Heating

Once again, the hopes of billions have been raised, only to be dashed, this time by the cruel joke of COP26, the reality being that “By 2030, governments are planning to extract 110% more fossil fuels than their Paris Agreement pledge to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would permit”.

Misrepresentations abound:

  • The United Nations upper global temperature target of 1.5°C takes no account of the fact that, without the transient short-lived aerosols effect of over 0.5 to 1.0 Watt/m⁻², the mean global heating is nearing ~2.0°C.
  • It is the cumulative concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which controls temperatures, triggering feedbacks from land and oceans, and which has reached a high level of combined CO₂+CH₄+N₂O of >500 ppm CO₂-equivalent. Only sequestration / drawdown from this level may be able to lower terrestrial temperatures.
  • Polar temperature changes are critical: The Arctic temperature anomaly reached 3°C above 1981-2010 in 2016 and the increasing similarity between polar and northern latitude temperatures leads to weakening of the jet stream boundary effect, allowing cold and warm air masses to cross the boundary.
  • The tropical climate zone is expanding and Mediterranean climate zone, where much of the world’s crops are grown, is shrinking and shifting toward the poles.
  • As the polar ice sheets are melting sea levels are rising, initially on the scale of inches and subsequently toward as equilibrium with Pliocene-like temperatures equivalent to a sea level rise of ~25 meters, flooding extensive coastal zones and delta where billions live and grow food.

The development of hydrocarbon reserves is proceeding unabated (Figures 1 and 2). Since the Paris agreement in 2015, the world’s 60 largest banks have poured $3.8 trillion into fossil fuel companies. In the US, auctioning has begun of drilling rights in Alaskan waters and the Gulf of Mexico. In the UK, whose PM is talking about one minute to midnight, 113 new licenses are offered to explore offshore reserves. Germany is developing new coal deposits. Australia, accounting for about 29% of traded coal globally in 2016, has become the world’s largest coal exporter and near-largest natural gas (LNG) exporter, currently representing around 3.6% of global emissions.

Huge LNG projects were planned in 2020 in Alaska ($43 billion), Mozambique ($33 billion), Kuwait ($16 billion), Nigeria ($11 billion), Australia ($11 billion), Russia ($10.8 billion, pipeline), Louisiana ($10.8 billion), Greece ($5.5 billion, pipeline) and elsewhere. According to NES FIRCROFT “In terms of new projects, however, the outlook is wide open. According to sector research firm Rystad Energy, around 250 new Oil & Gas projects are likely to be sanctioned for development in 2020 – up from 160 in 2016. The number of floating production, storage and offloading vessels (FPSOs) is due to increase with as many as 28 currently on order or under construction, while around 4,000 km of subsea oil and gas flowlines are due for installation this year.

In India forecasts for 2024-2025 include utilization of energy supplies of 50% coal, 25% oil, 20% gas, 3% nuclear and 2% hydro.

Figure 1. EIA projects nearly 50% increase in world energy use by 2050, with no decline in fossil fuel

2014 analysis by Katherine Keil concluded that fossil fuels like they exist in the Arctic are expected to continue supplying much of the energy used worldwide.

Given that future emissions and temperatures may exceed what current policies would lead to (Figure 2. below), growth in the use of fossil fuels combined with the lack of effective methods of reducing the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can only have catastrophic consequences. This means that unless civilization moves to a war-like footing, such as in pre-world war II, in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors and to sequester greenhouse gas levels, large parts of the Earth may become uninhabitable.

So much for the term “security” repeated through corporate reports.

Figure 2. Climate Action Tracker Thermometer (Nov. 2021 update)

It is the children, led by an 18 years-old girl, who appear to have the perspective on what will determine the future of humanity and nature.

The post The Existential Threat of Global Heating first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“A Crime Against Humanity”: The “Greenwash Festival” Of COP26

One of the most damning assessments of COP26, the UN climate conference being held in Glasgow, came from Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist:

‘#COP26  has been named the must excluding COP ever.
This is no longer a climate conference.
This is a Global North greenwash festival.
A two week celebration of business as usual and blah blah blah.’

And, indeed, if you scour news reports from COP26 they yield a familiar litany of political rhetoric and weasel words: vows, pledges, promises, commitments, sign up, phase out, green investment, innovation, transition, progress, scaling up, carbon credits, bending the emissions curve, net zero, 2050, 2070.

To quote from King Crimson’s  ‘Elephant Talk‘:

‘Arguments, agreements… articulate announcements…Brouhaha, balderdash, ballyhoo…It’s only talk…cheap talk…double talk.’

Juice Media, the campaign group who ‘make honest Government ads’, exposed the dangerous and misleading nonsense behind ‘Net Zero by 2050’:

‘There’s a huge gap between our promises and where we need to be. We don’t talk about that gap coz that would entail a complex process called “Being Honest”. Being Honest would mean admitting that we’re failing. And we can’t do that coz then we’d have to stop failing. That would mean ending fossil-fuel subsidies and banning all new gas, coal and oil projects.’

The satirical government ad continued:

‘So being honest isn’t an option for us. Which is why we’ve come up with the next best alternative: Net Zero by 2050…which risks setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond our control.’

Nature, the leading science journal, reported last week that top climate scientists – co-authors of a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – are sceptical that nations will rein in global warming. Moreover:

‘Six in ten of the respondents [climate scientists] said that they expect the world to warm by at least 3 °C by the end of the century, compared with what conditions were like before the Industrial Revolution. That is far beyond the Paris agreement’s goal to limit warming to 1.5-2 °C.’

The news report added:

‘Most of the survey’s respondents – 88% – said they think global warming constitutes a “crisis”, and nearly as many said they expect to see catastrophic impacts of climate change in their lifetimes. Just under half said that global warming has caused them to reconsider major life decisions, such as where to live and whether to have children. More than 60% said that they experience anxiety, grief or other distress because of concerns over climate change.’

‘An Orchestrated PR Scam’

A powerful thread on Twitter by conservationist Stephen Barlow echoed our own experiences and insights from observing climate conferences over three decades:

‘I’m starting to get the impression of COP26 as a contrived stitch up. Where world leaders get to present their inadequate action as fixing the problem. This really is dangerous stuff. You see I remember the 1992 Rio Earth Summit well.’

Barlow expanded:

‘After the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, political leaders, fossil fuel companies and general vested interest gave the impression the problem was fixed, that there was no need for people to turn to green politics, because mainstream politics had fixed the problem.

‘In the following years, in the 1990s, we had oil companies taking out big full page adverts in BBC Wildlife Magazine, National Geographic, etc, saying how they were switching their business model to renewables.

‘Politicians presented all these rosy views of green growth, all sorts of carbon trading schemes and generally giving off the impression that the problem was fixed, and the future was green.’

He rightly concluded:

‘The problem is, unlike the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, where it took nearly 30 years to find out everything we were promised was a scam and it just kept on getting worse – in 30 years time (in fact far less) we are going to be in serious trouble.

‘This is as evil as it gets. This is an orchestrated PR scam to carry on with business as usual. Where various elements like politicians, the mainstream media, billionaires, royalty and vested interests, combine to maintain business as usual, with fraudulent presentation.’

Investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed, who has repeatedly exposed the reality of UK foreign policy, recently reported that the British government is seeking trade deals with carbon-lobbying countries who have attempted to weaken a scientific assessment report being prepared by the IPCC. The countries include Saudi Arabia and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Norway and India. Indeed, the UK is actively seeking to promote increased fossil fuel production in nearly all those countries, including Saudi Arabia – the world’s second largest oil producer.

Ahmed noted that last month, on the eve of COP26, foreign secretary Liz Truss flew to Saudi Arabia and Qatar to explore a potential trade deal with the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

He added:

According to the UK Department for International Trade’s Exporting Guide to Saudi Arabia, some of the biggest opportunities for UK investment are in expanding the kingdom’s fossil fuel sector.’

The export guide proudly states:

‘There are significant opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s energy market for UK businesses, especially in oil and natural gas.’

Ahmed continued:

‘Increasing the kingdom’s natural gas production is a particularly lucrative area for UK industry. The DIT notes that Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s giant oil producer, is exploiting natural gas reserves off the Red Sea coast to support increased domestic demand, which will involve using deep water technologies for drilling below 1,000 metres.’

He summed up:

‘Britain’s intent to ramp up fossil fuel production in partnership with some of the world’s biggest obstructers of climate action raises urgent questions about its role at COP26.’

That is an understatement. Then again, who believes that a corrupt Tory government – led by a shambling, elitist, racist, serial twister of the truth – would ever actually take the serious actions required to tackle the climate emergency?

‘Systematically Corrupted By Vested Interests’

The climate campaign group Insulate Britain, who have blockaded several roads in multiple actions in recent weeks, said:

‘As will become clear after COP26, our government has no intention of taking the necessary action to protect its people. It has broken the social contract – the unwritten agreement in which we agree to obey the government’s laws and in return it will protect us.’

In particular, Insulate Britain:

‘have exposed the government’s refusal to act on home insulation as cowardly and vindictive and their refusal to protect our country and our children from the climate crisis as genocidal and treasonous.’

Those are strong words. But climate campaigners from Extinction Rebellion (XR) also made clear that:

‘Nothing on the table in the run up to COP26 has resembled a compassionate and functional response to the crisis. The Climate and Ecological Emergency is a Crime Against Humanity perpetrated by the rich and powerful, and the COP process is systematically corrupted by vested interests – national, corporate and financial.’

The environmentalist group Global Witness assessed that there are more fossil fuel lobbyists present at COP26 than even the largest delegation from any country. They reported:

‘At least 503 fossil fuel lobbyists, affiliated with some of the world’s biggest polluting oil and gas giants, have been granted access to COP26, flooding the Glasgow conference with corporate influence.’

Moreover, reported Global Witness:

  • If the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation at COP it would be the largest with 503 delegates – two dozen more than the largest country delegation [Brazil].
  • Over 100 fossil fuel companies are represented at COP with 30 trade associations and membership organisations also present.
  • Fossil fuel lobbyists dwarf the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s official indigenous constituency by around two to one.
  • The fossil fuel lobby at COP is larger than the combined total of the eight delegations from the countries worst affected by climate change in the last two decades – Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Mozambique, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Pakistan.
  • 27 official country delegations registered fossil fuel lobbyists, including Canada, Russia and Brazil.

On day 1 of the conference, XR had already declared that COP26 was a ‘failure’ and the conference itself ‘a crime against humanity’. XR spokesperson Jon Fuller pointed out the responsibility of the media to:

‘form an analysis of the situation, delving beyond presenting the views of different parties to the reality of what has been achieved and what the consequences are for ordinary people. If they fail to do so they continue to be guilty of the same crimes against humanity as the world leaders who have gathered at 25 previous COPs, claiming progress in spite of a complete failure to stop emissions rising.’

Of course, as Media Lens has demonstrated over the past two decades, the state-corporate media, including BBC News, are indeed complicit in crimes against humanity.

Last year, the BBC took £300,000 in advertising revenue from Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, Aramco. The BBC does not carry advertising in the UK, but it does so abroad where much of its output is supported by commercials.

Jim Waterson, the Guardian’s media editor, reported that:

‘Big fossil fuel companies have spent approximately $660,000 (£483,000) with the BBC on US-focused digital adverts since 2018, according to projections produced by the advertising data firm MediaRadar. Most of this came from the national Saudi oil company – although BP, Exelon and Phillips 66 are among the other fossil fuel business[es] estimated to have spent five-figure sums advertising on the BBC’s digital outlets.’

He added:

‘The real figure for how much the BBC is making from large fossil fuel companies could be much higher when other forms of advertising are taken into account.’

Meanwhile, BBC News programmes and high-profile BBC journalists continue to channel government propaganda on climate, with minimal scrutiny or genuinely countervailing voices. An extended appearance by Greta Thunberg on the Sunday morning Andrew Marr show on 31 October was a rare exception.

More typical was Laura Kuenssberg’s relentless tweeting of government talking points:

‘PM says score in the match btw humanity and climate change is now, 5-2, or 5-3, not 5-1 at half time, which was his assessment a few days ago – if you hate the metaphor, let’s say, progress, but not yet enough’

This tweet from the BBC political editor managed to capture both:

1. the pathetic state of the ‘democracy‘ that ‘elected’ Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

2. the crass, subservient nature of much of BBC News.

As US journalist Glenn Greenwald once observed:

‘The worst media in the democratic world is the British media, and it’s not even close.

‘I know it’s hard for people in other countries who hate their own media to believe, but whatever you hate about your country’s media, the UK media has in abundance and worse.’

The pathetic state of much of what passes for ‘journalism’ in the UK was summed up by investigative journalist Matt Kennard’s recent observation:

‘The British Journalism Awards [are] sponsored by Starling Bank, Gilead pharma, Google, Ovo Energy. The capture of our political, media and cultural systems by corporations is absolute and the root of problem. Rejecting + replacing corporate media is prerequisite to real democracy.’

And real democracy is a prerequisite for tackling the climate emergency before it threatens to engulf humanity, driving us towards extinction.

The post “A Crime Against Humanity”: The “Greenwash Festival” Of COP26 first appeared on Dissident Voice.

U.S. Militarism’s Toxic Impact on Climate Policy

LONDON, ENGLAND: Protesters hold signs at the YouthStrike4Climate student march on April 12, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. Students are protesting across the UK due to the lack of government action to combat climate change. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

President Biden addressed the UN General Assembly on September 21 with a warning that the climate crisis is fast approaching a “point of no return,” and a promise that the United States would rally the world to action. “We will lead not just with the example of our power but, God willing, with the power of our example,” he said.

But the U.S. is not a leader when it comes to saving our planet. Yahoo News recently published a report titled “Why the U.S. Lags Behind Europe on Climate Goals by 10 or 15 years.”  The article was a rare acknowledgment in the U.S. corporate media that the United States has not only failed to lead the world on the climate crisis, but has actually been the main culprit blocking timely collective action to head off a global existential crisis.

The anniversary of September 11th and the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan should be ringing alarm bells inside the head of every American, warning us that we have allowed our government to spend trillions of dollars waging war, chasing shadows, selling arms and fueling conflict all over the world, while ignoring real existential dangers to our civilization and all of humanity.

The world’s youth are dismayed by their parents’ failures to tackle the climate crisis.  A new survey of 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 in ten countries around the world found that many of them think humanity is doomed and that they have no future.

Three-quarters of the young people surveyed said they are afraid of what the future will bring, and 40% say the crisis makes them hesitant to have children. They are also frightened, confused and angered by the failure of governments to respond to the crisis. As the BBC reported, “They feel betrayed, ignored and abandoned by politicians and adults.”

Young people in the U.S. have even more reason to feel betrayed than their European counterparts. America lags far behind Europe on renewable energy. European countries started fulfilling their climate commitments under the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s and now get 40% of their electricity from renewable sources, while renewables provide only 20% of electric power in America.

Since 1990, the baseline year for emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol, Europe has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 24%, while the United States has failed to cut them at all, spewing out 2% more than it did in 1990. In 2019, before the Covid pandemic, the United States produced more oil and more natural gas than ever before in its history.

NATO, our politicians and the corporate media on both sides of the Atlantic promote the idea that the United States and Europe share a common “Western” culture and values. But our very different lifestyles, priorities and responses to this climate crisis tell a tale of two very different, even divergent economic and political systems.

The idea that human activity is responsible for climate change was understood decades ago and is not controversial in Europe. But in America, politicians and news media have blindly or cynically parroted fraudulent, self-serving disinformation campaigns by ExxonMobil and other vested interests.

While the Democrats have been better at “listening to the scientists,” let’s not forget that, while Europe was replacing fossil fuels and nuclear plants with renewable energy, the Obama administration was unleashing a fracking boom to switch from coal-fired power plants to new plants running on fracked gas.

Why is the U.S. so far behind Europe when it comes to addressing global warming? Why do only 60% of Europeans own cars, compared with 90% of Americans? And why does each U.S. car owner clock double the mileage that European drivers do? Why does the United States not have modern, energy-efficient, widely-accessible public transportation, as Europe does?

We can ask similar questions about other stark differences between the United States and Europe. On poverty, inequality, healthcare, education and social insurance, why is the United States an outlier from what are considered societal norms in other wealthy countries?

One answer is the enormous amount of money the U.S spends on militarism. Since 2001, the United States has allocated $15 trillion (in FY2022 dollars) to its military budget, outspending its 20 closest military competitors combined.

The U.S. spends far more of its GDP (the total value of goods produced and services) on the military than any of the other 29 Nato countries—3.7% in 2020 compared to 1.77%. And while the U.S. has been putting intense pressure on NATO countries to spend at least 2% of their GDP on their militaries, only ten of them have done so. Unlike in the U.S., the military establishment in Europe has to contend with significant opposition from liberal politicians and a more educated and mobilized public.

From the lack of universal healthcare to levels of child poverty that would be unacceptable in other wealthy countries, our government’s under-investment in everything else is the inevitable result of these skewed priorities, which leave America struggling to get by on what is left over after the U.S. military bureaucracy has raked off the lion’s share – or should we say the “generals’ share”? – of the available resources.

Federal infrastructure and “social” spending in 2021 amount to only about 30% of the money spent on militarism. The infrastructure package that Congress is debating is desperately needed, but the $3.5 trillion is spread over 10 years and is not enough.

On climate change, the infrastructure bill includes only $10 billion per year for conversion to green energy, an important but small step that will not reverse our current course toward a catastrophic future. Investments in a Green New Deal must be bookended by corresponding reductions in the military budget if we are to correct our government’s perverted and destructive priorities in any lasting way. This means standing up to the weapons industry and military contractors, which the Biden administration has so far failed to do.

The reality of America’s 20-year arms race with itself makes complete nonsense of the administration’s claims that the recent arms build-up by China now requires the U.S. to spend even more. China spends only a third of what the U.S. spends, and what is driving China’s increased military spending is its need to defend itself against the ever-growing U.S. war machine that has been “pivoting” to the waters, skies and islands surrounding its shores since the Obama administration.

Biden told the UN General Assembly that “..as we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.” But his exclusive new military alliance with the U.K. and Australia, and his request for a further increase in military spending to escalate a dangerous arms race with China that the United States started in the first place, reveal just how far Biden has to go to live up to his own rhetoric, on diplomacy as well as on climate change.

The United States must go to the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November ready to sign on to the kind of radical steps that the UN and less developed countries are calling for. It must make a real commitment to leaving fossil fuels in the ground; quickly convert to a net-zero renewable energy economy; and help developing countries to do the same. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, the summit in Glasgow “must be the turning point” in the climate crisis.

That will require the United States to seriously reduce the military budget and commit to peaceful, practical diplomacy with China and Russia. Genuinely moving on from our self-inflicted military failures and the militarism that led to them would free up the U.S. to enact programs that address the real existential crisis our planet faces – a crisis against which warships, bombs and missiles are worse than useless.

The post U.S. Militarism’s Toxic Impact on Climate Policy first appeared on Dissident Voice.