Category Archives: Oceans/Seas

Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Destructive Lifestyles

Throughout the world heat waves, flooding and uncontrollable wildfires have caused widespread havoc, lives have been lost, homes destroyed, livelihoods ruined.

Unprecedented levels of heat have been recorded in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. According to The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) record cold May temperatures were registered in “northeastern Canada and the northern Atlantic Ocean, off the southern coast of Greenland.” Global temperatures for the first five months of the year were the highest on record for a La Niña year; higher temperatures, “lead to more frequent and long-lasting heat waves causing adverse environmental impacts.”

These extreme weather patterns are the ferocious signs and sights of climate change in 2018, and, because so little is being done to tackle the causes, year on year they become more and more intense. Planet Earth is becoming a world in which the extreme becomes the expected, the disastrous the everyday.

How bad must it get?

The year began with the coldest first week of January on record for numerous cities in eastern America; freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall swept across Europe in March as the “Beast From the East” hit. Britain was severely affected, with up to three feet of snow in some areas and temperatures down to minus 10ºC.

Floods have affected East Africa killing dozens of people, tropical cyclones hit Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen and Oman, dust storms killed hundreds in India, and Pakistan had an intense heat wave with temperatures exceeding 40ºC. Heavy rains and 70 mph winds in Bangladesh caused landslides, deaths and injuries. California had the largest wild fires ever recorded, and down under, Australia is becoming the ‘Land of Drought’ according to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

A heat wave of unprecedented temperatures scorched Europe and Japan, where 40ºC (104ºF) temperatures were recorded, 30 people died and thousands needed medical treatment for heat related conditions. A month earlier Japan had some of the worst floods in its history, more than 200 people lost their lives and almost 2 million people were evacuated; the Caribbean is bracing itself for this year’s hurricane season, while “still recovering from last year’s devastation,” which, the UNFCC say, was “the costliest on record”.

The list of extreme weather events across the word is endless; extremes that are increasingly normal as the impact of man-made climate change become more and more apparent, and yet little is being done to address the primary causes. How bad does it have to become before substantive action is taken to reverse the terrible damage we are doing to the natural world?

The mechanics of climate change

Climate change is being triggered by global warming; Global warming, described by NASA as “the unusually rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature…primarily due to the greenhouse gases released as people burn fossil fuels” occurs, “when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.” This happens when so-called greenhouse gases (Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O), being the three main culprits) clog the lower levels of Earth’s atmosphere. This leads to a range of effects: The planet overall becomes warmer (average ground temperature rises), causing “extreme weather events and other severe natural and societal impacts” to become more frequent; glaciers in the Arctic region melt sending huge quantities of water into the ocean, which raises the sea level, oceans are made warmer and expand, further contributing to rising levels. As the sea level rises land is flooded, cities, towns and villages are threatened, lives lost, homes destroyed, communities ripped apart, people displaced.

Man-made greenhouse gases (GGE) are produced by a range of sectors and activities: Animal agriculture produces the largest amount (18% of the total according to the UN, other sources put the figure much higher), followed by electricity and heat production, transportation and industry – all through burning fossil fuels – oil, coal and gas. GGEs have been increasing since the industrial revolution, leading to a rise in global ground temperatures, which to date has reached about 1ºC above pre-industrial levels. Temperatures continue to increase at around 0.17ºC per decade.

One degree doesn’t sound like much but, as the extreme weather events show, the effect of this modest rise on the climate is huge, the consequences far reaching, potentially catastrophic.

In 2015 the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was reached and signed by every country in the world; under President Trump America has since pulled out. Hailed as historic, its central aim is to keep global rises in temperature “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” Even if these rather optimistic targets are met, a recent study by an international team of scientists writing in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests, “there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.” The BBC report that the group believe 2ºC of warming “could turn some of the Earth’s natural forces [forests, oceans and land] – that currently protect us – into our enemies…As the world experiences warming, these carbon sinks could become sources of carbon and make the problems of climate change significantly worse.”

If this occurs they forecast the climate stabilizing at “a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today.” This would mean that some parts of the Earth would become uninhabitable. In order to avoid this nightmare scenario the authors make clear that “a total re-orientation of human values, equity, behavior and technologies is required. We must all become stewards of the Earth.” This requires a major shift in human attitudes.

Unhealthy destructive lifestyle

Climate Change and the environmental disaster in its various colors is the result of human activity and complacency; we have poisoned the oceans, rivers and streams, cleared 85% of the world’s tropical rainforests, mainly for livestock, and are turning healthy land into desert; we are filling the air we breathe with toxins, creating dead zones in the oceans and causing the eradication of species at an unprecedented rate. Collectively we seem to have no respect or love for the natural environment and whilst some people are acting responsibly, the majority fails to see the connection between lifestyle and disaster and appear content to treat the planet like a giant rubbish tip.

The natural order has been thrown into disarray by the widespread adoption of a selfish, destructive way of life: A particular lifestyle, or collection of related ‘lifestyle choices’, are responsible for the production of man-made greenhouse gases that are triggering the extreme weather patterns we are seeing all around the world.

Hedonism and consumerism sit at the heart of the unhealthy mode of living that is driving the catastrophe and making us ill; mankind’s relentless consumption of stuff, the vast majority of which is not needed, combined with an animal-based diet (common to 97% of the global population), has created a cocktail of chaos within the natural world, bringing about the greatest crisis in the history of mankind. It is a materialistic lifestyle that the global economy, and by extension the corporate state depends on and ceaselessly promotes. This is why, despite the intense urgency of the environmental issue, we hear little on mainstream media and virtually nothing from governments, who are more concerned with economic growth and petty domestic politics than the stability and health of the planet.

The harmony of the natural world has been thrown into chaos by the same approach to life that has separated us one from another, and fuelled internal conflict resulting in a global mental health epidemic. In all areas, where there should be unity and right relationship we see enmity, discord and disease. Restoring the planet to health and creating a world in which human beings can live healthy peaceful lives are inextricably linked. Both require a fundamental change in values, a shift away from divisive modes of living built on competition and greed to inclusive ways in which social/environmental responsibility is cultivated and embraced.

Such ideas are not new and are frequently championed, but the prevailing socio-economic ideology actively works to suppress such principles, and powerfully promotes values of division and selfishness. Despite this widespread conditioning, an unstoppable current of change can be seen sweeping the world; social responsibility is growing apace, and perennial values of goodness – cooperation, tolerance and sharing – are increasingly influencing the minds of men and women everywhere.

To galvanize this global movement a major public education program should be undertaken by governments and schools to increase awareness of climate change and lifestyle and create a sense of urgency and engagement. Change can be slow, but these are extraordinary times, and there is a growing recognition that if we unite all things are possible. If not, if we continue in the selfish, greedy, divisive ways of the past, the weather patterns will become more extreme and unpredictable, the air and waterways will become more toxic, loss of life will increase and the associated environmental ills will deepen. The choice is ours.

Hothouse Earth

An interesting new study:1 lays out the pathway for Earth entering a Hothouse Climate State.

Our planet is still in danger of becoming a ‘Hothouse’ Earth despite our current efforts to manage global warming.

Counter-intuitively, that sounds like a breath of fresh air, meaning, get the bad news out of the way ahead of time so people can brace for it, no surprises. Assuming the Hothouse Planet happens, certain areas would be uninhabitable as global temps crank up to 4C-to-5C beyond pre-industrial. The planet would be gnarled and unattractive, a nasty place to live, no more Goldilocks climate. And, all kinds of warfare would breakout as mobs vie for tillable land.

The article’s general thesis is that, as of today, the planet retains its Goldilocks “not too hot, not too cold” swagger because of a series of natural mechanisms that “maintain a balance,” for example, carbon sinks, like the ocean or like the Amazon Rain Forest keep the balance in place. In fact, the study identifies ten tipping elements that maintain a balance for the planet, any one of which, once out of whack, would cascade into all the others, bringing on the onset of a hothouse planet.

Assuming the world exceeds the 2C pre-industrial marker set by the Paris Agreement, the study envisions a dangerous out of control spiral downwards, as planetary mechanisms crash in domino fashion, resulting in a planetary climate hothouse. Maybe that’s what happened to Venus (865F, CO2 950,000 ppm) millennia ago.

According to the PNAS article, hothouse prevention is reducing carbon emissions ASAP with countries working together towards a common goal, including decarbonization, enhancement of carbon sinks, blah-blah-blah. Stop right there! The U.S. is already out of the “deal” and furthermore it’s a pipe dream to assume countries will come together globally to save the planet. Since the dawn of civilization, tribes, then empires, then nation/states have been fighting like cats and dogs locked together in a crowded teeny-weeny room.

Here’s the issue as outlined by the study: It only takes one of the mechanisms to break down and topple all of the others. Ipso facto, that presents a problem today. The “tipping elements,” of which there are ten, include: (1) thawing permafrost (2) loss of coral reefs (3) loss of Arctic summer sea ice. Those three mechanisms alone, according to some pretty smart scientists, are already goners, or very, very close to goners.

What if the “tipping elements” mentioned in the study have already “tipped” or tip way ahead of plan? Then what happens, as the world grinds away towards reduction of carbon emissions whilst on the pathway to 2C? After all, scientific models have been pretty shabby now for decades, missing nasty climate events by a country mile. Time and again, the science is behind the climatic events, not ahead, not by a long shot.

Therefore, the Planet Hothouse study poses an interesting supposition: What if climate scientists have been way too optimistic, too sanguine, too upbeat and not scaring people nearly enough?

In point of fact, there’s a strong rationale for questioning the validity of climate models. For example, frequently scientists say how “surprised” they are at “how much faster things are happening than models predicted.” This happens way too often to find comfort in science models.

After several years of repeatedly hearing apologetic scientists claim the climate system is not following their models, meaning, bad stuff is happening much faster than models predicted, it becomes increasingly obvious that climate change could be closer to an out of control beast than anybody realizes. After all, the track record is all about “surprised scientists.”

The “science is late to the party” phenomena is not necessarily the fault of scientists as climate change (crisis) is on an unprecedented pathway, not following any playbooks. Come to find out, there’s no script, only models.

For example, when questioned about collapsing ice in West Antarctica, Adrian Jenkins, glaciologist, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge said: “It was just beyond our concept that a glacier would melt that fast.”

Really! “Beyond our concept that a glacier would melt that fast!”

Helen Amanda Fricker, glaciologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and her team found that from 1994 to 2012, the amount of ice disappearing from all Antarctic ice shelves, not just the ones in the Amundsen Sea, increased 12-fold, from six cubic miles to 74 cubic miles per year. That was six years ago; it’s only gotten worse. Increased 12-fold… you’ve gotta be kidding…. that’s like comparing the performance of the Wright brothers to the Apollo moon landing!

“I think it’s time for us scientists to stop being so cautious about communicating the risks.” (Helen Amanda Fricker) Oh, finally, reality hits home!

The “Mass Balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017,”2 shows the rate of ice loss from West Antarctica increasing from 53B to 159B tonnes per year. Nobody came close to predicting that in 1992, in 2002, or in 2012. No models said that would happen at that rate.

In fact, similar to the stock market, West Antarctic ice loss is in a bull market that just won’t quit, exceeding all expectations, blowing away all predictions.  Not only, but two recent studies found Antarctic melt, similar to the stock market, at a “record-breaking rate.” Therefore, warning that sea level rises could have catastrophic consequences for cities. Duh!

Consider: Antarctic ice loss has accelerated threefold in the last five years; that’s a faster rate than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which increased from 15,000 to 25,000 over the past five years or a powerhouse 67% in a raging bull market. Still, stocks look like wimps compared to Antarctica’s 5xs faster rate of ice loss. Curiously, and maybe not so coincidentally, the faster stock markets rise, the faster ice melts.

Greenland’s surface melt doubled from 1992-2011. According to Isabella Velicogna, University of California:

Nobody expected the ice sheet to lose so much mass so quickly… Things are happening a lot faster than we expected.

“Happening a lot faster than we expected” has become the motto of climate science. “Nobody expected it to lose mass so quickly.” These expressions, or rather exasperation retorts, are indicative of a climate crisis that is rapidly galloping ahead of the science.

Maybe the Hothouse Earth study in PNAS is on-track but too late to the party.

Which begs the million-dollar question: What if 2C hits much sooner than the models expect?

Then what?

The answer is straightforward: The world turns into a hellhole much faster than the models predicted.

  1. “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene,” Will Steffen, Johan Rockström et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), August 6, 2018.
  2. Nature, 219-222 (2018).

Strategy and Conscience: Subverting Elite Power So We End Human Violence

Given the overwhelming evidence that activist efforts are failing to halt the accelerating rush to extinction precipitated and maintained by dysfunctional human behavior, it is worth reflecting on why this is happening.

Of course, you might say that the rush to extinction is being slowed. But is it? Even according to BP’s chief economist:

Despite the extraordinary growth in renewables in recent years, and the huge policy efforts to encourage a shift away from coal into cleaner, lower carbon fuels, there has been almost no improvement in the power sector fuel mix over the past 20 years. The share of coal in the power sector in 1998 was 38% – exactly the same as in 2017…. this is one area where at the global level we haven’t even taken one step forward, we have stood still: perfectly still for the past 20 years.

And, to choose another measure that highlights our lack of “progress”: species extinctions proceed at a rate of 200 each day, which is vastly greater than the long-term background rate, with another 26,000 species already identified as “under threat“.

But it wouldn’t matter what measure you analyzed – efforts to prevent cataclysmic nuclear war, to halt the many ongoing wars, to contain and reverse the prevalent and grotesque economic exploitation, to end slavery or the sex trafficking of women and children, to halt or even slow the rampant destruction of the biosphere, including the rainforests and oceans – we are rapidly losing ground (and often despite some apparent gains such as adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by many non-nuclear states on 7 July 2017).

Not only are we destroying the rainforests – currently at the rate of 80,000 acres each day  – and oceans, as a fellow long-standing nonviolent activist, Kelvin Davies, recently observed to me: the oceans and remaining rainforests are ‘being emptied of life’ as impoverished people, forced to the economic margin, hunt remaining wildlife, including tropical fish, for food and/or trafficking.

Before we blame impoverished people for their destruction, however, it is the consumption by those of us in industrialized countries that is generating the adverse circumstances in which they are forced to survive. For one simple example of this, related to our diet alone, see “Emissions impossible: How big meat and dairy are heating up the planet.”

Of course, you might object that it is not activist efforts that are responsible for the failure to halt elite violence and our complicity in it. It is the failure of corporatized society to seriously consider and respond intelligently to the scientific and other evidence in relation to all of the violence in its many manifestations. However, any explanation of this nature fails to understand and appreciate why progressive change has always occurred in the past.

Social progress is the result of people of conscience strategically challenging elite power in such a way that new norms become so widely accepted that elites are compelled to work within them. This has always been essential for the simple reason that elites are insane and have never acted sensibly, whatever the issue. Elites have only ever orchestrated events to maximize their own power, profit and privilege whatever the cost to the rest of us and the Earth itself. Hence, violence, war, grotesque economic exploitation and ecological destruction are rampant across the planet; that is the way elites want it; that is what maximizes elite power, profit and privilege.

As an aside: if you aren’t convinced that the global elite is insane, then perhaps you might ponder the possible implications of the recent call by US President Donald Trump, for the creation of a new Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. military – ‘We must have American dominance in space’ – in violation of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

While this enterprise, if it gets Congressional approval, would be staggeringly profitable to the global elite while further gutting social and environmental programs to pay for it, the proposal also raises the possibility, as Professor Karl Grossman graphically expressed it (given that there is no way to have the envisaged weapons in space without nuclear power) that “the heavens are going to be littered with radioactive debris”  for millennia (but in substantially greater amounts than is already there).

Of course, if you want even more evidence of elite insanity, then look no further than the current hysteria generated by Donald Trump’s supposed “treason” for having a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki with the intention of improving mutual understanding and the prospects of peace between the two countries.

Some informed and thoughtful analysts believe this could lead to an elite coup to remove Trump from the US presidency.

So, to consolidate the information presented above, let me encapsulate the nature of geopolitics in one paragraph:

The military forces of the United States are not intended to defend the United States against military attack. The military forces of the countries in NATO are not intended to defend the respective member countries against military attack. The military forces of the United States and NATO are controlled by the global elite and used by the global elite to aggressively attack, in violation of all relevant national and international laws, any country that seeks independent control and development of its resources, particularly fossil fuels, strategic minerals and water. The global elite, which is in total control of the global economy and world affairs generally, does this in order to expand its own power, profit and privilege. It does this no matter what the cost to any individual (outside the elite), people, country and the biosphere. Why does the global elite do all of this? The global elite does this because it is completely insane.

Hence, to return to my point about the driver of social progress historically: Did the trans-Atlantic slave trade end because elites decided to halt the practice? Did gains for some women during the 21st century occur because elites committed themselves to ending patriarchal privilege? Did the British walk out of their colony in India because the British elite suddenly perceived the injustice of their violence and exploitation?

Despite the successes of activists of earlier generations, however, those of us who identify as activists of this generation are failing, quite comprehensively, to respond intelligently, powerfully and strategically to the vast challenges posed by an elite that has expanded its capacity to intimidate, outflank and overwhelm us (which is why, incidentally, slavery is now far more widespread than during any earlier period in human history, violence against women still manifests in a grotesque variety of forms all over the planet and even India has strayed monstrously from Gandhi’s vision).

In essence, strategic lessons learned by earlier generations of activists are forgotten or ignored as we stumble powerlessly to the extinction that is shortly to claim us all.

While I could write at some length about our shortcomings as activists in the era of perpetual violence and war, grotesque economic exploitation and pervasive climate and environmental destruction, I would like to focus on what I regard as the two key issues: strategy and conscience.

The global elite is deeply entrenched and manages world affairs, particularly through its capitalist economy. The global elite has developed over hundreds of years during which time it has fully and deeply penetrated all of the major power structures in world society, most of which it created (or moulded during their creation), so that the primary levers of power in the modern world – key financial institutions such as central banks, the major asset management corporations and the giant corporations in key industries (such as, but not limited to, the banking and weapons industries) – as well as the instruments through which its policies are implemented – including governments, military forces (both national and as ‘military contractors’ or mercenaries), key ‘intelligence’ agencies, legal systems and police forces, key non-government organizations such as the Vatican, and the academic, educational, media, medical, psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries – are all fully responsive to elite control.

More precisely than this, as explained in his forthcoming book Giants: The Global Power Elite, Professor Peter Phillips identifies the world’s top seventeen asset management firms, each with more than one trillion dollars of investment capital under management, as the giants of world capitalism. The total capital under management on behalf of all seventeen corporations is in excess of $US41.1 trillion; it represents the wealth invested for profit by thousands of millionaires, billionaires and corporations. These seventeen giants operate in nearly every country in the world and are “the central institutions of the financial capital that powers the global economic system”. They invest in anything considered profitable, ranging from “agricultural lands on which indigenous farmers are replaced by power elite investors” to public assets to war.

Phillips goes on to note that the global elite develops and coordinates its policies through a variety of private planning fora such as the Group of Thirty, the Trilateral Commission and the Atlantic Council which determine the policies and issue the instructions for their implementation by transnational governmental institutions like the G7, G20, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and the World Bank. Elite policies are also implemented following instruction of the relevant agent, including governments, in the context. These agents then do as they are instructed.

Or, if they do not, they are overthrown. Just ask any independently-minded government over the past century. For a list of governments overthrown by the global elite using its military and ‘intelligence’ agencies since World War II, see William Blum’s book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II or, for just the list, see Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List.

As a result of coordination through the above elite fora, for example, gigantic media, public relations and entertainment corporations are used to reinforce elite dogma promulgated through national educational institutions so that most western humans become powerless consumers of elite product, informational and material, as the elite pursues ever-increasing profit, power and privilege. Oblivious to the way in which they are caught up in the elite drive to make us consume, even most western activists are major consumers, failing to limit their consumption in line with some appreciation of the per capita ecological carrying capacity of the Earth.

Hence, as should be obvious by now, with a deeply entrenched global elite in total control of major economic/financial, political, military, legal and social (including educational and media) power structures, only a comprehensive and sophisticated strategy has any prospect of succeeding, whatever the issue, and certainly the fundamental one: elite power.

In other words, if we want to end war (or even just one war), halt exacerbation of the climate catastrophe (in a region, country or the world), end environmental destruction on a vast range of fronts, terminate economic exploitation including (modern) slavery, end the sex trafficking of women and children, end the military occupation of Palestine, Tibet, West Papua… then we are going to have to think, plan and act strategically, which includes engaging and mobilizing, in a focused way, a significant proportion of the human population. Simply ‘campaigning’ on the basis of a few ideas and tactics that we think worked in the past, is not enough. Campaigning without strategy – and all that strategic thinking, including a penetrating analysis of the very nature of society and its power structure, entails – is a waste of time.

This is why most work of virtually all ‘activist’ NGOs is useless. They work within the elite-designed and managed global power structure, fearfully self-limiting their actions in accordance with elite-approved processes, such as those ‘within the law’ and lobbying elite-controlled governments and institutions, as well as international organizations such as the UN. By participating in elite-controlled processes, our dissent is absorbed and dissipated, as the elite intend.

This is the great achievement, from an elite perspective, of ‘democracy’: to the extent that people can be persuaded to participate in the delusion that democracy exists (anywhere on Earth) and that voting and lobbying changes anything important, they are unwitting victims of elite-manipulated processes and propaganda.

This also explains why virtually all NGOs invariably end up promoting elite-sponsored delusions such as, for example, those in relation to the climate catastrophe which talk of an ‘end of century’ time frame (about 70 years more than we actually have), staying within 2 (or 3 or 1.5) degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level (rather than the .5 degrees that is actually necessary) and, the most fundamental delusion of all, that we must substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels (which is certainly necessary), rather than (in addition) profoundly reduce – by at least 80% – consumption generally, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding our individual and community self-reliance if all environmental concerns are to be effectively addressed.

But elite-sponsored delusions are widely promulgated by its corporate media on a vast range of issues with only the rarest ‘activist’ NGO, concerned to focus on what it defines as its primary mission, taking a stand on these apparently ‘separate’ issues. So, for example, elite-sponsored delusions that are widely promulgated by its corporate media convince huge numbers of people that US-NATO wars against impoverished and militarily-primitive countries are in ‘self defense’ and that terrorists are a genuine threat to ‘national security’. At a more mundane level, elite-sponsored delusions propagated through its corporate media promote everything from genetically-mutilated, poisoned and junk food to psychiatric drugs. These products are also highly profitable but because their insanity includes lacking any sense of morality, elites are unconcerned about the damage they inflict on us in these regards just as in all others.

Some grassroots activist groups are more politically savvy than NGOs but usually still lack comprehensive and sophisticated strategies. On rare occasions, it should be noted, one of these campaigns or national liberation struggles succeeds, because of such factors as the raw power of nonviolent action (even without strategy) or because they could rely on the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) effect to facilitate mobilization of significant numbers of people in a local area.

However, the global elite is unconcerned about the occasional local ‘setback’ which does not adversely impact its global agenda and where minor gains by grassroots activists can, if necessary, be subsequently reversed (including by simply violating the law, as the elite routinely does with impunity). Consider again, the above example of Trump’s call to violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty or routine violation of legally-declared (and sometimes World Heritage-listed) national parks in Africa, Asia and Central/South America as major corporations seek to exploit oil and mineral wealth. The law is designed to intimidate and impede us; it is rarely used in an attempt to hold elites accountable and has little, if any, impact when it does: a corporation may, occasionally, be fined (an expense against generating monstrous profit). Fundamentally, elites are above the law: they draft it to defend their interests against the rest of us.

But to reiterate the main point: given the sheer number of (sometimes even large-scale) mobilizations on one issue after another around the world that achieve nothing of substance in relation to the issue itself (consider the demonstrations against the imminent war on Iraq, held in over 600 cities around the world and involving as many as 30 million people, on 15 February 2003), it is painfully clear that most grassroots activists have no conception of strategy either, including the appropriate strategic focus for their tactics.

And this applies equally to those national liberation activists in occupied countries such as Palestine, Tibet and West Papua, as well as those activists living in the many countries, such as Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, run by dictatorships or where the elected government, such as that of Brazil, has been removed in a coup.

As touched on above, however, lack of sound strategy (including the structural analysis on which it must be based) is not the only shortcoming in our efforts to halt elite (or even our own) violence.

In the past, a primary motivator of activists, and particularly the great ones such as Mohandas K. Gandhi, was their conscience: The ‘inner voice’ that called them to action on both the personal and political levels.

But there is more to conscience than being called to action. So what is so important about conscience? Conscience is the mind function that asks the deeper questions such as ‘What is the right way to go about this?’, ‘How must I behave if I am to model what I ask of others?’ and ‘How will we design this campaign so that its conduct helps to create the world we envision?’ (rather than the simpler question ‘How will we win this campaign?’).

Moreover, living by one’s conscience requires courage: This includes making strategic choices to take significant or, occasionally, even great risks when elite violence threatens to intimidate a struggle into submission and silence.

It was his unyielding conscience, deeply guiding his personal and political behaviour (including his commitment to nonviolence and his extraordinarily austere lifestyle), and his superlative understanding of strategy that made Gandhi the great activist that he was. Why?

Because Gandhi’s nonviolence was based on certain premises derived from his conscience – including the importance of the truth, the sanctity and unity of all life, and the unity of means and end – his strategy was always conducted within the framework of his desired political, social, economic and ecological vision for society as a whole and not limited to the purpose of any immediate campaign.

It is for this reason that Gandhi’s approach to strategy is so important. He is always taking into account the ultimate end of all nonviolent struggle – a just, peaceful and ecologically sustainable society of self-realized human beings – not just the outcome of this campaign. He wants each campaign to contribute to the ultimate aim, not undermine vital elements of the long-term and overarching struggle to create a world without violence.

So what do we do?

If you would like to better understand why so many human beings, including those within the elite, are devoid of anything resembling a conscience, you can do so by reading what happened to them as a child in “Why Violence?” and “Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice“.

If you are interested in acting in ways that maximize the chance that elite opponents and their agents will reflect, deeply, on what they are doing, while fundamentally changing the power relationship between you and your opponents, then you are welcome to consider acting strategically in the way that Gandhi did. Whether you are engaged in a peace, climate, environment or social justice campaign or a national liberation struggle, the 12-point strategic framework and principles are the same.

The strategic aims and a core list of strategic goals to end war and to end the climate catastrophe, for example, are identified in “Campaign Strategic Aims” and the strategic aims and a core list of strategic goals to defeat a political or military coup, remove a military occupation, remove a dictatorship or defeat a genocidal assault are identified here: “Liberation Strategic Aims“.

If you would like a straightforward explanation of “Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works” and an introduction to what it means to think strategically, try reading about the difference between “The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions“.

If you anticipate violent repression by a ruthless opponent, make sure that you plan and implement any nonviolent action as history has taught us: “Nonviolent Action: Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression“.

If you are interested in nurturing children to live by their conscience and to gain the courage necessary to resist elite violence fearlessly, while living sustainably despite the entreaties of capitalism to over-consume, then you are welcome to make “My Promise to Children“. After all, capitalism and other dysfunctional political, economic and social structures only thrive because of our dysfunctional parenting which robs children of their conscience and courage, among many other qualities, while actively teaching them to over-consume as compensation for having vital emotional needs denied.

Why this emphasis on children you might ask? For good reason. It is dysfunctional human behavior that got us into this civilizational mess and allowed the emergence of exploitative social, political and economic structures. So if we do not emphasize the importance of profoundly changing the way in which we nurture children so that they behave functionally in context, everything else we do to preserve humanity and the biosphere must ultimately fail. The onslaught of our dysfunctional species will simply overwhelm the biosphere, sooner or later, whether it is this generation or the next.

But we don’t have to settle for improving our parenting. We can improve our own functionality and access our conscience and courage too. How?

If you are already guided by your conscience to act powerfully in response to elite violence, you might also consider joining those participating in “The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth“, which outlines a simple plan for people to systematically reduce their consumption while progressively increasing their self-reliance, and consider signing the online pledge of “The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World“.

You may believe that you can halt elite violence without engaging your conscience (and the deep internal search that this requires) and without using Gandhian nonviolent strategy. Even if you are right, the key question is then this: Is the world you will get any better than this one?

And don’t forget the time frame. Major historical struggles, including those noted above, took decades (whatever the merits and shortcomings of their strategies) or, as in most cases, are ongoing. How long do you want to wait before you invest time in learning how to think, plan and act strategically when the future of humanity and the biosphere is now at stake?

So, to conclude: The global elite controls all significant human affairs and even exercises almost total control over the individual lives of human beings. Because the global elite is insane and its psychological (and hence behavioral) dysfunctionality is of a particular kind, it cannot pull back from its existing regime of violence and exploitation, even in response to imperatives from the biosphere.

In this circumstance our choice is simple: near-term human extinction based on our unwitting complicity in elite violence or a conscientious, courageous and strategic response that fundamentally undermines elite power.

This will require a significant number of interrelated nonviolent strategies that each tackle elite violence in one context or another.

You are welcome to consider the options presented just above for your own involvement.

The Burning Hot Planet

A recent UK newspaper headline read “The World’s On Fire,” which is literally true as extraordinary continent-wide wildfires consume the planet, accompanied by unbearable, insufferable, oppressive heat. Europe, North America, Japan, and North Africa are all experiencing unprecedented scorching heat.

All of which begs the question of when anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming will be recognized as a reality by America, the second biggest contributor of greenhouse gases (GHG).

Don’t look for confirmation from the Trump administration, the U.S. Senate or House, the leadership of America (ahem). They are all deniers, and thus have blocked any and all efforts of an American “Marshall Plan” for renewable energy.

The reality is that NASA warned the Senate about human-caused global warming way back in 1988. Thirty years later, the planet burns and America’s government has accomplished next to nothing, a big fat zero! In fact, the U.S. government is rolling back some regulations that slow down CO2 emissions. So, the USA is now onside with global warming, an advocate, all-in for more GHGs stoking more heat.

In sharp contrast to America, resourceful Germany is known as “the world’s first major renewable energy economy.”  Over the first six months of 2018, “Germany produces enough renewable energy to power the country’s households for an entire year”. 1

And, canny China has committed more funding (about $150B) to renewables over the past year than the EU and U.S. combined. As the U.S. looks to coal, China invests in renewable energy. China’s National Energy Administration ordered local governments to give priority access to renewable power generators.2

Heat and fire: People hospitalized; People dying. In Japan alone 80 are dead from a pounding heat wave and 30,000+ hospitalized from heat stroke… oh, only 30,000, which number increases by the hour! Kumagaya 106F; Tokyo 104F.

Stifling heat engulfs the planet. Is this what global warming looks like? If not, then just imagine what the real thing looks like!

Nobody has made an official proclamation about the wherefores or causes of planetary heat, but one has to wonder whether anthropogenic global warming is the vicious monster standing behind the curtain. After all, there’s nobody assigned to officially announce the impact of human-influenced global warming, but it sure feels like it!

Temps like 120F in Chino, California are far, far above normal. And, how about 124F in Quargla, Africa? Or, even more bizarre yet, 74 heat wave deaths in Quebec, way up north.

It is indisputable that the planet is not handling the heat very well, but is it the planet’s fault? Did an angry, upset, abused, never loved Mother Earth wake up one day and decide to burn-up? Doubtful.

More likely, some outside force like Homo sapiens (which is Latin for “wise man”) pushed emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) too far for far too long.

In fact, the science is absolutely 100% clear: It’s indisputable that, over time, GHGs blanket the atmosphere and act like an oven… imagine that!

BBC science editor David Shukman says the striking feature of today’s multiple heat waves happening at the same time is the jet stream. It is meandering in gigantic wacky loops, thus altering climate throughout the Northern Hemisphere as it stalls for long periods of time, trapping zones of high pressure, cloudless, windless, extremely hot zones.

Interestingly enough, for some years now climate scientists have warned that global warming is impacting the Arctic 2-3xs faster than the planet as a whole, which, in turn, throws off normal well-defined spinning jet streams at 39,000 feet into wacky deep prolonged loops that alter weather patterns throughout the hemisphere. Take a guess as to what’s happening now….

Answer: In an article in New Scientist, “Warming Arctic Could Be Behind Heatwave Sweeping Northern Hemisphere,” July 24th,  according to the UK Meteorological Office:

The heatwave across much of the northern hemisphere could continue for weeks, and possibly even months. And, accelerated warming in the Arctic compared to the rest of the planet could be a key contributor.

The Danger Zone

According to Arctic News, “Can We Weather The Danger Zone?”, July 1, 2018:

Earth may have long crossed the 1.5°C guardrail set at the Paris Agreement (2015).

Further to the point, the Danger Zone was likely surpassed as early as 2014 based upon NASA data adjusted to reflect the preindustrial baseline, air temps, and Arctic temps (not in agreement with mainstream science).

And, more distressing yet, according to the same Arctic News story:

The world may also be crossing the higher 2°C guardrail later this year, while temperatures threaten to keep rising dramatically beyond that point.

What? According to the IPCC and the Paris Agreement 2015, countries “voluntarily” (oh, well) agreed to hold back GHGs to prevent exceeding the dreaded 2°C guardrail until 2100, and hopefully beyond. Wow! It’s not even 2020 yet. Is global warming 80 years ahead of schedule?

The Arctic News article suspiciously reads like the onset of runaway global warming. To confirm that suspicion, Arctic News claims (and here’s where it gets kinda scary crazy):

…much carbon is stored in large and vulnerable pools that have until now been kept stable by low temperatures. The threat is that rapid temperature rise will hit vulnerable carbon pools hard, making them release huge amounts of greenhouse gases, further contributing to the acceleration of the temperature rise.

Does that describe Runaway Global Warming? Answer: Yes!

Examples of massive carbon pools: Permafrost – 900 Gt; High-Latitude Peatlands – 400 Gt; Tropical Peatlands 100 Gt; Methane Hydrates 10,000 Gt, and more (one gigaton is equivalent to one-billion metric tons or equivalent to 100,000,000 elephants).

Unfortunately, those massive carbon pools are exposed to unbelievable hot temps recorded at the farthest northern reaches, for example, 92.3°F on the Siberian coastline of the Arctic Ocean, which is permafrost country and methane hydrate territory. Oh really, Miami Beach temps in Siberia?

Maybe the U.S. should alter its climate change/global warming stance re: (1) the Paris ’15 Agreement by joining ASAP and (2) cancel the interminable Republican (mostly) denial about human-caused global warming, or more formally known as: “The Great American Global Warming School of Denial,” nowadays propagated by Trump and minions, especially as runaway global warming appears to be at an incipient stage, or maybe worse.

On the other hand, when is too late too late?

But, then again, thinking more about it: DO SOMETHING!

  1. The Independent, July 2, 2018.
  2. The Global Energiewende, Energy Transition, May 21, 2018.

The Burning Hot Planet

A recent UK newspaper headline read “The World’s On Fire,” which is literally true as extraordinary continent-wide wildfires consume the planet, accompanied by unbearable, insufferable, oppressive heat. Europe, North America, Japan, and North Africa are all experiencing unprecedented scorching heat.

All of which begs the question of when anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming will be recognized as a reality by America, the second biggest contributor of greenhouse gases (GHG).

Don’t look for confirmation from the Trump administration, the U.S. Senate or House, the leadership of America (ahem). They are all deniers, and thus have blocked any and all efforts of an American “Marshall Plan” for renewable energy.

The reality is that NASA warned the Senate about human-caused global warming way back in 1988. Thirty years later, the planet burns and America’s government has accomplished next to nothing, a big fat zero! In fact, the U.S. government is rolling back some regulations that slow down CO2 emissions. So, the USA is now onside with global warming, an advocate, all-in for more GHGs stoking more heat.

In sharp contrast to America, resourceful Germany is known as “the world’s first major renewable energy economy.”  Over the first six months of 2018, “Germany produces enough renewable energy to power the country’s households for an entire year”. 1

And, canny China has committed more funding (about $150B) to renewables over the past year than the EU and U.S. combined. As the U.S. looks to coal, China invests in renewable energy. China’s National Energy Administration ordered local governments to give priority access to renewable power generators.2

Heat and fire: People hospitalized; People dying. In Japan alone 80 are dead from a pounding heat wave and 30,000+ hospitalized from heat stroke… oh, only 30,000, which number increases by the hour! Kumagaya 106F; Tokyo 104F.

Stifling heat engulfs the planet. Is this what global warming looks like? If not, then just imagine what the real thing looks like!

Nobody has made an official proclamation about the wherefores or causes of planetary heat, but one has to wonder whether anthropogenic global warming is the vicious monster standing behind the curtain. After all, there’s nobody assigned to officially announce the impact of human-influenced global warming, but it sure feels like it!

Temps like 120F in Chino, California are far, far above normal. And, how about 124F in Quargla, Africa? Or, even more bizarre yet, 74 heat wave deaths in Quebec, way up north.

It is indisputable that the planet is not handling the heat very well, but is it the planet’s fault? Did an angry, upset, abused, never loved Mother Earth wake up one day and decide to burn-up? Doubtful.

More likely, some outside force like Homo sapiens (which is Latin for “wise man”) pushed emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) too far for far too long.

In fact, the science is absolutely 100% clear: It’s indisputable that, over time, GHGs blanket the atmosphere and act like an oven… imagine that!

BBC science editor David Shukman says the striking feature of today’s multiple heat waves happening at the same time is the jet stream. It is meandering in gigantic wacky loops, thus altering climate throughout the Northern Hemisphere as it stalls for long periods of time, trapping zones of high pressure, cloudless, windless, extremely hot zones.

Interestingly enough, for some years now climate scientists have warned that global warming is impacting the Arctic 2-3xs faster than the planet as a whole, which, in turn, throws off normal well-defined spinning jet streams at 39,000 feet into wacky deep prolonged loops that alter weather patterns throughout the hemisphere. Take a guess as to what’s happening now….

Answer: In an article in New Scientist, “Warming Arctic Could Be Behind Heatwave Sweeping Northern Hemisphere,” July 24th,  according to the UK Meteorological Office:

The heatwave across much of the northern hemisphere could continue for weeks, and possibly even months. And, accelerated warming in the Arctic compared to the rest of the planet could be a key contributor.

The Danger Zone

According to Arctic News, “Can We Weather The Danger Zone?”, July 1, 2018:

Earth may have long crossed the 1.5°C guardrail set at the Paris Agreement (2015).

Further to the point, the Danger Zone was likely surpassed as early as 2014 based upon NASA data adjusted to reflect the preindustrial baseline, air temps, and Arctic temps (not in agreement with mainstream science).

And, more distressing yet, according to the same Arctic News story:

The world may also be crossing the higher 2°C guardrail later this year, while temperatures threaten to keep rising dramatically beyond that point.

What? According to the IPCC and the Paris Agreement 2015, countries “voluntarily” (oh, well) agreed to hold back GHGs to prevent exceeding the dreaded 2°C guardrail until 2100, and hopefully beyond. Wow! It’s not even 2020 yet. Is global warming 80 years ahead of schedule?

The Arctic News article suspiciously reads like the onset of runaway global warming. To confirm that suspicion, Arctic News claims (and here’s where it gets kinda scary crazy):

…much carbon is stored in large and vulnerable pools that have until now been kept stable by low temperatures. The threat is that rapid temperature rise will hit vulnerable carbon pools hard, making them release huge amounts of greenhouse gases, further contributing to the acceleration of the temperature rise.

Does that describe Runaway Global Warming? Answer: Yes!

Examples of massive carbon pools: Permafrost – 900 Gt; High-Latitude Peatlands – 400 Gt; Tropical Peatlands 100 Gt; Methane Hydrates 10,000 Gt, and more (one gigaton is equivalent to one-billion metric tons or equivalent to 100,000,000 elephants).

Unfortunately, those massive carbon pools are exposed to unbelievable hot temps recorded at the farthest northern reaches, for example, 92.3°F on the Siberian coastline of the Arctic Ocean, which is permafrost country and methane hydrate territory. Oh really, Miami Beach temps in Siberia?

Maybe the U.S. should alter its climate change/global warming stance re: (1) the Paris ’15 Agreement by joining ASAP and (2) cancel the interminable Republican (mostly) denial about human-caused global warming, or more formally known as: “The Great American Global Warming School of Denial,” nowadays propagated by Trump and minions, especially as runaway global warming appears to be at an incipient stage, or maybe worse.

On the other hand, when is too late too late?

But, then again, thinking more about it: DO SOMETHING!

  1. The Independent, July 2, 2018.
  2. The Global Energiewende, Energy Transition, May 21, 2018.

Compassion is So Out of Fashion

On 24 July 2018, a young woman single-handedly prevented the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker out of Sweden by buying a ticket for his flight and refusing to sit down so that the airplane could take off. Her noble and courageous act brought tears to my eyes after the recent months’ terrible developments in the insane, obsessive, surreal European conflict over refugees and immigration.

Like my adopted country Germany, Sweden is allowing far-right racists and xenophobic nationalists and neo-Nazis to drive its agenda on immigration and asylum law. Once a country with a noble policy of providing safety to refugees fleeing persecution and human rights atrocities, Sweden’s government – like that of Germany – is now running scared as far-right anti-immigration parties grow ever stronger. And the older established parties are running not away from the wall-builder vote, but straight toward it and into the open arms of the nationalists, islamophobes, and incipient fascists. The “centrist” strategy for preventing racists and panic-stricken right-wingers from taking control of Europe: to adopt the same policies the governing self-described centrists claim to oppose.

And it is not only right-wingers and nationalists who have decided that the Global North must ratchet up its wall-building, who are falling prey to the flood of anecdotal and hysterical reports of rapes and murders carried out by refugees and immigrants. A great many of those refugees and immigrants – just coincidentally, of course – happen to be Muslims, and islamophobia is now a socially-acceptable form of discrimination among many who once flew the flag of tolerance. While there have been a handful of such actual crimes committed by immigrants, this small number of horrific acts is receiving the laser-focus treatment in the national mainstream press here in Germany, in stark contrast to the amount of attention given to the vast number of attacks on immigrants and refugees committed by racist neo-Nazi thugs and their sympathizers. Those anti-immigrant crimes are mentioned by the presstitutes occasionally in a dry, statistical manner. But the same government and corporate media that devote much of their feverish coverage to the growth of racist political parties which are deemed a “danger to democracy” are far less interested in talking about such violence committed by Germans, and I suspect that in Sweden the same thing is happening.

In recent weeks I have parted cyber-company with several people who consider themselves “progressive” or part of the Left, who nonetheless cannot find it in their hearts to come to terms with the personal circumstances of desperate people who are fleeing violence at home, the circumstances of people who see no future in their native lands, who risk drowning and imprisonment and subject themselves to racist discriminatory contempt, often with their children in tow, in the attempt to have better lives or to simply survive. It has become clear to most of us that all of the noble words about “fighting the causes of migration”, posited as an alternative to allowing a steady influx of refugees from violence and starvation and No-Future-Disease into the Global North from now on, are mostly fantasy. Even if the political will to truly make major changes in the Global South existed on a broad scale in the USA and Europe – which it does not, it is confined to the small and shrinking part of those populations which is willing to view refugees and migrants as people with just as much right to a decent life as those born here in the privileged part of the planet – the obstacles to any such effective programs are huge and probably insurmountable in the amount of time we have left before major collapse renders all of these debates utterly obsolete.

And most of us know that, at least instinctively. That causes fear among the vast majority of those of us who are comfortable, whether we are more or less politically conscious. Thus the growing fondness on wide swathes of the self-identified Left for nation-states and strongly-policed borders. For many of us, the mass-immigration scenario is where compassion ends. We may accept the fact that planetary doom is a done deal, but most of us appear to be determined to go down with our privileges intact.

In my life this is one-third of the Triple Whammy, although all three parts are, in fact, intimately related.

Although a slew of new scientific reports on rapidly accelerating global warming, on the already mind-blowing extent of plastic- and microplastics pollution in oceans, soils, the food chain and living creatures, on ocean acidification, and more speak an unmistakable language of No Future, most of us cannot get our minds around that, or we find it just too terrifying to contemplate. Instead, we push that highly probable reality out of our minds as “alarmism”, “gloom and doom”, “negativism” or whatever. However, those of us who see the issue as pretty much settled cannot do that. And every single day, many of us in that latter category are stunned once again to observe the fact that most of our fellow humans appear to intend to live out humanity’s end in the pretense that it is not even happening. I cannot possibly make it clear to you how that dichotomy stuns and numbs me and tears my insides out right through my brain.

Simultaneously (second part of the Triple Whammy), we are forced to watch as much of the worldwide attention that should be dedicated to our omnicidal self-destruction – whether one thinks it can be prevented, or agrees with me that it is now too late — is lavished on various “enemies” in classic manipulative programs of Us-Versus-Them distraction to support the mad and murderous strategies of those same deadly entities who have already made a ruin of half the Middle East and much of the Hindu Kush and North Africa and Ukraine, entities who earlier sabotaged the USSR’s economy in a targeted program carried out over a century, but continue to cast its largest remnant, the nation which saved us all from Hitler, as the Mother of All Evils. It is a spectacle worthy of Josef Goebbels, and untold millions who once seemed at least reasonably intelligent have swallowed the bait.

We are not allowed the dubious luxury of properly mourning life on Earth as it is wiped out before our eyes.

Instead, we are forced to watch as most of humanity denies the existence of this end-time with increasingly inhumane, paranoid, angst-ridden behavior which makes a mockery of all that we claim to value and believe in. Which brings us to Whammy Three: the Death of Compassion.

Those among us who would wish for a spiritual and awakened consciousness of all the things we are losing, even if it may possibly be our grandchildren who first experience the full force of that loss and destruction, are apparently doomed to bitter and fatal disappointment.

Unless benevolent extraterrestrial aliens show up right on cue a la “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to show us the error of our ways and save us from ourselves, it seems that humanity and much of life on this planet will slowly, gradually meet its end in a frenzy of Demonization of the Other, of war and brutality and scapegoating of the weakest and most defenseless among us. Other scenarios are possible; a number of things whether natural or nuclear might speed up the process radically.

But we can pretty much rule out the Happy Ending.

Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact (Part 2)

Continuing from Part 1… Monster #2 Greenhouse Gases (“GHG”) alter ecosystems:

The biggest impact of anthropogenic GHG hits the oceans. There is no doubt about the importance of the oceans as a great sink, 2/3rds of the planet. After all, the oceans have saved humanity’s butt ever since industrialization started emitting CO2 over 200 years ago.

Sorrowfully, CO2 with consequent global warming, when excessive, literally kills the oceans. As it happens, the oceans absorb 30-40% of CO2 and 80-90% of planetary heat. Otherwise, one can only imagine the awesomely horrendous, gruesome, horrid consequences, but maybe not, as human imagination has trouble focusing on total annihilation. It never seems a reality.

However, a new carbon sink theory claims the oceans have maxed-out, thus unable to absorb additional CO2 after taking up approximately 130B tons of CO2 over the past century (all-time approximately 38,000 gigatons of CO2, which is 16xs terrestrial
CO2).

Further to the point, it is believed the oceans could reverse course and start emitting CO2, a “reverse sink,” at some juncture. The implications are daunting, putting it oh so mildly.

Also, dreadfully, ocean chemistry is changing because of excessive CO2, more acidic, thus imperiling the life cycle of pteropods, tiny pea-like free-swimming snails at the base of the food chain that multiply by the billions, maybe trillions, serving as a source of sustenance for everything from krill to large whales. Analyses of pteropods in the Southern Ocean revealed failure to fully develop protective outer shells (acidification at work), which inhibits maturation and reproduction. It goes without saying, after enough time, it could evolve into a major ecosystem collapse.

Not only is the marine food chain at risk, excessive warming kills coral. For example, one-half of the Great Barrier Reef, one of Nature’s Seven Wonders of the World, died in 2016-17 from extreme heat. Scientists around the world were, and still are, totally freaked-out.

Making matters even worse yet, a recent long-term study shows plankton production down 40% over the past 50 years. This is one more endangered resource of planetary oxygen, too much heat.

Additionally (more nasty stuff) global warming slows down the thermohaline, ocean conveyor belt, which is now at its slowest in 1,600 years. The thermohaline is the deep-water circulation pattern around the world that forms the structure of ocean currents and ocean health.

Given enough time, in addition to other nasty repercussions, the slowing thermohaline will cause Europe to turn colder than ordinary rather than experience a temperate climate as the great conveyor belt brings warm tropical waters to Europe’s shorelines; it’s why Paris’s January temps average 38 F even though Paris is 3 degrees farther north latitude than is North Dakota (12 F January temps). It’s paradoxical in the face of global warming, which may bail Europe out of an icy hole, but to what avail?

Topping off the above-mentioned impending ecosystem disasters, global warming is killing off underwater kelp forests, key to survival for many species. Along the northern California coast for hundreds of miles bull kelp forests died. Australia now lists its giant kelp forests as an “endangered ecological zone”.1

Finally, within the category of monster #2, GHGs altering the planet: Methane clathrates in the Arctic pose extraordinary risks to all humanity, especially in the shallow waters, depth 50m, of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.  A joint U.S./Russian research effort out of the University of Alaska/Fairbanks has discovered ever-increasing zones of methane bubbling to surface, in some cases up to a mile in diameter. The major concern is the risk of a massive methane burp of 50 gigatons, or thereabouts, versus only 5 gigatons of CH4 currently in the atmosphere. Hands down, the consequences would be dreadful.

According to the esteemed Arctic ice authority, professor emeritus Cambridge, Dr. Peter Wadhams2 in response to the question: “Can civilization withstand a 50-gigaton CH4 burp?” His answer: “No, I don’t think it can.”

Monster #3 concerns collapsing ecosystems, which may be a problem of more immediate urgency than CO2 and global warming, as hard as that is to accept or believe. Some things are simply impossible to grasp.

The Colorado River Basin ecosystem — CRB — may be the prototype of collapsing ecosystems as a result of the human footprint. The collapse is happening now as two forces combine to rip it apart at the seams, (1) excessive GHGs warm the planet and alter hydrology systems such that the Rocky Mountains, the source of the river, receive less moisture in the form of snow, and (2) human consumption, as well as water usage mismanagement, drains the system dry.

Just ask Las Vegas as they installed a “third straw” to suck up the last remaining drops at Lake Mead. “The risks of Lake Mead dropping to catastrophically low levels have ramped up dramatically, say federal officials.”3

Brenda Burman is Trump’s appointee as commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, the only Trump appointee to acknowledge in Senate confirmation hearings that climate change is not a hoax.  According to Ms Burman: “We need action and we need it now. We can’t afford to wait for a crisis to implement drought contingency plans,” referencing the Southwest.

According to the Bureau, the Southwest is experiencing its worst drought in 1,200 years. So, there’s little mystery as to why Ms Burman doesn’t believe global warming/climate change is a hoax.

Further to the point, the Bureau says 2018 Rocky Mountain runoff will be down 40% in the midst of a 19-year penetrating drought. Ipso facto, there is a high probability of the “first-ever water shortage in the Colorado River Basin- ecosystem” in the near future, which could literally start the process of choking-off major metropolitan areas and crucial farming regions from adequate water supplies.

According to the rules and regs for the Colorado River Basin -ecosystem, the first cuts will hit the city of Phoenix, which could lose 20% of its water flow. Thus, Phoenix may become the next Cape Town (pop 4 mil), which is rationing a drought-induced 13 gallons per day, or enough for 3-4 hefty toilet flushes.

America is not the only country experiencing severe drought conditions. The entire Middle East Mediterranean coastline is drying up faster than anywhere else on the planet. Thus, spawning eco migrants by the tens of thousands. Fourteen (14) Middle East and North African countries are among the most water-stressed in the world. Eco migrants will continue to be a fixture for decades to come.

Monster #3 concerning ecosystems collapsing is also all about loss of insect abundance as insects are primary to creation and support of soil, new soil, aerate soil, and pollinate crops, ecosystems that support all life. The way it works is as follows: Insects do fine without humans but humans cannot exist without insects. As such, insect decimation throughout the planet is one of the biggest crimes of the century, and it may be a crime in the strictest sense of the word.

Insect abundance has taken a huge hit as of late because ours is the first ever pesticide-based agricultural society, which may be the origin of massive insect decimation. What else could it be? The numbers speak for themselves:

According to the Krefeld Entomological Society, founded in 1905, and dedicated to tracking insect abundance at 100 nature reserves, recent readings have shown a drop of up to 80% in flying insect abundance, extinction-type numbers. For example, hoverflies (pollinators) entrapped in 1989 numbered 17,291 whereas 25 years later at the same locations 2,737.

Jack Hasenpusch, owner of the renowned Australian Insect Farm, is dumbfounded over the loss of insects.

Australian researcher Dr. Cameron Webb claims researchers around the world are at a loss to explain losses.

The Stanford University Global Index for invertebrates is down 40% over the past 40 years.

Connecting the dots, it is appears that humans are poisoning the planet. According to Julian Cribb, author of Surviving the 21st Century:

Ours is a poisoned planet – This explosion in chemicals happened so rapidly people are unaware.

Each year an avalanche of toxic chemicals, amounting to 250B tons, drips over earth, which over time, will sanitize all life, thus turning the planet into a gooey glob that glistens dazzlingly orange, not vividly blue.

Ecosystems worldwide depend upon insects but sorrowfully insect abundance already shows extinction-type losses. This is a life and death issue that is too easily overlooked. After all, householders are all-in for bug exterminations. It’s the prominent mindset.

The impending asteroid collision replication is now on standby, but clearly three monster climatic events are on a collision course as the forces of the Great Acceleration triggers one tipping point after another, no turning back. Already, year-over-year, scientists are surprised by past projections, always too low in hindsight!

Ten years ago, the British government commissioned a study, the Stern Report (2008), assuming a “business as usual analysis of worst-case climate change.” It was the first ever major study undertaken and serves as a seminal document of 700 pages. Here are the conclusions from ten years ago:

  • Sea rise of 15-20 feet in a few decades
  • Florida, NYC, London, Tokyo under water
  • 1 billion people displaced, sick, or dead
  • Massive water and food shortages
  • Food and water wars throughout the planet

The Stern Report likely still serves as a reliable road map for what happens going forward, “assuming business as usual.” However, the report is dated as CO2 is increasing at a 50% faster rate today than in 2008, which likely means the report is way too conservative. (Here we go again with expectations too low with hindsight).

Otherwise, no update needed, other than tweaking (increasing by a lot, really a lot, and maybe even more yet) the number of people displaced, sick, or dead.

Postscript:

The rate of carbon dioxide growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age. This is a real shock to the atmosphere.

— Pieter Tans, atmospheric scientist, Global Monitoring Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, NOAA, 2018.

Still, think about it, Trump is president.

• Author’s interview with Collapse Chronicles

  1. As Oceans Warm, The World’s Kelp Forests Begin To Disappear,” Alastair Bland, YaleEnvironment360, November 11, 2017.
  2. Farewell to Ice, Oxford University Press, 2017.
  3. Tony Davis. “Risks to Lake Mead, Colorado River Intensifying Greatly, Federal Officials Say”, Arizona Daily Star, June 29, 2018.

A Fatal Incompatibilty: Big Business and Human Survival

Dramatic as the title of the article is, it is becoming increasingly clear that this is not hyperbole or hysterics. It is the only logical conclusion one can arrive at if one analyses the facts of our current situation as a species.

Commerce has existed for thousands of years, with private and government-owned companies providing goods and services for sale, largely unregulated for most of that time. Of course, government has always had the capacity to intervene where business practices have been found to be unsafe or unethical, for the protection of society.

As economies have developed beyond a mostly agricultural foundation into a consumer-driven industrial system, corporations have gained increasing economic, social and political influence. Although there is now an enormous quantity of legal regulation in relation to the conducting of business (in the developed world particularly) corporations exert such a huge influence on countries (democratic or otherwise) that we could accurately be described as living in an age of corpocracy. The infiltration of governments by corporate interests is so severe that governments are almost powerless to prevent the wholesale destruction of our environment and huge damage to humanity without causing a worldwide economic collapse.

Most corporations are not owned by one or a few individuals any more. Generally a large number of unknown individuals (shareholders) own them, to whom the directors are solely answerable. In almost all cases, the priority of the shareholders is the maximising of dividends and share prices, which companies achieve by creating as much profit as possible within a given time frame; e.g., per quarter year.

As a result of this priority of creating profits, above all other activities, companies have a long history of ignoring ethical concerns or paying lip-service to such issues in order to avoid any negative impacts on profitability. Considering the continual impact of corporate donations and lobbying on the political process and subsequent regulation, it is clear that corporations have deliberately attempted to prevent or diminish assessment and legislation that might adversely affect them.

There are a multitude of examples of big business attempting to conceal nefarious practices or to prevent any actions to control or end them. It would be easy to write a huge tome on the subject but here I am only going to refer to a few of the most famous and serious examples of corporate irresponsible behaviour.

The production of energy that fueled the industrial revolution, the expansion of commerce, science, technology and the massive growth of human populations is a dirty business. This began with the discovery of coal and its crucial role in the use of steam power. It was clear from the start that coal was at times dangerous to mine, potentially explosive and extremely dirty to burn, as is still the case today. Crude oil and natural gas have long since overtaken coal as energy sources of prime importance, but these too are flammable/explosive and extremely damaging to the environment when burned but particularly so if leaked. Nuclear power, the youngest of the destructive energy industries, likes to portray itself as clean when the reality could not be more different. Apart from well-known polluting disasters such as Three Mile Island, Sellafield, Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear power produces huge quantities of troublesome waste that remain radioactive. This waste remains dangerous for centuries or millenia and the industry still has no way to decontaminate it or to guarantee permanent safe storage.

Throughout its history the energy industry has downplayed or dismissed health and environmental concerns in order to continue maximising profits – any changes that have arisen have been fought against and succeeded only due to overriding public pressure. Examples of this are the smog and acid rain from coal burning, lead poisoning due to tetraethyl lead in petrol, radiation leaks in nuclear power stations, oil and gas spills in the marine environment and most recently contamination of land and water from fracking. In each case, despite clear scientific evidence to the contrary, the energy industry has attempted to dismiss dangers, conceal or discredit incriminating data, avoid accepting responsibility and minimising reparations for disastrous incidents.

Even now, when overwhelming scientific evidence proves that these industries are polluting, unsafe and detrimental to all life on Earth, they continue not just to fight for their survival but try to expand and curtail any attempts to contain them. All this is still occurring despite almost universal government and public acknowledgement of the need to gradually close down these industries in order to secure the future of humanity.

The same problem is to be found in a wide variety of other industries. The tobacco industry is one of the most obvious examples – for decades it has fought against regulation despite knowing, all along, that its products are dangerous and entirely detrimental to health. The pharmaceutical industry was most famously scandalised by the Thalidomide catastrophe of the 1950s and 1960s but despite many benefits to humanity this industry is also responsible for repeated cover-ups, creating wide-scale dependency on addictive prescription drugs, over-prescription of antidepressants, causing antibiotic resistance through over-use and environmental pollution, all in the name of profit expansion.

Plastics, an offshoot of the oil industry, seemed like a manufacturing miracle but it has turned out to be a nightmare for humanity and a vast number of the world’s species. Despite increasing evidence of planet wide pollution and damage to huge numbers of species, including humans, the industry continues to fight against change and much needed regulation instead of attempting to transition to bio-plastics and reinvent itself.

Another major offender is the agricultural and food industry, which has been hugely responsible for the degradation of the environment. Apart from continual reckless deforestation, agriculture is responsible for damaging top soil run-off and pollution of rivers and seas with pesticides and fertilizers. In the 1960s DDT famously caused huge numbers of bird, insect and animal deaths as well as dangers to humans leading to it being banned. Despite improvements in regulations, pesticides continue to have a catastrophic effect on the environment (bees in particular) and contamination of our food and water is still occurring all across the globe. Irresponsible farming practices are degrading the environment, increasing desertification, causing water contamination and biodiversity loss; overfishing is depleting the oceans; genetically modified organism of questionable safety are entering the food chain, all of which is despite wide-spread public opposition.

These are just a few areas that I’ve chosen, but the list is almost endless – in virtually every area of industry and corporate activity attempts have been and are being made to circumvent or decrease regulation, deny responsibility and avoid adopting practices that will affect profitability. Self-regulation and government regulation has almost entirely failed to prevent unchecked growth at the expense of humanity and the environment we depend on. Perhaps the side-effects of industrial society were not so evident decades ago and one can assume businesses generally are not created with the intention to destroy the fabric of life. However, due to decades of solid scientific evidence, no-one can plead ignorance any longer regarding the dire situation humanity has placed itself in.

Short-sighted as it is, governments are so influenced by the corporate sector and by fear of economic instability that they are able to offer little more than token gestures or reforms over such a long timescale that they are too little, too late. Apart from a sudden and catastrophic economic collapse, there is little to indicate that the behemoth of corporate big business is likely to change its destructive practices in any significant way or stop attempting to prevent or diminish restrictions upon it.

So given, that the corporate world is most likely to continue to act against the greater interests of humanity (and ultimately itself) what can we do about the situation? Although we may feel powerless as individuals to effect change in the world, especially when faced with the enormous power of the corpocracy, we do in truth wield massive economic power. In the absence of governments fighting our corner with any sincerity, it is up to us to wield the only weapon we have in the effort to force corporations to change their ways.

The one and hugely powerful weapon we have is our choice as consumers. What corporations want and need most of all is our money; without it they cannot function and without consumers to buy their products they have no reason to exist. While campaigning to governments should not be abandoned, it is of unpredictable worth, with no guarantee of success – another approach is required. Direct action in the form of consuming less or withdrawal of custom has an immediate and severe effect on any business if enough people are prepared to take part.

If we meekly wait for government regulation to kick in and curtail the rampant irresponsibility of the corporate sector, then there is little chance of major change happening before the collapse of human society is unpreventable. If, however, we as concerned consumers, vote with our wallets and also let companies know why we are doing so, then businesses that wish to survive will be forced to change. In a revitalized society where the consumer calls the shots businesses that are able to embrace environmentalism, revolutionize their products and methods will succeed. In the past, when businesses that failed to adapt to new trends or new technology they simply disappeared, sometimes extremely rapidly. That is still the case today. Businesses that fail to adapt to consumer demand for ecologically responsible trade and a move away from putting profit above all else can be forced to change their stance or face extinction.

Personally I would rather suffer the economic effects of irresponsible businesses ceasing to exist than see the continued rapid extinction of species and degradation of our planet. Ultimately we as individuals have the power to change our own behaviour and demand that corporations change theirs. The time available to bring this transition about is not unlimited. In a decade or two it may already be too late; now is the time to turn the tables on big business and force it to change its ways.

Local Autonomy: A Key to Protection of the Ecosystem

When Europeans first visited the east Atlantic seaboard, the hyperabundance of cod would not go unnoticed. In 1602, English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold named the peninsula, where the Nauset and Wampanoag people lived, Cape Cod after its fish stocks.

The Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Georges Bank of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia were immensely rich fishing grounds that were plundered by the early 1990s. Subsequently, a moratorium was imposed on the fisheries in hopes of recovery.1

In the case of the Grand Banks, one analysis laid the blame squarely on technology, draggers, factory trawlers and “the expansionary dynamics of capitalism [that] caused Canadian vessels to scour the seas for ever increasing profit…”2 “[O]verfishing, primarily driven by the capitalist ethic, was one of the major causes of the collapse of the North Atlantic Cod fishery.”3,4

In his book, The Plundered Seas, Michael Berrill called the Grand Banks and Georges Bank maybe the saddest story of overfishing.5 Berrill recognized the problem of protecting straddling stocks, as projections of the Grand Banks were outside Canada’s EEZ; moreover, Spain and the EU ignored the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization quotas.6

Worldwide, Berrill pointed to a peak in captured fish stocks in 1989, that signaled a maximum sustainable global catch having been approached.7 The FAO concurred, finding that “unregulated fisheries were often leading to resource depletion.”8 Given that the global fisheries are considered important for the food security and nutritional needs of the world’s population9 this should be a cause for concern.

Berrill’s solution was the management of Large Marine Ecosystems.10

There is much evidence for the efficacy of marine reserves and site management. In one study, for example, crab fishery data from 1996 to 2013 indicated that the decrease in catches after closure to trawling and gillnetting was significantly greater outside than inside closure zones.11

In the face of uncertainty, adherence to the precautionary principle seems prudent.12 Prudent and logical, but not easy.

“Fishers, like most other people, don’t like to be managed at all,” Berrill noted.13 Consequently, rules to protect the environment and its ecosystems are faced with difficulties posed by cheating, lack of enforcement, and insufficient funding.14

To overcome this these challenges, Berrill advocated that the marine reserves for protecting fish stocks should be managed by local communities.15

Community management of the Apo Island marine sanctuary

Apo Island seen from Negros

Among the over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, lies Apo Island, a diminutive tropical island, nestled at the bottom of Cebu and southeast from nearby Negros. A sign on Apo Island’s main beach informs that the island is 72 hectares of protected landscape and 619 hectares of protected seascape.

The seascape includes 106 hectares of coral reef. The reserve lies on the south-eastern side of Apo Island and was established in 1982 as a no-take area. It consists of 22.5 hectares along a 0.45 km stretch of the island that represents about 10% of the coral reef. Fishing is the major income-generating activity in the area.

The island is distinctive. There are no roads or motorized vehicles. You get around by walking. Electricity is available only from 6 PM to 10 PM each day. All the lodgings are simple backpacker style. To some this island is paradise.

Main thoroughfare on Apo Island

But people in paradise must not be complacent as a sign affixed to the side of a thatched bamboo hut warns. Titled “Threats to Philippine Biodiversity,” those listed were deforestation, mining, hunting and wildlife trade, pollution, population growth, lack of education, and illegal fishing.

Apo Island is very dependent on fishing for sustenance. But over the years, a decline in catch was noticed and fishers were having to venture farther offshore to catch fish.

Apo Island found a solution: the establishment of a marine sanctuary. This venture was led by Dr. Angel Alcala, a marine scientist from Silliman University. Apo Islander Mario Pascobello, owner of a family-operated diving and homestay business, told of the sensitive negotiations undertaken to persuade fisherfolk to accede to a sanctuary and dissuade them from deleterious fishing practices — among them dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing, muro-ami, and using nets with overly small mesh.

Pascobello related that initially the islanders agreed to 10 percent of the waters being designated a marine sanctuary. When they results turned out favorably, with an increase in near-shore catch, the Apo Islanders agreed to expand the sanctuary.

Pascobello noted that the Apo Island success has led to the establishment of over one thousand marine sanctuaries throughout the Philippines. Pascobello even was invited to Bunaken Island in Indonesia to share the Apo Island experience that helped lead to the setting up of a marine reserve there.

Blue sea star on Apo Reef

Apo Island is indeed a picturesque underwater realm. This I experienced on several dives, from swimming over a sandy plain speckled with gently bubbling vents that belied the volcanic origin of the island to admiring the kaleidoscopic color provided by nature’s marine garden of hard and soft corals — all this backdropped by a clear blue seascape. There are a multitude of sea creatures to be encountered. Anemonefishes danced in their namesake homes, sea snakes poked their heads under coral ledges in search of a meal, sea turtles glided by in ungainly fashion, while schools of big-eye trevallies and barracuda rode the currents of the outer reef. Apo Island is a testament to restoring a vibrant fishing ground, preserving the environment for future generations, and creating economic opportunities through tourism.


Turtles abound in the waters surrounding Apo island

Pascobello averred that community leadership, community monitoring, and education are the keys to the success of the marine reserve.

A 2018 UBC study suggests caution, finding that destructive illegal fishing practices still persist in the Philippines. It seems increased vigilance along with continuing education are ever more needed.

Nonetheless, Apo Island is a testament to land and marine sanctuaries as a winning proposition for the entire community.

  • All photos by Kim Petersen.
    1. It may well be that a recovery is underway, as there are signs that the the cod stocks are bouncing back. See Aaron Beswick, “The cod are coming back to Newfoundland — and they’re eating the shrimp that had taken over,” National Post, 23 March 2017.
    2. Fred Mason, “The Newfoundland Cod Stock Collapse: A Review and Analysis of Social Factors,” Electronic Green Journal, 1(17): 4-5.
    3. Fred Mason, 7.
    4. In his book 2030: Confronting Thermogeddon in our Lifetime (Arcade Publishing, 2003), Robert Hunter told of an Atlantic fishboat captain who admitted that every country’s fishers had knowingly pillaged the east coast cod for the sake of immediate personal gain.
    5. Michael Berrill, The Plundered Seas: Can the World’s Fish Be Saved? (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1997): 124.
    6. Michael Berrill, 125-129.
    7. Michael Berrill, 2.
    8. FAO, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016, 83.
    9. FAO, 200.
    10. Michael Berrill, 40-56.
    11. Kate Kincaid, George Rose, “Effects of closing bottom trawling on fisheries, biodiversity, and fishing communities in a boreal marine ecosystem: the Hawke Box off Labrador, Canada,” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2017, 74(9): 1490-1502.
    12. Michael Berrill, 55-56.
    13. Michael Berrill, 57.
    14. Michael Berrill, 38-59.
    15. Michael Berrill, 83-84.

    Climate Change 10-Year Check-Up

    Ten years ago Kevin J. Surace delivered a fascinating TED talk entitled “Worst Case Climate Change.”

    Based upon credits at the end of his speech, data for his talk came from the following sources:

    • Fred Pearce, With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change (Beacon Press, 2007)
    • John D. Cox, Climate Crash Abrupt Climate Change and What It Means for Our Future (John Henry Press imprint of the National Academies Press, 2005)

    — Reviewed by Dr. Anthony Strawa, atmospheric scientist, NASA.

    Mr. Surace’s brilliant summation Worst Case Climate Change, as of 2008, was done for purposes: (1) exposure, (2) making the issue controversial, and (3) to make people think about the prospects. He did not intend to suggest the worst case would happen, rather encouraging people to learn more and act accordingly.

    Ten years later, how does Surace’s TED talk hold up?

    Unfortunately explained herein his “Worst Case” scenario hasn’t missed a beat, and maybe worse than expected. Sorrowfully, head held downward, his thesis holds up!

    Still, there’s a hidden trick found within this subject matter. Worst Case Climate Change consists of negative changes not seen in everyday life, other than by climate scientists, and therefore it is difficult, if not impossible, for ordinary people to understand the gravity of this situation. After all, who lives in Antarctica or the Arctic or in the ocean? Nobody. Meantime, by the time the brutal after effects become evident, it’s already “lights out!”

    Surace’s approach to the subject utilized Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data for comparison/contrasting purposes. As referenced therein, more or less, the IPCC used a linear or straight-line methodology. However, by way of contrast, in the real world “discontinuities” (non-linear) are common throughout climate history and throughout nature, thus suggesting the IPCC model too conservative in approach and in conclusion.

    Carbon Dioxide- CO2

    Surace starts his talk with a remarkable statistic that seems simple enough, but it is filled with a powerful haunting message; i.e., CO2 or carbon dioxide in the atmosphere under 300 ppm for 40,000 years. But, all of a sudden, within the geologically short time frame of 200 years, it is “now at 387 ppm,” circa 2008, thus insinuating that the Goldilocks climate” not too hot, not too cold” throughout human history may be a thing of the past.

    That fact alone is consummately important and warrants attention beyond the stating of mere numbers because each 1-ppm molecular increase of CO2 has bigger and bigger and bigger impact on global warming, similar to adding individual layers of woolen blankets onto somnolence. Enough blankets added and even an enormous gargantuan perfectly round-faced fading-blue grimacing planet sweats bullets.

    Whereas as of May 2, 2018 the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Mauna Loa Observatory/Hawaii reading for atmospheric CO2 registers 408.90 ppm, still climbing higher and higher, year-by-year, thus adding heavier, thicker woolen blankets to an increasingly achromatic Mother Earth. The logical upshot is a hotter and hotter much hotter planet, kinda like a yet-to-be-born baby Venus (864F), where the atmosphere is so thick with CO2 that it can be cut with a knife, which would melt in an instant.

    Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation

    Thereafter, Surace segues into one of the most far-reaching, yet least understood, aspects of climate change/global warming, the North Atlantic Flow, an ocean conveyor belt named Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) that keeps Europe warm. Without AMOC grinding away, moving unbelievable tonnage of water throughout the world’s seas, Europe would be ice-covered.

    According to Surace’s research, thousands of years ago, within only 10 years, the conveyor belt (AMOC) shut down very quickly. Results: Europe cooled by 5F within several years and glaciers overwhelmed Northern Europe.

    Per his speech, according to NASA, since 1990, North Flow is down 30% and South Flow down 50%. Regrettably, IPCC Models did not mention this climacteric risk factor. Once again, demonstrating inherent weaknesses with IPCC overall methodology.

    Here’s what recent up-to-date science, as of 2018, has discovered about the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC):

    The AMOC is in a very weakened state—the most anemic it has been in the last 1,600 years.1

    Therein lay the world’s greatest paradox as global warming impacts worldwide temps whilst possibly casting a cold spell over Europe. Which side wins?

    Arctic

    Headed northward, Surace set sights on the Arctic, showing a graph of actual Arctic melt vs. IPCC models. Whereas IPCC models suggested the Arctic would melt by 2100, NASA satellite data thru 2007 indicated that the North Pole ice melt was falling off a cliff, way below IPCC projections, and could complete “by 2017, or so.”

    As of August 17th, 2017 U.S. Naval Research Lab measurements of Arctic sea ice over a 30-day period “shows that the multi-year sea ice has now virtually disappeared.”2

    Multi-year ice was formed over thousands of years and constitutes — or rather constituted — the infrastructure for the North Pole.

    This means the Arctic has lost its infrastructure. It’s gone. Yes, ice still forms during wintertime with no sunlight 24/7, but it is thin and almost meaningless, which can lead to untold horrific consequences of radical climate change throughout the Northern Hemisphere, throwing humanity into a tailspin, a tizzy of despair, social unrest, and starvation. The reasons are multi-fold and too broad to tackle herein, but the consequences down the road are brutal!

    Greenland

    Regarding Greenland, the giant ice sheet experiences loss of ice every year, ever since 1980. It is melting, and the especially bad news is the rate of melt is accelerating. As of 2008, cumulative acre-feet loss equals 3-4 billion acre-feet, an amount that would cover the entire US with two feet of ice.

    As for an updated (2017) analysis of Greenland ice melt: Previously “Glaciologists were already fully occupied trying to track and forecast the surge in glacial calving. Now, they are striving to understand the complex feedbacks that are speeding up surface melting.”3

    The big melt-off is accelerating because of unseasonably warm summers as well as microbes and algae, soot and dust that blow from lower latitudes and darken the ice, collecting on the white, shiny Greenland ice, thus absorbing rather than reflecting solar energy.

    Greenland is living up to, in fact, beyond, Surace’s expectations from a decade ago. Nightmarishly, the big chunk of ice contains over 20 feet of sea level rise.

    Antarctica

    Speaking of “living up to expectations,” Antarctica is flat-out losing it, but first Surace’s comments of a decade ago: Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica is an example of something happening much quicker than we thought. Within days in 2002, the large ice shelf crashed, splintering into the water.  The ice shelf was 12,000 yrs old and 650 feet thick, 100 square miles.

    The IPCC model suggested Larsen B would last thousands of years, but remarkably, it broke up and crashed in 3 short days. Trouble is: It’s the “cork” holding back land-based glacial ice. That cork is out of the bottle, which will accelerate Antarctica ice flow to the sea. Ouch!

    Historically, as recently as 1979 Pine Island Ice Shelf and Thwaites Ice Shelf were status quo for decades, not much change. Then, things suddenly went haywire, changing very rapidly, to wit:

    1995- Losing 70M-acre feet/yr

    2006- Losing 220M-acre feet/yearly – an astounding annualized rate.

    Notice the remarkable pick up in acceleration over 11 years. That’s bad news.

    According to Surace, for perspective purposes, Pine Island and Thwaites have been in place millions of years, but are now (2008) melting and thinning at record pace. It they collapse, 6 feet sea level rise.  Not only that, NASA spotted a weak underbelly in recent (2007-08) radar images.

    Accordingly, in 2008, the British Antarctica Survey estimated: “Thwaites is in danger of imminent collapse.”

    No collapse models were found in the IPCC model, as of 2008, only expecting slow melt over time. Unfortunately, behind Thwaites is the West Antarctica Ice Sheet, and if that collapses, sea levels up 18 feet.

    IPCC Models, as of 2008, show nothing about this risk to such a vast extent.

    Heavens to Betsy! Surace was conservative about Antarctica. July 12, 2017, the Larsen C Ice Shelf crashed, a trillion-ton iceberg, fundamentally changing the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula. As a result, National Geographic will have to redraw the World Atlas.

    The recent tally of ice shelf collapses:

    1995 – Larsen A Ice Shelf collapses

    2002 – Larsen B Ice Shelf splinters and collapses

    2017 – Larsen C Ice Shelf falls apart

    Problem is… the ice shelves, which extend over water, serve as giant buffers, holding back the flow of inland glaciers where the real serious ice flow originates, like a hockey goalie stopping pucks. Hopelessly, it must be late in the game, as Antarctica’s gone Full Monty without its goalie.

    Paleoclimate Perspective

    For a broader perspective, Surace segues to a discussion of the paleoclimate record, painting a most interesting picture of climate change over millennia:

    1) 3M years ago: sea level was 75 feet higher than today with CO2 at 400 ppm and only 3 degrees warmer than 2008. The reason 75 feet higher back then, and not today with similar CO2 levels, it happened gradually, over centuries, not over decades, like today.

    2) 20,000 yrs ago- 400 feet lower sea level and CO2 was 200 ppm.

    Thereby proving that CO2 levels in the atmosphere directly impact sea levels.

    The Amazon

    Amazon Rain Patterns are changing as atmospheric warming shifts rain away from the Amazon. As a result, multiple droughts are taking a toll on overall growth. In point of fact, only 3-5 years of severe drought kills most trees.

    For point of reference, Amazonian trees store 77B tons of CO2 which equals 20 yrs of man-made CO2. But, when trees die and during forest fires, CO2 is released back into the atmosphere. This is happening today (2008), but not factored into the IPCC model.

    Here’s an Amazon update, as referenced in National Geographic:

    In the time it takes to read this article, an area of Brazil’s rainforest larger than 200 football fields will have been destroyed. The market forces of globalization are invading the Amazon.

    Especially bad news as “the world’s lungs” take one hit after another. That wunderkind of nature experienced unprecedented back-to-back-to-back severe droughts, 2005, 2010, and 2016, unheard of throughout geologic history. This one fact alone is worthy of ringing the bell at the public square, “all hands on deck.”

    Permafrost

    Ancient permafrost stores tons and tons of methane in Siberia, but it is already releasing 50M tons per year equivalent to 1B tons of CO2. Sorrowfully, methane release is rapidly accelerating since average temps now run 32F. In fact, the entire Siberian region is on the verge of collapse. According to Surace, here’s the problem: If it all melted or collapsed, it would add 30F to average earth temps, scorching agricultural crops into blackened brittle stems.

    IPCC models make no assumptions about this. But, according to Surace, it is already happening.

    Here’s guessing that Surace would be shocked, knees folding under, by the current status of Arctic methane. Again, this is a non-populated area, and that’s a good thing, as it’s coming apart at the seams. For example, Russian scientists have already, as of 2018, discovered 7,000 Siberian pingos, mounds containing mucho methane. Vladimir Romanovsky, geophysist at University of Alaska, estimates there could be as many as 100,000 pingos across the Arctic permafrost.

    Furthermore, Surace would likely drop to his knees upon hearing another latest: Recent measurements in Alaska show biological sources alone emitting 220M tons of GHG over a two-year time period, which is equivalent to all U.S. commercial emissions per annum. In short, the planet’s ecosystem is now competing with humans in GHG emissions, or in other words, if humans dropped dead, the planet will self-feed greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in an anomalous fashion, meaning not normal, not natural, incipient Runaway Global Warming. That news should take Surace down to his knees and prostrate him onto the ground.

    Oceans

    According to Surace, the oceans are changing dramatically, but that may be an understatement. For eons, the ocean served as a CO2 sink, but it has probably absorbed all it can. Since 1850 it has absorbed 130B tons of CO2 from humans. Nowadays, according to Surace, it’s more acidic and nearly maxed-out as carbon sink. According to him, over time, the ocean could become a source of CO2, similar to what’s happened on land in Alaska only recently. Once again, the IPCC models forget to calculate this threat.

    An update, as of 2018, too much CO2, too much heat, and too much acidification in the oceans would require an additional 100-page article. It’s that bad!

    Methane Clathrates at Bottom of Ocean

    Surace discussed a paleoclimatic event 55M years ago: clathrates (containing frozen methane over the eons) broke open and ocean temps rose a few degrees, shattering clathrates over the following 10 years, as temps rose 18F very rapidly leading to mass extinction. That happened millions of years ago.

    IPCC models do not include mention of clathrates.

    As of 2018, Russian scientists in conjunction with Americans have identified massive quantities of methane releasing into the atmosphere in the Arctic, especially around the East Siberian Arctic Shelf where waters are only 50 metres deep.

    The world’s foremost authority on the region, Dr. Natalia Shakova, stated:

    As we showed in our articles, in the ESAS (East Siberian Arctic Shelf), in some places, subsea permafrost is reaching the thaw point. In other areas it could have reached this point already. And what can happen then? The most important consequence could be in terms of growing methane emissions… a linear trend becomes exponential. This edge between it being linear and becoming exponential is very fine and lies between frozen and thawed states of subsea permafrost. This is what we call the turning point…. Following the logic of our investigation and all the evidence that we accumulated so far, it makes me think that we are very near this point. And in this particular point, each year matters. This is the big difference between being on the linear trend where hundreds and thousands of years matter, and being on the exponential where each year matters.4

    When Dr. Shakova mentions “exponential versus linear,” she references an astounding fact, to wit: Thirty (30) linear steps to the water cooler across the room would be equivalent, if 30 exponential steps, to circumnavigation of the planet. That’s exponential. That’s a nightmare scientists like Dr. Shakova live with.

    Stern Report for British Government

    Finally, Sucrea mentions the Stern Report to the British government, assessing the worst case. Assuming worst-case scenario, here’s their list of outcomes ten years ago:

    – Sea rise 15-20 feet in few decades

    – Underwater Florida, NYC, Monterey, London, Tokyo

    – 1B people displaced, sick and/or dead

    – Massive water and food shortages

    – $20T worldwide damages

    – Food and water wars.

    Amazingly and fascinatingly, all of the climate events mentioned above occur where people do not live, do not see, and do not sense the danger. But, significantly, they are happening right now.

    1. Andrea Thompson, “Slow-Motion Ocean: Atlantic’s Circulation Is Weakest in 1,600 Years”, Scientific American, April 11, 2018.
    2. “Storms over Arctic Ocean”, Arctic News, August 19, 2017.
    3. Eli Kintisch, “The Great Greenland Meltdown”, Science, February 23, 2017.
    4. “Nature Communication Journal, Current Rates and Mechanisms of Subsea Permafrost Degradation in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf”, Article No. 15872 June 22, 2017.