Archive for the ‘Rising Ocean Levels’ Category

Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

– I don’t think the best of our idealists are going to be going out on Greenpeace ships any more to protest politely.   Not when they stand to lose the most of their young lives sitting in Russian prisons for the crime of idealism and the crime of trying to wake people up to the stupidity and danger gathering all around us.

– The days or holding signs and protesting peacefully are withering away all over the world as people realize that none of that has been effective.   And now it is become downright dangerous.

– I first read that an ecologically sane world and the world of Capitalism may not be compatible bedfellows on this planet back in 2008 when I read The Bridge at the Edge of the World by James Gustave Speth; Yale University.   He is and has been a major leading light in all things environment in the U.S. and he’s been a team player all along.  So, this was a hard conclusion for him to come to.

– In the article, below, Naomi Klein tells us that others up and down the line are coming to the same conclusions.  

– If what we’ve been doing isn’t working and losing is not an option for those of us who love this world and our children, then quite simply, new measures will be needed.

– dennis

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Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet? Climate scientists have seen the data – and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions.

In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage. But then again, Werner wasn’t exactly calling for those things. He was merely observing that mass uprisings of people – along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street – represent the likeliest source of “friction” to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control. We know that past social movements have “had tremendous influence on . . . how the dominant culture evolved”, he pointed out. So it stands to reason that, “if we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics”. And that, Werner argued, is not a matter of opinion, but “really a geophysics problem”.

Plenty of scientists have been moved by their research findings to take action in the streets. Physicists, astronomers, medical doctors and biologists have been at the forefront of movements against nuclear weapons, nuclear power, war, chemical contamination and creationism. And in November 2012,Nature published a commentary by the financier and environmental philanthropist Jeremy Grantham urging scientists to join this tradition and “be arrested if necessary”, because climate change “is not only the crisis of your lives – it is also the crisis of our species’ existence”.

– More:  

 

For Insurers, No Doubts on Climate Change

Friday, June 7th, 2013

If there were one American industry that would be particularly worried about climate change it would have to be insurance, right?

From Hurricane Sandy’s devastating blow to the Northeast to the protracted drought that hit the Midwest Corn Belt, natural catastrophes across the United States pounded insurers last year, generating$35 billion in privately insured property losses, $11 billion more than the average over the last decade.

And the industry expects the situation will get worse. “Numerous studies assume a rise in summer drought periods in North America in the future and an increasing probability of severe cyclones relatively far north along the U.S. East Coast in the long term,” said Peter Höppe, who heads Geo Risks Research at the reinsurance giant Munich Re. “The rise in sea level caused by climate change will further increase the risk of storm surge.” Most insurers, including the reinsurance companies that bear much of the ultimate risk in the industry, have little time for the arguments heard in some right-wing circles that climate change isn’t happening, and are quite comfortable with the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is the main culprit of global warming.

“Insurance is heavily dependent on scientific thought,” Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America, told me last week. “It is not as amenable to politicized scientific thought.”

– More…

Global Warming and New Zealand

Monday, November 12th, 2012

– The New Zealand Listener Magazine has an editorial in their September 22-28, 2012  edition entitled:

GLOBAL WARMING – Record droughts, hottest US summer ever & Arctic sea ice vanishing – What does it mean for New Zealand?

– It makes a lot of good points and I recomend reading it if you are a New Zealander.

– It repeats a point that I’ve made on this Blog for a long time.  And that is that sooner or later, the same factors that brought me, and numerous other new immigrants to NZ, are going to become apparent to greater and greater numbers of folks and the rush to immigrate to NZ is going to be on.

– There will be, in the not too distant future, a lot of reasons to run away from other locations out in the world.  Rising sea levels, water shortages, food shortages, extreme weather and widening social chaos will be among those factors.   We’ve had economic and human rights refugees in the past.  These will increase in the future and to their numbers will be added environmental refugees.

– Right now, NZ is not in bad shape.

Our beautiful refuge

– We generate the majority of our energy needs from benign sources such as hydroelectric and geothermal.

– We also generate two or more times the food that we consume which is why we can do a handsome amount of agricultural exporting.

– We are also protected from the worst of the weather changes because our climate is strongly buffered by the fact that we are an island nation in the midst of a huge surrounding ocean.

– We also have a fairly homogeneous culture which is good.   It means that we, as a people, have fairly uniform ideas about how things should work.

– And, finally, we are protected from unwanted and forced immigration by that same ocean that surrounds us.   Australia is the closest and they are 1000 miles away  and most of the increasingly desperate world lies beyond them on the far side.

– But we will not remain in good shape if we don’t, as a nation, look out for ourselves.

– Should we let foreigners buy farmland here?

– The authors of the article think not and I agree with them.  If push comes to shove in a nastier future and we need the food that grows here to survive, we will not be happy if a significant portion of it belongs to folks from overseas and they want to ship it home to their own people.

– Should we let offshore folks own significant portions of our industries and our means of production?   I think not.  If the world gets tough, they won’t be asking ‘how can they help us with those things’.  They will be asking how those things can be used to help them.

– Should we let large numbers of folks immigrate into NZ from cultures significantly different from ours?  Currently, we are not split, say, over common law verses Sharia Law or whether women should be first class citizens here or not.  Or whether or not everyone should be able to practice their own religion so long as they leave other folks alone.  But, if we don’t watch our immigration rates and types, this situation could get away from us.  For a more detailed discussion of these ideas see here: 

– It is indeed sad that we might need to start thinking this way.  Is seems so isolationist and selfish and New Zealand has always been a compassionate and generous nation.

– But, tough times are coming.   The question is not ‘if‘ but simply ‘when‘.  And the question is not, ‘is it going to be bad?‘.   The fact is that it is going to be bad and the estimates of how bad it is going to be are only getting worse as we, as a world, keep continuing along without reacting to the dangers ahead.

– Please read the article.

– We in NZ are probably going to be some of the very luckiest people on the planet when the wheels come off because of our physical isolation, our low population, our excess food production capability and our well organized society.    But those factors are not going to be enough to save us  if we don’t look out for ourselves.

– The Arabs have an expression that comes to mind here:  “Trust in God, but tether your camel.

– dennis

– Late breaking:  Chinese want to buy into Fonterra.  See

 

 

End of an Era

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

– Parents, it is time to think about where your children are going to be when the sh** hits the fan.  I don’t think we’re going to avoid this mess but you could shift them to a place where another generation or two might have reasonable lives.   If you think that might be in a big city in the U.S., I think you are missing the point.

– Dennis

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By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 25th June 2012

It is, perhaps, the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war. The Earth’s living systems are collapsing, and the leaders of some of the most powerful nations – the US, the UK, Germany, Russia – could not even be bothered to turn up and discuss it. Those who did attend the Earth summit last week solemnly agreed to keep stoking the destructive fires: sixteen times in their text they pledged to pursue “sustained growth”, the primary cause of the biosphere’s losses(1).

The future

The efforts of governments are concentrated not on defending the living Earth from destruction, but on defending the machine that is destroying it. Whenever consumer capitalism becomes snarled up by its own contradictions, governments scramble to mend the machine, to ensure – though it consumes the conditions that sustain our lives – that it runs faster than ever before.

The thought that it might be the wrong machine, pursuing the wrong task, cannot even be voiced in mainstream politics. The machine greatly enriches the economic elite, while insulating the political elite from the mass movements it might otherwise confront. We have our bread; now we are wandering, in spellbound reverie, among the circuses.

We have used our unprecedented freedoms, secured at such cost by our forebears, not to agitate for justice, for redistribution, for the defence of our common interests, but to pursue the dopamine hits triggered by the purchase of products we do not need. The world’s most inventive minds are deployed not to improve the lot of humankind but to devise ever more effective means of stimulation, to counteract the diminishing satisfactions of consumption. The mutual dependencies of consumer capitalism ensure that we all unwittingly conspire in the trashing of what may be the only living planet. The failure at Rio de Janeiro belongs to us all.

– More…

Earth to America!

Monday, June 25th, 2012
blue_man_group

blue_man_group

– This is a great little video.  Pass it on….  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM-mfEMssy8

– research thanks to John P.

 

Rivers of ice: Vanishing glaciers

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Stunning images from high in the Himalayas – showing the extent by which many glaciers have shrunk in the past 80 years or so – have gone on display at the Royal Geographical Society in central London.

Between 2007 and 2010, David Breashears retraced the steps of early photographic pioneers such as Major E O Wheeler, George Mallory and Vittorio Sella – to try to re-take their views of breathtaking glacial vistas.

The mountaineer and photographer is the founder of GlacierWorks – a non-profit organisation that uses art, science and adventure to raise public awareness about the consequences of climate change in the Himalayas.

– To the article and pictures…

Greenland’s ice sheets face new threat

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Substantial warming well below ocean’s surface will pose risk in this century.

Scientists have uncovered a potentially potent risk to Greenland’s ice sheets during the next century and beyond: rapidly warming deep water. The subsurface ocean off Greenland is now expected to warm at roughly double the rate that is projected for such waters globally, including off the coast of Antarctica.

Calling the ocean “the 900-pound gorilla of global warming and climate change,” oceanographer Josh Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., says he’s excited to finally see long-term climate projections homing in on the ocean’s role. “How the oceans affect the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could mean the difference between getting two feet and six feet of sea level rise in the coming century,” observes Willis, who had no role in the new analysis. “So this is a big deal.”

Until now, “no one had noticed that the ocean surrounding Greenland and Antarctica will warm very differently during this century and the next,” says climate modeler Jianjun Yin of the University of Arizona in Tucson, who led the new study, published online July 3 in Nature Geoscience. Although his group’s conclusions come from computer analyses, Yin notes that the study’s projections “are quite consistent with recent observations of subsurface ocean temperatures around Greenland.”

– More…

Scientists’ Report Stresses Urgency of Limiting

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

– Would you, dear readers, be more impressed if I also went back and provided links for the last three or four times that such warnings have been issued; each with more stridency?    I could, you know.

– I/we just keep watching these warnings go by.

– And then one day, we’ll all hear it said, “Why didn’t anyone tell us?   Why didn’t anyone do anything to prevent all this?”  Why, indeed.

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The nation’s scientific establishment issued a stark warning to the American public on Thursday: Not only is global warming real, but the effects are already becoming serious and the need has become “pressing” for a strong national policy to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The report, by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, did not endorse any specific legislative approach, but it did say that attaching some kind of price to emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, would ideally be an essential component of any plan.

“The risks associated with doing business as usual are a much greater concern than the risks associated with engaging in ambitious but measured response efforts,” the report concludes. “This is because many aspects of an ‘overly ambitious’ policy response could be reversed or otherwise addressed, if needed, through subsequent policy change, whereas adverse changes in the climate system are much more difficult (indeed, on the time scale of our lifetimes, may be impossible) to ‘undo.’ ”

The report, “America’s Climate Choices,” was ordered by Congress several years ago to offer “action-oriented advice” on how the nation should be reacting to the potential consequences of climate change.

But the answer comes at a time when efforts to adopt a climate-change policy have stalled in Washington, with many of the Republicans who control the House expressing open skepticism about the science of climate change. Other legislators, including some Democrats, worry that any new law would translate into higher energy prices and hurt the economy.

More…

– Research Thanks to Robin S.

John Holdren relishing Congress climate opportunity

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

– “Any objective look at what science has to say about climate change ought to be sufficient to persuade reasonable people that the climate is changing and that humans are responsible for a substantial part of that – and that these changes are doing harm and will continue to do more harm unless we start to reduce our emissions.

– Speaking to BBC News at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington DC, Professor John Holdren

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The US president’s chief science adviser says the nation’s current efforts to tackle climate change are insufficient in the long-term.

Speaking to BBC News at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington DC, Professor John Holdren said the current US Congress was unlikely to pass new legislation to put a price on CO2 emissions.

President Obama’s administration’s efforts, he said, would instead have to focus on developing cleaner technologies, expanding the use of nuclear power and improving energy efficiency.

But he admits that in the long term, these initiatives on their own will not be enough.

“Ultimately, we will have to look to a future Congress for the more comprehensive approach that climate change will require,” he said.

For the time being, Professor Holdren faces a more sceptical Congress than he would like, and one that proposes a series of congressional hearings to assess the science of climate change.

Professor Holdren says he is relishing the opportunity.

– more…

Enough is enough, say climate scientists

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

A group of climate change scientists who are convinced mankind is slowly destroying the Earth have written an impassioned plea to be taken seriously.

255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences have written an open letter to the Guardian newspaper in the UK, in defence of climate research.

The letter begins by admitting that scientific findings are not always one hundred per cent accurate. And it acknowledges that pioneers like Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein achieved their lofty reputations by challenging what was – at the time – conventional scientific wisdom.

However, the letter goes on to say, there are certain things that are so universally accepted that they can now be considered ‘facts’: our planet is about 4.5bn years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14bn years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today’s organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution).

Anthropogenic (ie, caused by man) climate change should be listed among these “certainties” of science, the letter claims.

More…