Category Archives: Permafrost

The Truth About IPCC Reports

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in many respects, is a Delphic institution whose reports are a function of political discretion as it provides justification for nation/state policies that are seldom fulfilled; e.g., only a handful of the 193 signatory nations to Paris 15 have met commitments. This scandalous outright failure at a dicey time for the climate system only serves to hasten loss of stability and integrity of the planet’s most important ecosystems.

That provocative depiction is examined in a recent Nick Breeze ClimateGenn podcast interview: Existential Risk Management with David Spratt, research director of the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Melbourne. Dr. Spratt is highly regarded for solid research, which is evidenced throughout his refreshingly straightforward interview.

Spratt’s interview tackles: (1) failings of the IPCC, (2) tipping points, and (3) a nearly out of control global warming challenge that’s not realistically understood, even as wobbly ecosystems start to falter.

The truth is the IPCC has been politicized to such an extent that its reports unintentionally confuse public opinion whilst misdirecting public policy issues for mitigation. At the center of the issue the IPCC does not expose the full extent of existential risk, which happens to be such an unthinkable event so hard to accept that nobody believes it will ever really truly happen. More on this later.

During the interview a tipping point is discussed in the context of reduction of Arctic summer sea ice to 3/4ths of its volume, as the Arctic’s highly reflective ice melts into a dark background of sea water that easily absorbs almost all of the incoming solar radiation, in turn, absorbing warmth that would otherwise be 80%-90% reflected back to outer space via the long-standing albedo effect of ice. In turn, a warming Arctic causes excessive warmth to hit Greenland, which, according to Dr. Jason Box (professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland) is already “past the point of system stability,” meaning past a tipping point of no return. Recently Box publicly warned of abrupt climate change forthcoming. Meanwhile, Greenland’s melt releases cold water into the Atlantic, in turn, slowing down the Atlantic Gulf Stream, and, as follows, weakens Atlantic circulation that, in turn, negatively impacts precipitation in the eastern Amazon.

Like a series of dominoes falling one onto another, one initial event (a) loss of Arctic sea ice brings (b) warmer Arctic waters (c) cascading into more Greenland melt-off, causing (d) slower Atlantic circulation, triggering (e) loss of precipitation for the eastern Amazon. The net result because of one non-linear event; i.e., loss of Arctic sea ice triggers four additional major events. Ipso facto, those five events reinforce each other for who knows how long?

According to Spratt: “So, we see that a change in one system; i.e., Arctic ice volume echoes or has domino effects through other systems,” which triggers a tipping point that, in fact, is already at a seminal stage.

Regarding the IPCC’s approach to risk, first it is important to emphasize the fact that big risks must be the key to successful climate change analysis. By definition, big risks are at the top end of a range of possibilities. But, the IPCC does not see risks that way. Their view is more generalized and this has become normalized over the past 20 years; e.g., we have a 50% chance of not exceeding 2°C with our current carbon budget. According to Spratt: That is catastrophically wrong. That type of risk assessment has been normalized now for 20 years in policy-making, and “it is horribly wrong.”

When risks are existential, and they clearly are in this particular instance, everybody knows if it gets to the range of 3C to 4C pre-industrial (and 60% of scientists say we’re already headed for 3C plus) “we’ll destroy human civilization.”

Therefore, when risks are existential, you can’t look at an on-average analysis. Rather, you must look at the worst possible outcome as your primary calculation. It’s the only way to approach an existential risk.

In that regard, and interestingly enough, the foreword of the IPCC report of a few years ago actually said: “Critical instances calculating probabilities don’t matter. What matters is the high-end possibility.”

But nowadays a figure such as “50% probability” introduces a fundamental problem with the assessment process. More realistically, the proper way to look at existential risks is by stating x-amount of additional carbon has a 50% chance of reaching 2C but also has a 10% chance of 4C, or in other words, a 50% chance of staying below 2C is also a 10% chance of reaching 4C.  Would you take an elevator ride with a 10% chance of the cable breaking at the 75th floor?

When it comes to existential risks, the expectation should be: “Why should we accept risks with the climate system that we would not accept with our own lives?” They are really one in the same.

Thus, the core of existential risk management must focus on the high-end not middling ranges of probability. The focus must be, and this is an absolute: “What is the worst that can happen, and what do we have to do to prevent it?”

That assumption is not part of the latest IPCC report. When it comes to non-linear responses of cascades, the IPCC says: “There is no evidence of such non-linear responses at the global scaling climate projections for the next century. But, according to Spratt: “This is just wrong.”

After all, “everybody knows, for example, that emissions from permafrost are non-trivial at the moment. We know that warming in the last decade has been higher than in previous decades and the system is about to warm at an accelerating rate as major systems are already changing state. And the IPCC says there is no evidence of moving into non-linear climate change.  This is absurd!” (Spratt)

Ipso facto, because of a badly misjudged bias, IPCC models can’t deal with non-linear processes. As a result, they’re missing the big picture by a country mile. And, mitigation policies, for what that’s worth, are inadequate.

Yet, according to Dr. Spratt: “The paleoclimate record tells us that, in the long run, each one-degree of warming brings 10-20 meters (32- 66 feet) of sea level rise. Frankly, that would be a legitimate statement for the IPCC, but they do not deal with non-linear events.”

All of which leads to inadvertent problems for policy makers because people judge the IPCC report as pure science. “It is not. The IPCC is a political body. Diplomats of 190 governments run the IPCC. They appoint the lead authors for reports. The IPCC is the intersection of policy and politics.” (Spratt)

Meanwhile, as if misdirection by the IPCC is not enough of a problem, change is happening so much faster than forecasts. For example, early IPCC reports said Antarctica would be stable for a thousand years. But, back in 2007, Richard Alley (Penn State) said it’s already melting 100 years ahead of schedule.

Of special concern in the near future, when the Arctic goes Full Monty, a 100% ice-free summer, “it will drive changes that will be unstoppable.” This existential risk is already capriciously inconstant across the entire northern horizon.

Furthermore, it’s already apparent to many scientists that we’ll be at 1.5C a decade from now, regardless of emissions over the next 10 years. In fact, 1.5C around 2030 looks to be locked-in in part because of the aerosol dilemma. If so, we’re only a decade away from Hot House Earth becoming reality.  Thenceforth, the climate system will accelerate much faster than ever before.

Fourteen years ago Spratt published a book Climate Code Red, which codified the idea of a climate emergency by conceptually stating that the climate problem could not be solved “with business as usual.”  (It’s still business as usual, but bigger.)

A review of the book states: Climate Code Red: The Case for Emergency Action is a 2008 book which presents scientific evidence that the global warming crisis is worse than official reports and national governments have so far indicated.

Based upon this current interview, Spratt seems to indicate that it is even worse (actually bigger) today than it was in 2008.

To avert what looks to be an inevitable existential event requires an enormous commitment of resources comparable to a wartime economy with single-minded focus on climate policy, and it also requires a major change in the way society works. Those are awfully big requests, so one has to wonder what’s truly feasible.

As things now stand current mitigation stems from the IPCC’s embedded idea that there can be “incremental non-destructive change as a solution… This will not work.” (Spratt)

The harsh truth is global emissions are continuing to go up, as all of the decarbonization efforts like wind, solar, electric cars, and energy efficiency only serve to produce “more energy for growth.” For example, if the global economy grows 2% per year and 2% of the energy system converts to renewables, then the same amount of fossil fuel energy is used every year. That is a very rough facsimile of what has been happening. Fossil fuel use as a percentage of all energy is essentially the same today as 50 years ago.

Moreover, “there is no way that a system with ‘hands-off’ government, other than a few token regulations, and ‘the free market deciding the outcome’ is going to work.” In fact, the evidence is already telling us it does not work. Not even close.

A true fixit requires overwhelmingly powerful political leadership. In that regard, according to Spratt: “What I really fear and my experience is that those in the elite, whether it’s in business or in politics, simply, I think, do not understand the problem as it really exists.”

There’s a profound ignorance because of the IPCC telling a story that incrementalism is a successful approach when it’s clearly not.

A collateral problem is a large segment of the professional climate advocacy NGO community has been “swallowed by the whale,” meaning they buy into the lame Conference of the Parties “COP” meetings and swallow the corporate-origin net zero nonsense by 2050, over and over again, umm, but it’s too little too late, horribly misdirected. Whereas, according to several scientists, 2030 is the deadly deadline, not incremental movement to 2050.

The crux of the matter is that the most prominent existential risk in human history does not conform to scientific models. It’s almost always ahead of the scientific models, sometimes by several decades. Then, why would it wait around for net zero by 2050?

The post The Truth About IPCC Reports first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Climate Breakdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Past 12 mos+3.12 (as of February 2022)

2011-2020 + 2.43

2001-2010 + 2.04

1991-2000 + 1.55

1981-1990  + 1.56

1971-1980  + 1.35

1961-1970  + 0.91

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate scientists on strike!

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

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

When to Build Sea Walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do something!

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

Code Red on FacingFuture.TV  

FacingFuture.TV recently hosted a preview of the upcoming IPCC 2021 UN climate report, which report guides the gathering of dignitaries from around the world meeting in Glasgow this November to discuss, analyze, and decide how to deal with global warming/climate change.

According to the Code Red interview, the IPCC is taking off its ultra conservative facemask of prior years to reveal a surly cantankerous grim sneer on a darkened background. In short, climate change is much worse than the IPCC has previously been willing to admit.

The FacingFuture.TV interview features Mark Andersen, CEO of Strategic News Service, Brian Wright a natural medicine expert, and Peter Carter an IPCC expert reviewer. The threesome expressed dismay over the failure of the general public to “get the climate change message” clearly enough to force policymakers to take some kind of massive urgent all-hands-on-deck immediate without hesitation corrective measures to head off an undeviating course of surefire destruction.

The following snippets from that interview underscore a level of frustration and a sense of urgency as a clarion call for anybody and everybody to demand an immediate halt to fossil fuels.

What’s new with the IPCC?

For starters, according to Dr. Carter, the new report is a “definitive report.” Its conclusions are definite. In other words, the IPCC is taking the issue much more seriously than ever before. This is the first report to state that global climate change is “unequivocally caused by human activities.”

Moreover, previous IPCC reports inadvertently gave the impression that society has plenty of time until 2050 to make the necessary changes, which has unintentionally served to bolster the interests of the fossil fuel industry and extend forecasts for future production by the International Energy Agency

In strong opposition, this new report forcefully and effectively states that unless there are immediate rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that limit warming to close to 1.5° C or even 2° C, the problem will extend “beyond reach” and beyond any chance for some level of control. The three key words are: 1) immediate (2) rapid (3) large-scale.

The three participants discussed climate mega events that, by any and all standards, should be turning heads amongst the general public and certainly amongst policymakers as mega events openly display powerful destructiveness of a crazed climate system that’s been thrown off kilter by human activity.

Mega events are world-changing events that literally alter the dynamics of the climate system from friendly and supportive of life to difficult and horribly challenging for life. Alas, the worse has already started; for example, carbon sinks are starting to fail, meaning, nature is starting to emit greenhouse gases in competition with cars, planes, trains, and factories. What could possibly be more troubling?

According to Dr. Carter, one mega event that sends a clear message of unbridled double-trouble dead ahead:

We’ve lost the Amazon Rainforest. It’s a very hard thing to say… The Amazon has tipped. It is no longer a carbon sink buffering and soaking up some of our CO2 emissions. It has now started to emit CO2 emissions, and that is very, very clear from the satellite images… The Amazon is pouring out CO2.

Equally troubling:

The other mega event is the Arctic has also switched… first recognized by the NOAA in 2016, and in 2019 published via a report that the Arctic has definitely tipped and is now a source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally:

Permafrost is emitting all three of the main greenhouse gases. It’s emitting methane, much more carbon dioxide than anybody anticipated, just discovered by research five years ago, but it’s also emitting the third and extremely powerful greenhouse gas, which is nitrous oxide … an absolute definite mega event.

Moreover:

A huge change in the amount of methane being emitted from the Arctic,” is now prevalent: “There is a vast amount of methane this year for the first time being emitted and it’s coming from a huge area of Siberia where the deepest permafrost is located. We’re talking about a thousand miles of permafrost.

1,000 miles of permafrost emitting greenhouse gases could easily be a stopping point for this quickie review of the interviews, especially as Biblical scale fires have raged in Siberia for all to see on TV. The Barents Observer recently reported more than 40% of Northern Russian buildings starting to collapse, including risks to hydro dams and a nuclear power plant. How much worse does it have to get to spell out the message that the planet is experiencing severe extreme levels of duress?

Yet, there is more.

Craters formed by methane bombs are erupting as permafrost melts, when methane vaporizes underneath causing enormous explosions leaving craters 100 feet across and 100 feet deep. Seventeen of these methane bomb explosions have been recorded in only one region of Siberia, indicating that methane under the permafrost tundra is reaching a critical stage and exploding.

Ipso facto, the planet is dispelling/forcing gas so powerfully that craters form, as if asteroids hit, like the surface of the moon.

Moreover, not only is permafrost blowing up in plain sight, the heating of the oceans is way ahead of the heating of the atmosphere. This is but one more example of a major carbon sink starting to lose its mojo by absorbing way too much CO2 and having absorbed way too much heat.

Indeed, the entire planet is bordering on a scale of trouble never experienced by humankind as major carbon sinks start to fail, one after another. There are no backups, and once carbon sinks completely fail, climate change will be wide open for rapid-fire expansion, but when? Answer: Nobody knows for sure but the early signals are not good.

According to the interview, the IPCC in the past has inferred that the carbon sinks that keep the planet in balance will be just fine. And scientific assessments of the carbon sinks, until only recently, said the carbon sinks would be fine. But no, all of that has changed in the new IPCC “Working Group I Report” major carbon sinks are going to fail, land first and then the ocean is going to fail. For innocent bystanders, that information is almost impossible to process, as believable.

This review of the FacingFuture.TV interview could easily stop right here, even though there is much more, but in point of fact, the big dance is over if the planet’s major carbon sinks fail. Thereafter, there’s not much to discuss.

For whatever reasons, which are likely obvious and right under our collective noses, with dispatch, the IPCC has taken off the gloves and decided it’s time to fight. Hopefully, policymakers wake up to the fact that time for dilly-dallying is up.

Stop talking, do something momentously big.

Still, here’s more crucial data from that interview: “There’s been a big shocking recent paper from NASA and NOAA on energy, in which they’ve done something pretty brilliant. They’ve combined, and reviewed, the satellite data on land energy and they’ve used the NOAA buoys (Argo floats) which are distributed all around the world’s oceans, and they’ve checked energy from the heat point of view, which is very reliable… what they found was that the energy imbalances doubled in just the past 14 years.”

If the energy imbalance for the planet doubled in only 14 years, which nature by itself should take centuries (100s) or more likely thousands (1000s) of years and not a measly 14 years, then, it’s almost impossible to know what else to say about the dire stage of climate change humanity is about to face.

The wake up call implied in the FacingFuture.TV interview is overwhelming and way beyond further attempts to try to explain more of the details in this lonely article.

Bottom line, it’s no surprise that the IPCC has finally decided to come out of its protective conservative shell because the data is one shocking event after another after another, almost impossible to describe without, by default, coming across as excessively pessimistic and fatalistic and difficult to read as well as almost impossible to accept. Therein lies the problem of conveying the message.

The post Code Red on FacingFuture.TV   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Siberia’s Hot Streak

East Siberian Sea is boiling with Methane (EcoWatch)

Global warming in Siberia is on a hot streak! It was +6°C last year. In like manner, if the entire planet hit +6°C above pre-industrial, it would be lights out, life snuffed out, sayonara.

Meanwhile, the Siberian hot streak theoretically threatens the entire planet with methane-induced runaway global warming, the dreaded monster of the North that takes no prisoners. As it’s happening now, in real time today, Siberia is demonstrating the impact of deadly serious climate reactions to too much heat, too soon. This fiasco cannot be dismissed or ignored. It should be at the top of the agenda for COP26 in Glasgow this coming November.

Moreover, it should also be at the top of the agenda for every leader of every country that attends COP26, or does not attend. The underlying message is straight forward and simple: Clean up the fossil fuel death warrant or risk a red-hot planet with concomitant premature deaths of complex life at lower latitudes by the bucketful. And, that’s just for starters.

After all, already at only 1.2°C above baseline for the planet, where we are today, the Wet Bulb Temperature effect has been detected at the UAE and in Pakistan, accordingly.  At 95°F and 90% humidity a person seated under a shade tree with a bottle of water will die in approximately 6 hours, as organs shut down because the body cannot shed heat at that combination of heat/humidity.

Now, Siberia is presenting the world with a new problem. There’s a new methane kid on the block. Inordinate levels of methane in Siberia were traced to hydrocarbon reservoir rocks, not wetlands, not permafrost, not microbial methane. This ancient methane is stored in carbonates. This is not good news. It is horrible news. 1

The aforementioned study of a previously unexplored region in Siberia discovered large quantities of methane released from exposed limestone in the Yenisey-Khatanga Basin, which is a few hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, one of the coldest regions of the planet, until recently. Hmm.

A headline in Smithsonian Magazine tells the story: “Permafrost Thaw in Siberia Creates a Ticking ‘Methane Bomb’ of Greenhouse Gases, Scientists Warn,” Smithsonian Magazine, August 5, 2021.

According to the lead author of the methane study, Nikolaus Froitzheim, a geoscientist at the University of Bonn:

Interpreting this data correctly ‘may make the difference between catastrophe and apocalypse’ as the climate crisis worsens. 2

Those two alternatives as mentioned by Dr. Froitzheim do not leave much room for error.

Scientists were surprised by the discovery, as stated by Dr. Froitzheim:

We would have expected elevated methane in areas in wetlands… But these were not over wetlands but on limestone outcrops. There is very little soil in these. It was really a surprising signal from hard rock, not wetlands. 2

According to the Smithsonian article, methane in the Far North is very rambunctious, to say the least, and very dangerous for numerous reasons that could impact the entire planet. In fact, along similar lines, the Climate Crisis Advisory Group/UK is calling for a “Global State of Emergency.” Sir David King chairs the Climate Crisis Advisory Group with an advisory team at Cambridge University.

A Moscow Times article “Rapid Arctic Warming Is Accelerating Permafrost Collapse in Siberia, New Report Warns,” (September 7, 2021) goes on to explain that Arctic temperatures are now 3.5°C above pre-industrial while the planet in general is 1.2°C above that baseline. Furthermore, “Scientists have been shocked that the warm weather conducive to permafrost thawing is occurring roughly 70 years ahead of model projections.”

Meaning, certain aspects of climate change are already at the year 2090 when compared to climate models. Does this mean that climate science and policymakers for major countries are behind the eight ball, by a lot, really by a lot? Answer: Yes, it does!

Of particular interest and of more than passing concern, the Moscow Times article claims the nuclear facility Bilibino Nuclear Power Plant, as well as numerous hydro dams around Magadan (far northeastern Russia) are threatened with collapse because of cascading permafrost. It should be noted that Russia is home to 10% of the world’s hydro resources, mostly in Siberia.

Furthermore, according to a terrifying article in The Barents Observer: “The Looming Arctic Collapse: More Than 40% of Northern Russian Buildings are Starting to Crumble” d/d June 28, 2021, up to 30% of Russia’s oil and gas production facilities are not operable now because of the collapse of infrastructure (thank god for small favors). That same article quotes Dmitry Drozdev, Head of the Russian Cryosphere Institute:

This process is irreversible, and it is impossible to stop it.

Does anybody anywhere on the planet doubt the importance of COP26 getting it right?

  1. Nikolaus Froitzheim, et al, “Methane Release from Carbonate Rock Formations in the Siberian Permafrost Area During and After the 2020 Heat Wave”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 10, 2021.
  2. Ibid.
The post Siberia’s Hot Streak first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What’s Up With COP26?

The UK (in partnership with Italy) will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, COP26 in Glasgow on October 31- November 12, 2021.

COP26 will be one of the most significant meetings in modern human history, comparable to the meeting of the Big Three at the Tehran Conference November 28, 1943 when the Normandy invasion was agreed, codenamed Operation Overlord and launched in June 1944. Thenceforth, tyranny was stopped, an easily identified worldwide threat symbolized by a toothbrush mustache. Today’s tyranny is faceless but recklessly beyond the scope of that era because it’s already everywhere all at once! And, ten-times-plus as powerful as all of the munitions of WWII.

What’s at risk at COP26?

Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs answers that all-important query in a summary report intended for heads of governments, entitled: Climate Change Risk Assessment 2021.

The report introduces the subject with three key statements:

1) The World is dangerously off track to meet the Paris Agreement goals.

2) The risks are compounding.

3) Without immediate action the impacts will be devastating in the coming decades.

The report highlights current emissions status with resulting temperature pathways. Currently, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) indicate 1% reduction of emissions by 2030 as compared to 2010 levels. To that end, and somewhat shockingly, if emissions are not drastically curtailed by 2030, the report details a series of serious impacts to humanity locked in by 2040-50, which is the time-frame for item #3 to kick in, which states: “Impacts will be devastating.”

But, hark: Governments at COP26 will have an opportunity to accelerate emissions reductions by “ambitious revisions of their NDCs.” Whereas, if emissions follow the current NDCs, the chance of keeping temperatures below 2°C above pre-industrial levels (the upper limit imposed by Paris ’15) is less than 5%.

Not only that, but any relapse or stasis in emissions reduction policies could lead to a worst case 7°C, which the paper labels a 10% chance at the moment.

The paper lambastes the current fad of “net zero pledges” which “lack policy detail and delivery mechanisms.” Meanwhile, the deficit between the NDC targets and the carbon budget widens by the year. In essence, empty pledges don’t cut it, period!

Failure to slash emissions by 2030 will have several serious negative impacts by 2040:

  • 9B people will be hit by major heatwaves at various intervals of time.
  • 400 million people will be exposed to temperatures that exceed “the workability threshold.” Too hot to work!
  • Of more immediate and extremely shocking concern, if drastic reductions do not occur by 2030, the paper suggests “the number of people on the planet exposed to heat stress exceeding the survivability threshold is likely to surpass 10 million a year.” This can only refer to the infamous Wet Bulb Temperature, meaning:A threshold is reached when the air temperature climbs above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the humidity is above 90 percent. The human body has limits. If “temperature plus humidity” is high enough, or +95/90, even a healthy person seated in the shade with plentiful water to drink will suffer severely or likely die. Climate models only a few years ago predicted widespread wet-bulb thresholds to hit late this century; however, global warming is not waiting around that long. Indeed, the Wet Bulb Temperature death count of 10 million per year nearly scales alongside WWII deaths of 75 million, both military and civilian, over six years or 12.5M per year.
  • Population demands will necessitate 50% more food by 2050, but without huge emissions reductions starting now, yields will decline by 2040 as croplands hit by severe drought rises to 32%/year. Fifty percent more food demand in the face of 32% rise in drought impact does not add up very well.
  • Wheat and rice account for 37% of calorific intake, but without drastic cuts, >35% of global cropland for these critical crops will be hit by damaging hot spells.
  • By 2040, without the big cuts in emissions, 700 million people per year will be exposed to droughts lasting at least 6 months duration at a time. “No region will be spared.”

Accordingly “Many of the impacts described are likely to be locked in by 2040, and become so severe they go beyond the limits of what many countries can adapt to… Climate change risks are increasing over time, and what might be a small risk in the near term could embody overwhelming impacts in the medium to long term.” (Pg. 5)

Chapter 4 of the paper covers Cascading Systemic Risks, which is an eye-opener. Systemic risks materialize as a chain, or cascade, impacting a whole system, inclusive of people, infrastructure, economy, societal systems and ecosystems. 70 experts analyzed cascading risks, as follows:  “The cascading risks over which the participating experts expressed greatest concern were the interconnections between shifting weather patterns, resulting in changes to ecosystems, and the rise of pests and diseases, which, combined with heatwaves and drought, will likely drive unprecedented crop failure, food insecurity and migration of people. Subsequently, these impacts will likely result in increased infectious diseases (greater prevalence of current infectious diseases, as well as novel variants), and a negative feedback loop compounding and amplifying each of these impacts.” (Pg. 38)

“Climate change contributes to the creation of conditions that are more susceptible to wildfires, principally via hotter and drier conditions. In the period 2015–18, measured against 2001–14, 77 per cent of countries saw an increase in daily population exposure to wildfires, with India and China witnessing 21 million and 12 million exposures respectively. California experienced a fivefold increase in annual burned area between 1972 and 2018. There, average daytime temperatures of warm-season days have increased by around 1.4°C since the early 1970s, increasing the conditions for fires, and consistent with trends simulated by climate models.” (Pg. 39)

And, the biggest shocking statistic of all pertains to the high risk red code danger region of the planet that is ripe for massive methane emissions: “In Siberia, a prolonged heatwave in the first half of 2020 caused wide-scale wildfires, loss of permafrost and an invasion of pests. It is estimated that climate change has already made such events more than 600 times more likely in this region.” (Pg. 40)

“600 times more likely” in the planet’s most methane-enriched permafrost region is reason enough to cut CO2 missions to the bone, no questions asked.

Several climate change issues dangerously reflect on fragility of the food system and a pronounced lack of adaptation measures as well as natural systems and ecosystems “at the edge of capacity.” Lack of social safety and social cohesion is found everywhere, all of which can erupt as a result of an unforgiving climate system that is overly stressed and broken.

Cascades will likely lead to breakdown of governance due to limited food supplies and lack of income bringing on increasingly violent extremists groups, paramilitary intervention, organized violence, and conflict between people and states, all of which has already commenced.

Already, migration pressures are a leading edge of climate-related breakdowns in society. Each year in 2008-20 an average of 21.8 million people have been displaced by weather-related disasters of extreme heat, floods, storms, and wildfires. In the most recent year, 30 million people in 143 countries worldwide were displaced by such climate disasters.

Without doubt, the eyes of the world will be focused on COP26 to judge commitments by governments.

There is no time left for failure because failure breeds even worse failure.

The post What’s Up With COP26? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Large-Scale Permafrost Thawing

Ice is seen here under permafrost soil in Spitzbergen, the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. (SeppFriedhuber/Getty Images)

Twenty-five percent (25%) of the Northern Hemisphere is permafrost. By all appearances, it is melting well beyond natural background rates, in fact, substantially!

Making matters much, much worse, new research has identified past warming events of large-scale permafrost thaw in the Arctic that may be analogous to today, thus spotting a parallel problem of large-scale thawing accompanied by massively excessive carbon emissions spewing into the atmosphere, like there’s no tomorrow.1

Permafrost thawing is not, at all times, simply “thawing.” Of course, as a standalone, the word “thawing” implies a rather evenly keeled methodical process without any specific definition of scale. But, there’s thawing, and then, there’s “large-scale thawing,” which is kinda like turning loose a behemoth. The results are never pretty.

As global warming powers up, like it’s doing now, it has a penchant for finding enormous spans of frozen mud and silt filled with iced-species in quasi-permanent frozen states known as permafrost. As it melts, it’s full of surprises, some interesting, as well as some that are horribly dangerous, for example, emitting huge quantities of carbon, thus kicking into high gear some level of runaway global warming that threatens to wipeout agriculture.

As a matter of fact, according to the research, no more than a few degrees of warming, only a few, can trigger abrupt thaws of vast frozen land thereby releasing vast quantities of greenhouse gases as a product of collapsing landscapes, and it feeds upon itself. Indeed, the research effort identified “surges in greenhouse gas emissions… on a massive scale.”2

The study suggests that massive permafrost ecosystem thawing is subject to indeterminate timing sequences, but it’s armed with a “sensitive trigger” abruptly altering the landscape in massive fashion. In short, an event could arise out of the blue. It’s well known that Arctic permafrost holds considerably more carbon captured in a frozen state than has already been emitted into the atmosphere.

Already, over just the past two years, other field studies have shown instances where thawing permafrost is 70 years ahead of scientists’ models, prompting the thought that thawing may be cranking up even as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fails to anticipate it.

After all, permafrost is not included in the IPCC’s carbon budget, meaning signatories to the Paris accord of 2015 will need to recalculate their quest to save the world from too much carbon emitting too fast for any kind of smooth functionality of the planet’s climate system. In turn, it undoubtedly negatively impacts the support, or lack thereof, for food-growing regions, which could actually collapse, similar to cascading dominos. Poof!

In the Canadian High Arctic:

Observed maximum thaw depths at our sites are already exceeding those projected to occur by 2090.3

According to Susan Natali of Woods Hole Research Center (Massachusetts) the Arctic has already transformed from a carbon sink to a carbon emitter:

Given that the Arctic has been taking up carbon for tens of thousands of years, this shift to a carbon source is important because it highlights a new dynamic in the functioning of the Earth System.4

A 14-year study referenced by Dr. Natali shows annualized 1.66 gigatonnes CO2 emitted from the Arctic versus 1.03 gigatonnes absorbed, a major turning point in paleoclimate history, a chilling turn for the worse that threatens 10,000 years of our wonderful Holocene era “not too hot, not too cold.” Alas, that spectacular Goldilocks life of perfection is rapidly becoming a remembrance of the past.

Additionally, according to Vladimir Romanovsky – Permafrost Laboratory, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks  (UAF) there are definitive geophysical signs of permafrost that survived thousands of years now starting to thaw.5

As stated by Romanovsky: “The new (Jannik Martens, Remobilization) research is yet more evidence that the amplified warming in the Arctic can release carbon at a massive scale.”

Nobody knows how soon such an event will break loose in earnest, but global warming has already penetrated the upper permafrost layers, as cliffs of coastal permafrost are collapsing at an accelerating rate. In short, the current news about thawing/collapsing permafrost is decidedly negative and a threat to life, as we know it.

The Martens’ study conclusively states:

The results from this study on large-scale OC remobilization from permafrost are consistent with a growing set of observational records from the Arctic Ocean and provide support for modeling studies that simulated large injections of CO2 into the atmosphere during deglaciation (1416). This demonstrates that Arctic warming by only a few degrees may suffice to abruptly activate large-scale permafrost thawing, indicating a sensitive trigger for a threshold-like permafrost climate change feedback.1

Thus, as the Holocene era wanes right before humanity’s eyes, the Anthropocene, the age of humans, stands on the world stage all alone with its own shadow and with ever fewer, and fewer, and fewer vertebrates roaming amongst fields of scorched, blackened plant life. What, or who, will it eat?

According to the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and world renowned biologist E.O. Wilson:

If we choose the path of destruction, the planet will continue to descend irreversibly into the Anthropocene Epoch, the biologically final age in which the planet exists almost exclusively by,  for, and of ourselves.

  1. Jannik Martens, “Remobilization of Dormant Carbon From Siberian-Arctic Permafrost During Three Past Warming Events”, Science Advances, Vol. 6, No. 42, October 16, 2020.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Louise M. Farquharson et al, “Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic”, Geophysical Research Letters, June 10, 2019.
  4. “Thawing Permafrost Has Turned the Arctic Into a Carbon Emitter”, NewScientist, October 21, 2019.
  5. “New Climate Warnings in Old Permafrost: ‘It’s a Little Scary Because it’s Happening Under Our Feet,'” Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News, October 16, 2020.

The post Large-Scale Permafrost Thawing first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Thawing Arctic Permafrost  

It’s no surprise that first prize, or the blue ribbon, for exceeding 2°C above baseline goes to the Arctic with permafrost that covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere. Recognition is long overdue, as it’s been totally neglected far too long by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

This crucial nugget of knowledge comes by way of a recent virtual science session (1:27 in length) sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and can be watched in its entirety on YouTube:

The webcast is entitled: Thawing Arctic Permafrost: Regional and Global Impacts, hosted by John P. Holdren, Teresa and John Heinz, Professor of Environmental Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

The timing couldn’t be better. The Arctic Circle has been very newsworthy. As such, people must be wondering what to make of the disturbing news that’s unsettling, to an extreme.

According to Euronews, as of July 14th:

The extreme north and beyond the Arctic Circle has this year registered record temperatures. On June 20, the meteorological service of Russia recorded a peak of 38°C in Verkhoyansk, the highest recorded temperature since records began in the late nineteenth century.

This is contributing to the rapid melting of permafrost, the region’s frozen ground, on which are built many industrial construction sites and buildings, many for mining hydrocarbons.

The melting of the poles that act as temperature controls for atmospheric currents has consequences for the entire climate..

Decidedly, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.

According to Professor Holdren:

Temperatures across the Arctic are increasing 2 to 3 times faster than the global average… The Arctic will continue to be the leading edge of climate change.

The first speaker on the virtual webcast was Dr. Susan M. Natali, Associate Scientist and Arctic Program Director, Woods Hole Research Center, an Arctic ecologist focusing on the ecosystem and carbon cycling consequences of permafrost thaw.

According to Dr. Natali, the Arctic temperature anomaly is already 2°C warmer than the long-term average. The consequences include sea ice loss, melting of Greenland ice sheets, and permafrost thaw.

Permafrost thaw is monitored by boreholes drilled at depths of 20 meters (66 feet) throughout the Arctic. Thus, measured temperature changes avoid seasonal dynamics. These deep permafrost temperatures, in some instances, have been measured for up to 40 years. Results: Permafrost temps are markedly warming across the board, regardless of season.

Of note, Northern Hemisphere permafrost contains 1100-1500 billion tonnes of carbon in the form of ancient organic matter. For comparison purposes, this is twice the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere, and it is three times as much carbon as in the world’s forest biomass.

An obvious implication of Dr. Natali’s statements is humanity is playing with fire in a very big way by allowing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (cars, planes, and trains, etc.) to run wild, increasing by the month, by the year, by the decade with absolutely no end in sight, none whatsoever. At some point in time all of those billions of tonnes of carbon stored in frozen permafrost will start breaking lose beyond normal background rates and humanity will find its goose cooked, maybe well done.

According to Natali, permafrost carbon emissions are not included in the IPCC’s global carbon budget that targets 2°C or below, preferably below 1.5°C. Well, maybe a suddenly overheated Arctic will bring on an eventual recalculation of how the IPCC looks at and calculates the carbon budget. Better late than never.

And, here’s the distressing part (one of many): Fieldwork by scientists proved that permafrost is already a “net emitter of CO2,” this after thousands of years as a “carbon sink,” but no longer! As such, thousands of years of one of the largest carbon sinks on Earth erased by recklessness of human-generated over-heating ecosystems.

Not only that, according to Natali, permafrost thaw alone is equivalent to ~25% of the IPCC’s allowable emissions to stay below 1.5°C. Yet, the IPCC does not include permafrost in its carbon budget, meaning there’s a very nasty surprise down the line for the rah-rah climate mitigation crowd.

The second virtual speaker was Katey Walter Anthony, Aquatic Ecosystem Ecologist and Professor, Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska/Fairbanks.

Dr. Anthony has done fieldwork throughout Russia with a lot of work in Siberia (a hothouse nowadays). Her research focuses on thermokarst, lake formation, and greenhouse gas methane.

Per Dr. Anthony, current climate models in the world do not include carbon emissions from thermokarst lakes. Yet, they’re plentiful with millions of thermokarst lakes expanding and releasing methane all across the Arctic.

Not only that but permafrost soils contain 1500 gigatons of carbon which, according to Dr. Anthony, equates to 150 years of fossil fuel emissions under present conditions. Imagine turning lose a sizeable fraction of that carbon. Once again, nation/states’ carbon emission mitigation plans are dead certain to come up real short of professed goals.

Field tests on thermokarst lakes are conducted by lowering a bubble trap into the water to trap microbial methane seeps as the methane bubbles year round. Bubble traps exist in over 300 lakes throughout the Arctic.

It was 14,000 years ago, as the climate warmed, when permafrost thermokarst lakes flared up on the landscape, bringing 4°C warming over a period of 8,000 years. Nowadays, according to Dr. Anthony, a similar 4°C warming will likely occur over only 80 years in sharp contrast to 8,000 years in the paleoclimate record. Obviously, without her stating as such, it implies a climate system that’s on turbo charger training-wheels, real big ones.

We are standing at the threshold of abrupt change in permafrost carbon emissions.1

Mercy! And, all of those mitigation plans by 195 nations, but did they ever really get off the ground? The truth is emissions relentlessly climb upwards, ad nauseam. Thus, questioning who’s seriously watching the store?

John Holdren wrapped up the virtual session: We’re probably looking at 80 to 100 gigatons of carbon released from permafrost over this century. In turn, this takes a big bite out of the global carbon budget. According to Dr. Holdren, that prospect is in addition to a global temperature increase, to date, of 1.1°C to 1.2°C above baseline.

Permafrost, which is not included in the global carbon budget by the IPCC, could add 25% to 40%. That’s an enormous problem that lends itself to big trouble down the line. What’s a nation in the throes of carbon emission mitigation plans to do?

Nevertheless, Dr. Holdren, who co-chaired Obama’s President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, says it is still possible to mitigate enough to hold temps to 2°C. But at a cost of ~3% of world GDP. Ahem! He further nearly apologetically suggested that the hit to civilization for failure to mitigate would far exceed that cost, which happens to be 3% of $85T or a whopping $2.55T (that’s trillions). Hello, anybody still out there?

Meanwhile, after years of handwringing and gushing teardrops of green sympathizers, the world is still 80% dependent upon fossil fuels, a fact revealed by Dr. Holdren at the close of his presentation. That’s very troubling.

That’s the same 80% as 50 years ago and a clear signal of absolute failure by governments around the world and a resounding failure by the IPCC to fully implement/organize/promote its heavenly Paris ’15 plans to save the planet. It’s disgraceful!

As for final questions/thoughts via the virtual webcast:

According to Dr. Anthony: The East Siberian Arctic Sea is a place where “we’ve seen really large numbers of CH4 release.”

The following was not discussed in the webcast: Temperatures were recently 30-34C (86-93F) in the East Siberian Arctic Sea (ESAS) region, which region is equivalent in size to Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan combined and with 75% of the area in 50-80m, shallow waters, allowing quick and easy CH4 release from the sub-sea permafrost without oxidation. Drilling by other scientists has discovered enormous quantities of frozen methane, and noticeable thinning of the subsea permafrost. Trusted sources that closely follow CH4 emissions in the ESAS region are of the opinion: “It may be out of control.” But, it’s important to note that’s anecdotal information.

Also, disconcertingly, the heaviest season for methane release into the atmosphere has only just begun.

Making matters even worse, at the Top of the World, Arctic Ocean sea surface temperatures, which this time of year are typically 0.3°C (32°F) were recently 12°C (54°F). That’s downright spooky!

Postscript: Scientists have identified the first active methane gas leak in Antarctica, announced July 22nd, discovered by researchers led by Andrew Thurber/Oregon State University, who commented: “I find it incredibly concerning.”2

Speechless!

  1. Dr. Anthony
  2. Andrew R. Thurber, et al, “Riddles in the Cold: Antarctic Endemism and Microbial Succession Impact Methane Cycling in the Southern Ocean”, The Royal Society, July 22, 2020.

The Sky Is Falling: Yes? No?

The sky is falling is one of the more disturbing thoughts in society today, as to whether climate change is on a fast track collision course with doomsday amidst a collapsing society.

In that regard, according to the details of a scathing review by ScientistsWarning.org (“SW”) of Jem Bendell’s wildly popular “Deep Adaptation” the answer is no, not yet. Society is not ready to keel over, as postulated in Bendell’s paper.

Whew! Climate change handwringers, sleepless nights, can take a deep breath, exhale and relax based upon the critique of Bendell’s very popular paper, which crystal balls the “end to society” within only decades, or less, depending.

In strong terms, ScientistsWarning.org’s thought-provoking rebuttal expresses outrage over Professor Jem Bendell’s doomsday thesis in its article entitled “The Faulty Science, Doomism, and Flawed Conclusion of Deep Adaptation” d/d July 14, 2020 by Thomas Nicholas, Galen Hall, and Colleen Schmidt, fact-checked by scientists.

The full article can be accessed at www.ScientistsWarning.org.

Accordingly, within the opening two paragraphs of SW’s rebuttal: “In the past few years we have seen a troubling trend: a few figures in the climate movement using science — or what looks like science — to justify increasingly dire and prophetic, but ultimately unsupported claims about the future.”

Bendell’s Deep Adaptation became an overnight cult classic amongst many on the front lines of environmental justice, a brooding downcast thesis of the inevitability of “social collapse” because of the ravages of climate change/global warming, meaning there is no way out, humanity’s trapped in an insidious fireball of doom that’ll hit hard.

SW takes issue with Bendell: “(1) cherry-picking data (2) citing false reports (3) forwarding logical fallacies (4) disregard of robust scientific consensus.”

In SW’s words: “Neither social science nor the best available climate science support Deep Adaptation’s core premise: that near-term societal collapse due to climate change is inevitable.”

Furthermore: “This false belief undermines the environmental movement and could lead to harmful political decisions, overwhelming grief, and fading resolve for decisive action.”

SW offers past examples and discussion of the general harmful nature of “doomism” of which, according to SW, Bendell, head over heels, falls victim in his own overriding thesis. Not only that, SW felt compelled to critique Bendell because of the huge impact of his paper. Deep Adaptation has been downloaded more than 450,000 times and has been featured in several venues. It has had enormous impact, allegedly changing the “course of life” for some people. SW claims Bendell’s message has stirred those people to the “wrong course.”

Still, SW lauds Bendell’s exposure of the climate crisis by awakening the public to the intractable nature of global warming. SW: “Part of the paper’s value is its willingness to discuss the current, affective, and emotional impacts of the crisis… and, a crucial strength of the Deep Adaptation paper is the general idea that we need to brace for serious impacts from climate change.”

In other words, according to the critique, Bendell’s Deep Adaptation is not all bad. He inspires open discourse about the sensitive subject of climate change, the future of civilization, and the obstacles along the way.

Of considerable interest to SW and subject of its sharpest criticism, the core of Deep Adaptation’s argument is dependent upon two feedback loops (1) Arctic ice melt and (2) methane release from permafrost. According to SW, Bendell’s reliance upon those two feedback loops triggering and cascading the climate system into hells’ fiery hole is not a correct assessment of scientific fact. It’s only speculation.

According to SW, Bendell’s work is flawed to an extreme; thus, in their view, he sends out the wrong vibes to hundreds of thousands of people. Indeed, Bendell’s paper had enormous public impact, but as SW claims: “A narrative that destruction is inevitable justifies continued destruction, but ignores the human choices which cause it.”

Indeed, according to SW, Bendell avoids, ignores mainstream science and disputes the credibility of the IPCC, which is superseded by his reliance upon a thin layer of primary sources that carry forward his monumental thesis of self-afflicted human termination. In SW’s view, in the main, Bendell’s paper is an insult to the intelligence of the scientific community.

In conclusion, SW says: “We should publicly disavow the message that near-term collapse is inevitable, or that climate-induced total human extinction is plausible. There is uncertainty, but not so much that one can claim anything will happen.”

Therefore, and based upon ScientistsWarning’s critique, the sky is not falling, not yet anyway. It is too early in the anthropogenic-influenced cycle of climate change to consider tossing in the towel. And moreover, it would be an act of self-afflicting destruction to do so.

However, SW’s critique also carries an unstated undertone of caution and concern, an unwavering apprehension, meaning: “All is not well.”

In fact, from this writer’s point of view, a case can be made that an emergency situation is here now, if only because so many peer-reviewed scientific papers express alarm, surprise and deep concern over how much faster the climate system is changing vis a vis internal climate models as well as contrasted with paleoclimate history. Which, indeed, is part of Bendell’s argument.

Not only that, the volume of peer-review papers that express concern and surprise by the rapidity of climate change has mushroomed since the turn of this century, convincing evidence that the climate system is far out of balance.

As for only one example: Collapsing permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic is happening 70 years earlier than scientists expected, to wit: “Observed maximum thaw depths at our sites are already exceeding those projected to occur by 2090”.1

Still and all, according to ScientistsWarning.org, the sky is not falling… just not yet!

Meanwhile, kudos to Jem Bendell for bringing to the surface issues that haunt many followers of the planet’s very, very rambunctious, and unpredictable, changing climate. He’s opened the door to solid debate and criticism and an awareness of two important viewpoints that otherwise would not be so readily available in a public forum.

  1. Louise M. Farquharson et al, “Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic”, Geophysical Research Letters, June 10, 2019.

The Inertia Bugaboo  

Planetary heat is turning skeptics into climate change worrywarts with record temperatures galore!

But wait!  The worst is yet to come. It’s guaranteed, as future heat is already locked and loaded into the vast climate system. It’s the inertia bugaboo. Today, we’re living with yesteryear’s carbon emissions from the turn of the century. Meantime, the next decade-and-a-half of planetary heat is already baked into the cake no matter what is done to mitigate emissions.

A new study reveals details about climate change inertia, a sobering study that speaks to the absolute necessity of herculean efforts to stop emissions, full stop, now, not tomorrow.1

According to the aforementioned study, even if emission reduction started tomorrow, in earnest, like 5% per year, its impact on global warming would not show up before 2035. Which is climate change inertia. The planet is big. It takes time to process, a very long time.

It also means that today’s heat is wimpy compared to what’s directly ahead simply because today’s heat is based upon annual CO2 emissions >25% less than today’s emissions.

Meantime, Earth is melting.

And, the melting is getting out of hand. After all, it’s not a secret that the Arctic Circle is loaded, really loaded big time, with frozen carbon just itching to release into the upper atmosphere.

And, we now know it’ll only get worse because of the Samset study. We know future heat is already baked into the climate system no matter what we do today, thus, immediate efforts to mitigate a much, much worse scenario down the road are all the more compelling, assuming there is still time to do something, for example, a Super-Big Fixit (any chance?)

Layered on top of the big heat stroke complicating the issue of what to do about the ruthless anthropogenic heat machine, the USA is confronted by an ongoing Hobbesian Nightmare that hogties cultural/political/societal initiatives to do something constructive to stop the inevitable.

In reality, when the coldest spot of Earth hits 100°F, as happened in the Arctic only days ago amidst blasting heat that is roasting permafrost filled with gigatons of frozen carbon held over for millennia (which incidentally covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere, Ouch!) the message is loud and clear “we’re fast approaching an insurmountable problem.”

Meaning wretched news is topped off by awful news for a host of reasons including the totality of errors, missteps, and failures within an embarrassingly lackadaisical effort to fix climate-related issues by scientists and politicians and bureaucrats that society depends upon to warn and guide society through challenging, life-threatening issues. It’s simply not on the agenda in a big enough way.

For example, name one major climate mitigation solution that’s actually working to mitigate destructive climate change. Time’s up: Not one comes close to doing the job.

Of course, little efforts like installations of renewable energy solar, wind, and unfortunately biomass are tiptoeing through the tulips (by the way, woody biomass, the largest component of biomass, emits more CO2 than does coal). After decades, renewables count for less than 15% of energy production (excluding hydro); and frankly woody biomass does not count at all and should discount the 15% figure, as it emits more CO2 than does coal. Stop Woody Biomass!

Proof of abject failure to mitigate emissions is found in the numbers as CO2 and global heat crank up.

According to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, The Scripps CO2 Program: CO2 was 415.13 ppm on July 5, 2020 versus 413.11 ppm on July 5, 2019. The annual change in CO2 emissions has doubled since the start of the new century.  It has not gone down, it has doubled in a little over a decade! That’s geological rocket speed.

Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are the fuel behind the buildup of inertia in the climate system. Since CO2 accounts for 85% of greenhouse gases, it is used generically to reference greenhouse gas emissions of all stripes.

Very few voices in the world speak directly to the heart of the global heating problem, which is a failure to act in unison to mitigate emissions across the globe. Seventeen-year-old Greta Thunberg is one of the strongest voices: “How dare you” speech to the IPCC Paris crowd and at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “I don’t want y0u to be hopeful. I want you to panic!”

Yes, mounting evidence of a deepening crisis, by the year, indicates that panic is a proper course of action. People should panic and scream and bite and kick and fill the streets because nothing else seems to work. Pussyfooting around is for weaklings. It hasn’t worked.

Global heating is not waiting around to see whether humans decide to inhibit greenhouse gases, for the first time ever. The Northern Hemisphere, where 25% is covered with frozen carbon-rich permafrost, has turned into an oven. Global heating is in its sweet spot. The consequences are too far-reaching to cover in a short article like this. Truthfully, nobody knows for sure the exact consequences, other than real bad, real destructive, and really happening.

It’s an impending “too hot for comfort” tsunami.

But, there’s a bigger problem at stake as modern-day society lives on “Speed” and expects results yesterday, instantaneously. All of which exposes one of the critical components hindering the Big Fixit, meaning a system that evolves too deliberately, too slowly to sink into attention spans long enough to produce positive results. Greta seems to understand this so she drills home the issue. She screams at adults.

Why scream at adults?

She’s studied the impact of excessive levels of CO2 (James Hansen, the world famous climate scientist, says anything over 350 ppm is trouble…hmm). At only 17 years of age, she’ll experience the impact of climate change inertia. It’s 100% guaranteed!

But come to think about it, if Earth is melting now, what then?

  1. B.H.Samset, et al, “Delayed Emergence of a Global Temperature Response After Emission Mitigation”, Nature Communications 11, Article No. 3261, July 7, 2020.