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Posts Tagged ‘Anthropogenic Climate Disruption’

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.”

 

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Polishing The Brass On The Titanic: Will Paris Climate Talks Be Too Little, Too Late?

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2015 at 10:01 pm
2015.11.23.Jamail.main

A recent study revealed 41 cases in which “abrupt changes” in the permafrost, sea ice, snow cover, ocean and terrestrial biosphere could trigger natural disasters. (Photo: Studying of climatic and weather changes in Antarctica via Shutterstock)

Oldspeak:Well in advance of the Paris talks, the UN announced that the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere has locked in another 2.7 degrees Celsius warming at a minimum, even if countries move forward with the pledges they make to cut emissions. Hence, even the 2 degree Celsius goal is already unattainable. However, similar to the way in which national elections in the United States continue to maintain the illusion that this country is a democracy, and “We the People” truly have legitimate representation in Washington, DC, illusions must be maintained at the COP21.

Thus, the faux goal of 2 degrees Celsius continues to be discussed. Meanwhile, the planet burns.” -Dahr Jamail

“Short answer to the title question; Yes. Far too late and little With beyond the faux goal of 2c warming inevitable no matter what we do and non-binding contributions that in all probability will not even be implemented for years to come; why continue to pretend that COP 21 will produce anything meaningful? Kabuki Theater, nothing more. Dahr Jamail’s latest dispatch from the global climate calamity is more of the same. Shit is bad, and it’s getting worse, faster every day, with no end in sight.” -OSJ

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

“But it is here at the head of the river, under the snow peaks and the waterfall that thunders down out of the magic lake, that I shall pass from one world to another.”—Peter Matthiessen

In the book The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen’s journey deep into the Nepali Himalaya to spot a snow leopard merely scratches the surface of his inner journey. Nature and our experiences in and with it are, I believe, the clearest mirror of ourselves we could ever hope for.

I told my father I’m rereading this book, and he wrote me back: “Love that book. It was a time in that part of the world when things were still pristine before tourism brought the kinds of people that should never have polluted that sacred environment.”

Agreeing with him, I shared what I’d always believed, or at least had always hoped to believe: that there are still those pristine places to be found – it is just that one must travel further, much further, into the “frontiers” to find them.

I’d love to believe this possible, but I know it no longer is. Not anymore, given what the industrial growth society has done, and is doing, to the planet. There is no place left on earth or in the atmosphere or deep within the oceans where the toxic fingerprint of industry has not left its indelible mark.

The faux goal of 2 degrees Celsius continues to be discussed. Meanwhile, the planet burns.

During the first week of December, delegations from nearly 200 countries will convene in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) climate conference. It has been billed, like the last several, as the most important climate meeting ever. The goal, like that of past COPs, is to have governments commit to taking steps to cut carbon dioxide emissions in order to limit planetary warming to within 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial temperature baseline.

Yet this is a politically agreed-upon limit. It is not based on science.

Renowned climate scientist James Hansen and multiple other scientists have already shown that a planetary temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial baseline temperatures is enough to cause runaway climate feedback loops, extreme weather events and a disastrous sea level rise.

Furthermore, the UK meteorological office has shown that this year’s global temperature average has already surpassed that 1 degree Celsius level.

Well in advance of the Paris talks, the UN announced that the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere has locked in another 2.7 degrees Celsius warming at a minimum, even if countries move forward with the pledges they make to cut emissions. Hence, even the 2 degree Celsius goal is already unattainable. However, similar to the way in which national elections in the United States continue to maintain the illusion that this country is a democracy, and “We the People” truly have legitimate representation in Washington, DC, illusions must be maintained at the COP21.

Thus, the faux goal of 2 degrees Celsius continues to be discussed. Meanwhile, the planet burns.

Japan’s meteorological office announced that this past September was, by far, the warmest September on record, and records now show that October has also become the hottest recorded October. As a whole, 2015 remains easily on course to become the hottest year ever recorded.

As if to place an exclamation point on all of this information, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels hit a new milestone in excess of 400 parts per million in early 2015 – a 45 percent increase over preindustrial levels.

Extreme weather events propelled by anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) abound in this month’s dispatch.

Hurricane Patricia tore into the West Coast of Mexico, becoming the strongest hurricane ever recorded, with sustained winds of 200 miles per hour.

Yemen was struck by its first hurricane in recorded history, dumping what is normally a decade’s worth of rain in a matter of merely two days. As if that is not enough to show how intensely ACD is ramping up global weather events, less than a week later the second hurricane in Yemen’s recorded history made landfall, bringing fresh hurricane-force winds, torrential rains, flash flooding and death.

ACD is, quite literally, extinguishing oceanic life across the planet.

An ACD-driven El Niño brought October storms that wreaked havoc across southern California. Record storms in the high desert and mountains of the southern part of that state brought massive mudflows across major highways, which trapped hundreds of vehicles in mud that was 20 feet deep in places, stranding motorists overnight. The rainfall from the storm, which in one area fell at a rate of 1.81 inches in just 30 minutes, was described by the National Weather Service as a “1,000-year event.”

Meanwhile, a recent report shows that marine food chains are at risk of collapse due to ACD impacts, overfishing and pollution. ACD is literally erasing species from coral reefs, the open ocean, Arctic and Antarctic waters, and the tropics.

Moreover, another recent report reveals that bleaching and disease are combining to destroy the largest coral reef in the continental United States, a 150-mile reef found off the coast of Florida. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem on the planet.

A critical study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled “Global alteration of ocean ecosystem functioning due to increasing human CO2 emissions,” warns, “The future simplification of our oceans has profound consequences for our current way of life, particularly for coastal populations and those that rely on oceans for food and trade.”

It is yet another scientific report that shows how ACD is, quite literally, extinguishing oceanic life across the planet.

On that note, a paper recently published in The Anthropocene Review reminds us of a sobering fact that other peer-reviewed studies have confirmed: We are indeed living in the sixth mass extinction event, which we ourselves have created.

And when we look across the planet for this month’s dispatch, all of the signs appear to indicate as much.

Earth

The signs of ACD across this sector of the planet continue to be glaring.

In the South Pacific region, a full one-third of the total population of Papua New Guinea is suffering from a drought crisis that is the worst in the last century. Nearly 2.5 million people in the country must deal with a critical lack of food and water, and the drought is expected to persist at least into March 2016.

In southeast Alaska, Native communities are struggling to continue harvesting traditional foods due to ACD’s impacts in that region. From herring to blueberries to shellfish, many of the region’s original plants and animals are disappearing.

Drought continues to plague vast expanses of the planet as ACD progresses.

In nearby Canada, as well as across Alaska, much of the northern United States, Scandinavia and Eurasia, the massive boreal forests, which comprise a full one-third of the planet’s forest cover, are undergoing a startling decline due to ACD. This is evidenced by permafrost that is thawing and burning up in wildfires, insect outbreaks assaulting the forests, and climate zones that are moving 10 times faster than the forests are able to migrate. These forests are also plagued by logging and oil and gas drilling.

A recent study suggests that in the United States, we need to develop new models aimed at the conservation and preservation of our national parks. The traditional approach of setting land aside to protect its biodiversity is no longer sufficient, since ACD impacts like drought, increasing insect infestations and wildfires do not respect park boundaries.

On a similar note, the rare snow leopard from Matthiessen’s famous book is now officially in even greater danger of extinction due to ACD, as warming temperatures continue to shrink the cat’s habitat.

Across the world, ACD is also shrinking the habitat of some of the more rare birds in Hawai’i, including the yellow honeycreeper, according to a recent report. The bird’s habitat is expected to vanish completely by the end of the century.

Looking southward to colder climates, the king penguin saw a 34 percent decline in population following a year of extremely warm waters in their normally cold southern ocean environment. Their changing climate is forcing them to have to swim farther for food, causing many of them to starve to death.

Drought continues to plague vast expanses of the planet as ACD progresses.

In Ethiopia, the worst drought in a decade is wiping out the country’s agricultural sector, upon which most people there depend for their livelihood.

Stepping back and taking a broader view of drought’s global impact, the UN recently announced that it expects at least 50 million people will become refugees within just the next five years because their land is literally turning into desert.

Water

As usual, evidence of ACD’s impact abounds in the watery realms of the planet.

California faces a future that will likely bring twice as many droughts and three times as much flooding, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications. Of course, the state has its hands full with the current disastrous drought and floods – and unless drastic changes are made, these weather patterns will only deepen and worsen.

Looking now at the ongoing loss of ice around the world, a study by Australian- and New Zealand-based scientists, which was published in the journal Nature, shows that the planet will be locked into thousands of years of unstoppable sea level rise from a melting Antarctic, as temperature increases of just 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius will lead to a massive reduction in ice. Remember that the UN announced that we are already locked into 2.7 degrees Celsius warming even if countries move forward on the pledges they brought to Paris for the COP21.

Recent NASA data show that the melting ice in western Antarctica is already in “irreversible retreat.” That ice melt alone is likely to bring three meters of sea level rise.

Warming Antarctic oceans, which are a driving force behind the melting of the western Antarctic, are now threatening to kill off krill, the organism that forms the entire basis of the Antarctic ecosystem, according to biologists with the Australian government’s Antarctic Division.

Melting continues apace in Greenland as well, where recently published data reveal how an ocean-based glacier has begun a rapid retreat, and will ultimately add one and a half feet to global sea level rise all by itself. Disconcertingly, another nearby glacier there is also in rapid retreat, and the two together will add over three feet to global sea level rise.

Recent NASA data show that the melting ice in western Antarctica is already in “irreversible retreat.”

By 2050, the Arctic coast, along with most of the Arctic Ocean, will be completely devoid of sea ice for at least an additional two months per year, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change on November 4. This absence of ice will dramatically change both the Arctic and the planet itself: The Arctic will reflect far less sunlight back into space, hence increasing the speed of planetary warming.

The issue of rising sea levels has motivated a coalition of small Pacific Ocean nations, including Tuvalu, Tokelau, Kiribati and Fiji, to band together and request that wealthy nations work toward assisting their people to migrate and find jobs as they begin to flee to higher ground. The countries cited “major existential challenges” to their populations due to ACD impacts.

Similar to the crisis facing the island nations of the South Pacific, the Saloum Delta islands of Senegal are also seeing their way of life – and their very existence – move into the firing line of ACD impacts. Since their livelihoods are based on fishing and low-lying agriculture and both are disappearing, due to smaller fish catches and rising seas, respectively, the islands’ people are left with no income and are facing starvation.

Back in the United States, the people of the Quinault Indian Nation on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State are dealing with sea level rise that is also threatening their way of life. A 2,000-foot-long sea wall is being constructed to protect houses, but it’s only buying them time; the sea level rise isn’t stopping. The tribe has developed a $60 million plan to relocate the entire village to higher ground.

Sea level rise is, of course, already impacting the coastal United States. A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows how major cities like New York, Jacksonville, Sacramento, Boston, New Orleans and Miami are facing an existential risk given that dramatic and immediate mitigation efforts to curb carbon dioxide emissions are not happening. Remember that we are already locked in to a minimum of 2.7 degrees Celsius warming by 2100, even if dramatic mitigation efforts are immediately undertaken on a global level. The future of US coastal cities is looking bleak.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, sea level rise is set to cause large portions of Australia to lose their coastal mangrove forests before the end of this century, according to recently published research. “Without mangrove forests, fish decline, there’s reduced coastal protection, there’s reduced coastal carbon sequestration,” University of Queensland researcher Catherine Lovelock said of the situation.

On the US East Coast, Atlantic cod, a fish that has long been critical to New England’s fishing industry, is now on the brink of vanishing completely. The fish’s spawning and survival are being thwarted by rapidly warming waters in the Gulf of Maine, fueled largely by ACD.

Looking south, recent US research shows we should expect dramatic and abrupt changes in oceanic food chains of the Southern Ocean, as it continues to acidify at a dramatic pace. Some of the key organisms in the food chain there are expected to be wiped out in as early as 15 years.

Fire

While the most intense wildfire season in US history has come to an end, 2015 officially became the worst wildfire season in Indonesia’s history. By mid-October, that island nation saw more than 100,000 individual fires, and damages by the end of that month reached more than $30 billion, and more than half a million people were reported sick from the smoke.

This telling global map shows how ACD-fueled wildfires continue to ramp up across much of the Southern Hemisphere now as their summer approaches.

Air

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a chart that shows, very clearly, how 2015’s global temperatures are exceedingly above the historic norm.

Air temperatures are becoming so hot as ACD progresses, in fact, that the oil-and-gas-producing Gulf countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, among others, will soon become unlivable because of the extreme heat and humidity, according to a report in the journal Nature Climate Change.

In the extreme weather realm, while it’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic, there were, nevertheless, 21 record-shattering hurricanes and typhoons, all but one of which occurred in the Pacific Ocean.

On the methane front, news comes from the Woods Hole Research Center, which released a policy brief that concluded that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not account adequately for the warming feedback loop that is both caused by and is causing methane releases into the atmosphere. Methane is, depending on the time frame used to measure its impact, roughly 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile, evidence of more methane release comes in the form of “accelerating” warming of permafrost across vast portions of Alaska. This warming was brought to light in another recent report, which describes how, when the permafrost melts, the methane frozen within it is released, which accelerates warming further. This causes the permafrost to melt faster, hence the positive feedback loop.

With 2014 already logging in as the warmest year on record for Alaska – and 2015 now on pace to beat it – farming in the state is actually increasing along with the temperature. Think about that for a moment: Farming is now becoming a growing business in Alaska because the northernmost state in the United States is warming so dramatically. The world is rapidly becoming a very different place in which to live.

Denial and Reality

Given the Republican presidential candidates’ attempts to vie for the title of “most backward,” there is no shortage of ACD denial this month.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz publicly stated that he believes ACD is “religion.”

“Climate change is not science. It’s religion,” Cruz told Glenn Beck.

More information was recently released about how Exxon Mobil, via deep collaborative efforts with the Bush and Cheney White House, sowed doubt about climate science over a period of decades by playing the “uncertainty” card.

Good news connected to that massive bit of well-funded denial comes in the form of a message from former US Department of Justice attorney Sharon Eubanks. She both prosecuted and won a massive racketeering case against Big Tobacco, and now thinks the agency should consider investigating Big Oil for similar claims to those made by Big Tobacco: claims that deliberately mislead the general public about the risks of its product.

Eubanks believes Exxon Mobil, along with other fossil fuel companies, could very well be held liable for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) if it turns out the companies actively worked together to suppress knowledge about the reality of ACD.

On that note, the New York attorney general’s office, in November, opened an investigation of Exxon Mobil, and this investigation could well generate legal inquiries into other major oil companies for similar actions. The investigations may lead to legal actions against all of the companies.

More good news on the reality front: A recent poll shows that a minimum of 70 percent of Americans now believe that ACD, over the last 40 years, is real and supported by solid scientific evidence. The same poll reveals a huge drop in the number of self-identified Republicans who doubt the reality of ACD, the numbers falling from 41 percent last fall to 26 percent.

Over in France, a high-profile TV weatherman in that country, Philippe Verdier, has been removed from being on air after he wrote a book that questioned the reality of ACD. In his book, he casts doubt on the findings of leading climate scientists and political leaders, and says they had “taken the world hostage.”

“I received a letter asking me not to come [back to work],” Verdier told the media. “I don’t know any more than that, I don’t know how long it will last. It’s all to do with my book.”

To wrap up this month’s dispatch: A recent study revealed 41 cases in which “abrupt changes” in the permafrost, sea ice, snow cover, ocean and terrestrial biosphere could trigger natural disasters. The abstract of the study, which was published in the esteemed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reads: “Eighteen out of 37 events occur for global warming levels of less than 2 [degrees Celsius], a threshold sometimes presented as a safe limit.”

This means the scientists have identified these “tipping points” where abrupt regional climate shifts can occur due to ACD.

Predicting when they will occur remains challenging, but the results of the study show that all the state-of-the art climate models demonstrate that abrupt changes are likely. The first two hurricanes in recorded history to hit Yemen both striking the country in a six-day period and dumping a decade’s worth of rain in 48 hours is an example of this.

“Our results show that no safe limit exists and that many abrupt shifts already occur for global warming levels much lower than 2 degrees,” said lead author Professor Sybren Drijfhout from Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton.

Despite the now common warning of “no safe limit” of the ever-increasing global temperature, the COP21 will be held with all of the attendant fanfare, media coverage and protests.

Global leaders will appear as though they are doing something to address the single greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced, despite the most respected, prestigious scientific bodies in the world producing one report after another that shows us we have run out of time to turn the ship, as the iceberg has long since punctured the hull.

Rather than pinning false hope to the COP21, perhaps now each of us might sit still, feel what is happening and listen deeply to the earth. If we do, then we might know from within, what is most important, and what we should do next.

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.”

“Environmental Melancholia”- Mourning The Changes That Surround Us: Readers Speak Out On Climate Calamity

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2015 at 1:10 pm
https://i1.wp.com/www.truth-out.org/images/images_2015_07/2015_0720lead.jpg

Footage from the Carlton Complex wildfire in north and central Washington State. The fire burned for more than 10 days before it could be quelled by firefighters and rain. (Photo: Wildfire via Shutterstock)

Oldspeak:”Are You as a human being aware of the total disorder and the degenerating process going on in the world around you and in yourself? Aware in the sense of observing what is actually taking place. Not imagining what is taking place, not making an idea of what is taking place, but the actual happening: the political, religious, the social, the moral degeneration of man. No institution, no guru, no higher principles are going to stop this degradation. It is happening the world over. Are we aware of that? –Jiddu Krishnamurti

People often conceptualize climate disruption in very theoretical terms – as if it is a phenomenon that will take place in the future. However….the impacts of planetary warming are very real – and they are happening now… Taken together, these readers’ observations offer a disconcerting look at the planet changing before our eyes. They also lead us to the inevitable task of dealing with the melancholy that is sure to arise from our paying attention to these dramatic planetary changes.” –Dahr Jamail

“The latest climate dispatch from Dahr Jamail, frames the ongoing calamity of mass extinction and global ecological collapse from the view of normal folk, courageous enough to bear witness to the horrific degeneration happening in our world . People share their feelings of mourning, melancholy, loss, exasperation, frustration and fear that are rarely discussed in polite company. This needs to happen more often. We are all living and coping maladaptively with a beyond human scale planetary traumatic stress disorder. No one is talking about it. We are still acting as though we are separate from our environment. The effects of this delusion on our collective psyche are ubiquitous and devastating whether we choose to recognize them as such or not.” -OSJ

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

In early July, I asked Truthout readers to share the weather anomalies they are witnessing on their home turf. Large numbers of readers responded with a range of harrowing observations, from vanishing snow, to shifts in seasons, to skyrocketing temperatures, to wildfires and floods. People often conceptualize climate disruption in very theoretical terms – as if it is a phenomenon that will take place in the future. However, as the Truthout community knows, the impacts of planetary warming are very real – and they are happening now.

Taken together, these readers’ observations offer a disconcerting look at the planet changing before our eyes. They also lead us to the inevitable task of dealing with the melancholy that is sure to arise from our paying attention to these dramatic planetary changes.

Vanishing Snowpack

“Here, from the center of town, we can see Mount Blanc, the highest peak in Europe at 4,008 meters,” Robert James Parsons, who lives in Geneva, Switzerland, wrote Truthout recently. “It is surrounded by less high peaks. When my sisters and mother visited me in September 1993, they had a rare view of the surrounding peaks without snow. These are slate gray, and their contrast with the dark green on the lower mountains and the white on the Mount Blanc range is quite beautiful.”

Parsons explained that this was a rare view because, ordinarily, the snow around Mount Blanc never entirely disappeared. Usually, by the middle of each September, the fall rains had begun in the lower elevations, bringing fresh snows higher up, and that would put an end to the exposed gray rock until the end of the next year’s summer.

“But this year, the gray rock was visible already at the end of April,” Parsons concluded grimly.

While no single climatological event or phenomenon can be attributed solely to anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), consistent shifts in weather patterns, along with increasing frequency and intensification of events or phenomena, are being tied directly to ACD.

For example, Parson’s story evidences the scientific fact that ACD is literally shifting the timing of the seasons.

Gordon Glick has lived in Bremerton, Washington, nearby the Olympic Mountains in Olympic National Park since 1978.

“Bremerton is due east of the Olympic range, particularly the mountains called ‘The Brothers,’ which are visible from several vantage points around town and environs,” he wrote.

“These days, the snow pack and the glaciers are almost gone by the middle of June.”

“I’m a born New York City boy, and have always marveled at my good fortune in winding up here in the Northwest. When I first arrived, I was thrilled to see that the upper reaches of the Olympics were snow-capped all year long. Yes, the glaciers and snowpack melted and receded, and by August, would be at about their minimum. In September, the weather would change up on the peaks, and before you knew it, the sunrise would reveal the eastern flanks covered with brilliant, glittering snow, while down here at sea level, it would still be sunny and warm, soon to turn the gray of a Northwest autumn and winter. On clear days one could look up and see the peaks mantled in white.”

But things have changed dramatically.

“These days, the snow pack and the glaciers are almost gone by the middle of June,” Glick continued. “By August, you can’t tell they were ever covered in snow and ice. The heat at sea level has become very oppressive, and without the inspiring view of the frozen summits, which seemed to offer respite for a thirsty and sweaty shipyard worker, it feels even hotter. Summer temperatures in the 90s have been common the past few years, and the haze obscures the peaks on some days.”

As I pen this piece, entire eastern flanks of the Olympic Peninsula remain, as they have for several days in a row now, shrouded thickly in smoke from hundreds of Canadian wildfires, as well as a burning rainforest in southeastern Olympic National Park.

A 2012 Stanford University study, “Northern Hemisphere Snowpack Likely to Shrink Faster,” speaks directly to the phenomenon Glick is witnessing. The study cites the fact that water supplies throughout the western United States will most certainly decline dramatically due to faster than expected changes in less annual snowfall amounts.

Molly Brown, who lives near Mount Shasta in California, wrote about how that mountain had almost no snowfall through this last winter – after multiple years of more than five feet of snow accumulations.

“A tomato I planted in late April is already turning red and it’s just the first week of July.”

“[This year] we didn’t have to lift one shovelful,” she said. “The previous winter had only one significant snow storm; this year, only two small storms. Then it was so warm that our peach trees blossomed too early for the pollinators to arrive, so almost no fruit set. And then of course a later freeze finished off any fruit that had managed to make.”

Mitch Clogg, who wrote from Mendocino, California, echoed Brown’s observations.

“I’ve had a place in Trinity Mountains since 2000 beneath Trinity Alps in northern California,” he wrote. “An older long-term neighbor was the first one to tell me the snowpack had been melting earlier and there used to be snow until end of June. This year it ended by end of May.”

He added, “Mount Shasta in mid-June looks like end of August. The northern and western sides are very bare.”

Clogg also wrote of his experience witnessing the mega-drought in his state, which has, via numerous studies, been linked directly to ACD. He wrote that, by the end of April, “It was the driest … I had ever seen the earth and trees. A lot of small cedar trees in [the] front and back of my place had died. The Trinity River is slightly above my ankle. There are no ripples; it is more like a lake. When I left Trinity Lake on June 14, it had already receded to [the] point where it was last fall.”

Shifting Seasons

In Portland, Oregon, Val Eisman wrote of how blueberries and zucchinis were ripening three weeks earlier than they normally would.

“A tomato I planted in late April is already turning red and it’s just the first week of July,” he wrote.

Patricia Sanders, writing from east central Arizona, said that at the farm where she used to live the apricots ripened six weeks early this year.

“Also, there are Eurasian collared doves in abundance – never seen before at the farm (the farmer’s been there 35 years),” she added.

Folks in Montana are seeing some big changes as well.

“Here in Missoula, we are having incredibly hot and dry weather very early in the year,” wrote Tamara Kittelson-Aldred. “For years, I have noticed that my garden is earlier developing and two years ago we were officially reclassified Zone 5 by the USDA, instead of Zone 4.” She is referring to US Department of Agriculture-designated “plant hardiness” zones, which essentially categorize locations by how well plants grow there. Large numbers of plant hardiness zones across the United States are now in the process of being redesignated.

“Conditions here feel about six weeks ahead of schedule … the rivers are really low – about seven feet or so below normal.”

Kittelson-Aldred is witnessing dramatic changes in Missoula: “This year, for the first time, my rain barrels never have filled up. We have had virtually no rain in April, May or June. At the same time, we have been in a Stage 1 fire danger alert since June. This never usually happens until late July or August. My Nanking cherries are all done as of two weeks ago and they used to ripen in July. And we have cherries and raspberries several weeks early. How can anyone say things are not changing?”

Over in Prescott, Arizona, Terry Wofford is also witnessing sharp changes in plant growth.

“I have lived in different parts of Arizona for the last 40 years,” she told Truthout. “All those years I have had thriving geraniums and other plants in pots, regardless of season or altitude. Now, for the last three years or so, there have been relentless caterpillar attacks virtually destroying them. Also, aphid infestations on all my deck plants, vegetables and even aspen tree, whereas in the past it was only roses affected and only for a short time.”

Stephen Rioux wrote from Ontario, Canada, where he lives on the shores of Georgian Bay. Although some people may assume that temperatures are increasing across the board this summer, Rioux points to the complexity of shifts in weather: In some places, this summer is unusually cool.

“It’s been interesting to see how the melting Arctic ice is changing our weather patterns, for as warm as it is where you are [Olympic Peninsula] and right up into Alaska, we are experiencing much cooler than normal temperatures here in Ontario,” Rioux wrote of the disruptions he is witnessing. “In fact, today (Canada Day, July 1) where I live, the high is only 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit), about 10 degrees Celsius below the average for this time of year. So we have these extremes occurring. Of course, all this cooler weather here has meant some of the lesser informed are saying how this proves ‘there is no such thing as ACD,’ never understanding that record warm temperatures are being recorded all over the planet or how ACD actually works. Fools!”

Colin Ball wrote from Clare Valley, Australia, where, he says, “signs of chaotic change abound.”

Record high temperatures, perhaps the most obvious sign of our climate-disrupted planet, have long been linked to ACD.

“Where I live, almond trees are amongst the first, along with some native acacias, to blossom,” Ball wrote. “This used to be in mid- to late August (winter here). I’ve watched over the past decade or so as this blossoming has occurred earlier in the season, from early August to late July, mid-July, early July, until this year 2015, I was astounded to see buds burst on my property on June 28!”

He added that by early July they experienced a prolonged warming period during which one day reached 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), despite that usually being, traditionally, the coldest part of the year there.

“This prolonged warm patch induced an apple tree to an early blossom with one particular blossom commencing to form an apple about the size of a grape,” Ball wrote. “When winter returned a week or so later, the blossoming stopped and the little apple desiccated but remained on the tree as a sad indictment of its misled promise. When frosts came due to rainless and cloudless skies in late July/August all the almond and apple blossoms died. The result – no fruit in summer.”

Shawn Taylor, the executive producer for “The Thom Hartmann Program,” wrote about her observations from Portland, Oregon:

I am not liking the hot summer we’ve been dealt in the Pacific Northwest this year. Portland has been too hot with higher than normal [temperatures] and humidity. We have no snow on our mountains either … Mt. Hood has a little on the highest peak and Mt. St. Helen’s had barely a dusting last weekend … it’s probably gone by now too … Conditions here feel about six weeks ahead of schedule … the rivers are really low – about seven feet or so below normal (I live on a floating home so that is always a little scary); fruit that usually isn’t ripe until August is just about ready to pick now and the pond near my house is drying up now vs. mid-August.

Taylor also mentioned that the heat in Portland had been relentless, and a large number of creeks were now completely dry. She described it as “really disturbing,” and said that the local government in her area had yet to place any restrictions on water use.

“I don’t think anyone wants to admit we’ve ‘suddenly’ become California,” she concluded.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists shifting seasons as an indicator of ACD. The world over, these shifts are taking an alarming cumulative toll on food and water availability and agricultural production (usually causing it to decline), and having negative impacts on insect and animal species.

Record Temperatures

Like Taylor, Jessica Sweeney lives in Portland, Oregon, which she describes as “a part of the country that is historically wet and mild throughout the majority of the year.” However, Sweeney said, “That started changing a decade or so ago. Right now, we are experiencing the craziest stretch of hot weather I have ever experienced (and I am a lifelong Oregonian).”

Val Eisman, also a Portland resident, described the city’s record temperatures: “We have had almost three weeks of 90s degree weather in Portland. Usually during our hot weather it gets down to the high 70s by 9 pm. Now it’s in the low 80s at 10 pm.”

Sweeney said temperatures in Portland had ranged from the high 80s to the low 100s “for so many days – without any signs of precipitation, not even a cloud in the sky – that I can’t recall when they started. It feels like desert heat, the kind you experience in central Oregon and California, and as far as I know has never happened in Portland before.”

Record high temperatures, perhaps the most obvious sign of our climate-disrupted planet, have long been linked to ACD.

Sweeney also mentioned how Pacific Northwest salmon are dying from the unusually warm river water.

Another observation from the Pacific Northwest came from Ian Cameron, in Camas, Washington. He too mentioned the incredible heat and lack of rainfall in the region, and said, “11 of the last 12 months have been warmer than average and six of those 11 months were heat records. But this June and July it has been unbelievable and actually sincerely concerning as our well already has a low flow/refill rate.”

Cameron went on to share his concerns about the future – a future in which the western United States is likely to continue growing hotter and drier.

“I’m no expert but I predict that in the near future (10-15 years) we are going to see private wells dry up across the West, maybe in the thousands or hundreds of thousands,” he wrote. “People won’t be able to live in (long term at least) or sell their homes resulting in massive debt, widespread economic disruption, migration to areas with water and the subsequent increased depletion rate of those water resources.”

David Kirsh, from Durham, North Carolina, wrote to share an experience he had in Jamaica. “I’m a lifelong shell collector and I’ve had the opportunity to vacation twice in the southwest corner of Jamaica called Treasure Beach (St. Elizabeth’s Parish), once in December 2013 and again this March,” he wrote.

Kirsh noticed that a place called “Great Pond” in Jamaica was only one-quarter to one-third full on his first trip, and he decided to explore the area for aquatic snails on his second trip.

“When we returned, I saw that it was completely dry,” he said. “The owner of the guesthouse where I stayed told me that it had been dry before but this is the longest time it’s been dry (perhaps eight months or more). Great Pond was the largest fresh body of water in Jamaica and was somewhat unique in its being so close to ocean water yet low salinity … It was a place where local Jamaicans used to fish and swim and boat (I don’t know how recently).”

Now, Kirsh wrote, the pond is a site of death. “I found the biggest single assemblage of shells I’ve ever seen in my lifetime at Great Pond – all dead,” he wrote. “Most of the shells I found on the surface of the dried mud are non-native and were introduced within the last 20 years, going by the records in a previous study. Admittedly without complete information, it seemed to me like a small habitat meant to be a canary in the coal mine.”

Another story about increasing temperatures came from Michael Gary, who wrote of his childhood home. It’s worth publishing in full:

In 1968, our family moved from Detroit, Michigan, to Westerville, Ohio, just north of Columbus.

In the winter months I would spend hours ice skating on Alumn Creek, along with hundreds of other members of our community. Year after year, without any interruption.

Decades went by before I found myself planning a trip back to that area and wanted to go ice skating again, as I had once enjoyed so much. In preparation I called the city office and inquired about how to learn about any planned activities. I was informed that the last time the creek had frozen was at least 20 years ago.

Global warming? I can’t say one way or another.

All I can say is that that creek froze year after year and I have seen photos of ice skating there dating back 100 years or so …

but it no longer does.

Ever.

Wildfires

Record wildfires abound, thanks to ACD. It is a scientific fact that there is now a greater frequency of wildfires, they are larger and hotter, and wildfire season is expanding dramatically, all due to ACD.

Thus far in 2015 alone, a staggering 3 million acres have burned in Alaska, and well over 5 million in Canada.

“It is the hottest and driest year in British Columbia that I have ever seen,” wrote Ellen Rainwalker, from Vancouver Island. “Sixty-four temperature records were broken in June. A lot of our rivers are fed from snowmelt but this year there was hardly any snow so the water in the rivers is very low. Lots of people’s wells have already run dry and it is only early July.”

She mentioned that while her area does sometimes have dry summers, this was the first time she was aware of that there have been such dramatic water shortages this early in the summer, “and I’ve lived here for a long time,” she said.

A recent local news report from her area underscored Rainwalker’s points, with a story on how the British Columbia government banned angling from over a dozen streams and rivers on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands because of low stream flows and warming water temperatures. Her province has also increased the drought rating for both of those areas to its highest level, and imposed new restrictions to protect what is left in the aquifers.

Another Canadian, Richard Miller from Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, also wrote to me about the wildfires and heat there.

“Fire is a major concern on this treed island and evacuation plans are in place,” he said. “Our crops are about a month early and many people on the island have dry wells. The regional government has banned new developments that draw water from stressed sources.”

Miller also reported on another anomaly: “lots of sightings of large sea animals in places they usually don’t show themselves, perhaps as a result ocean temperature change.”

Rising Sea Levels

Another glaringly obvious sign are rising sea levels, which science long ago linked to ACD.

Everett Wohlers is a consultant who works in developing countries, and a few years ago worked on a job in the Marshall Islands, where he observed something that troubled him greatly.

“When the US moved the Bikini islanders off Bikini to use it as the site for the H-bomb tests in the 1950s, they were resettled on Majuro, the atoll where the capital is located,” Wohlers wrote. “As part of the compensation package, the US built a high-quality paved road around the atoll, including through the capital.”

According to Wohlers, at the time the road was built, it was safely dry as it was well above the high-tide mark, even in stormy weather.

But things have changed.

“Now, at high tide, water routinely flows across the road just outside the hotel in which I stayed in the capital, even on perfectly calm days,” Wohlers wrote. “If you are not familiar with the Marshalls and the next island country to it, Kiribati, the maximum natural elevation on those atolls is about six feet, so it is only a matter of time until they become uninhabitable and eventually disappear, as did one of the Maldives islands a couple of years ago.”

Environmental Melancholia

While some people who wrote to Truthout about their environmental observations have spoken overtly about their exasperation, frustration and even fear, there is an even deeper emotional current surrounding the issue of climate disruption – and it is affecting all of us, whether we are conscious of it or not.

Regan Rosburg is a professional artist who is finishing her master’s thesis that explores the connection between grief, symbolism, environmental melancholia and mania. I was already well acquainted with Rosburg’s work, but she contacted me after I put out the call to Truthout readers.

Her perspective on what each of us is witnessing as the planet degrades is thus: “These are the personal mini deaths that, to me, are an entrance point for people to experience their own grief regarding environmental melancholia.”

Her thesis, which will be completed and fully online this November, will serve as both artwork and resource for those of us struggling to cope emotionally with the climate crisis, delving into the issue of what planetary death is doing to our psyches.

Rosburg continued:

A mini death is a death that is part of the larger ecological collapse story, but is close enough for someone to experience directly (in a way that resembles healthy mourning). For example, someone might see bees disappear from his yard, or she might experience a drought-related forest fire, or flooding. The person is having a direct experience with this death. Furthermore, his processing of the grief for this death is proportional to how much she directly engages her feelings and awareness towards the loss.

Rosburg explained that in contrast, the major deaths we witness, like the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica collapsing, or Chris Jordan’s photographs of plastic-filled albatross who feed in the open ocean, or even California’s record-breaking megadrought, remain “more indirect, abstract and overlapping.”

Rosburg sees these “major” deaths as being “too massive for the human mind to fully comprehend,” on top of the fact that we are all already desensitized by “a constant stream of small television, radio and social media sound bites, which further depersonalize these stories of massive losses around the world.”

Thus, we are left with, according to Rosburg, “no time to grieve; no symbolic ritual [is] in place, and [there is] no body to bury.” In other words, there is no real precedent for carrying out this kind of mourning.

“Thus, these notions of collapse are abstracted; they cannot be personalized, nor properly mourned,” Rosburg said. “Instead, the recurrent state of un-mournable deaths gives way to environmental melancholia.”

A G. Hanlon wrote me from California, and shared several examples of collapsing natural systems around him, including the drought, wildfires and chronically higher temperatures. He ended his email by sharing a deeply personal experience that speaks directly to the concept of “environmental melancholia”:

Until I read your interview [“Mass Extinction: It’s the End of the World as We Know It“], I was very much aware of climate change, of threats it posed to living entities … etc … but I lacked a sense of its immediacy. After reading it, I looked at an image I had taken of a friend’s daughter (16 years of age) participating in a race on July 4 at Mt. Shasta. As she ran past me, she flashed a natural, fabulously beautiful smile. I thought of her future (and others) but hers was deeply personal. I wept uncontrollably for sometime afterwards (10-20 minutes). Shopping today I paid attention to all those unknown people of all ages and asked myself “how can we allow this (extinction) to happen? I lack the words beyond sadness, sorrow … to express my feelings about these passing. None of those people (and millions and billions like them) deserve a potential fate of a hell on earth in two to three decades and their horrid deaths that will follow.

Rosburg sees the solution, at least emotionally, as allowing ourselves to dive headfirst into the emotions that are elicited each time we witness a mini-death, so as to render ourselves more capable of fathoming the broader collapse that is taking place across the planet.

“If someone can acknowledge the pain and ambivalence that comes with a mini-death, then that person can extend that awareness to the larger ecological collapse,” Rosburg said.

Given that the numbers of both mini- and major-ecological deaths are mounting on a daily basis, we would all do well to heed Rosburg’s suggestion.

Meanwhile, I want to say thank you to the Truthout community for contributing to this piece with such enthusiasm and insight. The first step to wrestling with the calamity of climate disruption is to acknowledge it. Your observations mark a path forward, toward awareness – and, hopefully, healing.

 

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.

The Methane Monster Roars; Abrupt Catastrophic Methane Releases Growing More Likely As Earth Warms

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2015 at 12:28 am

Methane monster roars

Oldspeak:It is my view that our climate system is in early stages of abrupt climate change that, unchecked, will lead to a temperature rise of 5 to 6 degrees Celsius within a decade or two. Obviously, such a large change in the climate system will have unprecedented effects on the health and well-being of every plant and animal on our planetAs the methane concentrations increase in the Arctic from the large warming rates there in both the atmosphere and ocean, the jet streams will be greatly disrupted even more than now…. Physics dictates that this will continue to increase the frequency, severity and duration of extreme weather events like torrential rains leading to widespread flooding in some regions and droughts in other regions. Needless to say, this causes enormous economic losses and poses a severe and grave threat to our global food supply. Thus, the Arctic can be considered the Achilles heel in our climate system… There will be continuing disruption and fracturing of our weather and climate systems… Further acceleration of these processes is very likely to lead to a ‘abrupt climate change’ system reorganization from a cold, snowy, ice-covered Arctic Ocean to a ‘blue Arctic Ocean’ regime… The final state could have a global temperature average being 5 or 6 degrees Celsius warmer and the transition to this state could occur in one to two decades… Recently, it has been announced that 2014 is the warmest year ever in the instrumental records…. A large preponderance of the heat added to the climate system over the last decade or so has gone into heating the oceans and when this heat balance cycles back to the atmosphere we will see a very rapid rise in global average temperatures.” -Dr. Paul Beckwith, Professor of Climatology & Meteorology, University of Ottawa

“Yep. What he said. Some serious volume of toxic gas is getting passed world wide. It’s not gonna stop. It’s getting worse. Seems the madness will truly begin when the worlds oceans start expelling the massive amounts heat they’ve been sequestering the past decade or so.” -OSJ

By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

During a recent hike in Washington State’s Olympic National Park, I marveled at the delicate geometry of frost-covered ferns. White crystalline structures seemed to grow from the green leaves, encasing them in a frozen frame of temporary beauty.

Progressing further up into the mountains, I stopped to lunch and sip hot coffee from a thermos while gazing across a river valley at a snow-covered mountainside, sizing up a frozen waterfall for a possible ice climb in the future. Yet I found myself beginning to wonder how many more winters ice would continue to form there.

The disparity of the beauty before me with my troubled thoughts about the planet has found no reconciliation. I had been collecting data and conducting interviews for articles about methane releases in the Arctic for weeks, and pondering the information through the holidays only led me into depression. Going out into the mountains helped, but also provoked grave concerns for our collective future.

To consider the possibility that humans have altered the atmosphere of the earth so drastically as to put our own lives in danger seems, at least emotionally, unfathomable. Given the scale of the planet, one would think, logically, it might not even be possible. Yet the majestic snow-covered peaks near where I live may no longer have glaciers (or even snow) within my lifetime, according to some of the scientists I’ve interviewed.

Paul Beckwith, a climatology and meteorology professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada, is an engineer and physicist who researches abrupt climate change in both the present day and in the paleoclimatology records of the deep past.

“It is my view that our climate system is in early stages of abrupt climate change that, unchecked, will lead to a temperature rise of 5 to 6 degrees Celsius within a decade or two,” Beckwith told me. “Obviously, such a large change in the climate system will have unprecedented effects on the health and well-being of every plant and animal on our planet.”
A Very Different Planet

Vast amounts of methane lie frozen in the Arctic. It’s not news that the Arctic sea ice is melting rapidly, and that it will likely be gone for short periods during the summers starting as early as next year. Losing that ice means releasing larger amounts of previously trapped methane into the atmosphere.

Additionally, lying along the Arctic’s subsea continental margins and beneath Arctic permafrost are methane hydrates, often described as methane gas surrounded by ice. In March 2010, a report in Science indicated that these cumulatively contain the equivalent of 1,000 to 10,000 gigatons of carbon.

For perspective, humans have released approximately 1,475 gigatons in total carbon dioxide since the year 1850.

Beckwith warns that losing the Arctic sea ice will create a state that “will represent a very different planet, with a much higher global average temperature, in which snow and ice in the northern hemisphere becomes very rare or even vanishes year round.”

In the simplest terms, here’s what an ice-free Arctic would mean when it comes to heating the planet: Minus the reflective ice cover on Arctic waters, solar radiation would be absorbed, not reflected, by the Arctic Ocean. That would heat those waters, and hence the planet, further. This effect has the potential to change global weather patterns, vary the flow of winds and even someday possibly alter the position of the jet stream. Polar jet streams are fast-flowing rivers of wind positioned high in the earth’s atmosphere that push cold and warm air masses around, playing a critical role in determining the weather of our planet.

“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,” Beckwith explained. “The rapidly warming Arctic relative to the rest of the planet (five to eight times global average temperature rise) is decreasing the temperature gradient between the Arctic and the equator.”

This decreased gradient is disrupting the jet stream, leading to further warming in the Arctic, forming a runaway feedback loop, which in turn is causing the release of more methane in the Arctic.

And on land, it’s already happening as well. On Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula, mysterious holes in the ground drew international attention before they became not-so-mysterious when Russian researchers found significant amounts of methane inside them. Now, that same area is making news again as researchers have found increasing amounts of methane emissions coming from thawing permafrost there.

“As the methane concentrations increase in the Arctic from the large warming rates there in both the atmosphere and ocean, the jet streams will be greatly disrupted even more than now,” Beckwith said. “Physics dictates that this will continue to increase the frequency, severity and duration of extreme weather events like torrential rains leading to widespread flooding in some regions and droughts in other regions. Needless to say, this causes enormous economic losses and poses a severe and grave threat to our global food supply. Thus, the Arctic can be considered the Achilles heel in our climate system.”

US Navy researchers have predicted periods of an ice-free Arctic ocean in the summer by 2016.

British scientist John Nissen, chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, suggests that if the summer sea ice loss passes “the point of no return” and “catastrophic Arctic methane feedbacks” kick in, we’ll be in an “instant planetary emergency.”

Why should we be so concerned about methane, when all of the talk around climate disruption seems to focus on carbon dioxide levels?

In the atmosphere, methane is a greenhouse gas that, on a relatively short-term time scale, is far more destructive than carbon dioxide. When it comes to heating the planet, methane is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide, per molecule, on a 100-year timescale, and 105 times more potent on a 20-year timescale – and the Arctic permafrost, onshore and off, is packed with the stuff.

According to a study published in Nature Geoscience, twice as much methane as previously thought is being released from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, a 2 million square kilometer area off the coast of northern Siberia. The recent study’s researchers found that at least 17 teragrams (17 million tons) of methane are being released into the atmosphere each year, whereas a 2010 study had found only seven teragrams heading into the atmosphere.

To gain a better understanding of the implications of Arctic warming, I interviewed some of the scientists conducting the most cutting edge and current methane studies in the Arctic.

Dr. Leonid Yurganov is a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland Physics Department and the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, and his current research expertise is connected with remote sensing of tropospheric composition and Arctic methane levels. He is a co-author of an upcoming research paper that will show how recent Arctic warming has stimulated speculations about the release of methane from the seabed there and kicked off a new climatic positive feedback loop. Using remote sensing technology, his team has detected long-term increases of methane over large areas of the Arctic.

Yurganov warns of the consequences of a rapidly warming Arctic.

“The difference in temperatures between the poles and the equator drives our air currents from [the] west to [the] east,” he told Truthout. “If this difference diminishes, the west to east transport becomes slower, and north-south currents become stronger. This results in frequent changes in weather in mid-latitudes.”

While Yurganov isn’t seeing “fast and immediate liberation of methane from hydrates” at this very moment, he warned of what would happen if and when it does occur.

“Increased methane would influence air temperature near the surface,” he said. “This would accelerate the Arctic warming and change the climate everywhere in the world.”

Yurganov does not foresee an immediate global collapse within a decade. In his view, the summer Arctic sea ice will continue to shrink in a more linear fashion, but the frequency of extreme weather events and rising sea levels will continue to accelerate. “People should accommodate to climate change and be prepared to a decline in life-level caused by it,” he warned.

Yurganov sees population reduction via people not having as many babies as one answer to our predicament.

“Depopulation, that resolves all the problems,” he said. “The earth with [a] lower global population, say, twice as low, would emit less carbon dioxide.”

Another Russian scientist who has been studying methane releases in the Arctic, however, had even more worrying news.

The Looming Specter of Abrupt Methane Release

Natalia Shakhova is a research associate professor of the University Alaska Fairbanks, International Arctic Research Center, where she focuses on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS). Shakhova believes we should be concerned about her group’s findings from the ESAS, specifically, because that area differs significantly from methane emissions happening elsewhere around the world.

The ESAS is the largest shelf in the world, encompassing more than 2 million square kilometers, or 8 percent of the world’s continental shelf. Shakhova believes it holds an area-weighted contribution to the global hydrate inventory of “at least 10 to 15 percent.”

“These emissions are prone to be non-gradual (massive, abrupt) for a variety of reasons,” she told Truthout. “The main reason is that the nature of major processes associated with methane releases from subsea permafrost is non-gradual.”

This means that methane releases from decaying frozen hydrates could result in emission rates that “could change in order of magnitude in a matter of minutes,” and that there would be nothing “smooth, gradual or controlled” about it; we could be looking at non-linear releases of methane in amounts that are difficult to fathom.

She explained that the transition from the methane being frozen in the permafrost, either on land or in the shallow northern shores of the East Siberian Arctic, “is not gradual. When it comes to phase transition, it appears to be a relatively short, jump-like transformation from one state of the process to another state. The difference between the two states is like the difference between a closed valve and an open valve. This kind of a release is like the unsealing of an over-pressurized pipeline.”

These immediate methane releases in the ESAS could be triggered at any moment by seismic or tectonic events, the subsiding of sediments caused by hydrate decay or sediment sliding due to permafrost degradation and thaw. The ESAS is particularly prone to these immediate shifts because it is three times shallower than the mean depth of the continental shelf of the world ocean.

“This means that probability of dissolved methane to escape from the water column to the atmosphere is from three to 10 times greater than anywhere in the world’s oceans,” Shakhova said. “In the ESAS, methane is predominantly transported as bubbles. Methane bubbles rise to the surface at a speed from 10 to 40 cm s-1; this means that it only takes minutes for methane to reach the water surface and escape to the atmosphere.”

Including all factors, Shakhova estimates that the carbon pool of the ESAS is in orders of magnitude greater than 180 gigatons, and added that “its role will increase over time.”

A study published in the prestigious journal Nature in July 2013 confirmed what Shakhova has been warning us about for years: that a 50-gigaton “burp” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea is “highly possible at anytime.” That would be the equivalent of at least 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide. (Remember, for perspective, humans have released approximately 1,475 gigatons in total carbon dioxide since the year 1850.)

Even the relatively staid Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned of such a scenario: “The possibility of abrupt climate change and/or abrupt changes in the earth system triggered by climate change, with potentially catastrophic consequences, cannot be ruled out. Positive feedback from warming may cause the release of carbon or methane from the terrestrial biosphere and oceans.”

In the last two centuries, the amount of methane in the atmosphere has increased from 0.7 parts per million to 1.7 parts per million. The introduction of methane in such quantities into the atmosphere may, some climate scientists fear, make increases in the global temperature of 4 to 6 degrees Celsius inevitable.

Yet some of the scientists I spoke with warned of even worse consequences.

Global Implications

Ira Leifer, an atmospheric and marine scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of several Arctic methane studies, told Truthout that the scientific community has learned that methane emissions from the Arctic are already larger than previously thought, and said, “The warming trend in the Arctic is clear.”

The dangers of methane-related warning are staggering, according to Leifer.

“The amount of methane trapped in submerged permafrost is vast, and if even a small fraction reaches the atmosphere on the time scale of a few decades, it would lead to a dramatic increase in warming on a global scale,” he warned. “Furthermore, it could lead to a positive feedback where warming oceans release more methane which warms the Arctic more and leads to more methane release. Worse, the warming only slowly percolates to lower latitudes – and therefore it contributes to the enhanced Arctic warming.”

Just as Beckwith, Yurganov and Shakhova noted, Leifer warned that a warming Arctic has “global implications.”

Earth’s weather is controlled in three cells: the tropics, mid-latitude and polar. So a weakening of the difference in temperature between the pole-equator areas causes an expansion of the tropical cell, which drives desertification in some places and increased flooding in others. All the while, polar weather is expanding, as we’ve been seeing in the United States during recent winters.

While humans can adapt to these new fluctuations in the weather, agriculture and ecosystems cannot.

Like Shakhova, Leifer also expressed concern about the ESAS.

“The potential is there for hydrate emissions to increase with warming oceans due to increased dissociation,” he warned. He also confirmed that his recent studies of methane emissions in the Arctic even found the gas hundreds of miles from the coast. This means that the methane cannot be coming from land sources; Leifer has concluded that his recent studies “confirm a local marine source.”

Meaning, the subsea hydrates are already releasing their methane very far from shore. Beckwith notes that the increasing methane releases in the Arctic and the massive impact they will have on the planetary weather system mean “there will be continuing disruption and fracturing of our weather and climate systems.”

He went on to issue a stark warning. “Further acceleration of these processes is very likely to lead to an ‘abrupt climate change’ system reorganization from a cold, snowy, ice-covered Arctic Ocean to a ‘blue Arctic Ocean’ regime,” he said. “The final state could have a global temperature average being 5 or 6 degrees Celsius warmer and the transition to this state could occur in one to two decades, as has occurred many times in the past as recorded in paleorecords.”

The advent of the “blue Arctic Ocean” Beckwith warns us of is only a matter of time, and will most likely happen before 2020, considering that exponential decline in Arctic summer sea ice volume has already been determined by the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System data and models, which have been corroborated with recent CryoSat measurements, as well as modeling by the Naval Graduate School Regional Climate Models.

Beckwith believes the first of these “blue ocean” events will likely last a few weeks to one month the first time it happens, but then extend to several months just a few years later.

Meanwhile, the IPCC has not addressed Arctic methane releases as a runaway feedback loop, nor has the mainstream media across the political spectrum.

“Then, the greatly increased Arctic warming from albedo collapse would likely result in a year round ‘Arctic blue ocean’ within a decade or two, completing the regime shift to a much warmer climate,” he said.

Thus, Beckwith, like Shakhova, warns of the 50-gigaton methane burst, and fears it is only a matter of time before it occurs.

I asked Leifer if he believed we have already triggered a rapid increase in global temperatures that could lead to the kind of abrupt climate shifts of which Beckwith warns.

“Recently, it has been announced that 2014 is the warmest year ever in the instrumental records,” he said. “A large preponderance of the heat added to the climate system over the last decade or so has gone into heating the oceans and when this heat balance cycles back to the atmosphere we will see a very rapid rise in global average temperatures.”

Another “Great Dying?”

The Permian mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago was related to methane – in fact, the gas is thought to be the key to what caused the extinction of approximately 95 percent of all species on the planet.

Also known as “The Great Dying,” it was triggered by a massive lava flow in an area of Siberia that led to an increase in global temperatures of 6 degrees Celsius. That, in turn, caused the melting of frozen methane deposits under the seas. Released into the atmosphere, it caused temperatures to skyrocket further. All of this occurred over a period of approximately 80,000 years.

We are already in the midst of what scientists consider the sixth mass extinction in planetary history, with between 150 and 200 species going extinct daily, a pace 1,000 times greater than the “natural” or “background” extinction rate. This event may already be comparable to, or even exceed, both the speed and intensity of the Permian mass extinction. The difference: Ours is human caused. (Plus, it probably isn’t going to take 80,000 years; it has so far lasted just a few centuries, and is now gaining speed in a non-linear fashion.)

It is possible that, on top of the vast quantities of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels that continue to enter the atmosphere in record amounts yearly, an increased release of methane could signal the beginning of the sort of process that led to the Great Dying.

Some scientists fear that the situation is already so serious and so many self-reinforcing feedback loops are already in play that we are in the process of causing our own extinction. Worse yet, some are convinced that it could happen far more quickly than generally believed possible – in the course of just the next few decades – or, as Beckwith believes, possibly even sooner than that.

Back in Olympic National Park, when I was returning from my hike, I happened upon a small herd of elk. I watched them as they watched me, before they slowly began to retreat further into the forest. As I continued along, I wondered how they are responding to what is happening to the planet. Their habitat is shifting dramatically, as are their food and water sources. Approaching the trailhead, I marveled at green moss-covered trees – and contemplated how the magnificent natural landscape of Olympic National Park will respond as the climate is rapidly disrupted. The Olympic Mountains support the third largest glacier system in the 48 contiguous United States and are rapidly losing their glaciers. And with at least four already endangered species living within the park the impacts are already clear, and are guaranteed to worsen.

I went on to wonder how humanity will respond, but then checked myself with the fact that the Arctic methane feedback loops are most likely already well underway, only an international emergency immediate response to cease all global carbon emissions might slightly mitigate the crisis, and yet most world governments’ responses are laughable.

Naturally, what was left was to ask myself: How am I responding?

How are you?

 

 

Smoke & Mirrors Will Not Save Us From Anthropogenic Climate Disruption

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2015 at 1:27 am

(Photo: papadont)

Oldspeak: “Flashback to 2009. From the mouths of over 60 International Polar Year study scientists from the World Meteorological Organization who were speaking not for attributionally to the one reporter who showed up to their conference. …These scientists who had previously sworn that a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas reduction by 2020 was the only way to save the world, acknowledged that the figure was bogus. They continued by revealing that …the warnings which had been issued in the IPCCs fourth assessment must be seen as merely the minimal – least disturbing – assessment. The scientists painted a far different, and… far more realistic picture of what is happening…Asked what, then, a realistic prescription for survival would be, they were categorical: greenhouse gases must be reduced by 80 percent – by 2015. That was 6 years ago. So. there’s that. It’s 2015. Greenhouse gasses have not been reduced. They’ve steadily increased. Warming has continued unabated. The prescription for survival is not possible. Scientists are being compelled to publicize the least disturbing assessments of the situation. However, denial does not make the truth any less true.” -OSJ
By Robert James Parsons @ Truthout:

With 2015 billed as the make-it-or-break-it year for climate control, in anticipation of next December’s Paris conference, and in the midst of much vehement – if not downright virulent – controversy, it is worth proposing some perspective beyond what most of the media deign to serve up to us.

In an article that appeared in mid-November in the French online journal A l’encontre, Daniel Tanuro analyzed the “unprecedented” and “historic” agreement between the United States and China resulting from Barack Obama’s encounter with Xi Jinping just before the November G20 conference in Brisbane.

The insufficiency – to put it mildly – of this agreement, in comparison with the warnings issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its most recent report, is unbridgeable, he points out.

Citing the reduction of 26% promised by Obama for 2025, which ought to lower United States emissions to 5.368 gigatonnes (Gt), he notes: “According to the Kyoto Protocol (which the United States signed but never ratified), Uncle Sam should have reduced his emissions by 8% by 2012, relative to 1990. That means that the emissions should have dropped from 6.233 Gt (1990 figure) to 5.734 Gt – instead of which, they increased 0.2% per year, on average, to reach 6.526 Gt. In other words, Obama has committed the United States to reaching by 2025 a target that is almost no better than than the one that the United States was supposed to have reached two years ago.”

For China, it is similar: “Xi Jinping stipulated that China would begin to reduce its absolute emissions at the latest in 2030 and that ‘zero-carbon’ sources would then cover 20% of its energy needs. To take the full measure of this promise, one must bear in mind that these ‘zero-carbon’ energy sources, already in 2013, represented in China 9% of the primary consumption of energy and that the twelfth five-year plan has set a target of 15% for 2020. Given the current amounts being invested, an increase of a further 5% in over ten years is anything but a ‘performance’: US$ 65 billion have already been invested in ‘non-fossil’ energy.”

According to the Kyoto Protocol, the ratifying countries committed themselves to reducing their green house gas emissions between 8% and 20% relative to 1990. As these emissions have continued to increase, the reductions since then have been completely canceled out.

In 2007, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council for Science undertook the third International Polar Year (IPY) study, with the intention of exploring the role played by the polar regions in the world’s climate configurations. It was to be one of the biggest scientific studies ever undertaken, if not the biggest outright. More than 1,500 scientists took part during two years, thus completely covering the north and south polar cycles.

In March 2009, to present the IPY’s preliminary conclusions, the WMO organized a conference at its headquarters in Geneva involving some 60 of the IPY scientists, several of whom participated through video teleconference from the four corners of the earth. The Geneva media representatives – multitudinous, to say the least – had been invited (through several announcements), and a major section of the auditorium was reserved for them. In the end, this journalist – with an intern in tow – was the only one to turn up.

In view of the Copenhagen conference (considered “crucial”) scheduled for the following December, a succession of prep conferences had been held (with more planned) without ever coming anywhere near a tentative text to be presented in Copenhagen to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The target consistently sought in the new document, repeatedly proposed and scuttled, was a 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020 – a target that the scientists at the Geneva gathering insisted was the only one capable of averting a cataclysmic warming of the planet.

However . . .

That evening, during the reception (with the superb Geneva wines ubiquitously and abundantly in attendance) following the closing of the conference, as is often the case in such situations, people relaxed, chatted amiably and even openly – some would say indiscreetly. The same scientists who that afternoon had sworn that a 40 percent reduction was the only way to save the world, acknowledged that the figure was bogus.

It is worth noting that there is a golden rule within governmental organizations, and it is that no official document may ever contain anything that displeases a member state. Thus, the conclusions made public there, just like those of the IPCC reports and any other report on a controversial subject, represented the least common denominator. In other words, it was the least that could be stated without losing credibility.

An example of how this works, regarding the first installment of the four-part series of the most recent fifth assessment report, was discussed by Justin Gillis, in his New York Times article “Climate Alarm, Too Muted for Some.” He mentioned two areas where the IPCC went “a little bit conservative on a couple of issues related to both sea level and temperature.”

The estimates ranged from three to five feet for the rise in the oceans by 2100. The IPCC chose to use the lower estimate, he pointed out, even though the higher, although not endorsed by the majority of scientists, would be the more realistic one in view of the way that all estimates so far have been far below the reality (in keeping with the whole process of minimizing the message).

He continued. The majority of scientists say that the continued burning of fossil fuels, with a doubling of the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from the estimated preindustrial level (280 p.p.m.) will result in a temperature rise of 3.6° F. to 5°F., with the higher temperature likely. The minority are saying that the temperature rise could be well below 3°F. Here the IPCC chose to use the minority figure.

Thus, the warnings issued by the IPCC in the November fourth installment that has garnered so much attention must be seen as merely the minimal – least disturbing – assessment. The answers given this journalist that evening at the WMO – all most emphatically NOT for attribution – painted a far different, and, according to the scientists, a far more realistic picture of what is happening.

Asked what, then, a realistic prescription for survival would be, they were categorical: greenhouse gases must be reduced by 80 percent – by 2015.

That was almost six years ago. Everything seems to be on schedule for the worst, including the denial from most of those on the top on down to most of the grassroots. While climatologists making candid public assessments have been decried as “doom-and-gloom” people, they more and more appear to be the lucid voices of reality in a fantasy world.

Among them, Guy McPherson could be said to have one of the most reasonable approaches: Make the most, imperatively, of what we have and can do now, with an emphasis on excellence in every endeavor, all while accepting that everything is telling us that we are on our way to extinction (soon rather than later), and prepare to take leave of the good earth without losing our humanity – graciously, with dignity.

______________________________________________________________________________

Robert James Parsons, a freelance journalist based in Geneva, writes regularly on international affairs (among other things) for the Geneva newspaper Le Courrier, and Le Courrier has turned 147 years old and is the last independent daily in Switzlerland, supported, like Truthout, by its readers.

 

As Climate Disruption Advances, 41% Of Amphibians, 26% Of Mammals & 13% Birds Face Extinction

In Uncategorized on January 6, 2015 at 10:58 pm

Polar bear / air pollution

Oldspeak: “We are in the position where we think we are going to fight it and win. We are not going to win.”

-Dr. Harold Wanless, Chair, Department of Geological Sciences, University Of Miami

“Truer words never spoken there Doc. This month’s Climate Disruption Dispatch from Dahr Jamail details the latest developments in the rapidly accelerating ongoing climate calamity. He provides some encouraging news about those in denial beginning to face reality and folks making efforts to “mitigate” and “prepare” for what’s to come. While that’s lovely, it doesn’t change the fact that nothing humans do will make anything better at this point. We’re rapidly running out of clean water, crop yields are down, ecosystems are deteriorating,  greenhouse gas emissions steadily increasing the warming of our environment and decreasing its ability support life.  There is no fighting or winning in this scenario. The damage is long done. Only Love remains.” -OSJ

By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

Two recently released studies brought bad news for those living near coastlines around the world. One published in the peer-reviewed Nature Climate Change, the other in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the studies showed that existing computer models might have severely underestimated the risk to the Greenland ice sheet from warming global temperatures.

Bear in mind that if Greenland’s entire ice sheet melts, 20 feet would be added to global sea levels.

As if that isn’t enough of an indicator of how fast anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is happening across the globe, two days after delegates from more than 190 countries had gathered in Peru at the annual climate summit, the World Meteorological Organization reported that 2014 was tied with 2010 as the hottest year on record, and rejected popular claims that global warming had “paused.”

Also last month, leading atmospheric scientist Dr. Philip Mote released some of his latest numbers on ACD and went on to say, “We’re running out of time to control dangerous climate change.” He pointed out that a mere 2.2 percent rise in temperature would increase the areas burned in Idaho by a staggering 500 to 600 percent.

Mote’s warning, like countless other warnings from leading scientists about the necessity for immediate and dramatic actions toward mitigating ACD, is already going unheeded. This was evidenced by the so-called Lima climate deal that was reached at the aforementioned climate summit in Peru, where every country in attendance agreed to submit a plan for addressing their carbon dioxide emissions. However, the plans are only voluntary, and countries can promise to cut as much or little as they wish.

As ACD progresses, the financial costs continue to escalate. The UN’s environment agency recently announced that the cost to poor countries that are being forced to adjust to increasingly hot temperatures would be at least two to three times higher than was thought previously. To add insult to injury, these estimates are based on best-case scenarios that predict dramatically reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, several key charts show that the United States is on track for at least a catastrophic 9-degree Fahrenheit increase by 2100, and drought conditions for most of the country that will likely exceed those of the Great Dust Bowl before the end of this century.

In this month’s Climate Disruption Dispatch, we look at how ACD is progressing rapidly on every front – and how even some diehard climate deniers are starting to recognize the dire danger we face.

Earth

Up in Alaska, melting permafrost is threatening even more infrastructure and homes, given that bridges, roads and airport runways have been built upon permafrost in many areas of the state. A recent report showed that permafrost south of Alaska’s Brooks Range (the northernmost mountain range in the state) is now becoming unstable.

Also in Alaska (as well as Canada), winter ticks are becoming more prevalent with warming temperatures, endangering the survival of the moose population, according to another recent report.

Warming temperatures in the Arctic are causing shifts in the gene pool of animals: Scientists are reporting an increasing likelihood of “grolar bears,” which are a cross between grizzly and polar bears. According to scientists, this would bring deleterious consequences, given that “genetic incompatibilities in hybrids will erase traits crucial to the long-term survival of both parent species.” They warn that if that happens, “then we can expect a great reduction in those populations, and possibly extinctions.”

Dramatic changes are occurring in the tropical regions of the planet as well. Researchers recently released a report that issued a stunning warning about an impending coral bleaching event that would be the worst seen in at least the last two decades. Coral bleaching is happening in large part due to ocean acidification that is resulting from ACD, and is particularly worrisome when one considers that more than half of all oceanic life spends some of its life in coral reefs.

Warming temperatures have also increased the likelihood that dengue fever could spread to Europe and the mountainous regions of South America, according to the UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

Another recent study showed that tropical deforestation, caused by both ACD and logging, could cause “significant and widespread” shifts in rainfall distribution and temperatures, which will affect agriculture far and wide.

Pine bark beetle infestations, which are exploding across vast swaths of North America, are now happening as far south as Tucson, Arizona, where pine trees are now dropping like flies.

California’s ongoing drought is having profound impacts on wildlife: Animals like squirrels, deer and bear are fleeing their homes and even risking their lives to search for food sources that have been dramatically diminished.

Another recent study showed that ACD-related habitat loss is now a threat to 314 more species of birds, whose numbers are already in decline.

Major western US cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas are on an increasingly perilous path to losing access to water, according to a recent report. Without a dramatic shift in how they manage their water resources, devastating results are guaranteed.

As storms continue to intensify, the Philippines’ climate chief warned recently that his country lacks the systems necessary to cope with the worsening impacts of ACD. The Philippines was recently hammered by yet another massive typhoon.

In Australia, Sydney and its surrounding region can expect an increasing number of hot days, shifting rainfall patterns and more extreme fire danger as a result of ACD, according to recently published high-resolution modeling of the future climate there.

A recently published study revealed that deadly cholera outbreaks are almost certain to increase in the more vulnerable regions of the world due to ACD, since severe heat waves and more frequent and intense flooding are on the rise.

Lastly in this section, another recent study showed that the Amazonian peatlands store approximately 10 times the amount of carbon as do undisturbed rainforests in adjacent areas, which makes them all the more critical in efforts to mitigate ACD. The areas in question are already mostly unprotected, and the deforestation there would result in “massive carbon emissions,” according to the report.

Water

California’s ongoing drought once again leads the water section of the dispatch this month. A recently released study showed that the drought was that state’s worst in 1,200 years. Clearly an end to the drought is nowhere in sight, as recent NASA satellite data showed that it will take 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from the drought. In some areas of California, rural wells are running dry, forcing residents to carry their water in buckets.

The drought, which is bringing one of the richest states in the United States to its knees, is turning much of the center of California into a dust bowl. That area happens to be where the United States gets half of all of its vegetables and nuts.

California’s almonds, which provide $11 billion annually to the state’s economy, are now under threat due to the drought, as the water supply for the almond orchards is running dry. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that farmers in the southern Central Valley have to depend on charity to fill their pantries with food since agricultural yields have diminished so dramatically.

Governors of eight western US states met recently in, ironically, Las Vegas, in order to discuss how to cope with the ongoing drought that is severely impacting the majority of the American West. At the meeting, Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, acknowledged that his agency is dealing with a two-headed dragon: drought on the Colorado River (which 40 million people rely upon for their water) as well as in the Sierra Nevada and Northern California.

Further south in Central America, drought has pushed 2.5 million people into food insecurity, according to a recent UN report. UN spokesperson Jens Laerke said the drought there is “turning into a creeping humanitarian crisis.”

Continuing south, the melting of glaciers in the Andes Mountains of South America is now threatening the populations of several countries, including Bolivia and Peru, which rely on the glaciers for much of their water supply. In Peru, a country that has more tropical glaciers than any other on earth, ice masses have shrunk by 40 percent.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a metropolis of 20 million, water shortages this year have been so severe that schools have been forced to suspend classes and restaurants have shut down. Unless dramatic rainfalls happen very, very soon, the possibility of a mega-city running dry will begin to come into focus.

A study that was published recently in Science magazine revealed that glaciers in China that are critical for that country’s drinking supply are now under “continuous warming,” and that glaciers in China overall are “disappearing quickly.” This will also dramatically impact the water situation in India, which is heavily reliant upon said glaciers.

The other primary element in this section is rising sea levels around the globe.

Back in the United States, Assateague, a small coastal island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, is considered by many to be the East Coast’s canary in the coal mine of climate change. It is likely to be one of the first places in the United States to have to be abandoned by humans due to rising sea levels. Options being considered by people living there are using portable buildings, dumping more money into trying to keep the rising seas in check or relocating themselves altogether.

A place that could possibly beat out Assateague in becoming a new Atlantis is Florida, where South Beach, Miami, has to regularly pump water out of areas in an ongoing effort to prevent inundation.

Moving westward from Florida, the state of Louisiana is planning on spending $50 billion in money it doesn’t have on a 50-year effort to try to save its rapidly disappearing coastline – based on untested science.

Looking across the Atlantic, in the United Kingdom, nearly 7,000 homes and buildings will be sacrificed to rising seas around England and Wales over the next 85 years, according to an Environment Agency analysis that has yet to be published. More than 800 of those properties will be lost to coastal erosion within the next two decades.

In Malaysia, the worst flooding in more than a decade has killed at least five people and forced more than 160,000 to flee their homes, while that country’s prime minister was busy playing golf in the United States.

Off the coast of Maine, the Gulf of Maine’s waters are warming faster than nearly every other ocean on earth, according to scientists. This is causing massive disruptions in the ecosystem there, forcing fish to find cooler places to live and upending the region’s fishing industry.

Ocean acidification, which is increasing dramatically around the globe as carbon dioxide emissions continue without abatement, means that mussels could soon be off the menu; their shells are becoming increasingly unlikely to form due to the shifting oceanic water chemistry.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, currently engaged in a several-month study of the waters off the coast of California, is reporting the presence of several unusual marine mammals, like dark dolphins and pygmy whales, that have never been found there, which they attribute to warmer-than-usual temperatures.

To make matters worse, a recently published study predicted that the Arctic could be ice-free during the summertime within six years. This would dramatically accelerate ACD and its impacts, as solar radiation that is currently reflected by that ice would then be absorbed by the Arctic Ocean, hence speeding up the warming process, along with a further increase in sea level rise.

That study, however, is far more conservative than a study conducted by the US Navy, which predicts an ice-free Arctic by 2016.

Air

A study recently published in Nature Climate Change states that deadly heat waves in Europe are now 10 times more likely than they were just a decade ago. This is troubling news, given that during the summer of 2003 when temperatures soared to over 100 degrees throughout Western Europe, more than 35,000 people were killed – and that was the most intense heat the continent had seen in over 500 years.

As the planet goes, so goes Europe. A recent study by three independent teams of climate scientists has tied that continent’s record-breaking heat of 2014 directly to ACD. The report also showed that record-breaking years are now 35 to 80 times more likely, again thanks to ACD.

Indeed, recently released research shows that extremes of both hot and cold temperatures across the planet are increasing faster than previously believed.

A recent study showed that the Arctic is continuing to warm faster than the rest of the planet, as annual average temperatures there have continued to heat up twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

Two recent studies revealed that millions of abandoned oil and gas wells spanning the United States are likely releasing a “significant quantity” of methane into the atmosphere, which is not being included in total Environmental Protection Agency emission counts.

Lastly and perhaps most distressing in this section, new modeling revealed how warming ocean waters could well already be triggering massive methane leaks off the Pacific Northwest Coast, where 4 million tons of the potent greenhouse gas have already been released since 1970.

Denial and Reality

ACD denial persisted steadily in the last month of 2014 – particularly evidenced by the large number of ACD deniers in the US Congress. Yet interestingly, pushback against ACD denial is now happening even within the Republican ranks.

Rep. Chris Gibson (R-New York) announced plans to introduce a pro-climate science bill in an effort to help others “recognize the reality” of the situation. His effort would also put lawmakers on the record during the process, so that their denial position would become part of the permanent public record.

A recent poll revealed that half of all Republican lawmakers back limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

Seattle billionaire Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and owner of the Seattle Seahawks, recently took it upon himself to pay the tab on a lawsuit against the US Department of the Interior, which oversees the leasing out of public lands to coal-mining companies.

The White House issued climate change guidelines for hospitals, and declared that ACD is a public health hazard. The issuing of the hospital guidebook was an effort to assist health-care facilities in coping with the multiple threats posed by extreme weather.

The city of Salem, Massachusetts, has taken matters into its own hands, releasing a 212-page report aimed at guiding the city on how it can best protect itself from rising seas and temperatures.

Another phenomenon that could help in breaking through Republican-led climate denial in Florida politics is the fact that rising sea levels will likely cause many Florida residents to become climate refugees. While the US government and corporate media won’t talk about it, the CBC in Canada will, given that half a million Canadians own property in the Sunshine, or Rising Sea Level, State.

Religious groups around the world are making ACD an advocacy priority. For example, the Church of England has stepped up to the plate: It has challenged both BP and Shell over ACD, asking the two oil giants to take responsibility for their carbon footprints and seriously limit their mutual contributions to ACD.

In Australia, religious leaders are taking on Big Coal via letter-writing campaigns and even coal blockades, and recently announced they are in the fight for the long haul.

And Catholic bishops around the globe are pushing hard to secure a global treaty that will put an end to all fossil fuel use.

Even the pope thinks that ACD is a major threat, and has issued a first-ever comprehensive set of Vatican teachings on ACD, coming in the form of a “papal letter.” The pope is also going to lobby for climate action in a series of high-profile meetings ahead of the next UN ACD negotiations in Paris later this year.

In the entertainment/distraction arena, the Simpsons video game was recently updated to show Santa moving his workshop out of the North Pole and into a quaint town called Springfield, due to ACD.

For a sobering look at the history of the record highs and lows of the planetary annual temperatures, have a look at this short video clip.

Another denial-breaker comes from NASA, which published this incredible map of carbon dioxide around the planet, generated by its new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2.

A very interesting thought experiment can be viewed here. It’s produced by a group that broke down parts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and created a slide show through time that shows increasing planetary temperatures accompanied by likely news headlines. It is definitely worth a watch.

The Washington Post published a useful multimedia guide to the worst disasters of 2014, which ranged from catastrophic flooding to the “polar vortex,” most of which are clearly tied to ACD.

A recently aired Smithsonian Institute documentary titled Mass Extinction: Life at the Brink provided a frightening warning of how we humans are racing toward our own destruction, taking the rest of the planet with us. The documentary also predicts a global temperature increase of between 9 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, which is dramatically higher than even the worst-case IPCC prediction.

Lastly for this month’s dispatch, a special analysis carried out by the prestigious Nature magazine has sounded the alarm that a staggering 41 percent of all amphibians on the planet now face extinction, and 26 percent of mammals and 13 percent of birds face the same threat.

 

Extinction Rate Rivals That of Dinosaurs

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2014 at 1:00 am
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Polar bears, already an endangered species, are seeing their numbers continue to drop as Arctic sea ice continues its dramatic decline due to climate disruption.

Oldspeak: For several thousand years, we have been obsessed with a false humility – on the one hand, putting ourselves down as mere ‘creatures’ who came into this world by the whim of God of the fluke of blind forces, and on the other, conceiving ourselves separate personal egos fighting to control the physical world. We have lacked the real humility of recognizing that we are members of the biosphere, the “harmony of contained conflicts” in which we cannot exist at all without the cooperation of plants, insects, fish, cattle and bacteria. In the same measure, we have lacked the proper self-respect of recognizing that I, the individual organism, am a structure of such fabulous ingenuity that it calls the whole universe into being. In the act of putting everything at a distance so as to describe and control it, we have orphaned ourselves from the surrounding world and from our own bodies – leaving “I” as a discontented and alienated spook, anxious, guilty, unrelated and alone.” –Alan Watts, “The Book”

“Obsession with illusions has brought us to this point. Earth’s 6th mass extinction. Control, domination insignificance, separation, insecurity, competition, conflict, civilization, progress, success, personalization- all illusory constructs that imprison and confound us. Our obsessions with the unreal, have led us to led us to unknow basic and fundamental truths. All is Self. All is One.  When you tug on a single thing in the Universe, you find it’s attached to everything else. Every tiny atom of this vast universe is a creative manifestation of cosmic consciousness. The world of duality emanates from oneness and to oneness returns. What is joined separates and comes together again. Our Great Mother is constantly speaking to us, and we are ignoring her voice. Our willful ignorance of these truths have driven the extractive and acquisitive madness that animates this ‘civilization’. Abrupt climate change is underway and shows no signs of slowing.  Dahr Jamail’s latest dispatch details the ever intensifying consequences of our suicidal actions. Unsurprisingly, the news continues to go from bad to worse.” -OSJ

By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

“The supreme reality of our time is … the vulnerability of our planet.”
– John F. Kennedy

Recent studies show that current animal extinction rates from anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) now rival the extinction that annihilated the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

“If that rate continues unchanged, the earth’s sixth mass extinction is a certainty,” said Anthony Barnosky, a biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Certainly there are no signs of our planetary ACD trajectory changing, aside from continuing to ramp up further into abrupt runaway change.

In fact, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature recently updated its authoritative Red List to include more than 22,000 species on the list of the world’s most threatened animals. Species like the Pacific bluefin tuna and the American eel are now on the Red List.

NASA data showed that this October was the globe’s warmest on record, and for the third month in a row, global temperatures broke records, which kept 2014 on track to become the hottest year ever recorded. Bear in mind that the 10 warmest years ever recorded have all occurred since 1998. Recent data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that the first 10 months of 2014 were the hottest since record keeping began.

November’s record-breaking snowfall in New York is just a precursor of things to come as runaway ACD continues to intensify, and as studies reveal that these types of extreme weather events are now part of a long-term pattern that is the new normal.

The World Bank, not exactly a bastion of environmentalism, released a new report that claims that without dramatic action, the planet will experience at least 4 degrees Celsius warming by the time current teenagers turn 80.

Even though the planet is currently only .85 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial baseline temperatures, the effects of ACD continue to be dramatic.

New data from the American Geophysical Union show that a West Antarctic ice sheet that is approximately the size of Texas is melting three times faster than previously believed. This means that the area’s melt rate has tripled in just the last decade and is losing the amount of ice equivalent to Mount Everest every other year.

Ocean researchers recently announced that people living in the United States could expect spring to arrive earlier and fall to arrive later, the new normal since ocean temperatures in the northeastern Atlantic are increasing.

The International Energy Agency’s 2014 World Energy Outlook was released recently, and said that at the current rate of emissions, the world has to cease all carbon emissions by 2040 in order to stay under the arbitrary 2-degree Celsius political target of temperature rise. It is worth noting that James Hansen has come out and said that even a 1-degree Celsius temperature increase above the pre-industrial baseline would have disastrous consequences.

Is it already too late to turn things around?

A recent Google analysis seems to think so: “So our best-case scenario, which was based on our most optimistic forecasts for renewable energy, would still result in severe climate change, with all its dire consequences: shifting climatic zones, freshwater shortages, eroding coasts, and ocean acidification, among others.”

To get an idea of how rapidly we’ve warmed the planet, have a look at this short NASA tracking map.

This month’s survey of the planet and ACD-related studies, once again, shows clearly how things are only continuing to speed up and intensify.

Earth

A recent Austrian report on ACD showed that the country’s temperatures have already risen twice as fast as the global average since 1880, causing less snow, shorter ski seasons, and more landslides and forest fires. It also is causing villages to move, ski lifts to be dismantled, and people to have to find ways to adapt to their new environments.

In Africa, Senegal has been struggling to hold off the Sahara desert, but that battle is clearly not a sustainable one given the water crisis in the area.

Canberra, Australia, is experiencing a dramatic change due to ACD, as a series of dramatic environmental consequences like massive numbers of wasps, growing lake algae, and dramatically increasing wildfires are projected to become the new norm for the area.

The recent Ebola scare in the United States is something that could become more common, thanks to ACD. Other tropical diseases, spread by insects and not humans, now pose a growing threat to the United States.

Scientists along the West Coast of the United States gravely monitored a large-scale die-off of small seabirds, whose breeding grounds included a colony in the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. Dramatic increases in ocean temperatures and feeding conditions, both due to ACD, are among the reasons being investigated as the cause.

A recent study published in Ecological Applications showed a stunning decline in the number of polar bears, and illustrated how ACD impacts are rapidly pushing the bears toward extinction. The study said that polar bear populations in eastern Alaska and western Canada have declined by 40 percent recently.

Of this, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Sarah Uhlemann said, “Global warming has put Alaska’s polar bears in a deadly downward spiral. It’s happening now, it’s killing polar bears now, and if we don’t act now, we will lose polar bears in Alaska.” The population of polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea area has now dropped to only 900 bears, which is a severe decline from the 2006 estimate, which logged more than 1,500.

In addition, only two out of 80 polar bear cubs tracked by the study team between 2004 and 2007 had survived, when normally about half of the cubs survive.

Lastly in this section, ACD is in the process of stripping away the identity of Glacier National Park in Montana. One hundred years ago, there were 150 ice sheets in the park, and today that number is down to 25. Within 30 years, there will likely be none.

Water

Water continues to amplify the impacts of runaway ACD across the globe.

In California, where record-setting drought continues despite some recent rains, three years on, farmers and ranchers have to sell off large portions of their herds, work longer hours and take other jobs. This is particularly worrisome, given that half of all the fresh food eaten in the United States is produced in California.

In the mountains above the Central Valley in California, ski areas up and down the Sierra Nevada have less snow than ever, and are having to ramp up human-made snow to remain open. Their futures appear bleak indeed.

It’s well known now, and has been for quite some time, that California is literally running out of water, and the massive infrastructure changes needed to cope with this fact haven’t even begun to be constructed.

The ongoing record drought in the southwestern United States has revealed shocking changes along the Colorado River, which has further raised alarms about the growing lack of water across the region, which climate models predict will become increasingly water-starved as we move into the future.

The drought in Brazil is bad enough that Sao Paulo, the megacity of 20 million that is being wracked by relentless water shortages, has only two months of guaranteed water supply remaining, according to local officials. The city might have to “get water from mud” if the drought persists.

Meanwhile up in the Andes, the high-altitude glaciers in Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru are melting at breakneck speed, causing scientists to worry that many of them will disappear long before anything can be done to save them. This phenomenon also threatens the freshwater supplies of many cities in these countries.

Across the Atlantic and on the other end of the water spectrum that is becoming increasingly amplified by ACD, Britain, reeling from the first onslaught of floods and winter storms, was warned it could face one of the wettest winters in three decades.

In November, a mega-snowstorm dumped a years’ worth of snow in a four-day period in New York, broke records and left at least 13 people dead.

Also in that region of the United States, ice began forming on the Great Lakes faster this year than ever before, as Lake Superior saw areas freezing on November 15, according to Great Lakes Environmental Research data.

Rising sea levels continue to take their toll.

In the United States, a recent estimate revealed that approximately $1.4 trillion worth of coastal property could be threatened by 2100.

The coastal village of Shishmaref, Alaska, faces an existential threat, as the 600 residents on the sinking barrier island are watching their land erode into the Chukchi Sea while the federal government has yet to produce a new location for them to relocate.

Off the western coast of Canada, a recent report showed that record-breaking temperatures in the North Pacific Ocean are threatening marine species there.

Further south along the coast, California’s drought now threatens to extinguish the last of the Muir Woods coho salmon that typically make their way from the ocean to spawn in a freshwater creek through the redwoods near San Francisco, according to state officials.

On the East Coast of the United States, a Maine state commission is urging action toward increasing research and monitoring the risk of increasingly acidic ocean waters harming the state’s commercial fisheries and lobsters, in addition to urging action toward reducing local pollution that is impacting the chemistry of the water.

As sea levels continue to rise globally, major river deltas where more than 500 million people live “could be drowned,” according to a new study.

Lastly in this section, the Republic of Kiribati, the most remote inhabited location on the planet, has become the first country on the planet to surrender to ACD. It will no longer exist by 2050, at the very latest.

Air

As temperatures continue to increase around the planet, warmer air is making it more difficult for airplanes to take off, according to a recent study. Higher temperatures cause the air to become less dense, which then reduces the lift force on airplane wings. This means tighter restrictions on luggage, as well as how many people are allowed on board planes.

In Brisbane, Australia, leaders at the recent G20 summit were met with a wake-up call from nature to pay attention to ACD, as temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and a heat wave rolled through eastern Australia.

Australia has always struggled with hot weather, but the intensity and length of its heat waves are on the rise, enough so that the entire country is being forced to rethink how it lives, works and recreates.

Over Thanksgiving, California saw many new record high temperatures in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Riverside, Escondido, Oakland, Santa Maria, Sandberg, Oceanside, Alpine and other cities and areas.

A new project is tracking the fate of ancient carbon in the Siberian Arctic, where the amount of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost is estimated to be more than double the amount that is currently in our atmosphere, and four times as much as is in all the forests on the planet. As Arctic temperatures continue to increase, the permafrost is thawing and its carbon, largely in the form of methane, is being released at ever increasing rates.

The Arctic methane situation is dire, and Truthout will soon be releasing an investigative report on the matter.

Fire

A recent study published in Nature, titled “Learning to coexist with wildfire,” urges us to find “a more sustainable coexistence with wildfire,” because “Without a more integrated framework, fire will never operate as a natural ecosystem process, and the impact on society will continue to grow.”

The report recommends “a more coordinated approach” geared toward risk management and “land-use planning” in an effort aimed at mitigating fire damage and minimizing property loss.

Denial and Reality

A recent report on theology and ACD revealed that half of the people living in the United States believed that ACD is a “sign of the apocalypse.” For these true believers then, the apocalypse is preferable to taking responsibility for the anthropogenic origins of climate disruption.

Another recent study, this one published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed that the extreme weather events and record-breaking temperatures that have both become the new normal do little to nothing to convince people that ACD is real. The study also revealed that people’s political ideology has much more impact on their beliefs about ACD than do things like reality and facts.

Yet, despite the ongoing denial about ACD, even lifelong Republican George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state and Bechtel mogul, is embracing adaptation measures like using more solar and taking other measures to mitigate ACD.

Similarly, ex-BP chief Lord Browne, who is also one of the energy world’s most influential voices, recently said that ACD poses an “existential threat” to the existence of energy and mining companies, thereby acknowledging ADC’s reality.

A recently released map of the globe illustrates the results of surveys and polls from around the world since 2009, and shows what people think about ACD. For example, 84 percent of Argentinians believe ACD is real, and 83 percent of US citizens believe their country should be making efforts at mitigating ACD, “even if it comes with economic costs.”

The largest reinsurance firm in the world, Munich Re America, conducted a poll in the United States and found that 83 percent of Americans at least believe the climate is changing.

Another reality check comes from a new set of scientific studies that show how geoengineering, the plan of people like Bill Gates and other billionaires to use technological fixes to correct what technology caused in the first place, “could harm billions” of people around the world.

Even a geoengineering scientist recently admitted that he is “terrified” of his own technology.

Nevertheless, plans to take the planet further off the cliff continue apace, as actions to cool the earth using geoengineering are scheduled to begin in just two years, as reported in the New Scientist.

The World Bank recently admitted that some ACD impacts are now “unavoidable,” even if governments acted quickly to cut greenhouse gas emissions. In the aforementioned report, the group also said that earth is on track to reach an unavoidable 1.5-degree Celsius temperature increase by 2050, but could also reach a 4-degree Celsius increase by 2100.

This is a significant statement from a conservative entity like the World Bank, given that humans have never lived on a planet warmer than 3.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial baseline temperatures.

Meanwhile, the signs of runaway ACD abound.

Forecasters in Britain announced that this year could be the UK’s warmest for nearly 250 years, as measured by the world’s oldest record of temperature.

A study published in the October 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters revealed that all of the previous estimates of sea-level rise are wrong, and instead of a maximum sea level rise of one meter by 2100, the maximum is nearly two meters rise by then. Incredibly, this study has been ignored by virtually all of the media, not just the corporate press.

The results of a very important study published in Environmental Research Letters show that carbon dioxide brings its peak heat impact within a decade of being emitted, with its effects then lingering for 100 years, or more, into the future.

“The way we talk about climate change is often, ‘oh, we’re really making emissions cuts for the sake of our children or grandchildren’ because the effects won’t be felt for decades,” said Katharine Ricke, a research fellow from Stanford who led the study. “But the implications are that there’s certainly benefits that can be reaped by people making decisions today.”

NASA recently produced an unsettling video that shows what the planetary atmosphere looks like on carbon dioxide, and also announced recently, that the Arctic sea ice extent is still well below normal, and continuing along its years-long downward trend (which is historically steep).

This is troubling for obvious reasons, but also because a study published in Nature in August 2014 showed how even small fluctuations in the sizes of ice sheets during the most recent ice age were enough to “trigger abrupt climate change.”

Abrupt climate change has been a key factor in all of the planet’s previous mass extinction events.

2014 Headed Toward Hottest Year On Record — Here’s Why That’s Remarkable

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2014 at 10:12 pm
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Oldspeak: “It is not remarkable that we keep setting new records for global temperatures — 2005 and then 2010 and likely 2014. Humans are, after all, emitting record amounts of heat-trapping carbon pollution into the air, and carbon dioxide levels in the air are at levels not seen for millions of years, when the planet was far warmer and sea levels tens of feet higher. The figure above from the Met Office makes clear that humans continue to warm the planet… What is remarkable, as the WMO explains, is that we’re headed toward record high global temps “in the absence of a full El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). It’s usually the combination of the long-term manmade warming trend and the regional El Niño warming pattern that leads to new global temperature records. But not this year.” -Joe Romm

“With El Nino, 70% to begin within a few months, expect the heat to continue to be on, and shit to get a lot weirder. “Simply put, we are rapidly remaking the planet and beginning to suffer the consequences.” –Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international, Princeton University. When you consider the reality that there really is no way to realistically change the humans carbon dioxide emissions sharply aside from the collapse of industrial civilization, it’s time for most of us to proceed to the acceptance stage of grief.  Denial is no longer an option. It’s just a matter of time and physics at this point. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick…” -OSJ

By Joe Romm @ Think Progress:

2014 is currently on track to be hottest year on record, according to new reports from both the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the U.K.’s Met Office Wednesday. Similarly, NOAA reported two weeks ago that 2014 is all but certain to be the hottest year on record.

It is not remarkable that we keep setting new records for global temperatures — 2005 and then 2010 and likely 2014. Humans are, after all, emitting record amounts of heat-trapping carbon pollution into the air, and carbon dioxide levels in the air are at levels not seen for millions of years, when the planet was far warmer and sea levels tens of feet higher. The figure above from the Met Office makes clear that humans continue to warm the planet.

“The provisional information for 2014 means that fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “There is no standstill in global warming.”

As Peter Stott, Head of Climate Attribution at the Met Office, explained: “Our research shows current global average temperatures are highly unlikely in a world without human influence on the climate.” While it has been on the cool side in parts of the United States, the Met Office reported that the United Kingdom is headed toward its hottest year on record. Stott noted that, “human influence has also made breaking the current UK temperature record about ten times more likely.”

What is remarkable, as the WMO explains, is that we’re headed toward record high global temps “in the absence of a full El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).” We get an El Niño “when warmer than average sea-surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific combine, in a self-reinforcing loop, with atmospheric pressure systems,” which affects weather patterns around the world.

It’s usually the combination of the long-term manmade warming trend and the regional El Niño warming pattern that leads to new global temperature records. But not this year.

Here’s a revealing chart from Skeptical Science courtesy of environmental scientist Dana Nuccitelli of NASA’s temperature data (with the projection for 2014 in black and white):

This year we are poised to set the global temperature record in an ENSO-neutral year. And while eastern tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures have been warmer than normal in recent months, those temperatures were colder than normal in the beginning months of the year, so the net effect of ENSO on 2014 global temperatures has been minimal.

As one caveat, different climate-tracking groups around the world use different data sets, so it is possible that at the end of the year, some will merely show 2014 tied for the hottest year on record depending on how warm December turns out to be. For NOAA, however, it’s all but certain 2014 will be the hottest year on record. Either way, it’s remarkable this is happening in an ENSO-neutral year.

Finally, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported Friday that their models indicate “at least a 70% chance that El Niño will be declared in the coming months.” If so, then 2015 will very likely top 2014 to become the hottest year on record.

The only way to stop setting new annual temperature records on an increasingly regular basis — until large parts of the planet are uninhabitable — is to sharply change the world’s carbon dioxide emissions path starting ASAP.