Picking Cherries

I’m routinely accused of cherry picking information about climate change. I plead guilty, with the following 1,000-word disclaimer and recognition that everybody else picks cherries, too. One of the differences between me and the others: I admit my bias, and they claim to have none.

I’ll start with a line from recently deceased professor emeritus and long-time teacher Albert Bartlett: “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” When I speak and write about climate change, most members of the audience are stuck in fifth grade, unaware that nature often exhibits non-linearity.

I pick cherries because I see nobody else connecting the dots on climate change. I see nobody else making an honest effort to describe our predicament. So, by default, I’m The Connector. I collate, summarize, and synthesize information about climate change. And in the process of serving as host for the finest reality show on the Internet, I connect people, too.

In return, I’m the dark-horse candidate for Golden Horseshoe liar award. This planet has become so Orwellian that those who collate the facts and pass them along are hated as liars.

I see plenty of support for denying the obvious. Almost everybody reading these words has a vested interest in not wanting to think about climate change, which helps explain why the climate-change deniers have won. According to a December 2013 paper in Climatic Change, the climate change counter-movement is funded to the tune of nearly a billion dollars each year. That’s just in the United States, where we continue to brag about our prowess in destroying the living planet long after a few of us recognized the irony in the following advertisement from Life magazine in 1962. The story is similar in other countries.


How obvious is ongoing climate change induced by anthropogenic global warming? If you’re unwilling to look outside, consider the following graph from Climate Central.

10 warmest years on record

And even as abnormal is the new normal, we’re just getting started. A paper in the 3 December 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters indicates that maximum warming from carbon dioxide emissions occurs about one decade after a carbon dioxide emission. Rising emissions during each of the last many decades points to a truly catastrophic future, and not long from now. There is nothing to be done today to undo what we did during the last decade. And, as pointed out with numerous scientific articles at my comprehensive summary dating back to February 2003 from the folks at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, abrupt and dramatic changes in climate aren’t out of the question.

This knowledge brings with it horror and relief. I’m horrified by what’s to come, which includes the near-certainty of human extinction by 2030 as we surpass 4 C above baseline. I’m relieved to know that today’s consequences result from emissions dating to the 1970s, when I was excitedly learning to drive an automobile. I experience no teenage guilt from youthful, ignorant actions.

I recognize that collapse of industrial civilization leads to a world 2 C warmer than baseline within a few days post-collapse. Where I live, in the southwestern interior of a large continent in the northern hemisphere, that means we’re headed for ~5 C locally shortly after collapse is complete. And that means no habitat for humans: Welcome to the dust bowl that never ends within a matter of months post-collapse.

Yet, seemingly contrary to these simple, easy-to-reach conclusions, I work toward collapse. Largely unafflicted by the arrogance of humanism, I work on behalf of non-human species. Industrial civilization is destroying every aspect of the living planet, and I know virtually nobody who wants to stop the runaway train. Yes, collapse will kill us. But our deaths are guaranteed regardless, unless I missed a memo.

I’ve given up on civilized humans making any effort to take relevant action. Never mind our stunning myopia: The money to be made is clearly more important than the extinctions we cause, including our own.

As pointed out in March 2012 in Nature Climate Change, several psychological reasons explain why people have a hard time dealing with the stark reality of climate change (David Roberts comments at length in his article at Grist:

1. To the extent that climate change is an abstract concept, it is non intuitive and cognitively difficult to grasp.

2. Our moral judgement system is finely tuned to react to intentional transgressions — not unintentional ones.

3. Things that make us feel guilty provoke self-defensive mechanisms.

4. Uncertainty breeds wishful thinking, so the lack of definitive prognoses results in unreasonable optimism.

5. Our division into moral and political tribes generates ideological polarization; climate change becomes politicized.

6. Events do not seem urgent when they seem to be far away in time and space; out-group victims fall by the wayside.

At considerable risk of pummeling the dead equine, I’ll reiterate a couple paragraphs I pointed out before:

Leading mainstream outlets routinely lie to the public. According to a report published 11 January 2014, “the BBC has spent tens of thousands of pounds over six years trying to keep secret an extraordinary ‘eco’ conference which has shaped its coverage of global warming.” At the 2006 event, green activists and scientists — one of whom believes climate change is a bigger danger than global nuclear war — lectured 28 of the BBC’s most senior executives.

Mainstream scientists minimize the message at every turn. As we’ve known for years, scientists almost invariably underplay climate impacts. I’m not implying conspiracy among scientists. Science selects for conservatism. Academia selects for extreme conservatism. These folks are loathe to risk drawing undue attention to themselves by pointing out there might be a threat to civilization. Never mind the near-term threat to our entire species (they couldn’t care less about other species). If the truth is dire, they can find another, not-so-dire version. The concept is supported by an article in the February 2013 issue of Global Environmental Change pointing out that climate-change scientists routinely underestimate impacts “by erring on the side of least drama.”

In other words, science selects for conservatism (aka picking cherries long after they are ripe). Science, after all, is merely the process of elucidating the obvious. Climate-change scientists routinely underestimate impacts “by erring on the side of least drama” (aka looking for the cherries long after they’ve fallen off the tree, onto the ground, and been consumed by rodents).

The feedbacks are too numerous, the inertia too strong. We fired the clathrate gun by 2007 or earlier, coincident with crossing the point of no return for climate change. The corporate media and corporate governments of the world keep lying, and too few hold them accountable.


This essay is permalinked at Seemorerocks, Speaking Truth to Power and Before It’s News.


With an eye to improving my “bedside manner” when I deliver presentations, I’ve recently become a certified grief-recovery counselor. A brief summary of the program, which I learned about from a contact on Facebook, is here.

I was extremely impressed by the workshop. In fact, I told the facilitator it was about a thousand times better than I expected halfway through the first of four emotionally wrenching days. The facilitator was among the best teachers I’ve ever seen.

I learned about my own grief, and how to deal with it. I learned dealing with grief is a process that requires practice. I learned that some losses associated with individuals represent opportunities to move on from the relationship.

I have suffered many of the usual and customary losses typically associated with grief, along with a few others. Who knew there are more than 40 kinds of losses? These include moving, losing a job, divorce, death of a loved one, and many others. I suffered considerable grief when I left the university: the loss of ego, friends, and colleagues was enormous, as was the sudden inability to teach.

I also learned a little bit about helping others deal with their own grief. That in itself is a big deal for a left-brained, science geek. I recommend this workshop to almost anybody who is willing to put themselves into the position of eager, heart-wide-open student.

I’m still working through the tools I picked up at the workshop. I suspect the process will continue for a long time. Like, as long as I have.

Comments 160

  • Oops sorry, forgot about the 2 post/day rule. I’ll take it over to the forum from here. :)


  • I took a walk in the woods today. What a relief it was to get away for a moment, a little bit, from the madness of the insanity of the human way. Then I turned around and walked back and returned to the general manner in which I stay alive. I felt a little sick. I felt like a betrayer of the happiness that the world could offer if only I just stayed away – from the human way. But I see no other means to stay alive. Truly, a sad trap, an uncomfortable, heart breaking dilemma. How can we enjoy life when our very existence is the cause of so much misery?

    Oh, indeed, I seek to reduce the pain I cause… not eating flesh, not using materials and energy frivolously, controlling my words and behaviors to be civil… respecting not bullying, seeking right livelihood, maintaining a compassionate outlook and radiating kindness… yet… I’m still part of the problem. Still part of the human cohort. Human beings impact the environment – inevitably, unavoidably. We’re ecologically imbalanced so we leave problems in our wake like a plume of bad body odor.

    There is no place left on Earth where humans can live within an intact undisturbed ecosystem – and even if there was, and some of us lived in it, they would disturb it. We have destroyed all the Edens, and there is no way for all of us to continue to live without furthering the destruction. Reckless global destruction, proportionate to human population overshoot and lifestyle choice is our wretched legacy. What once should have been the keystone of rational choice: ‘sustainable permaculture’, for all its superficial merits, still alters and depletes natural ecosystems to suit human desires, stressing out wild species, increasing mass extinction pressure. There are too many of us now, even the greenest approach cannot accomplish human salvation. Rapid population reduction through violence wouldn’t save humanity either, only open a direct path to annihilation and extinction. Besides, in a variety of ways, we have already tripped the trap. Ignorant eco-slaughter, or even a well meaning conscientious and unintentional pattern that results in eco-slaughter… is still eco-slaughter… culminating in human extinction.

    I think I need another walk.

  • There is an infinity of worlds to conquer. This pale blue dot is but the starting point of a wave of life that will roll out across the stars and bring meaning to a dead universe. We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself and for Gaia to save herself. Because it’s just a simple fact that Mother Earth is doomed unless we sow her seed across the stars while we still can.

    Therefore, my friends, the time has come: We must put away childish fantasies of a return to Eden and begin construction of the Galactic Empire immediately. For Gaia! For life! For the Empire!

  • I defy Guy to explain why the positive feedback loops he has dientified did not result in Venusian style warming at the end of the PETM.

    He interprets them and draws conclusions based on them. The most famous of these conclusions is that Homo Sapiens will be extinct by mid century. I am pointing out why that conclusion may not be correct.

    The timing of extinction is based on the information from others about the severity of the climate disruption. Whether or not a given degree of climate disruption will lead to runaway greenhouse warming is also based on the work of others. The same holds true for how far the runaway warming will go. Questions related to both these issues would better be directed to those who specialise in these areas.

    The questions of whether or not a given degree of climate disruption will lead to human extinction, and how rapidly, are matters within the purview of ecologists. Yet here, the concepts of human extinction are first drawn from others. The relevant questions would be how/why and how fast a given degree of climate disruption will lead to extinction. Whether or not it could/would produce a Venus-like hothouse is more appropriately a question directed to geologists, astrophysicists, atmospheric scientists and the like.

  • @Daft Imperius – AKA Gerald Spezio Jr

    Alas, all America’s Nazi rocket scientists are dead and in hell and all her best and brightest tech people are designing Apps and flash trading schemes.

  • “The timing of extinction is based on the information from others about the severity of the climate disruption. Whether or not a given degree of climate disruption will lead to runaway greenhouse warming is also based on the work of others. The same holds true for how far the runaway warming will go. Questions related to both these issues would better be directed to those who specialise in these areas.”-RD

    Excuse me, but HTF am I supposed to direct these questions to the “others” Guy cites as reference for his conclusions?  Far as I know said others do not run their own Blogs, and even if they do, generally speaking an “expert” will not give you the time of day if your clock doesn’t match his.

    I would be seriously JOYFUL if any said expert would chat with me on the subject on the Diner, sadly however so far I just have my fellow Diners to hash these topics over with there.  I drop on here, and you tell me, “Hey!  We don’t know WTF we are talking about here!  Go talk to the EXPERTS!”  LOL.

    Guy drops on the citations and draws conclusions from them I do not agree with.  It is his obligation to face me down on his conclusions.  Not on the source material, we both have access to that  and neither of us is responsible for that source material either.  We depend on its accuracy or question its accuracy as the case may be.

    It is a DODGE to say, “go talk to the originator of the material”.  Said originator is not HERE to confront the issue and likely never will be.  The ONLY people here to hash this out are You, Me and Guy, along with the rest of the commentariat here.

    I already demonstrated with my set of graphs why you cannot make a definitive prediction based just on CO2 atmospheric content.  I also demonstrated that runaway Global Cooking did NOT occur in the aftermath of the PETM.  At least so far, nobody here has demonsterated why such a reversal would not occur again, nor has anyone demonstrated why Life on Earth is impossible even with CO2 atmospheric content of 1000ppm and temps +5C above the current mean temps.  Life plodded onward even at the Peak Temps of the PETM.

    Most certainly, I understand and accept that with such events as complete phytoplankton collapse, most animal life on the planet is impossible above the level of extremophiles like the Tardigrades.  However, phytoplankton collapse is not yet written in stone, and besides that even if you extrapolate out Ocean pH 30 years and assume linearity, you still are not at the point where phytoplankton cannot survive, though most shell based ocean organisms could not.

    There are many more Unknowns than Knowns here in this re-equilibration, and making a quid pro quo evaluation as Guy does that NOBODY can survive past Mid Century is an unwarranted conclusion from my POV. His evidence that he cites is insufficient and there are too many variables he doesn;t deal with, Geotectonics to start with there.

    So I am not posing my questions on the websites (if they exist) or originators of the data, I am posing my questions to Guy as interpreter of the data.  He can choose to answer or not on this basis.

    You RD can take a FFAARD. :)


  • RE.

    The PETM is illustrative of the kind of change that can happen (i.e. a very rapid rise in average temperature), but cannot be illustrative of what is likely to happen because at the time of the PETM practically all the carbon released since the commencement of industrialism was still safely sequestered underground.

    Humanity, having transferred a substantial portion of the carbon deposited as coal (well before 55 m.y.a.) into the atmosphere and oceans, and having transferred about half the carbon deposited as oil (well before 55 m.y.a.) into the atmosphere and oceans, has created an entirely different set of conditions which are almost certainly a lot more conducive to rapid temperature rise and stabilisation at a much higher temperature than occurred during the PETM.

    I have pointed this out on numerous previous occasions, and this information gets ignored because it is not what people want to hear.

  • @Darth Imperius:
    This planet was always an unmitigated shithole. All attempts to ameliorate things just end up making things worse. Civilisation and it’s iatrogenic technofixes are the source and engine of such attempts and the further problems they create. It is no surprise that we all want to be somewhere else- heaven, the heavens, space, anywhere but here. I have no objection to you going to another planet, but completely cannibalising the one planet you’ve got, unmitigated shithole that it is, in order to get to the other one, which likely needs not a few millenia of terraforming, seems faintly ridiculous, assuming it is even possible. Please explain the point of this to me?
    This old one’s for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25wYRnFMkIk

  • I’m moved to express my sorrow at hearing the passing of Professor Albert Bartlet. He was a man of humour and just darn downright surefire straight talkin on simple arithmetic, n’ such like.

    Professor Bartlet’s utube video series, from Boulder Colorado, on Exponential Growth math was one of the 40 or so internet info-out-there-wake-up-helper-bit-n-pieces that helped wake me up to all the SHTF here and still to come.
    But in truth, the first one to change my standing-wave-pattern was Matt Savinar….
    Matt spent a summer between college and a possible job in Law researching Peak Oil. And he just kept going, because he was a well trained researcher, trained to take a statement of assertion of fact, and test it and find where it purports to obtain it’s legitimacy, and interrogate that assertion, and see if it is well founded.

    He found, in short, that all the talk from industry and politics, was at best not well thought through, and at worst known to be just bunk, in support of the BAU model.
    Matt nearly went on stress leave, because like any well educated and well meaning citizen, he went to conferences and wrote and spoke to key industry players and told them they had made a few mistakes in their sums, and they were going to run out of cheep oil very soon.
    He finally woke up to being fobbed off.
    When I learned from his book: LATOC- Life After The Oil Crash, that the Two big wars were about Oil, and the Iraq and Afghan wars were also Oil wars, I was ready to vomit – not that I was ever even close to being a right leaning Patriot type, here in Afraidia, but when you learn the screwball nature of the thin line of trust in the common good that keep people functioning normally in the IC pipeline, and how fraudulent it is, (of late) you start fo seek ways of not participating in the game.
    Keep on going Guy- the lotus just keeps unfolding.

    Meanwhile, some news on the heat front in Afraidia:

    ‘Adelaide awaits cool change after record-hot weekend’


    “Adelaide residents have endured their 10th 40-degree day this summer, with the city reaching 44.7 degrees on Sunday afternoon, the city’s sixth hottest day on record.

    Sunday’s 44.7 degree maximum is 15 degrees above average and a new February record, beating the previous record of 44.3 degrees set in 2004.

    Elsewhere in South Australia on Sunday it exceeded 40 degrees in all districts for the second day running including Kangaroo Island as dry northerly winds developed ahead of a front. It got as hot as 46.6 degrees in Keith in the state’s Upper South East, its fourth 45-degree day this summer.

    Mt Gambier in the Lower South East reached 44.9 degrees, 20 degrees above average and its hottest day in more than 70 years of records.

    Cummins on Lower Eyre Peninsula got to 46.2 degrees, its hottest day in at least seven years….

    It will heat up to the mid thirties as early as Wednesday and the temperature should peak at near 40 degrees next Saturday just ahead of another cooler change.

    Next Saturday could be Adelaide’s 11th 40-degrees this summer which would equal the summer record, set in it 1897/1898.”

    Probably just another glitch, or a one off eh?

  • Ah…

    44.7 C = 112.46 F

    for those in the North Hem.
    Just sayin…

  • Intelligence was one of those evolutionary mistakes that leads to a dead end. Turns out to have been one of the worst, no, the worst. We used it to defeat the rules of the game; variation and selection just because we could, just because we didn’t like the rules.

    Yet we will flaunt it right up to the last man standing, just because we can.

  • @ dmd

    I don’t see intelligence. All I see I stupidity and ignorance. Some real intelligence would be very refreshing.

    You Have Used Me As A Fish Long Enough

  • To RE

    First, I would say that GUY has the freedom to say whatever he wants, without giving a reason beyond what he has already given (or not given). Is up to you take it or not. To me his proposal sounds reasonable. Although I do not take his words as carved in stone.
    Second, we are living a period of changes that mix so many factors, that I guess nobody can explain what is the real interaction among them, nobody. The complexities of the system are beyond our current capacity to handle and understand with certainty. Hence, nobody can tell, for sure, what will happen in the incoming years. Any discussion will end in a dead end. Nobody has a solid argument to defend beyond any doubt a position about what will happen. All we can do is investigate on our own, take the position most suits to your “feelings”, live your life accordingly and wait. Clearly, time will tell. Guy gives his analysis, take it or don´t. But there is no point in attacking the others position, asking for a proof that nobody has.
    Third, I agree in part with your point, there are some chances that Guy may be wrong for some years, but 20 or even 50 years will not make a real difference. People you see around will suffer the consequences.

    It has to be said that the rate of change of levels of CO2 and other gases make an enormous difference between today and PETM. Enough to well consider that if earth did not become Venus, the leveling process spanned in a much longer period of time, so this time, may in the end happen the same, but by that time, when levels of CO2 drop, things will not be the same. The biosphere will be different.


    To Dairymandave

    Saying that intelligence is a mistake, is the easy way to avoid our responsibility to learn how to handle it properly. Intelligence is “power”, and as all power, you have to learn to handle it, and limit it. The hardest thing of all is to understand that we are not free to do whatever we want. To set freewill, and liberty as the ultimate truth is the real mistake.

  • RE rants: “I already demonstrated with my set of graphs why you cannot make a definitive prediction based just on CO2 atmospheric content. I also demonstrated that runaway Global Cooking did NOT occur in the aftermath of the PETM. At least so far, nobody here has demonsterated why such a reversal would not occur again, nor has anyone demonstrated why Life on Earth is impossible even with CO2 atmospheric content of 1000ppm and temps +5C above the current mean temps. Life plodded onward even at the Peak Temps of the PETM.”

    And once again, PETM did NOT reverse itself. There is no reversal. The dinosaurs did NOT reverse themselves either. You’re arguing from a flawed perspective, which only demonstrates a lack of understanding about PETM and the current situation. Here’s the breakdown as simplistic as possible: (1) PETM took place roughly over a 20,000 year period. We are currently ratcheting up the CO2 towards PETM levels in less than 200 years.
    (2) 20,000 years is a longer period of time than 200 years.
    (3) The speed in which CO2 levels are rising and the speed in which the climate is changing is too fast for species to adapt.
    (4) The mammals that actually started to flourish during PETM were roughly the size of shrews. Mammals much bigger than that cannot survive in temperatures on a planet 5C or higher.
    (5) There weren’t any nuclear power plants during the PETM.
    (6) When human civilization collapses — agriculture more or less ceases completely for corn, rice, wheat and other food stables around 2.5C — no one will be working nuclear power plants that need constant attention and they go into meltdown.
    (7) On top of a much hotter world, with acidic oceans, there will radioactive particles wrapping the globe in a warm embrace too.
    (8) While it possible that some bacteria and anaerobic forms of life might exist on earth, higher life forms will be gone without any hope of there being any return to complex life, in part because the time scale for evolution and the age of the planet and the sun to begin with.

  • Yes, U, Einstein realized how stupid and ignorant he was, eventually, and wished he had been a watch maker.

  • @ dmd

    I believe the quote is something like, if he had realised where his discovery would lead (that is to the nuclear bomb) he’d have become a shoemaker. I don’t think he was talking so much about his own ignorance, but that of other people, he wasn’t responsible for what people did with the knowledge.

  • As I’ve explained a few dozen times — to an unlistening, unreading audience — humans require habitat. Said habitat includes food. Phytoplankton collapse is underway and will undoubtedly be complete at 4 C above baseline due to ocean acidification. Wildly varying temperatures will similarly remove habitat for land plants. Humans will not survive without marine food or terrestrial food. Projecting past trends linearly into the future is one among many ways to deny or downplay the obvious.

  • I’ve posted a couple essays by RE, along with links to my forthcoming events. Catch all the action here.

  • dairymandave, the idea that “intelligence is bad” is an idea that benefits only our rulers, not us. If we can be persuaded that it’s wrong to think, then we’ll never see through propaganda because we’ll never try.

    Kind of like the situation we have now, actually, where we refused to do anything to solve our problems because everyone was busy mindlessly “following the rules” (that our leaders set for us).

    The LAST thing the human race needs if it’s going to survive is more “don’t think, just obey and we’ll all get along just fine”.

    What we need is the ability to actually figure out the reality that’s in front of us, not more “la la la la la I can’t hear you I don’t want to think, I don’t want to think, I’ll just accept whatever rules I’m born into, I was just following orders!”

  • Dear RE
    I am long time reader of NBL but I wrote only a few times. I am relunctant to write in English.
    I am agree with you on some critics. Sam Carana’s work which shows extinction in 30 years does not have scientific base. My critic is that links from these kinds of web sites reduce reliability and quality of NBL web site. Guy may still share this kind of unreliable information but he should make difference between them and much more reliable peer reviewed scientific sources. They must not have equal weight.

    Science is all about uncertainty. Future can not be predicted. Our planets’ ecosystem and climate are too complex for human intelectual capacity to understand. Under these facts, it must be impossible to be certain about near term human extinction. Moreover 30 years are very short time for a huge 3 C global warming. Uncertainty is real hard for humans to cope with.

    On the other hand Guy makes great work. He is right that “Academia selects for extreme conservatism”. Conservative acedemic scientists won’t publish any conclusion which shows near term extinction. They may publish some information about near term extinction but they will never announce it to the public. Actually even they want to do it, political system of our civilization won’t allow it. Therefore you can only get near term extinction arguments from less reliable sources like blogs. But when you talk with climate scientists / leaders privately when they feel themself secure and they are ready to tell you their real opinion, you can see that lots of them see near term extinction as a real thread. I experienced it two times. Guy is one of the most courage scientists who can tell his real opinion to the public.

    Do you know precautionary principle? Being pesimist is more rational approach then being optimist. If Guy is wrong, what do you lose? If Guy is right, what do you lose? Even if NTE has a %1 chance of occurrence, we must still take it really serious, because cost of NTE is extremely high (almost infinite). Although most of scientists know the precautionary principle, still most of their publicized predictions (%85) are too optimist which means that academic scientists act irrationally. If they acted rationally, more than %50 of their predictions would have been pessimistic. Therefore I think that Guy is acting much more rationally then academic scientists if the aim is to help humanity and improve life on this planet.

    If you judge those scientists, environmentalists and others from self interest point of view, then you can see that they actually act rationally. They can not continue to posses their position in the society if they tell the bitter truth about humanity and our civilization to the public. When they loose their position, what can they do effectively? This is the bias. Guy’s desicion is exceptional.

    About the cooling in 60s and 70s and not so rapid warming in the last decade, it can be related with aeresols and global dimming. (of course not sure) We don’t have very accurate calculations about cooling potential of aerosols. The uncertainty is very high. If the aerosols cooling effect is near to upper limit (very high), then it means that aerosols compensated more warming and warming potential of greenhouse gasses is higher than generally estimated.

    Think about a scenerio. Take IPCC upper limit as reference for aerosols cooling effect and there is global economic crisis / war which stops global trade. As a result coal power plants other industrial processes which are emitting aerosols stop. Aerosols cooling effect reduces rapidly and earth can have sudden temperature increase in weeks. You can get a 1-2 C warming in a few years. Of course there is not any (as I know) published climatic model or scientific paper considering these kinds of scenarios. But with even basic climate modeling, you can easly calculate them. You don’t need to consider even positive feedbacks, scientific uncertainties are enough to create catastrophic scenario.

  • @ demirparcasi

    Moreover 30 years are very short time for a huge 3 C global warming.

    Methane release has caused a 10 deg C increase over a decade or so before.

    Are you watching how fast the Arctic is warming ? Do you understand how much methane is there and how fast the levels are rising ?

  • 18000days, I have one question for you: do you believe progress is possible, or do you believe this shithole has never been and can never be anything else? Has it been all downhill since the Big Bang? Is life a net negative? Should humanity embrace antinatalism, or just exterminate all life and get end the whole miserable drama? Oh excuse me, that was four questions.

    Look friend, gnosticism is understandable, but when you take it up to 11 like doomers often do, you may go mad from the revelation and find yourself in some rather dark places. I know, I’ve been there, and I’ve lived to tell the tale. Why torture yourself and suffer unnecessarily? Why not revel in your time? Wouldn’t you rather see attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, or C-beams glitter in the dark near Tannheuser gate, before all that, too, is lost in time, like tears in rain?

  • You are literally a hero. Sorry to sound kind of corny but it is what it is.

  • What Einstein really said:

    “Once you accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing which is something, wearing stripes with plaids comes easy.” Albert Einstein

    Someone, inexplicably, sent me this. Just on the odd chance that there are opera lovers out there…

    Aria from Diva – Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez

    Maria Callas “La Wally”

  • “P. D. James, describes what happens when society is unable to reproduce, using male infertility to explain this problem. In the novel (Children of Men), it is made clear that hope depends on future generations. James writes, “It was reasonable to struggle, to suffer, perhaps even to die, for a more just, a more compassionate society, but not in a world with no future where, all too soon, the very words ‘justice,’ ‘compassion,’ ‘society,’ ‘struggle,’ ‘evil,’ would be unheard echoes on an empty air.”

    Leaving this simple quote is an unheard echo.

  • @Darth Imperious wtf are you talking about? Are you serious about the whole technology will save us bit, while they have just had ‘book burnings’ of scientific research libraries in a major first-world country in North America; while the number one problem we face is over-population, and a “world leader” is currently doing everything it can to undo any advances achieved in women’s health issues, in fact attempting to criminalize abortion and even miscarriage, and to create as many barricades as possible to birth control access. You are living in some weird Star Wars fantasy. Get a grip, man, we are killing the biosphere, go for a walk or something before it’s all gone. I mean that in the best possible way. You must be somewhat awake to have found your way to this corner of the internet, but if you are just trying to waste time or get the conversation off track, please don’t. If you are serious, well, then, okay. Carry on.

    @Guy McPherson Thank you for the candid report on our current state of affairs, as if it isn’t staring us in the face every day. Good for you on the grief counselor certification- as much for your own healing and chances for healthy grieving, as well comfort you might now lend to others who cross your path. Thought you might enjoy this James Baldwin quote highlighted by Andrew Sullivan today: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/02/02/quote-for-the-day-316/

  • @Darth Imperius:

    You must have guessed that my answer to your first four questions is affirmative, on the philosophical level anyway, with qualifications… Anyhow, it’s good to know that you haven’t arrived at your position uncritically, without exploring the gamut of reactions possible to the human condition, and the animal condition too, for all I know- although it might be a bit ‘schadenfreude’ of me to be expressing gladness that people have been a-visiting those dark places before they set out to conquer space.

    Your images of the spectacle of space warfare obviously have a sort of romantic appeal, but this was more or less the way to sell trench warfare to cannon-fodder, too. Afaik such experiences are usually more appealing in imagination than in reality. Just as the world was already an unmitigated shithole even before trench warfare, space is already a spectacle of light and explosions before ‘we’ get the armaments up there to continue this relentless unedifying scuffle over territory and resources. Is it too much to ask that if these alpha-bipeds want to maim and mutilate eachother and gloat over eachother’s corpses, they do it without involving the rest of us? I guess it is, which perhaps reveals something about what’s really going on..

  • “Your images of the spectacle of space warfare obviously have a sort of romantic appeal, but this was more or less the way to sell trench warfare to cannon-fodder, too. Afaik such experiences are usually more appealing in imagination than in reality. Just as the world was already an unmitigated shithole even before trench warfare, space is already a spectacle of light and explosions before ‘we’ get the armaments up there to continue this relentless unedifying scuffle over territory and resources. Is it too much to ask that if these alpha-bipeds want to maim and mutilate eachother and gloat over eachother’s corpses, they do it without involving the rest of us? I guess it is, which perhaps reveals something about what’s really going on.”


  • This came from another friend:

    An Address to My Fellow Faculty Who Have Asked Me to Speak About My Work

    by A. PAPATYA BUCAK • January 20, 2014


    My work is to write this sentence and revise it into that sentence. To take this word and replace it with that word.

    My work is a novel I wrote from five to seven a.m. for more than two years and that will never be published.

    My work is to be the person you trust to tell the truth, even though I am a known liar.

    My work is to see who you are and who I think you could become. To notice the slate grey night lit by a full moon half behind a cloud. To know what it is to want more from someone than they are willing to give. To see the shadows cast by your secrets. To notice an ant that has drowned in a single drop of water in my sink.

    My work is to explain my heart even though I cannot explain my heart. My work is to find the right word even though there is no right word.

    My work is to remember that I always wanted to be a writer and that one day my father turned to a friend of his and said, “This is my daughter, she is trying to be a writer,” and then he corrected himself and said, “She is a writer.”

    My work is to stop everything when a student—right in front of me—writes the line, “I think I would be a better dancer if only I had wings.”

    My work is to believe in grace even though I don’t believe in God. To realize that all of my greatest fears are things that are definitely going to come true. My father will die, my mother will die, my brother will, my niece, my nephew, me.

    My work is to pay attention when my mother says, “I cried all of my tears that first year I lived in Turkey.” To pay attention when my mother says of her freshman roommate, “It was like Tigger rooming with Owl.” To pay attention when my father says, “You should sit by my side and write down everything I say like the Prophet.” To pay attention when my father says, “Chickens are braver than us.” To pay attention when my nephew says to his sister, “All of your teeth are sweet teeth.” To pay attention when my nephew says to me, “I’d like to see how long you’d last in Azkaban without a book.”

    My work is to tell you that without art we would be in a world without art.

    My work is the blood on the heels of my socks in high school because I ran hard sometimes, but not always, so that my calluses came and went.

    My work is to honor the glory of trash day, all of those cans lined up before dawn, an obedient nation in this one instance only.

    My work is to believe in everybody’s capacity for kindness.

    My work is to believe in everybody’s capacity for cruelty.

    My work is the bird of dawn, the tale of my grief, the thief of love, the city of beauties, the nest of snakes, the helping animal, the animated doll, the transformative power of love, the juice of a single grape.

    My work is to imagine a world without art so that there is never a world without art.

    My work is to tell you this:

    Years ago I was on the subway in Manhattan, and we stopped between stations, and the staticky voice came on the speaker and said there would be a delay of twenty minutes, and cursing ripped through the car, as if a tribe of the homeless mad had just swept into our presence. But then a young woman across from me took out a small pile of paper, and she started folding red origami swans, and each time she finished one, she handed it to one of us.

    My work is my origami swans.

    A. Papatya Bucak teaches in the MFA program at Florida Atlantic University. Her prose has been included in a variety of magazines, including Creative Nonfiction and The Normal School, and her short fiction has been selected for the O. Henry Prize Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies.

  • @Darth Imperious… Apparently we are the only two who saw Blade Runner. Others… watch the clip below. A brilliant reference really.

  • New update on Robert Scribbler…but nothing we don’t already know. Still, a good read!


  • ‘So in short, I hold a Minority Opinion here. :)’


    i’m with u, re (and demirparcasi).

    ‘How can we enjoy life when our very existence is the cause of so much misery? ‘ -spirit of log

    i don’t know, try selfish arrogant genes, give that a go.

    ‘I think I need another walk.’

    i walk about 5 miles most days. good for physical/mental health. that is, if u wish to prolong your dreamware. as therapies go, there are far worse choices. it makes the nightmares recede temporarily, in the right setting.

    great baldwin quote, badlands.

  • Tom said: “This is just my opinion, but by 2019 everyone left on the planet will know what’s going on (that we’re toast) because it won’t ever be getting any easier to live or grow crops or even breathe in some places.”

    I think you’re right. Events are really starting to pick up. We’re just hitting that part of the hockey stick where nonlinear change starts to kick in with a vengeance. 2030 is only 16 years away.

  • @Artleads That Bucak quote was lovely and heart-wrenching, another reminder along with the Baldwin quote of our responsibility to life.
    My work is to pay attention when my mother says…This reminded me of my yearning throughout childhood to know more about my mother’s life, HER life, before kids. She rarely talked about her past, and never while sober, so every detail was gobbled up and pondered, turned over and over in the mind in order to squeeze every ounce of possible meaning. Sadly, she died at the young age of 36, so these are things I and my siblings will never know.
    After reading this, I have decided it is important for me to share more of my life with my own young children, no matter how futile I feel everything is becoming. These things matter to kids! I’m taken off guard from time to time, when, out of the blue, one of them will ask me after discussing their paternal grandparents, “Mom, why don’t YOU have parents?!” Such a weighted question. Such work, paying attention to the small things. Such work caring for the little ones with feelings and thoughts so expansive that some adults cannot recognize the importance and validity of those feelings and thoughts, for theirs have become so guarded as to be hidden even from themselves.
    How easy it is to damage the very things we love. How sad to see potential wither away. Our capacities for kindness and cruelty- life can be a real pain in the ass with all of it’s conundrums, paradoxes, and predicaments! Anyway, thank you for sharing.

    @tvt Walking five miles a day is exactly what the human body was designed to do. Keep on truckin’!

    @Darth Imperious I admit I was a little harsh, but I still haven’t decided if you are serious or not. Who am I to judge? Maybe this persona and the elaborate space fantasy is your masterpiece, performance art if you will. It is quite good, very thorough, though you should give attribution to your borrowed stuff, as Rich has so kindly brought attention to. ‘Tears in rain’, bwahaha!

  • @ the virgin terry
    In reply to the conundrum of self imposed misery via our means of existence… which I expressed as: “How can we enjoy life when our very existence is the cause of so much misery?” You said: “i don’t know, try selfish arrogant genes, give that a go.” Well, I’m not sure if you were just being sarcastic, but, that is the very core of it, isn’t it? What a miserable way to live, in selfishness and arrogance… and therefore removed from the essence of life… or giving a crap about it. How can there be any joy in that dim psychological wasteland? Of course to those who have neither the experience or maturity or intelligence to see otherwise, the crass adolescent way, the painfully angry, demented way of vile dog eat dog brutality, is the only way. And, of course it is the only way that a militarized, commercialized, dysfunctional society devoid of ecological awareness and expunged of human compassion, wants their captives to think. And they have plenty of propaganda to confirm their bloody propaganda. I haven’t seen it in a while, but I suppose that murder (punctuated by the consumption of flesh) is still the most popular pastime of mainstream media, including video games. Oh what joy. How low can we go. No need to wonder who ate all those trillions of dead cheeseburgers. No, that is not true selfishness, which would at least be in the interest of the perpetrator… it is the stench of stupidity at its most putrid.

  • If you really want to give in to our seemingly unchangeable path to NTE, just read the ignorant comments on the following article. When I was twelve, I was an idealist. At age 30, I became an realist. Now.. at 46, I am a cynic. I don’t hold any hope for Humanity after reading so many horrible comments as well as seeing my environment erode around me month to month, year over year. It’s just a snapshot of our collective. I don’t think we’ll change. We’re fucked….


  • https://grist.org/news/ocean-temperatures-spiked-in-2013/

    Ocean temperatures spiked in 2013

    [selected quotes]

    Skeptical Science puts the chart into some context:

    Long-term the oceans have been gaining heat at a rate equivalent to about 2 Hiroshima bombs per second, although this has increased over the last 16 or so years to around 4 per second. In 2013 ocean warming rapidly escalated, rising to a rate in excess of 12 Hiroshima bombs per second — over three times the recent trend.

    Rising ocean temperatures might not seem as significant for us humans as rising land temperatures, but they actually affect us in lots of ways. Warming marine environments are disturbing wildlife the world over, driving fish to cooler and deeper waters — and that is affecting fishing industries.

    The heating waters can also fuel hurricanes and other wild storms. Water temperatures around the Philippines rose nearly 2 degrees F last year just before Typhoon Haiyan hit, which helped whip up the monster storm.

    And it’s worth remembering that water expands when it heats up, which leads to rising seas. In some subtropical areas, increasing water temperatures are believed to be responsible for sea-level rise of as much as a millimeter every year. Here’s the latest NOAA graph showing how much seas are rising, on average, due to warming oceans (this is called steric sea-level rise): [graph of steric sea-level rise]

  • You’re welcome, Badlands. It came out of the blue, and seemed somewhat on the NBL wavelength. I was touched by it, although your elaboration and reaction to it was more real. Changing this word to that word… :-)

  • Guy can pick my cherries, any time. You know what I’m sayin? Does anyone know if Guy gets hit on a lot for being a sexy orator and such a cunning linguist? Guy, get back to me on that.

  • One of the many links shows (? P. Beckwith?) with his several videos and maps regarding forecasts for the upcoming week, in which the jet stream is being tattered here and there, pushing cold Arctic air downward, while Arctic is warming unusually. Forecast is -40 deg.F in some parts of U.S.
    A few weeks ago in our first of this winter’s truly Arctic blast we had -30 deg.F and possibly colder. I knew nobody would believe me so I photographed the thermometer, and upon standing close, caused it to rise a degree to -29. This was at around 7 AM and 7 hours earlier at midnight, hubby saw -30 on same thermometer. Weather people and friends said the coldest temp’s that night accurred around 4 AM, so we can assume it was possibly colder than -30 here in Missouri’s Ozarks.
    We then saw on the news that Fargo, ND had a record of -34 deg. F !

    Now the interesting thing is that our farm is in a very small valley with tall hills surrounding farm; 30 years ago loggers told us our farm was “Little Siberia” to them.

    It is obvious now that “normal” is history.

    I remember watching a presentation years ago (on a university channel when we had satellite TV) and the scientist’s parting words after a dynamite presentation, were:” EXPECT SURPRISES”. That really struck a chord with me–it was the most important thing he said, because as we all know the general public does not want projections or models, but they will understand surprises.

  • ‘What a miserable way to live, in selfishness and arrogance… and therefore removed from the essence of life… or giving a crap about it. How can there be any joy in that dim psychological wasteland?’ -spirit of log

    yes, it’s absolutely miserable, imo. right on about the alienation also. i don’t know about joy, i find it too rare, but there is mirth and pleasure, which in my case seems to be enough to go on with my miserable dreamware. self loathing is misery. knowing that precious life is being wasted, abused, and that industrial civilization has become like a virulent ecological cancer, extincting or threatening to extinct almost all life as we know it (i think some extremophiles have a good chance of surviving anthropogenic doom). knowing our very lives are now dependent upon the cancer, in most instances, and that we are in fact part of it is… misery. but thank the good lord for selfish arrogant genes! or not. point is, without them we wouldn’t be alive. of course, we might be better off dead. genes seem to dread death. fgenes. fsurvival instinct. it can lure us into dreamwares worse than death. perhaps it already has.

  • Guy,

    may be you’d be interested to estimate the impact of +20C of average over-land global warming upon Tibet.

    +20C above pre-industrial is the figure in one of Hansen et al papers, calculated for burning nearly half or more of available fossil fuels.

    Tibet, because
    – its climate “in a world +20C over land” can quite become a paradaise, assuming the usual temperature drop due to the altitude will stay (and it will),
    – its elevation prevents huge fraction (close to .99 of the average worldwide concentration) of nearly all pollutants (anything substantially heavier than air) from all around the globe – to never show up up there. The place is darn clean, ’cause dirt can’t climb mountains, you know.

    Tibet is not the only high mountain platou in the world, of course, so i picked Tibet in particular as just a good example of the general idea.

    If you’ll come to conclusions similar to mine, then you may get much more important than “best reality show” work to do, eh. And much more interesting, perhaps, too. What i mean – is simple: climate change, even abrupt climate change, won’t eradicate life in _all_ places of the planet, – but we humans can do so. It is therefore required to ensure that humans won’t devastate _every_ region of the globe (Tibet is probably too late to save, there are mines and too many people there if you’d ask me – but some other places might still have a chance). This job to ensure – is someones’ to do. It’s too big for a single person to do. Yet we don’t have too many who could truly participate. Plus PtB won’t be happy to see such a coordination, so the job can only be done without attracting any PtB’s attention, too. Tricky! But may be you’ll find out how to do it. I hope you will!

    P.S. Earth may well be very near inner edge of Sun’s habitability zone in terms of its subtropic plains, but luckily, subtropic near-sea-level plains are not the only climate and terrain present. Winter ice will still form deep within polar regions during winters (polar nights), no matter if it’s +20 or +40 degrees C of global warming (the latter’s impossible because of the relation between density of sunlight Earth gets and density of IR radiation Earth emits into space, the latter being proportional to the 4th power of the temperature difefrence, physics says).

  • I’m not a scientist but I did excel in math science and art while in school. The only thing that prevented me from going to University was that my family was poor. However that did not stop me from reading science magazines. I’m 53 years old now and i believe that you are never too old to learn.
    Throughout my life I have tended to pick up on patterns. In social circles and in my surroundings.
    I remember when I was younger, I would read through some of my mother’s mail at her request to look for any writing that didn’t seem right. I have prevented her from answering many letters because of the fine print.
    In reference to Climate Change, I look closely at what people say. I also look for the fine print in every report.
    The IPCC reports are often on the conservative side. They essentially give the best case scenario. They don’t tell you the most likely scenario, just the best one.
    I have been looking at co2now.org to see if there is a pattern in the co2 levels. From what I have seen, it seems to be an exponential rise. 15 years ago it took 10 years for the co2 to rise 10 ppm. In the last 5 years it rose another 10 ppm. This year it has risen 1 ppm per month. That means that in a year it will rise at least 10 ppm. This is an exponential rise in co2 levels.
    Guy McPherson’s conclusions are the closest that I have seen that fits the data.
    You hear reports that co2 level won’t hit 450 til 2050. It will hit 450 ppm within 2 years. And that’s just the co2 level. That does not take into account the methane or the other greenhouse gases.
    I would love to live to be 70 but it seems that I might not live even that long. And I don’t believe anyone else will survive much longer. Food is about to become scarce. I don’t think the heat will kill us. I think we will die either at each others hands or from starvation.

  • I wish to live out my remaining years on a sailboat doing what I love most. Art. I will sculpt small statues then throw them overboard. Maybe some intelligent beings millions of years from now will find them and marvel at them. In a way I will prolong my life in my artwork.

  • I recently worked through “The Grief Recovery Handbook” when my girlfriend of nearly seven years had an unexpected change of heart. In the event, having my heart broken… open, has allowed me to feel and to love more deeply than I ever dreamed possible. NBL’s message of fusing despair with action into a kind of loving presence in the world (that’s the message I am hearing) has come to life for me as never before. I just linked this on my Facebook page, as well as the Summary and Update with this comment, that it “strikes me as the best argument I have ever read for why I need to stop, collect myself, and hurl myself without reservation into loving myself and everyone I can reach in the best way I can contrive, right now, with the utmost urgency… because the opportunity for doing so is tangibly finite. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all knew that… but like this? Yes, like this.”

  • By 2030, transhumanism is a real possibility and the elite won’t need habitat.

  • I’d say it’s time to update this to reflect the newish information that maybe the 40 year delay in greenhouse gas effects is really closer to 10? Maybe that would make everyone feel more guilty, but at least as you say it’s reason to believe that doing something today might impact the present (last) generation. In any event, relying on the 40 year delay here makes this article seem a little dated.