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All is well on our planet Earth, isn't it?

11/15/2018. The San Francisco haze from the fires burning to the north.

Please don't act with surprise when I say this: The global climate change is real; global warming is accelerating, especially in the northern hemisphere; and the positive feedbacks that will further exacerbate human condition are kicking in with vengeance.  I am stating the scientifically obvious, but I have not made it clear yet just how bad this climate change will be for us humans. For millennia, we have relied on the "free" environmental services that are going away.  These life-giving services are clean air to breathe, fertile soil, mild temperatures, healthy forests and savannas, healthy rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, sufficient rain, full aquifers, clean drinking water, and ample snowpacks.  When you are in China, in the Middle East, or in Central Valley in California, most or all of these services are either damaged or gone.

Let's fast forward to a recent article under this promising title: Climate report understates threat. This article was written by Dr. Mario Molina, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on ozone depletion from the atmosphere; Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, distinguished professor of climate sciences at the University of California (UC), San Diego; and Durwood J. Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development in Washington, DC and Paris, and a faculty at UC Santa Barbara.  The article starts from the perfunctory amplification of the main conclusions from the October 8, 2018, IPCC report and then jumps to this:

"The [IPCC] report notes that there are historic precedents for the speed we need, although not for the scale of required mitigation. But the United States’ World War II industrial mobilization provides an encouraging precedent: Only three-and-a-half years elapsed between Pearl Harbor and D-Day. Our economies have a remarkable ability to adapt quickly with the right policies. So neither fatalism nor despair are warranted, but rather a sense of urgent, or even running-scared, optimism."

"Governor Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last month teamed up with technology innovators, zero-carbon energy producers, entrepreneurs, and other optimists to seize this challenge. President Macron’s One Planet Summit followed in New York during Climate Week, bringing together leaders of finance who were optimistic that managing climate risk is not only possible, but an exciting challenge that would also be profitable as new industries arise to do the most important work the world has ever demanded. (One estimate of the cost of carbon dioxide removal is a staggering $89 to $535 trillion this century—a sizable new market."

[Bolding and italics by TWP.]

Let's parse the first paragraph of this citation. WWII started on September 1, 1939, in my hometown, Gliwice. At 3 am, Germany attacked Poland from the south, north and west.  Seventeen days later, the closest ally of Germany and enabler of the war, the Soviet Union, attacked Poland from the east. Germany attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, and on that day petroleum, coal, iron ore, steel, nickel and grain stopped flowing to Germany from their giant eastern friend. With no domestic sources of their war materiel, Japan joined Germany on December 7, 1941, by attacking Pearl Harbor.  Japan wanted to capture and control supplies of raw materials and undo the American economic blockade.

Neither Germany nor Japan were self-sufficient in raw materials and food, and had to conquer other countries to get what they wanted. But, during WWII, the US and Soviet Union were more than self sufficient in coal, crude oil, iron, steel, aluminum, asbestos, and other materials necessary to win the war.  Rubber was a problem for the US, but production of synthetic rubber started during WWII. Copper was in very short supply everywhere, as only Sweden and Australia had large mines.  Germany conquered Norway to control Swedish copper. Nickel was also in short supply.

During WWII, the US and Soviet Union out-produced Germany and Japan in pretty much everything but missiles by a factor of many.

To compare the WWII industrial effort with the global dislocation necessary to ameliorate some of the effects of climate change is surprisingly naive and proves that the three professors got Ds in their history electives, if they had any.  This comparison also neglects to account for the human population that has almost quadrupled between the 1940s and now, and the resource consumption that has increased almost 10-fold.  The world today cannot grow its industrial production the way we did during WWII.  There is simply not enough of the planet Earth left to be devoured.

Click on the image to see it in full resolution. Wow, I am really excited for the survivors of hurricane Michael!  So much rebuilding that will stimulate their city's economy again, and again, and again - after every large storm.  Just like the authors of the article cited above, most of the good people in Mexico Beach will never learn because they are in denial.  Denial is optimism on steroids.

Now on the second quoted paragraph.  Let's ask the people, who rode out the giant storm in Panama City or Mexico Beach in Florida, and lived to answer this question: How exciting was it for them to fight climate change and plot new economic opportunities amid the almost total devastation of everything in their community?  I hope that they have insured the loved ones who perished and will be able to invest the insurance money into new stronger homes that will be wiped out in a few years by the next record-breaking Cat 5 storm.

Then let's go to Puerto Rico, Barbados and Haiti, and talk about the wonderful new opportunities their respective island devastations have brought. While at it, let's ask people in New Orleans, Houston and the Carolinas how wonderful it is to rebuild their communities without fleeing to higher ground and abandoning entire cities that will be inundated by the rising seawater.  Then let's move to Manhattan and Orlando and talk about the great business opportunities in preventing their infrastructures from collapse during the incredible future storm tides. 

It is also exciting to talk about food supply of the future.  So let's visit farmers in South Africa, the Sub Saharan Africa, India, Pakistan, Canada, Australia and Europe, and record their excitement from the prolonged super-hot droughts that interlace with super floods in so many countries.  All these roads, rail lines and bridges to be rebuilt, transformers and power lines to be replaced, houses to be rebuilt, fields to be restored, and so on!  It's a dream of economists and scientists closeted in the rich San Francisco;  at least until a major earthquake hits, and new business opportunities will be created there.

OK, so you get my drift, don't you?  How is it that the otherwise formidable scientists can be so blind and talk such nonsense?  This is a very complicated question, but in essence it is denial amplified by brainwashing by the decades of service for the global fossil superorgansim.   The global amoeba, which we all serve, demands allegiance and selective blindness towards the so many self-evident truths. Why is it that the "Onion" always gets it right?

"Economic growth" is about to end because its biophysical underpinnings are getting exhausted - all at once. Only the most courageous among us see through the increasingly implausible lies we tell ourselves to obfuscate this truth. It is so much easier for us to fly to the next conference, rent a car, check into an air-conditioned hotel, eat at the air-conditioned restaurants, step over homeless on the sidewalks, and pretend that eternal growth will separate us from hard reality. Conversely, the least affluent among us keep on cheering President Trump at his endless political rallies designed to blind them from seeing the truth.  My heart cringes when I see their enthusiastic faces and shouts. They should look at Trump with horror, because he is their demise, ruin and tatters.

Our children have far less access to the luxuries of the global amoeba and to that extent they are more in tune with reality. But they are mostly passive, alienated from the natural environment, and brainwashed by living with smart phones and Facebook. So, by and enlarge, our children don't vote and don't try to change what they see coming.

My generation, though, consists mostly of the frightened, self-centred cowards who hope that preserving the governing narrative will protect us from the inevitable. Welcome to the overpopulated world with the climate change, increasing international chaos, growing nationalism, xenophobia, racism, fascism and religious intolerance. No one will escape this brave new world, so let's get on with powering down the failing societies and reassessing what really is important for our well being.

P.S. (10/14/2018)  Here is what the welcome climate change has done to the zero carbon emission technologies in Puerto Rico. I guess more economic opportunities will arise again.

The largest wind farm in Puerto Rico was wiped out by hurricane Maria.

The largest PV solar farm in Puerto Rico was obliterated by hurricane Maria.

And how do you feel about burning $500 trillion to remove the very carbon dioxide we put into the air by burning indiscriminately fossil fuels? If you ask me, I'll have some interesting ideas on how to save the Maldives from rising sea level.

P.S.P.S. (10/19/2018) Our Denier-in-Chief repeats that there is no climate change. "Who knows?" he says. But, on the other hand, his acute political instinct instructs him to talk about troop deployment to "defend" our southern border from the desperate Latinos. He understands that most Americans are fearful and plays on their discomfort.  These people will not vote for Democrats on Nov. 6. The Democrats will win many fewer seats than they predict. Funny how this works: Democrats understand climate change but are in denial about its gruesome social consequences, and Republicans are in denial about climate change but understand and stoke dark fear. Both parties are in denial about the catastrophic and worsening human overpopulation. The Republicans will be re-elected - again - by the very people who will then deny ever voting for them. Trump is merely a dark window into the psychological devastations of climate change and resource exhaustion caused by overpopulation and overconsumption. And so it goes...

P.S.^3 (10/23/2018)  The world’s consumption of raw materials is set to nearly double by 2060 as the global economy expands and living standards rise, placing twice the pressure on the environment that we are seeing today, according to a new OECD report.  As my prominent friend ecologist, Dr. Rees, says: "For one thing, humans and their domestic livestock currently account for 97-98.5% of all mammalian biomass; we are also using biocapacity (productive ecosystems) as if the earth were 60% larger than it is - i.e., growth is based on liquidating essential (so-called) natural capital faster than it can regenerate."  This liquidation of the life-giving ecosystems on the planet is progressing today.  And then we plan to double it?!  But do not fear, in 2-6 years, a nuclear war to grab resources will be started by the U.S. with tactical weapons and we will not live to see the milder carnage.  Just watch the crazies in Washington, Trump and Bolton et al. And you think that I am joking? And you quietly plan to vote for the Republicans?  Since my old country, Poland, and its criminally stupid nationalistic government will be annihilated in a nice little nuclear war caused by the U.S. over, say, a Ukrainian accident that went awry, I am not in favor.

P.S.^4 (10/25/2018)  Letters W and Y.  A  remote Pacific island near the Hawaii was annihilated and submerged by the hurricane Walaka. The island is part of the French Frigate Shoals, the largest atoll in the north-western Hawaiian Islands. About 96 per cent of Hawaiian green sea turtles use the atoll, and about half of them nest on East Island.

I guess the seals and sea turtles will not be able to rebuild this island with their life insurance money.  But it does not matter because they will be wiped out.  So much for these tourist boat excursions to witness the beauty of unspoiled nature.
 
The super typhoon Yutu is bringing rapid economic redevelopment to the U.S. administered Pacific islands, the Marianas. The Northern Mariana Islands, a United States commonwealth in the Pacific Ocean, northeast of Guam, include Saipan, Tinian and Rota. The commonwealth, which is 14 hours ahead of the East Coast, is home to more than 52,000 people, a vast majority of whom live in Saipan.

The super typhoon Yutu is about to devastate the three U.S. Mariana Islands, the little yellow specs on this image.  When are we going to run out of the alphabet letters to name the consecutive hurricanes?

P.S.^5 (11/1/2018) Oceans are warming faster than previously thought.  This rapid warming of  the 3/4 of the Earth's surface is perhaps the surest and most unsettling symptom of the runaway climate warming that is coming to our homes in less than 10 years.

So go and vote for the Republicans again, will you?  Why bother with science when the foolish lies are so much more soothing?  You will not be the last people, who gladly commit suicide for the staggering lies on your favorite social media feed. Or you can take a vaccine of common sense...

P.S.^6 (11/15/2018) California, my home for 20 years, is on fire.  My heart cringes when I think about the economic opportunities created by the infernos burning hundreds of square kilometers of forest and towns up north and down south.  At least, in the south they understand stock market and financial benefits from having their homes annihilated.  And who still claims that the current climate change is beneficial for humans?  "What climate change?! " The Alzheimerites with multiple facelifts exclaim in Florida, busily reelecting their Republican representatives.  Can it get any weirder?

The deadly Camp fire in California has probably killed a few hundred people.

The Malibu fire is more luxurious and less deadly than its Northern California competitors.  There is a lot of money to be made here on green technologies.  Perhaps we should start from replanting the trees.

Comments

  1. Let's ask this: does the world have enough hydrocarbons left at this point to build infrastructure to keep a good fraction of us alive in a recognizable fashion even after the hydrocarbons and other resources are depleted? You imply that the answer is ‘obviously not’ and an optimist's answer will be ‘obviously yes.’ I don’t find it obvious one way or another. I do realize that Renewistan would have to be very big and it sounds crazy. On the other hand, simply reporting the current scale of oil extraction sounds crazy.

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  2. Pointing to the realities of the current situation--past and ongoing resource over extraction and destruction, self-blinded, consumeristic rush into oblivion, among what you otherwise spoke of in this piece and that which you know surrounds us you didn't have space to speak about--is a valuable first step, but the real steps forward have and will always include education and voting using that newly minted knowledge and understanding (without one cannot be the other, and it's an chicken and egg thing as well). I wrote my first newspaper article on climate change in '89 or '90, and was forced to take the position that it was an unproven hypothesis that we needed to prove (I also said all signs pointed to cc being resolutely real, but when one follows 'the truth'....), and was only mildly surprised by how quickly and easily politicians and consumers dismissed it with a laugh. The majority no longer dismiss it, even if we don't do everything we should to work against it. So, to me, that's the next logical step and the one I challenge you and Michael to not just take, because I know you both have long since taken it, but to find new ways to not excoriate scientists and economists who see climate change as the next big economic adventure, but how to teach enough voters that their best interests lie in the polling place more than single stream recycling.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not an academic (thank God) but I would suggest one thing that would make a difference and that is planting trees everywhere. You don't need to vote or pay loads of money to do it either - 1 billion able people planting 10 seeds a year for life is a lot of carbon taken out of the air, improves water retention and provides a soil binding mechanism. Alas, scientists appear to desire bun fights more than easy solutions. If you think voting is part of the solution you are completely off your minds - They don't give a crap about us or the Earth!

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    2. I agree, trees are the secret. Not only are there 3 billion fewer trees on Earth than there were 50 years ago, they protect us against heat too. But planting them en masse now would make most species be only 2 meters tall 5 years from now, and trees that size will snap with the slightest of upcoming superstorms. I fear we're too late. We can postpone by planting trees, but as you say, people aren't even really talking about it as a good idea yet. Where should they plant them? Human population has doubled during the same 50 years..

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    3. It will do no good to plant trees unless we drastically reduce air pollution. Ozone is invisible but it is highly toxic to vegetation. Trees that are exposed season after season lose immunity to insects, disease and fungus. Such biotic attacks are now epidemics on every species on earth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn1Xy_j48k0

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  3. @Clay and @Michael,

    I'll write a new post in response to your thoughtful comments. They deserve a deeper discussion that must involve not only science, engineering and accounting, but also psychology and recognition of the dark forces at play. These forces may undo humanity unless we - the society - counteract them with courage and clarity. It will be a very tall order that requires clear, simple, and moral messaging; not just calls for more sales of weapons and jobs these sales will bring to America.

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  4. Expecting some sort of 'Marshall plan' from the dominant culture is both delusional and to late. We always have to remember the issue of "Global Dimming" or the aersol masking effect and it's attendant temperature spike when collapse unfolds and the pathology of the 'leadership' of the USA. Business as usual is all that is on the table, the rest lies in the same dystopia as the IPCC who are factoring in CCS in their projections when those technologies are still fantasy technology. We are fucked, plain and simple. Coming to terms with it is liberating, grasping at straws as we drown or fry is just a distraction.
    The Thelma and Louise of industrial civilisation and capitalism have hurtled us of the cliff, this dialogue is taking place as we descend at terminal velocity into the abyss. Brace for imminent impact as it approaches at warp speed.
    https://kevinhester.live/2017/11/23/we-are-so-fucked-and-sooner-than-previously-thought/

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