We’re Done

British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is well known for his views on monetary policy. The printing-press approach he forwarded is widely used today, even as especially as the world-wide Ponzi scheme nears its end. My favorite line from Keynes: “In the long run, we’re all dead.”

As I pointed out in this space a few years ago, I concluded in 2002 that we had set into motion climate-change processes likely to cause our own extinction by 2030. I mourned for months, to the bewilderment of the three people who noticed. And then, shortly thereafter, I was elated to learn about a hail-Mary pass that just might allow our persistence for a few more generations: Peak oil and its economic consequences might bring the industrial economy to an overdue close, just in time. Like Pandora with her vessel, I retained hope.

No more. Stick a fork in us. We’re done, broiled beyond hope wishful thinking. It seems we’ve experienced a lethal combination of too much cheap oil and too little wisdom. Yet again, I’ve begun mourning. It’s no easier the second time.

As always, I’m open to alternative views — in fact, I’m begging for them, considering the gravity of this particular situation — but the supporting evidence will have to be extraordinary. By the way, irrationally invoking Al Gore doesn’t count as evidence. Ditto for unsubstantiated rumors about global cooling. A small dose of critical thinking might be required, rather than the ability to repeat lines touted by neo-conservatives and their owners in the fossil-fuel industries.

Before you launch into the ridicule I’ve come to expect from those who comment anonymously from a position of hubris and ignorance in the blogosphere, I invite you to fully consider the information below. I recommend setting aside normalcy bias and wishful thinking as you peruse the remainder of this brief essay. (While you’re at it, go ahead and look up the word “peruse.” It probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. I’ll make it easy: Here’s a link to the definition.)

We know Earth’s temperature is nearly one degree Centigrade higher than it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution. And 1 C is catastrophic, as indicated by a decades-old cover-up. Already, we’ve triggered several positive feedbacks, none of which were expected to occur by mainstream scientists until we reached 2 C above baseline global average temperature.

We also know that the situation is far worse than indicated by recent data and models (which are reviewed in the following paragraphs). We’ve known for more than a decade what happens when the planes stop flying: Because particulates were removed when airplanes were grounded, Earth’s diurnal temperature range increased by more than 1 C in the three days following 11 September 2001. If the change in range leans toward warming, in other words, Earth’s temperature is already nearly 2 C higher than the industrial-revolution baseline. And because of positive feedbacks, 2 C leads directly and rapidly to 6 C, acidification-induced death of the world’s oceans, and the near-term demise of Homo sapiens. We can’t live without life-filled oceans, home to the tiny organisms that generate half the planet’s oxygen while comprising the base of the global food chain (contrary to the common belief that Wal-Mart forms the base of the food chain). So much for the wisdom of the self-proclaimed wise ape.

With completion of the on-going demise of the industrial economy, we’re there: We’ve crossed the horrifically dire 2 C rubicon, as will be obvious when most of the world’s planes are grounded. Without completion of the on-going demise of the industrial economy, we’re there: We’ve crossed the horrifically dire 2 C rubicon, as described below. Joseph Heller, anybody?

I’ve detailed the increasingly dire assessments. And I’ve explained how we’ve pulled the trigger on five positive-feedback events at lower global average temperature than expected, while also pointing out that any one of these five phenomena likely leads to near-term human extinction. None of these positive-feedback events were expected by scientists until we exceed 2 C warming above the pre-industrial baseline.

My previous efforts were absurdly optimistic, as demonstrated by frequent updates (for example, here, here, and here, in chronological order). Yet my frequent writing, rooted in scientific analyses, can barely keep up with increasingly terrifying information about climate change. Every day, we have more reliable knowledge about the abyss into which we have plunged. Consider, for example, the International Energy Agency’s forecast of business-as-usual leading to a 6 C warmer planet by 2035. Malcolm Light, writing for the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, considers one of the many positive feedbacks we’ve triggered in one planetary region and reaches this conclusion: “This process of methane release will accelerate exponentially, release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere and lead to the demise of all life on earth before the middle of this century.”

Please read that sentence again. Light is a retired earth-systems scientist. As nearly as I can distinguish, he has no hidden agenda, though he believes geo-engineering will save us (an approach that would take several years to implement, and one that we’d almost certainly FUBAR).

Forecasts by the International Energy Agency and the Arctic Methane Emergency group match the recent trend of increasingly dire assessments based on collection and interpretation of more data and increasingly powerful models. If these forecasts are close to accurate, we’ve only a requiem to write for human beings on Earth.

It’s time to modify Keynes’ famous line thusly: “In the short run, we’re all dead.” For those of us living in the interior of a large continent, much less on a rock-pile in the desert, I’d give us until 2020 at the latest. Carpe diem, reveling in the one life we get.

What, then, shall we do? As I contemplate the shackles we’ve created for ourselves, the words of Albert Camus come to mind: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” In terms of action, I hardly know what that means for me, much less for you. But I encourage any and every act of liberty and rebellion, particularly as the world burns.

I’m often asked why people living in industrialized nations shouldn’t relent to hopelessness and party like hedonists as the world burns. My typical response is to ask how our lives would be different if we suddenly starting acting like hedonists.


This essay is permalinked at Counter Currents, Seemorerocks, Island Breath, Plan B Economics, Desdemona Despair, and Doomstead Diner.


I was interviewed by Alex Smith at Radio Ecoshock. Podcast is here (high resolution) and here (low resolution). It’s also here, with a extensive supporting information.


I’m embarking for a speaking tour of New Zealand (track it here, and look for frequent updates as events are added). As a result, I’ll be posting lightly or not at all for the next three weeks.

Comments 217

  • ed iglehart thank you for the poem. I hope others check the link. The poem is by Garret Hardin and starts with a poem by Stephen Crane

    A man said to the universe;
    “Sir, I exist!”
    “However,” replied the universe,
    “The fact has not created in me
    a sense of obligation.”
    — Stephen Crane, 1899
    I’ll post the link again if anyone missed it


  • Hi Kathy,

    The rate of release is the key.

    For me, the problem is how to model accurately the rate of release of “decomposable soil carbon” (comparable in quantity to hydrates) in this changing climate system?

    In the “Methane Game Upgrade” post they say:

    “…the nightmare comparison, but it’s only really relevant if the methane comes out all at once.”


    The Arctic estimate is for methane itself and is mostly methane hydrate, but keep in mind that there is also a comparable amount of decomposable soil carbon.”


    “The really interesting take-away from the new paper is how it shows that the near-surface geology and freezing state conspire to control the … the decompostion of frozen soil carbon.”


    The release of Decomposable Soil carbon will depend on multiple biological systems [B(x)= microbial ecology (+,-,x,/) macrobial ecology …].

    The biological systems are altered by “near-surface geology and freezing state…”

    In the end, I remain on the fence and agree with this conclusion – except I would add a B(x) among other variables ( all variables seem to be equations themselves, maybe they all have “42” as one of the constants ;).

    “We need to determine parameters that are not well known, deal with inadequately modeled physics, and address significant biases in the forcing fields.”


  • Navid, my understanding on frozen ocean methane is that it can come out suddenly in a big burp.
    “Now here’s the scary part. A temperature increase of merely a few degrees would cause these gases to volatilize and “burp” into the atmosphere, which would further raise temperatures, which would release yet more methane, heating the Earth and seas further, and so on. There’s 400 gigatons of methane locked in the frozen arctic tundra – enough to start this chain reaction – and the kind of warming the Arctic Council predicts is sufficient to melt the clathrates and release these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

  • Kathy C,

    Now that is EXACTLY the kind of response I was looking for. I just skimmed the title and first line of the link and that really does raise me one. I will read the article with GREAT INTEREST later. However, I have finished my lunch and must (!!!!!) return to the garden. You know how that is, making hay while the sun shines. I will be out with the scythe making compost for next year’s garden.

    By the way, thanks for playing!

    Michael Irving

  • Posting again to avoid the 2 link problem
    This type of methane burp was proposed in Michael Benton’s book When Life Nearly Died about the Permian Extinction event.

    Benton puts the figure at about 6 degree C change which at the time was forecast for the end of the century. However since things keep happening on the climate front faster than expected it would seem that if Benton is right it will happen sooner.

    Beware the “Methane Burp.” In his book, When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time (London: Thames and Hudson, 2003), Michael J. Benton describes a mass extinction at the end of the Permian period, about 250 million years ago, when at least 90 per cent of life on Earth died. The extinction probably was initiated by massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia. According to present theories, the eruptions injected massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing a number of biotic feedbacks that accelerated global warming of about 6 degrees C. In a chapter titled “What Caused the Biggest Catastrophe of all Time?” Benton sketches how the warming (which was accompanied by anoxia) may have fed upon itself:

    The end-Permian runaway greenhouse may have been simple. Release of carbon dioxide from the eruption of the Siberian Traps [volcanoes] led to a rise in global temperatures of 6 degrees C. or so. Cool polar regions became warm and frozen tundra became unfrozen. The melting might have penetrated to the frozen gas hydrate reservoirs located around the polar oceans, and massive volumes of methane may have burst to the surface of the oceans in huge bubbles. This further input of carbon into the atmosphere caused more warming, which could have melted further gas hydrate reservoirs. So the process went on, running faster and faster. The natural systems that normally reduce carbon dioxide levels could not operate, and eventually the system spiraled out of control, with the biggest crash in the history of life.

    The oxygen-starved aftermath of this immense global belch of methane left land animals gasping for breath and caused the Earth’s largest mass extinction, suggests new research. Greg Retallack, an expert in ancient soils at the University of Oregon in Eugene, has speculated that the same methane “belch” was of such a magnitude that it caused mass extinction via oxygen starvation of land animals. Bob Berner of Yale University has calculated that a cascade of effects on wetlands and coral reefs may have reduced oxygen levels in the atmosphere from 35 per cent to just 12 per cent over 20,000 years. Marine life also may have suffocated in the oxygen-poor water.

    Events 250 million years ago are of more than academic interest today because the 6 degrees C. that Benton estimates triggered these events is roughly the same temperature rise forecast for the Earth by the I.P.C.C. by the end of this century.

  • “…the nightmare comparison… it’s only really relevant if the methane comes out all at once.”

    … “at once” … Is that 5 minutes, 36 hours, days, weeks… a decade…?

  • Thanks Kathy,

    The book, “The Road” takes place when (and where)?

    It just stopped raining… time to go watch the grass grow.

  • Ten meters diameter of methane vents expanding to 1000 meters in a few years is a 100-fold linear increase or a 10,000 fold increase in area. Even with a decrease of two orders of magnitude in flow velocity, the volumetric flow rate will have increased 100-fold in a few years. Much depends on one’s definition of a “burp”.

  • Robin, I just learned there is a more scientific sounding name than methane burp – the clathrate gun hypothesis – I like burp better – this section from wiki would seem to be confirming your 100 fold increase figure

    “Most deposits of methane clathrate are in sediments too deep to respond rapidly, and modelling by Archer (2007) suggests the methane forcing should remain a minor component of the overall greenhouse effect.[10] Clathrate deposits destabilize from the deepest part of their stability zone, which is typically hundreds of metres below the seabed. A sustained increase in sea temperature will warm its way through the sediment eventually, and cause the deepest, most marginal clathrate to start to break down; but it will typically take of the order of a thousand years or more for the temperature signal to get through.[10]

    One exception, however, may be in clathrates associated with the Arctic ocean, where clathrates can exist in shallower water stabilized by lower temperatures rather than higher pressures; these may potentially be marginally stable much closer to the surface of the sea-bed, stabilized by a frozen ‘lid’ of permafrost preventing methane escape. Recent research carried out in 2008 in the Siberian Arctic has shown millions of tons of methane being released, apparently through perforations in the seabed permafrost,[11] with concentrations in some regions reaching up to 100 times normal.[12][13] The excess methane has been detected in localized hotspots in the outfall of the Lena River and the border between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea. Some melting may be the result of geological heating, but more thawing is believed to be due to the greatly increased volumes of meltwater being discharged from the Siberian rivers flowing north.[14] Current methane release has previously been estimated at 0.5 Mt per year.[15] Shakhova et al. (2008) estimate that not less than 1,400 Gt of carbon is presently locked up as methane and methane hydrates under the Arctic submarine permafrost, and 5–10% of that area is subject to puncturing by open taliks. They conclude that “release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage [is] highly possible for abrupt release at any time”. That would increase the methane content of the planet’s atmosphere by a factor of twelve,[16][17] equivalent in greenhouse effect to a doubling in the current level of CO2.

  • OK, the post is up. It should have had more “meat” but the fishing is picking up, and I have to go.


  • Dang! I just caught up with some of the “methane” comments. Did you people pass O-chem? (I didn’t the first time either. But, I did manage to be an industrial polymer chemist after my doctorate). Low atmospheric methane has a very different “life style” than upper atmospheric methane. And there is a different (projected) climatic effect. One huge difference is that lower atmospheric methane is very unstable.

  • Testing whether bold works before my post

  • In response to my comment that Guy often misrepresents facts, he sent me a private email asking that I give examples of this. I would like to share my replies, his responses to my replies and to comment on his responses. I will put the statements Guy made that I believe are misrepresentative in quotes, anything Guy wrote in bold and anything I wrote in normal text.

    1) “Because particulates were removed when airplanes were grounded, Earth warmed by more than 1 C in the three days following 11 September 2001.”

    I already dealt with this in my first post. The Earth didn’t warm, even the USA didn’t warm, the 24 hour temperature range increased and probably not even due to grounded airplanes.

    You were mistaken, as pointed out by Kathy C. Reduced reflectance caused temperature to rise, as predicted and expected.

    No, I was not mistaken. It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest the Earth warmed by 1 C in the three days following 11 September 2001. I’ll repeat what I wrote previously. The difference between maximum and minimum temperate increased by a little over 1 C over the USA, not the Earth. There is dispute over whether contrails have a net warming or cooling effect.

    2) “Consider, for example, the International Energy Agency’s forecast of business-as-usual leading to a 6 C warmer planet by 2035.”

    Admirably dealt with by James Dunlap in his post. The IEA does not forecast BAU leading to a 6 C warmer planet by 2035. You don’t even believe the postulated energy use increases are possible, so why quote this?

    Yes, IEA makes exactly this prediction. Of course we won’t see that level of energy use, but we’ve triggered feedbacks certain to remove all habitat on Earth for humans by that time.

    No, the IEA does not forecast a 6 C warmer planet by 2035, even if the massive increases in fossil fuel use take place. Let’s look at the relevant paragraph in the IEA forecast.

    “In the New Policies Scenario, cumulative CO2 emissions over the next 25 years amount to three-quarters of the total from the past 110 years, leading to a long-term average temperature rise of 3.5°C. China?s per-capita emissions match the OECD average in 2035. Were the new policies not implemented, we are on an even more dangerous track, to an increase of 6°C.”

    What this forecasts is, as James pointed out, the temperature of the Earth will eventually rise by 6 C. The forecast does not state the planet will be 6 C warmer by 2035.

    3) “Citi’s Willem Buiter joins the large and growing list of people predicting “end-2012 Armageddon a la the Maya.” Here’s hoping those seventy-some people are correct.”

    Difficult to check what Buiter actually said or the context because I don’t want to register with FT. However, even if he is talking about financial armageddon affecting the entire world (and the rest of the ZeroHedge article only talks of the demise of the Euro), you are incorrectly inferring the immediate collapse of industrial civilization.

    You’re taking issue with a direct quote? Amazing.

    As Orlov pointed out in his 30 October 2011 essay, financial collapse _is_economic collapse at this point. We’re one step away. You think the US will be fine with the Euro implodes? Yeah, right.

    Obviously I don’t take issue with a direct quote, even if it is taken out of context. But when you write “here’s hoping those seventy-some people are correct” any regular reader of NBL will know you are referring to your assertion seventy odd people have forecast the collapse of industrial civilization by the end of this year. By attaching this on the end you are suggesting Buiter himself has forecast the end of industrial civilization by the end of 2012. He hasn’t. He’s forecast the end of the Euro. Financial collapse is economic collapse? Maybe. But it’s not the collapse of industrial civilization. I’d also point out that you are once more making the mistake of equating the US with the world. It still isn’t.

    4) “If you’ll take a quick look at a list of my publications, including refereed journal articles, symposium proceedings, and a book, you’ll be hard-pressed to conclude I’m not a climate scientist.”

    Had a look at your link and I have to agree with Resa, your credentials do not suggest you are a climate scientist. Perhaps you should spell it out for us.

    I’ve had articles about climate change published in several refereed
    journals. And then there’s the book I edited. These aren’t credentials

    Perhaps you’d like to list the articles. They may be credentials but they most certainly do not make you a climate scientist.

    I also wrote at the end of my email:

    Your essay “We’re done” touched a raw nerve. It wasn’t so much the data
    misrepresentations as your suggestion anyone who disagrees with you is
    arrogant and ignorant.

    To which Guy replied:

    Your take, not my intent. Although the folks at Zero Hedge are anonymous idiots who don’t care about the living planet. Like several people who comment at NBL, probably including you.

    Your fear of the future doesn’t make the future go away. Believing doesn’t make something true.

    So, now because I criticize you I don’t care about the living planet and my fear of the future has made me believe everything is going to turn out fine? Hardly. I believe the human population of the planet is soon to undergo drastic reduction. And who are you to suggest I don’t care about the living planet? You are often urging action to save the planet so I challenge you again, what action have you taken to bring down industrial civilization and save the living planet you love so much more than I do? (Talking about it or urging others to take some unspecified action doesn’t count.)

    Oh, and no more private emails please. Anything you have to say to me can be posted to your blog.

  • navid,
    The book ‘The Road’ takes place sometime in our near future, and somewhere in the North to Mid East of the USA. The Man and Boy travel South during the journey but in flashbacks it is revealed they started out much further North.
    I feel it is a well blurred edge, the time and place, and the cause of the destruction, such that it is not too much of an issue, and direct blame is obviated, drawing the characters to the foreground.
    I find it interesting that the old half man is named Eli. and the 2010 film, ‘The book of Eli’ also has a blind wanderer in a post apocalyptic america. A far more formulaic, periodicly very violent Americal film, not book, than ‘The Road’, but it has some similarities around the character of Eli. THe issue of blindness is a fitting metaphore for our position in this time.
    Are we blind to the enormity of the problems> I don’t feel many of Guy’s readers and contributers are, but the great majority of well off Earthies are not able to see.
    It is very gratifying to hear from contributors who have very detailed knowledge on the elements in various essays put up bu Guy. Surely that is the great value of Wiki anything, and comments like the ones here?

    I’d like to adapt it to a play, in the Beckett style perhaps of Waiting for Godot.
    I was involved in a small Australian production of WFG in the early 1990’s in Sydney. I was only helping with props and lighting and stage managing, not acting. It was turned int an Astrayn slang name ‘Gadow’.

    Seeing 22 performances of it was an education in all things Beckett, and in the role of ‘waiting’ for something to happen.

    However if ‘The Road’ were adapted to a small stage I think it might be cathartic.

    That Methane is a tricky element isn’t it?
    It will have some effect and only to the detriment of the warming. How much is a matter of debate, but sadly, again, not to any conclusive understanding.

  • Oops, I left out the that the old man is half ‘blind’.

  • Gary Hurd you wrote
    But, I did manage to be an industrial polymer chemist after my doctorate). Low atmospheric methane has a very different “life style” than upper atmospheric methane. And there is a different (projected) climatic effect. One huge difference is that lower atmospheric methane is very unstable.
    But per your profile at the link you posted you
    received a doctorate in Social Science (emphasis in Anthropology) from the University of California, Irvine in 1976. For the next 10 years I was a medical researcher and professor of psychiatry leaving the Medical College of Georgia in 1986. I held numerous adjunct appointments and returned full-time to archaeology, my first interest. I have received honors for teaching and research and involved dozens of undergraduate students in published research.
    Funny you didn’t mention in your comment what field your doctorate was in and funny you didn’t mention your stint working in Industrial Polymer in your profile.

    I don’t have a degree as I dropped out of college to marry and raise kids. But I can read, copy articles, note the degrees of those who wrote them and provide links to prove that what I am posting is the work of a scientist with bonafides. I try to not post the works of scientists who are known to receive funding from the oil industry. :)

    Please provide a link to an article that shows a different climatic event for low atmosphere vs high atmosphere methane and what happens to the methane when it enters the atmosphere.

    I have never seen any scientist who is discussing methane make a distinction between the two, and even those who say the problem is not that big refer to the amounts of emissions not what part of the atmosphere it gets in.

    Wiki says this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_methane#Troposphere
    The most effective sink of atmospheric methane is the hydroxyl radical in the troposphere, or the lowest portion of Earth’s atmosphere. As methane rises into the air, it reacts with the hydroxyl radical to create water vapor and carbon dioxide. The lifespan of methane in the atmosphere was estimated at 9.6 years as of 2001; however, increasing emissions of methane over time reduce the concentration of the hydroxyl radical in the atmosphere.[10] With less OH˚ to react with, the lifespan of methane could also increase, resulting in greater concentrations of atmospheric methane.

    Even if it is not destroyed in the troposphere, methane can usually only last 12 years before it is eventually destroyed in Earth’s next atmospheric layer: the stratosphere. Destruction in the stratosphere occurs the same way that it does in the troposphere: methane is oxidized to produce carbon dioxide and water vapor.

    So I gather from this that the lower atmosphere can destroy methane (your instability factor) that the more it has to destroy the less it is able to do so and sending more and more into the stratosphere. I have seen the short lifetime noted before and it was in some of the links I posted, but the higher warming effect of methane is said to counteract that issue. I have not found an article that says that where it is in the atmosphere matters for global warming, or that distinguishes between methane in the different layers. So please help me out here with some specific link that will help me understand why the scientists who wrote the articles I linked to felt no need to distinguish between layers of atmosphere when discussing methane.

  • Aloha,

    This not a drill. Time is short. Make good use of it

    Pole shifts are cyclic occurrences on the Earth and the cycles are natural. This is something that happens to the Earth naturally through cosmic cycles that happen like clockwork when looked at from the perspective of celestial events.

    September 26 2012 is the next day on 188 day cycle and is the alignment date of the dark star, sun and earth per the JPL obit diagram for Elenin ( a government psyop ) dialed back one year and 11 days. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5zcleV9qUg http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?ID=dK10X010;orb=1;cov=0;log=0;cad=0#orb

    http://poleshift.ning.com/forum/topics/last-trimester-event-timeline http://poleshift.ning.com/

    August 11 sever wobble 9 days

    August 20 static lean to left 4.5 days

    August 23 progression 2.5 days

    August 27 darkness (in northern hemisphere) 3 days

    August 29 sunrise in west 6 days

    September 2 slowing rotation 18 days

    September 20 stopped rotation 6 days

    September 26 pole shift

    The Mayans were master calendar makers and were taught by ETs about time and space. Shortly after the pole shift earth will be passing through what they called the dark rift.

    On the winter solstice in 2012, the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years(Milky Way is one of billions of galaxies in the observable universe. The Galaxy has special significance to humanity as it is the home galaxy of the planet Earth). This special alignment means that the usual energy that typically streams to Earth from the black hole in the center of the Milky Way will be disrupted on 12/21/12 2012 at 11:11 p.m. Universal Time. The end of the Maya calendar is known as the end of the Great Cycle which is 26,000 years long.

    We need to look carefully at December 21, 2012 and try to understand why the Mayans never calculated a date beyond this point in time. To do this we must move from Archaeology to the science of Astronomy and Astrophysics. http://www.viewzone.com/endtime2x.html

    Two Suns video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d70HG9V3yxs&feature=youtu.be

    Nibiru and the Avebury Manor crop circles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_RISeobyNg

    Expansion of the Sun video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lb-k77fkFFA&feature=player_embedded#!

    Earth Under Fire http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKeeak2NSic&feature=related

    Knowing – the movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_RISeobyNg

  • Dear Yorchichan,



    “vulnerable people”

  • Kathy C,

    Of course I read the article. I read all of the links I was commenting on. One needs to be careful how much one buys into from any one article. If one spends time reading the literature on the above subjects they will have a different understanding of what is happening. The links in the essay are far from what would be considered the most authoritative commentary on the various subjects.

    There are a lot of people out there that have the descriptions of the science wrong. Some because they are not good at critical reading skills, some lack the requisite understanding of physics and math, some because they have a financial interest (geoengineering, petroleum infrastructure to pay for, etc), some for ideology reasons and some because they see the course we are on and their emotions get the better of them.

    If one spends some time really digging into the science there is no doubt that Climate Change has catastrophic potential. However, I have yet to see that folks like Hansen, Schmidt, Mann, and other world class climate scientists have concluded that the game is over. I cannot myself do the work that they do but I do trust their work and opinions. They have a verifiable track record. All of us have access to their published works and blog submissions at places like Real Climate. In addition to their public writings I have access to some of their personal opinions through relatives who have direct face to face discussions with some of them on these subjects. While their private opinions are much more pessimistic on our long term prospects than their public writings would indicate, I have yet to hear of anything as pessimistic as this essay of Guy’s. His links do not pan out in terms of agreeing with much more rigorous scientific work. There is currently no scientific basis for making a claim that ALL LIFE WILL BE GONE ON EARTH BY 2035 and I think that Guy should refrain from supporting such implications.

    All of the above essay subjects are discussed in detail on sites where scientific rigor is required. For example see Real Climate for the following discussions on methane (note that there is enough in the 4 links below to take up to several days to read. The 4th link is where I would start as it is most relevant to this essay).





    Regards, Jim

  • Yorchichan,

    I read your post with interest. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed with the examples you mentioned “Guy does misrepresent facts all the time”, which by the way is a very serious charge to level against someone. I, and I suspect most readers of NBL, realize that this is a blog. As such, the writer of the various essays, whether Guy or someone else, is not publishing a scientific article, but rather, is writing about something which they find interesting and/or important. Typically, as is the nature of blogs, they are expressing an opinion. I find that most of what Guy writes is his opinion of the facts. I would expect nothing else. It is up to each reader to decide to what degree to agree with the writer’s opinion.

    Based on one of your posts above it seems clear that you took some sort of action based on what you read here and are now regretting it. I can only imagine what that was, but it seems it was something which has left you angry and resentful.

    Striking out against a blog author with accusations with no supporting documentation makes you seem petty and irrelevant. If you have information that is contrary to what Guy has written or feel that he has misrepresented himself in some way, then do us all a favor and post THAT information with links to support your claims, not just a passing accusation. That way, each of us can read what you’ve posted and form our own opinion with respect to that information. Opinions, after all, is what each of us has. Guy, you, me, we all gather data and form opinions. None of us knows the truth unless by chance we’ve just gotten lucky.

  • Dr. House. Ditto. And….for those who think we are not too late, that we have not passed the tipping point, please inform us what you are actively doing to prevent us from reaching that tipping point, however far in the future you think it is. Guy has been telling people for years what might just possibly save us. Kevin has been telling folks in his part of the world of the dangers we face. I’d like to hear from the “its not so bad” folks just what they are doing to make sure it doesn’t get so bad.

    Personally I thought it was too late decades ago, not because we had reached a tipping point but because the vast majority of the population was in active denial. I keep getting proved right about the denial part.

  • Priveleged

    That was sarcasm, right?


    No, I am not angry and resentful. I have not taken action I now regret based on what I have read here. My life is fine, probably never better. You are rather transparently trying to turn it around and make it about me, a common tactic of some on this blog whenever their beliefs are threatened. But it’s not about me. It’s about whether Guy correctly represents the facts. I think he doesn’t while you, clearly, think he does. Others will have to make their own mind up.

  • Yorchichan,

    This is a blog. The author of a blog expresses their opinion – nothing else. Every person is entitled to their opinion, even you. If you question the information presented to you by Guy, then simply raise the issue and defend why you think Guy (or any one else) is wrong – supply a link or two. It is not helpful to attack someone, or their ‘credentials’. Just overwhelm the person with facts as you see them. Let people accept that, or not.

    If you want to only see the ‘truth’, create you own blog, and don’t allow truth breakers on it.

    Personally, I think Guy has it wrong on several issues, but so what? I also believe you have had some good posts in the past, but I have also disagreed with you. That’s ok. That’s the way it should work. But we should not be attacking each other on a personal basis.

    Facts should be enough to refute any one. Ad hominem arguments are never constructive.

    Just my opinion.

  • Wow, I’m amazed at the amount of data put forth in the comments on this blog, obviously some smart people read NBL.

    I’m wondering while all these issues are debated and opinions are formed by data (whether factual or not) if anyone is paying attention to what is happening outside their own front door?

    I am not smart by any means but I also think intelligence is overrated sometimes especially when not put to practical use. I don’t think it takes a scientist to see that nature is in peril.

    Some of the latest comments have been about burning up resources, turning on spigots and not paying bills which we can all choose to do or not do. Many little acts can make a big difference especially if done by the masses.

    It’s good to know that some who comment on this site are not only educated (whether you have a degree or not) but also who are “doing”. I get so much strength after leaving hospice patients knowing I don’t have a death sentence unless an unforseen event happens, which I cannot prepare for.

    Words will never take the place of action, but when backed up by action they become very powerful.

  • Yorchichan,

    Without the alternative points of view I am concerned that vulnerable people reading the blog will make life changing decisions they later regret based on misinformation. I write from personal experience.

    The portion of your comment I copied above is what led me to make the assumption that you had made some choice based on guys writings. Apologies that I misread your statement.

    With respect to the rest of my comment, I stand behind it. If you expect anyone to heed your criticisms then give them a reason to other than just your opinion.

  • Kathy C,

    I’ve finally read your links. Thanks again. Revisiting the precautionary principal is always important. Methane release is nothing new to the scientific community or me. The implications of new findings in the Arctic are new (by definition). Also I agree that Archer needs to be taken to task.

    I hope you understand that I just woke up to the idea that a significant part of the scientific community now working on climate change have suddenly changed the timeline. We had been talking about the change coming rapidly, in the blink of an eye geologically. Now we are told that the change will come faster than even a historic blink of an eye, in fact right now! More than that, we have gone from a rise of a couple of degrees C to as much as 6 °C. And most recently we are being told that a 6°C rise in temp is what brought on the Permian Extinction Event (90+% lost of species), AND, doubling down, we are told that Arctic methane “burps” could bring us rapidly to 6°C in a decade and destroy our biosphere within ~50 years.

    I know I’m slow, but you’ve been dragging your feet too. Why else would you be discussing the efficacy of a nomadic lifestyle vs. agriculturalism only a couple of months ago? If you had understood the implications of the information you’ve shared in your links you would not be discussing any prospect other than will life exist on earth, or not?

    Thanks for waking up too, and sharing.

    Michael Irving

  • Dear Yorchichan,

    What beliefs?


    “vulnerable people”

  • Kathy C,

    I was a paperboy, a janitor, and forklift driver too. I felt like focusing on my academic jobs for my blog profile.

    The methane chemistry article I recalled was in Science a few years ago, but looking around I found two better ones;

    R. J. Ciceron, R. S. Oreroland

    Donald J. Wuebbles, Katharine Hayhoe
    2002 “Atmospheric methane and global change”
    Earth-Science Reviews 57 177–210

  • Michael, ah yes, I have woken up. It took a bit for the lesson of Fukushima to sink in, and the article I posted on methane is new, just sent to me from an e-pal the day I posted it. I knew about global dimming a few years back however. Yes I have spoken often about the hunter-gatherer lifestyle which may or may not be wonderful but is the lifestyle where most our evolution stopped (lactose tolerance and a few other things excepted) thus the lifestyle in which I think humans that are born to it feel “right” but probably not the lifestyle domestic humans would feel right in. But we don’t feel very right in civilization. Reading Dilworth’s Too Smart for our own Good” recently helped me see that it is likely our fate was sealed when we became sapiens.

    But it looks certain now that humans will go extinct, and perhaps that is for the best, in fact I am virtually certain that is best. Also just read Benatar’s Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence. He makes the case that in fact there is always harm in coming into existence, that we pollyanna how good life is, and that there is no harm in not coming into existence. I thought he took overlong to prove what seems obvious to me. People think dying is bad, and yet once born it is inevitable. If no one is born no one has to fear dying, thus that and all the other fears and pains are removed by non-existence.

    Yet, here we are, alive, not wanting to die, not wanting to suffer and not wanting that for our children and grandchildren and it would seem precious little that we can do about it eh? So hug everyone you love frequently….even if it is wrong that global warming is going to do us in, and peak oil is a lie and it turns out we are not mortal no harm in loving those around us is there.

  • Gary Hurd, I will read the first article you posted. I hope the long read is actually going to tell me that methane isn’t a big problem if it is in one layer or other of the atmosphere. I note that it is from 1988 before the 1000 kilometer plumes opened up in Siberia. Facts on the ground keep rushing ahead of predictions in many cases regarding global warming.
    The second article my computer warns me might be dangerous. I am sure you are so intent on making your point that you will copy the information pertinent to methane in different layers of the atmosphere and how that might make it less dangerous or as you put it “Low atmospheric methane has a very different “life style” than upper atmospheric methane. And there is a different (projected) climatic effect”

  • James Dunlap, thanks for the links from Real Climate – I will read them in a bit. I note that the two from Michael Mann are from 2005 before scientists were shocked to find the 1000 meter wide plumes of methane in Siberia. Shocked would seem to mean that no one thought that would happen or at least not this soon.
    “Warmer temperatures and decreased sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean are causing massive amounts of underwater methane to bubble to the surface, according to findings released at last week’s American Geophysical Union meeting. Methane is rising to the surface and into the atmosphere in large plumes or fountains, some as large as one kilometer in diameter. In a 10,000 square mile area off the northern coast of Siberia, Russian scientists discovered more than 100 methane plumes.
    The research team has been monitoring the region for nearly two decades and was shocked by the latest results. The destabilization of underwater methane is considered one of the most significant climate change tipping points that will accelerate the rate of warming, as methane is at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a one hundred year period.”

  • James Dunlap,

    Three things:

    *The author of the 4th link is Archer, the same one I referenced (via Navid’s link) about the level of methane release being small and over a long time. Kathy C rebutted that with her later link in which the author slaps Archer’s hands for not adhering to the precautionary principal (see above).

    *Archer specifically bases his article on the Walter et al (2007) article and it’s a discussion on the outgassing from Arctic lakes. Kathy’s comments have to do with total methane emissions, including Arctic Ocean sea bottom deposits and notes that off Siberia recent outgassing from those deposits has increased dramatically.

    *Navid’s link to Anthony (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/ngeo1480.pdf)
    indicates that in the time since 2007 outgassing from Arctic lake margins has increased substantially. This is confirmed by work from Semilitov and Shakova (Kathy’s link).
    Note that these are the same kind of questions that I was asking, i.e., when we have a range of potential futures tendered by various climate scientists how are we to arrive at the truth of the situation. So far I have not arrived at a conclusion, however, this discussion makes it apparent that a healthy debate within the scientific community is under way. It also seems clear that the expansion of our knowledge base regarding the natural systems at play in the Arctic has been exponential over the last several years and that as soon as a scientist locks himself/herself into a position new data makes that position obsolete.

    The other thing that is abundantly clear is that none of the decision-makers in the first world are listening (or they’ve decided that immediate personal power trumps saving the world).

    Michael Irving

  • Michael Irving,

    The other thing that is abundantly clear is that none of the decision-makers in the first world are listening (or they’ve decided that immediate personal power trumps saving the world).

    You may be right, but it’s my belief that Obama, Cameron, Merkel, et al, are all well aware of the fate that is awaiting the world, but are as trapped as are the rest of us. How could a man such as Mr. Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize (justly or no), do what amounts to an about face in just a few short months? What happened in that time? It’s possible that the money interests got to him, but it’s also possible that he learned the truth and is scared out of his wits about the future.

    If a large number of us here on NBL seem to think that our fate is sealed based on the data we can access, how much more would a world leader, who has access to the information that we aren’t allowed to see, believe the same?

    Even if Mr. Obama decided to try to do something, how could he possibly accomplish anything? One side of our dysfunctional congress can’t seem to take their minds off of controlling vaginas and stopping gays from marrying, while the other can’t seem to find their minds at all. How in the world could they possibly do anything about all the tragedies facing us? The official line of many politicians is that global warming is a socialist hoax, an ever growing population is necessary to grow business, and that our resources are infinite because we are god’s chosen people.

    As has been pointed out here many times in this thread, America is not the world. But if the U.S. can’t get begin to get its act together, how in the world can we expect global leaders to take collective action?

    Of course, it’s also possible that in order to become a leader in today’s political reality that you have to drink so much kool-aid that you wouldn’t recognize truth if it smacked you in the face. :-)

  • A few threads back I made the comment that the jury was still out on genetically modified foods. While one incident usually doesn’t make the case, unless some other explanation is found ultimately, this is enough to convince me that jury has returned with the verdict “guilty as charged” . . .


    From the article:
    “Preliminary tests revealed the Tifton 85 grass, which has been here for years, had suddenly started producing cyanide gas, poisoning the cattle.

    “Coming off the drought that we had the last two years … we’re concerned it was a combination of events that led us to this,” Dr. Gary Warner, an Elgin veterinarian and cattle specialist who conducted the 15 necropsies, told Kelly.

    “What is more worrisome: Other farmers have tested their Tifton 85 grass, and several in Bastrop County have found their fields are also toxic with cyanide. However, no other cattle have died.

    “Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are dissecting the grass to determine if there might have been some strange, unexpected mutation.”

  • If people here are so sure that we are done for in such a small time frame- then we have nothing to lose by trying geo-engineering to try to get some of the carbon out of the atmosphere or at least de-acidify the oceans, so that our atmosphere will still have the right mix of oxygen. I think it might actually be easier to fix the atmosphere than to make the global societal changes needed. Because you can’t just change a few countries, or a few industries. There is too much to change. We need to be supporting geo-engineering studies. Yes, we could mess things up really badly, and I’m sure we will to some extent. But in the long run, will the outcomes be any worse than if we do nothing? We are being told by the media (and I kind of blame the environmentalists in part for this), that there is a behavioral fix for global warming. Try getting China to change. We can’t do it, not in time. We have to find another way to save ourselves. Which means that the climate change deniers have to get out of the way… I think too many people either have their head in the sand or mistakenly think that we can change our ways (or deserve our fate if we don’t). Damn it, I have a 6-month old niece. I am not ready to give up on the human race. All species change their environment. That is what life does. Maybe we can learn to do it deliberately.

  • Emily you have a point. I hate to close of humanity with one more solution with unforseen problems but at this point I suppose it doesn’t matter. Of course if geo-engineering did work we would still be faced with peak oil, overpopulation, nuclear war, the possibility of the grid failing due to EMP attack or solar flares or lack of fuel or infrastructure collapse which then would lead to 430+ Fukushimas. My acceptance of mortality is what keeps me sane. Your 6 mo old niece, my 2 and 4 year old grandchildren are going to die anyway. It is just a matter of timing. We who have procreated can mourn the loss of years of living, but not the death because we knew or should have known when we gave birth we gave death. Of course I didn’t think of that when I had my kids. I don’t think our brain likes to give us free rein to such thoughts because it is the result of eons of selective reproduction – can’t let the sapien know it all ends in death. Given the uncertainty of the future of humans the best anyone can do IMO is get a tubal or vasectomy (if you are still fertile) and as I said before do all the hugging you can.

    For those who think that we are not yet near a tipping point why not stop arguing about it. Instead join and put all your energy into whatever group has a plan you think might stop us from getting to that tipping point. 350.org would like your help and donations I am sure.

  • With regard to the “tipping point” in Global Warming, as the late Matt Simmons said about Peak Oil, we will know it when we see it in the rear-view mirror. However, just like Peak Oil, we won’t be able to drive away from it.

  • If there be persons who believe that we can change our beliefs, attitudes and behaviors in time to make a significant difference, I apologize for my cynicism.

  • TRDH,
    You said, “Even if Mr. Obama decided to try to do something, how could he possibly accomplish anything?”

    I strongly disagree with that statement! Even in the face of a recalcitrant congress he has the most powerful bully pulpit in the world. He could use it. He could appear on TV tomorrow and say, “We find ourselves in a situation more dangerous than any mankind has every faced. I am speaking with the absolute assurance that what I am about to say is factual. We are facing an apocalyptic event, one that could spell the end of the human species. We have to act, now! Tonight I will present you with the problem, the evidence, and the steps we must take if we are to save ourselves from assured destruction…”

    You said, “…it’s also possible that he learned the truth and is scared out of his wits about the future.”

    I strongly disagree that this as a reason for inaction. Even if the truth is “Permian Extinction” in 50 years without an immediate 95% reduction of total CO2 emissions how could any human, much less a father of young children, refuse to act?

    You have not convinced me.

    I agree America is not the world but, we have been the main forcing mechanism for our current climate situation and we continue to be the chief proponent of inaction (evidence Rio +20).

    Obama and the other “powers” are choosing to behave as gods and to make a life or death decision about the future existence of our species. They are choosing death! WTF?

    So you won’t be confused, I view the world from somewhere to the left of Dennis Kucinich. :-)

    Michael Irving

  • Michael and Kathy C,

    Yes I know that the author of the link was Archer. He is far from a discredited source. His conclusions are largely, if not completely, backed up by all the other top level climate scientists. When the staff of Real Climate, who are more aware of the data and it’s implications than we are, unanimously state that methane is not yet a primary concern and that we need to keep our eyes on CO2 emissions I think we need to listen.

    Let us not forget that the amount of methane release from the Siberian sea is NOT massive. It is unexpected to some extent, but methane releases have been occurring for some time. The largest plumes observed to date are only 1 km across. To be alarming researchers have stated that they would need to see plumes 1000 times bigger. And the emissions are only from a small part of the worlds continental shelves. The “few” degrees of ocean warming needed to initiate large scale emissions over a wide area are just not going to happen for a very long time (there is a lot of ocean to heat up and that takes time). Of course, if we keep on our present course we will get there eventually.

    The Russian researchers believe that the upper potential of a release from the sea in the area they are studying is 50Gton. Archer did his figures for 100Gton and showed that, while it would be very significant, it was not an end of the world event. Another summer of research by the Russians should provide a lot more data to crunch and some further clarification.

    One thing I have found useful to remember about the much larger impact of methane compared to CO2 (20-100 times depending on the timeframe) is that we measure methane in parts per billion and CO2 in parts per million. When you look at the methane data we are globally still under 2 parts per million and we (speaking of humans here) have only raised this reading by a little more than 1ppm. So that works out to a CO2 equivalent of about 20 over the long term. ESRL data for methane can be graphed and I do this at least once a month. Contrary to the link in the essay there as been NO global methane spike ever over the course of the time we have been collecting data. I suspect that the author of the link does not know how to read the data as he seems to have included invalid data points in his analysis. He mentions that the data from Barrow agrees with his Svalbard data. However, if you graph the Barrow methane data you will notice that there have been no validated data readings above 1950 ppb ever. That reading was in 2010. If you look at the Barrow data you will see that the high 2010 readings were not validated. Barrow has shown no significant rise in methane in 2011 or 2012 to date.

    The Svalbard data. The figure 1 graph the author uses shows the data ending at very high levels. But the data goes on from there and goes right back to normal readings. The only days when there were high readings were 2010 Oct 7, 14, and 22. None of those data points are shown validated. Valid data is in blue and data which has not been through validation yet appears in orange. Data which fails validation appears in green. The data he is using for his claims was not validated at the time he printed his graph. I note that methane collection from Svalbard appears to have ceased at the end of 2010. But as I stated above Barrow shows no methane spike then or since.

    Regards, Jim

  • Thanks Oz Man ! –


    Robin Data

    “If there be persons who believe that we can change our beliefs, attitudes and behaviors in time to make a significant difference, I apologize for my cynicism.”

    I agree “we” will not change in time, and I do not think that is a cynical point of view. I think we are riding a “Great Wave” – we are wave riders, not wave makers.

    We stumble-fucked our way to this point in time… history made us, we did not make history.


    Did a rapid series of climate changes play a dramatic role in shaping Homo sap (domesticated and undomesticated (H-G)) ?

    Becoming Human (Nova)



  • Privileged

    Belief in the very near term collapse of industrial civilization, belief that AGW will cause the extinction of all life on Earth by mid century, belief in Guy’s infallibility.


    I once knew a man who thought he was Buddha reincarnate and persuaded others to give up their possessions to follow him. Personally, I’m not into hero worship. Also, reading a lot about peak oil was a factor in my making a hasty decision that for a while looked as if it would cost me a lot. Luckily my decision appears to have worked out for the best (at this time). I bear no resentment towards this blog or Guy because of this decision. However, I am angry about the way any dissenters are treated on this blog, angry about Guy’s implying anyone who doesn’t agree with him 100% is ignorant, arrogant and doesn’t care about the planet, and angry that he lacks the humility to acknowledge when he has made a mistake.

    I don’t regard as petty the difference between contrails masking more warming of the planet than has occured since the start of the industrial revolution or masking no warming at all. I don’t regard as petty the difference between a 6 C rise in temperature between now and 2035 or in a few hundred years time. I don’t regards as petty the difference between someone stating that industrial civilization will collapse between now and the end of the year and making no such statement. I don’t think it unreasonable to ask for the credentials of someone who claims to be a climate scientist and writes an influential blog on the subject.

    I am totally convinced of my own irrelevance to all except my close family and friends (and not too sure about the friends).


    Guy writes as if he is laying down facts, not opinions. Good idea on the blog though, I think I’ll call it “Nature Bats Last – but not quite yet”.

  • Yourchichan, when you keep questioning what I’ve done, while pointing out nothing you’ve done. Here’s the very short list of what I’m doing so far on behalf of life on Earth: I quit my high-pay, low-work position, which was guaranteed for life; In the process, I left behind my wife, siblings, parents, colleagues, and friends; I speak and write about the dire predicaments in which we are immersed; I inspire others to take action; I attract abundant animus and hate mail, and the occasional threat on my life; I conduct innumerable daily acts, legal and illegal (the latter of which I will not enumerate here).

    Time to pony up or shut up.

  • Michael Irving,

    Obviously I’m speculating as to what world leaders know or don’t know. How could I know, you know? :-)

    But, I really can’t see Obama – or any other leader – going in front of the camera and laying out this information in any setting other than in a Hollywood movie. Look at what he would have to tell them: there are way too many people on the planet even if there were no looming oil declines, but given that cheap energy is about to drop off a cliff, so is the world’s population. Oh, and by the way, global warming is about to pass multiple tipping points, so unless we end all industrial activity, the planet will burn to a crisp (figuratively). And, if we do end all industrial activity, about 6.5 billion of you have to go. So, either way, tell your friends and family good bye, because 93% of you will die within the next decade or so. In the meantime, all hell is going to break loose.

    If you ever wanted to bring about collapse, that would do it. So, like I say, they really don’t have much choice in the matter. The only real solution for them is the same as for we lesser beings: keep playing the game as long as we can.

  • guy, i think yorchichan’s main beef with u has to do with your misrepresenting facts or misinterpreting them. i think he makes a good case. take for example the first item he brought up in his post the other day that your link above goes to. it has to do with countering your claim that the grounding of aircraft in the u.s. for 3 days following 9/11 caused a degree celcius rise in global temp. yorchichan points out that what it did cause or appeared to cause was a degree (actually somewhat larger than one degree) increase in diurnal temperature range (dtr) over the u.s. this link supports his position:


    i don’t understand why u do this, or why most of the regulars on this blog support u in doing it. the situation is dire enough without making irrational and erroneous claims that undermine your credibility. but then again, it doesn’t surreally matter. what matters is the masses are irrational and erroneous in the other direction of optimism. your correct that industrial civ. is in for a hard fall, and that runaway agw appears likely to induce a great extinction like or perhaps worse than the permian 251 million years ago. what matters is the shit’s about to hit the fan and u’re out there trying to spread the word, get others to prepare as u have so admirably done. u have made great personal sacrifices to be consistent with your sense of truth and ethics. as for predictions like ‘lights out’ in 6 months, or a lifeless world in 23 years, i don’t take any of it seriously. it’s a fringe position, to say the least, among scientists. i wonder if u do so as a counterweight to all those scientists who are afraid to be honestly pessimistic in public. but as i said before, i don’t think it matters all that much. in this case, dogmatic pessimists are much closer to the truth than are dogmatic optimists, imo.

  • i should point out before anyone else questions me on it that i’m well aware of the effect of global dimming, that particulate pollution from industrial activity and burning fossil fuels is presently cooling the climate, without which global warming would be much worse. however, that wasn’t in dispute. what was in dispute was guy’s specific, erroneous assertion.

  • James Dunlap,

    My credentials: I am not a climate scientist, I suck at math, and I did not take Organic Chemistry. I can make compost.

    About David Archer you said: “His conclusions are largely, if not completely, backed up by all the other top level climate scientists.”

    Professor Peter Wadham, Cambridge University, says of Archer, “When Archer dismisses the legitimate concern that conditions in the Arctic are approaching a potentially catastrophic tipping point, he is deflecting away a vitally important perspective that needs to be communicated to the world’s policymakers. I strongly urge Archer to re-consider his position.
    He also quotes Archer apparently contradicting himself as follows: In a piece Archer co-authored in 2009, he acknowledged both the significant warming power of methane and the fragile and “intrinsically vulnerable” nature of hydrates:
    “There are concerns that climate change could trigger significant methane releases from hydrates and thus could lead to strong positive carbon–climate feedbacks. …. Methane hydrate seems intrinsically vulnerable on Earth nowhere at the Earth’s surface is it stable to melting and release of the methane.” (8)
    In this same piece, Archer affirms another key factor:
    “Rapid warming well above the global average makes the Arctic hydrates particularly vulnerable to climate change.” (8)

    I also invite you to check out Wadhams’ credentials at the University of Cambridge DAMTP http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/pw11/
    Top level scientist? Working in the field?

    Back to Archer:
    Remember, he is discussing the effect of methane release from Arctic Lakes which I presume overlie land based stored methane. He uses that to deflect the possibility of a rapid or extensive release of methane. However, the scientists that are most concerned about methane are saying the big worry is sub-marine methane deposits. Estimates of total methane sources by Stolaroff et al. 2012 suggest there is cause for concern. The Stolaroff estimates are for Siberian on-shore, shelf, and deep-sea methane deposits. They show a total of 1000-1400 Gt C for on-shore deposits (lakes = 23) and 6300 Gt C total for off shore. That’s as much as six times more located off-shore.

    Wadhams’ caution for Archer related to the possibility of a warming Arctic Ocean. He postulates, based on observed sea-ice thinning, that the Arctic Ocean could become entirely ice-free in September sometime between 2013 and 2018, with 99% confidence. Melting sea-ice results from heating of the water column and the change from reflective ice to dark, absorptive water increases the rate of heating. The methane deposits change state when the water warms releasing the methane to rise and enter the atmosphere.

    Regarding methane being measured in parts per billion, methane in the atmosphere has increased from .7 parts per million to 1.9 parts per million during the last two hundred years.

    Michael Irving

  • Kathy C
    I follow your debate with a few posters on the Methane issue, esp. concerning this upper and lower atmasphere distinction you are seeking some clarification of. One says that methane is measured as PPB and Atmospheric CO2 is PPM. That could be a factor, as well as the report that Methane may not have spiked.
    However, you and others have stated that Methane oxidises in the atmosphere, upper and lower, to form CO2!! Surely that is significant and this short 12 year or so longevity of Methane is a smoke screen, pardon the pun.
    The point being that Methane degrades to CO2 and that is an added Greenhousing contributor.
    I should point out that cultures from the East, that have cultivated Hinduism and Bhuddism confronted the issue of Earthly mortality as a REAL problem many centuries ago, and I count it as a sign of the maturity of those cultures that they did. They point to the reality that changeis dominant here in embodied form. That is, that death is inevitable, but only death of the body.
    I wont go too far into the ideas here as they hare been well voiced since the 1960s, but the physical vehicles for life do not explain the emergence or existance of consciousness. I have had precognotive dreams and visions, as others in time have. I do not need it to be proven to me that there is more to the ‘Life’ thing than we are given to believe by aour present hubristic industrial Science based cosmology entails.
    So I am not afraid of accepting death as a natural event.
    The total corruption of the Earthly biosphere is of great concern to us all.
    To prove Intuition and Feeling as reality, is beyond this entry, however, I will just point out that they are subjective human functions, and therefre not easily validated by a Scientific process, which requires repeated demonstrations regardless of the moment they occur. In short the whole domain of life that is known collectively as ‘Spiritual’ to Moderns is subjective and self-authenticating. It is for this reason that there is endless scepticism, and inconclusive debate.
    So my point here is that the inevitability of dying is only a given here for the body, the deeper personality that transcends the ‘husk’ will return for another vehicle to incarnate into. If there be no vehicles to house ‘us’ or the ones that are on offer in our future are rabid radiation affected mutants from a degenerated and vastly more unstable genepool then somthing will continue.
    That may be a Hell.
    What we call Death is a door not a total end. In order to pass through that door, we shed an aspect of the born bodymind that has no supporting basis in time. The meat body and ego identity do die.
    I do not commune with spirits, nor see illusory phenomina, but I know that this Great opportunity to Love is in jeopardy.
    It is a shame you are so far away, I’d like to have a cuppa and a chat sometime.
    In this life or the next.

  • To recap: http://a-m-e-g.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/message-from-arctic-methane-emergency.html

    This is the situation in a nutshell:

    the Arctic is warming rapidly – much faster than global warming;
    the sea ice volume is plummeting;
    a collapse in sea ice extent is likely by 2015;
    a collapse in sea ice means loss of habitat and biodiversity, risking the breakdown of an important marine food chain;
    a collapse in sea ice also means faster warming of the Arctic, creating more climate disruption and weather extremes in the Northern Hemisphere.

    This is bad enough. Add to this the menace of Arctic methane. Consider that:

    methane’s potency as a greenhouse gas is about 105x that of CO2 over 20 years, weight for weight [2];
    there’s a vast quantity of methane frozen into Arctic seabed [3];
    loss of sea ice cover allows storms to mix the warmed surface water with colder water beneath, causing shallow seabed to warm, thawing out methane-holding structures;
    because of warming and instabilities in the seabed, large quantities of methane could be released quite rapidly – enough to drastically exacerbate global warming [4];
    methane bubbles have now been observed in huge plumes, over 1km across, in shallow sea [5], suggesting an escalation of methane emissions could be happening already, even without further warming of the Arctic;
    Arctic methane may be contributing to rising global levels of methane in the atmosphere [6].

    The worst fear is that methane could build up in the atmosphere sufficiently to start a runaway cycle of greenhouse warming and more methane release, leading to abrupt and catastrophic climate change.

    Does this prove it is all over by mid century? Maybe not, but it is surely serious. Losing the albedo of arctic ice for six months of the year after 2015 is a scary prospect.

  • Yorchichan,

    Thanks for making blanket assumptions about NBL readers.


    “vulnerable people”

    P.S. I forgive you…not sarcastically either!

  • Guy

    I have not claimed to have done anything at all and am not about to get into a childish argument about who has done most for life on Earth. I realised at an early age that the greatest thing I could do for the living planet would be to kill as many humans as possible, and I have no wish to do that.

    I am not the one who has to justify my position because I have not adopted an arrogant “holier than thou” attitude. I have not accused those who don’t agree with me of “commenting anonymously from a position of hubris and ignorance in the blogosphere” or being “anonymous idiots who don’t care about the living planet”.

    Quiting your job, leaving behind friends and family and attracting hate mail will not matter one iota to the living planet. Speaking and writing about our dire predicament is unlikely to change much either because no one who can change anything is listening. Inspiring others to take action is admirable. Could you please enlighten us as to what action we can possibly take that would make a difference? I read a lot about taking action but nobody ever seems to say what this action is. I can’t comment on your innumerable daily acts legal and illegal because you don’t go into details.

    You didn’t even mention the most important thing you have done, which is to not have children.

    If you don’t want me to post on your blog again, simply tell me (via the blog) and I won’t.


    Thanks for your brave support. I was beginning to doubt myself for a while.

  • A characteristically fine piece, Guy, but I’m baffled by your decision to visit NZ on a woefully ill-publicised tour that sees you at the School Executive Officers Conference
    (sponsored by a number of dodgy and decidedly unKeynesian corporations) with fellow keynote speakers :two comedians and an upbeat can-do businesswoman of the pale green-and-happy growth school.
    .Your own speaking engagements – which should have assumed the importance they deserved -will go almost unnoticed.How could it be otherwise? The Bridge Club rooms in New Plymouth at 10am? The community library in Petone? Your only public meeting in any of the 6 biggest cities was in an Auckland suburban community centre.(Incidentally, the flier you post advertises a $10 admission, in conflict with your assertion that all the events would be free.) The smallness of your virtually unheralded tour suggests that your ideas aren’t that important, and nothing could be further from the truth.Was this ill-conceived junket really worth the carbon footprint?

  • Robin, thanks for sharing that video link – definitely worth the watch. I had a little trouble with the link, so here it is again . . .


  • What is ‘interesting’ is that the level of methane in the atmosphere was levelling out prior to 2007, but in recent years it has been climbing. That suggests a profound change in something [which has yet to be characterised fully]. I agree with other commenters: CO2 is the prime problem. And it will not be addressed by anyone currently in power.

    I’ve been too busy organising Guy’s speaking engagements and sorting out my own affairs to visit NBL and comment much.

    As far as I know, Guy has done his Auckland presentation and is bound for Kerikeri. The weather in northern NZ is mild and showery, with light winds.

    John Lohman. You have made unfounded assumptions and assertions.

  • A last comment on this essay.

    The current front article on Real Climate contains an in depth set of discussions and links regarding methane emissions and the issues related to them. Down in the very extensive comments you will note that the Arctic Methane Emergency Group’s work is not highly regarded at all. To say the least. If scientists who work in this subject area all the time, and are clearly experts on the subject, do not hold the AMEG’s work in any regard I suspect that we should not base our opinions and decisions on their output unless we have significant alternate credible sources. Just saying.

    Regards, Jim

  • What we call Death is a door not a total end.
    But that is not the point. The point is to get to the “total end’. It is described in Zen as “The Great Death”.

  • What we call Death is a door not a total end.
    But that is not the point. The point is to get to the “total end’. It is described in Zen as “The Great Death”.
    That does not mean that one then eases to “chop wood and carry water”, as long as life permits.

  • In the Real Climate article at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/06/methane-game-upgrade/
    It says “Avoiding a peak warming of 2 degrees C or more requires keeping the total emission of carbon down to less than about 1000 Gton C (Allen et al 2009). We have already burned about 300 Gton C, and cut 200 Gton C although the land surface has taken up enough carbon to achieve net wash. So maybe we’re 1/3 of the way there, say 700 Gton C left to go.” So that would seem to say that we can burn twice as much carbon as we already have and still be below 2 degrees of warming. Given how climate events that were to be decades away keep happening now I think that is absolutely NUTS and I have lost any trust in the site.

    Meanwhile those who think that the paper from AMEG are wrong still haven’t said what they are doing with the time before we get to the tipping point to prevent us from getting to the tipping point. James Dunlap what are you doing?? Yorchichan??? As Guy said “Time to pony up or shut up”

  • To delay the next tipping point of Climate Change, I am abstaining from beans.

  • James Dunlap,

    I think you are misrepresenting the comments section of that article. I think a fairer representation would be that the arguments for and against are a wash. There are 156 comments to that article at this time. Only ONE person, Hank Roberts, commented on the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (not by name). His comments were negative, but then he responds to most of the articles on the site and is usually caustic.

    One interesting thing about the comment section is the involvement of David Archer in responding to the other comments, a very impressive level of commitment on his part.

    Michael Irving

  • Kathy C, James Dunlap,

    In the same article’s comment section there are a number of interesting responses by David Archer to questions posed by respondents.

    For example:
    *He says Allen’s assertion that we are 1/3 of the way to 2°C under-estimates our situation.

    *Regarding 2°C he says it would be to warm (meaning an unrealistic upper limit).

    *Then at #10, responding to a statement that we have 70 years to before we get to 2°C and thus plenty of time to get the situation under control, he says the following. “[Response:I think technologically it would be a piece of cake, it’s just hard to make the decision to leave the coal in the ground. If there were no more coal, we’d figure a way. It would be some decades before we’d have to quit cold turkey, but realistically emission would probably have to glide down some exponential decay, cuts of x% per year. Beginning now, cuts of 2-3% per year would ramp down to a total burn of 1000 Gton C, but if we wait 10 years, maybe 5% per year would be required. The steeper the cutbacks, the more new stuff has to be built every year, the more it will cost. David]”

    My point being that even though he is discounting the threat from a methane burp he is not unaware of the dangers we are facing. Nor is he oblivious to the political/social implications and the cost to society. Consider the implications of what he is saying—3% reduction in CO2 each year. By the end of the decade that is a reduction in total emissions of over 20%. I think that also means a reduction in total energy of over 20%. Leaving aside the possibility of a methane burp, even Archer’s assessment would be catastrophic for the global economy. What are the chances of a buildout of non-fossil (non-nuclear) energy systems to replace that 20%? The statement, “(H)ard … to leave the coal in the ground” is an acknowledgement of a lack of political will.

    Michael Irving

  • This is completely off topic, but a nice respite from the seriousness of our discussions. This is of my goats who love to play Queen of the Mountain . . .

  • George Carlin on Saving the Planet


    It is Carlin and his language is colorful, so watch if you are not offended by a few words.

  • Bargaining—A Necessary Stage

    Bargaining with Statistics

    By tweaking degrees and percent,
    Facts no longer mean what they meant;
    Gigathis, gigathat:
    We no longer go splat,
    And gone is my discontent.

    Bargaining by Gut

    I’m no dumbass, I’m just not book smart,
    And to me, extinction’s like art:
    I know what I like,
    So don’t mess with my psych;
    Global warming? Don’t even start.

  • Kathy C
    I have never owned or driven a motor vehicle , and I am almost 50 now. I have adapted to taking public transport to and from sites of work and for all other movements I have hitchhiked, ridden my bicycle,( which I liberated from the local dump), and /or walked. I do a hell of a lot of walking now.
    These things would lower my carbon footprint, however, there are very many things I have done that will have added to such a sum.
    Frustration is understandable, but I feel it is unwise to call for a registry of what we have done and have not done to mitigate the CO2 etc.
    I have designed a solar heat storage system that is mostly made from recycled material, or the wreckage of the oil age. I have only gotten so far, but with some ‘HELP’ it might assist people in the ‘developing’ world utilise something for energy use in the future, re peak oil.

    What I decided when I was tuned into peak oil and became very very very angry after world leaders squibbed at Copenhargen was to help generate and promote systems that were viable options for the mainstream of householders. I was discusted with the market reality of a solar hot water or cells unit costing $8000-$10000 AUD, here. So I designed something, on no budget!
    If we squabble sbout who is holier than thou, rightly or wrongly, we will get sidetracked.
    Guys site and therefore his call to become aware of these pressing life lethal problems is not alone, and he is not the first, however, it is set on his site here to run as near to a public peer review academic style, I presume because that IS better than just opinion without atribution, and it allows for debate.
    When it degenerates to personal dissing and banner waving equivalent to my sacrifice is bigger than yours, well, if you are breathing and making more CO2 then you have’nt given enough.
    Lets get it together, plenty of ‘Vulnerable People’, which is all of us, need us to make the best use of this information.
    Spreading the word and catching people’s attention is certainly a major help. How much and is it enough we cannot know for sure.
    Very big frost here today in the upper Blue Mountains East of Sydney.

  • TRDH,

    Nice :-)

    I had a goat when I was a kid (no pun there) and I still remember how wonderful they smell.

    Michael Irving

  • I asked a friend (who I knew I could rely upon to to give a considered and unbiased opinion) to comment on this latest blog. This was his reply:

    I haven’t been following this blog for a few months. So my opinions are a bit indefinite. But from what I remember and looking at the recent article, reading the main post and searching for your comments:

    The Horizon program on global dimming [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmywf7a9OlI] is the most interesting documentary I have ever watched. I have it recorded and watch every couple of years. Having just read part of the linked transcript I agree with your interpretation that the 1 degree was the increase in temperature range and it could not be inferred from this that 9/11 caused Earth’s temperature to rise by 1 degree. However if the global dimming theory is right then removing the particulate pollution which is artificially holding down temperatures that would inevitably happen after an industrial collapse would spell disaster. But this is a chain reaction and we don’t get anywhere unless the first step is taken.

    Certainly the evidence of 9/11 induced climate change is far too small a sample size to derive a theory from, but as I remember this was just one small link in a well thought out chain of connected observations including reduced sunlight and evaporation rates stretching over decades in different parts of the world that together made up a very convincing theory. Science is ultimately about consensus and drawing together as much evidence as possible. The main tactic of people who believe in “wrong” science is to just choose the small number (possibly only one) of research results that backup their beliefs. (e.g. climate change deniers).

    I think I mentioned the theory I heard of extreme, non-mainstream beliefs being strengthened by being in a community which only discusses things among itself with fellow believers. Mainly applies to religion and politics but could also be at work here. Within the community their beliefs are the norm and opposing beliefs are extreme. The blog does seem a bit like that with various people congratulating each other on having the “right” opinions. It almost has the feel of a religious sect about it, but perhaps that’s a bit unfair.

    I don’t quite know what to make of GM. He seems genuine and I thought that you were on good terms with him and his opinions, so something must have changed. If I have got this right he gave up a successful career as a professor and “opted out” of industrialised society, to “go back the land” and live sustainably, but obviously not eschewing all modern technology. It’s certainly running away from the problem in my opinion. His solution can’t be rolled out to save 7 billion people and I assume he needed a fair amount of wealth in the first place to make the move possible, again not open to all.

    But that chimes with my opinion. Whereas I believe that lots of action can be taken throughout the world to avoid looming catastrophe, involving deliberately and pre-emptively reducing our cumulative impact on the planet, the current world-wide capitalist/religious/individualist paradigm won’t allow this to happen. Powerful people and organisations will always prevent the necessary actions being taken. Perhaps out of greed (capitalists) or perhaps genuine ignorance (religion). The Rio earth summit was 20 years ago and we seem no nearer solutions to the problems.

    If he’s right about the current and near-term future state of the planet, then that justifies his position, arrogant or not. So the only sensible thing to do is check the statements from original or other sources (as you have done). Having read some of the other comments it seems that other people are disagreeing too with aspects of it. So perhaps not as self-reinforcing as it could have been.

    Anyway I don’t have time to read the whole thing and must go now. Clearly there is disagreement in the blog, but that is healthy. Worst thing would be if all the statements made by the person running were taken as dogma. Looks like some people have backed up your comments and there is intelligent debate going on. However I would recommend sticking to the facts if possible and avoiding generalisations and personal attacks.

    I agree with every word. The highlighting was mine.

  • OZ, you misunderstand. If it is too late to prevent catastrophic global warming then there is nothing left to be done but live out what time we have and love those we care about. If there is time to prevent catastrophic global warming then everyone who believes that should join Jim Hansen, 350.org or any group that is trying to prevent it because if it is not prevented then sooner or later it will be too late to prevent. I am talking the end of the human species, not playing holier than thou. If you believe we have not already committed suicide of our species and you don’t think suicide of our species is a good thing then isn’t this the time to put every bit of your energy into doing something about it.

    My “too late” if wrong will become your “too late” if you and others like you don’t succeed in keeping some tar sands unmined, some gas unfracked and some coal in the ground.

    As for “What we call Death is a door not a total end.” Can you provide documentation on that.
    In the words of Epicurus “Faith in immortality was born of the greed of unsatisfied people who make unwise use of the time that nature has allotted us. But the wise man finds his life span sufficient to complete the full circle of attainable pleasures, and when the time of death comes, he will leave the table, satisfied, freeing a place for other guests. For the wise man one human life is sufficient, and a stupid man will not know what to do with eternity.”

  • Yorichichan:

    I’m actually in your corner as well. I don’t appreciate misrepresented and/or misinterpreted data either. But it runs rampant across the internet and it’s not like I can stop it from being picked up by a blogsite. Most times I simply shrug it off.

    I stick with real data whenever possible. Fortunately the data for most of our climate events are readily accessible. It does take effort to download and run the calculations, but the results are far more accurate.

    I also listen to what my plants and animals and trees and soil are telling me. For a number of years now, it hasn’t been catastrophic warming. And when I check the raw data I understand why.

    Parts of the world may be cooking, but we’re not all sharing alike. Some of us are shivering in our skivvies.

    I take the practical approach and plant what suits my environment because otherwise I would have nothing on the dinner table.

    My annual harvest run has begun. Between now and the end of October is a stiff run. It’s looking to be another decent year.


    Re: “To delay the next tipping point of Climate Change, I am abstaining from beans.”

    Thanks for the laugh, although I won’t be participating in your pony-up. I spent several hours this morning weeding my bean patch. I intend to eat the results.

    I also spent an hour this morning working my latest team of bullocks. Gee. Haw. Whoa. Come. Get Up. Step Over. For a couple of youngsters, they’re catching on well.

    But I also have a tractor, which can finish a job ten times quicker at half the mental effort. It also runs on biodiesel.

    So although my bullocks may never experience much physical labor, they will (eventually) become the best-behaved steak on my dinner plate.

  • If Dr. McPherson is wrong, it won’t be too many years before the error is obvious. Some may base their actions on that erroneous assessment. Some such persons would be drawn from the cohort who might otherwise have prepared appropriately. How many such persons might be non-commenting readers, we may never know. Concern about such persons may result in “corrective” comments, but the purpose would be beet served in clearly indicating at the outset the purpose of the comment, and retaining that frame of reference in the tone of the response to rebuttals. Otherwise the effectiveness towards that purpose will be diminished.

    Any actions on an individual or small collective basis will have negligible effect on Climate Change. Their effect on oneself and one’s family/friends/community should be the primary considerations.

  • Well, people have had more than enought time to read a few simple papers.

    And? And nothing. I expected as much.

  • Perhaps I’m the last one at NBL to read the 2012 paper Hansen and Sato called “Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change”


    Hansen says in the Abstract (in part), “Thus goals to limit human-made warming to 2°C are not sufficient – they are prescriptions for disaster.”

    And concludes that the (IPCC) limit of 2°C warming may have been based on a political calculation rather than on science. However, the science “suggests that such a target is not only unwise, but likely a disaster scenario.”

    It’s long, but fascinating, and even a graduate of “Math Made Easy” like me could follow it.

    Michael Irving

  • I don’t remember which of you’all recommended “A Different Kind Of Luxury” but it is a book well worth reading, especially anyone still asking the question – “What can I do?” It profiles 11 Japanese folks living thoughtfully and well but on little money. It came out a couple years ago. Many of them have worked tirelessly against nuclear power for years. My heart is with them now. They love their land.

    Also, I recently finished John Rember’s book “MBA in a Box” and it is also excellent. You learn a lot about John and if you write, it is not the usual writer’s manual. It is mostly stories and quite literary. You learn all kinds of stuff.

  • ‘To delay the next tipping point of Climate Change, I am abstaining from beans.’

    robin, i think that’s the funniest line i’ve ever read in this blog. also appreciated the link to the video of seneca nation elder orens sharing his thoughts.

    as some of u surely are aware, ‘american’ commercial tv is replete with all sorts of dogmatic christian televangelists. occasionally i watch for the hell of it. there’s a guy named jack van impe who is on every sunday night who seems to possess an encyclopedic knowledge of his brand of biblical ‘scripture’. he’s a ‘doomer’ of the christian apocalypse variety, with a heavy dose of islamaphobia accenting his worldview. he also frequently refers to imminent economic collapse. i’m afraid when it happens, this and similar brands of christian apocalypse shall become much more prominent, since one of their important ‘prophesies’ came to fruition. thus the ‘end times’ will be characterized by peak insanity. worse insanity than exists even now.

    amusing/endearing goat video, tsdh.

    ‘If we squabble sbout who is holier than thou, rightly or wrongly, we will get sidetracked.’

    absolutely, oz man. it’s probably not very smart to make too big a deal out of dogmatic pessimism, either, considering, the bigger problem is a lack of awareness that gaia/human survival is at great risk.

  • Do optical engineers want to see?

  • Ioannes Paulus PP. II
    Karol Wojtyla

    “The unforgiveable sins this earth must confront and overcome are Nationalism, capitalism, and hoarding. The idea of every nation should be forgot, price should be struck from the commons, and princes should be seen for the devils they are. The sins include our church, secret societies, and other religions which make of the spirit of God a divide.”

    The Holy Father’s last rites declaration – 2nd April 2005

  • BTW – I just discovered the blog of Andy Courturier, author of A Different Kind of Luxury. It is theopening.org and has even more tips on downshifting. Andy also lives the dream – handbuilt house (with hand tools) and low impact.

    There are so many reasons to live in a small, well-insulated house surrounded by food growing and riding a bike and so forth. It requires much less money, so you can unhook from The Machine if you wish or live off of your investments that shrunk. It is healthier. It produces less waste and air pollution. So to whoever it was a few days ago on NBL that said that we commenters don’t discuss “what can he do?” – here it is: stop spending money. Don’t buy stuff. Don’t use electricity, cars, machines, anything that is made in a factory, comes wrapped in plastic, got shipped from far away, used a lot of energy, water to be made. Just stop. That’s it. Shopping is a political act. If you want to crash the system, do not participate and encourage others to stop also.

    Biological systems are already crashing. If we do not detach from our economic system, it is curtains anyway. Start small if you need to. One step at a time to unhook – but stop. Or slow down, at least.

  • Gary, I did read the article this morning because you are right that I said I would do so. I understand that the way things play out in the lower and upper atmosphere in regards to methane are different. You wrote: “Low atmospheric methane has a very different “life style” than upper atmospheric methane. And there is a different (projected) climatic effect.” I didn’t see any statement to the different climatic effects in the article only the difference in how they were processed. Since I am so dense I hope you will educate me. I took this long to read it as none of the recent articles about methane make any distinction or indicated that moving from one to another changes the projected warming effect of methane release into the atmosphere (per wiki 72 times that of carbon dioxide over 20 years, and 25 times over 100 years). I felt like I would be wasting my time reading a dated (1988) article if nothing recent bothers with the subject. I think I did just waste my time. Even the Real Climate article Much ado about nothing http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/01/much-ado-about-methane/ doesn’t bring that issue up in attempting to prove that methane is not a big problem.

    Meanwhile if you are not worried about methane are you worried about CO2. If so what are you doing to make sure we don’t get to that tipping point.

    I am convinced we passed the tipping point so I find no need to do anything other than love those around me and blog the apocalypse.

    Guy thinks we are done or per his last essay we might have time. Thus he is active in trying to do something in case the “might” is still possible.

    If you think climate warming is not real or not something that will ever be catastrophic say so and then you are free to do nothing.

    If you think climate warming might be catastrophic but not in your lifetime please explain why you have no responsibility to the people of the future.

    If you think climate warming might be catastrophic within your lifetime but not within the time frames of 30 to 50 years please tell us what you are doing to get the governments of the world to act.

  • I am German and even though my parents were born when WW II was almost over and have no memory of it and my grandparents never talked about Nazi Germany or the war much, I am of course, like I guess all Germans up to this day, deeply influenced by the traumatizing events of that time. It is a trauma that has been passed on through generations. And that’s probably a good thing, lest we forget.

    But I also know that most Germans did not want to loose that war. That’s a fact that has no place in the story the propaganda of the allied forces told after the war. There were fifteen year old boys dying on the frontline in the last days of the war, because they and the people who send them there, did not want to give up that dream of the Großdeutsche Reich and the Herrenrasse. They failed. And propaganda or not, I guess nowadays, most of us here in Germany and most people in the rest of the world agree, that this was entirely a good thing. Even the ones who were reluctant to let go. It might have been even better if it had happened earlier. And even though it surely felt like the end of the world to many Germans when it happened (and not all of them survived to see that it wasn’t), Germany is still here and it is not such a bad place to life nowadays (considering the general state of the planet, that is).

    I think. our situation today is not that different (“us” being the people of the industrialized countries now). Most of us are clinging to this system which is fucked up beyond repair, doomed, deadly and horrific and has been misguided from the get-go. Yet, since it is the system in which we grew up, which feeds us, educates us and makes us believe we are somehow “special” (higher in the foodchain, smarter, more advanced whatever) than the rest of the human and non-human world, we will do everything to defend this system from crashing. Many if not most of “us” are willing to sacrifice their personal freedom, their health, their landbase, even the lifes of their children to protect the cruel beast that nurtures them. Because they know nothing else and they cannot even imagine a life after the empire.

    Derrick Jensen has said something similar (I am paraphrasing, because I am too lazy to look up the exact words right now), that someone, whose food does come from his or her landbase will do everything neccessary to protect that landbase and someone, whose food does come from the supermarket will do everything to protect that supermarket. Many of us, even many of my friends whom I regard as being highly intelligent and educated people, have lost the ability to see beyond the supermarket.

    “The end of the world as we know it” is not something that will happen in a single event on December 21st 2012 or in 2035 when we reach +6° C. It is happening right now. It is obvious to the Indian farmer who is forced to sell his homestead because he cannot pay his debt for hybrid seed anymore, it is obvious to the African woman dying of AIDS because she sold her body from childhood on and it probably was obvious to Lonesome George, the last Abingdon Island giant tortoise and the last members of the other 199 species wiped out today.

    We are clearly not heading for an “And they lived happily ever after” kind of ending. But then again: we never were. I don’t even think we are heading for an ending at all. Mother Nature doesn’t do endings, she just does circles. The next one will probably have less humans and feel a bit bleak from the variety of species point of view, but the one after that will hold something even more wonderous and more successful than humanity. But that’s a long way in the future and even if we hadn’t been stupid enough to wipe ourselves off this planet, we might have fallen prey to an asteroid, a super volcano or some other universal hiccup by then anyways.

    Don’t get me wrong. I kinda like humans. Decent folk, most of them. And I find it frustrating that we messed up so badly. I even hope that some of us (not the industrialized “us”, but the general humanity “us” this time) will make it a while longer and find ways of living more in tune with the planet again. I wouldn’t mind being among them for a few more decades as well. But I still find consolation in the fact that when we are gone, Mother Earth will take a deep breath and take her time to recover from that strange disease she just got rid off. Like in the old joke:

    Two planets meet. Says one:
    “You look awful, what’s ailing you?”
    “I have Homo Sapiens …”
    “Oh, don’t worry. That’ll pass …”

  • Capella, thank you for your wise words. I really enjoyed what you had to say, so I went to your blog. Unfortunately, my German is limited to “bitte anschnallen” and “rauchen verboten”. :-)

  • Arkansas is one of the more wet states in the continental U.S. normally. Now, almost the entire state is in “severe drought” according to the U.S. Drought monitor. No rain at all for the past two weeks, and the rain then was just a sprinkle. The temperature as I went to go grab a bit of lunch was 100 F. Similar temps are projected for the next six days. A week or two without rain and temps in the 100s aren’t really THAT unusual for this time of year, but the persistence of these conditions is. For the year, our precipitation is down 40%.

    If we didn’t have fossil fuels to power those large irrigation wells, there would be no crops this year from this part of the world. As the groundwater in much of our region has been pumped away, there are plans to divert the water from one of the large rivers which runs through the area. The fragile and threatened wetlands be damned – jobs are at stake! (Interestingly, no one has said anything about food security being at stake.)

    For those of you who are enjoying “normal” weather, count your fortunes. Who knows what nature has in store for us next, but my guess is that it will be more and more difficult to cope with.

  • BtD I meant to praise your latest limericks and got to wound up in other worthless discussions. As always you bring focus and clarity to our verbosity.

    TRDH – we aren’t quite as bad here in Alabama but it is starting to look like we will be soon. Tropical Storm Debby looked like she might give us some rain but no such luck. I can’t imagine doing even our garden using our hand pump well. Food production is going to take a big hit when the grid fails.

  • The recent and current slew of abnormal weather patterns and unusual weather events may (by some) be chalked up to variations that are possible though unexpected: one may thus choose not to read any long-term trends into those patterns. But it will get harder to do so if those patterns continue trending in the same direction. Their presumption is that the trends will not persist. Stay tuned!

  • Robin, I agree that there are lots of variations which make up a normal pattern. But, as you say, if the abnormal patterns persist, sooner or later one has to accept that a new normal is being established.

  • I’ve posted a new essay. It’s here.

  • TRDH,

    I’m sorry to hear about your weather conditions. I hope conditions improve soon. I have trouble imagining how difficult it would be to manage a farm or garden if you had been conditions to years and years during which rain came when you needed it and suddenly it did not appear any more. I live in the Northwest, like Resa, but in the interior. Unlike Resa, however, I don’t suffer from her myopia (or denial). We count on things being the same each year from the perspective of climate and so far we’ve been lucky. We had our wettest March ever, and it still continues in abundance. In my garden I always expect the last frost to be during the first week of June. This year the last frost was May 13 (it got down to 34°F on June 15, but did not frost). It’s the first time I can ever remember that happening. Three weeks added to the growing season? Bonus! Is it normal? No way! Also for the last few years we’ve been averaging 20°F warmer during the coldest part of the winter. Is it normal? No way! So I guess I’m saying even though the weather is working out okay for the garden in my yard it is not running according to normality any more than the weather is in your neck of the woods. We’re just lucky right now. That could all change during July and August (so says the NRCS).

    Hang in there and hug those goats.

    Michael Irving

  • it’s refreshing to come across congenial & intelligent discourse among folks who appreciate the natural world (!). Thanks.

  • Capella: I also appreciated your post above & would like to find your blog. Wie mache Ich daB? I am of an age of your Eltern, but from North America.

  • Hi Rita,

    Did you email Andy and tell him how much you liked his book? He would appreciate it. And he will also really appreciate hearing how you live.

    I mentioned his book here before. I tease my kids that it is my “bible.” I re-read it often to get a dose of humility, hope and strength.

    I can’t say I have a favorite, but Kogan Murata kills me ;)

    Chin-tara, Chin-tara !!!“- lazily, dawdling, slothfully (but steadily).

    Or, Asha Amemiya saying (with pride), “Us lazy people just ruin capitalist society”

    I’m really glad Andy included interviews with Asha Amemiya’s daughters to see how they felt about growing up “not blessed economically” in the mountains…

  • Capella – thanks for posting.

    Derrick Jensen, “Those whose food does come from the supermarket will do everything to protect that supermarket.”

    I love it. I’ll write that down next to Lame Deer’s:

    “People are being too smart, too clever; the machine stops and they are helpless, because they have forgotten how to live without the machine.”

  • Rita: Great to hear from you.

  • old joke:

    Two planets meet. Says one:
    “You look awful, what’s ailing you?”
    “I have Homo Sapiens …”
    “Oh, don’t worry. That’ll pass …”

    capella, i look forward to more posts from u. btw, your english is excellent. like your musical moniker. sounds more italian than german.

    rita and navid, thanks for the reference to author andy. ‘a different kind of luxury’ is on my reading list, and the blog looks very interesting.

  • Guy – I love this post.

    Capella – Great comments, especially about defending the supermarket. I never looked at it that way – but so, so true. Love the joke.

    Navid – I did write Andy. He is thinking of writing a book on Akiro Ito. I encouraged it. He asked me to write a guest post, which is flattering. I am about to start my own little blog (I’ve been saying that for ages) that I am wanting to name something like “Free Radical” so you can see how much this blog post thrilled me. I have always loved that word (radical). Yesterday I got out my old dictionary from the 30s and looked up the words “radical” and “free” and I got all tingly just reading the definitions.

  • TVT,

    I think you will love the book. I give copies of the book for presents – several weddings, three birthdays this year. Also, to thoughtful students I know (several native students).

    All of the people profiled in the book lead far less distracted and destructive lives. Their values are much closer to those held by people here at NBL.

    My brother did not like the book at first. He is a capitalist through and through. But now he is warming up to it. He’ll bring up something from the book that he thought was “stupid” – but then after some recent experience he has second thoughts. He is a “penny pincher,” so maybe the “Do.Not.Spend.” theme captured his attention.

  • Rita,

    I am really glad to hear your contact went so well. I have not visited Andy’s blog – I will later.

    I really look forward to reading your blog. “Free Radical” seems to be a good name for you.

  • Navid – I just registered a domain name. I had to use my name. Free Radical was already used. I am scared to expose myself so much, and am in awe of Guy and Sharon Astyk and all the bloggers I love for living so much in the public glare. Commenters can be so cruel. But I feel giddy for starting today. Wish me luck.

  • Thank you all for your wonderful and encouraging words.

    David, you can find my blog by just clicking on my name, or by using this link:

    It is all in German. Oh wait, that’s not even true, I think some of my older postings (pre 2009 or so) were actually in English. I just switched back to German because it is easier to rant in your mother tongue. I might go back to posting in English from time to time. But it is not a deep thoughts kind of blog like this one. Just day to day stuff with the occasional rant about cars (I don’t have one), tv (I don’t have that either) and money (I don’t … well, you guessed it)