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

Posts Tagged ‘Abrupt Climate Change’

We Have Been Warned: The Melting Arctic’s Dramatic Impact On Global Weather Patterns

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2016 at 12:55 pm

(Photo: Melting Glacier via Shutterstock)Oldspeak: “Yep. It’s plain to see. Weather is frickin weird. And the rapidly melting Arctic is a major driver of weather related madness. Unprecedented floods, unending droughts, ginormous hurricanes, 70 degrees on christmas, the north pole above freezing in the middle of winter, weakening jet stream, ocean currents slowing down, the melting of polar ice sheets is quite literally affecting the rotation of the planet. The basic fact is “everything in the planet’s climate system is linked together, and when one part of it changes, all the other parts will respond.” The climate system’s responses so far are not pretty atal. Expect this climactic chaos to intensify and species extinctions to accelerate as temperatures rise and conditions worsen.” -OSJ

 

Written by Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

Arctic sea ice is melting at a record pace – and every summer looks grimmer. This past summer saw the ice pack at its fourth-lowest level on record, and the overall trend in recent decades suggests this will only continue.

“Using satellites, scientists have found that the area of sea ice coverage each September has declined by more than 40 percent since the late 1970s, a trend that has accelerated since 2007,” according to the recent report “Arctic Matters: The Global Connection to Changes in the Arctic” by the National Research Council of the National Academies.

To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?”

The report added that by the end of each of the eight summers from 2007 to 2014, Arctic sea ice extent was over less area than at any time in the preceding three decades.

In addition to rapid melting of the sea and land ice in the Arctic, temperatures there are warming at least twice as fast as those of the rest of the planet – provoking other dramatic changes.

“Eventually we should see an Arctic Ocean ice free in summers as global temperatures continue to warm.”

Massive wildfires on frozen ground, resulting from increasingly dry conditions caused by anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), are becoming common; this phenomenon is unprecedented over at least the last 10,000 years.

These and other recent changes across the Arctic are making the weather and climate patterns there – and across the rest of the planet – more difficult to predict.

As Arctic Matters reports, “Changes in the Arctic have the potential to affect weather thousands of miles away. Because temperatures are increasing faster in the Arctic than at the tropics, the temperature gradient that drives the jet stream is becoming less intense.”

This causes the jet stream to weaken and shift away from its typical patterns, which then leads to weather patterns becoming more persistent and lasting longer in the mid-latitudes. This then results in longer droughts, more intense heat waves, and far longer and deeper cold snaps, such as those witnessed in the Northeastern United States and Europe during the last two winters.

Truthout interviewed several leading scientists on these issues, seeking a consistent expectation for what the dramatic changes in the Arctic mean. The verdict? If there’s one thing that all the scientists’ predictions have in common, it is significant change.

The Vanishing Arctic Ice Pack

Dr. Julienne Stroeve is a senior research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. She specializes in the remote sensing of snow and ice, and works in the Arctic measuring changes in the sea ice.

“Eventually we should see an Arctic Ocean ice free in summers as global temperatures continue to warm,” Stroeve told Truthout. She expects us to begin seeing summer periods of an ice-free Arctic ice pack around the year 2040.

Bob Henson is a meteorologist with the Weather Underground, and author of The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change.

He believes that while there will most likely be some small areas of year-round ice clinging to far northern Canada for decades to come, “I would expect a summer in the next 20 to 30 years in which sea ice covers as little as 10 percent of the Arctic for at least a few days in August or September,” he said.

Everything in the planet’s climate system is linked, and when one part of it changes, all the other parts will respond.

Henson pointed out that if we extrapolate data and make predictions from more recent conditions in the Arctic, the timeline for seeing a total loss of sea ice seems faster, but he said we will most likely see summer sea ice declining “in a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process, with record ice loss in some years (as in 2007 and 2012) and a temporary, partial ‘recovery’ in other years (as in 2009 and 2013).”

Regardless of the specifics of the timeline, many agree that an ice-free Arctic will appear before the next century begins.

Dr. Steven Vavrus at the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison focuses on the Arctic and serves on the science steering committee for the Study of Environmental Arctic Change. “The precise timing is nearly impossible to pin down, but most estimates range from around 2040 until the end of this century,” he told Truthout. “I would be very surprised if seasonally ice-free conditions during summer do not emerge by 2100.”

Dr. David Klein is the director of the climate science program at California State University, Northridge. Like others, he pointed out how the Arctic is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the planet, and pointed out how ice loss there is “proceeding more rapidly than models have predicted.”

“The loss of sea ice decreases albedo [reflectivity] and results in greater absorption of energy in the water, and the warm water then heats the air above it,” Klein told Truthout. “NASA’s CERES satellites have observed an increase of 10 watts per square meter of solar radiation absorbed by the Arctic Ocean from 2000 to 2014.”

By way of comparison, overall net planetwide warming from greenhouse gases thus far is only one-twentieth that amount of heating.

While that might not sound like very much, as James Hansen has pointed out, cumulatively that amount corresponds to 400,000 Hiroshima atom bombs per day, 365 days a year, across the planet.

Changing Global Weather Patterns

Stroeve explained why the Arctic is vitally important in terms of its impact on the global climate system.

“The Arctic is typically covered by snow and ice year around,” she said. “Snow and ice have a high albedo, meaning they reflect most of the sun’s energy back out to space, helping to keep the region, and the planet, cooler than [they] otherwise would be. As the sea ice melts, or snow [and] glaciers melt, it lowers the albedo, allowing more of the sun’s energy to be absorbed by the ocean and land surfaces, further warming the region.”

Hence, all of our large-scale weather and ocean patterns are tied to the temperature difference between the poles, which receive less solar input, Stroeve said, and the equator, which receives most of the solar input.

“If that temperature difference changes, we would expect the large-scale weather patterns, i.e. the jet stream pattern, to respond,” she added. “This would then [have an] impact on precipitation patterns, perhaps frequency of extreme weather events etc.”

Henson warned that we are entering “uncharted territory” when it comes to the loss of Arctic sea ice.

“The ice loss in recent years has been unprecedented since satellite coverage began in the 1970s, and all signals point to a continued decline in summer sea ice over the next few decades,” he said. “We may already be seeing the effects of Arctic sea ice loss in mid-latitude weather patterns.”

Henson warned that in the coming decades, an Arctic Ocean that is completely open for even a few days or weeks per year, could well shape the atmosphere “in ways that are not yet fully understood.”

“The ‘climate system’ is a complex interconnection of air, land, plants, sea and ice,” he said. “Any transformation to this system as large as the loss of summertime Arctic sea ice should concern all of us, especially since it could reverberate in yet-unknown ways.”

Vavrus explained how the Arctic is the “refrigerator” of the global climate system, acting as the cold region that balances out the hot tropics.

“In this role, the Arctic helps to regulate the energy balance of the climate system and the weather circulation patterns both within high latitudes and elsewhere,” he said.

He went on to point out that the most common expectation among scientists about the impact that the loss of summer sea ice will have on global climate patterns is that more solar energy will be absorbed by the Arctic Ocean and land, and the added heat from the earth’s surface will then be released back into the atmosphere during autumn and winter.

“That will then make the region much warmer during those seasons than in the current climate,” Vavrus said. “That will likely lead to a weakening of jet-stream winds and probably a wavier jet-stream flow pattern.”

This will then result in shifting jet-stream winds, and lead to more persistent and extreme weather patterns both within and outside of the Arctic, he added.

Extreme weather patterns don’t necessarily mean a universal trend toward hot weather. Henson pointed out that research by some scientists is showing that sea ice loss may be helping to cause colder mid-latitude winters like those seen recently in the Northeastern United States. Why? According to Henson, this could be because “the heat released from the newly opened ocean may be helping to slow and weaken the polar jet stream.”

Another mechanism Henson mentioned is how open water in the Barents and Kara Seas may be moistening the autumn atmosphere over Siberia, leading to heavier autumn snows and triggering a chain of events leading to midwinter Arctic outbreaks.

Stroeve said that while exact ramifications of an ice-free Arctic continue to remain unclear, “There is some thought that the warming Arctic has already led to a slowing down of the zonal wind speeds, and perhaps also causing a wavier jet-stream pattern, which would allow for more extreme (or ‘stuck’) weather patterns to persist.”

Klein pointed to how the melting Arctic sea ice “can disrupt normal ocean circulation because of the influx of freshwater from the melted ice, and rising air heated by the water can change wind patterns and even perturb the jet stream, which in turn might alter weather patterns thousands of miles away.”

Some current research states that this contributes to the extreme “polar vortex” weather events we’ve seen in recent years, in addition to the extreme drought plaguing much of the western United States.

Klein also pointed out another dramatic impact the loss of ice is having within the Arctic itself.

“With ice no longer stabilizing land along coasts, erosion will increase and fragile permafrost areas will release more greenhouse gases,” he said. “Permafrost coasts [permanently frozen soil next to open water bodies] comprise a third of the world’s coastline. This is another positive feedback leading to further warming.”

We Have Been Warned

Stroeve pointed out that people should be concerned about the upcoming summer periods of an ice-free Arctic Ocean due to the fact that everything in the planet’s climate system is linked together, and when one part of it changes, all the other parts will respond.

“It also causes our planet to warm further, changes [in] species’ habitat/range, perhaps leading to extinction for some species,” she explained. “A change in our precipitation patterns will impact food and water security. Then, of course, there are people who live in the Arctic and are being directly impacted by these changes.”

Dr. Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University’s Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences whose research is focused on the Arctic, pointed out how the Arctic sea ice plays a critical role in the region’s climate system and marine ecosystem. And as we’re learning, its disappearance “is having broad effects well beyond the Arctic.”

Impacts range “from weather patterns to animal migrations to ocean current systems to food webs,” Francis told Truthout. “Its loss will be felt directly and indirectly by billions of people.”

 

2c Warming = “A death sentence for Africa.” The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard: Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Oldspeak: “On the eve of the latest and “most important” U.N. Climate change conference and the attendant fanfare of corporate sponsored circle jerks otherwise known as protest marches and “actions”, I thought it important to illustrate the pointlessness of it all. The following piece is a brilliant one from Cory Morningstar in 2012, one of the few journalists doing anything close to journalism about the single most important story on earth. In it, She delineates how back in 2009  a couple billion people were relegated to a future of famine, drought, and uninhabitable homelands, without much fanfare. Knowing all along that temperatures of of 2c or higher and CO2 concentrations of 350 ppm meant certain death for many people, some who had very little to do with creating the conditions of their death sentence. She details how science based targets were ignored in favor or politically palatable and omnicidal corporate approved targets, promoted as valid by its NGO/Non-profit Industrial Complex/Infotainment Media. Africa in particular was predicted to be hardest hit with irreversible climate disruption. We’re seeing that come to fruition, probably much sooner than anticipated in places like the horn of Africa, Somaliland, Senegal,  Botswana, The waves of refugees streaming into Europe, are fleeling terrorism and political instability borne of climate change and global warming. Meanwhile, as the planet burns, the negotiators gathering in Paris will not be discussing any plan that comes close to meeting their own stated goal of limiting the increase of global temperatures to a reasonably safe level. So one has to wonder, what is the point of meeting if the game is far past over for climate? Why continue to pretend like 350ppm and 2c are acceptable targets for “mitigation” and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change when there is no way to even achieve those targets?!?!? These people will spend yet another 2 weeks on the champagne circuit bloviating, blithely spending more carbon emissions from a carbon budget that won’t even be discussed to talk about perhaps coming to a binding “climate agreement” that has no basis in reality or scientific fact. Enjoy the Kabuki. We’re fucked.” -OSJ 

 

Written By Cory Morningstar @ The Art of Annihilation:

“350 ppm is a death sentence … The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million …” CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 PPM, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” – AOSIS Briefing 2009

“This was nothing less than a colonisation of the sky. $10 billion is not enough to buy us coffins.” – Lumumba Di-Aping

In December 11, 2009 one of the most important briefings in the history of United Nations Conference of the Parties transpired (COP15) which took place in Copenhagen. If we lived in a world in which what we see, what we are told, and what we believe, matched our existing reality, this briefing would have become the basis of all future climate negotiations and discussions. Of course, that is not the world we live in. Rather, we live in a world of unfettered illusion that is fed and fetishized by a feast of denial, apathy, subservience, obedience, consumption and distraction.

Leading up to COP15, the institutionalized environmental “movement” united under an umbrella organization/campaign titled TckTckTck, a social media giant, contrived by some of the world’s most powerful corporations and the world’s most powerful marketing executives. (The trademark TckTckTck was registered, on November 30, 2009, by the EURO RSCG firm, a subsidiary of Havas Worldwide). [1] One such TckTckTck partner was the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change consisting of corporations such as Shell, RBF and Coca-Cola. (Signatories here) When this information was uncovered and made public, TckTckTck removed them from their website. (See screenshot).

The Demands

“350 ppm is a death sentence … The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million …” CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 PPM, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” – AOSIS Briefing 2009

Despite the “demands” by the hope industry for a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” which consisted of an inadequate 40% global emission reductions by 2020 – with no disclosed baseline, the G77, AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), and the Bolivian government (under the leadership of Indigenous President Evo Morales) aggressively pursued the scientific targets necessary in order for the world to avoid complete ecological collapse and a global genocide of unparalleled proportions. This empty demand of a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” was the marketing centre of the campaign that grew from that oligarchy’s wet dream, the corporate social engineering creation, TckTckTck.

Bolivia and the AOSIS called for an agreement to keep the global temperature from exceeding no more than a 1ºC rise and to reduce atmospheric CO2 to 300 ppm. [AOSIS Briefing 2009: “350 ppm is a death sentence … The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million …” CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 PPM, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.] [2] In stark contrast, the corporate NGOs “demanded” that temperatures not exceed a +2ºC and further “demanded” that world emissions peak within 8 years (meaning that emissions would continue to increase, business as usual, until, up to a further 8 years at which point we would begin an effort to decrease). TckTckTck includes over 350 international partners (280 in 2009) including Avaaz, 350.org (who signed on in inception-see HAVAS pager/press release), Conservation International, Greenpeace International, World Wildlife Fund (and many more pro-REDD advocates and climate-wealth profiteers) as well as Climate Action Network International [3] who represents (and speaks on behalf of) over 700 NGOs. CAN also lobbies governments for REDD – a false solution that breeds a new form of climate racism. [In 2009 the evolving data from the IPCC revealed that at an increase of temperature just below 2 degrees above pre-industrial level, the poor, the vulnerable and the disenfranchised would not survive, and below 1.5 degrees there would be a chance of survival.]

Regarding the issue of human rights and climate justice, the hundreds of corporate NGOs – by campaigning to convince the public to accept the global average temperature further rising up to a 2ºC limit – thereby sanctioned/sanctions most all species on this planet to an unprecedented annihilation within decades. [Note: Consider that at under +1ºC, we are already committed to a minimum +2.4ºC not including feedbacks: Ramanathan and Feng 2008 paper. Further, note climate scientist James Hansen’s warning that even 1ºC now looks like an unacceptably high risk.]

While the non-profit industrial complex, including the vast majority of the climate justice movement may have succeeded in keeping both their eyes wide shut, leaders of vulnerable countries did not. [Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales]

 Truth

Artist: Abezgus E.V., Koretsky V.B. , Title: Neo- colonialism is nation’s robbery, Year: 1965

“I would rather die with my dignity than sign a deal that will channel my people into a furnace.” – Lumumba Di-Aping

One of the most inspiring leaders present at the COP15 was the ever so eloquent, Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77. (The G77 bloc is the major group of developing countries, many of which are among the most threatened by effects of climate change as well as, the largest developing country bloc represented at the COP15) Although Di-Aping was Sudanese by birth, his parents (who called themselves “Lumumbist”) named Di-Aping after the famous Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. (Lumumba, the anti-colonialist, democratically elected prime minister of the Congo was assassinated in 1960 having been deemed a severe threat by the U.S. due to his uncompromising ideas of freedom and African unity – Lumumba played a leading role in the struggle for the liberation of Africa and all of Africa’s resources.)

At the historic press conference which took place on November 11, Di-Aping addressed the international NGO community. The conference room was packed with representatives of the non-profit industrial complex and corporate media complex which includes to so-called progressive media. In a most direct approach, Di-Aping asked NGOs to support the demand that developed countries cut emissions 52% by 2017; 65% by 2020; and 80% by 2030 (based on a 1990 baseline). Further, Di-Aping asked the NGOs to demand GHG emission cuts well above 100% by 2050, which would (perhaps) keep the global temperature from exceeding no more than 1.5ºC. These targets, if met, would allow Africa to quite simply – stay alive.

A 2ºC rise in global temperature, which the non-profit industrial complex campaigned upon, would mean a 3.5ºC rise for Africa. This temperature is certain death for the Africa people – certain death for billions. In addition, a 2ºC global temperature rise guarantees a minimum 4ºC global temperature for future generations. In the film footage provided below, one bears witness to Di-Aping speaking directly to the Climate Action Network (International) (CAN) representatives.

One must note the disturbing irony. After the press conference was finished; a standing ovation erupted. The room shook with an audience both inspired and enraptured. Depending on one’s depth of understanding of foundations, corporate power structures and the non-profit industrial complex, one may or may not be surprised at what happened afterwards, which was, quite simply, nothing. The white ivory towers, ever so acquiescent to their hegemonic rulers, wrote off the African people by continuing their “demand” for “a fair, ambitious, binding agreement”. In other words: “sorry about your luck Africa … enjoy your future of hell on Earth … and fuck you”.

The non-profit industrial complex, with CAN and TckTckTck at the forefront stuck to 2ºC and their other suicidal (non)targets. The climate justice groups dared to demand that temperatures did not exceed 1.5ºC on occasion, while any discussion demanding that 1ºC be supported and campaigned upon sent this faction too, running scared like frightened field mice. Climate justice amounted to nothing more than a branded trademark. Silence and acquiescence reigned as the champagne circuit discussed career options over cocktails.

Below are excerpts from the only transcript that exists.

 “The second issue is the issue of reductions of emissions. There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace.”

“… and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say, whether you think it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make.”

“So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their addresses like the prime minister of the UK that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable. His actions say he’s worse than the worst of climate sceptics. If he had asked bankers to pocket 300 billion dollars because of “incentivizing” profit-seeking activities and he says 500 million is the maximum that the United Kingdom government can afford to pay to support climate change, what are we saying? What are you saying? I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that.”

“Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs]”

“It’s mind boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. Many of you may not know this, I come from southern Sudan. We’ve been through wars for almost 90% of our lives since independence, so I’m not sure what happened exactly to the civil society that I do know or at least knew.”

“If you have received help that enabled you to rebuild your economies and to become prosperous, how come suddenly you have turned mean? Because that 2.5 billion dollars is definitely what some of the big western industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade [lose over a trade without losing any sleep].”

 

Video:

Raw Footage, Lumumba Di-Aping, December 11, 2009 [Running time: 12:30]

Three days earlier, on December 8, 2009, a meeting comprised of approximately 100 African representatives of the non-profit industrial complex was announced. At the onset of this impromptu gathering (which also included a small handful of African parliamentarians) it was requested by the organizers that all microphones were to be turned off in order to ensure that discussions about to take place would not be recorded. (It must be noted that Di-Aping made a point of turning his microphone on.) Following introductions, Di-Aping was given the floor. Standing before the audience, Di-Aping was still. Initially he did not speak. Rather, he sat silent, as tears streamed down his face. After a long silence, Di-Aping spoke in unabashed candor. He cradled his head in his hands and stated: “We have been asked to sign a suicide pact.” The silence was deafening. The audience froze. People had no idea of how one should react to a powerful negotiator, an African elder if you like, exhibiting – in fact sharing – his raw emotions.

“[This] is asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries. It’s a solution based on values that funnelled six million people in Europe into furnaces.” – Lumumba Di-Aping commenting on the (non-binding) Copenhagen accord

After regaining his composure, in methodical tone, Di-Aping meticulously explained the science demonstrating why the  2ºC target being sought by the leading obstructionist states was not only certain death for Africa, but also representative of a new type of climate fascism being imposed on the African people. Di-Aping pointed out that the African negotiating delegations were weak, due to many having been “bought off” by the industrialised states, while simultaneously members of the South Africa delegation had aggressively sought to disrupt the unity of the bloc. Di-Aping, stressing the urgent need to hold Africa’s negotiators to account and the difficult struggle ahead, was unequivocal in his assessment bluntly stating “you have no idea of the powers that are arrayed against you”.

One example of a foundation serving as a front group for US industrialists cited by Di-Aping was the Climate Works Foundation. The CEO of Climate Works is William K. Reilly. Prior to his position with Climate Works, Reilly served as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, president of the World Wildlife Fund, president of The Conservation Foundation, and director of the Rockefeller Task Force on Land Use and Urban Growth. As well, he headed the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992.

Di-Aping called upon the NGOs to demand their African leaders reject the agreement and further, to make very clear demands. Di-Aping suggesting campaigning on the slogans: “One Africa, one degree” and “Two degrees is suicide”.

After the meeting was concluded, Di-Aping apologized to those present explaining that as a child in Sudan, he was taught that it was “better to stand and cry than to walk away.”

Plato’s Climate Justice

It is beyond obvious that the word justice loses all of its meaning when the “climate justice” movement refuses to, 1) Support what is necessary in order for the world’s most vulnerable to simply survive, and, 2) Refuses to represent those on the front lines of climate change who have pleaded with them to represent the interests of the world’s most vulnerable. In Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus argues that justice is mere trickery – the interest of the strong – nothing more than a name for what the powerful elites or cunning ruler has imposed on the people. This description seems to fit like a velvet glove within this context.

It is interesting to note that the taping of this conference can be found under Rockefeller’s 1Sky (now officially/publicly merged with 350.org) video archives where they highlight under the description: “Pt. 1 includes sections ‘Introduction’, ‘Importance of 1.5 degrees C and 350ppm’, and ‘Unacceptable targets and resulting deaths’. In both parts 2 and 3 as well as other video clips of this same press conference, 1Sky neglects to make mention of Di-Aping’s scathing comments regarding the conduct of the NGOs. Thus, 1Sky/350.org provides an inadequate description of the press conference to those they falsely claim to represent – purposely neglecting to highlight the significant fact that the G77 had requested NGOs campaign on the absolute necessity of deep and immediate emissions cuts. There is no disputing the fact that 1Sky/350.org et al purposely rejected these ambitious emissions targets.

Of little surprise was the fact that corporate media gave no coverage to the Di-Aping press conference. The so-called “progressive” media, incidentally also funded by the corporate elites via their tax-exempt foundations was also silent when it came to sharing the very critical issues Di-Aping had spoken of on the international stage. Controlling, manipulating and shaping public opinion has never been such a good investment. It has never been so easy. Ironically, the same “dirty oil money” that funds the “polluters” as decried by “the left” is the same “dirty oil money” that funds the environmental movement – even the “scruffy little outfits” have lined up to get a taste of the candy. And once they taste it – they’re hooked, bought and sold – all in one breath.

As to be expected, the corporate creation TckTckTck also buried the Di-Aping press conference. TckTckTck boasts 17 million followers. “Followers” is indeed an appropriate description – like sheep to the slaughter. TckTckTck can ask 17 million followers to buy a video game for 9.99 to “save the planet” yet they will not and cannot distribute any reports of relevance. 350.org, which claims to have “the most powerful brand in the world”, did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. 350.org promotes climate scientist James Hansen as their “350 messenger” in order to legitimize their “brand”, yet they will not and cannot distribute Hansen’s scientist papers (or even summaries) to their “followers”. Climate Action Network (CAN) International, “representing” over 700 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. Nor did the climate justice movement itself.

The stakes, for all life on the planet, surpass those of any previous crisis humanity has ever witnessed. The disappearance of the 1ºC maximum temperature rise cited in 1990 by the United Nations may well be considered the greatest crime against humanity of all time. [http://theartofannihilation.com/category/articles-2010/expose-the-2o-death-dance-the-1o-cover-up-part-i/] The greatest danger we face today is continued ignorance, denial and obedience, as methane torches erupt and ice sheets disintegrate at an ever accelerating pace.

One may wonder if grossly undermining the ambitious positions put forward by Bolivia, ALBA states, the G77 and small island states was part of the ‘critical work’ the non-profit industrial complex speaks of.

In fact, it was.

What the public, and tragically, what remains in the charred ashes of the environmental movement itself, neglects to understand is that the critical work that the non-profit industrial complex performs brilliantly, is not work to advance civil society, who these self-appointed NGOS falsely claim to represent. Rather, the critical work performed in the spirit of “bread and circuses” is for those whom the non-profit industrial complex serves first and foremost – that of their funders.

The Movement is Racist  

“It is unfortunate that after 500 years-plus of interaction with the West, we [Africans] are still considered disposables.” – Lumumba Di-Aping

The question must be asked: was this deliberate dismissal of Lumumba Di-Aping’s briefing nothing more than blatant racism? The short answer to this question is an unequivocal yes.

An underlying, perhaps subconscious, yet very real deep-rooted racism (or at least a complete obliviousness to that which is considered the “other”) very quietly hums along beneath the entire system – resulting in the Euro-American dominated environmental “movement” acquiescing to the industrialized capitalist system. Thus the reality of those oppressed and exploited on the receiving end of the system is an inconvenient fact that is ignored at all costs by practically everyone (predominantly the privileged white) within the complex.

“Aversive racism is a term coined by Joel Kovel to describe the subtle racial behaviors of any ethnic or racial group act who rationalize their aversion to a particular group based on majority rules and stereotypes. People who behave in an aversively racial way have beliefs in egalitarianism, but will often deny their racially motivated behavior, or shift behavior when dealing with a member of a minority group. Most of this behavior is considered to be implicit or subconscious. Though Kovel coined the term, most of the research has been done by John F. Dovidio and Samuel L. Gaertner.” [Source: Wikipedia]

There is no other sound explanation which can explain how those who state they are “fighting” for “climate justice” were/are willing to undermine countries like Bolivia, Tuvalu and the G77, AOSIS and ALBA states, with a full understanding that millions more lives will be lost. The true grassroots organizations that actually tell the full truth and fight for what is necessary (Earth Peoples, and Global Coral Reef Alliance as just two examples) are marginalized and isolated to the point of invisibility by the complex.

There is no other sound explanation which can explain the dead silence on the ongoing genocide in the Congo since 1996. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Hyppolite Kanambe (alias Joseph Kabila) of the Congo are the three “leaders”  facilitating the western pillage and occupation of Central Africa, responsible in large part for over ten million people dead since the U.S.-backed invasion of 1996. Of course, these are the African faces of western occupation and imperialism. [3]This genocide far exceeds that of the Holocaust, which to this day, is seared into the minds of all Euro-American societies. Yet the question must be asked, what if these men, women and children of the Congo were white?After 19 years of suffering and death, the Congo remains locked under illegal occupation by the Imperialist powers including the United Nations itself.

On September 11, 2001, 3,000 people, predominately white Americans, were killed when the twin towers were destroyed. This operation opened up the door for an unparalleled slaughter in the Middle East which only continues to escalate.The illegal occupations and covert wars (Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan) are now expanding far beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, most recently with the invasion and decimation of Libya (2011) resulting in as many or more than one hundred thousand deaths. This NATO-led imperialist invasion under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” instilled and incited a most horrific and unimaginable racial “cleansing” of the black population, including black women, whose breasts were cut off their bodies with machetes. Not only was the NGO community silent, 78 NGOS (again,predominantly white) led the way for the invasion. When the “evidence” (which provided premise for NATO entry into the country)presented by the NGOs was proven false, was the International community horrified?Did the NGOs apologize profusely for their pivotal role in the slaughter and annihilation of an entire country, which, prior to the invasion, possessed the best living standards in all of Africa? No.Not on your life. Instead, they are adamant to carry out a repeat performance in Syria. Yet another imperialist imposed destabilization. And when an Italian grass-roots anti-war group organized an urgent appeal to the UN to demand the opposite – no foreign intervention – and distributed it to the international community of NGOs, how receptive was “the movement”? Although the U.S. and Canada have been integral in placing sanctions upon Syria, with the U.S. chomping a the bit to invade, only one organization in Canada and one single organization in the United States endorsed this appeal, in spite of an urgent call-out for signatures including distribution within an international climate justice network. This is important to note as the so-called climate justice movement has full knowledge of militarism’s massive contribution to our escalating climate crisis.

Also in 2011, the non-profit industrial complex was integral to an attempted destabilization of Bolivia. The NGOS (Avaaz, Amazon Watch, Democracy Center) who led/lead this charge (demonizing Indigenous president Evo Morales) excel in the manipulation of the public while money channeled from US powers (state and foundations) via USAID and CIDOB (Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente Boliviano) focus on coercion and manipulation within Indigenous populations, utilizing soft power where tensions may currently already exist. Hard power is the strategy of coercion via force, whereas soft power is coercing via manipulation and seduction – like a slow, methodical, death dance. There are no organizations in a better position to employ soft power methods than those that comprise the non-profit industrial complex.

The non-profit industrial complex has become an essential tool for the power hungry imperialist states, ever more threatened by the increasing rise of the global south who resolutely, in unity, work towards severing the chains of enslavement, imperialism and colonialism, once and for all. A long-term strategic objective of Western policy planners is to prevent such independence by any means necessary. Thus, the destruction of any/all independent sovereign states (such as Libya, Syria, Iran, etc) and the destabilisation, isolation and encirclement of the rising global powers (in particular China and Russia) is pivotal. Further, the welfare of the people is of absolutely no concern to those who salivate in the wings, waiting for the opportune moment to invade under the guise of humanitarian intervention. Puppet governments installed by the imperialist states serve not the citizens (who are completely irrelevant in the eyes of the corporatocracy,) but rather provide a false legitimacy for the occupation of the seized state in order to grant business contracts to the colonial powers and global corporations while privatising all services. Case in point: Despite the Congo being the world’s largest supplier of both copper and coltan, and many other precious minerals, the total tax revenue on these products in 2006-7 amounted to a miniscule £32 million. “This is surely far less than what even the most useless neo-colonial puppet would have demanded.” [Source: http://www.gata.org/node/5651]

Also Ignored by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex at COP15

  • UNFCC was already, a binding agreement. (Kyoto Protocol)
  • The world was already far beyond dangerous according to both James Hansen and John Holdren.
  • Although tipping points were most always spoke of in the future-tense, methane hydrates had already began venting, shocking the scientific community.
  • Bolivia’s position paper cited that global temperatures must not exceed 1C and the world must return to 300ppm. Ignoring Bolivia’s leadership, the “movement” called for a full degree higher (2C) and 350ppm which is in fact considered the very upper limit / maximum limit for mere stabilization by James Hansen.
  • The fact that climate scientist Kevin Anderson warned the world that by 2050 a mere half billion people would perhaps survive (based on 4C global temp – which is our current minimum trajectory, and a population of 9 billion).
  • That only by achieving zero carbon (as recognized by IPCC) can the earth even begin to cool.
  • That the Ranathon & Feng paper suggests we are committed today to a minimum 2.4C even if we were to achieve zero emissions tomorrow.
  • That feedbacks, once they are fully operational, are irreversible.
  • That militarism (whose emissions are exempted) is one of the primary contributors to climate change. “My view is that the climate has already crossed at least one tipping point, about 1975-1976, and is now at a runaway state, implying that only emergency measures have a chance of making a difference.… The costs of all of the above would require diversion of the trillions of dollars from global military expenditures to environmental mitigation.” — Andrew Glikson, Earth/paleoclimate scientist
  • That industrialized livestock contributes over 50% of all GHG emissions.
  • That the industrialist capitalist system is the very root cause of climate change. The climate crisis can neither be solved nor averted within this economic system.

After COP15  – The Peoples Agreement

Why is it that the video of Venezuela’s fiery Claudia Salerno, who refused to stay silent on the bribery and blackmailing taking place within the COP17 corridors, was not publicized by the movement? Why is it that Bolivia’s Forest Proposal received/receives no support from “the movement”? (instead they chase the REDD scheme, which is being opposed by indigenous groups across the planet) Why is it, even though “the movement” claims it wants real action on climate change, they absolutely refuse to endorse the People’s Agreement? [4] Further, the same question must be put to civil society: Why is it, although civil society claims to want real action on climate change, they are only interested in symbolic organizations and meaningless tokens? Why do we have 17 million citizens following TckTckTck and 438 following the People’s Agreement? Surely civil society must acknowledge that these are the choices we make; that we make alone. No one has a gun to our heads (yet). Is it simply because the world’s most powerful NGOs are composed of largely white “leaders”? We claim disgust at symbolic, empty gestures, yet, when given the choice of what we wish to support; the People’s Agreement or the meaningless “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” we fall over one another lusting after the shiny green patina which emulates the American empire – an empire of death, racism, genocide, and colonialism. And like the empire, with the other rich nations, the international NGO community believes that they are the chosen ones, in control of the world. The champagne circuit is alive, well, wealthy – and predominantly white.

Video:

Capitalism as Pathology: The Illusory “Green Economy” vs People Solutions

Further Irony

In 1990 an international NGO believed policy must reflect that the world must not exceed a 1C temperature rise. Approximately two decades later, with a full climate crisis now engulfing the planet, this same NGO “fought” in Copenhagen for a binding agreement that would allow the Earth to further warm to a full 2C. Who was this NGO? None other than TckTckTck partner Greenpeace, who, at its helm sits Kumi Naidoo. And who is the chair of TckTckTck? Kumi Naidoo. The token black of the non-profit industrial complex, donned with a white mask – the non-profit version of Obama.

Today

Consider the vulgarity of this following fact. 1% of Earths citizens are creating 50% of the global GHG emissions. This means that the 99.9% of the  non-profit industrial complex and those they protect, in others words, most all those attending the United Nations Conferences on behalf of the wealthy states, are the very ones demanding they be allowed to continue unprecedented gluttony. In the opposite corner, we have Bolivia, many of the African states, and ALBA states – a collective of the poorest people on the planet (in a monetary sense) – whose emissions are almost irrelevant, pleading with us to live within reason – simply so they can live at all. Some would describe this a call for simple decency. While to deny a populace to simply live may appear to be normal conduct for state “leaders”, the fact the professional “activists” uphold the same doctrine demonstrates unequivocally everything can be justified and anyone is disposable when it comes to protecting white privilege.

Today, three years later at COP18, Bolivia, once more leads on the world stage. Alone. Again. One would be hard pressed to find even one organization endorsing or promoting Bolivia’s alternate proposal to REDD or any other futurist ideologies Bolivia has put forward to share with the world – this from one of the most poverty-ridden states in the world. Although poor monetarily, Bolivia’s unsurpassed wealth of knowledge, compassion and visionary philosophies make clear that in reality it is the Euro-American mindset that is pitiful, starved and depraved.

2ºC = 4ºC = Omnicide

“Truth is treason in an empire of lies.” – George Orwell

Today, states and complying scientists are quietly recommending a 2ºC to 2.5ºC target; although most subtle, this target is now to be perceived and thus portrayed as transient warming. Meaning it is not being thought of/identified any longer as equilibrium warming, such as the specific 1996 EU target. This means that “experts” (influential institutions and scientific bodies who obediently kowtow the line) are now in effect recommending we heat the planet to 4ºC. While Professor Kevin Anderson explains that to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts, 1ºC is the new 2ºCand while climate scientist James Hansen states unequivocally that 1ºC is the true danger limit, we are now being prepared to submissively accept 4ºC. The fact is that to avoid 2ºC equilibrium we must limit warming to no more than 1ºC this century. [5] We either drastically conserve and sacrifice today or bury our children tomorrow. And of course, we cannot hold the temperature at 1ºC under the current economic system – that of the industrialized capitalist system – the very root cause of our climate crisis. The crisis is profound and unprecedented. Collectively, we steadfast refuse to acknowledge the severity of our multiple crises, our most daunting of challenges and the harshest of realities – all staring at us directly in the face. We look back only to see ourselves.

Why it Matters

“NGOs of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your funding” – Ashwin Desai

The so-called environmental movement refuses to acknowledge, let alone discuss the fact it’s been bought, sold, muzzled and now lies in ruins in a pile of ashes. Civil society remains largely unaware of this truth, let alone the key factors behind it. And this in itself is tragic, because this issue is one of the key factors as to why we, as a global society, have failed to mitigate our environmental crisis, and why we continue to advance further to the very precipice. Yet, trained from birth to not challenge authority, to not offend, to be obedient, to be polite – we remain silent. Yes, impeccable manners, avoid conflict, and above all, do not question those who “know best”. Our deeply internalized passivism is as great a threat as the forthcoming climate apocalypse itself.

Ignorance really is bliss and I do want change as long as that means nothing really changes. Please pass the soma.

Implications

The implications are many. It is clear that those who claim non-profit status on the basis they represent civil society, clearly do not. This then presents the question as to who elected these NGOs who falsely claim to represent civil society, all while serving corporate interests? The logical question that then follows, the question that must be asked is, what constitutes criminal negligence? If countries like Bolivia and G77 are prepared to take the radical, necessary positions to avert annihilation, what does this say about our environmental movement who resolutely undermine them? If we dismiss this factual information, what does this disclose about ourselves? Do we deserve anything more than the representation we are receiving if we deny the facts? Finally, how can governments expect to take the necessary positions, if when they do, they do not receive the support of civil society?

Lastly, what the hell do we expect when our entire movement is funded by the very same interests that are intent on destroying us? We need to stop defending and finding excuses for those selling us out and start defending our children from a future being shaped and moulded by the global oligarchy. We can’t have it both ways.

“So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come.  And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t.  But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West.  Thank you. [Thundering Applause]”– Lumumba Di-Aping

In the volumes of information that will be left on our finite planet when all traces of life, have, for the most part disappeared, the film footage of Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping of the G77, will serve as a testament as to who was in large part, responsible for: criminal negligence; crimes against humanity; and finally, lastly, a global genocide destroying most all life – that of the non-profit industrial complex.

Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur

Notes:

Briefing to Civil Society NGOs by Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping. December 11th, 2009.

Full transcript:

Thank you for, I suppose, inviting me to address you this afternoon. As you know, the last few days since the beginning of this conference we have witnessed many events. I’m going to go very quickly through what I do consider to be the most critical aspects for a successful outcome in this conference. And this is of particular importance to us. We do believe that civil society and the parliament have a very critical role for our success. Without you the executive branches can get away with anything.

Now, what do we really believe are the critical success factors that we have to unite behind, because these are not simply negotiable for us as developing countries.

The first fundamental that we have to agree on at 5(4) is the issue of the 1.5 degree Celsius and the 350 ppm. And the centrality of this is because a deal that cannot save God, humanity and nature is not a deal that we should entertain in the first place. Those who articulated a perspective and tried to persuade us that the 2 degrees Celsius is a sound choice have made a trade off between life, humanity, and profit-seeking pursuits. It has no base in science. The very reports that they try to persuade us that they are based on, do not support their case. The IPCC AR4 [4th Assessment Report] says that two degrees Celsius will result in Africa warming up to 3.5[C] and the small islands states equally being threatened by the sea level rise. I will say this and I will say it with absolute conviction. Two degrees Celsius is certain death for Africa, is certain devastation of island states.

The policy decision maker, the scientists who try to do that, is definitely not only ill-advising others, he is ill-advising himself. So that’s one fundamental, if not the starting proposition for beginning sound negotiations and discussions.

The second issue is the issue of reductions of emissions. There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering.

So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace. And this is one of the reasons we have asked the American administration, the American people, President Obama to join the effort and to join Kyoto Protocol.

We must defend Kyoto Protocol. And those who think that not defending Kyoto Protocol is the way forward are totally misguided because if you eliminate the balance of obligations between developed and developing countries — and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say, whether you think it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make.

Having said that, we do believe equally that a very significant, substantial financial package, both for short term and long term, is necessary. How do we define that?  Simple.  We must avail, or developed countries must avail in the next 5 years, fast track financing. That fast track financing is the equivalent of 1% of the GNP of developed countries. It’s around 400 to 500 billion dollars depending on where … what happens to their economies. Of this, 150 billion dollars can be issued with immediate effect because, as we speak today, the IMF is sitting over 283 billion dollars’ worth of SDR’s [Special Drawing Rights or supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the International Monetary Fund] that are not allocated.  Simply sitting doing absolutely nothing, when we face a threat.

Many of you would say 400 billion dollars is a lot of money.  Well, think about how much is being poured into your defence budgets and which wars are you fighting.  Is there another war greater than this war on climate change?  I don’t think so. But let me equally give you the fallacy related to how big this amount is.  The European [Union] today were proud to announce that there would be 2.3 billion or 2.5 billion dollars available from now until 2012. Well, the sad news is 300 billion dollars was the amount of money that bankers in London city pocketed this year.

So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their addresses like the prime minister of the UK that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable.  His actions say he’s worse than the worst of climate sceptics. If he had asked bankers to pocket 300 billion dollars because of “incentivizing” profit-seeking activities and he says 500 million is the maximum that the United Kingdom government can afford to pay to support climate change, what are we saying?  What are you saying?  I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that.

Moreover, would you believe that, what is important here, in this particular conference, is decision making. There is a lot of fallacy being spread that we need a new legal instrument. Well, a decision is a legal instrument. A court decision is binding. An executive decision is binding.

A legal instrument means that you as civil society are choosing that there shall be no actions for another 15 to 20 years. Think about the journey from the Stockholm Conference to the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. How many years did it take the environmentalists to convince many decision makers that right action on environment is actually the pursuit of greener, low-carbon, carbon emissions?

Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs]. [Applause]

It’s mind boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. Many of you may not know this, I come from southern Sudan. We’ve been through wars for almost 90% of our lives since independence, so I’m not sure what happened exactly to the civil society that I do know or at least knew.

Now, I want to go back to other issues because it’s critical that we be very clear to each other. United States and United States people and United States civil society have a very important role to play. One reason is because United States is P1 [pledge 1? page 1?]. Another reason is because United States is the greatest emitter, historically and by per capita. And it is important because it wields huge power, both of influence and of signalling direction.

And that basically [is] what led us to conclude and call upon President Obama to join the Kyoto Protocol.  We understand the difficulties he is in.  The deep sense of conservative isolationism.  It’s an American phenomenon that you all know. United States was reluctant to do anything during the catastrophe of the Second World War, until Churchill managed to persuade them to join in. But when they joined, peace prevailed and came into existence in Europe.  They have this notion of exceptionalism. And that I think, this day, is to think of ourselves as one human family.

I thought that [is] what the United States signalled when they voted President Obama into office.  So notwithstanding the difficulties in the United States, I think any simple analysis makes one conclude that the problem is not with the Congress, the problem is with the conservative laggard of an industrial complex. So we have to, you have to, play an important role to persuade your Congress and to move forward. Join hands with those children who wrote a letter to President Obama to join, to preserve Kyoto Protocol.

And I want to say something else.  We should stop, equally, pushing this notion that the world must continue along the conflict and misguided sense of competition between the Occidentals and the Orientals … that China is the obstacle [right here?]. Three things we say about China and you all know about it. There are more poor people in China than in the entire of Africa. The only way to help China reduce rapidly its emissions is to help it through transfer of technology. Rapid transfer of technology in order to reduce emissions. Because the third neck of this argument: the poor Chinese have arrived, which we must support and that is [the why?] to development.

The conservative thinking that it’s all about nationalists trying to take advantage or starting a competitive advantage is not going to happen.  So what I ask of Obama is to join as a president, as the leader of the industrialized nations, is to join Kyoto Protocol, is to refuse a deal based on 2% [degrees] that would condemn Africa and small islands to death, and to help finance the global deal on climate change.

Remember what the United States did, after the war, to Europe.  The United States then was … had the size of 66% of the global economy. They launched a Marshall Plan.  The Marshall Plan was 3.2% of the U.S. economy.  And that in addition to the fact, when you factor in the fact that Europe had the capacity and the know-how, you can see that the total package necessary as a starting point for addressing climate change, from public finance, is not less than 5%. And it’s commonsensical. Think about it in this way, without going into economics. If you have a house that has decayed or if you have a school in your neighbourhood that has been built or infected by asbestos, how much would it cost to repair?  It’s not less than 30% of the price of that.

So, I do believe that if the United States did that before, President Obama should follow in that tradition and say to the rest of the world, “We are able. We have more than sufficient financing and capital to help, not only the poor, but to help ourselves because ultimately after we are destroyed, there will be many Katrinas [hurricanes] in the United States.

If you have received help that enabled you to rebuild your economies and to become prosperous, how come suddenly you have turned mean?  Because that 2.5 billion dollars is definitely what some of the big western industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade [lose over a trade without losing any sleep].

And I do want you to ask President Obama a simple question. Because as much as he’s an American citizen, he is an extended citizen, if there is such a notion, of Africa.  Then doesn’t that lay on him any moral obligation to do what he can?  Shouldn’t he commit to the principles of which many of us find ourselves fascinated and grateful that there is somebody like him today being the president of United States. Because if it’s because his advisors are part and parcel of the Bush administration, or the [regularized?] Democrats, then he should do something about that. He is the president after all.  If it’s because he is thinking that this will save his political life for a next term, then inaction will actually lead to the opposite. A leader acts, a leader helps formulate the right policies, the right direction. That’s why one is a leader.  A leader takes the toughest stance.  If health care is so important and he is fighting that battle, climate change is as 100 times more important and it is your job as American civil society to help build that momentum. Yes, your task is a tough one because you’re moving from a very low base, but that’s part of life.

We will not give up because the West have power, absolute power, and accept whatever choices they will make.  We will continue to defend the interests of our people and the whole world.  This equally applies with Australians, New Zealand and Japan and many other developed countries’ leaders. Many of them have been elected for office because they claim they support climate change, but then you have to give it to the lobbyists — they are definitely smooth operators. They twist their minds in such a short time that somebody like Kevin Rudd suddenly  moves from where he was, somebody who in Bali was the only prime minister who came to Bali to say “Climate change matters.”  And then his delegation here is the complete opposite of that.

So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come.  And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t.  But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West.  Thank you. [Applause]

[1] SIGNIFICANT OMISSIONS IN TCKTCKTCK: Demands in the TckTckTck (http://tcktcktck.org) campaign for COP15, the organizers, allies and partners were calling for developed states to reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020. While most developed and developing states were calling for developed states to use 1990 as a baseline, the TckTckTck campaign did not have a baseline. Consequently what they were calling for was way below what developing states were demanding. How could an NGO campaign have a percentage reduction without a base-line date? In the TckTckTck campaign demands it was stated: “Reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020”. Is that from 2009 levels? or Canadian 2006 levels, or US 2005 levels? It is far from what most of the developing states wanted, at least 45% from 1990 levels. Apart for calling for stabilization by 2015, the tcktcktck campaign had no commitment for subsequent years, such as calling the reduction of global emissions by at least 95% from 1990 levels by 2050. The TckTckTck campaign was silent on a 2050 commitment. The Key issues at COP15 were i) the need for a common baseline such as 1990, and the need for developed states to commit to high percentage reduction of greenhouse gases from the 1990 baseline, and ii) the urgent demand to not have the temperature rise exceed 1degree above preindustrialized levels and to return to no more than 300ppm. The tcktcktck campaign seriously undermined the necessary, bold targets as advanced by many of the developing states.

[2] LOW LYING ISLANDS AND COASTLINES CAN TAKE NO FURTHER SEA LEVEL RISE. THE “TARGETS” OF 1.5 DEGREES C RISE AND 350 PPM CO2 ARE A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS AND A SUICIDE PACT FOR LOW LYING ISLANDS AND COASTS.SUMMARY: THE LONG-TERM SEA LEVEL THAT CORRESPONDS TO CURRENT CO2 CONCENTRATION IS ABOUT 23 METERS ABOVE TODAY?S LEVELS, AND THE TEMPERATURES WILL BE 6 DEGREES C OR MORE HIGHER. THESE ESTIMATES ARE BASED ON REAL LONG TERM CLIMATE RECORDS, NOT ON MODELS. WE HAVE NOT YET FELT THE CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS OF THE CURRENT EXCESS OF GREENHOUSE GASES PRODUCED BY FOSSIL FUELS, AND THE DATA SHOWS THEY WILL IN THE LONG RUN BE MANY TIMES HIGHER THAN IPCC MODELS PROJECT. IN ORDER TO PREVENT THESE LONG TERM CHANGES CO2 MUST BE STABILIZED AT LEVELS BELOW PREINDUSTRIAL VALUES, AROUND 260 PARTS PER MILLION. CO2 BUILDUP MUST BE REVERSED, NOT ALLOWED TO INCREASE OR EVEN BE STABILIZED AT 350 PPM, WHICH WOULD AMOUNT TO A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS, SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES, AND BILLIONS OF PEOPLE LIVING ALONG LOW LYING COASTLINES. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT ALL THE TOOLS FOR REVERSING GLOBAL WARMING AND REDUCING CO2 TO SAFE LEVELS ARE READY, PROVEN, AND COST EFFECTIVE, BUT ARE NOT BEING SERIOUSLY USED DUE TO LACK OF POLICIES AND FUNDING. [AOSIS Briefing 2009: “350 PPM IS A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS AND LOW LYING ISLANDS, THE SAFE LEVEL OF CO2 FOR SIDS IS AROUND 260 PARTS PER MILLION”]The author is President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, an international NGO for restoration of coral reefs, and a member of the Jamaican delegation to UNCCC. Previously he was Senior Scientific Affairs Officer at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, in charge of Global Climate Change and Biodiversity issues, where he contributed to the original draft of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dr. Goreau developed the HotSpot method used for the last 20 years to predict coral bleaching from satellite data. He was educated in Jamaican schools, MIT (BSc in Planetary Physics), Caltech (MSc in Planetary Astronomy), and Harvard (PhD in Biogeochemistry). He has swum and dived on reefs around the world since he was a small child, including most SIDS. His father was the first marine scientist in the world to use diving as a research tool and founded the Marine Science Program at the University of the West Indies.

[3] The founding of the Climate Action Network (CAN) in 1988 can be traced back to the early players in the ENGO community, including Michael Oppenheimer of the corporate NGO, Environmental Defense Fund. CAN is a global network of over 700 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The stated goal of CAN is to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. This goal is severely problematic in (at minimum) 2 fundamental ways: 1) There is no such thing as “ecologically sustainable levels” of climate change, and 2) as opposed to states having to respond to approximately 300 groups demanding action on climate change, states instead bask in the comfort of having to deal with only one (that of CAN), which essentially demands little to nothing. CAN has seven regional coordinating offices that coordinate these efforts in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Members include organizations from around the globe, including the largest corporate greens such as World Wildlife Fund [WWF], Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

[4] The exemplary People’s Agreement emerged from the April 2010 conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was endorsed by over 35,000 representatives of civil society, indigenous peoples and various states. During the year, the Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, participated in numerous UN processes under the UNFCCC, and valiantly struggled  to include the conclusions of Cochabamba People`s Agreement  in the negotiating documents. The main conclusions of the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, April 2010) were incorporated in the document of United Nations on Climate Change that became recognized as a negotiation text for the 192 countries that congregated in Bonn, Germany, during the first week august of 2010. The most important points that were incorporated for its consideration in the negotiations before Cancun, that took place in China were: 1) 50 % reduction of greenhouse gasses emission by developed countries for second period of commitments from the Kyoto Protocol years 2013 to 2017.2) Stabilize the rise of temperature to 1 C and 300 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 3) To guarantee an equitable distribution of atmospheric space, taking into account the climate debt of emissions by developed countries for developing countries. 4) Full respect for the Human Rights and the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, women, children and migrants. 5) Full recognition to the United Nations Declaration on of Indigenous Peoples Rights. 6) Recognition and defense of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony with nature. 7) Guarantee the fulfillment of the commitments from the developed countries though the building of an International Court of Climate Justice. 8) Rejection to the new mechanisms of carbon markets that transfer the responsibility of the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to developing countries. 9) Promotion of measures that change the consumption patterns of the developed countries. 10) Adoption of necessary measures in all relevant forums to be excluded from the protection of the intellectual property rights to technologies and ecologically sustainable useful to mitigate climate change. 11) Developed countries will allocate 6% of their national gross product to actions relatives to Climate Change. 12) Integrated management of forest, to mitigation and adaptation, without market mechanics and ensuring the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities. 13) Prohibition of the conversion of natural forest for plantations, since the monoculture plantations are not forest, instead should encourage the protection and conservation of natural forests. [Source: Joan Russow, PEJ News]

[5] [The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) refers to the equilibrium change in global mean near-surface air temperature that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) carbon dioxide concentration (?Tx2). This value is estimated, by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) as likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5 °C with a best estimate of about 3 °C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5 °C. Values substantially higher than 4.5 °C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values. This is a change from the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR), which said it was “likely to be in the range of 1.5 to 4.5 °C”. Other estimates of climate sensitivity are discussed later on. A model estimate of equilibrium sensitivity thus requires a very long model integration; fully equilibrating ocean temperatures requires integrations of thousands of model years. A measure requiring shorter integrations is the transient climate response (TCR) which is defined as the average temperature response over a twenty year period centered at CO2 doubling in a transient simulation with CO2 increasing at 1% per year. The transient response is lower than the equilibrium sensitivity, due to the “inertia” of ocean heat uptake]

Hothouse Earth: Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High For 30th Year In A Row

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2015 at 4:30 pm

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Oldspeak: “We have to be able to admit publicly, privately, and everything in between that those 157 national climate change plans do not constitute enough emissions reductions to put us onto the path of 2 degrees …However, what they do is get us off the business-as-usual trajectory that we were on just four or five years ago to a temperature increase of 4 or 5 degrees” –Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

“Hmm. nice of someone from the UN to admit that the proposed intended nationally determined contributions are insufficient to avoid catastrophe. Unfortunately she’s still on a serious hopium trip in her belief that these contributions will actually be adhered to given the fact that they are completely voluntary &  there are no systems of regulation in place to enforce these INDCs.  And then of course the “solutions” proposed are wholly market-based, ripe for corruption and likely to prioritize the health of “markets” and “economies”, above those of people, environment and life on earth. Meanwhile, the world burns. Rest assured kiddies, we’re fucked. A bunch of bureaucrats meeting to make promises won’t change that.” –OSJ

Written By @ The Christian Science Monitor:

Carbon dioxide levels in the planet’s atmosphere hit a record high in 2014 – the 30th year in a row that record has been broken – spurring scientists to proclaim the planet is now in “uncharted territory” just weeks before international climate negotiations are scheduled to begin in Paris.

The figures are released annually by the World Meteorological Organization, a UN agency. The organization’s report on Monday shows that CO2 levels averaged 397.7 parts per million last year, briefly exceeding the 400-ppm threshold in the Northern hemisphere in early 2014, and again globally in early 2015.

Levels of atmospheric CO2 – the greenhouse gas most closely linked to climate change – has hit a new record every year since reliable record-keeping began in 1984.

“Every year we say time is running out. We have to act NOW to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures at manageable levels,” said Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general, in a statement.

Many scientists argue that CO2 levels above 400 ppm will lead to destructive and irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate, but Dr. Jarraud said on Monday that 400 ppm will soon become “a permanent reality.”

“We are moving into uncharted territory at a frightening speed,” he added, saying the long-term implications for the planet will likely include rising sea levels, hotter global temperatures, and more extreme weather events like heat waves and floods.

Global CO2 levels will likely increase again next year because of El Niño, the cyclical warming the Pacific Ocean has been experiencing this year, according to Oksana Tarasova, WMO atmospheric research chief.

Representatives from 190 countries will be meeting in Paris later this month for a week of negotiations aiming to coordinate a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change that are now “locked in” because of gases that are already in the atmosphere.

Scientists have been stressing that the planet should seek to avoid warming more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Farenheit) above pre-industrial levels, but diplomats have said recently that it is unlikely such a goal will be achieved in Paris. Instead, the conference will hope to map out a pathway for a more achievable target.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at a Monitor event last week that “we have to be able to admit publicly, privately, and everything in between that those 157 national climate change plans do not constitute enough emissions reductions to put us onto the path of 2 degrees [C].”

“However, what they do is get us off the business-as-usual trajectory that we were on just four or five years ago to a temperature increase of 4 or 5 degrees,”  Ms. Figueres aded.

Global temperatures are set to rise 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels this year, according to the Met Office in the UK.

“This is the first time we’re set to reach the 1C marker, and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,” said Stephen Belcher, director of the Met Office Hadley Center, according to the BBC.

The WMO maintains the world’s biggest network of sensors tracking changes in the Earth’s atmospheric makeup, and it has been tracking rising greenhouse gas concentrations for decades. Besides the record CO2 levels, Monday’s report also found that two other key greenhouse gases – methane and nitrous oxide – appear to be increasing at an even faster rate. Methane increased by 9 parts per billion from 2013 to 2014, up from an average annual increase of 4.7 ppb.

Material from Reuters was used in this report.

Halfway To Hell: The World is Halfway to 2°C Global Warming

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Global temperature data for September 2015. Credit: U.K. Met Office

Oldspeak: The facts are these: 2015 is set to be the hottest year ever recorded on Earth. Global carbon emission are higher than ever recorded. The carbon budget – the maximum CO2 that can be emitted over time to keep below 2C – was already two-thirds used up by the end of 2014. And the probability of holding global temperatures below 2c is increasingly unlikely with every passing day with increasing emissions and without drastic emissions cuts. The cuts proposed to be discussed, negotiated and promised, not implemented mind you, just promised at the upcoming Paris climate summit; are woefully insufficient to stay below 2c. Recognize that the  2c benchmark is a dangerous political/economic creation;  giving a false sense of confidence that we still have time to  “fight/fix/mitigate” the worst effects of climate change. We don’t.  It has been stated in the past that around 2c, there will be significant disruption to society and possibly rapid non-linear environmental responses. We’ve already seen significant disruptions and non-linear responses at around 1c. The shitstorm coming at 2c and beyond, will not be pretty.” -OSJ

Written By Brian Kahn @ Climate Central:

It’s all but certain that 2015 will end up as the hottest year on record. And in setting that mark, the world is on track to finish the year 1°C above pre-industrial levels, a dubious milestone.

That would make 2015 the first year to crack the halfway mark of 2°C warming, the benchmark that’s been targeted as “safe” climate change and what nations are working toward meeting ahead of climate talks in Paris in December. But Monday’s announcement by the U.K. Met Office hints at how difficult achieving that target will be.

Unlike carbon dioxide, which has risen steadily like a drumbeat every year since the Industrial Revolution due to human activities, the temperature is likely to fluctuate annually and could dip slightly in the coming years (though signs already point to 2016 being even hotter). But the 1°C of warming shows how humans are reshaping the climate in the here and now and not some distant future.

The Met Office maintains one of the four major global temperature records. It shows that through September, the planet is running 1.8°F (1.02°C) above normal. El Niño, the warming of waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, is a contributing factor. But it’s being layered on top of a long-term climate change signal, which has seen the world get hotter and hotter since record keeping began in the late 1800s.

“We’ve had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we’re set to reach the 1°C marker and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,” Stephen Belcher, the director of the Met Office Hadley Center, said in a statement.

In a separate announcement on Monday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have reached record highs. That includes global carbon dioxide reaching 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time earlier this year at 40 carbon dioxide-monitoring stations.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the main drivers of climate change. The world has seen carbon dioxide risen more than 120 ppm since pre-industrial times. Readings at some stations, including the gold standard at Mauna Loa Observatory, are set to pass 400 ppm for the foreseeable future later this year. The WMO expects the global average to pass 400 ppm in 2016 as well.

With the planet having already run through two-thirds of its carbon budget — the amount of carbon that can be emitted before the world warms 2°C — scientists say that more action is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Even if the world limits warming to 2°C, there are still wholesale changes in store for the planet.

Research released by Climate Central on Sunday shows that even if warming is capped at 2°C, sea level rise would still impact land that’s currently home to at least 130 million people. If warming reaches 7.2°F (4°C) above pre-industrial levels, land where 470 million to 760 million people live today would feel the impacts.

 

UN: Climate Pledges Of 146 Nations Make Limiting Global Warming To 2 °C Unachievable

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2015 at 2:04 am

UN Photo/Sarah Fretwell Christiana Figueres, who heads the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Oldspeak:“No surprise here. This is basically Kabuki Theater. As evidenced by the following statements:

Whether the submitted INDCs will become internationally legally binding is still up for debate. The European Union is in favour of mandatory targets, but many countries find that idea difficult to accept.

Some policy specialists fear that the patchwork of intended individual commitments will remain ineffective in the absence of compliance mechanisms and without a global carbon price or cap-and-trade system.

No country is even being legally obligated to abide by their “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”. The biggest polluters are least likely to agree to mandatory targets. There are no compliance mechanisms in existence to enforce INDCs. And the policy thought to be needed for enforcement is market-based, not environment-based. In effect, this meeting is meaningless. It will serve to further increase humans carbon footprint and not much more.” -OSJ

Written By Quirin Schiermeier @ Nature:

As world leaders prepare for international climate talks next month in Paris, the United Nations climate chief has said that emissions pledges made so far will not keep the planet’s average temperature within 2 °C of pre-industrial levels — the goal that politicians have agreed on to prevent the most dangerous effects of global warming.

“That so many countries are now engaging in the fight against climate change is a remarkable step, and their pledges are a first important deliverable to Paris,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “But although we’re moving in the right direction, it is clearly not enough.”

Figueres was speaking at the launch of a report synthesizing the aggregate effects of all pledges to reduce emissions, submitted by parties to the UNFCCC and covering 146 countries as of 1 October. The promises — called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) — are voluntary. If fully implemented, they would slow the growth in global emissions of carbon dioxide, preventing the emission of 4 billion tonnes annually by 2030. They would also cut per-capita carbon emissions by 9% compared to 1990 levels, the report finds.

But without any further action, this would put the global average temperature on track to warm by 2.7 °C by 2100, Figueres said.

No surprise

The report will come of no surprise to scientists or environmental groups who had already warned that the pledges were far from sufficient. Although negotiators in Paris will hope to reach an international deal on the basis of existing promises, Figueres says that it is just as important that any agreement include language ensuring periodic reviews, and a consideration of next steps. “What we need are progressive incremental efforts — reviewed every two years or so — that will lead the world on a path towards two degrees,” she said.

Industrialized nations and developing countries alike must step up their efforts to that end, says Sebastian Oberthür, a climate-policy researcher at the Dutch-speaking Free University of Brussels.

“No country or bloc can afford to pause and say they’ve done enough,” he says. “But global climate action would no doubt gain momentum if one big player — the United States, the European Union, or less likely, China — took the lead in setting more-ambitious domestic targets, and channelling aid and know-how to poorer countries.”

Legal wrangling

Whether the submitted INDCs will become internationally legally binding is still up for debate. The European Union is in favour of mandatory targets, but many countries find that idea difficult to accept.

Some policy specialists fear that the patchwork of intended individual commitments will remain ineffective in the absence of compliance mechanisms and without a global carbon price or cap-and-trade system. But voluntary targets that stem from national interests might have a better chance of being implemented than anything mandatory, says Figueres.

One-quarter of the INDC pledges are conditional on receiving financial and technical support from other nations greenhouse-gas reductions and climate-change adaptation. Potential donor countries must stick to their promise to collectively provide some US$100 billion per year by 2020 in climate financing obtained through private and public means, said Jochen Flasbarth, a state secretary for Germany’s federal environment ministry. Germany has committed to providing a 10% share of those funds, he said.

He and Figueres hope that Germany’s ambitious renewable-energy plan could serve as an example for other countries. “The world is starved of good examples of how to get out of fossil-fuel dependence,” says Figueres. “Industrialized countries will never be excused of not taking action at home. But they must also help developing countries reduce their growing emissions.”

Nations’ Pledges To Cut Carbon Emissions Insufficient To Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change; Set Course for Disastrous Warming: Analysis

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Oldspeak: “Here’s what we know: “Everyday politics is therefore dominated not by evidence-based policy-making but by attempts at ‘policy-based evidence-making‘ and global warming is likely to surpass the 2c “guardrail“, this news is a logical outcome. As we’ve seen from my last post, scientists are actually being discouraged from reporting facts. Is it any surprise then, that our policies are utterly incompatible with the reality we face? The reality is this: We’re currently on track for 3.2 to 5c of warming a.k.a extinction. The longer policy makers continue to pretend that 2c of warming is achievable at the same time that entirely too much carbon continues to be emitted by the day, while dirty energy producers keep on with “drill baby drill” and far too little is being done to reduce emissions the more certain our fate is sealed. It’s not difficult to understand. Technology that does not exist is being relied upon to make 2c warming scenarios plausible.  And by the way we’re destroying many of the life-forms that remove carbon from the atmosphere at breakneck speed. It’s time to accept that the 2c “guardrail” is no longer feasible. This is the awful truth about climate change that no one wants to admit. This delusional policy can only be countenanced for so much longer.  We’re fucked. “Ignorance Is Strength.” -OSJ

 

Written By Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams:

Greenhouse gas reduction pledges countries have submitted to the United Nations in advance of global climate talks set the planet on a path that keeps critical climate goals out of reach.

That’s according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a project of four research organizations that assesses nations’ climate pledges and actions. It released its findings Wednesday as talks are underway in Bonn, Germany, where global delegates are working to streamline the draft text for the UN climate change summit in Paris in December, known as COP21.

“One would have expected all the new Government climate targets combined to put the world on a lower emissions pathway, but they haven’t,” said Louise Jeffery of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

CAT analyzed what are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted by 15 governments, which together cover 64.5% of global emissions. Taken collectively, their plans would fail to avert a potentially disastrous level of warming, the analysis found.

“It is clear that if the Paris meeting locks in present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2 degrees C could essentially become infeasible, and 1.5°C beyond reach,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, which joins the Potsdam Institute as one of the four organizations comprising CAT.

It classified seven of the INDCs as inadequate, six as medium, and two as sufficient.

The United States was among those given the medium rating. That status, CAT states, “indicates that the U.S. climate plans are at the least ambitious end of what would be a fair contribution.”

CAT states that its “analysis shows that in order to hold global warming below 2°C, governments need to significantly strengthen the INDCs they have submitted to date.”

Regardless of pledges, some climate activists expect little progress from the Paris meeting.

As Alex Scrivener, policy officer at Global Justice Now, wrote at Common Dreams last month, COP21 won’t be the answer to climate change. That’s because “it will not be dealing with the underlying problem—the unfair economic system that puts the interest of fossil fuel addicted corporations above those of the people,” he wrote.

“So instead of being distracted by the false hope of a summit breakthrough, we should concentrate on putting pressure on our politicians to reduce emissions at home and building a broad and diverse movement to change the political context of climate policy. This means fighting trade deals that bestow rights on fossil fuel corporations. It means fighting the politics of austerity that forces us to accept ‘cheap’ coal instead of investing in clean, democratically controlled energy systems. And it also means fighting against the privatization of energy globally,” Scrivener writes.

The need for mass popular mobilizations to effect such change was also stressed in a joint statement recently issued by key leaders from the global climate justice movement.

“For more than 20 years, governments have been meeting, yet greenhouse gas emissions have not decreased and the climate keeps changing. The forces of inertia and obstruction prevail, even as scientific warnings become ever more dire,” the statement reads.

Yet “our actions are much more powerful than we think.”

“In the past, determined women and men have resisted and overcome the crimes of slavery, totalitarianism, colonialism or apartheid. They decided to fight for justice and solidarity and knew no one would do it for them. Climate change is a similar challenge, and we are nurturing a similar uprising,” they write.

 

The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here

In Uncategorized on August 21, 2015 at 6:02 pm
Walruses

Walruses, like these in Alaska, are being forced ashore in record numbers, as result of rapidly disappearing arctic sea ice. Corey Accardo/NOAA/AP

Oldspeak: “Yah huh. Already here and worsening by the day. We’re actually about 40 years past the point of no return in this on a geologic time scale stupefyingly fast 6th mass extinction event. What took hundreds of thousands of years to happen during Earth’s previously worst & greatest dying, has happened over the course of the last 1oo to 2oo years. I found it interesting while the author dutifully reported on the dire situation of Earth’s vanishing plankton populations, he neglected to mention that, when the plankton go extinct, half of the air we breathe goes with them. A major detail to omit I’d say. There’s quite a bit of nonsense talk mixed in with the sobering reality delineated here. Like talk of “exit strategies”, “carbon taxes”, “remediation plans”, “legal actions”, “safe levels of climate change”. Talk of “emission cuts among world leaders”.  As though any of these utterly bankrupt and futile hopium-tinged ideas are viable, or will make any measurable difference in the fate of most life on Earth. As if human civilization hasn’t long exited the safe operating space of earth by exceeding 4 of 9 planetary boundaries. Given that as the title of the piece states we are at the point of no return, the talk is nothing more than romantic flights of fancy at this late stage with no end to the business as usual worst case scenario trajectory of 4 to 10 degrees C of warming baked in to our Earth cake.  Also left unmentioned is how these light speed climactic changes connect to humankind’s consumption of 1.6 earth’s worth of Earth’s resources which cannot be regenerated in less than 8 months. The disconnect is breathtaking. One only need read the follow-up article to the one below. “5 Things We Learned From the ‘Point of No Return’ Climate Solutions AMA” in it you’ll find even more nonsense talk of climate “solutions”, “activism”, “combating climate change” and the most disingenuous nonsense of all: “hope”. Your Hope and fear are the only things the transnational corporate network of inverted totalitarian kleptocracy has going for it. Leading us to believe we are somehow separated and exalted saviors of this ecology we’re born of that is dying around us; with all our cleverness and ingenuity. Saving a few species is said to “feel like a triumph”. Engaged in vigorous, ubiquitous and relentless campaigns of though control, to serve pathologically ecocidal (and ultimately fictional) ends of profit, power and control.  “That this regime of thought control proved to be so triumphant, with so little public resistance, must be due to its persistent repetitive orchestration.”-Alex Carey. Insidiously concealing a horrific reality; that wrapped in the gauzy and seductive trappings of “convenience”, “development”, “personalization” “efficiency” and “progress” “We have surrendered our lives to corporate forces that ultimately serve systems of death.”-Chris Hedges  Endeavoring to prevent you from realizing that true power and freedom from fear lie in your loss of hope, as Derrick Jensen said: “When you give up on hope, you turn away from fear. You become very dangerous to those in power.” In the twilight of this age of madness cloaked as sanity, cultivate the wisdom of insecurity & creative maladjustment. Have the courage to abide in a “kind of sanity that is unrecognizable to comfort-seeking people.”   Accept that the age of a comfortable and habitable Earth is in the process of ending.” -OSJ

Written By By Eric Holthaus @ Rolling Stone:

Historians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan. Some snapshots: In just the past few months, record-setting heat waves in Pakistan and India each killed more than 1,000 people. In Washington state’s Olympic National Park, the rainforest caught fire for the first time in living memory. London reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest July day ever recorded in the U.K.; The Guardian briefly had to pause its live blog of the heat wave because its computer servers overheated. In California, suffering from its worst drought in a millennium, a 50-acre brush fire swelled seventyfold in a matter of hours, jumping across the I-15 freeway during rush-hour traffic. Then, a few days later, the region was pounded by intense, virtually unheard-of summer rains. Puerto Rico is under its strictest water rationing in history as a monster El Niño forms in the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifting weather patterns worldwide.

On July 20th, James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065. The authors included this chilling warning: If emissions aren’t cut, “We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.”

Eric Rignot, a climate scientist at NASA and the University of California-Irvine and a co-author on Hansen’s study, said their new research doesn’t necessarily change the worst-case scenario on sea-level rise, it just makes it much more pressing to think about and discuss, especially among world leaders. In particular, says Rignot, the new research shows a two-degree Celsius rise in global temperature — the previously agreed upon “safe” level of climate change — “would be a catastrophe for sea-level rise.”

Hansen’s new study also shows how complicated and unpredictable climate change can be. Even as global ocean temperatures rise to their highest levels in recorded history, some parts of the ocean, near where ice is melting exceptionally fast, are actually cooling, slowing ocean circulation currents and sending weather patterns into a frenzy. Sure enough, a persistently cold patch of ocean is starting to show up just south of Greenland, exactly where previous experimental predictions of a sudden surge of freshwater from melting ice expected it to be. Michael Mann, another prominent climate scientist, recently said of the unexpectedly sudden Atlantic slowdown, “This is yet another example of where observations suggest that climate model predictions may be too conservative when it comes to the pace at which certain aspects of climate change are proceeding.”

Since storm systems and jet streams in the United States and Europe partially draw their energy from the difference in ocean temperatures, the implication of one patch of ocean cooling while the rest of the ocean warms is profound. Storms will get stronger, and sea-level rise will accelerate. Scientists like Hansen only expect extreme weather to get worse in the years to come, though Mann said it was still “unclear” whether recent severe winters on the East Coast are connected to the phenomenon.

And yet, these aren’t even the most disturbing changes happening to the Earth’s biosphere that climate scientists are discovering this year. For that, you have to look not at the rising sea levels but to what is actually happening within the oceans themselves.

Water temperatures this year in the North Pacific have never been this high for this long over such a large area — and it is already having a profound effect on marine life.

Eighty-year-old Roger Thomas runs whale-watching trips out of San Francisco. On an excursion earlier this year, Thomas spotted 25 humpbacks and three blue whales. During a survey on July 4th, federal officials spotted 115 whales in a single hour near the Farallon Islands — enough to issue a boating warning. Humpbacks are occasionally seen offshore in California, but rarely so close to the coast or in such numbers. Why are they coming so close to shore? Exceptionally warm water has concentrated the krill and anchovies they feed on into a narrow band of relatively cool coastal water. The whales are having a heyday. “It’s unbelievable,” Thomas told a local paper. “Whales are all over
the place.”

Last fall, in northern Alaska, in the same part of the Arctic where Shell is planning to drill for oil, federal scientists discovered 35,000 walruses congregating on a single beach. It was the largest-ever documented “haul out” of walruses, and a sign that sea ice, their favored habitat, is becoming harder and harder to find.

Marine life is moving north, adapting in real time to the warming ocean. Great white sharks have been sighted breeding near Monterey Bay, California, the farthest north that’s ever been known to occur. A blue marlin was caught last summer near Catalina Island — 1,000 miles north of its typical range. Across California, there have been sightings of non-native animals moving north, such as Mexican red crabs.

Salmon
Salmon on the brink of dying out. Michael Quinton/Newscom

No species may be as uniquely endangered as the one most associated with the Pacific Northwest, the salmon. Every two weeks, Bill Peterson, an oceanographer and senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Oregon, takes to the sea to collect data he uses to forecast the return of salmon. What he’s been seeing this year is deeply troubling.

Salmon are crucial to their coastal ecosystem like perhaps few other species on the planet. A significant portion of the nitrogen in West Coast forests has been traced back to salmon, which can travel hundreds of miles upstream to lay their eggs. The largest trees on Earth simply wouldn’t exist without salmon.

But their situation is precarious. This year, officials in California are bringing salmon downstream in convoys of trucks, because river levels are too low and the temperatures too warm for them to have a reasonable chance of surviving. One species, the winter-run Chinook salmon, is at a particularly increased risk of decline in the next few years, should the warm water persist offshore.

“You talk to fishermen, and they all say: ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before,’ ” says Peterson. “So when you have no experience with something like this, it gets like, ‘What the hell’s going on?’ ”

Atmospheric scientists increasingly believe that the exceptionally warm waters over the past months are the early indications of a phase shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a cyclical warming of the North Pacific that happens a few times each century. Positive phases of the PDO have been known to last for 15 to 20 years, during which global warming can increase at double the rate as during negative phases of the PDO. It also makes big El Niños, like this year’s, more likely. The nature of PDO phase shifts is unpredictable — climate scientists simply haven’t yet figured out precisely what’s behind them and why they happen when they do. It’s not a permanent change — the ocean’s temperature will likely drop from these record highs, at least temporarily, some time over the next few years — but the impact on marine species will be lasting, and scientists have pointed to the PDO as a global-warming preview.

“The climate [change] models predict this gentle, slow increase in temperature,” says Peterson, “but the main problem we’ve had for the last few years is the variability is so high. As scientists, we can’t keep up with it, and neither can the animals.” Peterson likens it to a boxer getting pummeled round after round: “At some point, you knock them down, and the fight is over.”

India
Pavement-melting heat waves in India. Harish Tyagi/EPA/Corbis

Attendant with this weird wildlife behavior is a stunning drop in the number of plankton — the basis of the ocean’s food chain. In July, another major study concluded that acidifying oceans are likely to have a “quite traumatic” impact on plankton diversity, with some species dying out while others flourish. As the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it’s converted into carbonic acid — and the pH of seawater declines. According to lead author Stephanie Dutkiewicz of MIT, that trend means “the whole food chain is going to be different.”

The Hansen study may have gotten more attention, but the Dutkiewicz study, and others like it, could have even more dire implications for our future. The rapid changes Dutkiewicz and her colleagues are observing have shocked some of their fellow scientists into thinking that yes, actually, we’re heading toward the worst-case scenario. Unlike a prediction of massive sea-level rise just decades away, the warming and acidifying oceans represent a problem that seems to have kick-started a mass extinction on the same time scale.

Jacquelyn Gill is a paleoecologist at the University of Maine. She knows a lot about extinction, and her work is more relevant than ever. Essentially, she’s trying to save the species that are alive right now by learning more about what killed off the ones that aren’t. The ancient data she studies shows “really compelling evidence that there can be events of abrupt climate change that can happen well within human life spans. We’re talking less than a decade.”

For the past year or two, a persistent change in winds over the North Pacific has given rise to what meteorologists and oceanographers are calling “the blob” — a highly anomalous patch of warm water between Hawaii, Alaska and Baja California that’s thrown the marine ecosystem into a tailspin. Amid warmer temperatures, plankton numbers have plummeted, and the myriad species that depend on them have migrated or seen their own numbers dwindle.

Significant northward surges of warm water have happened before, even frequently. El Niño, for example, does this on a predictable basis. But what’s happening this year appears to be something new. Some climate scientists think that the wind shift is linked to the rapid decline in Arctic sea ice over the past few years, which separate research has shown makes weather patterns more likely to get stuck.

A similar shift in the behavior of the jet stream has also contributed to the California drought and severe polar vortex winters in the Northeast over the past two years. An amplified jet-stream pattern has produced an unusual doldrum off the West Coast that’s persisted for most of the past 18 months. Daniel Swain, a Stanford University meteorologist, has called it the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” — weather patterns just aren’t supposed to last this long.

What’s increasingly uncontroversial among scientists is that in many ecosystems, the impacts of the current off-the-charts temperatures in the North Pacific will linger for years, or longer. The largest ocean on Earth, the Pacific is exhibiting cyclical variability to greater extremes than other ocean basins. While the North Pacific is currently the most dramatic area of change in the world’s oceans, it’s not alone: Globally, 2014 was a record-setting year for ocean temperatures, and 2015 is on pace to beat it soundly, boosted by the El Niño in the Pacific. Six percent of the world’s reefs could disappear before the end of the decade, perhaps permanently, thanks to warming waters.

Since warmer oceans expand in volume, it’s also leading to a surge in sea-level rise. One recent study showed a slowdown in Atlantic Ocean currents, perhaps linked to glacial melt from Greenland, that caused a four-inch rise in sea levels along the Northeast coast in just two years, from 2009 to 2010. To be sure, it seems like this sudden and unpredicted surge was only temporary, but scientists who studied the surge estimated it to be a 1-in-850-year event, and it’s been blamed on accelerated beach erosion “almost as significant as some hurricane events.”

Turkey
Biblical floods in Turkey. Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Possibly worse than rising ocean temperatures is the acidification of the waters. Acidification has a direct effect on mollusks and other marine animals with hard outer bodies: A striking study last year showed that, along the West Coast, the shells of tiny snails are already dissolving, with as-yet-unknown consequences on the ecosystem. One of the study’s authors, Nina Bednaršek, told Science magazine that the snails’ shells, pitted by the acidifying ocean, resembled “cauliflower” or “sandpaper.” A similarly striking study by more than a dozen of the world’s top ocean scientists this July said that the current pace of increasing carbon emissions would force an “effectively irreversible” change on ocean ecosystems during this century. In as little as a decade, the study suggested, chemical changes will rise significantly above background levels in nearly half of the world’s oceans.

“I used to think it was kind of hard to make things in the ocean go extinct,” James Barry of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California told the Seattle Times in 2013. “But this change we’re seeing is happening so fast it’s almost instantaneous.”

Thanks to the pressure we’re putting on the planet’s ecosystem — warming, acidification and good old-fashioned pollution — the oceans are set up for several decades of rapid change. Here’s what could happen next.

The combination of excessive nutrients from agricultural runoff, abnormal wind patterns and the warming oceans is already creating seasonal dead zones in coastal regions when algae blooms suck up most of the available oxygen. The appearance of low-oxygen regions has doubled in frequency every 10 years since 1960 and should continue to grow over the coming decades at an even greater rate.

So far, dead zones have remained mostly close to the coasts, but in the 21st century, deep-ocean dead zones could become common. These low-oxygen regions could gradually expand in size — potentially thousands of miles across — which would force fish, whales, pretty much everything upward. If this were to occur, large sections of the temperate deep oceans would suffer should the oxygen-free layer grow so pronounced that it stratifies, pushing surface ocean warming into overdrive and hindering upwelling of cooler, nutrient-rich deeper water.

Enhanced evaporation from the warmer oceans will create heavier downpours, perhaps destabilizing the root systems of forests, and accelerated runoff will pour more excess nutrients into coastal areas, further enhancing dead zones. In the past year, downpours have broken records in Long Island, Phoenix, Detroit, Baltimore, Houston and Pensacola, Florida.

Evidence for the above scenario comes in large part from our best understanding of what happened 250 million years ago, during the “Great Dying,” when more than 90 percent of all oceanic species perished after a pulse of carbon dioxide and methane from land-based sources began a period of profound climate change. The conditions that triggered “Great Dying” took hundreds of thousands of years to develop. But humans have been emitting carbon dioxide at a much quicker rate, so the current mass extinction only took 100 years or so to kick-start.

With all these stressors working against it, a hypoxic feedback loop could wind up destroying some of the oceans’ most species-rich ecosystems within our lifetime. A recent study by Sarah Moffitt of the University of California-Davis said it could take the ocean thousands of years to recover. “Looking forward for my kid, people in the future are not going to have the same ocean that I have today,” Moffitt said.

As you might expect, having tickets to the front row of a global environmental catastrophe is taking an increasingly emotional toll on scientists, and in some cases pushing them toward advocacy. Of the two dozen or so scientists I interviewed for this piece, virtually all drifted into apocalyptic language at some point.

For Simone Alin, an oceanographer focusing on ocean acidification at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, the changes she’s seeing hit close to home. The Puget Sound is a natural laboratory for the coming decades of rapid change because its waters are naturally more acidified than most of the world’s marine ecosystems.

The local oyster industry here is already seeing serious impacts from acidifying waters and is going to great lengths to avoid a total collapse. Alin calls oysters, which are non-native, the canary in the coal mine for the Puget Sound: “A canary is also not native to a coal mine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good indicator of change.”

Though she works on fundamental oceanic changes every day, the Dutkiewicz study on the impending large-scale changes to plankton caught her off-guard: “This was alarming to me because if the basis of the food web changes, then . . . everything could change, right?”

Alin’s frank discussion of the looming oceanic apocalypse is perhaps a product of studying unfathomable change every day. But four years ago, the birth of her twins “heightened the whole issue,” she says. “I was worried enough about these problems before having kids that I maybe wondered whether it was a good idea. Now, it just makes me feel crushed.”

Katharine Hayhoe
Katharine Hayhoe speaks about climate change to students and faculty at Wayland Baptist University in 2011. Geoffrey McAllister/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty

Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and evangelical Christian, moved from Canada to Texas with her husband, a pastor, precisely because of its vulnerability to climate change. There, she engages with the evangelical community on science — almost as a missionary would. But she’s already planning her exit strategy: “If we continue on our current pathway, Canada will be home for us long term. But the majority of people don’t have an exit strategy. . . . So that’s who I’m here trying to help.”

James Hansen, the dean of climate scientists, retired from NASA in 2013 to become a climate activist. But for all the gloom of the report he just put his name to, Hansen is actually somewhat hopeful. That’s because he knows that climate change has a straightforward solution: End fossil-fuel use as quickly as possible. If tomorrow, the leaders of the United States and China would agree to a sufficiently strong, coordinated carbon tax that’s also applied to imports, the rest of the world would have no choice but to sign up. This idea has already been pitched to Congress several times, with tepid bipartisan support. Even though a carbon tax is probably a long shot, for Hansen, even the slim possibility that bold action like this might happen is enough for him to devote the rest of his life to working to achieve it. On a conference call with reporters in July, Hansen said a potential joint U.S.-China carbon tax is more important than whatever happens at the United Nations climate talks in Paris.

One group Hansen is helping is Our Children’s Trust, a legal advocacy organization that’s filed a number of novel challenges on behalf of minors under the idea that climate change is a violation of intergenerational equity — children, the group argues, are lawfully entitled to inherit a healthy planet.

A separate challenge to U.S. law is being brought by a former EPA scientist arguing that carbon dioxide isn’t just a pollutant (which, under the Clean Air Act, can dissipate on its own), it’s also a toxic substance. In general, these substances have exceptionally long life spans in the environment, cause an unreasonable risk, and therefore require remediation. In this case, remediation may involve planting vast numbers of trees or restoring wetlands to bury excess carbon underground.

Even if these novel challenges succeed, it will take years before a bend in the curve is noticeable. But maybe that’s enough. When all feels lost, saving a few species will feel like a triumph.

“It’s, um… bad. Really nasty.” : When The End Of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2015 at 8:17 pm
Glaciologist Jason Box, left, at work on the Petermann Glacier on Greenland's northwest coast, which has lost mass at an accelerated pace in recent years. Box and his family left Ohio State for Europe a couple years ago, and he is relieved to have escaped America's culture of climate-change denial.

Glaciologist Jason Box, left, at work on the Petermann Glacier on Greenland’s northwest coast, which has lost mass at an accelerated pace in recent years. Box and his family left Ohio State for Europe a couple years ago, and he is relieved to have escaped America’s culture of climate-change denial

Oldspeak:” Boy I tell ya, Hopium is a helluva drug. Fascinating to see the thought process and disposition that informs the majority of the climate scientists interviewed for this piece. Even in the face of steadily mounting data, evidence, and dire conditions observed, they still cling to the fantastical notions like: “We can solve this problem in a way that doesn’t disrupt our lifestyle” or “I don’t think we’re fucked. There is time to build sustainable solutions to a lot of these things.” or “If I spend my energy on despair, I won’t be thinking about opportunities to minimize the problem.’ /O_o\When you read those thoughts in the context of the reality that civilization is a heat engine, not likely to  de-grow, slow down or stop until all natural resources and capital required for its operation are exhausted and it collapses; at which point lethal clouds of radioactivity from some 400 melted down nuclear power plants will envelop the earth, you understand that hopes for “solving the problem” “sustainable solutions” and “opportunities to minimize the problem” are quite absurd. One went so far as to cite the change in attitudes and acceptance of gay marriage to justify a possible quick change in attitudes and acceptance of mass extinction. As if it’s at all appropriate to compare the impending end of most all life on earth to the socially agreed upon business contract that is Marriage. SMDH… Also found it interesting that some climate scientists express contempt, frustration, disgust and annoyance with climate change deniers, while harboring their own brands of denial.  Sigh… What we are witnessing is an intractably catastrophic calamity that is beyond human scale and ability to affect in any meaningful way. The sooner we accept this, let go of what was, recognize what is and get on with living the rest of our short ass lives, the better off we will be.-OSJ

Written By John H. Richardson @ Esquire:

The incident was small, but Jason Box doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s been skittish about the media since it happened. This was last summer, as he was reading the cheery blog posts transmitted by the chief scientist on the Swedish icebreaker Oden, which was exploring the Arctic for an international expedition led by Stockholm University. “Our first observations of elevated methane levels, about ten times higher than in background seawater, were documented . . . we discovered over 100 new methane seep sites…. The weather Gods are still on our side as we steam through a now ice-free Laptev Sea….”

As a leading climatologist who spent many years studying the Arctic at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State, Box knew that this breezy scientific detachment described one of the nightmare long-shot climate scenarios: a feedback loop where warming seas release methane that causes warming that releases more methane that causes more warming, on and on until the planet is incompatible with human life. And he knew there were similar methane releases occurring in the area. On impulse, he sent out a tweet.

“If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.”

The tweet immediately went viral, inspiring a series of headlines:

CLIMATOLOGIST SAYS ARCTIC CARBON RELEASE COULD MEAN “WE’RE FUCKED.”

CLIMATE SCIENTIST DROPS THE F-BOMB AFTER STARTLING ARCTIC DISCOVERY.

CLIMATOLOGIST: METHANE PLUMES FROM THE ARCTIC MEAN WE’RE SCREWED.

Box has been outspoken for years. He’s done science projects with Greenpeace, and he participated in the 2011 mass protest at the White House organized by 350.org. In 2013, he made headlines when a magazine reported his conclusion that a seventy-foot rise in sea levels over the next few centuries was probably already “baked into the system.” Now, with one word, Box had ventured into two particularly dangerous areas. First, the dirty secret of climate science and government climate policies is that they’re all based on probabilities, which means that the effects of standard CO2 targets like an 80 percent reduction by 2050 are based on the middle of the probability curve. Box had ventured to the darker possibilities on the curve’s tail, where few scientists and zero politicians are willing to go.

Worse, he showed emotion, a subject ringed with taboos in all science but especially in climate science. As a recent study from the University of Bristol documented, climate scientists have been so distracted and intimidated by the relentless campaign against them that they tend to avoid any statements that might get them labeled “alarmists,” retreating into a world of charts and data. But Box had been able to resist all that. He even chased the media splash in interviews with the Danish press, where they translated “we’re fucked” into its more decorous Danish equivalent, “on our ass,” plastering those dispiriting words in large-type headlines all across the country.

The problem was that Box was now working for the Danish government, and even though Denmark may be the most progressive nation in the world on climate issues, its leaders still did not take kindly to one of its scientists distressing the populace with visions of global destruction. Convinced his job was in jeopardy only a year after he uprooted his young family and moved to a distant country, Box was summoned before the entire board of directors at his research institute. So now, when he gets an e-mail asking for a phone call to discuss his “recent gloomy statements,” he doesn’t answer it.

Five days later: “Dr. Box—trying you again in case the message below went into your junk file. Please get in touch.”

This time he responds briefly. “I think most scientists must be burying overt recognition of the awful truths of climate change in a protective layer of denial (not the same kind of denial coming from conservatives, of course). I’m still amazed how few climatologists have taken an advocacy message to the streets, demonstrating for some policy action.” But he ignores the request for a phone call.

A week later, another try: “Dr. Box—I watched your speech at The Economist’s Arctic Summit. Wow. I would like to come see you.”

But gloom is the one subject he doesn’t want to discuss. “Crawling under a rock isn’t an option,” he responds, “so becoming overcome with PTSD-like symptoms is useless.” He quotes a Norse proverb:

“The unwise man is awake all night, worries over and again. When morning rises he is restless still.”

Most people don’t have a proverb like that readily at hand. So, a final try: “I do think I should come to see you, meet your family, and make this story personal and vivid.”

I wanted to meet Box to find out how this outspoken American is holding up. He has left his country and moved his family to witness and study the melting of Greenland up close. How does being the one to look at the grim facts of climate change most intimately, day in and day out, affect a person? Is Box representative of all of the scientists most directly involved in this defining issue of the new century? How are they being affected by the burden of their chosen work in the face of changes to the earth that could render it a different planet?

Finally, Box gives in. Come to Copenhagen, he says. And he even promises a family dinner.

***

For more than thirty years, climate scientists have been living a surreal existence. A vast and ever-growing body of research shows that warming is tracking the rise of greenhouse gases exactly as their models predicted. The physical evidence becomes more dramatic every year: forests retreating, animals moving north, glaciers melting, wildfire seasons getting longer, higher rates of droughts, floods, and storms—five times as many in the 2000s as in the 1970s. In the blunt words of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, conducted by three hundred of America’s most distinguished experts at the request of the U. S. government, human-induced climate change is real—U. S. temperatures have gone up between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees, mostly since 1970—and the change is already affecting “agriculture, water, human health, energy, transportation, forests, and ecosystems.” But that’s not the worst of it. Arctic air temperatures are increasing at twice the rate of the rest of the world—a study by the U. S. Navy says that the Arctic could lose its summer sea ice by next year, eighty-four years ahead of the models—and evidence little more than a year old suggests the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is doomed, which will add between twenty and twenty-five feet to ocean levels. The one hundred million people in Bangladesh will need another place to live and coastal cities globally will be forced to relocate, a task complicated by economic crisis and famine—with continental interiors drying out, the chief scientist at the U. S. State Department in 2009 predicted a billion people will suffer famine within twenty or thirty years. And yet, despite some encouraging developments in renewable energy and some breakthroughs in international leadership, carbon emissions continue to rise at a steady rate, and for their pains the scientists themselves—the cruelest blow of all—have been the targets of an unrelenting and well-organized attack that includes death threats, summonses from a hostile Congress, attempts to get them fired, legal harassment, and intrusive discovery demands so severe they had to start their own legal-defense fund, all amplified by a relentless propaganda campaign nakedly financed by the fossil-fuel companies. Shortly before a pivotal climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, thousands of their e-mail streams were hacked in a sophisticated espionage operation that has never been solved—although the official police investigation revealed nothing, an analysis by forensics experts traced its path through servers in Turkey and two of the world’s largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
No scientist has come in for more threats and abuse than Michael Mann, whose “hockey stick” graph (so named because the temperature and emissions lines for recent decades curve straight up) has become the target of the most powerful deniers in the world.

Among climate activists, gloom is building. Jim Driscoll of the National Institute for Peer Support just finished a study of a group of longtime activists whose most frequently reported feeling was sadness, followed by fear and anger. Dr. Lise Van Susteren, a practicing psychiatrist and graduate of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth slide-show training, calls this “pretraumatic” stress. “So many of us are exhibiting all the signs and symptoms of posttraumatic disorder—the anger, the panic, the obsessive intrusive thoughts.” Leading activist Gillian Caldwell went public with her “climate trauma,” as she called it, quitting the group she helped build and posting an article called “16 Tips for Avoiding Climate Burnout,” in which she suggests compartmentalization: “Reinforce boundaries between professional work and personal life. It is very hard to switch from the riveting force of apocalyptic predictions at work to home, where the problems are petty by comparison.”

Most of the dozens of scientists and activists I spoke to date the rise of the melancholy mood to the failure of the 2009 climate conference and the gradual shift from hope of prevention to plans for adaptation: Bill McKibben’s book Eaarth is a manual for survival on an earth so different he doesn’t think we should even spell it the same, and James Lovelock delivers the same message in A Rough Ride to the Future. In Australia, Clive Hamilton writes articles and books with titles like Requiem for a Species. In a recent issue of The New Yorker, the melancholy Jonathan Franzen argued that, since earth now “resembles a patient whose terminal cancer we can choose to treat either with disfiguring aggression or with palliation and sympathy,” we should stop trying to avoid the inevitable and spend our money on new nature preserves, where birds can go extinct a little more slowly.

At the darkest end of the spectrum are groups like Deep Green Resistance, which openly advocates sabotage to “industrial infrastructure,” and the thousands who visit the Web site and attend the speeches of Guy McPherson, a biology professor at the University of Arizona who concluded that renewables would do no good, left his job, and moved to an off-grid homestead to prepare for abrupt climate change. “Civilization is a heat engine,” he says. “There’s no escaping the trap we’ve landed ourselves into.”

The most influential is Paul Kingsnorth, a longtime climate activist and novelist who abandoned hope for political change in 2009. Retreating to the woods of western Ireland, he helped launch a group called Dark Mountain with a stirring, gloomy manifesto calling for “a network of writers, artists, and thinkers who have stopped believing the stories our civilization tells itself.” Among those stories: progress, growth, and the superiority of man. The idea quickly spread, and there are now fifty Dark Mountain chapters around the world. Fans have written plays and songs and a Ph.D. thesis about them. On the phone from Ireland, he explains the appeal.

“You have to be careful about hope. If that hope is based on an unrealistic foundation, it just crumbles and then you end up with people who are despairing. I saw that in Copenhagen—there was a lot of despair and giving up after that.”

Personally, though he considers them feeble gestures, he’s planting a lot of trees, growing his own vegetables, avoiding plastic. He stopped flying. “It seems like an ethical obligation. All you can do is what you think is right.” The odd thing is that he’s much more forgiving than activists still in the struggle, even with oil-purchased politicians. “We all love the fruits of what we’re given—the cars and computers and iPhones. What politician is going to try to sell people a future where they can’t update their iPhones ever?”

He laughs.

Does he think it would be wrong to take a transatlantic airplane trip to interview a climate scientist?

He laughs again. “You have to answer that yourself.”

***

All this leaves climate scientists in an awkward position. At NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which early in the year was threatened with 30 percent budget cuts by Republicans who resent its reports on climate change, Gavin Schmidt occupies the seventh-floor corner office once occupied by the legendary James Hansen, the scientist who first laid out the facts for Congress in 1988 and grew so impassioned he got himself arrested protesting coal mines. Although Schmidt was one of the victims of the 2009 computer hacks, which he admits tipped him into an episode of serious depression, he now focuses relentlessly on the bright side. “It’s not that nothing has been done. There’s a lot of things. In terms of per capita emissions, most of the developed world is stable. So we are doing something.”

Box’s tweet sets his teeth on edge. “I don’t agree. I don’t think we’re fucked. There is time to build sustainable solutions to a lot of these things. You don’t have to close down all the coal-powered stations tomorrow. You can transition. It sounds cute to say, ‘Oh, we’re fucked and there’s nothing we can do,’ but it’s a bit of a nihilistic attitude. We always have the choice. We can continue to make worse decisions, or we can try to make ever better decisions. ‘Oh, we’re fucked! Just give up now, just kill me now,’ that’s just stupid.”
Gavin Schmidt in his office at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Box’s dire forecast annoyed him. ‘You don’t run around saying, ‘We’re fucked! We’re fucked! We’re fucked!’ It doesn’t incentivize anybody to do anything.’

Schmidt, who is expecting his first child and tries to live a low-carbon existence, insists that the hacks and investigations and budget threats have not intimidated him. He also shrugs off the abrupt-climate-change scenarios. “The methane thing is actually something I work on a lot, and most of the headlines are crap. There’s no actual evidence that anything dramatically different is going on in the Arctic, other than the fact that it’s melting pretty much everywhere.”

But climate change happens gradually and we’ve already gone up almost 1 degree centigrade and seen eight inches of ocean rise. Barring unthinkably radical change, we’ll hit 2 degrees in thirty or forty years and that’s been described as a catastrophe—melting ice, rising waters, drought, famine, and massive economic turmoil. And many scientists now think we’re on track to 4 or 5 degrees—even Shell oil said that it anticipates a world 4 degrees hotter because it doesn’t see “governments taking the steps now that are consistent with the 2 degrees C scenario.” That would mean a world racked by economic and social and environmental collapse.

“Oh yeah,” Schmidt says, almost casually. “The business-as-usual world that we project is really a totally different planet. There’s going to be huge dislocations if that comes about.”

But things can change much quicker than people think, he says. Look at attitudes on gay marriage.

And the glaciers?

“The glaciers are going to melt, they’re all going to melt,” he says. “But my reaction to Jason Box’s comments is—what is the point of saying that? It doesn’t help anybody.”

As it happens, Schmidt was the first winner of the Climate Communication Prize from the American Geophysical Union, and various recent studies in the growing field of climate communications find that frank talk about the grim realities turns people off—it’s simply too much to take in. But strategy is one thing and truth is another. Aren’t those glaciers water sources for hundreds of millions of people?

“Particularly in the Indian subcontinent, that’s a real issue,” he says. “There’s going to be dislocation there, no question.”

And the rising oceans? Bangladesh is almost underwater now. Do a hundred million people have to move?

“Well, yeah. Under business as usual. But I don’t think we’re fucked.”

Resource wars, starvation, mass migrations . . .

“Bad things are going to happen. What can you do as a person? You write stories. I do science. You don’t run around saying, ‘We’re fucked! We’re fucked! We’re fucked!’ It doesn’t—it doesn’t incentivize anybody to do anything.”

***

Scientists are problem solvers by nature, trained to cherish detachment as a moral ideal. Jeffrey Kiehl was a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research when he became so concerned about the way the brain resists climate science, he took a break and got a psychology degree. Ten years of research later, he’s concluded that consumption and growth have become so central to our sense of personal identity and the fear of economic loss creates such numbing anxiety, we literally cannot imagine making the necessary changes. Worse, accepting the facts threatens us with a loss of faith in the fundamental order of the universe. Climate scientists are different only because they have a professional excuse for detachment, and usually it’s not until they get older that they admit how much it’s affecting them—which is also when they tend to get more outspoken, Kiehl says. “You reach a point where you feel—and that’s the word, not think, feel—’I have to do something.’ ”

This accounts for the startled reaction when Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas—who was a member of the group that shared a Nobel prize with Al Gore for their climate work—announced that she’d become “professionally depressed” and was leaving the United States for England. A plainspoken Texan who grew up in Houston as the daughter of an oil geologist, Parmesan now says it was more about the politics than the science. “To be honest, I panicked fifteen years ago—that was when the first studies came out showing that Arctic tundras were shifting from being a net sink to being a net source of CO2. That along with the fact this butterfly I was studying shifted its entire range across half a continent—I said this is big, this is big. Everything since then has just confirmed it.”

But she’s not optimistic. “Do I think it likely that the nations of the world will take sufficient action to stabilize climate in the next fifty years? No, I don’t think it likely.”

She was living in Texas after the climate summit failed in 2009, when media coverage of climate issues plunged by two thirds—the subject wasn’t mentioned once in the 2012 presidential debates—and Governor Rick Perry cut the sections relating to sea-level rise in a report on Galveston Bay, kicking off a trend of state officials who ban all use of the term “climate change.” “There are excellent climate scientists in Texas,” Parmesan says firmly. “Every university in the state has people working on impacts. To have the governor’s office ignore it is just very upsetting.”

The politics took its toll. Her butterfly study got her a spot on the UN climate panel, where she got “a quick and hard lesson on the politics” when policy makers killed the words “high confidence” in the crucial passage that said scientists had high confidence species were responding to climate change. Then the personal attacks started on right-wing Web sites and blogs. “They just flat-out lie. It’s one reason I live in the UK now. It’s not just been climate change, there’s a growing, ever-stronger antiscience sentiment in the U. S. A. People get really angry and really nasty. It was a huge relief simply not to have to deal with it.” She now advises her graduate students to look for jobs outside the U. S.

No one has experienced that hostility more vividly than Michael Mann, who was a young Ph.D. researcher when he helped come up with the historical data that came to be known as the hockey stick—the most incendiary display graph in human history, with its temperature and emissions lines going straight up at the end like the blade of a hockey stick. He was investigated, was denounced in Congress, got death threats, was accused of fraud, received white powder in the mail, and got thousands of e-mails with suggestions like, You should be “shot, quartered, and fed to the pigs along with your whole damn families.” Conservative legal foundations pressured his university, a British journalist suggested the electric chair. In 2003, Senator James Inhofe’s committee called him to testify, flanking him with two professional climate-change deniers, and in 2011 the committee threatened him with federal prosecution, along with sixteen other scientists.

Now, sitting behind his desk in his office at Penn State, he goes back to his swirl of emotions. “You find yourself in the center of this political theater, in this chess match that’s being played out by very powerful figures—you feel anger, befuddlement, disillusionment, disgust.”

The intimidating effect is undeniable, he says. Some of his colleagues were so demoralized by the accusations and investigations that they withdrew from public life. One came close to suicide. Mann decided to fight back, devoting more of his time to press interviews and public speaking, and discovered that contact with other concerned people always cheered him up. But the sense of potential danger never leaves. “You’re careful with what you say and do because you know that there’s the equivalent of somebody with a movie camera following you around,” he says.

Meanwhile, his sense of personal alarm has only grown. “I know you’ve spoken with Jason Box—a number of us have had these experiences where it’s become clear to us that in many respects, climate change is unfolding faster than we expected it to. Maybe it is true what the ice-sheet modelers have been telling us, that it will take a thousand years or more to melt the Greenland Ice Sheet. But maybe they’re wrong; maybe it could play out in a century or two. And then it’s a whole different ballgame—it’s the difference between human civilization and living things being able to adapt and not being able to adapt.”

As Mann sees it, scientists like Schmidt who choose to focus on the middle of the curve aren’t really being scientific. Worse are pseudo-sympathizers like Bjorn Lomborg who always focus on the gentlest possibilities. Because we’re supposed to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, and a real scientific response would also give serious weight to the dark side of the curve.

And yet, like Schmidt, Mann tries very hard to look on the bright side. We can solve this problem in a way that doesn’t disrupt our lifestyle, he says. Public awareness seems to be increasing, and there are a lot of good things happening at the executive level: tighter fuel-efficiency standards, the carbon-pricing initiatives by the New England and West Coast states, the recent agreement between the U. S. and China on emissions. Last year we saw global economic growth without an increase in carbon emissions, which suggests it’s possible to “decouple” oil and economic growth. And social change can happen very fast—look at gay marriage.

But he knows that gay marriage had no huge economic downside, and the most powerful companies in the world are fighting to stop any change in the fossil-fuel economy. So yes, he struggles with doubt. And he admits that some of his colleagues are very depressed, convinced there’s no way the international community will rise to the challenge. He gets into that conversation in bars after climate conferences, always pushing the side of hope.

Dealing with all of this has been a long emotional journey. As a young scientist, Mann was very traditional: “I felt that scientists should take an entirely dispassionate view when discussing matters of science,” he wrote in a book called The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. “We should do our best to divorce ourselves from all of our typically human inclinations—emotion, empathy, concern.” But even when he decided that detachment was a mistake in this case and began becoming publicly active, he was usually able to put the implication of all the hockey-stick trend lines out of his mind. “Part of being a scientist is you don’t want to believe there is a problem you can’t solve.”

Might that be just another form of denial?

The question seems to affect him. He takes a deep breath and answers in the carefully measured words of a scientist. “It’s hard to say,” he says. “It’s a denial of futility if there is futility. But I don’t know that there is futility, so it would only be denial per se if there were unassailable evidence.”

There are moments, he admits, flashes that come and go as fast as a blinking light, when he sees news reports about some new development in the field and it hits him—Wait a second, they’re saying that we’ve melted a lot. Then he does a peculiar thing: He disassociates a little bit and asks himself, How would I feel about that headline if I were a member of the public? I’d be scared out of my mind.

Right after Hurricane Sandy, he was in the classroom showing The Day After Tomorrow with the plan of critiquing its ridiculous story about the Atlantic conveyor belt slowing down so fast that it freezes England—except a recent study he worked on shows that the Atlantic conveyor belt actually is slowing down, another thing that’s happening decades ahead of schedule. “And some of the scenes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy—the flooding of the New York City subway system, cars submerged—they really didn’t look that different. The cartoon suddenly looked less like a cartoon. And it’s like, Now why is it that we can completely dismiss this movie?”

He was talking to students, so it got to him. They’re young, it’s their future more than his. He choked up and had to struggle to get ahold of himself. “You don’t want to choke up in front of your class,” he says.

About once a year, he says, he has nightmares of earth becoming a very alien planet.

The worst time was when he was reading his daughter Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, the story of a society destroyed by greed. He saw it as an optimistic story because it ends with the challenge of building a new society, but she burst into tears and refused to read the book again. “It was almost traumatic for her.”

His voice cracks. “I’m having one of those moments now.”

Why?

“I don’t want her to have to be sad,” he says. “And I almost have to believe we’re not yet there, where we are resigned to this future.”

***

The spring day is glorious, sunny and cool, and the avenues of Copenhagen are alive with tourists. Trying to make the best of things, Jason Box says we should blow off the getting-to-know-you lunch and go for a bike ride. Thirty minutes later he locks up the bikes at the entrance to Freetown, a local anarchist community that has improbably become one of Copenhagen’s most popular tourist destinations. Grabbing a couple beers at a restaurant, he leads the way to a winding lake and a small dock. The wind is blowing, swans flap their wings just off the beach, and Box sits with the sun on his face and his feet dangling over the sand.

“There’s a lot that’s scary,” he says, running down the list—the melting sea ice, the slowing of the conveyor belt. Only in the last few years were they able to conclude that Greenland is warmer than it was in the twenties, and the unpublished data looks very hockey-stick-ish. He figures there’s a 50 percent chance we’re already committed to going beyond 2 degrees centigrade and agrees with the growing consensus that the business-as-usual trajectory is 4 or 5 degrees. “It’s, um… bad. Really nasty.”

The big question is, What amount of warming puts Greenland into irreversible loss? That’s what will destroy all the coastal cities on earth. The answer is between 2 and 3 degrees. “Then it just thins and thins enough and you can’t regrow it without an ice age. And a small fraction of that is already a huge problem—Florida’s already installing all these expensive pumps.” (According to a recent report by a group spearheaded by Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin, secretaries of the Treasury under Bush Jr. and Bill Clinton, respectively, $23 billion worth of property in Florida may be destroyed by flooding within thirty-five years.)

Box is only forty-two, but his pointed Danish beard makes him look like a count in an old novel, someone who’d wear a frock coat and say something droll about the woman question. He seems detached from the sunny day, like a tourist trying to relax in a strange city. He also seems oddly detached from the things he’s saying, laying out one horrible prediction after another without emotion, as if he were an anthropologist regarding the life cycle of a distant civilization. But he can’t keep his anger in check for long and keeps obsessively returning to two topics:

“We need the deniers to get out of the way. They are risking everyone’s future…. The Koch Brothers are criminals…. They should be charged with criminal activity because they’re putting the profits of their business ahead of the livelihoods of millions of people, and even life on earth.”

Like Parmesan, Box was hugely relieved to be out of the toxic atmosphere of the U. S. “I remember thinking, What a relief, I don’t have to bother with this bullshit anymore.” In Denmark, his research is supported through the efforts of conservative politicians. “But Danish conservatives are not climate-change deniers,” he says.

The other topic he is obsessed with is the human suffering to come. Long before the rising waters from Greenland’s glaciers displace the desperate millions, he says more than once, we will face drought-triggered agricultural failures and water-security issues—in fact, it’s already happening. Think back to the 2010 Russian heat wave. Moscow halted grain exports. At the peak of the Australian drought, food prices spiked. The Arab Spring started with food protests, the self-immolation of the vegetable vendor in Tunisia. The Syrian conflict was preceded by four years of drought. Same with Darfur. The migrants are already starting to stream north across the sea—just yesterday, eight hundred of them died when their boat capsized—and the Europeans are arguing about what to do with them. “As the Pentagon says, climate change is a conflict multiplier.”

His home state of Colorado isn’t doing so great, either. “The forests are dying, and they will not return. The trees won’t return to a warming climate. We’re going to see megafires even more, that’ll be the new one—megafires until those forests are cleared.”

However dispassionately delivered, all of this amounts to a lament, the scientist’s version of the mothers who stand on hillsides and keen over the death of their sons. In fact, Box adds, he too is a climate refugee. His daughter is three and a half, and Denmark is a great place to be in an uncertain world—there’s plenty of water, a high-tech agriculture system, increasing adoption of wind power, and plenty of geographic distance from the coming upheavals. “Especially when you consider the beginning of the flood of desperate people from conflict and drought,” he says, returning to his obsession with how profoundly changed our civilization will be.

Despite all this, he insists that he approaches climate mostly as an intellectual problem. For the first decade of his career, even though he’s part of the generation of climate scientists who went to college after Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance, he stuck to teaching and research. He only began taking professional risks by working with Greenpeace and by joining the protest against Keystone when he came to the intellectual conclusion that climate change is a moral issue. “It’s unethical to bankrupt the environment of this planet,” he says. “That’s a tragedy, right?” Even now, he insists, the horror of what is happening rarely touches him on an emotional level… although it has been hitting him more often recently. “But I—I—I’m not letting it get to me. If I spend my energy on despair, I won’t be thinking about opportunities to minimize the problem.”

His insistence on this point is very unconvincing, especially given the solemnity that shrouds him like a dark coat. But the most interesting part is the insistence itself—the desperate need not to be disturbed by something so disturbing. Suddenly, a welcome distraction. A man appears on the beach in nothing but jockey shorts, his skin bluish. He says he’s Greek and he’s been sleeping on this beach for seven months and will swim across the lake for a small tip. A passing tourist asks if he can swim all the way.

“Of course.”

“Let me see.”

“How much money?”

“I give you when you get back.”

“Give me one hundred.”

“Yeah, yeah. When you get back.”

The Greek man splashes into the water and Box seems amused, laughing for the first time. It’s the relief of normal goofy human life, so distant from the dark themes that make up his life’s work.

Usually it’s a scientific development that smacks him, he says. The first was in 2002, when they discovered that meltwater was getting into the bed of the Greenland Ice Sheet and lubricating its flow. Oh, you say, it can be a wet bed, and then the implications sunk in: The
whole damn thing is destabilizing. Then in 2006, all of the glaciers in the southern half of Greenland began to retreat at two and three times their previous speed. Good Lord, it’s happening so fast. Two years later, they realized the retreat was fueled by warm water eroding the marine base ice—which is also what’s happening to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Just thinking about it makes him gloomy. “That’s unstoppable,” he says. “Abrupt sea-level rise is upon us.”

The Greek man returns with surprising speed, emerging from the sea like a god in a myth, laughing and boasting. The Greeks are masters of the waters! Pay me!

“I’m gonna give this guy a hundred kroner,” Box says.

He makes sure the tourists pay, too, and comes back smiling. He knows a Greek guy who’s just like that, he says, very proud and jolly. He envies him sometimes.

He leads the way to a quieter spot on the lakeside, passing through little hippie villages woven together by narrow dirt lanes—by consensus vote, there are no cars in Freetown, which makes it feel pleasantly medieval, intimate, and human-scaled. He lifts a beer to his lips and gazes over the lake and the happy people lazing in the afternoon sun. “The question of despair is not very nice to think about,” he says. “I’ve just disengaged that to a large degree. It’s kind of like a half-denial.”

He mentions the Norse proverb again, but a bulwark against despair so often cited becomes its own form of despair. You don’t dredge up proverbs like that unless you’re staying awake at night.

He nods, sighing. This work often disturbs his sleep, driving him from his bed to do something, anything. “Yeah, the shit that’s going down has been testing my ability to block it.”

He goes quiet for a moment. “It certainly does creep in, as a parent,” he says quietly, his eyes to the ground.

But let’s get real, he says, fossil fuels are the dominant industry on earth, and you can’t expect meaningful political change with them in control. “There’s a growing consensus that there must be a shock to the system.”

So the darker hopes arise—maybe a particularly furious El Niño or a “carbon bubble” where the financial markets realize that renewables have become more scalable and economical, leading to a run on fossil-fuel assets and a “generational crash” of the global economy that, through great suffering, buys us more time and forces change.

***

The Box family dinner isn’t going to happen after all, he says. When it comes to climate change at the very late date of 2015, there are just too many uncomfortable things to say, and his wife, Klara, resents any notion that she is a “climate migrant.”

This is the first hint that his brashness has caused tension at home.

“Well, she…” He takes a moment, considering. “I’ll say something like, ‘Man, the next twenty years are going to be a hell of a ride,’ or ‘These poor North African refugees flooding to Europe,’ and how I anticipate that flux of people to double and triple, and will the open borders of Europe change? And she’ll acknowledge it… but she’s not bringing it up like I am.”

Later, she sends a note responding to a few questions. She didn’t want to compare herself to the truly desperate refugees who are drowning, she says, and the move to Denmark really was for the quality of life. “Lastly, the most difficult question to answer is about Jason’s mental health. I’d say climate change, and more broadly the whole host of environmental and social problems the world faces, does affect his psyche. He feels deeply about these issues, but he is a scientist and a very pragmatic, goal-oriented person. His style is not to lie awake at night worrying about them but to get up in the morning (or the middle of the night) and do something about it. I love the guy for it :)”

So even when you are driven to your desk in the middle of the night, quoting Norse proverbs, when you are among the most informed and most concerned, the ordinary tender mercies of the home conspire in our denial. We pour our energy into doing our jobs the best we can, avoid unpleasant topics, keep up a brave face, make compromises with even the best societies, and little by little the compartmentalization we need to survive the day adds one more bit of distance between the comfortable now and the horrors ahead. So Box turns out to be a representative figure after all. It’s not enough to understand the changes that are coming. We have to find a way to live with them.

“In Denmark,” Box says, “we have the resilience, so I’m not that worried about my daughter’s livelihood going forward. But that doesn’t stop me from strategizing about how to safeguard her future—I’ve been looking at property in Greenland. As a possible bug-out scenario.”

Turns out a person can’t own land in Greenland, just a house on top of land. It’s a nice thought, a comforting thought—no matter what happens, the house will be there, safely hidden at the top of the world.

East Siberian Heatwave Begins; 98.78 Degree Temperature Recorded Well Within Arctic Circle

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2015 at 7:10 pm

Oldspeak:” While the media gives wide coverage to the heatwaves that have been hitting populous countries such as India, Pakistan, the U.S., Spain and France recently, less attention is given to heatwaves hitting the Arctic.” -Sam Carana

“Mere months following reports of record heat recorded in Antarctica near the South fucking Pole, we see this. Seems as though corporate media’s sensationally reported disaster porn is focused only the mid-latitudes, while the region where the stakes are highest and the heatwave is most life-threateningly unusual, is ignored. By way of reference, it was 80 degrees in New York on July 2nd when this insane temperature was recorded near the North fucking Pole!!! This syncs up with current movement of the ever slowing and destabilized jet stream where as you can see in Sam’s illustrations its cooler than normal around that area of the U.S. east coast, as arctic air creeps further south. It’s only broken 90 once or twice so far this summer in New York, following a brutally cold and snowy winter/fall. This is a dire situation, it affects all life on earth, and it is not being reported. I imagine business will continue as usual and it won’t be reported until it’s impossible to ignore. Only Love Remains.” -OSJ

Written By Sam Carana @ Arctic News:

The image below illustrates the intensity of the heatwave over western Europe, with temperatures forecast to keep hitting the top end of the scale for days to come.

Global warming is strengthening heatwaves. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world, so the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator is getting smaller. It is this temperature difference that powers the jet stream. The result is that the speed at which the jet stream circumnavigates the globe is falling. Furthermore, the path of the jet stream is changing, sometimes extending far to the north, then deeper to the south, just like a river will meander more where the land is flatter.

Above image illustrates that these changes to the jet stream make that warm air from the south can more easily move up north, to higher latitudes, while cold air from the Arctic can more easily move down to lower latitudes, in both cases further decreasing the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator, which makes these changes to the jet stream a self-reinforcing feedback loop that is rapidly making the situation worse.

While such developments have been documented for years, e.g. see this feedbacks page, the media rarely inform people about them. And while the media do cover the suffering caused by the heatwaves that have been hitting populous countries such as India, Pakistan, the U.S., Spain and France recently, less attention is given to heatwaves hitting the Arctic.

High temperatures close to the Arctic Ocean are very worrying, for a number of reasons, including:

  • They are examples of heatwaves that can increasingly extend far to the north, all the way into the Arctic Ocean, speeding up warming of the Arctic Ocean seabed and threatening to unleash huge methane eruptions.
  • They set the scene for wildfires that emit not only greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, but also pollutants such as carbon monoxide (that depletes hydroxyl that could otherwise break down methane) and black carbon (that when settling on ice causes it to absorb more sunlight).
  • They cause warming of the water of rivers that end up in the Arctic Ocean, thus resulting in additional sea ice decline and warming of the Arctic Ocean seabed.
June 24, 2015 – Smoke from wildfires in Alaska – from: wunderground.com

The image below shows a location well inside the Arctic Circle where temperatures as high as 37.1°C (98.78°F) were recorded on July 2, 2015. The top panel shows temperatures, while the bottom panel also shows the depth of the Arctic Ocean and the location of the Gakkel Ridge, in between the northern tip of Greenland and the Laptev Sea.

As the image below shows, the jet stream is forecast to move up high into the Arctic north of Siberia over the next few days. The image shows the jet stream as at July 8, 2015.

The image below shows a forecast of temperature anomalies for July 7, 2015.

The four images below illustrate how the heatwave is forecast to develop over the next few days (hat tip to Mark Richardson).

Rain close to the North Pole (forecast July 7, 2015)

The image on the right, also created with a Climate Reanalyzer image, shows rain over the Arctic, over the EastSiberian Sea and over an area close to the North Pole.

Rain over sea ice will create melt ponds with associated loss in albedo (reflectivity), making that light that was previously reflected back into space by the sea ice will instead be absorbed by the water, further speeding up the demise of the sea ice.

The picture below was taken July 2, 2015, by WebCam#1, mounted on a satellite-reporting buoy. The camera provides a wide-angle 120° horizontal field of view and was installed in April 2015, about 1.5 m above the ice surface, at a location some 25 miles from the North Pole. The buoy has meanwhile drifted some distance away from the North Pole, see map at this page.

WebCam#1 showing water on July 2, 2015

The presence of water can indicate that the sea ice has completely disappeared in the respective area, which could in turn be caused by sea ice melting and/or bubbling up of methane, so it’s important to keep monitoring this. More likely though, the water is probably surface water on top of the ice, caused by melting and/or rain. Anyway, water reflects less sunlight back into space than sea ice, so the result will be that more sunlight is instead absorbed by the water and/or the sea ice.

With temperatures as high as the 37.1°C (98.78°F) recorded on July 2, 2015 (image further above), huge melting can be expected where there still is sea ice in the waters off the coast of Siberia, while the waters where the sea ice has already gone will warm up rapidly.

Note that the waters off the coast of Siberia are less than 50 m (164 ft) deep, so warming can quickly extend all the way down to the seabed, that can contain enormous amounts of methane in the form of free gas and hydrates.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan.

“Essentially The Walking Dead”: Study Shows Earth’s 6th Great Mass Extinction Happening Faster Than 5 Previous; Humans “very likely” To Be Among First Wave Of Species To Go Extinct

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2015 at 2:07 pm
An irrigation canal near a parched field in Manteca, Calif., April 24, 2015. California's drought has made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta's limited supply of fresh water, which helps feed more than three million acres of farmland, a central battle zone between farmers and environmentalists. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

An irrigation canal near a parched field in Manteca, California, April 24, 2015. California’s drought has made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta’s limited supply of freshwater, which helps feed more than 3 million acres of farmland, a central battle zone between farmers and environmentalists. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Oldspeak:”[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

“Yep. This is where we’re at. Esteemed scientists talking matter of factly about the unprecedented accelerated rate of this Mass Extinction event; estimating that humans will likely be among the 1st to go. Emphasizing that their calculations, horrific as they are are likely underestimating the severity of the extinction crisis. A celebrated scientist regarding humans efforts to save the planet as as “foolish and romantic extravagance.” While technocrats cut funding for climate research, and limit Environmental Protection Agency efforts to curb toxic fossil fuel emissions. We’re fucked. We’re The Walking Dead. We’re the zombies, mindlessly and hedonistically shuffling about, dimly aware of the world around us, insatiable in our desires for more, bigger, faster, being “productive”, “efficient”, “hacking” our lives to squeeze more work out of ourselves to accumulate more sense-pleasuring things and stuff. This is unsustainable and omnicidal. Is this the way you want to live your last days on this plane of existence? I invite You to choose to spend these last hours here doing & consuming less; instead being & loving more. Endeavoring to be in a place of mindfulness, wonder, reverence, gratitude and acceptance of all that exists.” –OSJ

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

At the end of May, a few friends and I opted to climb a couple of the larger volcanoes in Washington State. We started on Mount Adams, a 12,280-foot peak in the southern part of the state.

We were able to drive to the Cold Springs Campground at 5,600 feet, where the climb would begin. This itself was an anomaly for late May, when the dirt road tended to still be covered with snowpack. But not this year, one in which Washington’s Gov. Jay Inslee has already declared a statewide drought emergency, given this year’s record-low snowpack.

To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?”

In fact, we hiked up bare earth until around 7,500 feet before we even had to don our crampons (metal spikes that attach to climbing boots to improve traction), itself another anomaly. During a short visit to the Forest Service ranger station the day before, the ranger had informed us that we were already experiencing mid- to late-August conditions, though it wasn’t yet June.

A few days later and much further north on Mount Baker, a 10,781-foot glacial-clad volcano not far from the border of Canada, we experienced the same thing. We camped on terra firma at around 5,500 feet, in an area that normally would have found us camping on several feet of snowpack. When we headed up the peak, the route was already in late season (August) conditions. We found ourselves having to navigate around several large open crevasses where snow bridges that had offered access had already collapsed due to rising temperatures and melting snow.

During our descent after visiting the summit, two of my climbing partners punched through snow bridges over crevasses, and the lower part of the route was more like a Slurpee than a glacier. I would not have wanted to be on the mountain a day later than we were.

The signs of the increasing rapidity and intensification of our warming planet are all around us. And bigger-picture reports, studies and warnings are multiplying every day.

If current rates of ACD continue, “Life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on.”

NASA recently released its global temperature data for the month of May, and it was 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm. The agency’s data also revealed that 2015 has had the hottest five months of any year ever recorded. As of right now, 2015 is already hotter than last year, according to NASA; in fact, if it stays on the same track, it will be the hottest year ever recorded for the planet.

Things are bad enough that President Obama’s science adviser issued a warning that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is currently barreling forward so quickly that the entire state of California could be “overwhelmed”: The state’s efforts to adapt will be unable to keep pace with the rapidly intensifying developments on the ground. Essentially, this means the state does not have the financial nor physical resources to keep pace with rising seas, drought and wildfires that are all becoming the norm there.

Scientists like Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”) are warning us to expect even more weather extremes as ACD progresses. For example, they predict the recent deluge of rain and flooding in Texas will become the norm for that state going forward.

A study recently published in Nature Climate Change has shown that if carbon dioxide and methane emissions are not dramatically cut extremely rapidly, ACD is set to bring about the most dramatic and encompassing rearrangement of ocean species in at least the last 3 million years. For example, the study shows that by 2100, the polar regions, which currently host some of the most diverse and widespread sea life on the planet, will likely be drained of much of their marine life.

It’s not news that Arctic sea ice is melting at a record-breaking pace and that the odds of there being summer ice-free periods by next year are high. But an interesting twist resulting from this development is that this thinning Arctic ice, along with a lack of air support, has officially forced an end to trekking expeditions to the North Pole this year … and quite likely, forever.

All of these changes are portentous.

However, the most important development this month is clearly a recently published study in Science that states, unequivocally, that the planet has officially entered its sixth mass extinction event. The study showed that species are already being killed off at rates much faster than they were during the other five extinction events, and warned ominously that humans could very likely be among the first wave of species going extinct.

The lead author of the study, Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Autónoma de México, told reporters that if current rates of ACD, deforestation and pollution are allowed to continue, “Life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on.”

Another alarming feature of the study is that it is admittedly conservative. On page three it states: “We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis.”

Study co-author Paul Ehrlich, a Bing professor of population studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, told Stanford News, “[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.”

As we explore ACD’s impact upon the four quadrants of the planet this month, we see developments that certainly confirm the aforementioned report’s findings.

Earth

As warming from ACD continues to fuel increases in diseases and pests, moose in North America are dying by the thousands, according to a recent scientific report.

Another report revealed recently that the warming waters in Long Island Sound are dramatically altering fish populations, as summer flounder and sea bass that usually prefer warm water are now appearing in the northern locale.

As California’s mega-drought lumbers on, redwoods and other iconic trees in that state are now dying in record numbers. As one example, Monterey pines – in one area that covers nearly 15 square acres – are already as much as 90 percent dead.

Even more disturbing is a recent report that polar bears have been seen killing and eating dolphins. That in itself isn’t news, but the fact that it happened this spring, instead of during the warmer summer months, has never been seen before.

Water

Recent NASA data has given us some remarkable graphics that show how the world’s aquifers are losing their water at “alarming” rates, according to scientists. The data shows that more than half of the planet’s 37 largest aquifers are being depleted. Given that the groundwater reserves take thousands of years to accumulate, one of the scientists described the situation as “critical.”

São Paulo, Brazil, a mega-city of over 20 million people, has been pushed to the verge of severe water rationing, as its largest water reservoir is on pace to dry up completely by August.

In Chile, most of the ski areas have completely bare slopes. Santiago, which sits below all the ski resorts, has seen a scant 1.2 centimeters of rain this year, which is a jaw-dropping 86 percent less than normal.

North Korea is facing its worst drought in recorded history, which has sparked fears of a worsening of already severe food shortages.

The worst regional drought in nearly 10 years is hammering southern Africa, causing Zimbabweans to go hungry as crop failure has become rampant. The drought threatens to persist.

Meanwhile Nicaragua, the country with the most abundant water sources in its region (it even has the word “agua” as part of its very name), is experiencing one of its worst water shortages in five decades.

California’s drought has taken at least a $2.7 billion toll on the state’s agriculture.

In the United States, a record drought in Oklahoma has given wheat farmers there a glimpse of what is to come, although recent wet weather has ended the drought for now. Scientists are warning that the region should brace itself for a growing number of hotter, drier days in the future.

Farms in Utah are being wracked by drought, as officials in that state have begun rationing water, causing farmers there to worry about even more cutbacks as summer progresses.

In California, the Salton Sea – the largest lake in the state – is drying out of existence, giving us another indicator of how deep the drought is now embedded in the state’s climate.

In monetary terms, a recent report shows that California’s drought has taken at least a $2.7 billion toll on the state’s agriculture. Obviously, that number is sure to continue to rise.

As is happening globally now, residents in some towns in central California are suffering from a health crisis that stems from not having running water and breathing increasingly dusty air, due to the drought. Respiratory problems are becoming rampant throughout the state.

In Canada, John Pomeroy, the director of the Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan, recently spent time high up in the Rocky Mountains, along the British Columbia-Alberta divide. He witnessed clear signs of the highly damaging drought plaguing his country. Due to record dry spells, dramatically decreased river flows and the shortage of runoff water, Pomeroy said that western Canada is likely in the midst of a long-term drought.

The flip side of the water climate coin is flooding. In the United States, unprecedented amounts of rainfall across Texas and Oklahoma recently are evidence of what happens when a warming atmosphere becomes saturated with more water vapor than it used to be able to hold: yet another harbinger of our future.

By the end of the century, it is feasible that Mount Everest could be entirely without glaciers.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report showed that this May was the wettest month ever recorded in the United States, despite the mega-drought in California and the West. Obviously, scientists have linked these phenomena to ACD.

Dramatic changes are happening in most of the planet’s highest places, given the rapidly accelerating melting of glaciers. Even Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, is witnessing massive changes. A recent report in the journal The Cryosphere found that thousands of glaciers across the Himalayas will likely shrink by 70 to 99 percent by 2100.

Thus, by the end of the century, it is feasible that Mount Everest could be entirely without glaciers.

Another recent study linked intensifying weather events – like the extreme cold that wracked the eastern United States last winter and spring, along with the record flooding that hit Britain – to the rapid loss of Arctic ice. This doesn’t bode well, as the Arctic summer sea ice will likely begin to vanish entirely for short periods, starting as early as next summer.

A unique photography project in Alaska has captured ACD impacts over time in a stunning way. The photos are hard to look at, but everyone should see them. They represent a kind of before-and-after view of what ACD is doing to one of the most beautiful areas on the planet. The project shows dramatically reduced glacial coverage in multiple areas of Alaska, including areas that used to be heavily glaciated, which are now completely ice-free.

The project became even more relevant when a recent report was published that shows how glaciers in Alaska have lost 75 gigatons (75 billion metric tons) of ice per year, from 1994 through 2013.

In comparison, this number is roughly half of the amount of ice loss for all of Antarctica (159 billion metric tons). This new data also indicates that the Alaska region alone likely contributed several millimeters to the global sea level rise in the past few decades.

Air

The changing chemistry of the planet’s atmosphere is causing new positive feedback loops to occur. For example, in Mexico City, warmer temperatures are exacerbating the already horrible smog in that mega-city, as higher temperatures mean that industrial pollutants are released more rapidly into the air.

Another recent report from NASA begins with this worrisome observation: “In the third week of May, it was warmer in Fairbanks, Alaska, than in Washington, DC. The small town of Eagle, Alaska, was hotter on May 23 than it has been on any day in Houston or Dallas this year. In what has become a frequent occurrence in the past few years, temperature profiles in North America appeared to be upside down.”

The report, titled “Baked Alaska,” includes a fascinating temperature anomaly map, and notes:

On May 23, the air temperature at Fairbanks International Airport reached 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), breaking the record of 80°F (26.7°C) from 2002. That same day, thermometers hit 91°F (32.8°C) in Eagle, marking the earliest 90-degree day in state history. The town had nine consecutive days above 80°F. In Barrow, Alaska, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, temperatures climbed to 47°F on May 21, close to 18°F above normal. Temperatures normally do not reach that high until mid-June.

Thus, not surprisingly, Alaska had its hottest May in recorded history.

India, ranked as the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, recently had to cope with one of the single deadliest heat waves to ever have hit the country, which killed over 2,500 people. The heat wave was at least the fourth deadliest in world history.

“Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heat wave and the certainty of another failed monsoon,” Harsh Vardhan, India’s earth sciences minister, told Reuters. “It’s not just an unusually hot summer; it is climate change.”

As the heat and death toll continued to rise in India, scientists asked if this was really a glimpse of earth’s future: a planet rife with skyrocketing temperatures and the human impacts to match.

Lastly in this section, a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the warming generated by carbon dioxide released by burning coal exceeds the heat generated by said combustion in a mere 34 days. In other words, ACD does not take years or decades for its impacts to be felt, as was previously believed: Changes can happen alarmingly quickly.

Fire

As wildfires burn out of control from southern California all the way up the West Coast of the United States and across Alaska, a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists is worth highlighting. The group has warned of the direct links between ACD and drier soil, less moisture, changing precipitation levels and patterns, droughts, and the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires. Scientists emphasize that the connection between the fires and ACD must be recognized and confronted.

Denial and Reality

This month, the voices of climate denial did not fail to disappoint.

Not surprisingly, shareholders of the top two largest US oil companies, Exxon and Chevron, recently rejected proposals to add directors with expertise in studying ACD to their boards. It’d be bad for profits, of course.

The oil giants got some help from the US House of Representatives, which this month passed a bill that would make funding cuts to climate research done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

On the other hand, Pope Francis let loose on ACD deniers in his recently released encyclical, in which he stated unequivocally that “the bulk of global warming” is anthropogenic, and called on everyone to take steps to mitigate the damage by reducing consumption and reliance upon fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, another recently published report has shown that as carbon dioxide levels continue to increase over time, the planet will become progressively less able to sequester carbon dioxide in the soil or deep in the oceans, as both carbon sinks become supersaturated.

“If all of the carbon of permafrost was released, at that point, this is not going to be a habitable planet for humans.”

A climate researcher with the Woods Hole Research Center, Susan Natali, recently told a reporter that as global temperatures continue to increase, thawing permafrost is releasing larger amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, which of course cause temperatures to warm even further. Thus, the positive feedback loop feeds upon itself, a phenomenon that underpins runaway ACD.

“If all of the carbon of permafrost was released, at that point, this is not going to be a habitable planet for humans,” Natali warned.

All of this information, taken together, paints an increasingly bleak scene for the planet and its species – including, of course, humans.

This could be why James Lovelock, the celebrated scientist and environmentalist who created the Gaia hypothesis, recently stated, “Saving the planet is a foolish, romantic extravagance.”

He added that as climate disruption spins further out of control, “The civilizations of the northern hemisphere would be utterly destroyed, no doubt about it. But it would give life elsewhere a chance to recover. I think actually that Gaia might heave a sigh of relief.”