Climate-Change Summary and Update

Sun, Jan 6, 2013


Updated frequently, and most recently 15 December 2014.

** Latest additions are flagged with two asterisks on each side. ** To access only the latest information (on most browsers), use CTRL-F, type two asterisks into the “find” box, and hit “Return” or “Enter.” Note that this essay has grown from a few thousand words in January 2013 to the current massive missive. Happy reading.


I’m often accused of cherry picking the information in this ever-growing essay. I plead guilty, and explain myself in this essay posted 30 January 2014. My critics tend to focus on me and my lack of standing in the scientific community, to which I respond with the words of John W. Farley: “The scientific case is not dependent on citation of authority, no matter how distinguished the authority may be. The case is dependent upon experimental evidence, logic, and reason.” In other words, stop targeting the messenger.

A German-language version of this essay, updated 26 June 2014, is available in pdf form here. A Russian version focused on self-reinforcing feedback loops, courtesy of Robin Westenra and colleagues, is here. A Polish version, updated often, is available here.

American actress Lily Tomlin is credited with the expression, “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” With respect to climate science, my own efforts to stay abreast are blown away every week by new data, models, and assessments. It seems no matter how dire the situation becomes, it only gets worse when I check the latest reports.

The response of politicians, heads of non-governmental organizations, and corporate leaders remains the same, even though they surely know everything in this essay. They’re mired in the dank Swamp of Nothingness. Margaret Beckett, former U.K. foreign secretary said in September 2008 on BBC America television, with respect to climate change: “Will it harm our children? Will it harm our grandchildren? Actually, it’s a problem for us today.” As Halldor Thorgeirsson, a senior director with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said on 17 September 2013: “We are failing as an international community. We are not on track.” These are the people who know about, and presumably could do something about, our ongoing race to disaster (if only to sound the alarm). Tomlin’s line is never more germane than when thinking about their pursuit of a buck at the expense of life on Earth.

Worse than the aforementioned trolls are the media. Fully captured by corporations and the corporate states, the media continue to dance around the issue of climate change. Occasionally a forthright piece is published, but it generally points in the wrong direction, such as suggesting climate scientists and activists be killed (e.g., James Delingpole’s 7 April 2013 hate-filled article in the Telegraph). Leading mainstream outlets routinely mislead the public.

Mainstream scientists minimize the message at every turn, with expected results. As we’ve known for years, scientists almost invariably underplay climate impacts (James Hansen referred to the phenomenon at “scientific reticence” in his 24 May 2007 paper about sea-level rise in Environmental Research Letters. And in some cases, scientists are aggressively muzzled by their governments. Canada no longer allows some climate-change information into the public realm. Even museums are not safe from misinformation about climate science to appease fossil-fuel philanthropists, as reported in the 17 June 2014 issue of AlterNet. I’m not implying conspiracy among scientists. Science selects for conservatism. Academia selects for extreme conservatism. These folks are loathe to risk drawing undue attention to themselves by pointing out there might be a threat to civilization. Never mind the near-term threat to our entire species (most couldn’t care less about other species). If the truth is dire, they can find another, not-so-dire version. The concept is supported by an article in the February 2013 issue of Global Environmental Change pointing out that climate-change scientists routinely underestimate impacts “by erring on the side of least drama” (also see overviews of this phenomenon from 21 May 2014 and from 15 July 2014, the latter from the U.S. National Research Council as reported by Truth-out). Even the often-conservative Robert Scribbler points out in his 18 July 2014 essay: “NASA’s CARVE study has been silent for a year, the University of Maryland has stopped putting out publicly available AIRS methane data measures, the NOAA ESRL methane flask measures, possibly due to lack of funding, haven’t updated since mid-May, and even Gavin Schmidt over at NASA GISS appears to have become somewhat mum on a subject that, of late, has generated so much uncomfortable controversy.” (Apocalypse 4 Real blog responded to Scribbler on 24 July 2014, and the response is linked here.) Schmidt increased his efforts to discredit the work of other scientists in early October 2014 with unfounded, unprofessional behavior. Almost everybody reading these words has a vested interest in not wanting to think about climate change, which helps explain why the climate-change deniers have won.

Beyond Linear Change

I’m often told Earth can’t possibly be responsive enough to climate change to make any difference to us. But, as the 27 May 2014 headline at Skeptical Science points out, “Rapid climate changes more deadly than asteroid impacts in Earth’s past.” That’s correct: climate change is more deadly than asteroids.

Ever late to the party, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits global warming is irreversible without geoengineering in a report released 27 September 2013. The IPCC is among the most conservative scientific bodies on the planet, and their reports are “significantly ‘diluted’ under political pressure.” On 22 April 2014, Truth-out correctly headlines their assessment, “Intergovernmental Climate Report Leaves Hopes Hanging on Fantasy Technology.” Time follows up two days later with a desperate headline, “NASA Chief: Humanity’s Future Depends On Mission To Mars” (first up: greenhouses on Mars). As pointed out in the 5 December 2013 issue of Earth System Dynamics, known strategies for geoengineering are unlikely to succeed (“climate geo-engineering cannot simply be used to undo global warming“). “Attempts to reverse the impacts of global warming by injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere could make matters worse,” according to research published in the 8 January 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters. In addition, as described in the December 2013 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, geoengineering may succeed in cooling the Earth, it would also disrupt precipitation patterns around the world. Furthermore, “risk of abrupt and dangerous warming is inherent to the large-scale implementation of SRM” (solar radiation management), as pointed out in the 17 February 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters. About a week later comes this line from research published in the 25 February 2014 issue of Nature Communication: “schemes to minimize the havoc caused by global warming by purposefully manipulating Earth’s climate are likely to either be relatively useless or actually make things worse.” Finally, in a blow to technocrats published online in the 25 June 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change, a large and distinguished group of international researchers concludes geo-engineering will not stop climate change. As it turns out, the public isn’t impressed, either: Research published in the 12 January 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change “reveals that the overall public evaluation of climate engineering is negative.” Despite pervasive American ignorance about science, the public correctly interprets geo-engineering in the same light as the scientists, and contrary to the techno-optimists.

** Unimpressed with evidence and public opinion, some scientists forge on, illustrating that the progressive perspective often means progresssing toward the cliff’s edge. As reported in the 27 November 2014 issue of New Scientist, initial efforts to cool the planet via geo-engineering have taken shape and are scheduled to begin in two years. **

The IPCC operates with a very conservative process and produces very conservative reports for several reasons, among them the failure to include relevant self-reinforcing feedback loops. And then governments of the world meddle with the reports to ensure Pollyanna outcomes, as reported by a participant in the process (also see Nafeez Ahmed’s 14 May 2014 report in the Guardian and the 3 July 2014 paper in National Geographic). According to David Wasdell’s May 2014 analysis, which includes a critique of the IPCC’s ongoing lunacy, “equilibrium temperature increase predicted as a result of current concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gasses is already over 5°C.” I see no way for humans to survive such a rise in global-average temperature.

Gradual change is not guaranteed, as pointed out by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in December 2013: “The history of climate on the planet — as read in archives such as tree rings, ocean sediments, and ice cores — is punctuated with large changes that occurred rapidly, over the course of decades to as little as a few years.” The December 2013 report echoes one from Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution more than a decade earlier. Writing for the 3 September 2012 issue of Global Policy, Michael Jennings concludes that “a suite of amplifying feedback mechanisms, such as massive methane leaks from the sub-sea Arctic Ocean, have engaged and are probably unstoppable.” During a follow-up interview with Alex Smith on Radio Ecoshock, Jennings admits that “Earth’s climate is already beyond the worst scenarios.” Truth-out piles on 18 March 2014: “‘climate change'” is not the most critical issue facing society today; abrupt climate change is.” Skeptical Science finally catches up to reality on 2 April 2014 with an essay titled, “Alarming new study makes today’s climate change more comparable to Earth’s worst mass extinction.” The conclusion from this conservative source: “Until recently the scale of the Permian Mass Extinction was seen as just too massive, its duration far too long, and dating too imprecise for a sensible comparison to be made with today’s climate change. No longer. The Brisbane Times catches up with abrupt climate change on 18 August 2014: “Let us be clear: if these methane escapes continue to grow, the risk is they could drive the planet into accelerated or ‘runaway’ global warming. The last time this happened, 50 million years ago, global temperatures rose by an estimated 9 or 10 degrees. In the present context, that would mean the end of the world’s food supply.” Robert Scribbler finally joins the uprising on 29 October 2014: “What is clear is that feedbacks to the human heat forcing are now starting to become plainly visible. That they are providing evidence of a stronger release from some sources on a yearly basis.”

Global methane levels

As reported by Robert Scribbler on 22 May 2014, “global sea surface temperature anomalies spiked to an amazing +1.25 degrees Celsius above the, already warmer than normal, 1979 to 2000 average. This departure is about 1.7 degrees C above 1880 levels — an extraordinary reading that signals the world may well be entering a rapid warming phase.”

Not to be outdone, now that abrupt climate change has entered the scientific lexicon, is dire news published in the 25 July 2014 issue of Science. “The study found that synchronization of the two regional systems began as climate was gradually warming. After synchronization, the researchers detected wild variability that amplified the changes and accelerated into an abrupt warming event of several degrees within a few decades.” Global-average temperature rising “several degrees within a few decades” seems problematic to me, and to anybody else with a biological bent. As reported eight days later in Nature Climate Change, rapid warming of the Atlantic Ocean, likely caused by global warming, has turbocharged Pacific Equatorial trade winds. Currently the winds are at a level never before seen on observed records, which extend back to the 1860s. When this phenomenon ceases, likely rapid changes will include a sudden acceleration of global average surface temperatures.

Extinction Overview

If you’re too busy to read the evidence presented below, here’s the bottom line: On a planet 4 C hotter than baseline, all we can prepare for is human extinction (from Oliver Tickell’s 2008 synthesis in the Guardian). Tickell is taking a conservative approach, considering humans have not been present at 3.5 C above baseline (i.e., the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, commonly accepted as 1750). I cannot imagine a scenario involving a rapid rise in global-average temperature and also habitat for humans. Neither can Australian climate scientist Clive Hamilton, based on his 17 June 2014 response to Andrew Revkin’s fantasy-based hopium. According to the World Bank’s 2012 report, “Turn down the heat: why a 4°C warmer world must be avoided” and an informed assessment of “BP Energy Outlook 2030” put together by Barry Saxifrage for the Vancouver Observer, our path leads directly to the 4 C mark. The conservative International Energy Agency throws in the towel on avoiding 4 C in this video from June 2014 (check the 25-minute mark). The 19th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 19), held in November 2013 in Warsaw, Poland, was warned by professor of climatology Mark Maslin: “We are already planning for a 4°C world because that is where we are heading. I do not know of any scientists who do not believe that.” Among well-regarded climate scientists who think a 4 C world is unavoidable, based solely on atmospheric carbon dioxide, is Cambridge University’s Professor of Ocean Physics and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics, Dr. Peter Wadhams (check the 51-second mark in this 8 August 2014 video), who says: “…the carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere, which now exceeded 400 parts per million, is sufficient, if you don’t add any more, to actually raise global temperatures in the end by about four degrees.” Adding to planetary misery is a paper in the 16 December 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluding that 4 C terminates the ability of Earth’s vegetation to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide.

I’m not sure what it means to plan for 4 C (aka extinction). I’m not impressed that civilized scientists claim to be planning for it, either. But I know we’re human animals, and I know animals require habitat to survive. When there is no ability to grow food or secure water, humans will exit the planetary stage. And even Wikipedia accepts the evidence for near-term human extinction, as indicated by the caption on the figure below.

A 550ppm CO 2 level correlates to +9° C temperature rise, which was previously enough to trigger self-reinforcing climate change feedback loops leading to the Permian Extinction Event with 95% planetary die-off. Even more worrying is that current levels of atmospheric methane (>1820ppb) indicate near-term human extinction.

A 550ppm CO
2 level correlates to +9° C temperature rise, which was previously enough to trigger self-reinforcing climate change feedback loops leading to the Permian Extinction Event with 95% planetary die-off. Even more worrying is that current levels of atmospheric methane (>1820ppb) indicate near-term human extinction.

According to Colin Goldblatt, author of a paper published online in the 28 July 2013 issue of Nature Geoscience, “The runaway greenhouse may be much easier to initiate than previously thought.” Furthermore, as pointed out in the 1 August 2013 issue of Science, in the near term Earth’s climate will change orders of magnitude faster than at any time during the last 65 million years. Tack on, without the large and growing number of self-reinforcing feedback loops we’ve triggered recently, the 5 C rise in global-average temperature 55 million years ago during a span of 13 years, and it looks like trouble ahead for the wise ape. This conclusion ignores the long-lasting, incredibly powerful greenhouse gas discovered 9 December 2013 by University of Toronto researchers: Perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA) is 7,100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and it persists hundreds of years in the atmosphere. It also ignores the irreversible nature of climate change: Earth’s atmosphere will harbor, at minimum, the current warming potential of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration for at least the next 1,000 years, as indicated in the 28 January 2009 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Finally, far too late, the New Yorker posits a relevant question on 5 November 2013: Is It Too Late to Prepare for Climate Change? Joining the too-little, too-late gang, the Geological Society of London points out on 10 December 2013 that Earth’s climate could be twice as sensitive to atmospheric carbon as previously believed. New Scientist piles on in March 2014, pointing out that planetary warming is far more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration than indicated by past reports. As usual and expected, carbon dioxide emissions set a record again in 2013, the fifth-warming year on record and the second-warmest year without an El Nino. Another El Niño is on the way, as pointed out by Robert Scribbler on 6 March 2014: “Should the predicted El Nino emerge and be as strong as average model values indicate, global surface temperatures could rise by between .05 and .15 degrees Celsius …. This would be a substantial jump for a single year, resulting in yet one more large shift toward an ever more extreme climate.” Indeed, the upper end of the projected range takes us to 1 C warmer than baseline.

Is There a Way Out?

All of the above information fails to include the excellent work by Tim Garrett, which points out that only complete collapse avoids runaway greenhouse. Garrett reached the conclusion in a paper submitted in 2007 (personal communication) and published online by Climatic Change in November 2009 (outcry from civilized scientists delayed formal publication until February 2011). The paper remains largely ignored by the scientific community, having been cited fewer than thirty times since its publication.

According to Yvo de Boer, who was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2009, when attempts to reach a deal at a summit in Copenhagen crumbled with a rift between industrialized and developing nations, “the only way that a 2015 agreement can achieve a 2-degree goal is to shut down the whole global economy.” Politicians finally have caught up with Tim Garrett’s excellent paper in Climatic Change.

** From the Associated Press on 1 December 2014 comes a story headlined, “Climate funds for coal highlight lack of UN rules.” The article points out the difficulty associated with using tools from industrial civilization to address a predicament created by industrial civilization: “Climate finance is critical to any global climate deal, and rich countries have pledged billions of dollars toward it in U.N. climate talks, which resume Monday in Lima, Peru. Yet there is no watchdog agency that ensures the money is spent in the most effective way. There’s not even a common definition on what climate finance is.” The bottom line from this story: About a billion dollars intended to mitigate climate change has been used to fund coal-fired power plants, the worst emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet. **

Writing for the Arctic News Group, John Davies concludes: “The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040.” He considers only atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, not the many self-reinforcing feedback loops described below. Writing on 28 November 2013 and tacking on only one feedback loop — methane release from the Arctic Ocean — Sam Carana expects global temperature anomalies up to 20 C 2050 (an anomaly is an aberration, or deviation from long-term average). Small wonder atmospheric methane can cause such global catastrophe considering its dramatic rise during the last few years, as elucidated by Carana on 5 December 2013 in the figure below.

Atmospheric methane and other GHG through November 2013

Tipped Over

On the topic of tipping points, we crossed the Rubicon in 2007 at about 0.76 C warming. At this point, according to David Spratt’s excellent September 2013 report, “Is Climate Already Dangerous?”, not only had Arctic sea-ice passed its tipping point, but the Greenland Ice Sheet was not far behind, as the Arctic moves to sea-ice-free conditions in summer (the U.S. Navy predicts an ice-free Arctic by summer 2016, a year later than expected by the United Kingdom Parliament, which points out that the six lowest September ice extents have occurred in the last six years, 2006-2012, and now we can add 2013 and 2014 to the list). Glaciologist Jason Box, an expert on Greenland ice, agrees. Box was quoted in a 5 December 2012 article in the Guardian: “In 2012 Greenland crossed a threshold where for the first time we saw complete surface melting at the highest elevations in what we used to call the dry snow zone. … As Greenland crosses the threshold and starts really melting in the upper elevations it really won’t recover from that unless the climate cools significantly for an extended period of time which doesn’t seem very likely.” (In January 2013, Box concluded we’ve locked in 69 feet — 21 meters — of sea-level rise.) Indeed, as stated that same year in the September issue of Global Policy, “because of increasing temperatures due to GHG emissions a suite of amplifying feedback mechanisms, such as massive methane leaks from the sub-sea Arctic Ocean, have engaged and are probably unstoppable.” By December 2013, the disappearance of Greenland’s ice had accelerated to five times the pace of a few years previously, and IPCC was acknowledging they’d been far too conservative with past estimates. Continued conservatism is buttressed by research reported in the 16 March 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change indicating melting of Greenland ice accounts for about one-sixth of recent sea-level rise and also by research published in the 18 May 2014 issue of Nature Geoscience indicating Greenland’s icy reaches are far more vulnerable to warm ocean waters from climate change than had been thought. Finally, a research paper published in the 13 June 2014 of Geophysical Research Letters points out that an ice-free Arctic is likely to cause rapid melting of Greenland ice.

Ice matters. “Small fluctuations in the sizes of ice sheets during the last ice age were enough to trigger abrupt climate change,” as reported in the 13 August 2014 issue of Nature. As pointed out in the 25 September 2014 issue of Nature Communications, ice sheets melt for centuries once they begin the process. Not surprisingly, a subsequent paper published in the 10 October 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters indicates all previous work on the topic of sea-level rise has been conservative.

Predicting Near-Term Human Extinction

If you think we’ll adapt, think again, even if you’re the Wall Street Journal claiming on 2 September 2014 that it’s too late for mitigation. The rate of evolution trails the rate of climate change by a factor of 10,000, according to a paper in the August 2013 issue of Ecology Letters. Even once-rich habitats in Antarctica are becoming biologically impoverished as icebergs, increasingly breaking free from the surrounding sea ice, scour the shallow-water rocks and boulders on which a diversity of creatures cling to life (according to research published in the 16 June 2014 issue of Current Biology). And it’s not as if extinction events haven’t happened on this planet, as explained in the BBC program, The Day the Earth Nearly Died.

The rate of climate change clearly has gone beyond linear, as indicated by the presence of the myriad self-reinforcing feedback loops described below, and now threatens our species with extinction in the near term. As Australian biologist Frank Fenner said in June 2010: “We’re going to become extinct,” the eminent scientist says. “Whatever we do now is too late.” Anthropologist Louise Leakey ponders our near-term demise in her 5 July 2013 assessment at Huffington Post and her father Richard joins the fray in this video from December 2013 (see particularly 1:02:18 – 1:02:56). Canadian wildlife biologist Neil Dawe joins the party of near-term extinction in an interview 29 August 2013 and musician-turned-activist Sir Bob Geldof joins the club in a Daily Star article from 6 October 2013. Health officials add their voices to the discussion about extinction in late March 2014, although they view 4 C as a problem to be dealt with later. Writing for Truth-Out, journalist John Feffer writes in his 27 April 2014 essay: “The planet and its hardier denizens may soldier on, but for us it will be game over.” American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky concludes we’re done in a 15 June 2014 interview with Chris Hedges at Truthdig, saying climate change “may doom us all, and not in the distant future.” Larry Schwartz, writing for AlterNet on 21 July 2014, concludes, “Many environmentalists think we have already passed the point of no return.” Johns Hopkins professor and fossil hunter Ken Rose agrees in an interview published 29 July 2014: “We’re in the middle of the sixth great extinction on Earth. It probably won’t take too long for humans to go extinct.” IT Project Manager Jennifer Hynes concludes near-term human extinction certain at the 1:20:30 mark of this comprehensive presentation about global methane release. Three weeks later, Robert Scribbler concludes in his assessment of global methane release, “What I’ve just described is the process that most scientists believe occurred during the worst mass extinction event in the geological past … what humans are now doing … may well be shockingly similar.” Motivational speaker, writer, and politician Marianne Williamson concludes near-term human extinction in her early October 2014 interview with Thom Hartmann. Chris Hedges agrees in an interview conducted 22 November 2014. Hollywood catches up with reality with the 23 November 2014 episode of HBO’s The Newsroom channels me: Catch a snippet here. ** Randy Malamud, Regents’ Professor at Georgia State University, writes for the Huffington Post on 8 December 2014: “it’s time to accept our impending demise.” Seemingly echoing many relatively wealthy, heterosexual, Caucasian men, writer Robert J. Burrowes adds his voice on 15 December 2014 in the Lahore Times: “In essence then, it is fear that drives dysfunctional environmental behaviours. And, history tells us, fear will prevent us taking sufficient action in time.” ** In the face of near-term human extinction, most Americans view the threat as distant and irrelevant, as illustrated by a 22 April 2013 article in the Washington Post based on poll results that echo the long-held sentiment that elected officials should be focused on the industrial economy, not far-away minor nuisances such as climate change.

Supporters of carbon farming — the nonsensical notion that industrial civilization can be used to overcome a predicament created by industrial civilization — claim all we need to do is fill the desert with nonnative plants to the tune of an area three-quarters the size of the United States. And, they say, we’ll be able to lower atmospheric carbon dioxide by a whopping 17.5 ppm in only two decades. Well, how exciting. At that blistering pace, atmospheric carbon dioxide will be all the way back down to the reasonably safe level of 280 ppm in only 140 years, more than a century after humans are likely to become extinct from climate change. And, based on research published in the 2 May 2014 issue of Science, soil carbon storage has been over-estimated and is reduced as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration rises.

According to the plan presented in the 23 August 2013 issue of Scientific American, the nonnative plants, irrigated with increasingly rare fresh water pumped by increasingly rare fossil-fuel energy, will sequester carbon sufficient to overcome contemporary emissions. Never mind the emissions resulting from pumping the water, or the desirability of converting thriving deserts into monocultures, or the notion of maintaining industrial civilization at the expense of non-civilized humans and non-human species. Instead, ponder one simple thought: When the nonnative plants die, they will emit back into the atmosphere essentially all the carbon they sequestered. A tiny bit of the carbon will be stored in the soil. The rest goes into the atmosphere as a result of decomposition.

This essay brings attention to recent projections and self-reinforcing feedback loops (i.e., positive feedbacks). I presented much of this information at the Bluegrass Bioneers conference (Alex Smith at Radio Ecoshock evaluates my presentation here). More recently, I presented an updated version in a studio in Bolingbrook, Illinois. All information and sources are readily confirmed with an online search, and links to information about feedbacks can be found here.

Large-scale assessments

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (late 2007): >1.8 C by 2100 (up to 4.5 C, depending upon emissions scenarios)

Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (late 2008): ~2 C by 2100

Later in 2008, Hadley Center’s head of climate change predictions Dr. Vicky Pope calls for a worst-case outcome of more than 5 C by 2100. Joe Romm, writing for Grist, claims, “right now even Hadley [Centre] understands it [> 5 C] is better described as the ‘business-as-usual’ case.”

United Nations Environment Programme (mid 2009): 3.5 C by 2100

Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (October 2009): 4 C by 2060

Global Carbon Project, Copenhagen Diagnosis (November 2009): 6 C, 7 C by 2100

United Nations Environment Programme (December 2010): up to 5 C by 2050

** International Energy Agency (May 2014): 6 C by 2050 with business as usual **

These assessments fail to account for significant self-reinforcing feedback loops (i.e., positive feedbacks, the term that implies the opposite of its meaning). The IPCC’s vaunted Fifth Assessment continues the trend as it, too, ignores important feedbacks (also listen here). As with prior reports, the Fifth Assessment “has been altered after the expert review stage, with changes added that downplay the economic impacts of a warming planet.” Consider, for example, the failure to mention Arctic ice in the Working Group Summary released 31 March 2014 (additional links here). By 3 September 2014, even Business Insider was announcing via headline: “The Arctic Sea Ice Problem Is Actually Worse — Not Better — Than We Thought.” The importance of Arctic ice in delaying catastrophic warming is enormous, as explained quite simply in 2007:

Anyone who does not know what Latent Heat is will have a false sense of security. It is not hard to understand if I do not use physics jargon. Place on a hot stove a pot of cold water containing 1 kg of ice cubes. Stir the ice water with a long thermometer and take temperature readings. My question is: When will the thermometer begin to show a rise in temperature? Answer: After all the ice has melted. In other words, all the heat from the stove would first all go into melting the ice, without raising the water temperature. The amount of heat entering a system without raising the temperature of the system is called Latent Heat. It takes 80 calories of heat to melt one gram of ice. So in this case, the first 80,000 calories of heat from the stove went into melting the 1 kg of ice first. Only when the ice is all gone will the water temperature rise, and it will do so until it reaches 100C, when the water will begin to boil. Once again, Latent Heat comes into play, and the water temperature will stabilize at the boiling point – until all the water have changed from liquid to vapour, at which point the temperature of the dry pot will rise to the temperature of the flame itself. So how does this apply to Earth’s climate? Consider the Arctic Ocean to be a gigantic pot of ice water, and the sun as the stove. For as long as there is still sea ice to melt, the Arctic Ocean will remain relatively cool, in spite of the ever increasing solar heat entering the Arctic ocean due to ever decreasing ice cover. When the sea ice is gone in the summer, as early as the latter part of this decade, the Arctic Ocean’s temperature will steeply rise, and when it does, so will the global mean temperature, and all hell will break lose.

On a positive note, major assessments fail to account for economic collapse. However, due to the four-decade lag between emissions and temperature rise, the inconvenient fact that the world has emitted more than twice the industrial carbon dioxide emissions since 1970 as we did from the start of the Industrial Revolution through 1970, and also due to the feedback loops described below, I strongly suspect it’s too late for economic collapse to extend the run of our species. Indeed, as pointed out by Bruce Melton at Truth-out in a 26 December 2013 piece featuring climate scientist Wallace Broeker: “today we are operating on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from the 1970s. In the last 29 years we have emitted as many greenhouse gases as we emitted in the previous 236 years. Because of the great cooling effect of the oceans, we have not yet begun to see the warming that this recent doubling of greenhouse gases will bring.” Greenhouse gas emissions continue to accelerate even as the world’s industrial economy slows to a halt: Emissions grew nearly twice as fast during the first decade of the new millennium as in the previous 30 years, as reported in the 11 April 2014 issue of The Guardian.

** As it turns out, the so-called 40-year lag is dangerously conservative. A paper in the 3 December 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters indicates that maximum warming from carbon dioxide emissions occurs about one decade after a carbon dioxide emission. Rising emissions during each of the last many decades points to a truly catastrophic future, and not long from now. **

Guy Callendar pointed out the delayed influence of rising carbon dioxide on temperature in a 1938 paper in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. The hand-drawn figure from the paper shown below clearly illustrates an irreversible rise in global-average temperature beginning about 1915, a few decades after the consumption of fossil fuels increased substantially. Callendar’s work was used by J.S. Sawyer in a 1972 paper published in Nature to predict an “increase of 25% CO2 expected by the end of the century … [and] … an increase of 0.6°C in the world temperature” with stunning accuracy.

Callendar 1938 figure

Broadening the Perspective

Astrophysicists have long believed Earth was near the center of the habitable zone for humans. Recent research published in the 10 March 2013 issue of Astrophysical Journal indicates Earth is on the inner edge of the habitable zone, and lies within 1% of inhabitability (1.5 million km, or 5 times the distance from Earth to Earth’s moon). A minor change in Earth’s atmosphere removes human habitat. Unfortunately, we’ve invoked major changes.

The northern hemisphere is particularly susceptible to accelerated warming, as explained in the 8 April 2013 issue of Journal of Climate. Two days later, a paper in Nature confirmed that summers in the northern hemisphere are hotter than they’ve been for 600 years. As pointed out by Sherwood and Huber in the 25 May 2012 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and then by James Hansen in his 15 April 2013 paper, humans cannot survive a wet-bulb temperature of 35 C (95 F).

As described by the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases in 1990, “Beyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage” (link mirrored here). ** But, as David Spratt points out in this video from October 2014, 0.5 C is was a more reasonable target (he fails to recognize that 2 C is already locked in). ** James Hansen and crew finally caught up to the dire nature of 1 C warming 23 years after the U.N. warning, 28 self-reinforcing feedback loops too late.

** How important are these less-than-2 C targets? James Hansen is quoted in a 4 January 2011 interview with The Independent: “Two degrees Celsius is guaranteed disaster.” And consider the 8 November 2014 headline at Al Jazeera America: “Capping warming at 2 C not enough to avert disaster, climate experts warn.” Neither source recognizes that 2 C is already assured. **

We’ve clearly triggered the types of positive feedbacks the United Nations warned about in 1990. Yet my colleagues and acquaintances think we can and will work our way out of this horrific mess with the tools of industrial civilization (which, got us into this mess, as pointed out by Tim Garrett) or permaculture (which is not to denigrate permaculture, the principles of which are implemented at the mud hut). Reforestation doesn’t come close to overcoming combustion of fossil fuels,str as pointed out in the 30 May 2013 issue of Nature Climate Change. Furthermore, forested ecosystems do not sequester additional carbon dioxide as it increases in the atmosphere, as disappointingly explained in the 6 August 2013 issue of New Phytologist. Adding egregious insult to spurting wound, the latest public-education initiative in the United States — the Next Generation Science Standards — buries the relationship between combustion of fossil fuels and planetary warming. The misadventures of the corporate government continue, even as collapse of ecosystems is fully under way. As pointed out in the April 2013 issue of PLoS ONE — too little, too late for many ecosystems — “catastrophic collapses can occur without prior warning.”

Some green-washing solutionistas take refuge in the nuclear solution. It’s astonishing what one can conclude when grid-tied electricity is a viewed as a natural right. James Hansen’s endorsement notwithstanding, nuclear power plants cause, rather than prevent, additional warming of Earth.

Let’s ignore the models for a moment and consider only the results of a single briefing to the United Nations Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen (COP15). Regulars in this space will recall COP15 as the climate-change meetings thrown under the bus by the Obama administration. The summary for that long-forgotten briefing contains this statement: “THE LONG-TERM SEA LEVEL THAT CORRESPONDS TO CURRENT CO2 CONCENTRATION IS ABOUT 23 METERS ABOVE TODAY’S LEVELS, AND THE TEMPERATURES WILL BE 6 DEGREES C OR MORE HIGHER. THESE ESTIMATES ARE BASED ON REAL LONG TERM CLIMATE RECORDS, NOT ON MODELS.”

In other words, near-term extinction of humans was already guaranteed, to the knowledge of Obama and his administration (i.e., the Central Intelligence Agency, which runs the United States and controls presidential power). Even before the dire feedbacks were reported by the scientific community, the administration abandoned climate change as a significant issue because it knew we were done as early as 2009. Rather than shoulder the unenviable task of truth-teller, Obama did as his imperial higher-ups demanded: He lied about collapse, and he lied about climate change. And he still does.

Ah, those were the good ol’ days, back when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were well below 400 parts per million (ppm). We’ll blow through the 400 ppm mark soon, probably for the first time in 3.2 to 5 million years. And, as reported in the journal Global and Planetary Change in April 2013, every molecule of atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1980 comes from human emissions. Not to be outdone, methane levels reached an average mean of 1800 parts per billion (ppb) on the morning of 16 June 2013. The SWERUS C-3 expedition reported a second major methane seep on 3 August 2014 in the East Siberian Sea, including a local methane release of 3,188 ppb. Tacking on a few of the additional greenhouse gases contributing to climate change and taking a conservative approach jacks up the carbon dioxide equivalent to 480 ppm (and see here, from NOAA). Seeps are appearing in numerous locations off the eastern coast of the United States, leading to rapid destabilization of methane hydrates (according to the 25 October 2013 issue of Nature). On land, anthropogenic emissions of methane in the United States have been severely underestimated by the Environmental Protection (sic) Agency, according to a paper in the 25 November 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This figure is 1100 ppb higher than pre-industrial peak levels. Methane release tracks closely with temperature rise throughout Earth history — specifically, Arctic methane release and rapid global temperature rise are interlinked — including a temperature rise up to about 1 C per year over a decade, according to data from ice cores. The tight linkage between Arctic warming and planetary warming was verified in an article in the 2 February 2014 issue Nature Geoscience, which found that the Arctic’s cap of cold, layered air plays a more important role in boosting polar warming than does its shrinking ice and snow cover. A layer of shallow, stagnant air acts like a lid, concentrating heat near the surface. Finally, adding fuel to the growing fire, a paper in the 27 March 2014 issue of Nature articulates the strong interconnection between methane release and temperature rise: “For each degree that Earth’s temperature rises, the amount of methane entering the atmosphere … will increase several times. As temperatures rise, the relative increase of methane emissions will outpace that of carbon dioxide.”

How long will the hangover persist, after we’re done with the fossil-fuel party? According to University of Chicago oceanographer David Archer: “The climatic impacts of releasing fossil fuel CO2 to the atmosphere will last longer than Stonehenge,” Archer writes in his January 2008 book The Long Thaw. “Longer than time capsules, longer than nuclear waste, far longer than the age of human civilization so far.”

Self-Reinforcing Feedback Loops (also see analysis here)

1. This description combines subsea permafrost and methane hydrates in the Arctic. The two sources of methane are sufficiently similar to warrant considering them in combination.

About 250 plumes of methane hydrates are escaping from the shallow Arctic seabed, likely as a result of a regional 1 C rise in temperature, as reported in the 6 August 2009 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. Methane bubbling out the Arctic Ocean is further elucidated in Science in March 2010. As described in a subsequent paper in the June 2010 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a minor increase in temperature would cause the release of upwards of 16,000 metric tons of methane each year. Storms accelerate the release, according to research published in the 24 November 2013 issue of Nature Geoscience The latter paper also concludes the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is venting at least 17 teragrams of the methane into the atmosphere each year, up from 0.5 teragrams just 7 years earlier (a teragram is equal to 1 million tons). According to NASA’s CARVE project, these plumes were up to 150 kilometers across as of mid-July 2013. Global-average temperature is expected to rise by more than 4 C by 2030 and 10 C by 2040 based solely on methane release from the Arctic Ocean, according to Sam Carana’s research (see especially Image 24). Whereas Malcolm Light’s 9 February 2012 forecast of extinction of all life on Earth by the middle of this century appeared premature because his conclusion of exponential methane release during summer 2011 was based on data subsequently revised and smoothed by U.S. government agencies, subsequent information — most notably from NASA’s CARVE project — indicates the grave potential for catastrophic release of methane. (I doubt industrial civilization manages to kill all life on Earth, although that clearly is the goal.) Catastrophically rapid release of methane in the Arctic is further supported by Nafeez Ahmed’s thorough analysis in the 5 August 2013 issue of the Guardian as well as Natalia Shakhova’s 29 July 2013 interview with Nick Breeze (note the look of abject despair at the eight-minute mark). In early November 2013, methane levels well in excess of 2,600 ppb were recorded at multiple altitudes in the Arctic. Later that same month, Shakhova and colleagues published a paper in Nature Geoscience suggesting “significant quantities of methane are escaping the East Siberian Shelf” and indicating that a 50-billion-tonne “burst” of methane could warm Earth by 1.3 C. Such a burst of methane is “highly possible at any time.”

By 15 December 2013, methane bubbling up from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean had sufficient force to prevent sea ice from forming in the area. Nearly two years after his initial, oft-disparaged analysis, Malcolm Light concluded on 22 December 2013, “we have passed the methane hydrate tipping point and are now accelerating into extinction as the methane hydrate ‘Clathrate Gun’ has begun firing volleys of methane into the Arctic atmosphere.” According to Light’s analysis in late 2013, the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere will resemble that of Venus before 2100. Two weeks later, in an essay stressing near-term human extinction, Light concluded: “The Gulf Stream transport rate started the methane hydrate (clathrate) gun firing in the Arctic in 2007 when its energy/year exceeded 10 million times the amount of energy/year necessary to dissociate subsea Arctic methane hydrates.” The refereed journal literature, typically playing catch-up with reality, includes an article in the 3 February 2014 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface claiming, “Sustained submergence into the future should increase gas venting rate roughly exponentially as sediments continue to warm.” Not surprisingly, the clathrate gun began firing in 2007, the same year the extent of Arctic sea ice reached a tipping point. Further confirmation the clathrate gun had been fired came from Stockholm University’s Örjan Gustafsson, who reported from the Laptev Sea on 23 July 2014: “results of preliminary analyses of seawater samples pointed towards levels of dissolved methane 10-50 times higher than background levels.” Jason Box responds to the news in the conservative fashion I’ve come to expect from academic scientists on 27 July 2014: “What’s the take home message, if you ask me? Because elevated atmospheric carbon from fossil fuel burning is the trigger mechanism poking the climate dragon. The trajectory we’re on is to awaken a runaway climate heating that will ravage global agricultural systems leading to mass famine, conflict. Sea level rise will be a small problem by comparison.” Later, during an interview with Vice published 1 August 2014, Box loosened up a bit, saying, “Even if a small fraction of the Arctic carbon were released to the atmosphere, we’re fucked.” Trust me, Jason, we’re there.

Simultaneous with the Laptev Sea mission, several large holes were discovered in Siberia. The reaction from an article published in the 31 July 2014 issue of Nature indicates atmospheric methane levels more than 50,000 times the usual. An article in the 4 August 2014 edition of Ecowatch ponders the holes: “If you have ever wondered whether you might see the end of the world as we know it in your lifetime, you probably should not read this story, nor study the graphs, nor look at the pictures of methane blowholes aka dragon burps.”

The importance of methane cannot be overstated. Increasingly, evidence points to a methane burst underlying the Great Dying associated with the end-Permian extinction event, as pointed out in the 31 March 2014 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As Malcolm Light reported on 14 July 2014: “There are such massive reserves of methane in the subsea Arctic methane hydrates, that if only a few percent of them are released, they will lead to a jump in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere of 10 degrees C and produce a ‘Permian’ style major extinction event which will kill us all.”

Discussion about methane release from the Arctic Ocean has been quite heated (pun intended). Paul Beckwith was criticized by the conservative website, Skeptical Science. His response from 9 August 2013 is here.

Robert Scribbler provides a terrifying summary 24 February 2014, and concludes, “two particularly large and troubling ocean to atmosphere methane outbursts were observed” in the Arctic Ocean. Such an event hasn’t occurred during the last 45 million years. Scribbler’s bottom line: “that time of dangerous and explosive reawakening, increasingly, seems to be now.”

Image source: NASA

Image source: NASA

Sam Carana includes the figure below in his 10 September 2014 analysis. Based on data from several reputable sources, exponential release of methane clearly is under way.

global methane in atmosphere

2. Warm Atlantic water is defrosting the Arctic as it shoots through the Fram Strait (Science, January 2011). Extent of Arctic sea ice passed a tipping point in 2007, according to research published in the February 2013 issue of The Cryosphere. On 6 October 2012, Truth-out cites Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University: “The Arctic may be ice-free in summer as soon as 2015. Such a massive loss would have a warming effect roughly equivalent to all human activity to date. In other words, a summer ice-free Arctic could double the rate of warming of the planet as a whole.” Subsequent melting of Arctic ice is reducing albedo, hence enhancing absorption of solar energy. “Averaged globally, this albedo change is equivalent to 25% of the direct forcing from CO2 during the past 30 years,” according to research published in the 17 February 2014 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Destabilization of the deep circulation in the Atlantic Ocean may be “spasmodic and abrupt rather than a more gradual increase” as earlier expected, according to a paper published in the 21 February 2014 issues of Science. Models continue to underestimate results relative to observations, as reported in the 10 March 2014 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

3. Siberian methane vents have increased in size from less than a meter across in the summer of 2010 to about a kilometer across in 2011 (Tellus, February 2011). According to a paper in the 12 April 2013 issue of Science, a major methane release is almost inevitable, which makes me wonder where the authors have been hiding. Almost inevitable, they report, regarding an ongoing event. Trees are tipping over and dying as permafrost thaws, thus illustrating how self-reinforcing feedback loops feed each other.

4. Peat in the world’s boreal forests is decomposing at an astonishing rate (Nature Communications, November 2011)

5. Invasion of tall shrubs warms the soil, hence destabilizes the permafrost (Environmental Research Letters, March 2012)

6. Greenland ice is darkening (The Cryosphere, June 2012). As reported in the 8 June 2014 issue of Nature Geoscience, “a decrease in the albedo of fresh snow by 0.01 leads to a surface mass loss of 27 Gt” annually. Any reduction in albedo is a disaster, says Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Oceans Physics Group at Cambridge University. As pointed out by Robert Scribbler on 1 August 2014, we’ve removed the plug and, like the water leaving a tub, acceleration is under way: “Extensive darkening of the ice sheet surface, especially near the ice sheet edge, is resulting in more solar energy being absorbed by the ice sheet. Recent studies have shown that edge melt results in rapid destabilization and speeds glacier flows due to the fact that edge ice traditionally acts like a wall holding the more central and denser ice pack back.” Jason Box registers his surprise with a photo essay on 29 October 2014. ** A paper in the 15 December 2104 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides the first comprehensive picture of how Greenland’s ice is vanishing and concludes “that Greenland may lose ice more rapidly in the near future than previously thought.” **

7. Methane is being released from the Antarctic, too (Nature, August 2012). According to a paper in the 24 July 2013 issue of Scientific Reports, melt rate in the Antarctic has caught up to the Arctic and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is losing over 150 cubic kilometres of ice each year according to CryoSat observations published 11 December 2013, and Antarctica’s crumbling Larsen-B Ice Shelf is poised to finish its collapse, according to Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. A paper in the 12 September 2014 issue of Science concluded the major collapse of the Larsen-B Ice Shelf in 2002 resulted from warm local air temperatures, indicating the importance of global and local warming on ice dynamics. Two days later a paper in Nature Climate Change indicates that this sensitivity to temperature illustrates “that future increases in precipitation are unlikely to offset atmospheric-warming-induced melt of peripheral Antarctic Peninsula glaciers.”The rate of loss during the period 2010-2013 was double that during the period 2005-2010, according to a paper in the 16 June 2014 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. Loss of Antarctic ice is accelerating even in areas long considered stable, as documented in the 24 July 2013 edition of Scientific Reports. Further confirmation of large methane releases is revealed by noctilucent clouds over the southern hemisphere from 21 November 2013 to 6 December 2013.

8. Forest and bog fires are growing (in Russia, initially, according to NASA in August 2012), a phenomenon consequently apparent throughout the northern hemisphere (Nature Communications, July 2013). The New York Times reports hotter, drier conditions leading to huge fires in western North America as the “new normal” in their 1 July 2013 issue. A paper in the 22 July 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates boreal forests are burning at a rate exceeding that of the last 10,000 years. Los Alamos National Laboratory catches on during same month. According to reports from Canada’s Interagency Fire Center, total acres burned to date in early summer 2014 are more than six times that of a typical year. This rate of burning is unprecedented not just for this century, but for any period in Canada’s basement forest record over the last 10,000 years. A comprehensive assessment of biomass burning, published in the 21 July 2014 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, explains most of the global-average increase in temperature and explains that biomass burning causes much more global warming per unit weight than other human-associated carbon sources. By early August 2014 tundra fires were burning just 70 miles south of Arctic Ocean waters and the fires were creating their own weather via pyrocumulus clouds.

** Ignition sources are on the rise, too. According to a paper in the 14 November 2014 issue of Science, each 1 C rise in global-average temperature contributes to a 12 ± 5% increase in lightning strikes. **

9. Cracking of glaciers accelerates in the presence of increased carbon dioxide (Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, October 2012)

10. The Beaufort Gyre apparently has reversed course (U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, October 2012). Mechanics of this process are explained by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution here.

11. Exposure to sunlight increases bacterial conversion of exposed soil carbon, thus accelerating thawing of the permafrost (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2013). Subsequent carbon release “could be expected to more than double overall net C losses from tundra to the atmosphere,” as reported in the March 2014 issue of Ecology. Arctic permafrost houses about half the carbon stored in Earth’s soils, an estimated 1,400 to 1,850 petagrams of it, according to NASA. Peat chemistry changes as warming proceeds, which accelerates the process, as reported in the 7 April 2014 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

12. The microbes have joined the party, too, according to a paper in the 23 February 2013 issue of New Scientist. A subsequent paper in the 22 October 2014 issue of Nature illustrates the key role of a single species of microbe in amplifying climate change.

13. Summer ice melt in Antarctica is at its highest level in a thousand years: Summer ice in the Antarctic is melting 10 times quicker than it was 600 years ago, with the most rapid melt occurring in the last 50 years (Nature Geoscience, April 2013). According to a paper in the 4 March 2014 issue of Geophysical Research Letters — which assumes relatively little change in regional temperature during the coming decades — “modeled summer sea-ice concentrations decreased by 56% by 2050 and 78% by 2100″ (Robert Scribbler’s in-depth analysis is here). Citing forthcoming papers in Science and Geophysical Research Letters, the 12 May 2014 issue of the New York Times reported: “A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable. … The new finding appears to be the fulfillment of a prediction made in 1978 by an eminent glaciologist, John H. Mercer of the Ohio State University. He outlined the vulnerable nature of the West Antarctic ice sheet and warned that the rapid human-driven release of greenhouse gases posed ‘a threat of disaster.'” Although scientists have long expressed concern about the instability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), a research paper published in the 28 August 2013 of Nature indicates the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) has undergone rapid changes in the past five decades. The latter is the world’s largest ice sheet and was previously thought to be at little risk from climate change. But it has undergone rapid changes in the past five decades, signaling a potential threat to global sea levels. The EAIS holds enough water to raise sea levels more than 50 meters. According to a paper in the July 2014 issue of the same journal, the southern hemisphere’s westerly winds have been strengthening and shifting poleward since the 1950s, thus quickening the melt rate to the point of — you guessed it — “results that shocked the researchers.” ** A paper presented at the late 2014 meeting of the American Geophysical Union concludes, “comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade.” **

14. Increased temperature and aridity in the southwestern interior of North America facilitates movement of dust from low-elevation deserts to high-elevation snowpack, thus accelerating snowmelt, as reported in the 17 May 2013 issue of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

15. Floods in Canada are sending pulses of silty water out through the Mackenzie Delta and into the Beaufort Sea, thus painting brown a wide section of the Arctic Ocean near the Mackenzie Delta brown (NASA, June 2013). Pictures of this phenomenon are shown on this NASA website.

16. Surface meltwater draining through cracks in an ice sheet can warm the sheet from the inside, softening the ice and letting it flow faster, according to a study accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface (July 2013). Further support for this idea was reported in the 29 September 2014 issue of Nature Communications. It appears a Heinrich Event has been triggered in Greenland. Consider the description of such an event as provided by Robert Scribbler on 8 August 2013:

In a Heinrich Event, the melt forces eventually reach a tipping point. The warmer water has greatly softened the ice sheet. Floods of water flow out beneath the ice. Ice ponds grow into great lakes that may spill out both over top of the ice and underneath it. Large ice damns (sic) may or may not start to form. All through this time ice motion and melt is accelerating. Finally, a major tipping point is reached and in a single large event or ongoing series of such events, a massive surge of water and ice flush outward as the ice sheet enters an entirely chaotic state. Tsunamis of melt water rush out bearing their vast floatillas (sic) of ice burgs (sic), greatly contributing to sea level rise. And that’s when the weather really starts to get nasty. In the case of Greenland, the firing line for such events is the entire North Atlantic and, ultimately the Northern Hemisphere.

17. Breakdown of the thermohaline conveyor belt is happening in the Antarctic as well as the Arctic, thus leading to melting of Antarctic permafrost (Scientific Reports, July 2013). In the past 60 years, the ocean surface offshore Antarctica became less salty as a result of melting glaciers and more precipitation, as reported in the 2 March 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change.

18. Loss of Arctic sea ice is reducing the temperature gradient between the poles and the equator, thus causing the jet stream to slow and meander (see particularly the work of Jennifer Francis, as well as this article in the 20 November 2014 issue of the Washington Post). The most extreme “dipole” on record occurred during 2013-2014, as reported in the Geophysical Research Letters. One result is the creation of weather blocks such as the recent very high temperatures in Alaska. This so-called “polar vortex” became widely reported in the United States in 2013 and received the attention of the academic community when the 2013-2014 drought threatened crop production in California. Extreme weather events are occurring, as reported in the 22 June 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change. Also called Rossby Waves, these atmospheric events are on the rise, as reported in the 11 August 2014 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

As one result of the polar vortex, boreal peat dries and catches fire like a coal seam. The resulting soot enters the atmosphere to fall again, coating the ice surface elsewhere, thus reducing albedo and hastening the melting of ice. Each of these individual phenomena has been reported, albeit rarely, but to my knowledge the dots have not been connected beyond this space. The inability or unwillingness of the media to connect two dots is not surprising, and has been routinely reported (recently including here with respect to climate change and wildfires) (July 2013)

19. Arctic ice is growing darker, hence less reflective (Nature Climate Change, August 2013)

20. Extreme weather events drive climate change, as reported in the 15 August 2013 issue of Nature (Nature, August 2013). Details are elucidated via modeling in the 6 June 2014 issue of Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

21. Drought-induced mortality of trees contributes to increased decomposition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and decreased sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Such mortality has been documented throughout the world since at least November 2000 in Nature, with recent summaries in the February 2013 issue of Nature for the tropics and in the August 2013 issue of Frontiers in Plant Science for temperate North America.

One extremely important example of this phenomenon is occurring in the Amazon, where drought in 2010 led to the release of more carbon than the United States that year (Science, February 2011). The calculation badly underestimates the carbon release. In addition, ongoing deforestation in the region is driving declines in precipitation at a rate much faster than long thought, as reported in the 19 July 2013 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. An overview of the phenomenon, focused on the Amazon, was provided by Climate News Network on 5 March 2014.

Tropical rain forests, long believed to represent the primary driver of atmospheric carbon dioxide, are on the verge of giving up that role. According to a 21 May 2014 paper published in Nature, “the higher turnover rates of carbon pools in semi-arid biomes are an increasingly important driver of global carbon cycle inter-annual variability,” indicating the emerging role of drylands in controlling environmental conditions. “Because of the deforestation of tropical rainforests in Brazil, significantly more carbon has been lost than was previously assumed.” In fact, “forest fragmentation results in up to a fifth more carbon dioxide being emitted by the vegetation.” These results come from the 7 October 2014 issue of Nature Communications.

22. Ocean acidification leads to release of less dimethyl sulphide (DMS) by plankton. DMS shields Earth from radiation. (Nature Climate Change, online 25 August 2013). Plankton form the base of the marine food web, and are on the verge of disappearing completely, according to a paper in the 18 October 2013 issue of Global Change Biology. As with carbon dioxide, ocean acidification is occurring rapidly, according to a paper in the 26 March 2014 issue of Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Acidification is proceeding at a pace unparalleled during the last 300 million years, according to research published in the 2 March 2012 issue of Science.

23. Jellyfish have assumed a primary role in the oceans of the world (26 September 2013 issue of the New York Times Review of Books, in a review of Lisa-ann Gershwin’s book, Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean): “We are creating a world more like the late Precambrian than the late 1800s — a world where jellyfish ruled the seas and organisms with shells didn’t exist. We are creating a world where we humans may soon be unable to survive, or want to.” Jellyfish contribute to climate change via (1) release of carbon-rich feces and mucus used by bacteria for respiration, thereby converting bacteria into carbon dioxide factories and (2) consumption of vast numbers of copepods and other plankton.

24. Sea-level rise causes slope collapse, tsunamis, and release of methane, as reported in the September 2013 issue of Geology. In eastern Siberia, the speed of coastal erosion has nearly doubled during the last four decades as the permafrost melts.

25. Rising ocean temperatures will upset natural cycles of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphorus, hence reducing plankton (Nature Climate Change, September 2013). Ocean warming has been profoundly underestimated since the 1970s according to a paper published in the online version of Nature Climate Change on 5 October 2014. Specifically, the upper 2,300 feet of the Southern Hemisphere’s oceans may have warmed twice as quickly after 1970 than had previously been thought.

26. Earthquakes trigger methane release, and consequent warming of the planet triggers earthquakes, as reported by Sam Carana at the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (October 2013)

27. Small ponds in the Canadian Arctic are releasing far more methane than expected based on their aerial cover (PLoS ONE, November 2013). This is the first of several freshwater ecosystems releasing methane into the atmosphere, as reviewed in the 19 March 2014 issue of Nature and subsequently described by a large-scale study in the 28 April 2014 issue of Global Change Biology. Release of methane from these sources in the Arctic and Greenland, according to the 20 May 2012 issue of Nature Geoscience, “imply that in a warming climate, disintegration of permafrost, glaciers and parts of the polar ice sheets could facilitate the transient expulsion of 14C-depleted methane trapped by the cryosphere cap.”

The mechanism underlying methane release in these systems is poorly understood. If sunlight drives the process, as suggested by a paper in the 22 August 2014 issue of Science, then amplification is expected over time as ponds and lakes are increasingly exposed.

28. Mixing of the jet stream is a catalyst, too. High methane releases follow fracturing of the jet stream, accounting for a previous rise in regional temperature up to 16 C in less than 20 years (Paul Beckwith via video on 19 December 2013).

29. Research indicates that “fewer clouds form as the planet warms, meaning less sunlight is reflected back into space, driving temperatures up further still” (Nature, January 2014)

30. “Thawing permafrost promotes microbial degradation of cryo-sequestered and new carbon leading to the biogenic production of methane” (Nature Communications, February 2014)

31. Over the tropical West Pacific there is a natural, invisible hole extending over several thousand kilometers in a layer that prevents transport of most of the natural and man-made substances into the stratosphere by virtue of its chemical composition. Like in a giant elevator, many chemical compounds emitted at the ground pass thus unfiltered through this so-called “detergent layer” of the atmosphere. Global methane emissions from wetlands are currently about 165 teragrams (megatons metric) each year. This research estimates that annual emissions from these sources will increase by between 17 and 260 megatons annually. By comparison, the total annual methane emission from all sources (including the human addition) is about 600 megatons each year. (Nature Geoscience, February 2014)

32. Deep ocean currents apparently are slowing. According to one of the authors of the paper, “we’re likely going to see less uptake of human produced, or anthropogenic, heat and carbon dioxide by the ocean, making this a positive feedback loop for climate change.” Because this phenomenon contributed to cooling and sinking of the Weddell polynya: “it’s always possible that the giant polynya will manage to reappear in the next century. If it does, it will release decades-worth of heat and carbon from the deep ocean to the atmosphere in a pulse of warming.” (Nature Climate Change, February 2014; model results indicate “large spatial redistribution of ocean carbon,” as reported in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Climate)

33. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide causes soil microbes to produce more carbon dioxide (Science, 2 May 2014)

34. Reductions in seasonal ice cover in the Arctic “result in larger waves, which in turn provide a mechanism to break up sea ice and accelerate ice retreat” (Geophysical Research Letters, 5 May 2014).

35. A huge hidden network of frozen methane and methane gas, along with dozens of spectacular flares firing up from the seabed, has been detected off the North Island of New Zealand (preliminary results reported in the 12 May 2014 issue of the New Zealand Herald). The first evidence of widespread active methane seepage in the Southern Ocean, off the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, was subsequently reported in the 1 October 2014 issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

36. As reported in the 8 June 2014 issue of Nature Geoscience, rising global temperatures could increase the amount of carbon dioxide naturally released by the world’s oceans, fueling further climate change

37. As global-average temperature increases, “the concentrations of water vapor in the troposphere will also increase in response to that warming. This moistening of the atmosphere, in turn, absorbs more heat and further raises the Earth’s temperature.” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 28 July 2014)

38. Soil microbial communities release unexpectedly more carbon dioxide when temperatures rise (Nature, 4 September 2014). As a result, “substantial carbon stores in Arctic and boreal soils could be more vulnerable to climate warming than currently predicted.”

39. “During the last glacial termination, the upwelling strength of the southern polar limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation varied, changing the ventilation and stratification of the high-latitude Southern Ocean. During the same period, at least two phases of abrupt global sea-level rise—meltwater pulses—took place.” In other words, when the ocean around Antarctica became more stratified, or layered, warm water at depth melted the ice sheet faster than when the ocean was less stratified. (Nature Communications, 29 September 2014)

** 40. “Open oceans are much less efficient than sea ice when it comes to emitting in the far-infrared region of the spectrum. This means that the Arctic Ocean traps much of the energy in far-infrared radiation, a previously unknown phenomenon that is likely contributing to the warming of the polar climate.” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2014) **

** 41. The “representation of stratospheric ozone in climate models can have a first-order impact on estimates of effective climate sensitivity.” (Nature Climate Change, December 2014) **

** 42. “While scientists believe that global warming will release methane from gas hydrates worldwide, most of the current focus has been on deposits in the Arctic. This paper estimates that from 1970 to 2013, some 4 million metric tons of methane has been released from hydrate decomposition off Washington [state]. That’s an amount each year equal to the methane from natural gas released in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout off the coast of Louisiana, and 500 times the rate at which methane is naturally released from the seafloor.” (Geophysical Research Letters, online version 5 December 2014) **

43. Arctic drilling was fast-tracked by the Obama administration during the summer of 2012.

44. Supertankers are taking advantage of the slushy Arctic, demonstrating that every catastrophe represents a business opportunity, as pointed out by Professor of journalism Michael I. Niman and picked up by Truth-out (ArtVoice, September 2013)

As nearly as I can distinguish, only the latter two feedback processes are reversible at a temporal scale relevant to our species. Once you pull the tab on the can of beer, there’s no keeping the carbon dioxide from bubbling up and out. These feedbacks are not additive, they are multiplicative: They not only reinforce within a feedback, the feedbacks also reinforce among themselves (as realized even by Business Insider on 3 October 2013). Now that we’ve entered the era of expensive oil, I can’t imagine we’ll voluntarily terminate the process of drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic (or anywhere else). Nor will we willingly forgo a few dollars by failing to take advantage of the long-sought Northwest Passage or make any attempt to slow economic growth.

Robin Westenra provides an assessment of these positive feedbacks at Seemorerocks on 14 July 2013. It’s worth a look.

See How Far We’ve Come

Never mind that American naturalist George Perkins Marsh predicted anthropogenic climate change as a result of burning fossil fuels in 1847. Never mind the warning issued by filmmaker Frank Capra in 1958 or the one issued by Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich in his 1973 article in Le Monde: “the impact of industrially packaged quanta of energy on the social environment tends to be degrading, exhausting, and enslaving, and these effects come into play even before those which threaten the pollution of the physical environment and the extinction of the (human) race.” Never mind the warning and plug for geo-engineering issued by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee in 1965: “The climate changes that may be produced by the increased CO2 content could be deleterious from the point of view of human beings. The possibilities of deliberately bringing about countervailing climatic changes therefore need to be thoroughly explored.” Never mind the 1986 warning from NASA’s Robert Watson of “human misery in a few decades” and eventual human extinction as a result of climate change. Never mind that climate risks have been underestimated for the last 20 Years, or that the IPCC’s efforts have failed miserably, or that the IPCC uses a faulty, conservative approach, as pointed out in the September 2014 issue of American Meteorological Society (David Wasdell’s scathing indictment of the vaunted Fifth Assessment is archived here). After all, climate scientist Kevin Anderson tells us what I’ve known for years: politicians and the scientists writing official reports on climate change are lying, and we have less time than most people can imagine. (Consider the minor example of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “underestimating” by 100 to 1,000 times the methane release associated with hydro-fracturing to extract natural gas, as reported in the 14 April 2014 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.) Never mind David Wasdell pointed out in 2008 that we must have a period of negative radiative forcing merely to end up with a stable, non-catastrophic climate system. Never mind that even the Atlantic is displaying “five charts about climate change that should have you very, very worried.” Never mind that atmospheric carbon dioxide is affecting satellites. Never mind that even the occasional economic analyst is telling climate scientists to be persuasive, be brave, and be arrested. Never mind that Peruvian ice requiring 1,600 years to accumulate has melted in the last 25 years, according to a paper in the 4 April 2013 issue of Science. And never mind that summer warming in the interior of large continents in the northern hemisphere has outstripped model predictions in racing to 6-7 C since the last Glacial Maximum, according to a paper that tallies temperature rise in China’s interior in the 15 May 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And finally, never mind that the IPCC’s projections have been revealed as too conservative time after time, including low-balling the impact of emissions, as pointed out in the 9 March 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change. On 24 March 2014, renowned climate scientist Michael Mann commented on climate change as reported in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment: “It’s not far-off in the future and it’s not exotic creatures — it’s us and now.” As the Fifth Assessment admits, climate change has already left its mark “on all continents and across the oceans.”

Never mind all that: Future temperatures likely will be at the higher end of the projected range because the forecasts are all too conservative and also because climate negotiations won’t avert catastrophe.

Through late March 2013, global oceans have risen approximately ten millimeters per year during the last two years. This rate of rise is over three times the rate of sea level rise during the time of satellite-based observations from 1993 to the present. Ocean temperatures are rising, and have been impacting global fisheries for four decades, according to the 16 May 2013 issue of Nature. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s July 2014 report, the world is nearly five times as prone to disaster as it was 40 years ago. The number and economic cost of weather-related disasters has increased during each of the last four decades.

Actually, catastrophe is already here, although it’s not widely distributed in the United States. Well, not yet, even though the continental U.S. experienced its highest temperature ever in 2012, shattering the 1998 record by a full degree Fahrenheit. But the east coast of North America experienced its hottest water temperatures all the way to the bottom of the ocean. The epic dust bowl of 2012 grew and grew and grew all summer long. As pointed out in the March 2004 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, disappearing sea ice is expectedly contributing to the drying of the western United States (more definitive research on the topic appeared in the December 2005 issue of Earth Interactions). Equally expectedly, the drought arrived 40 years early.

Even James Hansen and Makiko Sato are asking whether the loss of ice on Greenland has gone exponential (while ridiculously calling for a carbon tax to “fix” the “problem”), and the tentative answer is not promising, based on very recent data, including a nearly five-fold increase in melting of Greenland’s ice since the 1990s and a stunning melting of 98 percent of Greenland’s ice surface between 8 and 15 July 2012. The explanation for this astonishing event comes from a paper published in the 10 June 2014 issue of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences: “[T]he same mechanism drove two widespread melt events that occurred over 100 years apart, in 1889 and 2012. We found that black carbon from forest fires and rising temperatures combined to cause both of these events.” Further elucidation is provided in the 14 June 2014 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. The mainstream media are finally taking notice, with the 18 July 2013 issue of Washington Post reporting the ninth highest April snow cover in the northern hemisphere giving way to the third lowest snow cover on record the following month (relevant records date to 1967, and the article is headlined, “Snow and Arctic sea ice extent plummet suddenly as globe bakes”).

On a particularly dire note for humanity, climate change causes early death of 400,000 people each year causes early death of five million people each year. Adding to our misery are interactions between various aspects of environmental decay. For example, warming in the Arctic is causing the release of toxic chemicals long trapped in the region’s snow, ice, ocean and soil, according to research published in the 24 July 2011 issue of Nature Climate Change.

Greenhouse-gas emissions keep rising, and keep setting records. According to 10 June 2013 report by the International Energy Agency, the horrific trend continued in 2012, when carbon dioxide emissions set a record for the fifth consecutive year. The trend puts disaster in the cross-hairs, with the ever-conservative International Energy Agency claiming we’re headed for a temperature in excess of 5 C. The U.S. State of the Climate in 2013, published 17 July 2014 as a supplement to the July 2014 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, concludes:

Ocean surface continues to warm

Sea levels reach a record high

Glaciers retreat for the 24th consecutive year

Greenhouse gases continue to climb

The planet’s surface remains near its warmest

Warm days are up, cool nights are down

Completely contrary to the popular contrarian myth, global warming has accelerated, with more overall global warming in the 15 years up to March 2013 than the prior 15 years. Seventeen months later, Science finally catches up in their 22 August 2014 issue. This warming has resulted in about 90% of overall global warming going into heating the oceans, and the oceans have been warming dramatically, according to a paper published in the March 2013 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. A paper in the 20 March 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters points out that surface temperatures poorly measure global warming. Even Slate magazine figured it out by 5 November 2013, and The Guardian‘s headline from 13 November 2013 announces, “Global warming since 1997 more than twice as fast as previously estimated, new study shows.” About 30% of the ocean warming over the past decade has occurred in the deeper oceans below 700 meters, which is unprecedented over at least the past half century. According to a paper in the 1 November 2013 issue of Science, the rate of warming of the Pacific Ocean during the last 60 years is 15 times faster than at any time during the last 10,000 years. By the end of 2013, the fourth-hottest year on record, the deep oceans were warming particularly rapidly and NASA and NOAA reported no pause in the long-term warming trend.In 2013 ocean warming rapidly escalated, rising to a rate in excess of 12 Hiroshima bombs per second — over three times the recent trend.” When the heat going into the ocean begins to influence land-surface temperatures, “rapid warming is expected,” according to a paper published 9 February 2014 in Nature Climate Change. According to James Wight, writing for Skeptical Science on 12 March 2014, “Earth is gaining heat faster than ever.”

Coincident with profound ocean warming, the death spiral of Arctic sea ice is well under way, as shown in the video below. As reported in the 22 February 2014 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, sea-surface temperatures have increased 0.5 to 1.5 C during the last decade. “The seven lowest September sea ice extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the past seven years.

In the category of myth busting comes recent research published in the August 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Contrary to the notion that changing solar radiation is responsible for rising global temperature, the amount of solar radiation passing through Earth’s atmosphere and reaching the ground globally peaked in the 1930s, substantially decreased from the 1940s to the 1970s, and changed little after that. Indeed, the current solar activity cycle is the weakest in a century. In addition, according to a paper in the 22 December 2013 issue of Nature GeoScience, climate change has not been strongly influenced by variations in heat from the sun.

Global loss of sea ice matches the trend in the Arctic. It’s down, down, and down some more, with the five lowest values on record all happening in the last seven years (through 2012). As reported in a June 2013 issue of Science, the Antarctic’s ice shelves are melting from below. When interviewed for the associated article in the 13 June 2013 issue of National Geographic, scientists expressed surprise at the rate of change. Color me shocked. Three months later, the 13 September 2013 issue of Science contains another surprise for mainstream scientists: The Pine Island Glacier is melting from below as a result of warming seawater. And four months after that dire assessment, the massive glacier was melting irreversibly, according to a paper in the 12 January 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change (Robert Scribbler provides an overview of the latter phenomenon).

Then See Where We’re Going

The climate situation is much worse than I’ve led you to believe, and is accelerating far more rapidly than accounted for by models. Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges, in a press release dated 6 June 2013, potentially lethal heat waves on the near horizon. Piling on a month later, the World Meteorological Organization pointed out that Earth experienced unprecedented recorded climate extremes during the decade 2001-2010, contributing to more than a 2,000 percent increase in heat-related deaths.

Although climate change’s heat — not cold — is the real killer, according to research published in the December 2013 issue of the Journal of Economic Literature, swings in temperature may be even more lethal than high temperatures. Specifically, research published in the 29 January 2014 issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London indicates insects are particularly vulnerable to temperature swings.

Ice sheet loss continues to increase at both poles, and warming of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is twice the earlier scientific estimate. Arctic ice at all-time low, half that of 1980, and the Arctic lost enough sea ice to cover Canada and Alaska in 2012 alone. In short, summer ice in the Arctic is nearly gone. Furthermore, the Arctic could well be free of ice by summer 2015, an event that last occurred about 2.6 million years ago, before the genus Homo walked the planet. Among the consequences of declining Arctic ice is extremes in cold weather in northern continents (thus illustrating why “climate change” is a better term than “global warming”). In a turn surprising only to mainstream climate scientists, Greenland ice is melting rapidly.

The Eemian interglacial period that began some 125,000 years ago is often used as a model for contemporary climate change. However, as pointed out in the 5 June 2012 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, the Eemian differed in essential details from modern climatic conditions. The Eemian is a poor analog for contemporary climate change, notably with respect to the rapid, ongoing disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic.

Even the conservative International Energy Agency has thrown in the towel, concluding that “renewable” energy is not keeping up with the old, dirty standard sources. As a result, the International Energy Agency report dated 17 April 2013 indicates the development of low-carbon energy is progressing too slowly to limit global warming.

The Arctic isn’t Vegas — what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic — it’s the planet’s air conditioner. In fact, as pointed out 10 June 2013 by research scientist Charles Miller of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: “Climate change is already happening in the Arctic, faster than its ecosystems can adapt. Looking at the Arctic is like looking at the canary in the coal mine for the entire Earth system.” In addition, “average summer temperatures in the Canadian Arctic are now at the highest they’ve been for approaching 50,000 years” (and perhaps up to 120,000 years) according to a paper published online 23 October 2013 in Geophysical Research Letters. Regional warming is accelerating because the Arctic is rapidly losing ice, according to a paper published in the October 2014 issue of The Open Atmospheric Science Journal. “Barrow, the most northerly community in Alaska, observed a warming of 1.51°C for the time period of 1921-2012. This represents about twice the global value, and is in agreement with the well-known polar amplification. For the time period of 1979-2012, … a mean annual temperature increase of 2.7°C is found, an accelerated increase of warming over the prior decades. … The large amount of open water off the northern coast of Alaska in autumn was accompanied by an increase of the October temperature at Barrow by a very substantial 7.2°C over the 34 year time period.”

On the topic of rapidity of change, a paper in the August 2013 issue of Ecology Letters points out that rates of projected climate change dramatically exceed past rates of climatic niche evolution among vertebrate species. In other words, vertebrates cannot evolve or adapt rapidly enough to keep up with ongoing and projected changes in climate.

How critical is Arctic ice? Whereas nearly 80 calories are required to melt a gram of ice at 0 C, adding 80 calories to the same gram of water at 0 C increases its temperature to 80 C. Anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions add more than 2.5 trillion calories to Earth’s surface every hour (ca. 3 watts per square meter, continuously).

Interactions among feedbacks are particularly obvious in the Arctic. For example, as reported in the 5 May 2014 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, “further reductions in seasonal ice cover in the future will result in larger waves, which in turn provide a mechanism to break up sea ice and accelerate ice retreat.”

Ocean acidification associated with increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is proceeding at an unprecedented rate — the fastest in 300 million years — leading to great simplification of ecosystems, and capable of triggering mass extinction by itself. Already, half the Great Barrier Reef has died during the last three decades and the entire marine food web is threatened. As with many attributes, the Arctic Ocean leads the way in acidification. Similarly to the long lag in temperature relative to increase greenhouse gas emissions, changes in ocean acidity lag far behind alterations in atmospheric carbon dioxide, as reported in the 21 February 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters.

An increasing number of scientists agree that warming of 4 to 6 C causes a dead planet. And, they go on to say, we’ll be there much sooner than most people realize. Clive Hamilton concludes in his April 2013 book Earthmasters that “without [atmospheric sulfates associated with industrial activity] … Earth would be an extra 1.1 C warmer.” This estimate matches that of James Hansen and colleagues, who conclude 1.2 C cooling (plus or minus 0.2 C) as a result of atmospheric particulates (full paper in the 22 December 2011 issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics is here. Both estimates are conservative relative to a paper in the 27 May 2013 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, which reports ~1 C temperature rise resulting from a 35-80% reduction in anthropogenic aerosols. In other words, collapse takes us directly to 2 C within a matter of weeks. According to a paper in the 24 November 2013 issue of Nature Climate Change, warming of the planet will continue long after emissions cease. Several other academic scientists have concluded, in the refereed journal literature no less, that the 2 C mark — long a political target, not a scientific target except among misinformed scientists — is essentially impossible (for example, see the review paper by Mark New and colleagues published in the 29 November 2010 issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A and the following line from a paper in the 12 March 2014 edition of Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law: “countries are farther from meeting their targets and the global community is farther from reaching the goal of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels than emissions data suggest”). The German Institute for International and Security Affairs concluded 2 June 2013 that a 2 C rise in global-average temperature is no longer feasible (and Spiegel agrees, finally, in their 7 June 2013 issue), while the ultra-conservative International Energy Agency concludes that, “coal will nearly overtake oil as the dominant energy source by 2017 … without a major shift away from coal, average global temperatures could rise by 6 degrees Celsius by 2050, leading to devastating climate change.” At the 11:20 mark of this video, climate scientist Paul Beckwith indicates Earth could warm by 6 C within a decade ** (he drops the “could” in reinforcing the point in a 25 November 23014 video, “Abrupt climate change is underway already”, and he also concludes Earth could experience a 16 C temperature rise, albeit from 5 C lower than today’s global-average temperature). ** If you think Beckwith’s view is extreme, consider (1) the 5 C rise in global-average temperature 55 million years ago during a span of 13 years (reported in the 1 October 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), and also (2) the reconstruction of regional and global temperature for the past 11,300 years published in Science in March 2013. One result is shown in the figure below.

Marcott et al temperature reconstruction wheelchair

It’s not merely scientists who know where we’re going. The Pentagon is bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks, as reported by Nafeez Ahmed in the 14 June 2013 issue of the Guardian. According to Ahmed’s article: “Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA’s Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.” In short, the “Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations” and is planning accordingly. Such “activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis — or all three.” In their 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, the U.S. military concludes: “Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating.” The global police state has arrived, and it’s accompanied by a subtle changes in Earth’s rotation that result from the melting of glaciers and ice sheets (i.e., climate change is causing Earth’s poles to shift).


Earlier versions of this essay are permalinked at Counter Currents, Goldilocks Zone, Seemorerocks, Climates of Canada, Island Breath, and Seemorerocks.

<edited by support 12/23/13>


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1,082 Responses to “Climate-Change Summary and Update”

  1. Susan Says:

    Thank you for all of the links! So much to learn, so little time….

  2. Kathy C Says:

    Climate scientists keep being “surprised” by the facts on the ground. They should not indicate surprise but rather remorse for being so wrong, apparently in many cases deliberately wrong although no doubt they have marshaled the “science needs to be conservative” or “we won’t change people if we scare them too much” and such like arguments. Perhaps I misunderstand, but aren’t scientists supposed to find the reason when results don’t match theory?

    The climate change deniers are joined by the slow climate change deniers in being proven wrong, inevitably dead wrong.

    362 all time high temperatures in US – zero all time record lows
    Describing how off the charts our weather has become gets harder and harder. Fortunately, we have wunderground historian Christopher Burton to put things in perspective.
    He tallies the data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in his recap of “the warmest calendar year on record for the continental U.S. according to NCDC data going back to 1895″

  3. K Klein Says:

    I just stuck fork in myself, I think I am done…

  4. Sergio Says:

    Jeeez!…. I had some hope going through economic collapse and peak oil, but climate change is getting too gnarly.

  5. stephanie jo kent Says:

    Hi Guy,

    Thanks for another clear summary.

    One phrase that might trip people up is “positive feedbacks.” Unless you’re trained as a scientist, you might interpret that to mean “good things that are happening.” But, what you mean is, the bad things that are happening are being reinforced “positively” – meaning they (the bad things) are growing bigger (worser) faster and faster.

    Thank you again for your persistence in trying to deepen this conversation.

  6. michele/montreal Says:

    + it is impossible to find water without toxic plastic anywhere in all the oceans + our garbage (which is eventually everything made with an incredible lot of plastics and other toxic components) is poisoning us and will soon bury us + some or all of our 400-500 nuclear power plants will go fukushima + epidemics are on their way + we are going through massive denudation (trees and all vegetation dying) + solar storms + + + + + + +

    I don’t know if we are “meat robot”, but we certainly are digestive tubes. Transforming intake into shit at an alarming rate.

  7. Tom Says:

    Great job, Guy!

    i’ll spread this post around in hopes people will become aware and clamor for change (not that it will help). i especially like linking your information on economic blogs to indicate that their party is coming to an end and that gold, silver and wealth of any kind will do nothing to stop what’s coming and will effect all life on earth (ie. there’s no “prepping” that’s gonna help in the long run).

  8. xraymike79 Says:

    A former shell executive said this CO2 thingy was just a “waste disposal problem” that we need to work on.

    “The debate for me is over because I believe we have the technology available to us today to develop hydrocarbons and to use those hydrocarbons in ways in which we can use them fully and clean up after ourselves; with respect to physical waste, liquid waste, and gaseous waste.
    So if we approach the issue of global warming/climate change as an issue of waste management – which I would prefer to do – rather than some kind of global crisis which remains undefined and unresolved. Let’s deal with what we know how to deal with. We know how to deal with waste.”

  9. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    Too Fucking Hot—Summary and Update

    [Previously, on doom:]

    Nice warm days sure hit the spot
    (When it’s too cold, I stay home a lot),
    But the heat will increase
    And then much life will cease,
    ‘Cause it’s going to be too fucking hot.

    We’ve worked ourselves into a spot
    Where a look at the future we’ve got
    Shows that feces and fans
    Mean no point in big plans:
    It’s going to be too fucking hot.

    We’re like frogs being boiled in a pot,
    And nothing will help a whole lot:
    With the mess we’ve now got,
    There’s no way to do squat;
    It’s going to be too fucking hot.

    I’m old, and I don’t know a lot,
    And most things I knew, I forgot,
    But one thing I know:
    It will be time to go
    When it gets to be too fucking hot.


    Now that you’re up on the plot,
    And you’re all pumped to take your best shot:
    It’s not just a cliche,
    So remember to say,
    “It’s going to be too fucking hot!”

  10. kevin moore Says:

    Thanks for the great summary, Guy.

    In the physical world it is all panning out much as I and numerous others have been warning about for more than a decade, i.e. burn the next generation’s future. In the political world it is now plain for all to see that we are governed by clowns and criminals -mostly criminals.

    I have been thinking a lot about the local government so-called 10 year plan while I work on landscaping and planting. I think all I need to emphasise next time is that the mayor is

    a liar
    a hypocrite
    a fascist
    a bully
    a coward.

    Much the same for the CEO.

    The propaganda department of the local council is doing a job Dr Goebbels would be proud of. Of course, the target of their activity, the group they want eliminated is not Jews, communists or gypsies but is the next generation. This will be achieved via the squandering of resources, so that mass starvation ensues, and via abrupt climate change/acidification/biodiversity loss. These people, particularly the younger ones, are so insane they actively destroy their own futures. And they don’t want to talk about anything connected with the real world.

    I’ve just been watching ‘The Day the Earth Caught Fire’ (1961) again. In the film humanity attempts to correct the mess it has made (as a result of nuclear explosions). In our world all government policy is geared to making everything that matters worse, and at an ever faster pace. And the bulk of the population are quite happy with this state of affairs.

  11. Privileged Says:

    So you’re sayin we have a chance?

  12. Steph Says:

    Privileged, I think we do not know if we have a chance.

    We certainly cannot give ourselves one if we do not try. In my view, Guy is being as far out there as he can possible be to goad the rest of us into paying enough attention so that we can try.

    Maybe we will fail.

    What I keep reminding myself of are two things:

    1) LIFE has a powerful resilience which resides within the planet-as-a-whole. We do not know what regenerative capacity exists, but we can rely on the impulse.

    2) Every hero/heroine I’ve ever admired has not shirked from the task of confronting the stark realities of their time and its conditions. Their example stirs me to dig ever more deeply into my own resolve to do all that I can imagine doing in order to engage myself as fully and thoroughly as possible in order to give the planet a chance. Us included, if enough of us will band together and work collectively toward a new normal.

  13. Guy McPherson Says:

    Steph, I’m not purposely “being as far out there as [I] can possible be.” Instead, I’m summarizing and synthesizing the evidence as it develops.

  14. patrick k o'leary Says:

    Hi everyone,
    First time posting here. Just want to say thank you, especially to Guy, for the quality and depth of the dialog that is ongoing at Nature Bats Last. I only just came across Guy’s work in early December. I have subsequently read and viewed nearly everything on the site. Like most of you I suspect, I have been waking up to the true reality of our so called “civilization” for most of my life. Each day seems to bring more evidence of the direction we are heading, extinction of our species, and it appears we are well on the way to dragging every other species on the planet along with us. Oddly, as I dive deeper into my own personal “well of grief” I find I have more equanimity towards and acceptance of this new adventure unfolding before us. I again extend my deepest gratitude to you all. The sincerity, thoughtfulness and empathy resonate through every thread. I am very glad that I found this place. I include an essay from the website Signs Of The Times. I find that the information being provided there is simpatico with that found here,

  15. Mike Says:

    Guy, I probably missed it somewhere in your posted talks, but I have not been able, on my own, to understand the jump from catasrophic climate change for humans and most other multicellular organisms to the extinction of all life on the planet. I bring it up because to me, and others I suppose, it matters philosophically. Life has apparently survived both a snowball earth and a molten rock vapor surface. How is it that this time we kill the thermophiles and the other extreme bacterial specialists?

    Thanks, Mike

  16. wildwoman Says:

    Mike, I believe that the nuclear plants melting down once the grid fails is what accomplishes the total extinction part.

    Guy, dude, you stole my tag line! ;)

  17. kevin moore Says:


    I agree that is more or less impossible to extinguish all life on Earth….. well not until the Sun starts to evolve into a red giant.

    There is a fair chance that whatever humans do to upset the chemical balance, bacteria, ocean worms, jellyfish etcetera are likely to continue to inhabit the Earth. Even a meltdown of all the nuclear plants would not be enough to eliminate all life: the Earth was a lot more radioactive 3 billion years ago than now. And I read many years ago about evidence that there had been a natural ‘nuclear reactor’, due to an exceptionally high local concentration of uranium (West Coast of Africa, from memory),

    The real point is the extinguishing of all higher forms of life (if I can use the term higher without causing offence) by the industrial economy. The utterly corrupt and despotic economic and political system is in the process of setting up conditions that will cause totally unnecessary suffering and mayhem, largely because money-lenders and corporations have a stranglehold on most societies (and most people don’t even realise they are living in a ‘slave camp’).

    Following on from my previous post, I’d like to add that we are governed by maniacs, i.e. people suffering from severe mania.

    I see that Cameron has announced he is prepared to go to war to defend Britain’s ‘right’ to exploit fossil fuel reserves in the South Atlantic.

  18. ogardener Says:

    Robbie Robertson Ghost Dance/Mahk Jchi

    Idle No More

  19. Guy McPherson Says:

    patrick k o’leary, thanks for your first-time comment.

    Mike, thanks for your comment. Ocean acidification alone is enough to drive many species to extinction, almost certainly including phytoplankton (which provide half the oxygen on Earth, and serve as the base of the global food chain). Acidification might be sufficient to kill all life in the oceans, particularly when coupled with high marine temperatures. Maybe not, too. On land, extreme events associated with climate change may well extinguish all or nearly all plants (which provide the other half of the oxygen, and serve as the base of the terrestrial food chain). Tack on ionizing radiation from 444 nuclear power plants, and the combination might kill everything. Maybe not, too. I’d rather abandon the experiment known as industrial civilization than find out.

  20. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    The current extinction we see
    Isn’t all due to TPTB;
    I’m guessing that you
    Might be part of it too,
    But some of it’s certainly me.

  21. Daniel Says:


    While I personally consider it be inappropriate to demean others intent, when I can tell that they mean well, your comments are so rife with false analogy and nascent assumption, that I’m going to use your comments as an illustration of what it means to intentionally and willfully miss the point that is staring you, and the rest of us in the face.

    Your desire to focus on what you “want” to believe, in the face of what can no longer be denied, is a classic example of the very cultural dilemma that has be obfuscating the “environmental movement” for over half a century. And this will only continue, for god knows, no one “wants” to accept the empirical evidence of NTE.

    Let’s go line by line:

    You stated: “We certainly cannot give ourselves one [chance] if we do not try”.

    First off, who exactly is “we”? Second, whoever “you” consider “we” to be, what has the last thirty years of climate activism been doing other than trying to give ourselves a chance?

    NBL is a site that accepts and contemplates the consequences of our collective inaction, not pretending that we just haven’t been trying hard enough.

    You stated: “In my view, Guy is being as far out there as he can possible be to goad the rest of us into paying enough attention so that we can try.”

    Other than this just being flat wrong, it also implies you haven’t been following Guy’s fairly recent evolution of awareness, as well as everyone who posts here. For many, we’re choosing to contribute to this blog not because we aren’t paying enough attention. It’s exactly the opposite as you stated, we are here, because no one else is paying attention to all the information Guy just provided. But far more to the actual point, is none of this has anything to do with Guy at all. It simply is. Or are you “trying” to imagine he is just making it up?

    You stated : “Maybe we will fail”.

    I’ll spare you the ever growing endless list of how we have never not failed, and are only continuing to fail at an ever increasing rate.

    You stated: “1) LIFE has a powerful resilience which resides within the planet-as-a-whole. We do not know what regenerative capacity exists, but we can rely on the impulse.”

    This is but a clever cognitive trick to deny we live in denial, by redirecting our attention to what we don’t know exists, in light of what we do know. We can substitute “regenerative capacity” with space aliens, god or projections of universal empathy for the natural world and create whatever “impulse” resonates with our wanting worldviews.

    You stated: “2) Every hero/heroine I’ve ever admired has not shirked from the task of confronting the stark realities of their time and its conditions.”

    Are we to assume you’re speaking of Guy then?

    You stated: “Their example stirs me to dig ever more deeply into my own resolve to do all that I can imagine doing in order to engage myself as fully and thoroughly as possible in order to give the planet a chance.”

    That sure sounds nice. The greatest threat to the planet (biosphere) is an overpopulated industrial humanity. The best “chance” the planet has, is to remove that threat. However, you’re still here, so I suspect, you haven’t been very thorough in doing all that can imagined.

    You stated: “Us included, if enough of us will band together and work collectively toward a new normal.”

    Go sit in the middle of a sports area, surrounded by 15,000 screaming people and ask yourself, who is this mythical “we” you liken will someday band together towards a new normal?

    While you imagine yourself to be enlightened to some of the perils before us, you don’t even know you’re drowning in the incomprehensible dire complexity you’re ignoring.

  22. Guy McPherson Says:

    This message appeared in my email inbox. If you’d like to track the discussion, and even participate in it, follow Jay Hanson’s directions below.

    This coming week, Dr. McPherson will discuss global warming, feedbacks, and the extinction of humanity on the AMERICA 2.0 mailing list. The AMERICA 2.0 will be strictly moderated for this event.

    If you would like to discuss this with us, join the AMERICA 2.0 list by sending an email to:


  23. Kathy C Says:

    Life first evolved on earth about 4 billion years ago. Photosynthesis about 3 billion years ago. Mammals 200 million years ago. Humans about 200,000 years ago, so from the start of life to humans was almost 4 billion years.

    In 1.1 billion years from now, the Sun will be 10% brighter than it is today. This extra energy will cause a moist greenhouse effect in the beginning, similar to the runaway warming on Venus. But then the Earth’s atmosphere will dry out as the water vapor is lost to space, never to return.

    3.5 billion years from now, the Sun will be 40% brighter than it is today. It will be so hot that the oceans will boil and that water vapor will be lost to space as well. The ice caps will permanently melt, and snow will be ancient history; life will be unable to survive anywhere on the surface of the Earth. The Earth will resemble dry hot Venus.

    Read more:

    Do even if some blue green algae or other lifeforms persist, hardly looks like we will ever get back to mammals eh?

  24. Guy McPherson Says:

    A minor correction, Kathy C: According to Wikipedia, the genus Homo arose more than two million years ago. Homo sapiens appeared on the scene more than 250,000 years ago. There is no time for development of mammals again, however, even if conditions become favorable.

  25. Daniel Says:

    @ Guy

    Will you actually be discussing this on his site?

    Interesting. Because of Kathy C mentioning a comparable conversation on Jay’s site a few days ago, I became a member and the reason I listed for wanting to join, was to discuss non-linear rates of change leading to NTE.

    For anyone who is not familiar with Jay Hansen, he was one of the first people–at least online–to claim the human race is headed for “die-off”, which was the namesake of his once incredibly informative website. I would recommend all those interested, to subscribe, though it is fairly restrictive. Should be fairly interesting…….as well as combative.

  26. Daniel Says:

    I don’t know if I’m abusing an ethical protocol by re-posting what someone else said on another site without asking, but here it is anyways, and it’s probably a fair assessment of what to expect on Jay Hansen’s site in regards to Guy’s latest post.

    “So how real are these trends? Are they stuck in backwaters like this
    because of massive human self-denial, because they aren’t credible,
    or for some other reasons?…….I’ll end by noting that whether such scenarios are credible or not, humans cannot ethically allow themselves the indulgence and luxury of “it’s too late”. Because we DON’T understand the absolute dynamics of these systems, and we will never deserve the conceit of perfect certainty that we do… particularly when it is so damned convenient to believe it rather than fighting tooth and nail to keep the biosphere from dying.”

  27. bubbleboy... Says:

    It is the status quo that is as “out there” as possible.

    That is the foundation of neo-classical economics.

    >>> Risk the most to win.

    This site has discussed the aggregation of risks taken.

    Hate to burst the bubble, but…

    Last one over the cliff is a rotten egg!

  28. Robin Datta Says:

    Effed in too many ways to keep track. if one expresses thanks to the messenger of doom, would that be gratitude or sarcasm or both?

  29. Kathy C Says:

    Apparently Guy the wiki entry I was going from was this

    2.5 million years since the appearance of the genus Homo,
    200,000 years of anatomically modern humans

    I failed to add the adjective anatomically and I didn’t provide the link because of the problem with two link posts :)

  30. Tom Says:

    Earth to humanity:

    Well did I tell you before when I was up
    Anxiety was bringing me down
    I’m tired of listening to you talking in rhymes
    Twisting round to make me think you’re straight down the line
    All you do to me is talk, talk
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk

    If every sign that I see is complete then I’m a fool in your game
    And all you want to do is tell me your lies
    Won’t show the other side
    You’re just wasting my time
    All you do to me is talk, talk
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk

    When every choice that I make is yours
    Keep telling me what’s right and what’s wrong
    Don’t you ever stop to think about me
    I’m not that blind to see that you’ve been cheating on me
    I hear you laughing at me when I’m up
    I see you when you’re crying for me when I’m down
    I see you when you laugh at me when I’m up
    I see you when you’re crying for me
    All you do to me is talk, talk
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk (Sometimes)
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk (Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes)
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk (Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes)
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk (Sometimes)
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk (Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes)
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk (Sometimes)
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk (Sometimes)
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk (Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes)
    Talk, talk, talk, talk

  31. Kathy C Says:

    Daniel, Jay’s site has all sorts as does this site. I’ve been on discussion groups in the past that ask people not to copy stuff to other sites but I have not seen any such prohibition on America2.0 As you note there is likely to be quite a bit of push back. That’s OK IMHO. At least Guy won’t be speaking to the choir :)

    I wrote several replies to Steph and kept erasing them. I see I didn’t need to reply as you have covered it quite well.

  32. Guy McPherson Says:

    Daniel, I will be addressing questions in Hanson’s forum that arise from the current essay

  33. yuma paul m Says:

    Thanks again Guy for keeping us right up to date with the latest.
    In spite of all this solid information about what is REALLY happening regarding climate change, I read this week that the Albertans are talking up pipelines to the west, south and east to help deliver the northern Albertan sludge called tarsands, oh sorry, OILsands to the world. Just keep digging the stuff up to keep the old shareholders happy and that’s all that matters. Joni Mitchell ( a former Alberta girl) should write another song about the tarsands.

  34. depressive lucidity Says:

    Hi, patrick k o’leary … I too am a long time reader of SOTT and Laura. Unfortunately, the folks at SOTT, despite being so tuned in to the deceptions of the Matrix, still claim that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax being perpetrated by the NWO. Sometimes the conspiracy meme can swallow the truth. I hope that they rethink their views on this matter because, imo, it undermines a lot of very good information and theories that they have been disseminating over the years.

    Welcome to NBL.

  35. kevin moore Says:

    I was informed by email today that maximum temperatures in the northern region of Victoria, Australia have been around 50oC, with a high of 54oC. Meanwhile, just north of Melbourne it was ‘only’ 41oC.

    Acidification of the oceans has been mentioned. An interesting aspect is that as ocean temperatures rise the solubility of CO2 decreases. This mechanism may well prevent severe acidification from taking place. As the oceans become saturated and as temperatures rise we should expect a greater portion of emissions to remain in the atmosphere ( or in the extreme case, for oceans to become net sources of CO2).

    Another rarely discussed aspect of the mess we are in is Global Dimming -the reduced insolation at ground level that is due to industrial pollution in the atmosphere. A rapid demise of the industrial economy could well trigger a rapid increase in average temperature, as clearer skies allow more radiation to reach the ground.

    As far as I can tell we are screwed in every direction because the industrial ‘experiment’ has already been allowed to run too long. As I pointed out in my most recent book, the time for action was in the 1960s and 70s, when all the major factors that would lead to collapse we identified. Indeed, there was movement in the right direction around that time. But it was crushed by politicians, economists, bankers and industrialists.

  36. Ripley Says:

    Thanks for another great article, Dr M.
    The most wasteful, destructive, and dumbest lifestyle ever invented is the suburban/exurban American way of life circa 1950- present. Where just to get a loaf of bread, millions of people have to get into a two ton hunk of metal and burn toxic gases. Even before the environmental cost were well known, common sense and good taste should have told us this was a stupid way to live. But now, many generations of Americans have known no other way a life and believe that this way of life is their birthright. Ten or twenty $ a gallon gas will reduce the places where these people live to regions of permanent depression. A million people living a suburban lifestyle use far more energy the same number in a dense urban area using public transit. So, the suburbs will collapse first. Thousands of urban high rises will need to be built to accommodate the suburban refugees. Our cities will resemble those of old the Soviet bloc countries. Probably led by some kind of dictatorship, a kind of Pol Pot situation in reverse. Too bad for stupid, greedy Americans, your gun arsenal isn’t going to help you when you can no longer afford to drive to the gun store to buy ammo, or go through the McDonald’s drive-thru for food.

  37. John Day Says:

    Thanks Guy,
    Here’s “Before the Deluge”, by Jackson Browne, for listening, since the video is just a collage of stuff. It’s where we are, and maybe where we are going, and it has always moved me. He did it about 30 years ago.


  38. ulvfugl Says:

    The Mayor of Futaba, a town 20 km away from Fukushima nuclear plant, which has been abandoned by the state and TEPCO, speaks at the United Nations.

  39. ulvfugl Says:

    Glaciologists fear they may have seriously underestimated the potential for melting ice sheets to contribute to catastrophic sea-level rises in coming decades which could see increases of a metre or more by 2100.

  40. Robin Datta Says:

    Time lapse video of the Waldo Canyon fire, 23-28 June 2012 in Colorado by Steve Moraco on YouTube:

    Waldo Canyon fire, 23-28 June 2012

    Great photography and musical accompaniment. Angst-provoking presage of things yet to come.

  41. ogardener Says:

    Wawa, Ont., damage from rain may exceed $10M
    Record rainfall created 15-metre holes along Trans-Canada Highway

    CBC News
    Posted: Oct 28, 2012 4:30 PM ET

    The destruction that heavy rain caused in the northern Ontario town of Wawa is worse than feared, the community’s mayor says, after the freak downpour overflowed creeks and rivers, washing out arterial roads and collapsing sections of the Trans-Canada Highway.

    Having called Wawa my home once upon a time.

  42. Kathy C Says:

    Off topic – some of the good spirit that we loose along with the bad. Landfillharmonic

  43. Privileged Says:

    Industrial humans have no chance and are threatening the possibility of all life. I suggest we dive head first into the simple life before it simply goes away.

  44. ulvfugl Says:

    Right now 100+ of our friends have taken over TransCanada’s Keystone XL headquarters in Houston, Texas. You can help shut down work in TransCanada’s offices by flooding the phone lines all today to tell them we don’t want their dirty pipeline in anyone’s backyard.

  45. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    Arctic Storms: A Climate Danger Nobody’s Talking About

    Summer and fall are hurricane season, but for the storms known as polar lows, prime time falls in the dead of winter, when frigid air blows off sea ice to collide with warmer, moister air in the North Atlantic. Polar lows are a lot smaller and weaker than hurricanes, they’re generally shorter-lived, and the only danger they generally pose is to shipping and oil rigs.

    However, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience, the dozens of polar lows that roil the Greenland, Iceland and Norwegian seas every year may have an effect on the climate of North America and Europe. And if polar lows move northward with the changing climate, as some studies have predicted, winters in both places could become colder, even as the planet warms.

    As if that weren’t bad enough, a northward displacement of these Arctic storms could also raise sea level higher along America’s mid-Atlantic coast than the average increase of 3 feet or so projected for the world as a whole by 2100.

    It all has to do with the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), a vast conveyer belt of sea water that includes the Gulf Stream.

  46. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    Kathy C: Yes, the grid is very vulnerable and getting more fragile every month, the nuclear plants are vulnerable, and even the rubber industry could be taken down by someone with a few fungal spores on their shoes. Without natural rubber, we would see then end of civilization.

  47. Robert Thankyoufornotbreeding Atack Says:

    Kevin Moore speaking with Cathy Thurston, Manager Community Services, New Plymouth District Council, in November 2012, shortly after the council had used ratepayers money to promote destruction of the future via the squandering of rapidly depleting resources and the generation of an inordinate amount of pollution.

    And a couple of ‘newbies’ playing the blame game … it is ALL Exxon’s fault.

  48. Daniel Says:

    @ Ulvfulg

    Thanks for the Mayor of Futaba link. Incredible!

    His town is actually only 3km not 20km from ground zero. His/their story is hard to put into perspective, given how much deception is still circulating around this event. And this is from a highly developed country with a commendable social contract.

    So even though the Japanese government refuses to tell its Fukushima citizens as to how much radiation they were and still are exposed to, and given the entire agricultural region is now a wasteland. And one of the containment pools is still on the verge of collapsing, where, if and when it does collapse, it will render all of Japan uninhabitable. The government is pressuring Futaba citizens to move back home?!?!?

    For anyone who is still riding the fence in regards to the nuclear threat from the fallout of these containment pools once the power grid collapses. JUST ONE of these pools with 1,500 spent fuel rods, would release 4,000 times more radiation than Hiroshima!

    And to think, not all that long ago, I was almost romanticizing the day when the power failed. What strange fruit our awareness now bears. What a fool I’ve been.

  49. Martin Knight Says:

    U.S. Beef and Oil from Space.

    And if you try to be a vegetarian, people taunt you about carrots. Don’t people know? Don’t they grieve?

  50. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Daniel


    It said 20km where I found it, I didn’t check anything, I guess I just have to assume that man is honest and honourable and genuine, it’s so hard, isn’t it, so many stories going on all the time, and how can one be certain of anything ? You’d need to go there, be fluent in Japanese, spend time, just like the Sandy Hook thing, which is so incredibly weird…

    I believe there are ruthless evil groups who create false flags to further their agendas, big ones, small ones, and then we have all the amateur theorists speculating, some of whom are completely crazy, and then the real perpetrators can feed all that, planting rumours and red herrings, creating more smoke and confusion to hide the truth…

    But they don’t even have to do the false flags, they can just wait for natural events, there’s enough of them, and then exploit and spin them to their advantage, as in Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine/Disaster Capitalism, like scavengers to a fallen beast, they zoom in on any weakness…

    Political Ponerology: A Science on The Nature of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes

  51. ulvfugl Says:

    I have not read that book, although I did read excerpts on the website of the same title a year or two ago, before the book was published. I’m not sure ‘science’ is quite the right word, strictly speaking, but certainly original and interesting. Apparently the evil POS named Zbigniew Brzezinski tried to block publication, so that tells you something about it.

  52. B9K9 Says:

    Once again, it appears to be my responsibility to help explain why what is happening is happening. No, I don’t mean climate change, non-linear responses or NTE. What I’m talking about is why the PTB don’t give a shit.

    To recap, our thoughts, opinions & emotions are not “our own”, but rather a product of social evolutionary pressures imposed over millennia. But perhaps more importantly, these same influences created what in many respects could almost be considered a different species of human.

    I’m referring to, of course, “leaders”. While we slaves/serfs/sheep were bred for compliance, sociability and submissiveness, the psychopaths-in-charge have always been on a completely different trajectory.

    Consider the traits cherished as positive attributes amongst you & your peers, and exhibited in almost every post on this board: compassion, morality, reason, judgment, etc. These kinds of attitudes weren’t just a moral “attaboy”; no, they were/are necessary traits for survival in a group setting – especially conflict resolution.

    Now, consider the parallel characteristics of the ruling class. NONE of these traits provide any competitive advantage whatsoever. In fact, on the contrary, they are markers for certain defeat & death.

    Consider for a moment just the history of the British crown. Up until a few centuries ago, daily palace life was one of intrigue, plots, alliances, possible victory or tortuous death. And yet, how many simply ‘walked away’ in order to enjoy a humble, quiet life of rectitude and care?

    Because they were/are addicted to the adrenaline rush of the “game”. This is what they do. Some like to hike, some like to paint, some to work in the garden. None of that suffices for this crew – what they live, breath & die for is to play the game of conquest & control.

    Of course it’s a completely nihilistic endeavor, but they can no more rationalize away what they do than a lion who is compelled to kill her game.

    They have no illusion(s) about life-after death. Shit, they’re the ones who invented religion in the first place as a further means of control. They know that this is it baby. Since they won’t experience anything after this episode of consciousness, who cares what happens as long as there’s action today?

    These are the ones in charge. They have possession of all the same facts Guy has – they are under no illusion of escape from our collective destiny. Unfortunately, we’re all trapped on this slave ship commanded by champion nihilists.

    The key thing they have in their favor is the ability to issue bald-faced lies without batting an eye. It’s what they were bred to do – if you couldn’t contain a poker face in the palace, you were quickly outed for a date on the chopping block.

    My dad, who once worked for the agency during the Cold war, always said “he who complains has already lost”. Think about it.

  53. ulvfugl Says:

    Locked and glued inside TransCanada’s Massachusetts office

  54. B9K9 Says:

    @ ulvfugl Says: “Locked and glued inside TransCanada’s Massachusetts office.”

    I feel really sorry for those kids – they’re in for a Tiananmen scale beat down. In reality, it’s their parents to blame for exhibiting such foolish behavior as to either encourage, or (more likely) not adequately teach their kids the no-nonsense truth of how this world actually operates.

    Fingerprinting & complete multi-dimensional facial/body scanning for banks of various agency profiling databases are the least of it. DNA marking and who-knows-what horrors lay in store for these new age terrorists that will dog them for the rest of their (sorry-assed) lives.

  55. ulvfugl Says:

    @ B9K9

    I see what you’re getting at, but it seems to me a variation on Social Darwinism, to which I don’t subscribe, or maybe a cultural darwinism… anyhow, although I accept there’s some truth in it, it’s got to be an over-simplification… for one thing, if you look at the various royal dynasties, its amazing how many kings, queens, emperors, have been completely barking mad, really totally incompetent… I suppose you could argue that they were placeholders, and that the real power rested with subordinates, who co-opted their authority… no need to chop their head off, if you can usurp their power, is there.

    I read a long paper once- again I don’t subscribe to this stuff, just find it interesting – where someone ‘proved’ mathematically, the sort of thesis you describe. If all the male salmon get an advantage by being big, to push other males out of the way, when it comes to fertilising the female’s eggs at spawning time, there comes a point where they cannot really grow any larger without incurring other disadvantages, then those very small dwarf males appear, which hardly look like salmon at all, which can zoom in and fertilise eggs, and the big males don’t even notice them as competitors.

    Likewise, as you said, if everyone is honest and kind, there comes a point, in a large soceity, where there’s an advantage in being dishonest and ruthless. If everyone was dishonest and ruthless, soceity would not work, so the percentage has to remain small.

    This is the kind of stuff that some people use to justify evolutionary biological arguments for human behaviour, and so forth. Personally, I don’t, and it’s a big subject, so I’ll leave it there, but basically, my argument would be, rather like the one in neo-classical economics, that sees everyone trying to maximise their selfish advantage. I don’t think people are like that, and I don’t buy Machiavelli’s and Sun Tzu’s argument that leaders must be feared, not loved. You know, I’m a green anarchist, I start from a different base, if everyone took my approach, those ‘leaders’ would have no ‘followers’, therefore no power, kinda thing :-)

  56. ulvfugl Says:

    @ B9K9

    DNA marking and who-knows-what horrors lay in store for these new age terrorists that will dog them for the rest of their (sorry-assed) lives.

    Think maybe you’ve stumbled onto the wrong blog, B9K9….

    You know ? NTE ?

    ‘new age terrorists’ ? wtf are you talking about ?

  57. ulvfugl Says:

    Road protesters go below ground in the ‘second battle of Hastings’

  58. ulvfugl Says:

    @ B9K9

    DNA marking and who-knows-what horrors lay in store for these new age terrorists that will dog them for the rest of their (sorry-assed) lives.

    Seems rather plain where you are coming from, B9K9

    We’ve documented that – by any measure – America is the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world.

    But remember, terrorism is defined as:

    The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

    The American government has also been using violence and threats to intimidate and coerce the American public for political purposes.

    For example, the U.S. government is doing the following things to terrorize the American public into docility and compliance:

    Labeling peaceful protest as terrorism

  59. Robin Datta Says:

    And this is from a highly developed country with a commendable social contract.

    A social contract is not worth the paper it is not signed on. However, it is as effective as fiat money in promoting the interests of those who preach it.

    What a fool I’ve been.

    “It is OK to make mistakes, as long as they are new mistakes”. – Author unknown

  60. Dave Says:

    Could someone please tell me what “NTE” stands for?

  61. ulvfugl Says:

    NEAR TERM EXTINCTION ( of the human species and much of the rest of life on Earth ) as opposed to the idea of far away extinction, in some future century, that nobody really cares about, near term extinction involves people alive now, their children, their grand-children…

    Some people have suggested that the human species does not reach the end of this century given the various collapse scenarios and projections for climate change, etc. Near term extinction is a shorter time scale than that.

    One such speculation came from Sir Martin Rees, who is highly respected in UK. However his lecture, and the data he based it upon, is dated. If you want the latest news, you have it above, from Guy.

  62. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    NTE = Near Term Extinction

    NTE means this is the end—
    At this point, why should we pretend?
    We cannot obstruct
    Doom, so we’re fucked;
    The party’s over all over, my friend.

  63. Steph Says:

    Hey Daniel,

    Thanks for reaming me out, it’s alright to learn how I’m perceived :-) I think you interpreted most of what I wrote exactly opposite of what I meant. This may be your filter or my lousy presentation or a combination of both.

    and Privileged, yea, I’m working on enjoying some of the simple life too, but am not ready to do only that. Could be I’m not even capable of only that! At least, the learning curve (“be here, now”) has been kicking me in the butt for quite awhile…

    Guy, I apologize for misrepresenting your reporting of the evidence as anything other than just that. Isn’t there a difference between publishing your summaries and synthesis of the evidence and actively promoting more widespread knowledge? I was attempting to be supportive of the spokesperson aspect of your efforts.

    The image or metaphor in my mind has been that all of you – by which I mean loyal, longtime readers and commenters here at NBL as well as all of the past 30 or more years’ worth of activists – are like advance scouts. You’ve seen the shit coming and done your best to translate it to the rest of us but we couldn’t get it – for whatever reasons. “We” and “us”, Daniel, (in this usage) are my reference to myself and the vast majority of human beings who are not in the elite company of ‘advance scouts’.

    What’s coming (I project, perhaps wrongly but this is what seems possible as a next thing that will happen), is that some ‘wave’ of people are going to start getting it, possibly move out of denial, or at least into stages of emotional and intellectual processing. Yes, it’s too little too late, but humanity has to live through the next decades, somehow. On the given evidence, we may not do this any better than we’ve lived the past decades (or centuries, or however far back you want to go). Although some peoples have been living well with the land for millennia, and I do not want to discount them.

    But perhaps some of us might; perhaps even enough of us to ameliorate the worst extremes to which human behavior could go. This seems to me a productive and useful hope. In the meantime, and in service of that miniscule hope, I’m doing my best to manage my own process while contributing what I can.

    To that end, here is this week’s blogentry reflecting upon and interpreting my own process of coming to grips: Dear Guy McPherson, What the Heck?

  64. Chet Murphy Says:

    @BC Nurse Prof

    “Without natural rubber, we would see then end of civilization.”

    I’m not sure that would end civilization. During WWII the US went from total dependence on natural rubber to synthetic rubber to meet war time needs because the enemy controlled most natural rubber production. Today only 42% of global rubber is natural.

  65. Steph Says:


    “But perhaps some of us might be able/willing to find ways to live better than we have to date; perhaps even enough of us to ameliorate the worst extremes to which human behavior could go.”

    I realize this is a long shot. Take it as my lame way to help spread love.

  66. Robin Datta Says:

    Lecturing the folks that running the train towards the cliff is reminiscent of pouring water on a duck’s back. But then again might it be a part of one’s nature to howl at the moon? Perhaps a way of acting without expectation because it is “the right thing to do, even when the anticipated results are zilch.

    If one succeeds in waking them up before the crocodile of reality chomps down on them, but does not – cannot – offer a timely way out of the swamp (because time’s up!), it could cause distress for much longer than needed. The road from denial to panic can be too short, but can they be led beyond to acceptance?

  67. Robin Datta Says:

    Over the bar at the officer’s club of the Second Aviation Battalion in Camp Red Cloud (Korea) was a sign ” I H T F P”. It’s meaning depended on one’s attitude: “I have truly found paradise” or “I hate this f***ing place”. An alternate for NTE: Nearing The Ecstasy.

  68. Robin Datta Says:

    ….. that are</b?running the train …..

  69. dairymandave Says:

    Notice how the fronts just sit there. Dry everywhere. Hey, I’m a farmer and I like to know what the weather is going to be , near term.

  70. depressive lucidity Says:

    The last time the Arctic was ice-free was during the middle Pliocene, ≈ 3 mya, during which time the australopithecines were relative newcomers to Africa. Now that we have altered the planet such that it will not sustain us much longer, most of us who follow this blog agree that human extinction before the end of the century is probable (nothing is really certain given the nonlinearity of these systems and the unknown unknowns).

    I think most of us would also agree that the PTB and the masses are not going to take any effective actions to even mitigate the catastrophe. The catastrophe is already happening. The good news is that the omnicidal system that has become a planetary cancer will most likely collapse before mid-century (or, perhaps much sooner). So, maybe some life forms which would otherwise have been destroyed will survive.

    I assume most of us here accept the above statements. Since the writing is on the wall for us as a species, it seems to me that the only remaining question is how to live our lives with moral discernment and dignity. There are some who like to spout neoDarwinist bravado about the strongman and the slave. It is this kind of pathological idiocy that led us down the road to destruction. The little third rate Nietzcheans who get off by proclaiming that existence is nothing more than a bunch of worms trying to crawl to the top of a dung heap are the ones who have always stood in the way of those who sought a higher path.

    Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor who later became one of the founders of existential psychology, had this to say:

    “A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes – within the limits of endowment and environment- he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.”

  71. OzMan Says:

    Thanks for more acurate reporting where most information is blurred by spin and denial, or just plain too slow reporting – you are up there.

    I am wondering if nomadism is not the best option for me here now?

    Yes, family will never join in.

    Perhaps I could just keep roving and coming back at longer and longer intervals, (for a feed and a shower, Ha Ha).

    Very hard to know how to respond to NTE.

    Going for broke starting a gift community, and community garden now. Might take, and help some eat when the shelves dry up.

    I’ll let everyone know if it takes.

    Very hot temps today.

    ‘The heat is on: Australia posts hottest day on record’

    Some of it:
    “AUSTRALIA posted its hottest day on record yesterday, with temperatures expected to rise even further today.
    The average maximum temperature across Australia reached 40.33 degrees on Monday, beating the previous record of 40.17 degrees set in 1972, the Bureau of Meteorology’s David Jones told AAP.
    Average maximum temperatures have risen above 40 degrees only three times in recorded history.
    ”We had the hottest day on record for Australia (on Monday) and today it looks like we may well go better again,” Dr Jones said.
    ”This really puts the national dimension of this heat event into bigger context.”…

    Other data from the bureau showed maximum temperatures across the continent in the last four months of 2012 were 1.6 degrees above average, breaking all previous records.
    Aaron Coutts-Smith, the bureau’s NSW manager for climate services, expects the run of dry and hot conditions to continue for at least the next week.
    ”What makes this event quite exceptional is how widespread and intense it’s been,” he said.
    ”We have been breaking records across all states and territories in Australia over the course of the event so far.”…

    Hobart recorded its hottest day in 120 years on Friday, when the temperature peaked at 41.8 degrees.
    Hay, in southwest NSW, climbed to 47.7 degrees on Saturday – its highest in 56 years.
    Sydney was tipped to reach a maximum of 43 degrees today, which would make it the third highest temperature on record.
    Markus Donat, from the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, says periods of high temperatures have increased in recent decades….

    Temperatures soared by 20C in less than three hours this morning as the heatwave crossing Australia showed no signs of slowing down.
    In NSW, temperatures exceeded 30 degrees soon after the sun came up this morning.
    Bega on the state’s south coast was the first town to hit 40 degrees at 11.30am (AEDT).”

    Some interesting charts and pics on that link above.

    Last night the temp here did not go below 20.7 degrees C.

    All this hot weather has been good for plant and vege growth in my garden, assuming you can get water to them.

  72. Kathy C Says:

    Steph, I pretty much perceived your comments as Daniel did. I suspected you didn’t mean them to be perceived that way. Delivery can be really important, but to do that you have to know your audience and where they are at, not just jump in with comments that seem to include moral judgments.

    You wrote “humanity has to live through the next decades, somehow.” I know that sounds right, but in fact the only thing humans HAVE to do is die. Most of us here have been struggling for a long time in one way or another to figure out how best to live their lives before they die long before Peak Oil presented a specter of mass dieoff of humans, and Climate Change went unaddressed long enough that total dieoff looks inevitable.

    Many of us suspect that when the shit truly hits the fan, WWIII may break out. We have learned that when the grid finally collapses from lack of fuel, infrastructure failure, solar flare or EMP attack, every nuclear plant in the world (400+ with 700 reactors) will fail in ways similar to Fukushima because they need electricity to keep the fuel in the reactor and the fuel in the spent fuel pools cool. Think of that happening without any ability to re-mediate the situation as they are doing in Fukushima and did in Chernobyl. We can all die much sooner from some event related to climate change.

    The words “have to” have no magical power. To make our descent last a bit longer however we could try get the whole world to decommission all the nuclear reactors. Problem is that the countries of the world don’t “have to” listen but if you think that is a good cause you are welcome to beat your head against that brick wall.

    Meanwhile a good thing to do, (that no one has to do), is to let everyone you love know it. Hug lots of people. Fill our remaining time on earth with love instead of futile causes. Nursing homes are filled with lots of people who have to die, as do each of us. Most are lonely. Cancer wards for young children are filled with kids who have to die earlier than expected. Volunteer to visit them. There is a ton of good things to do that will make this world a bit better until it is all over.

  73. Kathy C Says:

    Robin, WOW that Waldo Caynon Fire vid was stunning. I just kept imagining that without any attempt being able to be made to put the fire out. When the firefighters no longer have the fuel to fight fires…..

  74. Kathy C Says:

    Robin “If one succeeds in waking them up before the crocodile of reality chomps down on them, but does not – cannot – offer a timely way out of the swamp (because time’s up!),”

    And I would add because it is ALL swamp now. There is no place that is “out”

  75. ulvfugl Says:

    “Without natural rubber, we would see then end of civilization.”

    I’m not sure that would end civilization. During WWII the US went from total dependence on natural rubber to synthetic rubber…

    Left brain thinking is reductionist. It breaks down all problems into parts. So we can look at the future as a long, long list of disparate problems, such as droughts and famines, species loss, Fukes, ocean acidification, over-population, wars, peak oil, natural rubber plantations, etc, etc.

    Right brain thinking is holistic. It tries to see the large, over-all pattern, putting all the parts of the jigsaw together.

    Seems to me very likely we have already made the choice to become extinct, although nobody noticed we were choosing. Over the last ten or twenty years, we could, should, have been desperately cutting CO2 emissions. We didn’t. That was the choice. There’s a time lag. The emissions went into the pipeline. We don’t see the end result for about thirty years.

    What we have now ( record high temperatures, fires, ice melting, etc, ) is the result of emissions 30 years ago. They’ve been rising at increasing rates ever since.

    The feedbacks kick in.

    By 2050, in thirty years time, we’d have had to have completely changed EVERYTHING about how we live our lives.

    Seriously. Think that over. I know there’s a lot here who changed long ago, but of the 7 billion, soon to be 9, the only people who are even considering that, are a tiny fraction of a minority on the fringe.

    AND we’d need to have found ways to get the CO2 out of the air and the oceans. Somehow. Whilst the whole world, internationally, will be increasingly chaotic and stressed, economically unstable, because of what we have already done.

    People are dreaming about thorium power stations and other wonderful new techno-fixes… yes, yes… but look at the time scale, in five years time, at the current rates of change, there’s going to be large areas, Australia, American S.W., etc. that are going to be so hot and dry as to be uninhabitable, let alone agriculturally productive, seems to me, this thing is already running away with itself, already, out of everyone’s control…

    Once the feedbacks get triggered, and start feeding the warming with more warming, then there is nothing we can do.

    Keep on drilling and fracking guys ! Making it worse, as fast as you can !

  76. Greg Robie Says:


    Bill Moyer approached NTE–sort of/indirectly–in his framing, if not substance, of this interview with Anthony Leiserowitz. To my ear, the interviewee is lost to an iteration of motivated reasoning that is the bane of Guy’s efforts to champion collapsing the globalized debt-based capitalistic meme. At any rate, the comment thread is yet open. Might it benefit from the comments of people who post here?

  77. Kathy C Says:

    re rubber – yes we did without in WWII. We live in a different world

    per the article “for only natural rubber has the strength required for the sidewalls of radial tires…””
    and ““There is today no product that can match natural rubber’s resilience and tensile strength, resistance to abrasion and impact, and capacity to absorb impact without generating heat. Today the tires of every commercial and military aircraft, from the 747 to the B-2 bomber and the space shuttle, are 100 percent natural rubber. Half the rubber in every pickup tire in America still comes from a tree. The enormous tires of industrial machinery are 90 percent natural.”

    The point of the article is that today’s society relies on natural rubber for its superior qualities as it demands more out of tires than was demanded in WWII. Can’t say I would mind seeing 747 and B-2 bombers grounded for the lack of rubber. Lack of natural rubber would it seem not only give a boost to the synthetic industry but demand the retooling of whole industries, the manufacture of less powerful planes, the retooling of industrial machinery to work with less resilient tires etc. At at time when we no longer have the resources to do that.

  78. Steph Says:

    Hi Karen C.

    Thanks for reinforcing Daniel’s feedback. And for caring enough to respond, and to suggest courses of meaningful action. You’re correct that I haven’t done as patrick k o’leary, and read through everything carefully before jumping in – which may (or may not) have improved my comprehension of this audience and thus my diction. I’m not sure that I need to know all the awful ways death will come, or the details of how bad it’s getting at ever-increasing rates. Guy convinced me already.

    I do know that I want to belong to a group that is having this conversation. And that I want to be part of groups who are just beginning to have this conversation. Which means that inevitably I’ll learn more of those details, and have to cope with them, and make choices about how to carry myself out into the world today and do good things.

  79. Kathy C Says:

    Have tundra and other northern wildfires contributed to the soot that melted Greenland this summer – thus the Dark Snow Project. I am sure tundra fires as a positive feedback causing Greenland melt is not part of any IPCC projection

  80. B9K9 Says:

    ulvfugl Says: Seems rather plain where you are coming from, B9K9. Re:
    new age terrorists.

    I realized after I posted NAT (mistakenly) without some other kind of marker to denote irony that it would incur a reaction. Such is the ‘net. As you observe, it is rather plain where I’m coming from.

    As to discussing NTE, yes, I’m well aware of the point of this blog. However, once it begins to wonder away from pure scientific speculation, and engages in forays into a fantasy realm of appealing to authority via reason, I feel it is my civic duty to inform one otherwise.

    The only way anything every happens in this world is that it gives someone/thing an advantage. If people were serious about climate change, they would (temporarily) abandon the science and focus on appeal.

    That, of course, is the logic behind carbon credits and trading markets. But that’s way too “big concept” – you’ve got to get smaller, and focus on things like sex, food, wine/drugs & the means of acquisition (ie money) that represents the sum total of enjoyment for our ‘leaders’.

    But where is the science of psychopathology and the advancement of knowledge critical for sheep who would like to survive? Instead, all we get is this moaning & crying, which is nothing more than an admission of a complete lack of understanding of how this world actually operates.

  81. Arthur Johnson Says:


    Their example stirs me to dig ever more deeply into my own resolve to do all that I can imagine doing in order to engage myself as fully and thoroughly as possible in order to give the planet a chance.

    If you want to do something that might “give the planet a chance” (however small), I suggest getting involved in a reputable reforestation project.

    If you still believe there’s a chance (however small) that politics can make some kind of positive difference, I suggest also getting involved in I should warn you though. Involvement in is not for the squeamish; it’s strictly for those who are young or truly young-at-heart. TOAHNNA.

  82. ulvfugl Says:


    …after I posted NAT (mistakenly) without some other kind of marker to denote irony that it would incur a reaction…

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘NAT’.

    As to discussing NTE, yes, I’m well aware of the point of this blog.

    What do you think it is, then ?

    However, once it begins to wonder away from pure scientific speculation

    What do you mean by ‘pure scientific speculation’ ? I don’t know what that means.

    ..and engages in forays into a fantasy realm of appealing to authority via reason..

    That seems totally obscure. Perhaps you’ll explain what you’re attempting to say.

    I feel it is my civic duty to inform one otherwise.

    How astonishingly kind and generous of you. I do so hope everyone here appreciates your magnanimity.

    The only way anything every happens in this world is that it gives someone/thing an advantage. If people were serious about climate change, they would (temporarily) abandon the science and focus on appeal… admission of a complete lack of understanding of how this world actually operates.

    I think all sorts of things have happened for all sorts of reasons. Don’t see much logic there. You seem to believe you have some superior insight into ‘how this world actually operates’. I’ve yet to see any evidence of that. All you’ve stated is that there are some poker-faced lizards who like power, who are not like the rest of us, isn’t it ? Is that supposed to be a revelation that has escaped our attention until now ?

  83. Arthur Johnson Says:


    @ ulvfugl Says: “Locked and glued inside TransCanada’s Massachusetts office.”

    I feel really sorry for those kids – they’re in for a Tiananmen scale beat down. In reality, it’s their parents to blame for exhibiting such foolish behavior as to either encourage, or (more likely) not adequately teach their kids the no-nonsense truth of how this world actually operates.

    Actually, I find those kids’ behavior to be quite inspirational. They’re taking a real risk to their future livelihoods and employment prospects to make their point and “tell it like it is”. Let’s see that photo again, shall we?

  84. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    I do think that losing natural rubber for 20 years would bring down civilization. Here’s a longer version of the same reasoning:

    As I understand it, the fungus has moved north from Central America into Mexico. I also understand that flights from South America to countries with rubber plantations in Asia, such as Thailand, are monitored carefully. Maybe transport of the spores is inevitable, I don’t know.

  85. Tom Says:

    Oh, so NOW they’re worried about it (enough to put it in the paper):

    Humanity: still the most ignorant species on the planet, despite all the self-pronouncements claiming our supposed “superiority” and the like to all other life-forms.

  86. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    Worst drought in decades hits Brazil’s northeast:

  87. Kathy C Says:

    BC nurse, and besides rubber (which is made vulnerable by monocropping) there is wheat rust
    USA watches as wheat rust makes a damaging comeback
    By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAYUpdated 3/2/2011 9:19:02 PM | |
    A fungus under control for 50 years is back and ravaging wheat crops in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Once it gets in a field, it corrodes the stalks, turning them shades of brown and red that gives the disease, wheat stem rust, its name. Farmers can do little but harvest what’s left, sometimes losing 60% of their crop.
    Plant breeders struggled with it in the 1960s, believing they had finally beaten it into submission with new wheat strains. But now, after 50 years of remission, it’s roaring back, and it has U.S. agriculture officials on high alert for any sign of its return in this country….They bred such strongly resistant wheat that for over three decades wheat rust was thought of as a thing of the past. “People became complacent,” Coffman says.
    Then in 1999 a new, destructive strain called Ug99 appeared in Uganda. It has spread across 12 countries, including South Africa, Yemen, Iran, India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

    So forget 666, Ug99 may be the mark of the beast.

  88. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    When you lose your memory, something is still there:

    “I walked down the stairs, past the rows and rows of identical apartment buildings, back to my car. Then I sat in my car with the key in the ignition, not wanting to move. Professor Pribram felt that when we lose our memory, we lose our entire sense of self. When I saw Tom, something fundamentally Tom was still there. Some of us call it personality, or essence. Some call it the “soul.” Whatever it is, the tumor that took Tom’s memory had not touched it.”

  89. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone on the (worsening) financial crisis:

    “It was all a lie – one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people. We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in – only temporarily, mind you – to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.”

  90. ulvfugl Says:

    Kathy C. thanks for posting the Dark Snow Project video, I didn’t know that. Yet another feedback that people had not foreseen, climate change kills the forests, with droughts and beetles, and they burn, and the soot falls on the snow and ice, so that it warms and melts…

    There’s likely many more of those loops that will surprise us…

    The way I’m seeing this, we hit 6 deg around 2050, that’s the end of us all…

    That’s around 30 years away plus or minus a few. It’s like a supertanker, inertia, momentum, it takes three miles to slow down and to bring it to a stop, AFTER you make the decision that you want to stop. As a species, as an international community, we have not even made the decision YET. Still fucking dithering.

    The optimists and IPPC say, that’s alright, we’ve got three miles, we know that if we put the engines into reverse, slam the brakes on hard, we can stop before we hit the rocks.

    All the greenies and environmentalists and social reformers and techno-fixers with their renewables all think this. Three miles, plenty of time, we’ll all get busy and change the world, save the planet, avoid extinction, avoid six degrees…

    But in my mind… hang on, three miles between here and the rocks… but there’s that fire that just broke out in the kitchen, and one of the crew has gone insane and running around screaming with a loaded AK47… and the engineer says there’s a leak in the hold and it’s getting bigger… and the ship’s surgeon says there’s a passenger with what looks like bubonic plague, could have got it from a rat… and the navigation system just broke… and there’s some guys in a skiff coming alongside who look a hell of a lot like pirates… and on the horizon, looks something like a big black storm… etc, etc…

    You know, seems to me, reducing emissions is hard enough, possibly impossible. Reforming the global economy into something less destructive, might be possible, in theory. Avoiding resource wars, might be possible, in theory. It may be that we have not yet triggered irreversible methane feedback, and/or irreversible permafrost melting, etc. but doing those thing amidst global food shortages, mass-migrations, rising sea levels, all kinds of strife and madness, with the world being run by Goldman Sachs and similar maniacs…

    If you had a million pounds, and that was all the money you had, would you hand it over to place a bet, ten to one, to be paid out on 2050, that everything would be fine and dandy, expecting someone would be there to pay you ?

    You know, I’ve been reading comments for years and year. Seems to me, hardly anybody gets it. Guy does, Superman1 does, quite a few here do, a sprinkling of voices around the millions on the internet. But the vast majority don’t have a clue, do they…

    Of course, could be ME that’s got it all wrong. But I don’t think so. I’d need evidence, to be convinced I was mistaken. I never see any such evidence :-(

  91. Privileged Says:

    I’m sure I’m no Benjamin but I’m doomer.
    My past is that of a consummate consumer.
    So I’ll just continue to move towards the exit.
    Planting, building, chasing a different carrot.
    Trying to be human instead of a tumor.

  92. michele/montreal Says:

    «As a species, as an international community, we have not even made the decision YET. Still fucking dithering.»

    this is because we do not have a collective conscious, only an individual consciousness and a collective destiny.

    just read:

    «… the obituary may never be complete.»

  93. ulvfugl Says:

    Interesting article by Colin Tudge who is probably the only thinker on agricultural policy, whom I agree with, (although not necessarily on this article, I have not given it time and thought yet)

  94. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    Privileged says: So you’re sayin we have a chance?
    LOL! :)
    Privileged says:
    I’m sure I’m no Benjamin but I’m doomer.
    My past is that of a consummate consumer.
    So I’ll just continue to move towards the exit.
    Planting, building, chasing a different carrot.
    Trying to be human instead of a tumor.

    We search for great thinkers to parrot
    To believe that we live lives of merit,
    And we salve the distress
    Of meaninglessness
    Chasing one or another carrot.

  95. Curtis A. Heretic Says:

    Burning ‘Deep Purple': Australia So Hot New Color Added To Index

  96. islandraider Says:

    State of the Climate, National Overview, Annual 2012, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center

    “In 2012, the contiguous United States (CONUS) average annual temperature of 55.3°F was 3.3°F above the 20th century average, and was the warmest year in the 1895-2012 period of record for the nation. The 2012 annual temperature was 1.0°F warmer than the previous record warm year of 1998. Since 1895, the CONUS has observed a long-term temperature increase of about 0.13°F per decade. Precipitation averaged across the CONUS in 2012 was 26.57 inches, which is 2.57 inches below the 20th century average. Precipitation totals in 2012 ranked as the 15th driest year on record. Over the 118-year period of record, precipitation across the CONUS has increased at a rate of about 0.16 inch per decade.”

  97. michele/montreal Says:

    when I say “collective conscious” (conscient collectif), I mean a collective capacity to act as one entity, not at all the kind of collective consciousness that is discussed in this article you posted. it is a disgression. (but my level of english does not permit me to go deeper into such a subject)


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  42. […] long-term existence of humans, as I’ve concluded our run on this orb is nearly complete – Rather, I’m fighting on behalf the species we’ve not yet driven to extinction. I’m fighting […]

  43. […] corporate sameness that scars the Great American Landscape (though perhaps not for much longer, if my brother and other “doomers” are correct about the fate of the […]

  44. […] do not have the time to debate the cost-effectiveness of Nuclear energy 60 even 20 years ahead. Climate collapse will have turned nuclear plants into nuclear disasters by then. We should be shutting down nuclear […]

  45. […] The evidence for human extinction by 2030 is overwhelming.1 […]

  46. […] MORE HIGHER. THESE ESTIMATES ARE BASED ON REAL LONG TERM CLIMATE RECORDS, NOT ON MODELS.” –   Among other things, that means a LOT of climate refugees as coastal areas are the most […]

  47. […] it past 2030. There is one source that links to other sources and studies that back up his claims. Climate-change summary and update Hopefully we can get a solid discussion going and find that candle in the […]

  48. […] The evidence for human extinction by 2030 is overwhelming.1 […]

  49. […] Edit: sourcing for a lot of the claims in the above talk can be found here. […]

  50. […]  a friend of mine sent along a link to a post on the blog Nature Bats Last (what a great name for a blog!), asking me to forward this post to my […]

  51. […] 2040.” Davies considers only atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, not the abundant self-reinforcing feedback loops triggered on the climate-change […]

  52. […] before 2040.” Davies considers only atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, not the abundant self-reinforcing feedback loops triggered on the climate-change […]

  53. […] case scenario, Dr. Guy McPherson believes that humans may go extinct and that it may already be too late to do anything about it. […]

  54. […] Garrett’s constant + Jevon’s paradox = mass extinction? […]

  55. […] already tripped multiple tipping points in the earth's biosphere such as the Polar ice melt and many others. Hundreds of millions will never experience the energy-intensive lifestyles of developed countries […]

  56. […] what we did during the last 40 years. And, as pointed out with numerous scientific articles at my comprehensive summary dating back to February 2003 from the folks at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, abrupt and […]

  57. […] in turn propel further warming.  Extensively linked and referenced “update” posting here at  Not for the scientifically faint of […]

  58. […] Guy McPherson is one of the most lucid and outspoken of those scientists. Some of this data is outlined here, and you can read more from him on his blog Nature Bats Last, which is quite sobering to say the […]

  59. […] If you only read one thing today, make it this climate change article (Click Here) […]

  60. […] what we did during the last 40 years. And, as pointed out with numerous scientific articles at my comprehensive summary dating back to February 2003 from the folks at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, abrupt and […]

  61. […] These corrections and notes apply to this post on McPherson’s blog, which I took to be the most complete explication of his views available […]

  62. […] Stand von Ende 2013 hat Dahr Jamail hier zusammengefasst. Guy McPherson sammelt hier regelmäßig Informationen zum aktuellen Stand des Klimawandels. Bis Februar 2014 hat er nicht […]

  63. […] Terrify You.” It was this article that lead me to Morpheus, Guy McPherson, and a qualified, scientifically sourced confirmation of what I suspected. We have miscalculated earth’s sensitivity to warming temperatures, underestimated the domino […]

  64. […] although total human extinction by 2030 does seem to be progressing on schedule and under budget. Climate-change summary and update Planet Earth: The Next 30 years – […]

  65. […] el blog de Guy McPherson, profesor emérito de recursos naturales, ecología y biología evolutiva de la Universidad de […]

  66. […] Contrary to the contrarian myth, which matches what people actually want to hear, warming has not paused. It’s paused on land, but the heat is still ratcheting up. Again, visit my oft-updated essay for details and links. […]

  67. […] course, there are those who go so far as to argue that humanity is heading for extinction by 2030, and that it's too late to do anything about […]

  68. […] course, there are those who go so far as to argue that humanity is heading for extinction by 2030, and that it’s too late to do anything about […]

  69. […] course, there are those who go so far as to argue that humanity is heading for extinction by 2030, and that it’s too late to do anything about […]

  70. […] course, there are those who go so far as to argue that humanity is heading for extinction by 2030, and that it’s too late to do anything about […]

  71. […] course, there are those who go so far as to argue that humanity is heading for extinction by 2030, and that it’s too late to do anything about […]

  72. […] hero in-and-of-itself is insufficient to guarantee a future for your children and grandchildren. Earth will lose its breathable atmosphere within decades if we persist in delaying fundamental changes in energy consumption and dismantling corporate […]

  73. […] course, there are those who go so far as to argue that humanity is heading for extinction by 2030, and that it’s too late to do anything about […]

  74. […] Watch Guy’s Climate Change presentation February 2014. Read his frequently updated Climate-change summary and update […]

  75. […] you want some cheerful light reading, take a look at the frequently updated essay on Nature Bats Last – the blog of biologist Guy McPherson – Climate-Change summary and update….which is so frequently updated with new and increasingly alarming evidence that tipping points […]

  76. […] extinction by 2030 and keeps an up-to-date climate change summary on his website Nature Bats Last ( McPherson keeps track of positively reinforcing feedback loops set into motion by climate change. […]

  77. […] could also float off into the doom sides of things; Make a point of the fact that the report isn’t entirely taking into account feedback loops which […]

  78. […] ci sono quelli che arrivano a sostenere che l’umanità è destinata a estinguersi entro il 2030, e che è troppo tardi per fare […]

  79. […] predicts human extinction by 2030 and keeps an up-to-date climate change summary on his website Nature Bats Last. McPherson keeps track of positively reinforcing feedback loops set into motion by climate change. […]

  80. […] emeritus of natural resources, ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, nutshells one-half of the problem facing […]

  81. […] of Arizona, told Truthout. McPherson, a climate change expert of 25 years, maintains the blog Nature Bats Last. “The largest mammal was the size of a shrew,” he said. “And the rise in […]

  82. […] of Arizona, told Truthout. McPherson, a climate change expert of 25 years, maintains the blog Nature Bats Last. “The largest mammal was the size of a shrew,” he said. “And the rise in […]

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