Do the maths, goodbye Artic, goodbye Coral Reefs.

Several scientists and environmentalists have recently published pictures of the future which, under “normal” circumstances would provoke some kind of dramatic response.

“Greenland ice sheet reflectivity at record low, particularly at high elevations”


Ice sheet reflectivity is crucial in that the opposite means greater heat absorbtion, which, in an area covered in ice and snow, becomes an irreversable loop. The system collapse has been caused by a mere 0.8 degree C global increase in temperatures, current trajectory is for a 4 – 6C average warming by 2100. Artic air temperatures have risen 4C since 1980 but this a minor factor. The chief culprit in “calving” events such as the glaciers shed from the Peterman Glacier in NW Greenland in 2010 and again this week in 2012 is WATER TEMPERATURE.

Peterman glacier ‘calving’ in 2010.

and below last week.



These events are a prime indicator of irrevrsible ice loss as NASA’s website indicates, caused by the 22,000,000,000 tonnes of CO2 human beings ‘force’ into the atmoshere.  “Even if the ice declined a large amount in one year, it should bounce back,” says Walt Meier of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, research shows a permanent alteration. According to data from the past five years, the Arctic sea ice has not recovered from the 2007 extreme low. “The system has passed a tipping point,” he says.

Perhaps the most staggering image from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre (below) is this years ‘ice cover total’ and it’s departure (mostly on the Atlantic side) from the 1979 – 2000 average ice cover.



ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD, the same WATER TEMPERATURE INCREASE has even more dramatic effects ;

“A World Without Coral Reefs”  was a New York Times op-ed last week by Roger Bradbury, expressing the very reasonable fear that Pacific Coral reef systems would collapse within a generation. Given the thin precarious temperature range under which pacific reefs survive, other oceanographers such as Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, have been long time outspoken advocates of a reduction of carbon emissions which is the root cause of ocean acidification. Other issues such as overfishing and shoreline pollution from land based uses and waste play destructive roles



See also

Bill McKibben published a stunning article inviting readers to analyse 3 simple numbers which combine to provide “Global warming’s terrifying New Math”

2 degrees celsius.

The only significant agreement from the Copenhagen Climate Conference was to limit temperature increases to 2 degree or less. This provides a “carbon budget” to apply between 2009 and 2050.

The Second Number: 565 Gigatons

The “carbon budget” means humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into  the atmosphere. The 565-gigaton figure was derived from one of the most sophisticated  computer-simulation models that have been built by climate scientists around the  world over the past few decades. And the number is being further confirmed by  the latest climate-simulation models currently being finalized in advance of the  next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. CO2 emissions last year  (2011) over 32 gigatones, at that rate, we’ll blow through our 565-gigaton allowance in 16 years,

The Third Number: 2,795 Gigatons

This  number is the scariest of all, highlighted last summer by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. The number describes the amount of carbon  already contained in the proven coal  and oil and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies, and the countries (think  Venezuela or Kuwait) that act like fossil-fuel companies. In short, it’s the  fossil fuel we’re currently planning to burn. And the key point is that this new  number – 2,795 – is higher than 565. Five times higher

We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate  scientists think is safe to burn, this coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it’s  already economically aboveground – it’s figured into share prices, companies are  borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed  returns from their patrimony. It explains why the big fossil-fuel companies have  fought so hard to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide – those reserves are  their primary asset, the holding that gives their companies their value.

CO2 emissions by fossil fuels [1 ppm CO2 ~ 2.12 GtC, where ppm is parts per million of CO2 in air and GtC isgigatons of carbon] via Hansen.  Significantly exceeding 450 ppm risks several severe and irreversible warming impacts. [Estimated reserves and potentially recoverable resources are from U.S. EIA (2011) and German Advisory Council on Global Change (2011). We are headed toward 800 to 1,000+ ppm, which represents the near-certain destruction of modern civilization as we know it — as the recent scientific literature makes chillingly clear]

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THE WORLD GROANS yet again at the unimaginable contortions governments will go to SALVAGE THE WRECK of the financial industry. The Environment, Climate Change, targets for decreasing emissions, the imminent death of global coral reef systems, biodiversity loss and ocean acidification, just get kicked down the road as easily as the solutions to the fundamental flaws in society.

But this is different, this is beyond “AMBIVALENCE”, it is “willing blindness”.  A determined strategy to re-start the engines of growth which hammers the final nail in the coffin. There is a point to this ignorance, to demonstrate the “sense of entitlement” of human beings, their arrogance and hubris. To wilfully ignore blindingly obvious evidence of imminent environmental collapse, akin to sanctioning mass murder.

The BBC documentary “Global Wierding” spotlighted the U.K.’s experience with savage weather extremes and this was expanded by YALE Forum on Climate Change and through U.S. scientists highlighting the “new normal” in America. Jeff Masters and Jennifer Francis give a “spellbinding” demonstration of the “Jetstream” air currents and their impact (thro’ Artic temperature increases) are a driver of “extreme weather”.





THE NEW YORK TIMES published an Op Ed piece entitled ;

A World Without Coral Reefs By ROGER BRADBURY, speculating on the imminent destruction of The Great Barrier Reef and the Pacific Reef System

“Zombie ecosystems” caused by overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution are pushing coral reefs into oblivion. Overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution have two features in common. First, they are accelerating. They are growing broadly in line with global economic growth, so they can double in size every couple of decades. Second, they have extreme inertia — there is no real prospect of changing their trajectories in less than 20 to 50 years. In short, these forces are unstoppable and irreversible. And it is these two features — acceleration and inertia — that have blindsided us.

Jellyfish swarms wash up on Costa del Sol in the U.K. Telegraph highlights the natural processes now in chain of ocean acidification preventing the formation of ‘shelled’ predators and destruction of plant matter (coral reefs) that rely on a very narrow temperature range for survival.

OVERFISHING and biodiversity loss in the Mediterranean has lead to a vast reduction in natural predater abundance around SPAIN (swordfish, marlin, and turtle) – so with warmer water temperatures, “the once in 10 year” infestation of the Med coast line, has, since 2002, been ANNUAL.

Over the past weekend, more than 1,000 people sought first aid treatment along the Malaga coast.


Major Cities air quality such as Madrid (pictured), and Barcelona have consistently exceeded  European Union levels even tho’ enjoying wonderful public transport systems – many cities still struggle to find effective answers to constant advertising of ‘snappy new cars’ and S.U.V.’s. Shipping remains a completely uncontrolled source of toxic emissions from the massive ramp up of global trade spewing sulphur and nitrous oxides over coastal communities.

It is clear that excess nitrogen is not good for our environment; it is also not good for our health. Reactive nitrogen is an important driver of air pollution worldwide and as sulphur emissions have lessened, nitrogen is now the principal acidifying component in acid rain.  Nitrogen may join with oxygen to form nitrogen oxide (NO), a precursor of smog, and also a respiratory irritant. Nitrogen oxides, along with volatile organic compounds, contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, nitrous oxide (N20) is also one of the three most important greenhouse gases, being almost 300 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The nitrogen cycle and health by Elizabeth Cullen

In June 2009 Deutsche Bank launched the Carbon Counter opposite New York’s Grand Central Station. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere was 3.64 TRILLION METRIC TONNES. ON TODAY’S INSPECTION THE NUMBER WAS –




LIMITS TO GROWTH, the case gets stronger.

At a recent Oxford University lecture cycle entitled “IS THE PLANET FULL?” –  some serious responses were put forward to further the work of Limits to Growth – the book written in 1972 by Denis Meadows et al, sponsored by the Club of Rome and Massachusetts Intitute of Technolgy. This film clip features Ian Johnson, for 26 years  the World Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development (ESSD), a contempory of Herman Daly, and now secretary general of the Club of Rome.



For some other very interesting talks including the “burning issue” of population go to the Oxford University’s website

Naomi Klein on Occupy and Climate Change.


In this interview with Occupy Vancouver, Naomi Klein gives an appraisal of the Occupy movement and it’s value in redetermining values, communicating and ethics. She offers the opinion that solutions to the economic crisis are the same solutions that are needed for the ecological crisis of climate change, and the political crisis which is advocated by the Tar Sands.



Naomi Klein’s advocacy is gaining important discussion space as the following post from New York Times columnist Andrew Revkin shows. The discussion centres around her article “Capitalism v Climate” (see below) and her call for a realistic approach to climate change and the massive change that must occur to return to a safe climate.

Andrew Rivkin and the New York Times have acknowledging global warming but staying very close to the “American Way.”

Revkin, although disagreeing with some key aspects of Naomi Kleins essay, welcomes the discussion ;

She challenges the environmental left to embrace this reality instead of implying that modest changes in lifestyle and shopping habits and the like can decarbonize human endeavors on a crowding planet.

Andrew Rivkin. (AR)

First, I was happy to see you dive into the belly of the many-headed beast challenging the need for greenhouse-gas cuts (as was clear from your piece, you recognize that there’s no single species called “deniers”). There are lots of slings and arrows awaiting anyone exploring this terrain, as was the case with the Heartland meeting in 2008. What prompted you to do an in-depth look at global warming stances and the issues underlying this “crisis”?

Naomi Klein (NK)

I got interested after attending the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Like a lot of people who watched that train wreck up close, I came away wanting to understand the massive gap between the euphoric expectations of the environmental movement and the real political outcomes. When I got home, I was stunned by a new Harris poll that showed that the percentage of Americans who believed in anthropogenic climate change had plummeted from 71 per cent to 51 per cent in just two years. So here we were thinking that the world was on the verge of some kind of climate breakthrough while a large segment of the U.S. population was rejecting the science altogether. I wanted to understand how that could have happened.

I had a bit of an “a-ha” moment reading a paper by the excellent Australian political scientist Clive Hamilton, in which he argues that a great many American conservatives have come to see climate science as a threat to their core ideological identity. Then I read Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, which explains that many of the key scientists behind the denier movement hold a similar point of view – they are old-school Cold Warriors who came to see fighting environmentalism as a battle to protect “freedom” and the American way of life.

But as I read all this, I found myself thinking that from within the hard-right worldview, these responses were entirely rational. If you really do believe that freedom means governments getting out of the way of corporations and that any regulation leads us down Hayek’s road to serfdom, then climate science is going to be kryptonite to you. After all, the reality that humans are causing the climate to warm, with potentially catastrophic results, really does demand radical government intervention in the market, as well as collective action on an unprecedented scale. So you can understand why many conservatives see climate change as a threat to their identity. Too often the liberal climate movement runs away from the deep political and economic implications of climate science, which is why I wrote the piece. I think we need to admit that climate change really does demand a profound interrogation of the ideology that currently governs our economy. And that’s not bad news, since our current economic model is failing millions of people on multiple fronts.

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2015 – PEAK EMISSIONS, or the planet gets it ……

MORE SCIENCE – PROFESSOR KEVIN ANDERSON GAVE THIS HOUR LONG PRESENTATION IN MAY 2010. It is a discussion on the need to be clear what limiting global average temperature increase to 2 degrees above pre industrial levels MEANS.

Anderson explains the intricacy of “sharing” the remaining CARBON BUDGET between now and 2050 and harks back to the Stern Report which set 2015 as the date when carbon emissions must peak.


Below is a link to the slideshow.




Capitalism vs the Climate – Naomi Klein

This article appears in the November edition of :The Nation”,,0

There is a question from a gentleman in the fourth row.

He introduces himself as Richard Rothschild. He tells the crowd that he ran for county commissioner in Maryland’s Carroll County because he had come to the conclusion that policies to combat global warming were actually “an attack on middle-class American capitalism.” His question for the panelists, gathered in a Washington, DC, Marriott Hotel in late June, is this: “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”

Here at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, the premier gathering for those dedicated to denying the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet, this qualifies as a rhetorical question. Like asking a meeting of German central bankers if Greeks are untrustworthy. Still, the panelists aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to tell the questioner just how right he is.

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who specializes in harassing climate scientists with nuisance lawsuits and Freedom of Information fishing expeditions, angles the table mic over to his mouth. “You can believe this is about the climate,” he says darkly, “and many people do, but it’s not a reasonable belief.” Horner, whose prematurely silver hair makes him look like a right-wing Anderson Cooper, likes to invoke Saul Alinsky: “The issue isn’t the issue.” The issue, apparently, is that “no free society would do to itself what this agenda requires…. The first step to that is to remove these nagging freedoms that keep getting in the way.”

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Dr Clive Hamilton, Facing up to Climate Change, “Requiem for a Species”

I have been reading Clive Hamilton’s books since “Growth Fetish” and he has now evolved into a very well informed commentator on climate change. Not having read “Requiem for a Species” I saw this film clip as another of his valuable contributions to the climate change debate. What he adds is an update of the science with conclusions that are truthful and realistic. He confirms earlier posts from Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber in the prospects that 2 degree warming is now unattainable and a world where 4 degrees warming could be the norm. His socialogical insights are very valuable as a guide to what will be required for future generations to cope with our legacy. The first part of the talk centres on the denial industry of which a fuller explanation can be found in the post “The Denial Industry and why Environmentalism is Failing”.

How would you like your planet sir, with or without ice ?

The easiest way of determining the truth of the “greenhouse effect” is the loss of ice at the North and South Poles. It is now beyond doubt that ice loss is occuring faster than most scientists had contemplated in the I.P.C.C. reports.  In the midst of the financial crisis the environmental crisis continues, and as Susan George remarks, we can always come back and fix a financial crisis, and environmental crisis is permanent. The following films bear witness to the scale of ice loss, and brings back the reality of the environmental crisis that we stand to leave as a legacy for the future. The ease with which trillions of dollars are found to band aid an economic system that must change in the near future is a sad endictment on current values.

The “Home” that this blog refers to is the planet. There is no place like it, and it is changing for the worse, so again the question is raised, “How do we start again?”

In August 2010, an area of ice four times the size of Manhattan broke away from the Petermann glacier in the biggest ice calving ever to occur in Greenland. Film from New Scientist

Film from NASA Goddard