How Bad Is Global Warming?

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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby Sounder » Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:40 am

A little housecleaning here.

Jingofever was the only poster to respond to my pg.44 post. I regret not responding especially because jingofever had the good graces to deal with the content and without an underlying current of rancor.
by jingofever » Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:27 am
"climate change concern creates a meme among the general population that says ‘our leaders’ have great concern for future generations."

How does that happen when our leaders haven't done and don't intend to do shit about climate change? The only "meme" I'm picking up is that they care about the short term profits of corporations over everything else.

Sorry I did not respond earlier jingofever.

our leaders haven't done and don't intend to do shit about many dysfunctional elements of society and our perverted relations to reality. There is just too much profit to be derived from inefficiencies and ignorance. Hence the great value of the fig leaf of Climate Change concern. As evidenced by the MSM treatment of the subject, contrasted with the treatment of corexit, GMO’s, depleted uranium, Fukushima, etc.

Iamwhomiam, there is a general habit at RI to allow posters to respond to each other when and in the manner that each member may so choose. So for instance, when you did not respond to the post that jingofever responded to, I did not continue to badger you for a response. Even though you indicated an interest in responding, as shown in what follows.


After which you posted:
Just wanted to pop-in to let you know I've read your comment, appreciate your sharing it and look forward to sharing my response later, when time allows.



Since then, no response. Which is fine if you so choose.

In regard to your most recent post, the idea being presented in my post was that there is clear precedence for scientism and progressive politics combining to produce some fairly dour results.

So, I made an assertion and backed it up with solid and common knowledge.

This is quite distinct from the cut and paste style where no perspective or comments are included with the polished propaganda.


Later you did respond, well somewhat, with a 'the dog ate my homework' version that did not say much for me. But thanks for trying.

Iamwhomiam wrote...
Two simple questions asked of Sounder remain unanswered. Considering your comprehensive response to Rory, I'm puzzled by your complete ignorance of my questions and lack of argument on any of the points you raised that I contend are false. I mean, especially when you know what the most important issue is we face today. Why hold back such important news?


Now I am ignorant of your questions, what a puzzling characterization. Really? What points did you contend as being false? Please inform.

What do you find terrifying that I'm completely ignorant of, like so many others without your privileged insight?


What are you going on about with the 'privileged insight', or asserting me as saying you are 'completely ignorant' of something or other? Please provide direct examples of me saying that, or how you find that to be in what I write.

Here are the two questions I'd like you to answer, Sounder:

"You beat around the bush... Name the unnamed Terror we all should be terrified of. I mean the real one, as it really doesn't matter to me what your "fantasy terror" might be."


How thick are you Iamwhomiam? Here is the key Iamwhomiam, you look at the context of the writing and you figure it out the fuck yourself what my opinion is in regard to issues (that I consider to be) many order of magnitude greater in their impact to society than is Climate Change.
"Oh, and what is 'the most important issue of our times'?"


I don’t much care for absolutes and was mocking the idea of 'the most important issue of our times', which anybody with a smidgen of reading comprehension abilities would readily figure out.


Rory wrote…
Good grief, you are all over the map. You lack the focus to discuss the points three seperate people have raised and instead go off on a schizophrenic rant about stuff you said (and I responded to) months ago.

It might surprise you to learn Rory that all the things we post are dated and effectively kept as a precise record of our verbiage. The following was your first post following my pg.44 post. The post is a variation on the; it all boils down to, ‘you are saying that the lizard people are trying to enslave us’ gambit.
(Which is not to say that the argument does not have merit in this case, and that first paragraph was pretty sharp and funny and true.)

Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?
by Rory » Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:23 pm
The Hate Mail? Yawn.

They should stick to what they're good at - demonizing immigrants and liberals while satiating 'politically conservative' older men's desire for vicarious titillation via copious detailed and lurid coverage of sex crimes, illustrated with 'celebrity news' showing in the main, pictures of barely dressed young women

But lets take their word for it when a serious scientific subject its being discussed

For example, this story was ranked above your global warming denier shite

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... sport.html

With said sexy pictures, of course

This is my favorite (from a long time ago, to be fair)


Yes, to be fair the piece was pulled from your4 'quick access file'. Oh you with the nimble fingers.


And then talk about poison pills? How about an apology to AD for your inappropriate slander?


Sorry but no, in my opinion a favorite tactic used, - well everywhere, is to negatively associate potentially disruptive ideation with some folk that have been or become somewhat ‘unbalanced’ during the course of their opening up process.

I will try to be polite, but do feel inclined to point out examples when I can.


If I wanted to, I could dredge up the waffle you gave me (back in the day) in response to specific questions I asked but I am talking about to day. My inference is you are acting in bad faith. How about you discuss today, and respond to what you were talking about in that wholly wrongheaded post of yours


That’s funny, you talking to me about avoidance, bad faith, waffling, -and what discussion? Will you ever deal with any actual content or substance in regard to what after all, are merely my opinions?

Oh, and about ‘specific questions’?

Ask away. I love questions.
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby Iamwhomiam » Tue Dec 31, 2013 3:25 pm

What a very nice way to wrap-up 2013, Sounder.

Happy new year.

(please disregard my last if you feel it no more than a distractive meme)
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby DrEvil » Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:12 pm

Sounder wrote:
How thick are you Iamwhomiam? Here is the key Iamwhomiam, you look at the context of the writing and you figure it out the fuck yourself what my opinion is in regard to issues (that I consider to be) many order of magnitude greater in their impact to society than is Climate Change.


Sorry to butt in, but would it be possible for you to just pretend for a moment that I'm really dense and don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about (Because frankly, I don't), and spell it out for me in a short and concise sentence?
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby Sounder » Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:36 pm

Dr. Evil wrote...
Sorry to butt in, but would it be possible for you to just pretend for a moment that I'm really dense and don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about (Because frankly, I don't), and spell it out for me in a short and concise sentence?

You are welcome to butt in at any time Dr. Evil although I cannot for a moment think or pretend you are in fact that dense. More likely, you do not consider much about what I write because there is so much other verbiage out there to be perused that is more to your liking.

But anyway, I’ll try, in a short and concise sentence, -tall order.

There are several issues for society to deal with, any one of which is many orders of magnitude greater in their impact on the general environment, right now, compared to the modeled threat of global warming.

Not short, but I tried. Also, what I said to jingofever.

our leaders haven't done and don't intend to do shit about many dysfunctional elements of society and our perverted relations to reality. There is just too much profit to be derived from inefficiencies and ignorance. Hence the great value of the fig leaf of Climate Change concern. As evidenced by the MSM treatment of the subject, contrasted with the treatment of corexit, GMO’s, depleted uranium, Fukushima, etc.

Happy New Year to you too Iamwhomiam. 2014 is going to be a great year, I can feel it.

Sorry I seem to be such a rude and nasty person Iamwhomiam, but then again you don't exactly paint me with very pretty colors.
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby Ben D » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:22 pm

http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/12/31/record-cold-temperatures/4264237/

Cold facts: More record lows than highs in USA in 2013

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY 3:40 p.m. EST December 31, 2013

For the first time in 20 years, the USA saw more record cold temperatures than record hot temperatures in 2013.

Miley Cyrus was a baby and Bill Clinton had just been inaugurated the last time this happened: For the first time in 20 years, the USA saw more record cold temperatures than record hot temperatures in 2013, according to statistics from the National Climatic Data Center.

"For the first year since 1993, there were more daily record lows than daily highs that were either tied or set in 2013," reported Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton, who keeps track of the data from the climate center.

Through Dec. 28, there have been 11,852 daily record lows in 2013, compared with 10,073 daily record highs, according to Walton.

A "daily" record occurs when a specific location sets a record high or low temperature for a particular day; other types of records include monthly and all-time.

Walton said that an unusually cold spring was the main factor in the "cool" 2013.

The year 2013 was a stunning turnaround from the USA's amazingly warm year of 2012, when more than 34,000 record highs were measured across the country, as compared with only about 6,600 record lows.

Overall, the year was likely a blip in a long-term warming trend: "The ratio of daily highs to daily lows continues to be near 3 to 1 for this decade, so far," Walton said.

Also for the decade so far, there have been 700 all-time record highs set, compared with only 74 all-time record lows.

Worldwide, since the USA is only about 2% of the Earth's surface, what happens here is far from representative of the planet as a whole.

Through November, the most recent month for which national and global climate statistics are available, the world was having its 4th-warmest year on record, while the USA was seeing its 35th-warmest on record, the NCDC reports.

Climate records go back to the 1880s.
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby Rory » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:52 pm

LA, SF, the central valley, Sacramento, Etc. Have just enjoyed the driest year on record. Most records have been smashed by several inches - many records are from the early part of the 20th century.

I saw records for rainfall being smashed in North Carolina this week.

Weather is becoming less predictable as the climate changes and the world refuses to act - even if we can still do anything to stop it.

Happy new year, everyone
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby NeonLX » Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:38 pm

If ya believe the NOAA...YTD report isn't available yet, but here's through November:

•The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for November 2013 was record highest for the 134-year period of record, at 0.78°C (1.40°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (55.2°F).
•The global land surface temperature was 1.43°C (2.57°F) above the 20th century average of 5.9°C (42.6°F), the second highest for November on record, behind 2010. For the global oceans, the November average sea surface temperature was 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F), tying with 2009 as the third highest for November.
•The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the September–November period was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F), the second warmest such period on record, behind only 2005.
•The September–November worldwide land surface temperature was 1.08°C (1.94°F) above the 20th century average, the third warmest such period on record. The global ocean surface temperature for the same period was 0.52°C (0.94°F) above the 20th century average, tying with 2009 and 2012 as the fourth warmest September–November on record.
•The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the year-to-date (January–November) was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.2°F), tying with 2002 as the fourth warmest such period on record.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby coffin_dodger » Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:25 pm

Planet likely to warm by 4C by 2100, scientists warn
New climate model taking greater account of cloud changes indicates heating will be at higher end of expectations
The Guardian, Tuesday 31 December 2013

Temperature rises resulting from unchecked climate change will be at the severe end of those projected, according to a new scientific study.
The scientist leading the research said that unless emissions of greenhouse gases were cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4C by 2100, twice the level the world's governments deem dangerous.
The research indicates that fewer clouds form as the planet warms, meaning less sunlight is reflected back into space, driving temperatures up further still. The way clouds affect global warming has been the biggest mystery surrounding future climate change.
Professor Steven Sherwood, at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, who led the new work, said: "This study breaks new ground twice: first by identifying what is controlling the cloud changes and second by strongly discounting the lowest estimates of future global warming in favour of the higher and more damaging estimates."
"4C would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous," Sherwood told the Guardian. "For example, it would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics, and would guarantee the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and some of the Antarctic ice sheet", with sea levels rising by many metres as a result.


cont: - http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ ... 00-climate
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby Sounder » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:35 am

Given the pedigree of the members here, one might expect greater offense to be taken towards blatant propaganda than seems to be the case.

From the article that Ben D posted;

Worldwide, since the USA is only about 2% of the Earth's surface, what happens here is far from representative of the planet as a whole.


Yes USA is about 2% of the earths surface, how bout Canada. I hear it’s pretty cold there also. How about Antarctica, I hear it’s pretty cold there now also. Something about researchers stuck in ice, which you can be pretty sure these folks were not hoping to happen. Didn’t they read the weather reports before they launched their trek?

Clearly not a news item suitable for inclusion in this bit of twattal.


In regard to the opinion presented earlier;

There are several issues for society to deal with, any one of which is many orders of magnitude greater in their impact on the general environment, right now, compared to the modeled threat of global warming.


Does anyone care to address this?

If anyone here thinks climate change is a greater threat than is Fukushima for instance, I would like to see the reasoning behind that assertion.
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby coffin_dodger » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:48 am

hey Sounder, I'll bite (and you can masticate on my ruminations)

What is 'importance'?

Do we all internalise and retain mind-lists of what's important to us? I sure do.
Many of the topics here at RI are important to me. Death and after. Consciousness (singular and universal). Power structures. Control. Society. Trends. Systems. Networks. Hidden stuff. 'Truth' that feels right, to me. Etc.

Real-life has a habit of intruding upon consciousness and usurping thought/action intentions.

It comes down to micro vs/and macro, almost from moment to moment. And by micro, I mean 'my life' and by macro - 'our lives'. Micro could also be interpreted as 'the here and now' and macro as 'analysis and prediction of events coming to pass based on past experiences aka the unknowable but (roughly) statistically-calculable future.

Macro is not 'experienced' by the individual from moment to moment, in the 'here and now', - but through thought-projection upon what has been and may possibly become. Micro are the problems/events that attend us from day to day and detract from the macro projection sorely required to plan effectively for the future.

Add to the mix that micro vs macro experiences vary vastly from person to person. The contingent 'input' on the senses in the moment plays an enormous part on ones focus. Retaining focus on one particular aspect of the micro or macro whilst retaining both in perspective is enormously complex and subject to constant interruption.

Examples:
the micro/micro is my roof leaking (self, now);
the macro/micro is the NSA (all, now)
the micro/macro is a pension fund (self, future);
the macro/macro is global warming (all, future).

As a species, we seem least able at comprehending/planning for/taking responsibility for the macro/macro scenarios. But that's not really that surprising, considering all the other shit we have deal with in the other categories on a moment to moment, or (when there is time) the thought-projection basis. Personal observation: individuals that regularly delve into the Macro/macro sphere are more likely to be 'perturbed' in their general outlook than those whose consciousness stay predominantly in the Micro.

Also, Macro/macro events have a habit of becoming Micro/micro events when it's too damn late.

(continues rambling to self, considering whether my leaking roof is more important to me than Fukushima at this moment, interspersed with occassionally wondering if any of this is cogent)
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby Sounder » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:15 pm

wondering if any of this is cogent


That is indeed very cogent coffin dodger, Thanks

One thing is though, I have great interest in macro/macro, in fact it is nearly my only interest. I only even refer to micro interests if is can serve to make a larger macro case.

Maybe I don't 'like' AGW because it represents competition. Could be, or it could be that I have seen the duplicitous results of prior macro (all, future) reform efforts (nee foundation initiatives) addressed toward medicine; result AMA, -agricultural revolution, result; drive small stakeholders off the land and increase petrochemical inputs, -IMF demanded 'reforms', countries go bankrupt.

The wars on Cancer, Drugs and Terrorism are also claimed to be necessary so as to bring us all a brighter future.

So sure, lets get macro.

What is the half-life of uranium? I dare say, Fukushima is self, all, now and future in your system dodger.

Would anybody care to address my (prior) assertion more directly. Can anyone assert the contrary and back it up with reasoning?
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby brainpanhandler » Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:18 pm

Sounder » Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:35 am wrote:
sounder wrote:There are several issues for society to deal with, any one of which is many orders of magnitude greater in their impact on the general environment, right now, compared to the modeled threat of global warming.


Does anyone care to address this?

If anyone here thinks climate change is a greater threat than is Fukushima for instance, I would like to see the reasoning behind that assertion.


Sigh.

In the first place I object to the premise embedded in your loaded statement... ie... of course a "modeled" threat has no immediate impact on the environment, by definition. Duh.

A better question to ask would be something like, "Do you think the Fukushima disaster is a greater threat (to the environment and life on planet earth) than are the effects of anthropogenic global climate disruption?"

Unless of course you believe anthropogenic global climate disruption only exists in a modeled version of the world in the labs of those greedy, evil climate scientists intent on stealing your hard earned tax dollars. Pffft.

How about you explain why you think the Fukushima disaster is a greater threat to the environment and life on earth than is anthropogenic global climate disruption first. And while you're at it explain how it is a threat "many orders of magnitude greater."

Defintion of ‘many’
Defintion of ‘Order of Magnitude’

Here is an animation of a computer model (Gasp!) of the dispersion of the radioactivity from Fukushima:


More info/source:
http://oceanrep.geomar.de/14788/
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby brainpanhandler » Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:58 pm

And btw, lest we ever forget this shining moment in the sun.... It’s the Sun Stupid

Dear reader, please read pages 20 through 23 of the linked thread above to get the measure of our esteemed fellow member, one BenD. I especially draw your attention to C2W's first post on page 22 of that thread. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby Sounder » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:16 pm

A better question to ask would be something like, "Do you think the Fukushima disaster is a greater threat (to the environment and life on planet earth) than are the effects of anthropogenic global climate disruption?"

Thanks for usefully rewording the question BPH. I will go with your version.

Of course I could do without the jeering undercurrent, but who knows, maybe that can come later.

How about you explain why you think the Fukushima disaster is a greater threat to the environment and life on earth than is anthropogenic global climate disruption first. And while you're at it explain how it is a threat "many orders of magnitude greater."


How bout, you first.
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Re: How Bad Is Global Warming?

Postby Luther Blissett » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:21 pm

The Climate Change Scorecard | “We are experiencing change 200 to 300 times faster than any of the previous major extinction events.”

Since a nuclear weapon went off over Hiroshima, we have been living with visions of global catastrophe, apocalyptic end times, and extinction that were once the sole property of religion. Since August 6, 1945, it has been possible for us to imagine how human beings, not God, could put an end to our lives on this planet. Conceptually speaking, that may be the single most striking development of our age and, to this day, it remains both terrifying and hard to take in. Nonetheless, the apocalyptic possibilities lurking in our scientific-military development stirred popular culture over the decades to a riot of world-ending possibilities.

In more recent decades, a second world-ending (or at least world-as-we-know-it ending) possibility has crept into human consciousness. Until relatively recently, our burning of fossil fuels and spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere represented such a slow-motion approach to end times that we didn’t even notice what was happening. Only in the 1970s did the idea of global warming or climate change begin to penetrate the scientific community, as in the 1990s it edged its way into the rest of our world, and slowly into popular culture, too.

Still, despite ever more powerful weather disruptions -- what the news now likes to call “extreme weather” events, including monster typhoons, hurricanes, and winter storms, wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and global temperature records -- disaster has still seemed far enough off. Despite a drumbeat of news about startling environmental changes -- massive ice melts in Arctic waters, glaciers shrinking worldwide, the Greenland ice shield beginning to melt, as well as the growing acidification of ocean waters -- none of this, not even Superstorm Sandy smashing into that iconic global capital, New York, and drowning part of its subway system, has broken through as a climate change 9/11. Not in the United States anyway.

We’ve gone, that is, from no motion to slow motion to a kind of denial of motion. And yet in the scientific community, where people continue to study the effects of global warming, the tone is changing. It is, you might say, growing more apocalyptic. Just in recent weeks, a report from the National Academy of Scientists suggested that “hard-to-predict sudden changes” in the environment due to the effects of climate change might drive the planet to a “tipping point.” Beyond that, “major and rapid changes [could] occur” -- and these might be devastating, including that “wild card,” the sudden melting of parts of the vast Antarctic ice shelf, driving sea levels far higher.

At the same time, the renowned climate scientist James Hansen and 17 colleagues published a hair-raising report in the journal PLoS. They suggest that the accepted target of keeping global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius is a fool’s errand. If global temperatures come anywhere near that level -- the rise so far has been less than one degree since the industrial revolution began -- it will already be too late, they claim, to avoid disastrous consequences.

Consider this the background “temperature” for Dahr Jamail’s latest piece for TomDispatch, an exploration of what climate scientists just beyond the mainstream are thinking about how climate change will affect life on this planet. What, in other words, is the worst that we could possibly face in the decades to come? The answer: a nightmare scenario. So buckle your seat belt. There’s a tumultuous ride ahead. Tom

Are We Falling Off the Climate Precipice?
Scientists Consider Extinction

By Dahr Jamail

I grew up planning for my future, wondering which college I would attend, what to study, and later on, where to work, which articles to write, what my next book might be, how to pay a mortgage, and which mountaineering trip I might like to take next.

Now, I wonder about the future of our planet. During a recent visit with my eight-year-old niece and 10- and 12-year-old nephews, I stopped myself from asking them what they wanted to do when they grew up, or any of the future-oriented questions I used to ask myself. I did so because the reality of their generation may be that questions like where they will work could be replaced by: Where will they get their fresh water? What food will be available? And what parts of their country and the rest of the world will still be habitable?

The reason, of course, is climate change -- and just how bad it might be came home to me in the summer of 2010. I was climbing Mount Rainier in Washington State, taking the same route I had used in a 1994 ascent. Instead of experiencing the metal tips of the crampons attached to my boots crunching into the ice of a glacier, I was aware that, at high altitudes, they were still scraping against exposed volcanic rock. In the pre-dawn night, sparks shot from my steps.

The route had changed dramatically enough to stun me. I paused at one point to glance down the steep cliffs at a glacier bathed in soft moonlight 100 meters below. It took my breath away when I realized that I was looking at what was left of the enormous glacier I’d climbed in 1994, the one that -- right at this spot -- had left those crampons crunching on ice. I stopped in my tracks, breathing the rarefied air of such altitudes, my mind working hard to grasp the climate-change-induced drama that had unfolded since I was last at that spot.

I haven’t returned to Mount Rainier to see just how much further that glacier has receded in the last few years, but recently I went on a search to find out just how bad it might turn out to be. I discovered a set of perfectly serious scientists -- not the majority of all climate scientists by any means, but thoughtful outliers -- who suggest that it isn’t just really, really bad; it’s catastrophic. Some of them even think that, if the record ongoing releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, are aided and abetted by massive releases of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, life as we humans have known it might be at an end on this planet. They fear that we may be at -- and over -- a climate change precipice hair-raisingly quickly.

Mind you, the more conservative climate science types, represented by the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), paint scenarios that are only modestly less hair-raising, but let’s spend a little time, as I’ve done, with what might be called scientists at the edge and hear just what they have to say.

“We’ve Never Been Here as a Species”

“We as a species have never experienced 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of evolutionary biology, natural resources, and ecology at the University of Arizona and a climate change expert of 25 years, told me. “We’ve never been on a planet with no Arctic ice, and we will hit the average of 400 ppm... within the next couple of years. At that time, we’ll also see the loss of Arctic ice in the summers… This planet has not experienced an ice-free Arctic for at least the last three million years.”

For the uninitiated, 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.

McPherson, who maintains the blog Nature Bats Last, added, “We’ve never been here as a species and the implications are truly dire and profound for our species and the rest of the living planet.”

While his perspective is more extreme than that of the mainstream scientific community, which sees true disaster many decades into our future, he’s far from the only scientist expressing such concerns. Professor Peter Wadhams, a leading Arctic expert at Cambridge University, has been measuring Arctic ice for 40 years, and his findings underscore McPherson’s fears. “The fall-off in ice volume is so fast it is going to bring us to zero very quickly,” Wadhams told a reporter. According to current data, he estimates “with 95% confidence” that the Arctic will have completely ice-free summers by 2018. (U.S. Navy researchers have predicted an ice-free Arctic even earlier -- by 2016.)

British scientist John Nissen, chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (of which Wadhams is a member), 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.”

McPherson, Wadham, and Nissen represent just the tip of a melting iceberg of scientists who are now warning us about looming disaster, especially involving Arctic methane releases. In the atmosphere, methane is a greenhouse gas that, on a relatively short-term time scale, is far more destructive than carbon dioxide (CO2). It is 23 times as powerful as CO2 per molecule on a 100-year timescale, 105 times more potent when it comes to heating the planet on a 20-year timescale -- and the Arctic permafrost, onshore and off, is packed with the stuff. “The seabed,” says Wadham, “is offshore permafrost, but is now warming and melting. We are now seeing great plumes of methane bubbling up in the Siberian Sea… millions of square miles where methane cover is being released.”

According to a study just published in Nature Geoscience, twice as much methane as previously thought is being released from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, a two million square kilometer area off the coast of Northern Siberia. Its researchers found that at least 17 teragrams (one 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.

The day after Nature Geoscience released its study, a group of scientists from Harvard and other leading academic institutions published a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that the amount of methane being emitted in the U.S. both from oil and agricultural operations could be 50% greater than previous estimates and 1.5 times higher than estimates of the Environmental Protection Agency.

How serious is the potential global methane build-up? Not all scientists think it’s an immediate threat or even the major threat we face, but Ira Leifer, an atmospheric and marine scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and one of the authors of the recent Arctic Methane study pointed out to me that “the Permian mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago is related to methane and thought to be the key to what caused the extinction of most species on the planet.” In that extinction episode, it is estimated that 95% of all species were wiped out.

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 six 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 currently 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 being that ours is human caused, isn’t going to take 80,000 years, 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 -- even in the course of just the next few decades.

The Sleeping Giant Stirs

According to a NASA research report, “Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?”: “Over hundreds of millennia, Arctic permafrost soils have accumulated vast stores of organic carbon -- an estimated 1,400 to 1,850 petagrams of it (a petagram is 2.2 trillion pounds, or 1 billion metric tons). That's about half of all the estimated organic carbon stored in Earth's soils. In comparison, about 350 petagrams of carbon have been emitted from all fossil-fuel combustion and human activities since 1850. Most of this carbon is located in thaw-vulnerable top soils within 10 feet (3 meters) of the surface.”

NASA scientists, along with others, are learning that the Arctic permafrost -- and its stored carbon -- may not be as permanently frosted as its name implies. Research scientist Charles Miller of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the principal investigator of the Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE), a five-year NASA-led field campaign to study how climate change is affecting the Arctic's carbon cycle. He told NASA, "Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures -- as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years. As heat from Earth's surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic's carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming."

He fears the potential results should a full-scale permafrost melt take place. As he points out, “Changes in climate may trigger transformations that are simply not reversible within our lifetimes, potentially causing rapid changes in the Earth system that will require adaptations by people and ecosystems."

The recent NASA study highlights the discovery of active and growing methane vents up to 150 kilometers across. A scientist on a research ship in the area described this as a bubbling as far as the eye can see in which the seawater looks like a vast pool of seltzer. Between the summers of 2010 and 2011, in fact, scientists found that in the course of a year methane vents only 30 centimeters across had grown a kilometer wide, a 333,333% increase and an example of the non-linear rapidity with which parts of the planet are responding to climate disruption.

Miller revealed another alarming finding: "Some of the methane and carbon dioxide concentrations we've measured have been large, and we're seeing very different patterns from what models suggest," he said of some of CARVE’s earlier findings. "We saw large, regional-scale episodic bursts of higher than normal carbon dioxide and methane in interior Alaska and across the North Slope during the spring thaw, and they lasted until after the fall refreeze. To cite another example, in July 2012 we saw methane levels over swamps in the Innoko Wilderness that were 650 parts per billion higher than normal background levels. That's similar to what you might find in a large city."

Moving beneath the Arctic Ocean where methane hydrates -- often described as methane gas surrounded by ice -- exist, a March 2010 report in Science indicated that these cumulatively contain the equivalent of 1,000-10,000 gigatons of carbon. Compare this total to the 240 gigatons of carbon humanity has emitted into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution began.

A study published in the prestigious journal Nature this July suggested 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.

Even the relatively staid 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 four to six degrees Celsius inevitable.

The ability of the human psyche to take in and grasp such information is being tested. And while that is happening, yet more data continues to pour in -- and the news is not good.

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

Consider this timeline:

* Late 2007: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announces that the planet will see a one degree Celsius temperature increase due to climate change by 2100.

* Late 2008: The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research predicts a 2C increase by 2100.

* Mid-2009: The U.N. Environment Programme predicts a 3.5C increase by 2100. Such an increase would remove habitat for human beings on this planet, as nearly all the plankton in the oceans would be destroyed, and associated temperature swings would kill off many land plants. Humans have never lived on a planet at 3.5C above baseline.

* October 2009: The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research releases an updated prediction, suggesting a 4C temperature increase by 2060.

* November 2009: The Global Carbon Project, which monitors the global carbon cycle, and the Copenhagen Diagnosis, a climate science report, predict 6C and 7C temperature increases, respectively, by 2100.

* December 2010: The U.N. Environment Programme predicts up to a 5C increase by 2050.

* 2012: The conservative International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook report for that year states that we are on track to reach a 2C increase by 2017.

* November 2013: The International Energy Agency predicts a 3.5C increase by 2035.

A briefing provided to the failed U.N. Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen in 2009 provided this summary: “The long-term sea level that corresponds to current CO2 concentration is about 23 meters above today’s levels, and the temperatures will be 6 degrees C or more higher. These estimates are based on real long-term climate records, not on models.”

On December 3rd, a study by 18 eminent scientists, including the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen, showed that the long-held, internationally agreed upon target to limit rises in global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius was in error and far above the 1C threshold that would need to be maintained in order to avoid the effects of catastrophic climate change.

And keep in mind that the various major assessments of future global temperatures seldom assume the worst about possible self-reinforcing climate feedback loops like the methane one.

“Things Are Looking Really Dire”

Climate-change-related deaths are already estimated at five million annually, and the process seems to be accelerating more rapidly than most climate models have suggested. Even without taking into account the release of frozen methane in the Arctic, some scientists are already painting a truly bleak picture of the human future. Take Canadian Wildlife Service biologist Neil Dawe, who in August told a reporter that he wouldn't be surprised if the generation after him witnessed the extinction of humanity. All around the estuary near his office on Vancouver Island, he has been witnessing the unraveling of “the web of life,” and “it’s happening very quickly.”

"Economic growth is the biggest destroyer of the ecology," Dawe says. "Those people who think you can have a growing economy and a healthy environment are wrong. If we don't reduce our numbers, nature will do it for us." And he isn’t hopeful humans will be able to save themselves. "Everything is worse and we're still doing the same things. Because ecosystems are so resilient, they don't exact immediate punishment on the stupid."

The University of Arizona’s Guy McPherson has similar fears. “We will have very few humans on the planet because of lack of habitat,” he says. Of recent studies showing the toll temperature increases will take on that habitat, he adds, “They are only looking at CO2 in the atmosphere.”

Here’s the question: Could some version of extinction or near-extinction overcome humanity, thanks to climate change -- and possibly incredibly fast? Similar things have happened in the past. Fifty-five million years ago, a five degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures seems to have occurred in just 13 years, according to a study published in the October 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A report in the August 2013 issue of Science revealed that in the near-term Earth’s climate will change 10 times faster than at any other moment in the last 65 million years.

“The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet,” climate scientist James Hansen has said. “There are potential irreversible effects of melting the Arctic sea ice. If it begins to allow the Arctic Ocean to warm up, and warm the ocean floor, then we’ll begin to release methane hydrates. And if we let that happen, that is a potential tipping point that we don’t want to happen. If we burn all the fossil fuels then we certainly will cause the methane hydrates, eventually, to come out and cause several degrees more warming, and it’s not clear that civilization could survive that extreme climate change.”

Yet, long before humanity has burned all fossil fuel reserves on the planet, massive amounts of methane will be released. While the human body is potentially capable of handling a six to nine degree Celsius rise in the planetary temperature, the crops and habitat we use for food production are not. As McPherson put it, “If we see a 3.5 to 4C baseline increase, I see no way to have habitat. We are at .85C above baseline and we’ve already triggered all these self-reinforcing feedback loops.”

He adds: “All the evidence points to a locked-in 3.5 to 5 degree C global temperature rise above the 1850 ‘norm’ by mid-century, possibly much sooner. This guarantees a positive feedback, already underway, leading to 4.5 to 6 or more degrees above ‘norm’ and that is a level lethal to life. This is partly due to the fact that humans have to eat and plants can’t adapt fast enough to make that possible for the seven to nine billion of us -- so we’ll die.”

If you think McPherson’s comment about lack of adaptability goes over the edge, consider that the rate of evolution trails the rate of climate change by a factor of 10,000, according to a paper in the August 2013 issue of Ecology Letters. Furthermore, David Wasdel, director of the Apollo-Gaia Project and an expert on multiple feedback dynamics, says, “We are experiencing change 200 to 300 times faster than any of the previous major extinction events.”

Wasdel cites with particular alarm scientific reports showing that the oceans have already lost 40% of their phytoplankton, the base of the global oceanic food chain, because of climate-change-induced acidification and atmospheric temperature variations. (According to the Center for Ocean Solutions: “The oceans have absorbed almost one-half of human-released CO2 emissions since the Industrial Revolution. Although this has moderated the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, it is chemically altering marine ecosystems 100 times more rapidly than it has changed in at least the last 650,000 years.”)

“This is already a mass extinction event,” Wasdel adds. “The question is, how far is it going to go? How serious does it become? If we are not able to stop the rate of increase of temperature itself, and get that back under control, then a high temperature event, perhaps another 5-6 degrees [C], would obliterate at least 60% to 80% of the populations and species of life on Earth.”

What Comes Next?

In November 2012, even Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group (an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries), warned that “a 4C warmer world can, and must be, avoided. Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today.”

A World Bank-commissioned report warned that we are indeed on track to a “4C world” marked by extreme heat waves and life-threatening sea-level rise.

The three living diplomats who have led U.N. climate change talks claim there is little chance the next climate treaty, if it is ever approved, will prevent the world from overheating. "There is nothing that can be agreed in 2015 that would be consistent with the 2 degrees," says Yvo de Boer, who was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2009, when attempts to reach a deal at a summit in Copenhagen crumbled. "The only way that a 2015 agreement can achieve a 2-degree goal is to shut down the whole global economy."

Atmospheric and marine scientist Ira Leifer is particularly concerned about the changing rainfall patterns a recently leaked IPCC draft report suggested for our future: “When I look at what the models predicted for a 4C world, I see very little rain over vast swaths of populations. If Spain becomes like Algeria, where do all the Spaniards get the water to survive? We have parts of the world which have high populations which have high rainfall and crops that exist there, and when that rainfall and those crops go away and the country starts looking more like some of North Africa, what keeps the people alive?”

The IPCC report suggests that we can expect a generalized shifting of global rain patterns further north, robbing areas that now get plentiful rain of future water supplies. History shows us that when food supplies collapse, wars begin, while famine and disease spread. All of these things, scientists now fear, could happen on an unprecedented scale, especially given the interconnected nature of the global economy.

“Some scientists are indicating we should make plans to adapt to a 4C world,” Leifer comments. “While prudent, one wonders what portion of the living population now could adapt to such a world, and my view is that it’s just a few thousand people [seeking refuge] in the Arctic or Antarctica.”

Not surprisingly, scientists with such views are often not the most popular guys in the global room. McPherson, for instance, has often been labeled “Guy McStinction” -- to which he responds, “I’m just reporting the results from other scientists. Nearly all of these results are published in established, esteemed literature. I don’t think anybody is taking issue with NASA, or Nature, or Science, or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Those] and the others I report are reasonably well known and come from legitimate sources, like NOAA [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], for example. I’m not making this information up, I’m just connecting a couple of dots, and it’s something many people have difficulty with.”

McPherson does not hold out much hope for the future, nor for a governmental willingness to make anything close to the radical changes that would be necessary to quickly ease the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; nor does he expect the mainstream media to put much effort into reporting on all of this because, as he says, “There’s not much money in the end of civilization, and even less to be made in human extinction.” The destruction of the planet, on the other hand, is a good bet, he believes, “because there is money in this, and as long as that’s the case, it is going to continue.”

Leifer, however, is convinced that there is a moral obligation never to give up and that the path to global destruction could be altered. “In the short term, if you can make it in the economic interests of people to do the right thing, it’ll happen very fast.” He offers an analogy when it comes to whether humanity will be willing to act to mitigate the effects of climate change: “People do all sorts of things to lower their risk of cancer, not because you are guaranteed not to get it, but because you do what you can and take out the health protections and insurance you need in order to try to lower your risk of getting it.”

The signs of a worsening climate crisis are all around us, whether we allow ourselves to see them or not. Certainly, the scientific community gets it. As do countless communities across the globe where the effects of climate change are already being experienced in striking ways and local preparations for climatic disasters, including increasingly powerful floods, droughts, wildfires, heat waves, and storms are underway. Evacuations from low-lying South Pacific islands have already begun. People in such areas, out of necessity, are starting to try to teach their children how to adapt to, and live in, what we are causing our world to become.

My niece and nephews are doing something similar. They are growing vegetables in a backyard garden and their eight chickens provide more than enough eggs for the family. Their parents are intent on teaching them how to be ever more self-sustaining. But none of these heartfelt actions can mitigate what is already underway when it comes to the global climate.

I am 45 years old, and I often wonder how my generation will survive the impending climate crisis. What will happen to our world if the summer Arctic waters are indeed ice-free only a few years from now? What will my life look like if I live to experience a 3.5 Celsius global temperature increase?

Above all, I wonder how coming generations will survive.

Dahr Jamail has written extensively about climate change as well as the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. He is the author of two books: Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq and The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently works for al-Jazeera English in Doha, Qatar.

Copyright 2013 Dahr Jamail

The Rich and the Corporate remain in their hundred-year fever visions of Bolsheviks taking their stuff - JackRiddler
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