Tuesday 28th of May 2024

warming up....

The world has just experienced its hottest 12-month period in recorded history, with the average global temperature over 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels between November 2022 and October this year.

Analysis of international data, conducted by Climate Central scientists, found that human-induced climate change had significantly elevated temperatures around the world.

The report warned that El Niño was only just beginning to boost temperatures and, based on historical patterns, most of the effect would be felt next year.

While Australia did not experience the same level of extremes compared to many other parts of the world, a hot and dry summer was expected.

Andrew Pershing, vice president for science at Climate Central, said the numbers were stark but not surprising. 

"This is the hottest temperature that our planet has experienced in something like 125,000 years," he said.

"The hottest temperatures that humans have experienced, for the time where we've decided to write down things and build cities and live together in large groups."

The study found that a quarter of people around the world experienced a five-day heatwave that could be quantitatively linked to human-induced climate change.

Dr Pershing said the findings were important in the lead up to international climate negotiations being held at the end of the month.

"The whole point of this attribution science is to make the connection between what people are experiencing and climate change," he said.

"These impacts are only going to grow as long as we continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas — that is the ultimate driver of the changes that we're seeing around the planet."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-11-09/mapping-worlds-hottest-year-global-temperatures-climate-central/103073800

 

SEE ALSO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-FJvzgrM00

 

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the lemming syndrome .....

 

 

 

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not making waves....

 

Environment: NASA climate scientist criticises colleagues’ reluctance to agitate     By Peter Sainsbury

 

James Hansen claims that climate scientists have been too slow to ring the alarm bells. Not so, says Michael Mann. International climate treaties are booming post-Paris. Putting trousers on a starfish.

 

Tackling climate change: are we already too late?

The heat is rising among climate scientists. In part about the research evidence and its interpretation; in part about what to do and the urgency of doing it.

It doesn’t do the issues and their proponents full justice but I’m going to dichotomise the arguments for clarity.

In one corner we have the highly respected (retired NASA) scientist and activist James Hansen, hero of the climate movement since he blew the whistle about global warming to a US Senate Committee in 1988. In a recent, very long and very technical article, Hansen and colleagues argue that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has underestimated:

  • the strength of the relationship between the increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the increase in global warming that it causes. The authors believe warming is close to 5oC for a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • the amount of global warming that is locked in the pipeline, regardless of what we now do about emissions, because of the long delays in the feedback loops in Earth’s natural systems. ‘Global warming in the pipeline’ is in fact the title of the paper.
  • the one-off increase in global warming that is caused by a reduction of the sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere as the burning of fossil fuels is reduced.
  • the amount by which the solar energy absorbed by the Earth exceeds the thermal energy radiated out. The authors claim that the difference (Earth’s energy imbalance) has doubled since 2010.
  • the likelihood of catastrophic non-linear events (tipping points) occurring in the next century, for instance cessation of the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation currents, rapid melting of polar ice sheets and increased sea levels.

Hansen is critical of scientific colleagues and the IPCC for being resistant to new or challenging ideas. He also suggests that reticence and a preference for ‘gradualism’ prevent scientists from forcefully presenting warnings before it’s too late to the public and policymakers about the seriousness of the risks and technical advice on policy options.

The authors, who come from ten institutions in six countries, make four main recommendations:

  1. a rising carbon price to rapidly drive down CO2 emissions, accompanied by the development of abundant renewable energy.
  2. greater cooperation between the West and China to accommodate the needs of the developing world.
  3. to facilitate climate action, young people must drive democratic change (this is with reference to the USA but is relevant beyond).
  4. reversal of the imbalance between Earth’s incoming and outgoing energy. The authors opine that as controlling greenhouse gas emissions is necessary but no longer sufficient and carbon capture and storage is fool’s gold, temporary solar radiation management will probably be needed and research should be conducted now into its application and potential unintended effects.

Although the scientific details in the Hansen article is far too arcane for 99.99% of us, I strongly recommend the very readable first (‘Background information and structure of the paper’) and final (‘Politics and climate change’) sections.

In the opposite corner is Michael Mann, another climate scientist and activist. Also a climate movement hero (and devil incarnate to others) since he published in 1998 the (ice) hockey stick graph of global warming over the last thousand years. Mann has challenged Hansen’s evidence and conclusions, basically saying that the IPCC’s findings are correct. In summary, he says that the most recent evidence and modelling indicate that:

  • the global warming associated with a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere is in the 2.5-3oC range.
  • there is no ‘warming in the pipeline’. When greenhouse gas emissions stop, further warming will stop.
  • Earth’s energy imbalance is not increasing, as demonstrated by the constant, not increasing, rate of increase in the heat content of the oceans (where 90% of global warming’s heat is stored) since the late 1980s.
  • there is no evidence that the rate of the Earth’s surface warming has been accelerating in recent decades.
  • IPCC’s climate models have accurately predicted the observed warming to date.
  • there is no evidence that changes to ship-based sulphur dioxide aerosols in the air have played any substantial role in recent warming trends.

Mann also disagrees with the lessons that can be learnt from changes in the Earth’s temperature over the last 66 million years and that they support Hansen’s thesis.

Overall, Mann concludes that ‘the truth is bad enough [but] there is no reason that we can’t prevent dangerous levels of warming through concerted efforts to decarbonise the global economy. The obstacles, at least at present, are political, not physical or even technological’. He does, however, agree that ‘it is important to think about strategies for carbon drawdown down the road’, while not going so far as to advocate for solar radiation management.

A more detailed but very readable discussion of the scientific issues and differences in their interpretation among climate scientists can be found here.

It’s important to remember, though, that there is one thing that Hansen and Mann, and almost all climate scientists, do strongly agree about: the urgent need to rapidly reduce and eliminate the burning of all fossil fuels.

To some, these debates between climate cognoscenti will be comparable to theologians arguing about the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin. To climate deniers, the disagreements will, no doubt, be portrayed as proof that the evidence is fictitious, invented by a conspiracy by communists and elites to deny our sovereign agency and scientists to get research grants. To me, they signify healthy debate over some details and overwhelming agreement by those who understand the science that unless we do something right now, disaster is hurtling towards us. The dinosaurs couldn’t see it coming. We can.

Solar geoengineering, one scientist’s ‘worst nightmare’

In the view of Peter Kalmus, a current NASA climate scientist, ‘my worst nightmare is continued fossil fuel expansion accompanied by solar geoengineering followed by termination shock. This would be game over for human civilisation and much of life on Earth.’

(‘Termination shock’ is the massive increase in global warming that would accompany the termination of a period of solar radiation management if the level of CO2 in the atmosphere had kept rising during its application.)

Climate treaties and greenhouse gas emissions booming

The 2015 Paris agreement on climate change has been incredibly successful. No, not at reducing emissions, silly. At stimulating the formation of international pledges, agendas, treaties, communities, challenges, coalitions, hubs, dialogues, compacts, initiatives, partnerships, platforms, agencies, alliances, campaigns, forums, etc. (the thesaurus has been well thumbed) to tackle climate change. There were 20 in 2015, now there are 93.

What have they achieved? Process, lots of process. Governments are good at process. The World Resources Institute (WRI) developed indexes of activity (providing incentives for members to act) and operation (administrative infrastructure, transparency and appointing champions to senior roles), each with a low, medium and high level of achievement. Only 18% of the treaties scored ‘high’ for activity, whereas 61% achieved ‘high’ for their operational features.

The WRI recommends:

  • move beyond knowledge sharing to cooperation on the implementation of policies that stimulate investments, research, green technology development and roll-out, and public climate finance.
  • agree science-based goals, targets and road maps for decarbonisation.
  • increase the participation of and leadership by developing nations.

Genuine mistakes or malicious lies?

According to a post on Facebook, a wind turbine has to spin continuously for over 4 years to replace the energy it took to manufacture it and turbine blades last only 3-7 years.

Not so. The evidence indicates that it takes only 6 months for a turbine to generate more energy than it took to make it (the ‘Energy-Payback Time’) and turbine blades have a lifespan of 20 years.

The misinformation about EVs is ubiquitous: an EV must travel 80,000+ km to break even; EVs have little CO2 advantage over petrol cars; EVs explode – petrol ones only do it in movies. These and 18 other myths have been factchecked and exploded.

And here’s a cracker: wind turbine noise causes cancer. Who said that? – Take an educated guess.

Anyway, moving on, as I’m sure you’re all aware, starfish aren’t fish. They are echinoderms and their proper name is sea stars. Mind you, silverfish aren’t fish either; they are insects! Perhaps inconsistency confers some evolutionary advantage on humans but more seriously …

How should you clothe a starfish?

Most higher animals are bilaterians – that is, they are symmetrical around a longitudinal axis and have a front and a rear end (think lion or frog or kookaburra). But most bilaterians are not completely identical on the right and left sides. For instance, we humans have quite a few organs that are distinctly asymmetrical (e.g., heart, liver, spleen, stomach, intestines).

On the other hand, some animals, for instance starfish, have radial symmetry, which begs the question posed in the 4-minute video: How would a starfish wear trousers?

 

https://johnmenadue.com/environment-nasa-climate-scientist-criticises-colleagues-reluctance-to-agitate/

 

SEE ALSO: 

the lemming syndrome .....

 

 

 

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we're dinosaurs....

 

Are We the Dinosaurs of the 21st Century?And How Our Wars Distract Us    BY 

 

 

Let’s admit it: We are indeed mad creatures.

This should truly have been the time of our discontent. The northern hemisphere just experienced the hottest summer in recorded history, including month by month the warmest June, July, August, and (by a country mile) September ever. Staggering heat records were set in place after place globally. Fires from Canada to Hawaii to Europe broke all records. (In fact, those Canadian summer fires are now threatening to burn straight into the winter months for the first time — and I fear this phrase is going to be become all-too-boringly repetitive — in history.) The southern hemisphere had a “winter” from — yes! — hell. In Europe, which was burning up, Greece experiencedunprecedented fires and floods as well. Libya had a significant part of a major city washed away. China, too, experienced unprecedented flooding around its capital, where 1.2 million people had to be evacuated, and in Hong Kong, too. The sea ice in the Antarctic fell to the lowest levels (yes again!) in recorded history, as did sea ice in the Arctic, helping to ensure a future in which rising sea levels could flood coastal cities. And Greenland has been lending a hand to that same future, starting 2023 with temperatures unmatched in at least 1,000 years and still setting new temperature records in July. Worse yet, that’s just to begin down a list that increasingly seems unending.

In certain parts of my own country, the United States, this summer was all too literally a hell on Earth and, as a New York Times piece headlined it recently, also “A Summer Preview of the Future; Floods, Fires, and Stifling Heat.” (Its first line: “It felt like the opening minutes of a disaster movie.”) A stunning heat wave, for instance, stretched across a drought-stricken Southwest all the way to California, while Phoenix, Arizona, hit an almost unbelievable temperature record of 54 days of 110-degree heat or higher! (Oh, wait, make that 55!)

And that, of course, was just to begin down a seemingly endless list. I haven’t even mentioned disappearing mountain glaciers or the soaring temperatures of South Asia or the Middle East. (Iran hit a record heat index temperature of 158 degrees in August.) But let me stop there. It isn’t hard to see that, if we humans continue to use staggering amounts of fossil fuels and so pour ever more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere — and the latest study indicates that they are heading in that direction at record levels — the Earth, or at least life as we humans have known it on this planet, will, in the long run, almost literally go down in… what else?… flames.

 

No, it’s not that nothing is being done. Non-carbon-producing forms of energy are indeed on the rise globally (even in an oil heartland like Texas). Still, to take one example, China, the country moving most dramatically to create ever more green power, is also burning more coal than the rest of the planet combined and still planning to up its use of that devastating source of energy. And keep in mind that, these days, the two greatest greenhouse-gas-producing nations, China and the United States (which is also cumulatively by far the greatest in history), have in recent years hardly been able to exchange a civil word, no less collaborate to try to make this planet a cooler, better place. At the moment, it seems as if they stand a far greater chance of going to war with each other (while incinerating yet more fossil fuels and so much else in the process) than allying to help save the planet as we know it.

Meanwhile, of course, the giant fossil-fuel companies have been making — I know this sounds like a broken record but what can I do? — record (oops, sorry!) profits. And keep in mind that, in the United States, the leaders of one of the two major political parties are wildly focused on supporting and expanding Big Oil and carbon-producing energy sources of every kind, while denying that much of anything I’ve described above is actually happening. Worse yet, according to the latest polls, their unofficial leader, Donald Trump, stands a rather chilling (or do I mean boiling?) chance of retaking the presidency in 2024 and controlling the government for at least four more wildly unpredictable, possibly ever more authoritarian years of carbon hell. Under the circumstances, you might indeed be able to kiss this planet goodbye.

War Is Us

And worse yet, with our increasingly dire global situation in mind, ask yourself this: How is humanity reacting to the deep dangers we now face? Are we focusing our attention on putting out the flames, so to speak? I’m afraid — despite the heroic efforts of any number of young people — the overall answer would have to be: Not on your life! Sadly enough, instead of facing the crisis of climate change head-on, much of humanity seems all too intent on starting fires of the kind that have defined us since time immemorial. I have in mind, of course, a different kind of planetary destruction entirely: war-making. In fact, sometimes that seems to be by far our greatest, if grimmest, skill and deepest nature.

At a moment when peace couldn’t be more needed so that we could focus on our imperiled future, war (and the threat of ever more of it) seems once again to be what we’re all too willing to put at the very heart of things, including of our news reports.

Consider war, in fact, our other version of burning the planet up. Once upon a time, that would simply have been a metaphor for destructive war after war after war throughout human history, but no longer. After all, as anyone who saw the hit film Oppenheimer knows, back in 1945, this country first figured out how to create a global fire that could, unlike climate change, consume our world in essentially no time flat. I’m thinking, of course, of nuclear weapons, and of the fact that their power to broil us (as well as, all too ironically, drive us into a potentially devastating nuclear winter) has only increased immeasurably with time. The weapons in nuclear arsenals now are generally vastly much more powerful than those two atomic bombs that decimated the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th of that year.

Almost 80 years later, nine countries have nuclear weapons and the U.S. is planning, in the decades to come, to put up to $2 trillion into “modernizing” its own nuclear arsenal, with the Russians and Chinese following suit. Worse yet, lurking behind the most recent full-scale war on planet Earth, the one in Ukraine, has been the possibility that such weaponry could actually be used on a battlefield for the first time since 1945. I’m talking, of course, about “tactical nuclear weapons” — some far more powerful than the atomic bombs that took out Hiroshima and Nagasaki — and the Russian president’s implicit threats to use them.

And that bloody disaster of a conflict, launched with Vladimir Putin’s invasion in February 2022, has now become a full-scale, World War I-style trench war (with the addition of course of so many modern advances like drones) that shows no sign of ending in any imaginable future. And if that war — and other conflicts, in places ranging from Sudan to Pakistan — weren’t enough for you, then how about the now-ongoing Hamas-Israeli nightmare in the Middle East?

Yes, in its surprise assault on Israel, Hamas brutally slaughtered young music festival attendees in startling numbers and an unnerving number of children as well, while Israel is now mercilessly battering Gaza with its trapped two million inhabitants (almost half of them children), hitting schools, hospitals, and mosques, while cutting off electricity and food which, as Senator Bernie Sanders noted recently, is a “serious violation of international law.”

No less grimly important, that disastrous struggle has become a focus of almost all the news shows in a way that would be inconceivable for the long-term danger of climate change. And no one yet knows how that conflict might still develop or spread, but consider it symbolic of so much else that, in response to the initial Hamas surprise attacks, the Biden administration’s idea of restoring peace in a wildly conflict-ridden Middle East was to send in an aircraft carrier task force and fighter planes. I mean, what else could we do?

And mind you, even when we’re not at war, the U.S. and other countries remain all too ready to invest so much more of our wealth in our militaries than in tamping down climate change. Yes, give Joe Biden some credit, he did oversee the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which over time will put several hundred billion dollars into developing a climate-change-ready economy.

Still, that could be his only major climate initiative and investment (thanks significantly to a Republican House) in his four years in office, while every year he’s president the American military has gotten or will get a budget of more than $800 billion (and still rising toward the trillion-dollar mark). Similarly, when aiding allies, as with Ukraine, we’re far more likely to give them billions of dollars for armaments and other kinds of militarized help ($75 billion in the case of Ukraine) than to aid them in battling the growing nightmares of global warming.

Will Humanity Go Asteroidal?

You could say that, historically speaking, as well as in the present moment, war has been both humanity’s foremost talent and our obsession, and that we are, in some basic sense, mad creatures. War still remains a deep and endless part of our world. Making war, in some sense, could be considered our thing. I myself was born in the midst of the second devastating global war of the last century and I’ve lived through American wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq (twice), as well as that endless war on terror.

So, this is us. But here’s what’s different in this moment: while we humans prepare for and all too regularly launch wars, this planet is now visibly making war on us. Global warming is, in some fashion, a slow-motion but increasingly horrifying assault on this planet as humanity has known it these last thousands of years.

Or rather, if you want to think of it this way, humanity is now making war on itself, using fossil fuels as its slow-motion weapon of long-term atmospheric devastation, while distracting itself with more localized wars on this planet. And thanks to that, it has no longer become totally absurd to talk about our possible extinction. In a sense, you might say that, with our own special form of brilliance, humanity has managed to create both a devastatingly fast and a spectacularly slow way of doing ourselves (and so much else) in. I’m talking, of course, about those nuclear weapons and climate change. And thanks at least in part to our inability to stop fighting wars among ourselves, we seem to be ensuring that climate change won’t be the full-scale focus of our attention as it should be.

So, think of those nukes and climate change as fast and slow-motion versions of that asteroid that took out the dinosaurs and so much other life on Earth 66 million years ago.

At least, however, T-Rex and its pals weren’t responsible for the force that made them history. If things don’t change on this planet in the decades to come, the same might not be true of humanity. You would, in fact, have to say that we might have created our own asteroid, sent it on a devastating slow-motion path to Earth, and then (to make matters worse) largely ignored its coming and began killing each other first.

Consider all of this, then, the deepest form of human madness and just hope that somehow, from the Middle East to Ukraine, Beijing to Washington, we can wake up to what we’re doing to ourselves before it’s too late.

 

 

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel, Songlands (the final one in his Splinterlands series), Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War IIand Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars: The Untold Story.

 

Tom Engelhardt created and runs the website TomDispatch.com. He is also a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture.  A fellow of the Type Media Center, his sixth book is A Nation Unmade by War.

 

https://tomdispatch.com/are-we-the-dinosaurs-of-the-21st-century/

 

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