“Because of climate change, we don’t have time to make mistakes.” –Jane Fonda to Bill Maher
By William Thomas
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, they’re already nearly “catastrophic”.
Late last December, while all eyes were fixed on Santa and a carrot-topped clown, temperatures at the North Pole hit 50 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, despite 24/7 darkness. Out of the park Arctic temperatures prompted climate scientist Dr. Peter Gleick to warn that this Arctic meltdown “is unprecedented and possibly catastrophic."
The intensifying high-northern thaw has already warped and fragmented the jet stream, sending prolonged extreme weather “weirding” across the entire Northern Hemisphere.
But there’s no sign of abrupt climate shift in late-night comedy routines or the U.S. corporate press, where a single top-selling brand dominates every news cycle. What will he do next? is on everyone’s minds.
Trigger an accidental nuclear apocalypse comes to mind, as Washington’s latest folly turns his Mar-a-Lago club into a "situation” room. Dinner guests use lights on their phones to help the host and a nuclear-arms-pushing Japanese prime minister sift through a blizzard of documents waved by panicky aides and translators, while waiters clearing salads to serve the main course curiously eye U.S. nuclear launch codes.
Well, maybe not those codes. But that hot new Chinese flashlight
app turns smartphones into “portable
television satellite trucks”, the Washington Post points out, linked back to
their country of manufacture.
Watching launch, Kim Jong Un enjoys pushing Trump's buttons
Not that it matters, since the blowhard buffoon masquerading as a U.S. president appears to be using an easily-hacked Android phonesolid-fuel, strategic Pukguksong-2 for chatting about retaliatory atomic strikes in the face of a North Korean demo of its expensive new rocket, that nation’s usual response to yet another provocative U.S.-led “war game” on its touch-sensitive doormat.
Who dares take their eyes off that four-year-old playing with the planet? But we’re obsessing over the wrong threat. While U.S. military commanders will almost certainly disregard a launch order from their Groper In Chief as a mis-tweet, Washington’s junkyard junta is taking us all down anyway.
"Nobody really knows if climate change is real," says the only world leader denying what’s in all our faces.
Fuvemeh inundated - elpais.com
Try telling this to David Buabasah as the next rising tide shoves waves through Fuvemeh, collapsing still more houses in this once-thriving community of 2,500 people supported by now absent fish and completely submerged coconut plantations.
The livelihoods, cultures and tight-knit societies in thousands more communities hugging sub-Saharan Africa’s western coast are also being carried away by the relentlessly rising sea. The teeming Nigerian megalopolis Lagos, seventh-fastest growing city onboard this foundering space colony, as well as the Ghanaian capital, Accra face inundation.
The last fish are heading north for cooler waters. Sea turtles’ breeding grounds are disappearing, along with dolphins, sharks and whales, while erosion and creeping salinization delete arable land and contaminate dwindling freshwater reserves on an arid and thirsty coast.
“The people of Fuvemeh are among hundreds of millions who are paying a heavy price for a problem they didn’t create,” Foreign Policy remarks. By the time you read this, their homes will be artificial reefs.
Africa is not alone. Upwards of 20 million Bangladeshis will also be losing their homes as sea levels around the world are already locked into a more than two-and-a-half foot rise by the end of this Last Chance Century. A three-foot rise will make “The Day After Tomorrow” seem like “Mary Poppins”.
Meanwhile, Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (“anthropogenic” means us) is sending mountain glaciers splashing "off a cliff" into the sea. In the last six years, the ocean covering 70% of this lonely blue marble has warmed sharply and risen like water in a tub by five-millimeters per year – rates not seen since the abrupt thawing of the last Ice Age.
Everything everywhere is accelerating. The expansion of warming waters from 2002 through 2014 effectively doubled sea level rise from the melting of all glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets combined.
ocean incursion, Miami
"The fate of Greenland is the fate of Miami,” says Rafe Pomerance, chair of Arctic 21, a coalition of NGOs.
In 1982 the American Petroleum
Institute warned that human-driven
climate change "can have serious consequences for man's [sic] comfort and survival – " even
as that Oil Mafia worked to thwart renewables.
Long before that, storm surges from increasingly powerful hurricanes and typhoons will drown Bangladesh, the Vietnam and China coasts, and the Indonesian and the Philippines archipelagos, while submerging already sinking atoll nations such as the Maldives, Palau and the Marshall Islands.
We’re nearly halfway there.
Dirty ice is losing reflectivity in rapidly thawing Greenland -Henrik Egede Lassen/ Alpha Film
Blow-torched by föhn winds, Greenland holds enough ice to raise sea levels by around 21 feet. Rapidly thawing East Antarctica will contribute another 195 feet.
Will the Donald’s unhappy inheritors grow webbed feet?
The U.S. East Coast is now considered to be a "hot spot" for rising seas driven by warming/expanding waters, and ever-more severe storm surges. Miami, New Orleans and New York are already experiencing ocean incursion, which is expected to increase dramatically immediately.
Not all refugees are from Syria. After being awarded $48 million from the previous federal government to relocate off their drowning land, Native Americans living on Louisiana’s marshy coast are the first officially recognized climate refugees in the USA.
Mike Pence, next president of the USA?
Good luck to anyone needing climate-relief form this new regime. Before becoming America’s latest vice president, former governor Mike Pence declared in his 2015 State of the State address, “We must continue to oppose the overreaching schemes of the EPA until we bring their war on coal to end."
In 2016, the man who may become the default president of the USA, after Drumpf is finally booted, has worked tirelessly in Congress to defeat emission-reduction legislation. As governor of Indiana, Pence refused to implement President Obama's Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from antique coal-fired power plants.
That should help shove us past the final Chaos thresholds into cascading, self-reinforcing and increasingly unpredictable calamity. In November 2016, the Arctic and Antarctic both hit record low sea ice coverage.
"The warning signals are getting louder," worries Marcus Carson of the Stockholm Environment Institute and a lead author of a major new report showing that the accelerating melting of Arctic ice is most likely irreversible.
Rising waters are already threatening the Donald’s mega-golf course, reachable by far-ranging, climate-changing jets. A permit application to erect a coastal protection seawall, filed by Trump Intl. Golf Links Ireland cites global warming and its consequences – “increased erosion due to rising sea levels and extreme weather” this century – as chief justification for dumping 200,000 tons of rock along two miles of wild, drowning dunes.
As a Norwegian polar icebreaker searches in vain for ice to break, the Arctic passage connecting Atlantic and Pacific neighbourhoods is opening for business. This summer, Crystal Serenity will take more than 900 passengers paying over $100,000 each for a luxury view of the climate apocalypse.
They’ll get their money’s worth. Coauthored by more than 50 scientists from three continents, last year’s “Arctic Report Card” concluded: "The Arctic is unraveling."
This isn’t news in snow-starved Anchorage, which once again last March had to haul snow hundreds of miles to run the famed and now nearly extinct Iditarod sled dog race. After shortening it from 11 to a token three miles.
And still the geoengineers work tirelessly to make everything worse. After four straight years of record increases, February 2015 to February 2016 saw the steepest and highest yearly atmospheric carbon dioxide increase on record.
"That's unprecedented," says Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.
They’re always saying that.
There is a way toward a potentially survivable future. “Studies show that if you added $10 a tonne to the price you would reduce [fossil fuel] energy use by 20% in 10 years, and 50% in 20 years,” figures Dr. James Hansen, the NASA scientist who warned us about climate change back in 1989. “This is the only viable international approach. You cannot ask 190 countries to individually limit their emissions. The price of fossil fuels must be honest.” (That is, include its downstream costs in every barrel sold.)
“We oppose any carbon tax,” Trump has already assured us. “We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.” (USA! USA! USA!)
“The election of Donald Trump could not have come at a worse time for the climate, as the Arctic meltdown intensifies and dramatic warning signs around the planet continue to escalate,” writes veteran war correspondent Dahr Jamail. “President-elect Trump has stacked his cabinet with ACD deniers much like himself.”
Indeed, the drastic Donald has pledged to remove all safety regulations currently in place to protect interwoven ecological and human health, while ordering ramped up offshore oil drilling, as well as onshore coal production, oil pumping and fracking.
Don’t look the Secretary of State for anything less than planet-wide disaster. Rex Tillerson “has been working at ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, for more than four decades. Since 2006, he's been the chairman and CEO of the company,” Reynard Loki observes.
“The company has been the focus of a historic investigation by a coalition of state attorneys general regarding allegations that it intentionally misled investors and the public about the negative impact its business has on the planet's climate.”
No wonder Dr. Hansen recently reiterated: "We have a global emergency." He still means that human-caused warming is going to render large parts of this world uninhabitable before this century ends.
endangered Golden Toad gets no say
Who cares, right Donald? Let all the surviving grandkids and furred, finned and feathered creatures deal with it then. You and your ilk will be gone, after profitably pigging out and poisoning the planet.
In 2013, Trump tweeted, “GLOBAL WARMING-a total hoax!”
Try convincing the Himalaya rhododendron, whose spring blooming season has been moved three-months forward by human-propelled warming. No big deal. Except for untold numbers of migrating birds, herds and insects who keep showing up months after their far-sought banquets have left the scene.
And who can argue with an amount of polar sea ice the size of India that's vanished amidst record-high-and-climbing ocean and atmospheric temperatures?
In January 2014 the Donald tittered and twittered, “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop.”
News Flash: It’s not.
“hot mama" map, 2016
Elsewhere in the United States of Amnesia, reality-challenged Mike Pence calls global warming a "myth". According to the second-in-command of the world’s most dangerous power, this red-hot planet on satellite infrared imagry is "actually cooler than it was 50 years ago."
Which is itself a mythical concept, because as CO2 reached a level not seen on Earth in 15 million years, 2016 was hotter than the previous hottest year ever recorded. And that was in 2015.
February 2017 was the warmest month ever measured by humans on Earth: 1.57C above the preindustrial temperature average. While a presidential pretender distracts us with his antics, while taking wrecking bars to greenhouse emission controls, we are already crowding the arbitrary 2C limit set at the COP21 climate conference – to which, of course, the Donald is showing an extended finger...
...while all that methane concentrating over the thawing Arctic is 100-times more potent than carbon dioxide on a 20-year time scale. These dangerous methane emissions spiked in February 2017 to the highest methane level ever recorded. (More than 3,000 parts per billion).
Forget “game-changer”. Once the reflective Artic Ocean ice turns in to heat-absorbing open water and the methane bomb goes off, we’re facing a likely game-ender. Though taking place at a much slower rate than our current extintcion event, the “Great Dying” some 252 million years ago wiped out more than 96% of marine species and up to 80% of life on land.
Presidential “debates" didn't mention climate change. Or extinction.
Interestingly, if not suicidally, during the U.S. presidential debates, there was not one question addressing (yawn) climate change.
Though ignored in saturation press coverage of the Donald’s latest delusions, a rapidly warming Arctic is already shaking up global weather by shifting jet stream into more frequent and prolonged droughts, as well as heavy flooding and winter blizzards – with dramatic impacts on the availability of that stuff on our shelves we call food.
Across all of Africa, at least 36 million people are facing hunger due to record-high temperatures and drought. Thank the merciful Christ they aren’t white, or the self-professed white-supremacists occupying the White House might have to take action.
But this is just a warm-up. Global water scarcity is already affecting 4 billion people – two-thirds of the world's population – as the water table across the real worldwide web continues to drop.
“There will be water and food fights everywhere,” warned Jim Yon Kim, president of the World Bank in 2013.
The “cooling Earth” deniers love to rave about is actually warming 50-times faster than when it came out of the most recent ice age. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000.
The good news: U.S. states and other world governments are already moving to cap global temperature rise at 2C. The bad news: this target is too high.
Dr. James Hansen -Citizens' Climate Lobby
The plain-speaking James Hansen warned in 2013 that seeking a 2C maximum rise in temperatures is “half-arsed and half-baked.”
Even at a 1C bump, we’re already seeing the most dangerous effects of a warming climate – sea level rise, Arctic and Antarctic meltdowns, extreme weather – kicking us in the teeth as they kick in.
Annual fossil fuel emissions of 1,000 billion tons associated with a 2C global warming target, “would reach well over 2C [as] other trace greenhouse gases including methane and nitrous oxide would be expected to increase, adding to the effect of CO2," the pesky Hansen observes. The “foolhardy” 2C target will “cause large climate change with disastrous consequences.”
In any case, 2C is “quickly becoming out of reach,” Hansen updated us in 2015. “Right now we are completely off track globally. We are certainly not even in the same world as a 1C world. We are not even in a 2C world."
He’s right, kids. Accelerating releases of methane and other greenhouse gasses – like all that nitrogen oxide from all those cheap flights to Mexico, and all other car, chemical agriculture and jet emissions – have already pushed CO2-equivalent atmospheric forcing to around 490 parts per million!
360 is absolute red line. At this rate, we’re going to exceed 3C warming by 2050.
Or maybe not.
Lord Stern- Flawed economic models underestimate climate risk -pinterest
Lord Stern, author of the UK Government-commissioned review on climate change that became the standard reference for politicians and others interested in avoiding human extinction, now says he – oops! – underestimated the risks and their timing.
“The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then,” he currently concludes.
Or higher. Rates of CO2 increase during the last hothouse Mass Extinction were 10 to 20 times slower than they are today. That PETM wipe-out drove up global temperatures to a very nearly game-ending 5C+.
Sure, Donald, you and your mesmerized mass media can go on ignoring the environment in which you live and breathe, tweet and feed.
But the feedback-driven environment is not going to ignore you.