"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Archive for July, 2017|Monthly archive page

Schroders Launches Climate Progress Dashboard, Tracks Current Course Of 4°C Planetary Warming

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2017 at 5:32 pm

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Oldspeak: “I won’t get into how INSANE their market-based “indicators” are. But pay close attention when the money men talk. They that manage 520 billion in assets don’t fuck about with money. Consider this in the context that at 4c, all we can plan for is extinction…  There is NO ADAPTION to such steep warming in such a short time. ” -OSJ

Written By Joshua S. Hill @ CleanTechnica:

Global asset manager Schroders has launched its own Climate Progress Dashboard which it has designed to provide investors “a unique insight” into the global progress towards limiting global warming to the 2°C target and the overall progress of the transition to a low-carbon global economy.

The Schroders Climate Progress Dashboard, however — based on all of the 12 indicators — currently predicts that we are on path for a temperature rise of 4°C.

Schroders is an international asset manager founded in 1804, currently responsible for £416.3 billion (€486.7 billion, $520.6 billion) of assets, as of 31 March this year. As with many large-scale asset managers these days, Schroders has taken the step to develop its own ability to provide reliable guidance and insight into the global transition to a low-carbon economy, and the need to ensure that investments do not impede the move to restrict global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The Climate Progress Dashboard provides investors with an insight into the current progress of transition and global warming, relying on long-term temperature predictions based on a framework of 12 indicators which span politics, business, technology progress, and energy. They are:

  • Political Ambition
  • Public Concern
  • Political Action
  • Corporate Planning
  • Climate Finance
  • Carbon Prices
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Renewable Capacity
  • Carbon Capture & Storage Capacity
  • Oil & Gas Investment
  • Coal Production
  • Oil & Gas Production

Currently, and somewhat disturbingly, the Dashboard predicts — based on all 12 of the indicators — that Earth is on course to see a temperature rise of 4°C above pre-industrial levels, and double the Paris Climate Agreement. Specifically, according to Schroders, while “global political action points to a 3.6°C temperature rise, current oil and gas production is running at a level consistent with temperature rises twice that level, highlighting the risks that remain inherent in energy companies.”

Unsurprisingly, Schroders also points to the recent decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw his country from the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Climate change is a major challenge for the global economy, industries and financial markets,” said Andy Howard, Head of Sustainable Research, Schroders.

“However, too little attention is paid to developing the tools to manage the risks it presents. Understanding the speed of progress and the implications for investment values is critical.

“We developed the Climate Progress Dashboard to provide a unique perspective into the pace of change. It tracks trends in key progress markers towards decarbonisation. It provides an objective and transparent view of change and should help investors base decisions on the outcomes we are likely to see, rather than those we would like to see.

“An all-round view is important. There is no single measure of progress: reshaping the global economy as a carbon-light version of itself will require a range of markets to expand or contract rapidly in the coming decades.”

The Dashboard will undergo quarterly updates, providing a relatively current update of whether or not and how successfully the world is progressing towards the goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Scientist: “For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible.” Anthropogenic Climate Changed Extreme Heat Is Killing Us Right Now

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm

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Oldspeak: ““To understand how global warming wreaks havoc on the human body, we don’t need to be transported to some imagined dystopia. Extreme heat isn’t a doomsday scenario but an existing, deadly phenomenon—and it’s getting worse by the day. ” –Emily Atkin

This is not a tomorrow problem. It’s a significant public health problem that we need to address today. People have got to start thinking in term of, ‘two years ago we had four hot days, the year after we had eight hot days.” –Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association

“As human activity driven extreme heat causes human and ecological systems failures at steadily increasing rates, day by day, bad and terrible are our options for extreme heat. Seems as if Gaia is pumping up the volume. With the capacity of her oceans to absorb human emissions running out, that heat is gonna end up somewhere. And it’s nowhere good for life on earth. ” -OSJ

Written By Emily Atkin @ New Republic:

A young, fit U.S. soldier is marching in a Middle Eastern desert, under a blazing summer sun. He’s wearing insulated clothing and lugging more than 100 pounds of gear, and thus sweating profusely as his body attempts to regulate the heat. But it’s 108 degrees out and humid, too much for him bear. The brain is one of the first organs affected by heat, so his judgment becomes impaired; he does not recognize the severity of his situation. Just as his organs begin to fail, he passes out. His internal temperature is in excess of 106 degrees when he dies.

An elderly woman with cardiovascular disease is sitting alone in her Chicago apartment on the second day of a massive heatwave. She has an air conditioner, but she’s on a fixed income and can’t afford to turn it on again—or maybe it broke and she can’t afford to fix it. Either way, she attempts to sleep through the heat again, and her core temperature rises.  To cool off, her body’s response is to work the heart harder, pumping more blood to her skin. But the strain on her heart is too much; it triggers cardiac arrest, and she dies.

Such scenarios could surely happen today, if they haven’t already. But as the world warms due to climate change, they’ll become all too common in just a few decades—and that’s according to modest projections.

This is not meant to scare you quite like this month’s cover story in New York magazine, “The Uninhabitable Earth.” That story was both a sensation and quite literally sensational, attracting more than two million readers with its depiction of “where the planet is heading absent aggressive action.” In this future world, humans in many places won’t be able to adapt to rising temperatures. “In the jungles of Costa Rica, where humidity routinely tops 90 percent, simply moving around outside when it’s over 105 degrees Fahrenheit would be lethal. And the effect would be fast: Within a few hours, a human body would be cooked to death from both inside and out,” David Wallace-Wells writes. “[H]eat stress in New York City would exceed that of present-day Bahrain, one of the planet’s hottest spots, and the temperature in Bahrain ‘would induce hyperthermia in even sleeping humans.’”

These scenarios are supported by the science. “For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” Camilo Mora, a geography professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, told CNN last month. Mora was the lead author of a recent study, published in the journal Nature, showing that deadly heat days are expected to increase across the world. Around 30 percent of the world’population today is exposed to so-called “lethal heat” conditions for at least 20 days a year. If we don’t reduce fossil-fuel emissions, the percentage will skyrocket to 74 percent by the year 2100. Put another way, by the end of the century nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s population will face a high risk of dying from heat exposure for more than three weeks every year.

This is the worst-case scenario. Even the study’s best-case scenario—a drastic reduction in greenhouse gases across the world—shows that 48 percent of humanity will be exposed regularly to deadly heat by the year 2100. That’s because even small increases in temperature can have a devastating impact. A study published in Science Advances in June, for instance, found that an increase of less than one degree Fahrenheit in India between 1960 and 2009 increased the probability of mass heat-related deaths by nearly 150 percent.

And make no mistake: Temperatures are rising, in multiple ways. “We’ve got a new normal,” said Howard Frumkin, a professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. “I think all of the studies of trends to date show that we’re having more extreme heat, and we’ve having higher average temperatures. Superimposed on that, we’re seeing more short-term periods of extreme heat. Those are two different trends, and they’re both moving in the wrong direction.” Based on those trends, the U.S. Global Change Research Program predicts “an increase of thousands to tens of thousands of premature heat-related deaths in the summer … each year as a result of climate change by the end of the century.” And that’s along with the deaths we’ve already seen: In 2015, Scientific American noted that nine out of the ten deadliest heat waves ever have occurred since 2000; together, they’ve killed 128,885 people.

In other words, to understand how global warming wreaks havoc on the human body, we don’t need to be transported to some imagined dystopia. Extreme heat isn’t a doomsday scenario but an existing, deadly phenomenon—and it’s getting worse by the day. The question is whether we’ll act and adapt, thereby saving countless lives.


There are two ways a human body can fail from heat. One is a direct heat stroke. “Your ability to cool yourself down through sweating isn’t infinite,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “At some point, your body begins to heat up just like any other object. You go through a variety of problems. You become dehydrated. Your skin dries out. Your various organs begin to shut down. Your kidneys, your liver, your brain. As gross as this may sound, you in effect, cook.” (So maybe Wallace-Wells wasn’t being hyperbolic after all.)

Heat death can also be happen due to a pre-existing condition, the fatal effects of which were triggered by high temperature. “Heat stress provokes huge amounts of cardiovascular strain,” said Matthew Cramer of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine. “For these people, it’s not necessarily that they’ve cooked, but the strain on their cardiovascular system has led to death.” This is much more common than death by heat stroke, but is harder to quantify since death certificates cite the explicit cause of death—“cardiac arrest,” for instance, rather than “heat-related cardiac arrest.”

In both scenarios, the body’s natural ability to cool itself off through sweating has either reached its capacity or has been compromised through illness, injury, or medication. There are many people who have reduced capacity for sweating, such as those who have suffered severe burns over large parts of their bodies. Cramer, who studies heat impacts on burned people, says 50,000 people suffer severe burn injuries per year in America, and the World Health Organization considers burns “a global public health problem,” with the majority of severe burn cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

Bodies that are battling illness or on medication may also struggle with heat regulation. Diuretics tend to dehydrate people; anticholinergics and antipsychotics reduce sweating and inhibit heat dissipation. An analysis of the 2003 heat wave in France that killed 15,000 people suggested that many of these deaths could have been avoided had people been made aware of the side effects of their drugs. As for illnesses, “Anything that impairs the respiratory or circulatory system will increase risk,” said Mike McGheehin, who spent 33 years as an environmental epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Obesity, diabetes, COPD, heart disease, and renal disease.” Kidney disease, mental illness, and multiple sclerosis. The list goes on and on.


This summer has presented many opportunities for bodies to break down from heat. Temperature records, some more than a century old, have been broken across California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Arizona. (Speaking of Arizona, it’s been so hot there that planes can’t fly.) And it’s not just America. Last month, Iran nearly set the world record for highest temperature ever recorded. The May heatwave that hit India and Pakistan set new world records as well, including what the New York Times called “potentially the hottest temperature ever recorded in Asia”: 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Worldwide, 2017 is widely expected to be the second-hottest year, after 2016, since we began keeping global average temperature records in 1880.

A Pakistani resident helps a heatstroke victim at a market area during a heatwave in Karachi on June 23, 2015.RIZWAN TABASSUM / Getty Images

These trends have public health professionals concerned about how people are going to deal with the heat when it comes their way. “Clearly this is one of the most important problems we’re going to see from a public health perspective,” Benjamin said. “This is not a tomorrow problem. It’s a significant public health problem that we need to address today.”

It’s a public health problem especially in cities, says Brian Stone, a professor at Georgia Tech’s City and Regional Planning Program. “Our fundamental work shows that larger cities are warming at twice the rate of the planet,” he said, describing a phenomenon known as urban heat islands, where built-up areas tend to be hotter than surrounding rural areas, mainly because plants have been replaced by heat-absorbing concrete. Global warming is making that phenomenon worse. “We’re really worried about the rate of how quickly we’re starting to see cities heat up,” Stone said.

Due to their density, darkness, and bustling activity, cities have always experienced warming more intensely than rural areas.urbanclimate.gatech.edu

According to Stone’s analysis, the most rapidly warming city is Louisville, Kentucky, followed by Phoenix, Arizona, and Atlanta, Georgia. But he’s less concerned about cities like Phoenix, which already have infrastructure to deal with brutally high temperatures, than he is about Chicago, Buffalo, and other cities in the northern United States that have really never had to deal with extreme heat. That is precisely why the Chicago heat wave of 1995 that killed 759 people was so deadly. According to the Chicago Tribune, the city was “caught off guard,” and had “a power grid that couldn’t meet demand and a lack of awareness on the perils of brutal heat.”

In other words, Stone and others say, excessive death rates are not always due to just extreme temperatures, but unusual temperatures. People are more likely to die when they are confronted with temperatures they don’t expect and thus aren’t prepared for. That’s why officials in cities not experiencing heat-related extremes need to improve emergency response systems, now. “Those people have got to start thinking in term of, ‘two years ago we had four hot days, the year after we had eight hot days,’” Benjamin said. “Public health systems should be put in place to respond to prolonged heat waves. Emergency cooling centers where people can go should be built. Identify where the people who are most socially isolated live.” Absent preventative action, heat-related deaths in New York City could quintuple by the year 2080, according to recent research.

Some cities have already started to prepare. Stone recently completed a heat adaptation study for Louisville that includes not only emergency management planning but also ways the city can prevent itself from getting so hot (by improving energy efficiency and installing green roofs, for instance). But as for now, he said, it’s rare to see a city actually adopt policies supportive of heat management. “We do see flooding adaptation plans—New York City has one, and New Orleans has one—but heat adaptation planning is a very new idea, in the U.S. and really around the world,” he said. “It takes a lot to convince a mayor that a city can actually cool itself down. It’s not intuitive.”


The good news is that humans adapt to heat, both physiologically (through acclimatization) and socially (with air conditioning, for instance). That will continue, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which states with very high confidence that adaptation efforts in humans “will reduce the projected increase in deaths from heat.”

But there’s a limit to this. “There’s no way to adapt to heat that’s more than a certain amount,” Frumkin said. “And socially, there’s always going to be people we miss, who don’t have access to air conditioning.” McGeehin noted those people will likely be poor, elderly, and minority populations. “It’s a quintessential public health problem in that it impacts the most disenfranchised of our society. Young, healthy, middle-class people will largely be left alone,” he said.

Air conditioners also have limits, especially in cities where blackouts can occur. “It is inevitable,” Stone said, that large cities will see blackouts during future heat waves. “The number of blackouts we see year over year is increasing dramatically,” he said. “Whether that’s caused by the heatwave or just happens during the heatwave doesn’t really matter…. The likelihood of an extensive blackout during a heatwave is high, and getting higher as we add more devices and stressors to the grid.”

It’s a “cruel irony,” Frumkin said, that as the world gets hotter, we need more air conditioning, and thus consume more electricity. And if that electricity comes from fossil fuel sources, it will create more global warming, which in turn will increase the demand for air conditioning. The answer, he said, is to “decarbonize the electric grid.” But that’s easier said than done, especially when the Trump administration is devoted to increasing the use of fossil fuels to support the country’s electrical grid.

As with many other efforts to fight climate change, though, cities don’t need Washington’s help to take action on heat adaptation. “Cities can manage their own heat islands on their own, and that’s where we most need to be focused,” Stone said. But that will require convincing elected leaders that extreme heat is big a threat as, say, rising seas—and one that can’t be addressed with something as obvious as a sea wall. That’s the challenge, says McGeehin: “Heat as a major natural disaster is mostly overlooked in this country.” It’s a quiet killer, and perhaps more lethal because of it.

Correction: Howard Frumkin is no longer the dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. He’s a professor.

 

 

“Burnin An A Lootin”: 2017 Is 2nd Hottest Year On Record

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2017 at 9:54 am
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How temperatures around the world differed from the 20th century average over the first six months of 2017. Credit: NOAA

Oldspeak:

We gonna be burning and a-looting tonight;
(To survive, yeah!)
Burning and a-looting tonight;
(Save your baby lives)
Burning all pollution tonight;
(Pollution, yeah, yeah!)
Burning all illusion tonight
(Lord-a, Lord-a, Lord-a, Lord!)

-Bob Marley

In fact, years with La Niñas (which tend to cool global temperatures) are today warmer than El Niño years several decades ago. 2017 actually started out with a La Niña.” That sentence tells you all you need to know about Hotbox Earth today. Even with a supposed natural cooling trend earlier this year and “leveling off”  of human greenhouse emissions temperatures continue to shoot up. Amid ominous reports that “greenhouse gases are rapidly changing and warming the atmosphere” and “arctic heat is becoming more common and persistent“, we find this unsurprising reality. Trump can’t trump ecocide I say. Burnin and lootin can’t continue to be the order of the day. We can’t keep obliterating forests, poisoning air, land and sea for our convenience and expect everything to be ok. Our illusory way of being can’t persist much longer. Sooner than we think, we’re gonna  be gonners. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick……”

-OSJ

Written By Andrea Thompson @ Climate Central:

At the halfway point of the year, 2017 remains the second-hottest year to date — a surprise given the demise of the El Niño that helped boost temperatures to record levels last year.The continued near-record warmth is a marker of just how much global temperatures have risen thanks to the greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere from fossil fuel use.

How monthly temperatures differ from the 1951-1980 average. So far, 2017 ranks behind only 2016 for the temperature for the first six months of the year.
Click image to enlarge. Credit: NASA

“Personally, I wasn’t expecting it to be as warm as it has been,” Ahira Sanchez-Lugo, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientist, said in an email. “After the decline of the strong El Niño I was expecting the values to drop a bit and rank among the top five warmest years. This year has been extremely remarkable.”

The odds are good that 2017 will stay in second place through the end of the year, and it is even more likely that it will remain in at least the top three hottest years.

NOAA released its global temperature data for June on Tuesday, and ranked June as the third warmest in its records. The four-warmest Junes in its records have all happened in the past four years. (NASA, which released its June numbers on Friday, ranked June as the fourth hottest. The two agencies handle the data slightly differently, which can lead to small differences in their rankings, though they strongly agree on recent warming.)

The hotspots around the world for June included central Asia and western and central Europe. A searing heat wave in western Europe that helped fuel deadly wildfires in Portugal was made up to 10 times more likely because of Earth’s rising temperature, according to a recent study done in partnership with Climate Central.

The U.S. Southwest was another stand-out, with a heat wave that pushed temperatures so high they prevented some airplanes from taking off at Phoenix’s airport.

Every month of the year so far, including June, has ranked in the top three hottest for that month. Overall, the first six months of the year were 1.64°F (0.91°C) above the 20th century average of 56.3°F (13.5°C), according to NOAA. They were 0.29°F (0.16°C) behind the same period in 2016, which turned out to be hottest year on record, but ahead of 2015 by 0.09°F (0.05°C).

According to NASA, the first six months were 1.64°F above the 1951-1980 average.

The Paris Climate agreement, which President Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. out of, set a goal of limiting warming to under 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century (and to aim for an even more ambitious 1.5°C (2.7°F)). To make the global temperatures more relevant to that measure, Climate Central re-analyzed the numbers by averaging together NASA and NOAA’s data and comparing them to the average for 1881-1910. June 2017 was 1.81°F (1.01°C) above that average, showing how little wiggle room is left to keep temperatures under that level.

While there were several spots that have seen record-warm years so far — including Mexico, parts of eastern Russia and China and western Europe — the heat is fairly broadly spread around the globe.

How temperatures around the world differed from the 20th century average over the first six months of 2017.
Click image to enlarge. Credit: NOAA

Five of the six continents had a top 10 warmest January-June, with South America hitting the No. 2 spot for that period (tying with 2010 and behind only 2015, according to NOAA.

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said that there was a 57 percent chance that 2017 would remain the second-hottest year on record through December, and even higher odds that it will end up in the top three. Sanchez-Lugo said that if the rest of the months of the year rank in the top two, 2017 will clinch the No. 2 spot; if they rank in the top three, it will fall to No. 3.

Wherever its final rank ends up, 2017 will almost certainly be hot enough to knock 1998 — the only remaining 20th century year among the top 10 warmest — down another spot, to No. 9 in NOAA’s rankings.

At the time, 1998’s heat was exceptional, and was fueled in part by a major El Niño, which tends to raise global temperatures. But as Earth’s temperature has steadily risen because of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, an El Niño isn’t necessary to reach those heights anymore.

In fact, years with La Niñas (which tend to cool global temperatures) are today warmer than El Niño years several decades ago. 2017 actually started out with a La Niña, albeit a weak one, but it is 0.38°F (0.21°C) ahead of 1998, Sanchez-Lugo, said.

If the streak of very warm years continues, “I wouldn’t be surprised if the next two to three years we would see ’98 drop out of the top 10 warmest years on record,” she said.

The Uninhabitable Earth: What Climate Change Could Wreak — Sooner Than You Think

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2017 at 11:43 am
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Fossils by Heartless Machine: In the jungles of Costa Rica, where humidity routinely tops 90 percent, simply moving around outside when it’s over 105 degrees Fahrenheit would be lethal. And the effect would be fast: Within a few hours, a human body would be cooked to death from both inside and out.

Oldspeak: Amid recent news that hopes of mild climate change being dashed by new research, and a gargantuan 6,000 sq kilometer, one TRILLION ton iceberg has broken away from Antarctica’s Larson C ice shelf, we have a pretty no holds barred portrait of the uninhabitable place the planet is heading to, based on the observations and research of dozens of climatologists and researchers in related fields, that starts off with the words “It is, I promise, worse than you think.” With section titles like “Doomsday”, “Heat Death”, “The End Of Food”, “Poisoned Oceans”, and “Unbreathable Air”, you may want to sit down for this one. It’s sprinkled with the requisite Hopium; the author says absurd things like “It is unlikely that all of these warming scenarios will be fully realized, largely because the devastation along the way will shake our complacency.”, “Nevertheless, by and large, the scientists have an enormous confidence in the ingenuity of humans.” and “when we do truly see the world we’ve made,…. we will also find a way to make it livable”. Nonsense. Unfortunately for us, it feels like complacency, convenience, unlimited growth and “market-based solutions” are still the order of the day. And our “ingenuity” is precisely what got us into this intractable predicament.  There isn’t any way to make this place livable again on human time scales. Planetary-wide, regime shifting processes have been set in motion that cannot be reversed. This extinction train is rolling and the breaks don’t work. At some point we’ll have to accept that what is has progressed beyond human control. It’s out of our hands now.” -OSJ

Related Stories:

Did that New York magazine climate story freak you out? Good.

Alarmism Is the Argument We Need to Fight Climate Change

 

Written By David Wallace-Wells @ New York Magazine:

I. ‘Doomsday’

Peering beyond scientific reticence.

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

Even when we train our eyes on climate change, we are unable to comprehend its scope. This past winter, a string of days 60 and 70 degrees warmer than normal baked the North Pole, melting the permafrost that encased Norway’s Svalbard seed vault — a global food bank nicknamed “Doomsday,” designed to ensure that our agriculture survives any catastrophe, and which appeared to have been flooded by climate change less than ten years after being built.

The Doomsday vault is fine, for now: The structure has been secured and the seeds are safe. But treating the episode as a parable of impending flooding missed the more important news. Until recently, permafrost was not a major concern of climate scientists, because, as the name suggests, it was soil that stayed permanently frozen. But Arctic permafrost contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, more than twice as much as is currently suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. When it thaws and is released, that carbon may evaporate as methane, which is 34 times as powerful a greenhouse-gas warming blanket as carbon dioxide when judged on the timescale of a century; when judged on the timescale of two decades, it is 86 times as powerful. In other words, we have, trapped in Arctic permafrost, twice as much carbon as is currently wrecking the atmosphere of the planet, all of it scheduled to be released at a date that keeps getting moved up, partially in the form of a gas that multiplies its warming power 86 times over.

Maybe you know that already — there are alarming stories every day, like last month’s satellite data showing the globe warming, since 1998, more than twice as fast as scientists had thought. Or the news from Antarctica this past May, when a crack in an ice shelf grew 11 miles in six days, then kept going; the break now has just three miles to go — by the time you read this, it may already have met the open water, where it will drop into the sea one of the biggest icebergs ever, a process known poetically as “calving.”

But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough. Over the past decades, our culture has gone apocalyptic with zombie movies and Mad Max dystopias, perhaps the collective result of displaced climate anxiety, and yet when it comes to contemplating real-world warming dangers, we suffer from an incredible failure of imagination. The reasons for that are many: the timid language of scientific probabilities, which the climatologist James Hansen once called “scientific reticence” in a paper chastising scientists for editing their own observations so conscientiously that they failed to communicate how dire the threat really was; the fact that the country is dominated by a group of technocrats who believe any problem can be solved and an opposing culture that doesn’t even see warming as a problem worth addressing; the way that climate denialism has made scientists even more cautious in offering speculative warnings; the simple speed of change and, also, its slowness, such that we are only seeing effects now of warming from decades past; our uncertainty about uncertainty, which the climate writer Naomi Oreskes in particular has suggested stops us from preparing as though anything worse than a median outcome were even possible; the way we assume climate change will hit hardest elsewhere, not everywhere; the smallness (two degrees) and largeness (1.8 trillion tons) and abstractness (400 parts per million) of the numbers; the discomfort of considering a problem that is very difficult, if not impossible, to solve; the altogether incomprehensible scale of that problem, which amounts to the prospect of our own annihilation; simple fear. But aversion arising from fear is a form of denial, too.

In between scientific reticence and science fiction is science itself. This article is the result of dozens of interviews and exchanges with climatologists and researchers in related fields and reflects hundreds of scientific papers on the subject of climate change. What follows is not a series of predictions of what will happen — that will be determined in large part by the much-less-certain science of human response. Instead, it is a portrait of our best understanding of where the planet is heading absent aggressive action. It is unlikely that all of these warming scenarios will be fully realized, largely because the devastation along the way will shake our complacency. But those scenarios, and not the present climate, are the baseline. In fact, they are our schedule.

The present tense of climate change — the destruction we’ve already baked into our future — is horrifying enough. Most people talk as if Miami and Bangladesh still have a chance of surviving; most of the scientists I spoke with assume we’ll lose them within the century, even if we stop burning fossil fuel in the next decade. Two degrees of warming used to be considered the threshold of catastrophe: tens of millions of climate refugees unleashed upon an unprepared world. Now two degrees is our goal, per the Paris climate accords, and experts give us only slim odds of hitting it. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues serial reports, often called the “gold standard” of climate research; the most recent one projects us to hit four degrees of warming by the beginning of the next century, should we stay the present course. But that’s just a median projection. The upper end of the probability curve runs as high as eight degrees — and the authors still haven’t figured out how to deal with that permafrost melt. The IPCC reports also don’t fully account for the albedo effect (less ice means less reflected and more absorbed sunlight, hence more warming); more cloud cover (which traps heat); or the dieback of forests and other flora (which extract carbon from the atmosphere). Each of these promises to accelerate warming, and the geological record shows that temperature can shift as much as ten degrees or more in a single decade. The last time the planet was even four degrees warmer, Peter Brannen points out in The Ends of the World, his new history of the planet’s major extinction events, the oceans were hundreds of feet higher.*

The Earth has experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now, each so complete a slate-wiping of the evolutionary record it functioned as a resetting of the planetary clock, and many climate scientists will tell you they are the best analog for the ecological future we are diving headlong into. Unless you are a teenager, you probably read in your high-school textbooks that these extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs were caused by climate change produced by greenhouse gas. The most notorious was 252 million years ago; it began when carbon warmed the planet by five degrees, accelerated when that warming triggered the release of methane in the Arctic, and ended with 97 percent of all life on Earth dead. We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere at a considerably faster rate; by most estimates, at least ten times faster. The rate is accelerating. This is what Stephen Hawking had in mind when he said, this spring, that the species needs to colonize other planets in the next century to survive, and what drove Elon Musk, last month, to unveil his plans to build a Mars habitat in 40 to 100 years. These are nonspecialists, of course, and probably as inclined to irrational panic as you or I. But the many sober-minded scientists I interviewed over the past several months — the most credentialed and tenured in the field, few of them inclined to alarmism and many advisers to the IPCC who nevertheless criticize its conservatism — have quietly reached an apocalyptic conclusion, too: No plausible program of emissions reductions alone can prevent climate disaster.

Over the past few decades, the term “Anthropocene” has climbed out of academic discourse and into the popular imagination — a name given to the geologic era we live in now, and a way to signal that it is a new era, defined on the wall chart of deep history by human intervention. One problem with the term is that it implies a conquest of nature (and even echoes the biblical “dominion”). And however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have already ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us. That is what Wallace Smith Broecker, the avuncular oceanographer who coined the term “global warming,” means when he calls the planet an “angry beast.” You could also go with “war machine.” Each day we arm it more.

II. Heat Death

The bahraining of New York.

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In the sugar­cane region of El Salvador, as much as one-fifth of the population has chronic kidney disease, the presumed result of dehydration from working the fields they were able to comfortably harvest as recently as two decades ago. Photo: Heartless Machine

Humans, like all mammals, are heat engines; surviving means having to continually cool off, like panting dogs. For that, the temperature needs to be low enough for the air to act as a kind of refrigerant, drawing heat off the skin so the engine can keep pumping. At seven degrees of warming, that would become impossible for large portions of the planet’s equatorial band, and especially the tropics, where humidity adds to the problem; in the jungles of Costa Rica, for instance, where humidity routinely tops 90 percent, simply moving around outside when it’s over 105 degrees Fahrenheit would be lethal. And the effect would be fast: Within a few hours, a human body would be cooked to death from both inside and out.

Climate-change skeptics point out that the planet has warmed and cooled many times before, but the climate window that has allowed for human life is very narrow, even by the standards of planetary history. At 11 or 12 degrees of warming, more than half the world’s population, as distributed today, would die of direct heat. Things almost certainly won’t get that hot this century, though models of unabated emissions do bring us that far eventually. This century, and especially in the tropics, the pain points will pinch much more quickly even than an increase of seven degrees. The key factor is something called wet-bulb temperature, which is a term of measurement as home-laboratory-kit as it sounds: the heat registered on a thermometer wrapped in a damp sock as it’s swung around in the air (since the moisture evaporates from a sock more quickly in dry air, this single number reflects both heat and humidity). At present, most regions reach a wet-bulb maximum of 26 or 27 degrees Celsius; the true red line for habitability is 35 degrees. What is called heat stress comes much sooner.

Actually, we’re about there already. Since 1980, the planet has experienced a 50-fold increase in the number of places experiencing dangerous or extreme heat; a bigger increase is to come. The five warmest summers in Europe since 1500 have all occurred since 2002, and soon, the IPCC warns, simply being outdoors that time of year will be unhealthy for much of the globe. Even if we meet the Paris goals of two degrees warming, cities like Karachi and Kolkata will become close to uninhabitable, annually encountering deadly heat waves like those that crippled them in 2015. At four degrees, the deadly European heat wave of 2003, which killed as many as 2,000 people a day, will be a normal summer. At six, according to an assessment focused only on effects within the U.S. from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, summer labor of any kind would become impossible in the lower Mississippi Valley, and everybody in the country east of the Rockies would be under more heat stress than anyone, anywhere, in the world today. As Joseph Romm has put it in his authoritative primer Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know, heat stress in New York City would exceed that of present-day Bahrain, one of the planet’s hottest spots, and the temperature in Bahrain “would induce hyperthermia in even sleeping humans.” The high-end IPCC estimate, remember, is two degrees warmer still. By the end of the century, the World Bank has estimated, the coolest months in tropical South America, Africa, and the Pacific are likely to be warmer than the warmest months at the end of the 20th century. Air-conditioning can help but will ultimately only add to the carbon problem; plus, the climate-controlled malls of the Arab emirates aside, it is not remotely plausible to wholesale air-condition all the hottest parts of the world, many of them also the poorest. And indeed, the crisis will be most dramatic across the Middle East and Persian Gulf, where in 2015 the heat index registered temperatures as high as 163 degrees Fahrenheit. As soon as several decades from now, the hajj will become physically impossible for the 2 million Muslims who make the pilgrimage each year.

It is not just the hajj, and it is not just Mecca; heat is already killing us. In the sugarcane region of El Salvador, as much as one-fifth of the population has chronic kidney disease, including over a quarter of the men, the presumed result of dehydration from working the fields they were able to comfortably harvest as recently as two decades ago. With dialysis, which is expensive, those with kidney failure can expect to live five years; without it, life expectancy is in the weeks. Of course, heat stress promises to pummel us in places other than our kidneys, too. As I type that sentence, in the California desert in mid-June, it is 121 degrees outside my door. It is not a record high.

III. The End of Food

Praying for cornfields in the tundra.

Climates differ and plants vary, but the basic rule for staple cereal crops grown at optimal temperature is that for every degree of warming, yields decline by 10 percent. Some estimates run as high as 15 or even 17 percent. Which means that if the planet is five degrees warmer at the end of the century, we may have as many as 50 percent more people to feed and 50 percent less grain to give them. And proteins are worse: It takes 16 calories of grain to produce just a single calorie of hamburger meat, butchered from a cow that spent its life polluting the climate with methane farts.

Pollyannaish plant physiologists will point out that the cereal-crop math applies only to those regions already at peak growing temperature, and they are right theoretically, a warmer climate will make it easier to grow corn in Greenland. But as the pathbreaking work by Rosamond Naylor and David Battisti has shown, the tropics are already too hot to efficiently grow grain, and those places where grain is produced today are already at optimal growing temperature — which means even a small warming will push them down the slope of declining productivity. And you can’t easily move croplands north a few hundred miles, because yields in places like remote Canada and Russia are limited by the quality of soil there; it takes many centuries for the planet to produce optimally fertile dirt.

Drought might be an even bigger problem than heat, with some of the world’s most arable land turning quickly to desert. Precipitation is notoriously hard to model, yet predictions for later this century are basically unanimous: unprecedented droughts nearly everywhere food is today produced. By 2080, without dramatic reductions in emissions, southern Europe will be in permanent extreme drought, much worse than the American dust bowl ever was. The same will be true in Iraq and Syria and much of the rest of the Middle East; some of the most densely populated parts of Australia, Africa, and South America; and the breadbasket regions of China. None of these places, which today supply much of the world’s food, will be reliable sources of any. As for the original dust bowl: The droughts in the American plains and Southwest would not just be worse than in the 1930s, a 2015 NASA study predicted, but worse than any droughts in a thousand years — and that includes those that struck between 1100 and 1300, which “dried up all the rivers East of the Sierra Nevada mountains” and may have been responsible for the death of the Anasazi civilization.

Remember, we do not live in a world without hunger as it is. Far from it: Most estimates put the number of undernourished at 800 million globally. In case you haven’t heard, this spring has already brought an unprecedented quadruple famine to Africa and the Middle East; the U.N. has warned that separate starvation events in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen could kill 20 million this year alone.

IV. Climate Plagues

What happens when the bubonic ice melts?

Rock, in the right spot, is a record of planetary history, eras as long as millions of years flattened by the forces of geological time into strata with amplitudes of just inches, or just an inch, or even less. Ice works that way, too, as a climate ledger, but it is also frozen history, some of which can be reanimated when unfrozen. There are now, trapped in Arctic ice, diseases that have not circulated in the air for millions of years — in some cases, since before humans were around to encounter them. Which means our immune systems would have no idea how to fight back when those prehistoric plagues emerge from the ice.

The Arctic also stores terrifying bugs from more recent times. In Alaska, already, researchers have discovered remnants of the 1918 flu that infected as many as 500 million and killed as many as 100 million — about 5 percent of the world’s population and almost six times as many as had died in the world war for which the pandemic served as a kind of gruesome capstone. As the BBC reported in May, scientists suspect smallpox and the bubonic plague are trapped in Siberian ice, too — an abridged history of devastating human sickness, left out like egg salad in the Arctic sun.

Experts caution that many of these organisms won’t actually survive the thaw and point to the fastidious lab conditions under which they have already reanimated several of them — the 32,000-year-old “extremophile” bacteria revived in 2005, an 8 million-year-old bug brought back to life in 2007, the 3.5 million–year–old one a Russian scientist self-injected just out of curiosity — to suggest that those are necessary conditions for the return of such ancient plagues. But already last year, a boy was killed and 20 others infected by anthrax released when retreating permafrost exposed the frozen carcass of a reindeer killed by the bacteria at least 75 years earlier; 2,000 present-day reindeer were infected, too, carrying and spreading the disease beyond the tundra.

What concerns epidemiologists more than ancient diseases are existing scourges relocated, rewired, or even re-evolved by warming. The first effect is geographical. Before the early-modern period, when adventuring sailboats accelerated the mixing of peoples and their bugs, human provinciality was a guard against pandemic. Today, even with globalization and the enormous intermingling of human populations, our ecosystems are mostly stable, and this functions as another limit, but global warming will scramble those ecosystems and help disease trespass those limits as surely as Cortés did. You don’t worry much about dengue or malaria if you are living in Maine or France. But as the tropics creep northward and mosquitoes migrate with them, you will. You didn’t much worry about Zika a couple of years ago, either.

As it happens, Zika may also be a good model of the second worrying effect — disease mutation. One reason you hadn’t heard about Zika until recently is that it had been trapped in Uganda; another is that it did not, until recently, appear to cause birth defects. Scientists still don’t entirely understand what happened, or what they missed. But there are things we do know for sure about how climate affects some diseases: Malaria, for instance, thrives in hotter regions not just because the mosquitoes that carry it do, too, but because for every degree increase in temperature, the parasite reproduces ten times faster. Which is one reason that the World Bank estimates that by 2050, 5.2 billion people will be reckoning with it.

V. Unbreathable Air

A rolling death smog that suffocates millions.

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By the end of the century, the coolest months in tropical South America, Africa, and the Pacific are likely to be warmer than the warmest months at the end of the 20th century. Photo: Heartless Machine

Our lungs need oxygen, but that is only a fraction of what we breathe. The fraction of carbon dioxide is growing: It just crossed 400 parts per million, and high-end estimates extrapolating from current trends suggest it will hit 1,000 ppm by 2100. At that concentration, compared to the air we breathe now, human cognitive ability declines by 21 percent.

Other stuff in the hotter air is even scarier, with small increases in pollution capable of shortening life spans by ten years. The warmer the planet gets, the more ozone forms, and by mid-century, Americans will likely suffer a 70 percent increase in unhealthy ozone smog, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has projected. By 2090, as many as 2 billion people globally will be breathing air above the WHO “safe” level; one paper last month showed that, among other effects, a pregnant mother’s exposure to ozone raises the child’s risk of autism (as much as tenfold, combined with other environmental factors). Which does make you think again about the autism epidemic in West Hollywood.

Already, more than 10,000 people die each day from the small particles emitted from fossil-fuel burning; each year, 339,000 people die from wildfire smoke, in part because climate change has extended forest-fire season (in the U.S., it’s increased by 78 days since 1970). By 2050, according to the U.S. Forest Service, wildfires will be twice as destructive as they are today; in some places, the area burned could grow fivefold. What worries people even more is the effect that would have on emissions, especially when the fires ravage forests arising out of peat. Peatland fires in Indonesia in 1997, for instance, added to the global CO2 release by up to 40 percent, and more burning only means more warming only means more burning. There is also the terrifying possibility that rain forests like the Amazon, which in 2010 suffered its second “hundred-year drought” in the space of five years, could dry out enough to become vulnerable to these kinds of devastating, rolling forest fires — which would not only expel enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere but also shrink the size of the forest. That is especially bad because the Amazon alone provides 20 percent of our oxygen.

Then there are the more familiar forms of pollution. In 2013, melting Arctic ice remodeled Asian weather patterns, depriving industrial China of the natural ventilation systems it had come to depend on, which blanketed much of the country’s north in an unbreathable smog. Literally unbreathable. A metric called the Air Quality Index categorizes the risks and tops out at the 301-to-500 range, warning of “serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly” and, for all others, “serious risk of respiratory effects”; at that level, “everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion.” The Chinese “airpocalypse” of 2013 peaked at what would have been an Air Quality Index of over 800. That year, smog was responsible for a third of all deaths in the country.

VI. Perpetual War

The violence baked into heat.

Climatologists are very careful when talking about Syria. They want you to know that while climate change did produce a drought that contributed to civil war, it is not exactly fair to saythat the conflict is the result of warming; next door, for instance, Lebanon suffered the same crop failures. But researchers like Marshall Burke and Solomon Hsiang have managed to quantify some of the non-obvious relationships between temperature and violence: For every half-degree of warming, they say, societies will see between a 10 and 20 percent increase in the likelihood of armed conflict. In climate science, nothing is simple, but the arithmetic is harrowing: A planet five degrees warmer would have at least half again as many wars as we do today. Overall, social conflict could more than double this century.

This is one reason that, as nearly every climate scientist I spoke to pointed out, the U.S. military is obsessed with climate change: The drowning of all American Navy bases by sea-level rise is trouble enough, but being the world’s policeman is quite a bit harder when the crime rate doubles. Of course, it’s not just Syria where climate has contributed to conflict. Some speculate that the elevated level of strife across the Middle East over the past generation reflects the pressures of global warming — a hypothesis all the more cruel considering that warming began accelerating when the industrialized world extracted and then burned the region’s oil.

What accounts for the relationship between climate and conflict? Some of it comes down to agriculture and economics; a lot has to do with forced migration, already at a record high, with at least 65 million displaced people wandering the planet right now. But there is also the simple fact of individual irritability. Heat increases municipal crime rates, and swearing on social media, and the likelihood that a major-league pitcher, coming to the mound after his teammate has been hit by a pitch, will hit an opposing batter in retaliation. And the arrival of air-conditioning in the developed world, in the middle of the past century, did little to solve the problem of the summer crime wave.

VII. Permanent Economic Collapse

Dismal capitalism in a half-poorer world.

The murmuring mantra of global neoliberalism, which prevailed between the end of the Cold War and the onset of the Great Recession, is that economic growth would save us from anything and everything.
But in the aftermath of the 2008 crash, a growing number of historians studying what they call “fossil capitalism” have begun to suggest that the entire history of swift economic growth, which began somewhat suddenly in the 18th century, is not the result of innovation or trade or the dynamics of global capitalism but simply our discovery of fossil fuels and all their raw power — a onetime injection of new “value” into a system that had previously been characterized by global subsistence living. Before fossil fuels, nobody lived better than their parents or grandparents or ancestors from 500 years before, except in the immediate aftermath of a great plague like the Black Death, which allowed the lucky survivors to gobble up the resources liberated by mass graves. After we’ve burned all the fossil fuels, these scholars suggest, perhaps we will return to a “steady state” global economy. Of course, that onetime injection has a devastating long-term cost: climate change.

The most exciting research on the economics of warming has also come from Hsiang and his colleagues, who are not historians of fossil capitalism but who offer some very bleak analysis of their own: Every degree Celsius of warming costs, on average, 1.2 percent of GDP (an enormous number, considering we count growth in the low single digits as “strong”). This is the sterling work in the field, and their median projection is for a 23 percent loss in per capita earning globally by the end of this century (resulting from changes in agriculture, crime, storms, energy, mortality, and labor).
Tracing the shape of the probability curve is even scarier: There is a 12 percent chance that climate change will reduce global output by more than 50 percent by 2100, they say, and a 51 percent chance that it lowers per capita GDP by 20 percent or more by then, unless emissions decline. By comparison, the Great Recession lowered global GDP by about 6 percent, in a onetime shock; Hsiang and his colleagues estimate a one-in-eight chance of an ongoing and irreversible effect by the end of the century that is eight times worse.

The scale of that economic devastation is hard to comprehend, but you can start by imagining what the world would look like today with an economy half as big, which would produce only half as much value, generating only half as much to offer the workers of the world. It makes the grounding of flights out of heat-stricken Phoenix last month seem like pathetically small economic potatoes. And, among other things, it makes the idea of postponing government action on reducing emissions and relying solely on growth and technology to solve the problem an absurd business calculation.
Every round-trip ticket on flights from New York to London, keep in mind, costs the Arctic three more square meters of ice.

VIII. Poisoned Oceans

Sulfide burps off the skeleton coast.

That the sea will become a killer is a given. Barring a radical reduction of emissions, we will see at least four feet of sea-level rise and possibly ten by the end of the century. A third of the world’s major cities are on the coast, not to mention its power plants, ports, navy bases, farmlands, fisheries, river deltas, marshlands, and rice-paddy empires, and even those above ten feet will flood much more easily, and much more regularly, if the water gets that high. At least 600 million people live within ten meters of sea level today.

But the drowning of those homelands is just the start. At present, more than a third of the world’s carbon is sucked up by the oceans — thank God, or else we’d have that much more warming already. But the result is what’s called “ocean acidification,” which, on its own, may add a half a degree to warming this century. It is also already burning through the planet’s water basins — you may remember these as the place where life arose in the first place. You have probably heard of “coral bleaching” — that is, coral dying — which is very bad news, because reefs support as much as a quarter of all marine life and supply food for half a billion people. Ocean acidification will fry fish populations directly, too, though scientists aren’t yet sure how to predict the effects on the stuff we haul out of the ocean to eat; they do know that in acid waters, oysters and mussels will struggle to grow their shells, and that when the pH of human blood drops as much as the oceans’ pH has over the past generation, it induces seizures, comas, and sudden death.

That isn’t all that ocean acidification can do. Carbon absorption can initiate a feedback loop in which underoxygenated waters breed different kinds of microbes that turn the water still more “anoxic,” first in deep ocean “dead zones,” then gradually up toward the surface. There, the small fish die out, unable to breathe, which means oxygen-eating bacteria thrive, and the feedback loop doubles back. This process, in which dead zones grow like cancers, choking off marine life and wiping out fisheries, is already quite advanced in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and just off Namibia, where hydrogen sulfide is bubbling out of the sea along a thousand-mile stretch of land known as the “Skeleton Coast.” The name originally referred to the detritus of the whaling industry, but today it’s more apt than ever. Hydrogen sulfide is so toxic that evolution has trained us to recognize the tiniest, safest traces of it, which is why our noses are so exquisitely skilled at registering flatulence. Hydrogen sulfide is also the thing that finally did us in that time 97 percent of all life on Earth died, once all the feedback loops had been triggered and the circulating jet streams of a warmed ocean ground to a halt — it’s the planet’s preferred gas for a natural holocaust. Gradually, the ocean’s dead zones spread, killing off marine species that had dominated the oceans for hundreds of millions of years, and the gas the inert waters gave off into the atmosphere poisoned everything on land. Plants, too. It was millions of years before the oceans recovered.

IX. The Great Filter

Our present eeriness cannot last.

So why can’t we see it? In his recent book-length essay The Great Derangement, the Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh wonders why global warming and natural disaster haven’t become major subjects of contemporary fiction — why we don’t seem able to imagine climate catastrophe, and why we haven’t yet had a spate of novels in the genre he basically imagines into half-existence and names “the environmental uncanny.” “Consider, for example, the stories that congeal around questions like, ‘Where were you when the Berlin Wall fell?’ or ‘Where were you on 9/11?’ ” he writes. “Will it ever be possible to ask, in the same vein, ‘Where were you at 400 ppm?’ or ‘Where were you when the Larsen B ice shelf broke up?’ ” His answer: Probably not, because the dilemmas and dramas of climate change are simply incompatible with the kinds of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, especially in novels, which tend to emphasize the journey of an individual conscience rather than the poisonous miasma of social fate.

Surely this blindness will not last — the world we are about to inhabit will not permit it. In a six-degree-warmer world, the Earth’s ecosystem will boil with so many natural disasters that we will just start calling them “weather”: a constant swarm of out-of-control typhoons and tornadoes and floods and droughts, the planet assaulted regularly with climate events that not so long ago destroyed whole civilizations. The strongest hurricanes will come more often, and we’ll have to invent new categories with which to describe them; tornadoes will grow longer and wider and strike much more frequently, and hail rocks will quadruple in size. Humans used to watch the weather to prophesy the future; going forward, we will see in its wrath the vengeance of the past. Early naturalists talked often about “deep time” — the perception they had, contemplating the grandeur of this valley or that rock basin, of the profound slowness of nature. What lies in store for us is more like what the Victorian anthropologists identified as “dreamtime,” or “everywhen”: the semi-mythical experience, described by Aboriginal Australians, of encountering, in the present moment, an out-of-time past, when ancestors, heroes, and demigods crowded an epic stage. You can find it already watching footage of an iceberg collapsing into the sea — a feeling of history happening all at once.

It is. Many people perceive climate change as a sort of moral and economic debt, accumulated since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and now come due after several centuries — a helpful perspective, in a way, since it is the carbon-burning processes that began in 18th-century England that lit the fuse of everything that followed. But more than half of the carbon humanity has exhaled into the atmosphere in its entire history has been emitted in just the past three decades; since the end of World War II, the figure is 85 percent. Which means that, in the length of a single generation, global warming has brought us to the brink of planetary catastrophe, and that the story of the industrial world’s kamikaze mission is also the story of a single lifetime. My father’s, for instance: born in 1938, among his first memories the news of Pearl Harbor and the mythic Air Force of the propaganda films that followed, films that doubled as advertisements for imperial-American industrial might; and among his last memories the coverage of the desperate signing of the Paris climate accords on cable news, ten weeks before he died of lung cancer last July. Or my mother’s: born in 1945, to German Jews fleeing the smokestacks through which their relatives were incinerated, now enjoying her 72nd year in an American commodity paradise, a paradise supported by the supply chains of an industrialized developing world. She has been smoking for 57 of those years, unfiltered.

Or the scientists’. Some of the men who first identified a changing climate (and given the generation, those who became famous were men) are still alive; a few are even still working. Wally Broecker is 84 years old and drives to work at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory across the Hudson every day from the Upper West Side. Like most of those who first raised the alarm, he believes that no amount of emissions reduction alone can meaningfully help avoid disaster. Instead, he puts his faith in carbon capture — untested technology to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which Broecker estimates will cost at least several trillion dollars — and various forms of “geoengineering,” the catchall name for a variety of moon-shot technologies far-fetched enough that many climate scientists prefer to regard them as dreams, or nightmares, from science fiction. He is especially focused on what’s called the aerosol approach — dispersing so much sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere that when it converts to sulfuric acid, it will cloud a fifth of the horizon and reflect back 2 percent of the sun’s rays, buying the planet at least a little wiggle room, heat-wise. “Of course, that would make our sunsets very red, would bleach the sky, would make more acid rain,” he says. “But you have to look at the magnitude of the problem. You got to watch that you don’t say the giant problem shouldn’t be solved because the solution causes some smaller problems.” He won’t be around to see that, he told me. “But in your lifetime …”

Jim Hansen is another member of this godfather generation. Born in 1941, he became a climatologist at the University of Iowa, developed the groundbreaking “Zero Model” for projecting climate change, and later became the head of climate research at NASA, only to leave under pressure when, while still a federal employee, he filed a lawsuit against the federal government charging inaction on warming (along the way he got arrested a few times for protesting, too). The lawsuit, which is brought by a collective called Our Children’s Trust and is often described as “kids versus climate change,” is built on an appeal to the equal-protection clause, namely, that in failing to take action on warming, the government is violating it by imposing massive costs on future generations; it is scheduled to be heard this winter in Oregon district court. Hansen has recently given up on solving the climate problem with a carbon tax alone, which had been his preferred approach, and has set about calculating the total cost of the additional measure of extracting carbon from the atmosphere.

Hansen began his career studying Venus, which was once a very Earth-like planet with plenty of life-supporting water before runaway climate change rapidly transformed it into an arid and uninhabitable sphere enveloped in an unbreathable gas; he switched to studying our planet by 30, wondering why he should be squinting across the solar system to explore rapid environmental change when he could see it all around him on the planet he was standing on. “When we wrote our first paper on this, in 1981,” he told me, “I remember saying to one of my co-authors, ‘This is going to be very interesting. Sometime during our careers, we’re going to see these things beginning to happen.’ ”

Several of the scientists I spoke with proposed global warming as the solution to Fermi’s famous paradox, which asks, If the universe is so big, then why haven’t we encountered any other intelligent life in it? The answer, they suggested, is that the natural life span of a civilization may be only several thousand years, and the life span of an industrial civilization perhaps only several hundred. In a universe that is many billions of years old, with star systems separated as much by time as by space, civilizations might emerge and develop and burn themselves up simply too fast to ever find one another. Peter Ward, a charismatic paleontologist among those responsible for discovering that the planet’s mass extinctions were caused by greenhouse gas, calls this the “Great Filter”: “Civilizations rise, but there’s an environmental filter that causes them to die off again and disappear fairly quickly,” he told me. “If you look at planet Earth, the filtering we’ve had in the past has been in these mass extinctions.” The mass extinction we are now living through has only just begun; so much more dying is coming.

And yet, improbably, Ward is an optimist. So are Broecker and Hansen and many of the other scientists I spoke to. We have not developed much of a religion of meaning around climate change that might comfort us, or give us purpose, in the face of possible annihilation. But climate scientists have a strange kind of faith: We will find a way to forestall radical warming, they say, because we must.

It is not easy to know how much to be reassured by that bleak certainty, and how much to wonder whether it is another form of delusion; for global warming to work as parable, of course, someone needs to survive to tell the story. The scientists know that to even meet the Paris goals, by 2050, carbon emissions from energy and industry, which are still rising, will have to fall by half each decade; emissions from land use (deforestation, cow farts, etc.) will have to zero out; and we will need to have invented technologies to extract, annually, twice as much carbon from the atmosphere as the entire planet’s plants now do. Nevertheless, by and large, the scientists have an enormous confidence in the ingenuity of humans — a confidence perhaps bolstered by their appreciation for climate change, which is, after all, a human invention, too. They point to the Apollo project, the hole in the ozone we patched in the 1980s, the passing of the fear of mutually assured destruction. Now we’ve found a way to engineer our own doomsday, and surely we will find a way to engineer our way out of it, one way or another. The planet is not used to being provoked like this, and climate systems designed to give feedback over centuries or millennia prevent us — even those who may be watching closely — from fully imagining the damage done already to the planet. But when we do truly see the world we’ve made, they say, we will also find a way to make it livable. For them, the alternative is simply unimaginable.

*This article appears in the July 10, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

*This article has been updated to clarify a reference to Peter Brannen’s The Ends of the World, and to make clear that James Hansen still supports a carbon-tax based approach to emissions.

 

Scientist:”Strong degassing is occurring in the Arctic. But what we have just seen is a drop in the ocean of this global degassing of subsoil.”-Warnings Of New Arctic Methane Explosions At Some 700-Plus Sites In Siberian Yamal Peninsula Due To Thawing Permafrost

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2017 at 2:14 pm
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New river funnel that formed on 28 June 2017. Picture: Yamal Region

Oldspeak: “Yeah. The Arctic methane time bomb is still ticking. Except, now, it’s ticking a bit louder, and the probability of the bomb going off is increasing as temperatures rise in Earth’s northern air conditioner. This is a global predicament, methane degassing from subsea impermafrost, but most acute where the largest deposits of methane hydrate on the planet are degassing- the Arctic. At this point seems it’s not a question of if there’s likely to be a 50 gigaton burp of methane gas from the arctic, but when. I’m guessing sooner than later. -OSJ

Related Story

DRAGON WATCH
Part I
Is the warming Arctic incubating a methane monster that could unleash mass extinction on Earth?

 

Written By W. Bruce Lincoln @ Siberian Times:

Startling details have emerged of last week’s methane gas blowout on an Arctic riverbank: a sudden and deafening bang from a large explosion of the ground near a reindeer encampment, fire shooting into the sky and raging for several minutes from the eruption, huge chunks of charred permafrost blown out of the ground, and a deep, eerie crater forming, some 50 metres deep which immediately filled with water.

Reindeer and dogs fled in fright. Sand and grass was blackened by the intense heat of the eruption which was described as ‘a flame of fire and then a rising pillar of smoke’.

Scientists rushed to the scene on the Yamal Peninsula to examine the site in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, amid expert warnings that many can be expected as a warming climate leads to thawing permafrost and the release of potent methane gas which has lain frozen under the surface for thousands of years.

The ground is ‘swelling’ at more than 700 sites on Yamal – known to locals as ‘the end of the world’ –  have been identified as potential explosion sites, but these are seen as the tip of an iceberg.

Many are hillocks or knolls, some are pingos.

new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal
A reindeer herder tells about witnessing formation of a new crater. Pictures: Yamal Region


Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky, Russia’s leading expert on this recently-noticed phenomenon of blowout craters, rushed from his Black Sea vacation to examine the debris.

The explosion and the resulting hole near Seyakha village is the latest of a dozen or so substantial known craters to form in Arctic Russia, mainly on Yamal, since 2014.

Mikhail Okotetto told TV channel Yamal-region of a fellow herder who was close to the eruption.

‘The reindeer fled to the south, but he had newborn calf (in his hands),’ he said. ‘So the reindeer and dogs, all ran away, and he was just left there standing with the newborn calf.’

Two new craters formed on the Yamal peninsula. Video courtesy Aleksandr Sokolov and Yamal Region

new craters Yamal
Previously known funnels, according to Professor Bogoyavlensky: F1 – famous Yamal hole 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo, F2 – recently detected crater 10 kilometres to the south from Bovanenkovo, F3 – crater located 90 kilometres from Antipayuta village, F4 – crater located near Nosok village, north of Krasnoyarsk region, near Taimyr Peninsula. Picture: The Siberian Times


Dr Anton Sinitsky, director of the Arctic Research Centre, Salekhard, admitted to being startled by the force of the eruption.

‘I am still slightly shocked,’ he said.

It was ‘beyond any doubt that there was an explosion because charred sand and charred grass are visible by the funnel’.

He expressed the fear that such funnels ‘can pop up anywhere’ in permafrost Yamal.

new craters Yamal
Dr Anton Sinitsky. Picture: Yamal Region 


Alexander Mazharov, deputy governor of Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region, said: ‘It is very important for us also to know what to do because such an eruption can occur anywhere.

‘It might hit a technical facility, a residential settlement, or a linear object (a pipeline or railway).’

Yamal has the biggest concentration of natural gas fields on the planet, and these can be threatened by exploding ground.

Dr Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Oil and Gas Research Institute, Moscow, sought to use an echo sounder to measure the depth of the submerged crater – but it was too deep.

He resorted to casting a fishing line into the water, and it is close to 50 metres deep.

Strong degassing of the subsoil is occurring in the bloated and thawing tundra, he said.

new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal
Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky interrupted holiday and rushed to check the new crater. Pictures: Yamal Region 


In other places it can seep through the surface, but here the unevenly frozen surface layers can mean pockets of methane collect with  explosive force.

Such explosions can scatter a large tonnage of rocks hundreds of metres away from the blowhole, said one Yamal report.

‘Actually (degassing) is happening in all countries of the world, onshore and offshore,’ said Dr Bogoyavlensky. ‘Strong degassing is occurring in the Arctic.

‘But what we have just seen is a drop in the ocean of this global degassing of subsoil.’

new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal
Warnings of new Arctic explosions at some 700-plus sites in Yamal due to thawing permafrost. Pictures: Yamal Region 


Seismic sensors timed the explosion at 11am  on 28 June some 30 kilometres north west of the remote village of Seyakha.

The site is around 100 km of Russia’s new state-of-the-art Arctic port of Sabetta.

A second new crater – which exploded into being earlier this year – was also located this month by a group of scientists led by Dr Aleksandr Sokolov, deputy head of the ecological research and development station of the Institute of Ecology of Plants and Animals, in Labytnangi, Tyumen region.

A mound of land along edges of the funnel confirms the fact of the explosion, he said.

‘This plot of land was absolutely flat just two years ago,’ he said.

‘A year ago in 2016 it bulged and we could see that soil has cracked there.’

new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal
A second crater that formed earlier in June 2017. Pictures: Aleksandr Sokolov


It is believed the eruption was in the early part of this year.

‘The Nenets native people told us they saw fire in winter 2017, but it might mean January to March or April.

In other words, it exploded when snow was still lying.’

This crater is around 30 km  east of the Yerkut scientific station, and some 230 km north of Salekhard.

New river crater formed on 28 June 2018. Pictures: Yamal Region

new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal


new craters Yamal

Study: Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction Underway. A “biological annihilation that represents a frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation. The situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to use strong language.”

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2017 at 1:20 pm
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Experts say human impact on Earth so profound that Holocene must give way to epoch defined by nuclear tests, plastic pollution and domesticated chicken

Oldspeak: If you do a search for “Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction” on this blog, you’ll know, I’ve been commenting on this for a few years now. Yet another study confirming what’s becoming increasingly obvious in ever more extreme and definitive language. Earth’s 6th and fastest progressing mass extinction is happening, and it’s worse than previously thought. The study in a nutshell found that:

The resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe… All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life…. the ultimate cause of all of these factors is human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption, especially by the rich… The serious warning in our paper needs to be heeded because civilisation depends utterly on the plants, animals, and microorganisms of Earth that supply it with essential ecosystem services ranging from crop pollination and protection to supplying food from the sea and maintaining a livable climate.”

Two years ago, the same scientists said this about their study at the time:

[The study] shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event. There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead.” –Dr. Paul Ehrlich, Bing professor of population studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on…. We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis.” –Dr. Gerardo Ceballos, Universidad Autónoma de México

Also around the same time, another scientist said this:

Climate Change affects are going to be extremely serious, and it’s interesting when you think many people who talk about this in terms of what will happen in the future… our children will see the effects of this… Well, actually we’re seeing very severe impacts from climate change already… We’re already there…Most, if not all, of the five global mass extinctions in Earth’s history carry the fingerprints of the main symptoms of… global warming, ocean acidification and anoxia or lack of oxygen. It is these three factors — ‘the deadly trio’ — which are present in the ocean today. In fact, the [current] situation is unprecedented in the Earth’s history because of the high rate and speed of change.”

Three years ago, this was said:

We live amid a global wave of anthropogenically driven biodiversity loss: species and population extirpations and, critically, declines in local species abundance. Particularly, human impacts on animal biodiversity are an under-recognized form of global environmental change. Among terrestrial vertebrates, 322 species have become extinct since 1500, and populations of the remaining species show 25% average decline in abundance. Invertebrate patterns are equally dire: 67% of monitored populations show 45% mean abundance decline. Such animal declines will cascade onto ecosystem functioning and human well-being. Much remains unknown about this “Anthropocene defaunation”; these knowledge gaps hinder our capacity to predict and limit defaunation impacts. Clearly, however, defaunation is both a pervasive component of the planet’s sixth mass extinction and also a major driver of global ecological change” –Rodolfo Dirzo et Al, “Defaunation In The Anthropocene”

I quote all that to say, at this point, the evidence is pretty clear isn’t it? We are living in the age of the Anthopocene Extinction. We’ve been consistently underestimating the speed and severity of it. Humans are in the process of destabilizing the climate, and we’re already causing global warming at a rate 20 times faster than Earth’s fastest natural climate change. Earth has lost half of all Her wildlife in the past 40 years. 2/3rds of all wildlife are forecast to be gone in 3 years. Rates of change are accelerating. This predicament is not 100 years away. It’s happening now. While our unsustainable addiction to constantly doing, consuming, and reproducing is making matters worse.”

-OSJ

 

Written By Damian Carrington @ The Guardian UK:

A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research.

Scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost. They blame human overpopulation and overconsumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilisation, with just a short window of time in which to act.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, eschews the normally sober tone of scientific papers and calls the massive loss of wildlife a “biological annihilation” that represents a “frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation”.

Prof Gerardo Ceballos, at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, who led the work, said: “The situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to use strong language.”

Previous studies have shown species are becoming extinct at a significantly faster rate than for millions of years before, but even so extinctions remain relatively rare giving the impression of a gradual loss of biodiversity. The new work instead takes a broader view, assessing many common species which are losing populations all over the world as their ranges shrink, but remain present elsewhere.

The scientists found that a third of the thousands of species losing populations are not currently considered endangered and that up to 50% of all individual animals have been lost in recent decades. Detailed data is available for land mammals, and almost half of these have lost 80% of their range in the last century. The scientists found billions of populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians have been lost all over the planet, leading them to say a sixth mass extinction has already progressed further than was thought.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/jul/2017-07-10T16:50:23/embed.html
Billions of animals have been lost as their habitats have become smaller with each passing year.

The scientists conclude: “The resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe.”

They say, while action to halt the decline remains possible, the prospects do not look good: “All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life.”

Wildlife is dying out due to habitat destruction, overhunting, toxic pollution, invasion by alien species and climate change. But the ultimate cause of all of these factors is “human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption, especially by the rich”, say the scientists, who include Prof Paul Ehrlich, at Stanford University in the US, whose 1968 book The Population Bomb is a seminal, if controversial, work.

“The serious warning in our paper needs to be heeded because civilisation depends utterly on the plants, animals, and microorganisms of Earth that supply it with essential ecosystem services ranging from crop pollination and protection to supplying food from the sea and maintaining a livable climate,” Ehrlich told the Guardian. Other ecosystem services include clean air and water.

“The time to act is very short,” he said. “It will, sadly, take a long time to humanely begin the population shrinkage required if civilisation is to long survive, but much could be done on the consumption front and with ‘band aids’ – wildlife reserves, diversity protection laws – in the meantime.” Ceballos said an international institution was needed to fund global wildlife conservation.

The research analysed data on 27,500 species of land vertebrates from the IUCN and found the ranges of a third have shrunk in recent decades. Many of these are common species and Ceballos gave an example from close to home: “We used to have swallows nesting every year in my home near Mexico city – but for the last 10 years there are none.”

The researchers also point to the “emblematic” case of the lion: “The lion was historically distributed over most of Africa, southern Europe, and the Middle East, all the way to northwestern India. [Now] the vast majority of lion populations are gone.”

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2017/07/lions-zip/giv-3902nORdmwJ2yG53
Historically lions lived across Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East, all the way up to Northwestern India. Today their habitat has been reduced to a few tiny pockets of the original area.

Prof Stuart Pimm, at Duke University in the US and not involved in the new work, said the overall conclusion is correct, but he disagrees that a sixth mass extinction is already under way: “It is something that hasn’t happened yet – we are on the edge of it.”

Pimm also said there were important caveats that result from the broad-brush approach used. “Should we be concerned about the loss of species across large areas – absolutely – but this is a fairly crude way of showing that,” he said. “There are parts of the world where there are massive losses, but equally there are parts of the world where there is remarkable progress. It is pretty harsh on countries like South Africa which is doing a good job of protecting lions.”

Robin Freeman, at the Zoological Society of London, UK, said: “While looking at things on aggregate is interesting, the real interesting nitty gritty comes in the details. What are the drivers that cause the declines in particular areas?”

Freeman was part of the team that produced a 2014 analysis of 3000 species that indicated that 50% of individual animals have been lost since 1970, which tallies with the new work but was based on different IUCN data. He agreed strong language is needed: “We need people to be aware of the catastrophic declines we are seeing. I do think there is a place for that within the [new] paper, although it’s a fine line to draw.”

Citing human overpopulation as the root cause of environmental problems has long been controversial, and Ehrlich’s 1968 statement that hundreds of millions of people would die of starvation in the 1970s did not come to pass, partly due to new high-yielding crops that Ehrlich himself had noted as possible.

Ehrlich has acknowledged “flaws” in The Population Bomb but said it had been successful in its central aim – alerting people to global environmental issues and the the role of human population in them. His message remains blunt today: “Show me a scientist who claims there is no population problem and I’ll show you an idiot.”

Earth’s five previous mass extinctions

End-Ordovician, 443 million years ago

A severe ice age led to sea level falling by 100m, wiping out 60-70% of all species which were prominently ocean dwellers at the time. Then soon after the ice melted leaving the oceans starved of oxygen.

Late Devonian, c 360 million years ago

A messy prolonged climate change event, again hitting life in shallow seas very hard, killing 70% of species including almost all corals.

Permian-Triassic, c 250 million years ago

The big one – more than 95% of species perished, including trilobites and giant insects – strongly linked to massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia that caused a savage episode of global warming.

Triassic-Jurassic, c 200 million years ago

Three-quarters of species were lost, again most likely due to another huge outburst of volcanism. It left the Earth clear for dinosaurs to flourish.

Cretaceous-Tertiary, 65 million years ago

An giant asteroid impact on Mexico, just after large volcanic eruptions in what is now India, saw the end of the dinosaurs and ammonites. Mammals, and eventually humans, took advantage.

 

Frederick Douglass: “The Meaning Of July 4th For The Negro”

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2017 at 11:22 am
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In Freedom of Speech, the artist interprets the meaning of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights as it applies to the civil rights of all people. Across the red stripes of the flag are the words of the First Amendment (ratified in 1791) protecting freedom of speech, the right to religious practice, peaceable assembly, and lawful redress of grievances. In opposition to these noble ideals, however, Ringgold writes an array of names and words over the white stripes and stars that reference serious breaches of these freedoms.

Oldspeak: “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.” –Frederick Douglass

“This will be a yearly repost. Enjoy.” -OSJ

“Unvarnished truth from a Bodhisattva of the highest order. America’s “former’ slaves are catching hell in 2017, 164 years after those words were spoken. Gunned down repeatedly by racist police and white supremacist vigilantes, who face little to no punishment for their crimes. Stopped, frisked and harassed needlessly for Driving/Walking/Sitting/Standing/Breathing While Black. Scraping by struggling to survive through generations long, institutionally sanctioned cycles of poverty, miseductation, oppression & structural violence.  Warehoused and used for slave labor in absurdly disproportionate numbers, making up the majority of workers in the supposed “Land of The Free’s” burgeoning and ever expanding world leading for-profit prison-industrial complex; a system of new slavery. We have to ask ourselves, how much has really changed in the U.S. for the Negro? Sure, a whole host of cosmetic changes have been made to laws, they’ve been placed in positions of ceremonial power and entertaining influence. America does a wonderful job of highlighting the few Negros who manage to “succeed” within a system inherently stacked against them. What has remained largely unchanged is the superstructure of this country that was built upon a base of white supremacist patriarchy. As long as that system remains unnamed, undiscussed and unacknowledged, America’s exhortations about liberty, freedom & justice for all will remain as fraudulent and full of hypocrisy as they were in 1852.” -OSJ

Written By Frederick Douglass:

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too. Great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory….

…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America.is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery, the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, “It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, an denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed.” But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Amercans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their mastcrs? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival….

…Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from “the Declaration of Independence,” the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. — Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, “Let there be Light,” has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. ‘Ethiopia, shall, stretch. out her hand unto Ood.” In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o’er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom’s reign,
To man his plundered rights again
Restore.

God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
Each foe.

God speed the hour, the glorious hour,
When none on earth
Shall exercise a lordly power,
Nor in a tyrant’s presence cower;
But to all manhood’s stature tower,
By equal birth!
That hour will come, to each, to all,
And from his Prison-house, to thrall
Go forth.

Until that year, day, hour, arrive,
With head, and heart, and hand I’ll strive,
To break the rod, and rend the gyve,
The spoiler of his prey deprive —
So witness Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate’er the peril or the cost,
Be driven.

Fire In The Sky: Major Correction To Satellite Data Shows 140% Faster Atmospheric Heating Since 1998. Air Temps Rising Faster Than Surface Temps.

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2017 at 11:12 am

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Oldspeak: As Americans conclude our latest 4 day long gleeful and mindless orgiastic festival of  hyperconsumption of food, alcohol & all manner oh so conveniently disposable toxic shit to celebrate the birth of the single most dangerous and destructive nation-state ever conceived by man, We have this mind-boggling news from the Department Of “Faster Than Expected”. Scientists have found that “After correcting for problems caused by the decaying orbit of satellites, as well as other factors, they have produced a new record showing 36% faster warming since 1979 and nearly 140% faster (i.e. 2.4 times larger) warming since 1998.” As is typical in this Age Of Stupid,  fake fireworks garner much more media coverage than real fireworks in the form of ever growing concentrations of greenhouse gasses, and wildfires that can literally be SEEN FROM SPACE, as Earth’s boreal forests burn at unprecedented rates, that are conspiring to draw this wildly uncontrolled human experiment closer to an end. Enjoy your coal-fired cow flesh and nitrate-cicles kids! U S A! U S A! U S A! U S A! -OSJ

Written By Zeke Hausfather @ Carbon Brief:

A new paper published in the Journal of Climate reveals that the lower part of the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed much faster since 1979 than scientists relying on satellite data had previously thought.

Researchers from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), based in California, have released a substantially revised version of their lower tropospheric temperature record.

After correcting for problems caused by the decaying orbit of satellites, as well as other factors, they have produced a new record showing 36% faster warming since 1979 and nearly 140% faster (i.e. 2.4 times larger) warming since 1998. This is in comparison to the previous version 3 of the lower tropospheric temperature (TLT) data published in 2009.

Climate sceptics have long claimed that satellite data shows global warming to be less pronounced than observational data collected on the Earth’s surface. This new correction to the RSS data substantially undermines that argument. The new data actually shows more warming than has been observed on the surface, though still slightly less than projected in most climate models.

Both the old record, version 3 in grey, and new record, version 4 in red, are shown in the figure above, along with the difference between the two, in black. The trends since 1998 for both are shown by dashed lines.

Most of the difference between the old and new record occurs after the year 2000. While the old record showed relatively little warming during the oft-debated post-1998 “hiatus” period, the new record shows warming continuing unabated through to present. Similarly, while the old RSS v3 record showed 2016 only barely edging out 1998 as the warmest year in the satellite record, the new v4 record shows 2016 as exceeding 1998 by a large margin.

The figure above shows a comparison between the new RSS record and the global surface temperature record produced by NASA. RSS v4 shows about 5% more warming than the NASA record since 1979, when satellite observations began.

Challenge of satellite-based temperatures

Satellites have been used to measure the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere since the late 1970s. While the first global temperature records from satellites were assembled in the early 1990s, they have gone through multiple major revisions over the years, as researchers discovered and corrected various issues in the dataset caused by changing satellites, instrument types and flyover times.

A total of 15 different satellites have been used to measure atmospheric temperatures since 1979, with around two satellites actively measuring at any given time. Two different groups, Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) produce global TLT records that are widely used, with RSS originally developing their record in response to issues they identified in the UAH group’s work.

As these satellites circle the Earth, their orbits slowly decay over time due to drag from the upper atmosphere. While the satellites are designed to fly over the same spot on the Earth at the same time every day – a precondition to accurately estimating changes in temperatures over time – this orbital decay causes their flyover time to change. The figure below shows the local time that each different satellite flies over the equator and how they have changed over the lifetime of the satellite.

Some satellites have fairly large orbital drifts, going from measuring temperatures at 2pm to 6pm or 8pm. Since the temperature changes since 1979 are on the order of 0.6C or so, it is relatively easy for bias, due to changing observation times, to swamp the underlying climate signal.

Changes in the new RSS record

The new RSS v4 TLT record makes a number of changes to the time of observation correction, as well as corrections for the change in instruments that measure temperature from microwave sounding units (MSU) to advanced microwave sounding units (AMSU) sensors, which occurred around the year 2000.

To account for changes in observation times, the RSS group used a number of different approaches and models to try and estimate what the temperature would have been if the measurement time remained constant. This involves a combination of satellite observations (when different satellites captured temperatures in both morning and evening), the use of climate models to estimate how temperatures change in the atmosphere over the course of the day, and using reanalysis data that incorporates readings from surface observations, weather balloons and other instruments.

Depending on the time of the observation correction approach chosen, the resulting temperature trends between 1979 and 2016 ranged from as low as 0.13C per decade to as high as 0.22C per decade. The RSS group ultimately decided that the most reasonable set of parameters give a temperature trend of 0.17C.

The RSS group also used the presence of multiple satellites in recent years to test for “odd man out” behaviours, when three or more satellites are available and one differs substantially from the others. They decided not to use NOAA-18 used prior to 2009 because of this. AQUA was also not used after 2009, and NOAA-15 was excluded after 2011. This choice increased the 1979-2016 temperature trend by around 7% compared to leaving in satellites whose readings were identified as anomalous.

Finally, the RSS group found differences between MSU and AMSU sensor readings caused by spurious calibration drift in either NOAA-14 or NOAA-15 satellites. They tested using only MSU data or only AMSU data during the period of overlap, but decided that it was best to combine the two. Using only MSU data during the 1999-2003 overlap period would have resulted in 4% more warming, while using only AMSU data would have resulted in 6% less warming.

In an interview with Carbon Brief, Dr Carl Mears, a co-author of the paper and senior research scientist at RSS, explained the main changes between the v3 and v4 TLT products:

In version 3 we overcorrected for the diurnal cycle in NOAA-15. NOAA-15 starts at 7:30pm and drifts to 4:30pm, so it has artificial warming, and what we took out was too big. Other big differences are removing AQUA and NOAA-15, which appeared to have an evolving bias based on comparisons to other satellites, especially over oceans where we don’t expect diurnal cycle problems to be big.

Comparisons to other satellite records

Large differences remain between groups estimating lower tropospheric temperatures from the same underlying MSU satellite data. If anything, they have diverged more in recent years. RSS shows considerably more warming in the change from version 3 to the new version 4, while UAH shows much less warming in their version 6 released last year than the prior version 5.

These divergences suggest that there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding satellite temperature records that needs to be resolved, as the range of reasonable assumptions for corrections can lead to large differences in results.

While the new RSS v4 record shows about 5% more warming than surface records since 1979, this behavior would to some extent be expected. Climate models on average project around 18% amplification over the 1979-2016 period, though this value ranges from as low as 6% to as high as 40% in individual climate models. Even with these new corrections, there is evidence that the rate of warming of the troposphere is a bit lower than expected by climate models in recent years.

Surface temperature records, on the other hand, all tend to agree quite closely with each other, despite different groups using different datasets. Unlike the satellite temperature record, where only a few satellites are measuring temperatures at any given point of time, there is a large amount of redundancy in surface temperature observations, with multiple independent sets of data producing consistent results. Therefore, it is not too surprising that corrections to problems with satellite data would move them closer to surface records.

As Mears tells Carbon Brief:

By correctly accounting for the changes in satellite measurement times, the new satellite data are in better agreement with the surface data.

Carbon Brief has contacted Dr John Christy at UAH, but he says he is currently at a conference and unable to comment at present. This article will be updated should he provide any comment.

Update, 4 July 2017: Carl Mears has added an FAQ on the RSS website that discusses the paper in much more detail:  http://www.remss.com/blog/faq-about-v40-tlt-update