A Less Cloudy Future: The Role of Subtropical Subsidence in Climate Sensitivity, ApocaDocs, Arctic Ice Melt, Atmospheric Scientists John Fasullo and Kevin Trenberth, Climate Change, Climate Feedback Loops, Climate Tipping Points, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Corporate State, Ecological Overshoot, Economic Collapse, Environmental Collapse, Extinction of Man, Imperiled Life: Revolution against Climate Catastrophe, Inverted Totalitarianism, Javier Sethness-Castro, Mass Die Off, Methane Release from Thawing Permafrost, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Overly Conservative IPCC Estimates
As is generally known by those studying the most important issue of our time, the forecasts by the IPCC are on the conservative side with scientists overly cautious not to include predictions which may be perceived as too pessimistic. A new study in the Science Journal shows that actually the more pessimistic climate models are much more accurate:
It’s important to note that the IPCC estimates do not fully take into account feedback loops and tipping points. Below is an excerpt from “Imperiled Life: Revolution against Climate Catastrophe” by Javier Sethness-Castro (2012):
…A 2009 study on climate change performed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology–less optimistic and thus perhaps more realistic, for example, than the IPCC’s reports to date regarding the prospect of achieving significant carbon emission reductions in the near future–finds there indeed to be a chance that temperatures will increase 7.4°C (13°F) over preindustrial temperatures by the century’s end, with a 90 percent chance that the temperature increase would range between 3.5°C and 7.4°C (4.8°F-13°F).(75) The study’s authors are quick to clarify that even their decidedly bleak conclusions might be underestimates, as they, like the IPCC, do not fully account for the various feedback mechanisms that could arise given catastrophic climate change. NASA’s Dennis Bushnell, for his part, estimates that the average global temperature increase expected during this century once these feedbacks have been accounted for would amount to between 6°C and 12°C (10.5°F-21°F).(76) Warming of such apocalyptic proportions would be entirely horrific: it should be remembered that it was a 6°C (10.5°F) increase that triggered the end-Permian mass extinction.(77)
Though a matter of controversy among climatologists, there is reason to fear that overheating beyond these levels could induce a runaway greenhouse effect that would give rise to what Hansen terms “the Venus syndrome,” whereby climatic change abruptly delivers Earth to a state resembling that of Venus, where life simply cannot exist.(78)…
And another two news stories from the last few days with more ominous signs of possible acceleration into climate chaos:
I’m finding it harder to carry on with blogging about reality without compartmentalizing all this grim news into some dark recess of my brain, only to be unlocked at night when I read up on this subject. I live two lives – one in the fake world that we all mill around in like zombies in order to survive… and the other in this blog researching the coming apocalypse. No wonder the Apocadocs turned to humor to deal with this stuff.
Ha well, life is interesting in the parallel universe, isn’t it? It’s far worse than ANY model suggests because, despite my best efforts, not ONE climate scientist takes seriously let alone factors into models that all the trees are dying off from ozone pollution. And they are dying off really, really fast. You can WATCH THEM dying off, that’s how fast they are going. And that means a major, if not THE major, carbon sink is disappearing. Trees are actually also an ozone sink too, taking up 40% of the ozone produced by burning fuel, itself an important greenhouse gas. So it’s going to get way, way hotter, way, way faster, than current models predict.
Almost enough to make you laugh!! (hysterically)
Yer just tryin’ to scare us…
red admiral said:
seriously Gail. I mean, look. These trees are perfectly fine!
Thanks guys, you made me laugh! Any day I actually laugh out loud is a good day.
“I live two lives…”
Yep, me too and it’s absolutely driving me crazy. All around me I see people desperately trying to satisfy their self worth through consumption. I keep telling myself that I should stop trying to explain the connection between petroleum and the mirage of western civilization, but the headlights keep getting bigger and brighter…
Thanks, I enjoy reading your blog.
Gail and Mike,
I found one of the best comments I’ve read for quite a while posted in a thread at the base of an article called “Superstorm Sandy – A peoples shock?” by Naomi Klein at The Nation:
Sandy’s monumental storm surge is undoubtedly a result of climate change, and has caused epic misery. However, the damage to coastal areas cannot explain the enormous and extended loss of power inland.
There is a very large story that isn’t being reported which has little to do with climate change although it derives from the same processes.
What is being ignored in this storm (and Irene as well) is the real source of the massive power outages that are so disruptive – which is all the trees that are falling on the lines. Trees didn’t used to fall with regularity on power lines – or people, cars and houses. The winds in both those storms were not extraordinary, nothing that a healthy tree shouldn’t be able to withstand.
Why are they falling now?
The answer is pretty obvious if you trouble to actually LOOK at them. They are all dying. Every species, every age, every location. They have obvious symptoms – broken branches, cankers, splitting bark, holes, thin crowns, early leaf drop, lack of autumn color, yellowing needles, bark covered with lichens and fungus. You can’t find a healthy tree anymore.
So the question becomes, why are they dying? Most foresters and scientists will say, climate change and/or invasive pests. But those explanations don’t fit the empirical evidence which is that even native pests and diseases have run amuck, and even young trees grown and watered and fertilized in nurseries exhibit the identical symptoms of decline. Even annual, tropical ornamentals in enriched soil in pots that like heat, and aquatic plants in ponds have injured foliage and stunted growth.
What do all of these plants have in common?
The answer is, the composition of the atmosphere. Most people don’t realize it, because it’s invisible, but the background level of tropospheric ozone is inexorably increasing. Precursors travel across oceans and continents, and the persistent concentration has reached a threshold that is intolerable to vegetation. Agricultural yield and quality are reduced, and especially trees that are exposed to cumulative damage season after season are universally – around the world – in decline.
Scientists and agronomists have known for decades through field observations and controlled fumigation experiments that ozone debilitates plants, causing their root systems to shrink as they allocate more energy to repairing damaged foliage, rendering them more vulnerable to drought and wind…AND impinges on their natural immunity to attacks from insects, disease and fungus, which exist precisely to break down dying trees, not destroy healthy trees.
Most of the trees that fell during Sandy were rotted inside. New Jersey looks like the ecopocalypse has arrived. Photos here: http://witsendnj.blogspot.com
Heh, that’s my comment but hey, it’s really good to know that somebody reads them now and then!
What can I say! ;0)
I’ve read so many articles right across the net over these past years, and for good reason, I realise now I’ve found your voice more than once.
The fact that I added you here from a post you’d written elsewhere – I think that is fantastic!
I genuinely hadn’t made the connection.
Something related, but just as an aside, I often turn the radio on in the kitchen when I’m making multiple cups of tea for my morning read. I’d just read your reply here (UK) before I did this.
On radio 4 there was a piece on the Drax power station.
To quote Wikipedia about it:
“Drax is a large coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire, England. […]Its generating capacity of 3,960 megawatts is the highest of any power station in the United Kingdom and Western Europe, providing about 7% of the United Kingdom’s electricity supply. […]Because of its large size, it is the UK’s single largest emitter of carbon dioxide.”
See that “7%” in the Wikipedia quote above? Well here’s the rub: What I gathered from the radio interview, they’re ramping up biomass as a new means to fuel it – mainly imports of vegetation (trees and the like) from the United States. By 2022, they reckon they can get half the generated power from this – are you geting this – present day sunlight!
The figure expressed to create half of that 7% figure in a single year is the equivalent of burning up every single stick of woodland in the whole of the UK – year on year!
the story from the other side of the pond:
We’re on the same wavelength, so lets hope others will find these posts and comment.
For what I see, Dr David Suzuki says it well in this genius short feature by TheSustainableMan at YouTube called, “Externalities”:
I’ve more recently been reading and much appreciating both your blog and your articles at the Daily Kos, and consider them a must read for anyone stumbling in the dark in their search for answers:
Thanks for reminding me of the Dailykos – I should try to keep up with that! It’s a great film – I’ll go check out the other SustainableMan videos. But I have to say, having 5 kids, like Suzuki did, is hardly sustainable. There are those who say overpopulation is the underlying problem of all the others, although I would put overconsumption there as well.
I know, maybe he shoulda tied a knot in it ;0) …
… but, I’ve just halled across the net and found he was born in 1936!
He’d had three of those five kids and a divorce under his belt by the time he was twenty-nine in 1965 – seven years before Jørgen Randers and Donella and Dennis Meadows released the book ‘The Limits to Growth’, who factored in the doubling of the population of the planet in our present day.
This reminds me of a sixty-five year old man in a court hearing, where the opposition to his case smear him with a rape charge against a sixteen year-old girl, missing out the fact that at the time, he himself was just seventeen, had married her with her parents consent, but had honeymooned in a state where sex with a sixteen year-old amounted to statutory rape.
In amongst this cull, I’d have to state my own misdemeanor: that, up until only a few years ago, I was well inside the net of the consumerist media grip – a fully-fledged petrol-head with a passion for the mammalian wail of Jaguar v12’s and Buick V8’s in full song.
Then I had an horrific epiphany with the help of Dr Albert A. Bartlett, that ripped me a fresh hole in my space time continuum, broke open a fourth wall, and dragged me kicking and screaming into the energy crunch of the 21st century:
As a man who was lost for so long in the venal toxic smog of propaganda, I have to tell you how much respect I have for you Gail. I’ve spent the last days reading over your body of work, your ideas and passions. Don’t give up doing what you do. It’s a wonder to me – this devise ‘The Net’ – that gives myself and others – if they can find you – the concise value of a fellow realist.
Like you, I now clammer for dissenting voice’, such as this excellent website, headed by my good net friend Mike, who I’ve never met in the four years of knowing of him, yet writes at such a pitch of fervent reality I arrive here every day to keep my ripped vocal-chords in poor fettle – who sends me down rabbit-holes that exercise the right to place Chris Hedges – a writer with a heinous past history from the despicable New York Times no less – to vent his spleen and help me calculate the next step in this horror show.
If Hedges can cut the umbilical chord of his past, so can I, so can Mike, so can Suzuki, and so can you. We’ve a lot to share, and a blank canvas to start afresh with if:
The S&M Election
by Chris Hedges
November 5, 2012
I learned at the age of 10, when I was shipped off to a New England boarding school where the hazing of younger boys was the principal form of recreation, that those who hunger for power are psychopathic bastards. The bullies in the forms above me, the sadistic masters on our dormitory floors, the deans and the headmaster would morph in later life into bishops, newspaper editors, college presidents, politicians, heads of state, business titans and generals. Those who revel in the ability to manipulate and destroy are demented and deformed individuals. These severely diminished and stunted human beings—think Bill and Hillary Clinton—shower themselves, courtesy of elaborate public relations campaigns and an obsequious press, with encomiums of piety, patriotism, devoted public service, honor, courage and vision, not to mention a lot of money. They are at best mediocrities and usually venal. I have met enough of them to know.
So it is with some morbid fascination that I watch Barack Obama, who has become the prime “dominatrix” of the liberal class, force us in this election to plead for more humiliation and abuse. Obama has carried out a far more egregious assault on our civil liberties, including signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), than George W. Bush. Section 1021(b)(2), which I challenged in federal court, permits the U.S. military to detain U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest struck down the law in September. The Obama administration immediately appealed the decision. The NDAA has been accompanied by use of the Espionage Act, which Obama has turned to six times in silencing whistle-blowers. Obama supported the FISA Amendment Act so government could spy on tens of millions of us without warrants. He has drawn up kill lists to exterminate those, even U.S. citizens, deemed by the ruling elite to be terrorists.
Obama tells us that we better lick his boots or we will face the brute down the hall, Mitt Romney. After all, we wouldn’t want the bad people to get their hands on these newly minted mechanisms of repression. We will, if we do not behave, end up with a more advanced security and surveillance state, the completion of the XL Keystone pipeline, unchecked pillage from Wall Street, environmental catastrophe and even worse health care. Yet we know on some level that once the election is over, Obama will, if he is re-elected, again betray us. This is part of the game. We dutifully assume our position. We cry out in holy terror. We promise to obey. And we are mocked as we watch promises crumble into dust.
As we are steadily stripped of power, we desire with greater and greater fervor to be victims and slaves. Our relationship to corporate power increasingly mirrors that of ancient religious cults. Lucian writes of the priests of Cybele who, whipped into frenzy, castrated themselves to honor the goddess. Women devotees cut off their breasts. We are not far behind.
“Anyone who wants to rule men first tries to humiliate them, to trick them out of their rights and their capacity for resistance, until they are as powerless before him as animals,” wrote Elias Canetti in “Crowds and Power.” “He uses them like animals and, even if he does not tell them so, in himself he always knows quite clearly that they mean just as little to him; when he speaks to his intimates he will call them sheep or cattle. His ultimate aim is to incorporate them into himself and to suck the substance out of them. What remains of them afterwards does not matter to him. The worse he has treated them, the more he despises them. When they are no more use at all, he disposes of them as he does excrement, simply seeing to it that they do not poison the air of his house.”
Our masters rely on our labor to make them wealthy, on our children for cannon fodder in war and on our collective chants for adulation. They would otherwise happily slip us rat poison. When they retreat into their inner sanctums, which they keep hidden from public view, they speak in the cold words of manipulation, power and privilege, words that expose their visions of themselves as entitled and beyond the reach of morality or law.
The elite have produced a few manuals on power. Walter Lippmann’s “Public Opinion,” Leo Strauss’ work and “Atlas Shrugged” by the third-rate novelist Ayn Rand express the elite’s deep contempt for the sans-culottes. These writers posit that the masses are incapable of responding rationally to the complexities of power. They celebrate the role of a tiny, controlling elite that skillfully uses propaganda and symbols to, as Lippmann wrote, “manufacture consent.” They call on the power elite to operate in secrecy. The elite’s systems of propaganda are designed to magnify emotion and destroy the capacity for critical thought. Kafka was right: The modern world has made the irrational rational.
“Crowds have always undergone the influence of illusions,” wrote Gustave Le Bon, one of the first pioneers of the study of mass psychology. “Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.”
The more we believe the lies that saturate our airwaves, the more we salute our “heroes” in Iraq or Afghanistan, the more we militarize social and political values, the more frightened we become, the more we bow down and clamor for enslavement, the more the elite detests us. We are, in their eyes, vermin. We have to be dealt with and controlled. At times we have to be placated. At other times we have to be repressed and even killed. But we are a headache. Our existence interferes with the privileges of the ruling class.
“Those who have put out the people’s eyes,” John Milton wrote, “reproach them of their blindness.”
There are a few writers and artists who give us a view of the dark, corrupt heart of power. The 1972 film “The Ruling Class,” a black comedy based on Peter Barnes’ play, does this, as does Jean Genet’s play “The Balcony.” So does Noam Chomsky, Elias Canetti’s “Crowds and Power,” C. Wright Mill’s “The Power Elite,” Karl Marx’s “Capital,” Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow,” Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” and Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s “Castle to Castle.” The astute explorations of the pathology of power, however, are buried in the avalanche of Disneyfied popular culture and nationalist cant. The elite deeply fears any art, literature, philosophy, poetry, theology and drama that challenge the assumptions and structures of authority. These disciplines must appear to the public only in bastardized forms, packaged as froth, entertainment or sentimental drivel that celebrates the established hierarchy.
Pynchon in “Gravity’s Rainbow” portrays Brigadier Ernest Pudding, the commander of a special psychological operations unit in World War II and a veteran of World War I, as the archetypal member of the elite. Pudding’s glory on the battlefield “came in 1917, in the gassy, Armageddonite filth of the Ypres salient, where he conquered a bight of no man’s land some 40 yards at its deepest, with a wastage of only 70% of his unit.” He holds secret fortnightly trysts with “the Mistress of the Night” where he strips, kisses her boots, receives blows from a cane, drinks her urine and eats her excrement. He dies “of a massive E. Coli infection” that results from his nocturnal coprophagic rituals.
Peter Barnes captures the same dementia in “The Ruling Class,” in which Ralph Gurney, the 13th earl of Gurney, accidentally hangs himself in his bedroom while wearing a tutu and playing erotic games with a noose. His successor, Jack Gurney, believes he is God and speaks only of love and charity. This will not do. A psychiatrist is called in to help the new earl adapt to his role as a representative of the ruling class. By the time the psychiatrist’s work is complete, Jack is cured of his God delusion. He now believes he is Jack the Ripper. He assumes his seat in the House of Lords. He rails against the unemployed, homosexuals and socialists. He champions God, queen and country, along with corporal and capital punishment. He murders innocent women on the side, including his wife, and becomes an esteemed member of the ruling class.
Genet, who like Pynchon and Barnes equates the lust for power with sexual depravity, sets “The Balcony” in a brothel. Clients don the vestments of power, including those of a judge, a bishop and a general. The “bishop,” who outside the brothel works for the gas company, hears the sins of the prostitutes in confession and revels in the power of absolution. The “judge” metes out severe sentences for trivial offenses to maintain law and order. The “general,” who rides his prostitute as if she were a horse, demands self-sacrifice, honor and glory for the state. A bank clerk in the brothel, meanwhile, defiles the Virgin Mary. Revolution occurs outside the doors of the brothel. The actual rulers, priests, generals and judges are killed. The patrons step outside, along with Irma, the brothel madam, who is anointed the new queen, to assume the roles in society they once playacted and to mount the counterrevolution.
Irma, at the close of the play, turns to face the audience. She says:
“In a little while, I’ll have to start all over again … put all the lights on again … dress up. … (A cock crows.) Dress up … ah, the disguises! Distribute roles again … assume my own. … (She stops in the middle of the stage, facing the audience.) … Prepare yours … judges, generals, bishops, chamberlains, rebels who allow the revolt to congeal, I’m going to prepare my costumes and studios for tomorrow. …You must now go home, where everything—you can be quite sure—will be falser than here. … You must go now. You’ll leave by the right, through the alley. … (She extinguishes the last light. It’s morning already. (A burst of machine-gun fire.)
The only recognizable basis for moral and political authority, in the eyes of the elite, is the attainment of material success and power. It does not matter how it is gotten. The role of education, the elites believe, is to train us vocationally for our allotted positions and assure proper deference to the wealthy. Disciplines that prod us to think are—and the sneering elites are not wrong about this—“political,” “leftist,” “liberal” or “subversive.” And schools and universities across the country are effectively stomping out these disciplines. The elites know, as Canetti wrote, that once we stop thinking we become a herd. We react to every new stimulus as if we were rats crammed into a cage. When the elites push the button we jump. It is collective sadomasochism. And we will get a good look at it on Election Day.
The net is a wonderful resource, and a bit ironic, like every other miraculous thing humans have invented. I know about Suzuki’s divorce and I wouldn’t presume to condemn or judge him for having the two other kids – well after he was preaching about overshoot. It’s stupid to point fingers except perhaps at a few deliberately evil actors, because we all live in glass houses. It’s impossible to live within the confines of modern culture without compromising. There isn’t enough left of the natural world to sustain anyone who wants to survive without impacting it negatively. We are living on borrowed time and resources. This realization is what drove the Unabomber mad.
I mentioned Suzuki’s progeny mainly it because I think it’s ironic that someone who writes and speaks so eloquently about the human predicament knowingly adds to the problem. You could recycle and reuse and reduce to the most extreme levels, but then having a child would obviate every effort because that child is going to require at least as many non-renewable resources, and create at least as much pollution, as you yourself have.
Even more than that, I wonder why anyone would knowingly bring a child into this world of misery, understanding – or at least, earning a living by selling books and giving lectures warning – that any child is going to have a dangerous, unpleasant if not horrific future, and a less than peaceful death from old age.
I believe it is hubris, defiance, and a gigantic denial of reality. It’s also not uncommon. Joe Romm had his first child shortly after Katrina destroyed his brother’s home and he had that “horrific epiphany” you describe (that we’ve all had and probably recurs with unwelcome regularity), about climate change. Chris Hedges recently had a forth child, Paul Gilding has five, and Naomi Klein had her first baby last summer.
Like you and Mike, I have an internet friend I’ve never met who writes ferociously funny articles on this topic. Here’s one he let me post at Wit’s End: