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Accelerating Global Climate Change III

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Sore Throat

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Siberian permafrost thaw warning sparked by cave data PostFri Feb 22, 2013 5:26 pm  Reply with quote

Siberian permafrost thaw warning sparked by cave data

Evidence from Siberian caves suggests that a global temperature rise of 1.5C could see permafrost thaw over a large area of Siberia.

A study shows that more than a trillion tonnes of the greenhouse gases CO2 and methane could be released into the atmosphere as a result.

An international team has published details in the journal Science.

The evidence comes from analysis of stalactites and stalagmites in caves along the "permafrost frontier".

This is where ground begins to be permanently frozen in layers that can be tens to hundreds of metres thick.

Stalactites and stalagmites only grow when liquid rainwater and snowmelt drip into the caves.

So these formations record 500,000 years of changing permafrost conditions - including warmer periods similar to the climate of today.

The records from a particularly warm period called Marine Isotopic Stage 11, which occurred around 400,000 years ago, suggest that warming of 1.5C compared to the present is enough to cause substantial thawing of permafrost - even in areas far north from its present-day southern limit.

"The stalactites and stalagmites from these caves are a way of looking back in time to see how warm periods similar to our modern climate affect how far permafrost extends across Siberia," said Dr Anton Vaks from the University of Oxford.

"As permafrost covers 24% of the land surface of the Northern Hemisphere, significant thawing could affect vast areas and release (billions of tonnes) of carbon."

He added: "'This has huge implications for ecosystems in the region, and for aspects of the human environment.

"For instance, natural gas facilities in the region, as well as power lines, roads, railways and buildings are all built on permafrost and are vulnerable to thawing. Such a thaw could damage this infrastructure with obvious economic implications."
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Sore Throat

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Jets' contrails contribute to heat-trapping high-level cloud PostMon Feb 25, 2013 10:34 pm  Reply with quote  

So here is the take home from this particular report:

While contrails do block the sun to some extent, when they persist they also spread and become thinner, which means they don't reflect as much solar energy away while still trapping heat.

"The net effect tends to be to warm the earth's surface, rather than to cool it,"

My question is what is the possible role of metal oxides used to increase the reflectivity of clouds as a method of reducing global warming? Are these "esteemed" researchers ignorant of such proposals? Wouldn't that be in direct contradiction of their findings?

Jets' contrails contribute to heat-trapping high-level clouds

Condensation trails that airplanes produce mean not only a white-streaked sky on some days, but an increase in the amount of high-level clouds and, by extension, warming temperatures, according to a Penn State researcher.

By comparing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite images showing contrail occurrence with data from eastern U.S. stations that record sky-coverage for different levels in the atmosphere, Penn State Professor of Geography Andrew Carleton was able to confirm that contrails contribute to the occurrence of high-level clouds.

The results of the analysis that Carleton and several of his students completed will be published this spring in the international journal Climate Research.

To address the question of whether there is any relation between jet contrails and trends in sky coverage, the researchers plotted the spatial occurrence of contrails identified on the satellite images for two time periods: 1977-79 and 2000-02. Sky cover data on clouds occurring at different levels has been collected continuously at National Weather Service stations. The satellite contrail and surface-observed sky-cover data was overlaid and separated according to high versus low frequencies of contrails.

The researchers found that high frequencies of contrails didn't equate to an increase in total cloud amount or an increase in low-lying clouds, but they did mean a significant increase in high-level cloudiness observed from the surface since about the mid-1960s.

"It suggests that contrails do influence the upward trend in the amount of high-level clouds over the last 50 years for the eastern one-third of the United States," said Carleton, a faculty member in Penn State's Earth and Environmental Systems Institute.

While Carleton wasn't surprised by the results, he said establishing them is an important step in looking at what might be done to address the issue. It could be particularly important in upcoming decades as the potential for contrails to go from being regionally significant to more widespread becomes likely as air traffic continues to increase.

Contrails form when jet engines emit sooty particles and moisture into cold air high in the troposphere. Water vapor already present in the atmosphere collects and freezes around those particles, which are essentially the nuclei, and form linear ice crystal clouds. Contrails are prevalent in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast of the United States, along with Western Europe and the North Atlantic. East and Southeast Asia could see growing impacts of contrails in the upcoming 20 to 30 years, as economies and air travel there continue to grow.

Carleton's previous research found that contrails affect the climate near Earth's surface by reducing the daily range of temperatures (the warmest point during the day minus the coolest temperature at night). He and David Travis, from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, undertook a base study on contrails and surface temperature conditions after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when there were no commercial jets in the air for three days. They found that the lack of flights led to an increase in the range of temperatures for the United States in general, and sub-regions typically seeing the highest frequencies of contrails (the Midwest and Northeast). The researchers concluded that jet contrails contribute to reducing the near-surface air temperature range.

Persisting contrails present the greatest impact on climate because instead of dissipating relatively quickly they linger, trapping heat beneath them. While contrails do block the sun to some extent, when they persist they also spread and become thinner, which means they don't reflect as much solar energy away while still trapping heat.

"The net effect tends to be to warm the earth's surface, rather than to cool it,"
Carleton said.

The new research finds that in addition to shrinking the temperature range, contrails contribute to high-level cloudiness, which can contribute to warming the atmosphere.

A next step is trying to predict where and when contrails will occur so, when needed, planes could be rerouted around those areas to head off further aggravating the contrail impact on climate. Carleton noted that this is similar to the short-term rerouting of planes that already happens with severe storms.

"These contrail outbreaks are, broadly speaking, similar in size to big summer storm events," he said.

Provided by Pennsylvania State University
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Sore Throat

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Global warming could corrode shallow reefs sooner than forec PostWed Feb 27, 2013 6:13 pm  Reply with quote

Global warming could corrode shallow reefs sooner than forecast

(—Shallow coral reefs may be even more susceptible to increasing acidity caused by heightened levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans than previously recognized.

In the same way that small increases in global temperature can lead to more extremely hot, record-breaking days, new research reveals small increases in overall ocean acidity can lead to extreme localized changes in ocean pH around shallow coastal reefs and ecosystems.

"Our study shows organisms residing on shallow coral reefs and in other shallow marine ecosystems will be exposed to far more extreme and variable acidity in the future than deeper ocean organisms. This will be caused by a combination of heightened background carbon dioxide levels and the natural cycles found in shallow ecosystems," says lead author, Emily Shaw, from the UNSW's Climate Change Research Centre.

"We are beginning to understand how the pH of shallow reef waters can vary dramatically according to tidal situations, seasonal conditions, diurnal cycles and the responses of biological communities to each of these. If we continue to add carbon dioxide at our current rate the increased background CO2 will not simply add a little to these extreme events but will have a multiplying affect that will amplify them considerably more."

The scientists used observational data from coral communities on the shallow offshore reef around Lady Elliott Island, Great Barrier Reef, as their baseline. There they looked closely at how certain conditions in concert have a powerful amplifying or diluting impact on carbon dioxide levels at local levels in shallow reefs.

The prime causes of changes in acidity on the reef are through respiration by marine organisms and tides. CO2 levels are lower during the day when photosynthesis of the symbiotic algae in coral takes place and higher at night when respiration occurs. Low tides can increase the magnitude of these changes in CO2 content, while high tides can reduce the CO2 content.

There is also the smaller influence of the seasons caused by variations in temperature and algal and plankton growth through the year.

Under normal conditions, the chemical properties of seawater allow it to buffer the variability caused by these natural seasonal and daily variations in CO2 levels. However, the increase in background CO2 levels reduces the ability of the ocean to buffer what would otherwise be natural changes, leading to an amplification of the CO2 level.

Using the current trajectory of increasing carbon emissions, the researchers estimate we will see the first clear impacts of increasing acidity affect the growth of shallow coral reefs within decades. By 2100, corrosive conditions for aragonite, which is the type of calcium carbonate that corals and some other reef organisms produce, are expected to occur daily in some shallow locations.

"In recognizing that extreme changes in pH are likely in the future, it is important that further research is done to examine the biological consequences of short-term exposure to extreme carbon dioxide conditions," says Dr Shaw.

"Too often we talk about climate change impacts in terms of averages - whether it is in terms of temperatures or, in this case changes in pH. As the Western Australian ocean heatwave showed us two years ago when it devastated fish stocks, it can be the extreme end of the spectrum that can cause the most damage, and these damages may be irreversible over our lifetimes in the case of ocean acidification.

"We know that if we continue on our current CO2 emissions trajectory that the ocean will take thousands of years to return to chemical conditions resembling those of today."

Read more at:
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Sore Throat

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Global temperatures hung a U-turn in 1900, reversing a 5,000 PostThu Mar 07, 2013 8:45 pm  Reply with quote

Global temperatures hung a U-turn in 1900, reversing a 5,000-year chill-down

Until recently, orbital changes were driving us toward the next ice age.

by John Timmer

The glacial cycles that have dominated the Earth's climate for millions of years are driven by changes in the Earth's orbit, reinforced by greenhouse gasses. But these changes occur over the course of tens of thousands of years, and we only have good global temperature records for the last 1,500 or so. This leaves questions about how the orbital cycles have interacted with shorter-term changes, like volcanic activity and changes in solar activity.

To provide a broader perspective on our climate, a team of researchers has reconstructed its history for the entire Holocene, the period that started with the end of the last ice age. The record shows that the Holocene temperatures largely followed the orbital forcings, peaking over 6,000 years ago and then gradually falling until roughly 1900. That's when the temperatures experienced a sudden reverse, going from among the coldest of the entire period to the warmest in less than a century.

The Earth's orbit and axis undergo cyclical changes, called Milankovitch cycles after the astronomer who first recognized them. These cycles cause changes to the amount and distribution of sunlight that strikes the Earth, changes that can raise or lower the average temperature of the planet. The result is what's called an "orbital forcing," which can drive long-term climate changes.

In recent history, orbital forcings have controlled the entry and exit to glacial periods. Although the amount of energy from the forcing itself is relatively small, it sets off a variety of feedbacks. Retreating ice sheets give way to open water and vegetation, which can absorb more sunlight and allow carbon dioxide to escape the deep ocean, ultimately causing a rise in greenhouse gasses. As the heating from orbital forcings slowly declines, these processes begin to reverse themselves. A recent study indicates that we were only about 1,500 years away from the onset of the next glacial period.

Coring into the past

But those are just the rough outlines of what happens. Within both glacial and interglacial periods, there are changes in volcanic activity, aerosols, and ocean currents that can alter the timing and extent of any temperature changes. To better understand our current interglacial period and whether recent temperature changes are truly anomalous, it would be helpful to have a complete picture of what the globe's been up to. That's precisely what the authors have done, using dozens of records spread around the globe that record the temperature history for thousands of years.

All told, the authors had access to 73 proxy records of temperature, mostly from marine sediment cores, each of which spanned at least 6,500 years of the Holocene. These provided records of temperature through things like isotope ratios and pollen records. The authors combined them to create a single global temperature record that spans roughly 12,000 years and thus extends back to the warming that ended the last ice age. Because of the resolution of things like sediment and ice cores, short-term variability of less than 300 years can't be resolved with this data, but the authors show that it seems to capture trends spanning 2,000 years and more very well.

That effectively means all the sorts of short-term events that have the impacts we're most familiar with—volcanic eruptions, changes in ocean currents, etc.—are averaged out. What remains is primarily the influence of the orbital changes.

The results make a number of things clear. To begin with, they overlap all the reconstructions of the last 1,500 years, at least within experimental error. These climate reconstructions, commonly known for showing a hockey stick pattern of temperature change (and most closely associated with the work of climatologist Michael Mann), have been the subject of a lot of controversy. But the new record joins a lot of other work indicating that a hockey stick pattern—with a sudden upswing of temperatures in the last century or so—is simply a feature of our planet's history. This won't make the controversy go away overnight, but it has become increasingly clear that there are more important things to talk about.

Another very obvious thing in the record is that our planet has (up until recently) been in a 5,000-year-old cooling trend. You will sometimes see people arguing that we've been warming since the end of the last ice age, but this simply isn't an accurate depiction of the data. Orbital forcings and temperatures did rise sharply at the end of the ice age, but they then remained relatively stable for about 5,000 years at about 0.6°C above the temperature of the last 1,500 years. Orbital forcings would have peaked about 9,000 years ago, and temperatures seem to have had a small peak about seven thousand years ago. But a steady decline started about 5,000 years ago, and it accelerated within the last thousand years, with a sharper drop associated with the period we call the Little Ice age. As a whole, this decline took the Earth down by about 0.7°C, dropping it below the average temperature of the last 1,500 years.

But within those gradual changes, there are some dramatic regional differences. By the same measure, the North Atlantic dropped roughly 2°C during the decline, suggesting it was especially sensitive to the decline in orbital forcings. Given that many of our historic accounts of the climate are biased towards the same region, this may give us a bit of a stronger reason to focus less on history and more on generating a truly global picture through the sort of temperature proxies that are used here.

A sudden reversal

The picture up to 1900 is consistent with the estimates that the best of the Holocene was behind us and we were cooling towards an inevitable re-glaciation. The authors calculate that the decade from 1900-1910 was cooler than more than 95 percent of all the other decades in the Holocene. But things pretty much ended there. As in the hockey stick reconstructions of the recent climate, this one shows a dramatic upswing in the century just past.

Although the most recent decade (2000-2009) isn't the warmest of the Holocene, it's not too far off. The authors estimate that it was warmer than 82 percent of the decades of the last 12,000 years. "Global temperature, therefore, has risen from near the coldest to the warmest levels of the Holocene within the past century, reversing the long-term cooling trend," the authors conclude. And based on records of things like solar output, ocean currents, and volcanic eruptions, there's little indication of anything other than greenhouse gasses that could have caused this sort of reversal.

Given the greenhouse emissions we've already produced, the authors also conclude that we're certain to exceed the warmest decades of the past sometime this century. The only scenario that would keep us from doing so is if we froze emissions around a decade ago. The real question seems to be how much we'll exceed these temperatures by. Continuing along an emissions trajectory similar to the one we're currently on, they suggest, means "by 2100, global average temperatures will probably be five to 12 standard deviations above the Holocene temperature mean."

In other words, it will be dramatically warmer than any point of the entire 12,000 year interglacial period, and no amount of statistical noise could account for the difference.

Science, 2013. DOI: 10.1126/science.1228026
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Sore Throat

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A Bigger, Badder Climate "Hockey Stick" PostThu Mar 07, 2013 8:54 pm  Reply with quote

A Bigger, Badder Climate "Hockey Stick"

By Tim McDonnell

Back in 1999 Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann released the climate change movement's most potent symbol: The "hockey stick," a line graph of global temperature over the last 1,500 years that shows an unmistakable, massive uptick in the twentieth century when humans began to dump large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It's among the most compelling bits of proof out there that human beings are behind global warming, and as such has become a target on Mann's back for climate denialists looking to draw a bead on scientists.

Today, it's getting a makeover: A study published in Science reconstructs global temperatures further back than ever before—a full 11,300 years. The new analysis finds that the only problem with Mann's hockey stick was that its handle was about 9,000 years too short. The rate of warming over the last hundred years hasn't been seen for as far back as the advent of agriculture.

To be clear, the study finds that temperatures in about a fifth of this historical period were higher than they are today. But the key, said lead author Shaun Marcott of Oregon State University, is that temperatures are shooting through the roof faster than we've ever seen.

"What we found is that temperatures increased in the last hundred years as much as they had cooled in the last six or seven thousand," he said. "In other words, the rate of change is much greater than anything we've seen in the whole Holocene," referring to the current geologic time period, which began around 11,500 years ago.

Previous historic climate reconstructions typically extended no further back than 2,000 years, roughly as far back as you can go by examining climate indicators from tree rings, as Mann did. To dig even deeper, Marcott's team looked at objects collected from more than 70 sites worldwide, primarily fossilized ocean shells that have been unearthed by oceanographers. Existing research has shown that certain chemical tracers in the shells link directly to temperature at the time they were created; by studying oxygen isotopes in the fossilized plankton shown below, for example, scientists can deduce that it formed its shell at a time when Greenland was fully without ice. Marcott's task was to compile enough such samples to represent the whole planet over his chosen timeframe.

There's been a lot of work that's gone into the calibrations, so we can be dead certain [the shells] are recording the temperature we think they're recording," he said.

Today's study should help debunk the common climate change denial argument that recent warming is simply part of a long-term natural trend. Indeed, Marcott says, the earth should be nearing the bottom of a several-thousand year cool-off (the end-point of the rainbow arc in (B) above), if natural factors like solar variability were the sole driving factors. Instead, temperatures are rising rapidly.

Mann himself, who literally wrote the book on attacks on climate scientists, said in an email to Climate Desk that he was "certain that professional climate change deniers will attack the study and the authors, in an effort to discredit this important work," especially given the close ties between the two scientists' research. "It will therefore be looked at as a threat to vested interests who continue to deny that human-changed climate change is a reality."

Marcott admitted he was apprehensive about charging into the fully-mobilized troll army, but said he was grateful scientists like Mann had "gone through hell" before him to build a support network for harassed climate scientists.

"When Michael came along there was a lot more skepticism about global warming, but the public has come a long way," he said. "I'm curious to see how the skeptics are going to take this paper."
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Hidden NOAA animation shows ocean all along U.S. West Coast PostThu Mar 14, 2013 10:19 pm  Reply with quote

Hidden NOAA animation shows ocean all along U.S. West Coast contaminated with Fukushima cesium by end of March 2011 (VIDEO)

Index of


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Greedy Lying Bastards: The Movie Exxon and the Koch Brothers PostFri Mar 15, 2013 8:00 pm  Reply with quote

Greedy Lying Bastards: The Movie Exxon and the Koch Brothers Hope You Don't See (VIDEO)

Kert Davies.
Research Director, Greenpeace US

The new film Greedy Lying Bastards (GLB for short) opens today in theaters in about 30 cities around the US. Go see it, first of all... there is a theater list here. And tell your friends about it.

The film contains some gems, including this clip of "Lord" Monckton, reacting to a question about the consensus that climate change is real and man-made:

"Right... the only scientists who are capable of coming to a conclusion as barking mad as that are computer modelers. These are typically zitty teenagers, sitting in dark rooms with a can of Coca-Cola and too many donuts and playing on their X-Box 360s and they are making predictions about the climate..."

Wow... and that's only the beginning of the lunacy and nastiness from the deniers.

The long legacy of denial and deception by the legion of fossil doom will never be erased. They know who they are. We know exactly who they are. And we know exactly they have done... Greedy Lying Bastards is the most complete telling of this story to date.

We have the files at and PolluterWatch; in fact file cabinets full -- twenty-plus years of research and documentation of industry efforts to slow down the uptake of climate science, replace urgency with uncertainty and derail the policy train that is pulled along by that scientific consensus. Steve Coll's book Private Empire, which came out in 2012, pulled even more details into focus about Exxon's roll in the climate denial machine

ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, the Koch brothers, electric companies like Southern Company and a new posse of anonymous donors have collectively dumped millions of dollars into front groups and think tanks they could prompt to say and do things they couldn't be caught dead saying or doing themselves. The corporate puppeteers knew that sowing doubt and uncertainty would buy them time. A stay of execution. The free market front groupers had hit pay dirt and feel that taking action on climate change is some UN conspiracy to shackle their god given free market freedom.

So what? What can be done to hold these individuals and corporations accountable for their actions? What court of law will find them guilty of obstruction and deception? The film shows the similarity to the tobacco industry, who fought on for years after knowing full well that cigarettes caused health problems and nicotine is addictive -- straight up denial. There will be hearings, trials, cases, whistle blowers. The truth will be known.

Join the petition to ask Congress to investigate the Climate Denial Machine. There is much to be learned. The denial machine has not gone to sleep even as the climate is unraveling before our eyes.

Bottom line is real people are craving answers as extreme floods and hurricane superstorms sweep away everything they own, as "exceptional" drought knocks farms off the map one by one, as heat waves make life unbearable. The weather is out of whack and people are waking up one by one and want to know who to blame for their misfortune.

The culprits try to change their stripes, say they have been "misunderstood" in the case of Exxon, but you cannot change history. Their actions have contributed to two decades of inaction, costing us lives, property loss, economic and ecological damage. Species are going and will go extinct due to this inaction. This is no joke.

The latest academic treatment linking the Arab Spring to climate change raises the stakes again. Climate security is national security. Inseparable. Climate change is about where we live and how we live there. About how we grow our food, our water sources, the way we normally build our homes and buildings...How we live is adapted to the climate of the place where we live and make a living. All this is now turning upside down. When 100-year extreme events happen every year, when thousands of weather records are broken in a single year, the truth inescapable.

People are trusting their eyes and increasingly not trusting the Denial Machine.

There will be accountability, and not only in the court of public opinion. These are moral crimes, crimes against humanity. The stakes are high and the consequences are only starting to fall out. People are starting to realize they have been lied to, led to believe that global warming was some figment of Al Gore's imagination, told to look the other way...
And if there is one thing that gets people all riled up, its being lied to.

Good luck explaining yourself to our children and grandchildren, David and Charles Koch, Rex Tillerson and Lee Raymond at Exxon before him... and all the others in your denial army. You might as well start explaining right now.
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Sore Throat

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Greedy Lying Bastards PostMon Mar 18, 2013 10:07 pm  Reply with quote  

Just like the lies that drove the illegal invasion of Iraq, that cost this country over a trillion dollars and impacted millions of innocent lives, there has also been an unending string of lies and falsehoods about the reality of climate change.

Greedy Lying Bastards to see who the main players are.

Highly recommended.
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Sore Throat

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Arctic Ice Loss Amplified Superstorm Sandy PostWed Mar 20, 2013 4:02 pm  Reply with quote

Arctic Ice Loss Amplified Superstorm Sandy

Posted by: Joseph Romm

We’ve written extensively about how global warming worsened the impact of Superstorm Sandy.

Now a new article, “Superstorm Sandy: A Series of Unfortunate Events?” (PDF here) connects the dots even more explicitly:

Cornell and Rutgers researchers report in the March issue of Oceanography that the severe loss of summertime Arctic sea ice — attributed to greenhouse warming — appears to enhance Northern Hemisphere jet stream meandering, intensify Arctic air mass invasions toward middle latitudes, and increase the frequency of atmospheric blocking events like the one that steered Hurricane Sandy west into the densely populated New York City area.

Figure 1a. Atmospheric conditions during Hurricane Sandy’s transit along the eastern seaboard of the United States, including the invasion of cold Arctic air into the middle latitudes of North America and the high-pressure blocking pattern in the northwest Atlantic.

The lead author is Charles H. Greene, director of Cornell’s Ocean Resources and Ecosystems program. Coauthor Jennifer A. Francis of Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences has written extensively on how arctic ice loss is driving extreme weather:
•Arctic Warming Favors Extreme, Prolonged Weather Events ‘Such As Drought, Flooding, Cold Spells And Heat Waves’
•NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather

The piece notes “there is increasing evidence that the loss of summertime Arctic sea ice due to green- house warming stacks the deck in favor of”:

1.Larger amplitude meanders in the jet stream,

2.More frequent invasions of Arctic air masses into the middle latitudes, and

3.More frequent blocking events of the kind that steered Sandy to the west

Figure 1b. After the convergence of tropical and extra-tropical storm systems, the hybrid Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey and New York, bringing strong winds, storm surge, and flooding to areas near the coast and blizzard conditions to Appalachia.

So while this does appear to have been the perfect storm, we can, unfortunately, expect many more as we move toward ice-free arctic conditions in the coming years.
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Weather Service chief: We face 'new normal' of extremes PostThu Mar 21, 2013 3:30 pm  Reply with quote

Weather Service chief: We face 'new normal' of extremes

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

Wild weather in recent years -- from Hurricane Sandy and deadly tornado outbreaks to extremes of drought and floods -- likely can be traced, in part, to climate change, the National Weather Service director says.

The onslaught of wild weather that has battered the USA in recent years — from Hurricane Sandy and deadly tornado outbreaks to extremes of drought and floods -- looks to be part of a "new normal" for weather patterns in the U.S., new National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini said Wednesday.

In comments to the USA TODAY Editorial Board, Uccellini also cited the "likely" contribution of global warming to the extreme weather.

Global warming is "making it more likely that the storms are more intense and produce heavier precipitation," he said, but Uccellini cautioned that he doesn't think there are enough cases of extreme weather yet to prove the hypothesis. "I think the evidence is leaning that way," he said, adding that we've loaded the dice to produce more extreme weather such as Sandy. Uccellini said that Sandy's damage was due in part to sea level rise from global warming.

The extreme weather, surprisingly, may even include winter storms, such as the ones that have hammered the Northeast Coast this winter.

"We have observed more snowstorms and heavy rain events that have been extreme," he said, due to the fact that a warming atmosphere can "hold more water vapor that can increase the intensity of storms."

One study, recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, reports that the lack of Arctic summer ice has altered weather patterns down here in North America and could potentially lead to stormier winters.

Others aren't so sure about attributing recent specific weather events to climate change: The science of attributing extreme weather to climate change "is in its infancy, very difficult, and perhaps even the wrong question to address," said meteorologist Ryan Maue of private forecasting firm WeatherBell Analytics.

"Many recent research papers may be speculative but they serve an important purpose to put forth a hypothesis into the scientific community that can be tested or rejected," Maue said.

And while the intensity of some hurricanes may become stronger, there is no obvious link between tornadoes and climate change.

Other topics that Uccellini covered at the meeting:

•Hurricane Sandy classification: Sandy's transition from a hurricane to a "Post Tropical Cyclone" caused some confusion as the storm approached the coast last year: No hurricane warnings were issued north of the Carolinas. Uccellini said that the weather service intends to implement "new procedures" designed to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

•Weather prediction models: In order to keep up with the European's top prediction model -- which is now the gold standard -- the USA's top model will have to increase its computing power: The Europeans "run their models at a higher resolution," than that of the USA's top models, Uccellini said.

•Weather satellites "gap": Satellites are the "backbone" of the global observing system, he said, and he's "concerned" about the possible looming gap in satellite coverage later this decade. "We have plans for gap mitigation," he said, including making better use of the data that will still be there by 2016 and 2017.

A longtime federal meteorologist, Uccellini, 63, became head of the weather service in February, replacing acting director Laura Furgione, who remains as deputy director.
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'Greedy Lying Bastards' Takes On Climate Deniers, Big Oil PostSat Mar 23, 2013 8:04 pm  Reply with quote

'Greedy Lying Bastards' Takes On Climate Deniers, Big Oil

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In Sign of Warming, 1,600 Years of Ice in Andes Melted in 25 PostFri Apr 05, 2013 4:11 pm  Reply with quote

In Sign of Warming, 1,600 Years of Ice in Andes Melted in 25 Years


Glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took at least 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years, scientists reported Thursday, the latest indication that the recent spike in global temperatures has thrown the natural world out of balance.

The evidence comes from a remarkable find at the margins of the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru, the world’s largest tropical ice sheet. Rapid melting there in the modern era is uncovering plants that were locked in a deep freeze when the glacier advanced many thousands of years ago.

Dating of those plants, using a radioactive form of carbon in the plant tissues that decays at a known rate, has given scientists an unusually precise method of determining the history of the ice sheet’s margins.

Lonnie G. Thompson, the Ohio State University glaciologist whose team has worked intermittently on the Quelccaya ice cap for decades, reported the findings in a paper released online Thursday by the journal Science.

The paper includes a long-awaited analysis of chemical tracers in ice cylinders the team recovered by drilling deep into Quelccaya, a record that will aid scientists worldwide in reconstructing past climatic variations.

Such analyses will take time, but Dr. Thompson said preliminary evidence shows, for example, that the earth probably went through a period of anomalous weather at around the time of the French Revolution, which began in 1789. The weather presumably contributed to the food shortages that exacerbated that upheaval.

“When there’s a disruption of food, this is bad news for any government,” Dr. Thompson said in an interview.

Of greater immediate interest, Dr. Thompson and his team have expanded on previous research involving long-dead plants emerging from the melting ice at the edge of Quelccaya, a huge, flat ice cap sitting on a volcanic plain 18,000 feet above sea level.

Several years ago, the team reported on plants that had been exposed near a meltwater lake. Chemical analysis showed them to be about 4,700 years old, proving that the ice cap had reached its smallest extent in nearly five millenniums.

In the new research, a thousand feet of additional melting has exposed plants that laboratory analysis shows to be about 6,300 years old. The simplest interpretation, Dr. Thompson said, is that ice that accumulated over approximately 1,600 years melted back in no more than 25 years.

“If any time in the last 6,000 years these plants had been exposed for any five-year period, they would have decayed,” Dr. Thompson said. “That tells us the ice cap had to be there 6,000 years ago.”

Meredith A. Kelly, a glacial geomorphologist at Dartmouth College who trained under Dr. Thompson but was not involved in the new paper, said his interpretation of the plant remains was reasonable.

Her own research on Quelccaya suggests that the margins of the glacier have melted quite rapidly at times in the past. But the melting now under way appears to be at least as fast, if not faster, than anything in the geological record since the end of the last ice age, she said.

Global warming, which scientists say is being caused primarily by the human release of greenhouse gases, is having its largest effects at high latitudes and high altitudes. Sitting at high elevation in the tropics, the Quelccaya ice cap appears to be extremely sensitive to the temperature changes, several scientists said.

“It may not go very quickly because there’s so much ice, but we might have already locked into a situation where we are committed to losing that ice,” said Mathias Vuille, a climate scientist at the State University at Albany in New York.

Throughout the Andes, glaciers are now melting so rapidly that scientists have grown deeply concerned about water supplies for the people living there. Glacial meltwater is essential for helping Andean communities get through the dry season.

In the short run, the melting is producing an increase of water supplies and feeding population growth in major cities of the Andes, the experts said. But as the glaciers continue shrinking, trouble almost certainly looms.

Douglas R. Hardy, a University of Massachusetts researcher who works in the region, said, “How much time do we have before 50 percent of Lima’s or La Paz’s water resources are gone?”
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Air pollution impacts coral growth, scientists report PostMon Apr 08, 2013 4:30 pm  Reply with quote  

Imagine that, atmospheric aerosols, fine particulate matter, are blocking sunlight to corals. I wonder when some "esteemed" scientist will have the cajones to call a spade a spade and not blame only volcanic eruptions and coal burning. Are they truly blind to another major source of "reflective particulate matter" in our atmosphere. Calling Dr. James Hansen. Bought off or too afraid?

Air pollution impacts coral growth, scientists report

Coral reefs are truly a beautiful piece of our world, and yet they are also extremely useful. The reefs are home to a large and varied group of plants and animals, and are in fact the most diverse of all ocean ecosystems.

Twenty five percent of all ocean species rely on coral reefs for food and shelter, so it comes as no surprise that our oceans are in serious trouble if they are unable to keep growing.

A new study conducted by a team of climate scientists and coral ecologists from the United Kingdom, Australia and Panama discovered that pollution from fine particles in the air can shade corals from sunlight, which is needed for the coral to grow. These particles are often the result of burning coal or volcanic eruptions.

"They are believed to be vulnerable to climate change and ocean acidification, but ours is the first study to show a clear link between coral growth and the concentration of particulate pollution in the atmosphere," Lester Kwiatkowski, a Ph.D student of mathematics at the University of Exeter and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

While the coral does subsist under the water, the scientists found that they are responding to the changes in pollution in the atmosphere. The coral itself is made up of simple animal cells, but they need the photosynthetic algae for energy and nutrients. Essentially they need to be able to see the sun to stay alive, and the pollution is blocking their solar source.

"Particulate pollution or 'aerosols' reflect incoming sunlight and make clouds brighter. This can reduce the light available for coral photosynthesis, as well as the temperature of surrounding waters," explains Dr. Paul Halloran of the Met Office Hadley Centre in a statement. "Together these factors are shown to slow down coral growth."

The authors used data from within the coral skeletons, from observations, statistical modeling and climate model simulations. They found that coral rates were affected by volcanic aerosol emissions in the early 20th century and by human aerosol emissions in the late 20th century.
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Europe expected to see a large increase in Hurricane Sandy-l PostMon Apr 08, 2013 7:57 pm  Reply with quote

Europe expected to see a large increase in Hurricane Sandy-like hybrid storms

By Dr. Jeff Masters

Watch out, Europe. Dangerous part-hurricane, part extratropical hybrid storms like Hurricane Sandy of 2012 are expected to be an increasing threat for Western Europe by the end of the century due to global warming, said a team of scientists led by Reindert J. Haarsma of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. In a paper called "More hurricanes to hit Western Europe due to global warming", published in April 2013 in Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers describe the results from runs of a high-resolution (25 km grid spacing) climate model based on the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) numerical weather prediction model. The model predicts that the breeding ground for Atlantic hurricanes will shift approximately 700 miles eastwards as the oceans warm this century. Hurricanes which form farther to the east can spend more time over warm tropical waters before turning north and northeast towards Europe, increasing the odds that these storms will have hurricane-force winds upon arrival in Europe. The model showed that wind shear will change little in the region over the coming decades, resulting in a large increase in storms with hurricane-force winds affecting Western Europe. Most of the these storms will not be tropical hurricanes upon arrival in Europe, but will be former hurricanes that have transitioned to extratropical storms. However, as we saw with Hurricane Sandy of 2012, these hybrid storms can be extremely dangerous. Summed over Norway, the North Sea, and the Gulf of Biscay, the model found that the number of hurricane-force storms in August - October increased from 2 to 13 over the 21st century, with almost all future West European hurricane-force storms predicted to originate as hurricanes or tropical storms in the tropics by 2100. The researchers conclude that "tropical cyclones will increase the probability of present-day extreme events over the North Sea and the Gulf of Biscay with a factor of 5 and 25 respectively, with far reaching consequences especially for coastal safety."

Europe's hurricane history

Only once since accurate records began in 1851 has an actual hurricane with full tropical characteristics hit Europe. This happened on September 16, 1961, when Category 1 Hurricane Debbie hit northwestern Ireland. Wind gusts reached 106 mph at Ballykelly and 104 mph at Tiree and Snaefill, and coastal radio stations reported the airwaves were jammed with calls for help from small ships and fishing craft. Eleven people were killed and 50 injured in the storm. The only other tropical cyclone recorded to have hit Europe since 1851 was Hurricane Vince of 2005, which hit southern Spain as a tropical depression on October 11, 2005. Historical documents also suggest a hurricane hit Spain on October 29, 1842.

Britain's history of ex-hurricane strikes

Hurricanes that transition to powerful extratropical storms hit the British Isles several times per decade, on average. In 2011, Hurricane Katia brushed by Newfoundland, made the transition from a tropical system to a powerful extratropical storm, and maintained strong winds of 50 - 65 mph as it crossed the Atlantic. Ex-Katia hit northern Scotland on September 12, 2011. Glen Ogle, Scotland, at an elevation of 1500 feet (546 meters), received sustained winds of 60 mph, gusting to 86 mph. Cairngorm, in the Scottish Highlands at an elevation of 4085 feet, reported sustained winds of 67 mph. With the trees in full leaf, tree damage was much higher than a winter or springtime storm of similar ferocity would have caused. One person was killed by a falling tree, and heavy tree damage and numerous power failures were reported throughout Britain. Other gusts experienced in Britain included 76 mph at Edinburgh Blackford Hill, 75 mph at Capel Curig in Wales, 72 mph at Glasgow Bishopton, and 71 mph at Loftus, North Yorkshire.

Figure 4. Surface wind estimate from the Windsat satellite at 4:04 am EDT on Monday, September 12, 2011. The center of Extratropical Storm Katia is marked by an "L", and winds in excess of 50 knots (58 mph, purple triangles) were occurring to the southwest of the center, near the west coast of Ireland. Image credit: NOAA.

As reported by UK Met Office forecaster John Hammond in a post on the BBC 23 degrees blog, Britain has been affected at least eight times in the past twenty years by extratropical storms that were once tropical storms or hurricanes. Before Katia of 2011, the most recent such storm was Hurricane Bill of 2009, which hit Ireland as an extratropical storm on August 25 with sustained winds of 45 mph. Bill was a Category 4 hurricane northeast of the Lesser Antilles five days prior. In 2006, a record three extratropical storms that had once been tropical cyclones hit Britain:

Extratropical Storm Alberto, which had been a strong tropical storm that hit the Florida Panhandle, hit northern Ireland and Scotland as an extratropical storm with 35 mph winds.

Extratropical Storm Gordon hit Ireland on September 21, 2006, with sustained winds of 65 mph. Gordon brought record warm temperatures as tropical air pushed north across the UK, and also strong winds that brought down power lines in Northern Ireland. Wind gusts to 60 mph (97 km/h) occurred in the Isles of Scilly off the southwest coast, and 81 mph (130 km/h) on the mainland.

Extratropical Storm Helene hit Northwestern Ireland on September 27, 2006, with sustained winds of 45 mph.

Figure 5. Path of Hurricane Lili of 1996, which caused $420 million in damage to the U.K. as an extratropical storm.

Other post-tropical cyclones that have the U.K. in the past twenty years include Hurricanes Isaac and Leslie of 2000, Hurricane Karl of 1998, and Hurricane Lili of 1996. The most severe of these storms was Extratropical Storm Lili, which hit Ireland on October 28, 1996, with sustained winds of 65 mph. Lili caused $420 million in damage (2011 dollars) in the U.K. According to Wikipedia, Lili produced a 92 mph (148 km/h) gust at Swansea, South Wales, while bringing a 4' (1.2 meter) storm surge that inundated the River Thames. In Somerset, 500 holiday cottages were severely damaged. A U.S. oil drilling platform, under tow in the North Sea, broke loose during the storm and nearly ran aground at Peterhead. On the Isle of Wight, a sailing boat was beached at Chale Bay; luckily all five occupants were rescued. It was the most damaging storm to have struck the United Kingdom since the Great Storm of 1987, which killed 22 and did $660 million in damage (1996 dollars.) However, Lili also broke a four-month drought over southwest England.

All but one of these storms hit during the peak part of hurricane season, mid-August - late October. The only exception was Ex-Tropical Storm Alberto of 2006, which hit Britain in June.

Hurricanes in the Mediterranean Sea?

The Mediterranean Sea between Europe and Africa has experienced several damaging hybrid subtropical storms in recent decades, but has never experienced a fully tropical hurricane in recorded history. However, global warming may cause the Mediterranean to start spawning hurricanes by 2100, according to a 2007 study by a research team led by Miguel Angel Gaertner of the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Toledo, Spain. They ran nine different climate models with resolutions of about 50 km and found that some (but not all) of the models simulated hurricanes in the Mediterranean in September by the end of the century, when ocean temperature could increase by 3°C, reaching 30°C.

Though the Mediterranean may start seeing hurricanes by the end of the century, these storms should be rare and relatively short-lived for three reasons:

1) The Mediterranean is quite far north and is subject to strong wind shear from jet stream activity.

2) The waters are shallow, and have relatively low heat content. There is no deep warm water current like the Gulf Stream.

3) The Mediterranean has a lot of large islands and peninsulas poking into it, increasing the chances that a tropical storm would weaken when it encountered land.

Gaertner, M. A., D. Jacob, V. Gil, M. Dominguez, E. Padorno, E. Sanchez, and M. Castro (2007), Tropical cyclones over the Mediterranean Sea in climate change simulations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L14711, doi:10.1029/2007GL029977.

Haarsma et al., 2013, More hurricanes to hit Western Europe due to global warming, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/grl.50360

Reale, O., and R. Atlas. 2001: Tropical Cyclone-Like Vortices in the Extratropics: Observational Evidence and Synoptic Analysis, Weather and Forecasting, 16, No. 1, pp. 7-34.

Jeff Masters
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The Climate Bomb: Failures to Confront the Unspeakable, and PostMon Apr 08, 2013 9:03 pm  Reply with quote

The Climate Bomb: Failures to Confront the Unspeakable, and The Way Ahead

By Elizabeth Woodworth

In the last 50 years there have been two major threats to life on our planet. The first, the nuclear arms race and its near disaster of 1962, was narrowly averted by President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, who then set a course for peace. (See Part I of this essay)

The second, the ticking climate bomb on its short “business as usual” fuse, has no solution in sight.

In both cases unseen forces have blocked a survival response to incalculable danger. We will examine these forces and suggest a way forward, modeled partially on action taken by JFK to avert nuclear war.

Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: —
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.

James Allen,1902

The Looming Climate Emergency: Science Anyone Can Understand

The role of greenhouse gases, which absorb and hold the heat in earth’s atmosphere, and which acidify the oceans, has been simply and clearly illustrated by Dr. Eric Grimsrud in his slide-show, Short Course: The Earth’s Climate.[29]

Overwhelmingly, scientists now believe it is “likely that the world will blow past the 2 degree C warming threshold that scientists and international negotiators agree is needed to avoid catastrophic consequences.”[30]

On December 3, 2012, The Global Carbon Project, comprised of 35 climatologists from 10 countries, reported that under “business as usual,” “emissions are heading to a 4.0 to 6.1 degree C ‘likely’ increase in temperature.”[31]

How do they know this?

Note on the graph below that 800,000 years of ice core data show a close correspondence between atmospheric CO2 and earth’s average temperatures.[32] Also, the pre-industrial (1840′s) CO2 level was 278 parts per million, and had never been much higher during the 800,000 years.[33]

The increase in CO2 levels between 2011 and 2012 was the second-biggest ever recorded, jumping 2.67 parts per million in that year alone, to reach 395 ppm.

The NOAA graph of Mauno Loa CO2 data from 2009 to February 2013, showing a rise from 386 to 396.8 ppm, looks like a runaway train.[34]

This CO2 persists in the atmosphere for thousands of years, accumulating faster than earth’s oceans and forests can absorb it, with the result that the past 10 years have been hotter than more than 75% of the past 11,300 years.[35]

In January, 2013 the New York Times reported an effect of this rate of accumulation: “Temperature differences between years are usually measured in fractions of a degree, but last year’s 55.3 degree average demolished the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree Fahrenheit.”[36]

Former skeptics finally believe we are facing a planetary emergency:

British climate change economist Lord Nicholas Stern said in January that “I got it wrong on climate change — it’s far, far worse;” that he now believes we are “on track for something like four” degrees above the long-term global temperature average, and the “risks of a four- or five-degree rise.”[37]

World Bank President Jim Kim spoke of “a real and present danger,” referring to “an extreme heat wave in Russia [that] led to 55,000 deaths.” In Thailand, the 2011 floods led to losses of “45 billion or about 13% of GDP.”[38]

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said recently that “unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.”[39]

“During the three decades from 1980 to 2011, the number of violent storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, as tabulated by the reinsurance company Munich Re, has increased more than three-fold. They also estimate that the financial losses follow a trend line that has gone from $40 billion to $170 billion dollars per year.”[40]

It is clear to these economists, who do not hold science degrees, that once the tipping point is passed and earth is unable to regain its balance, our most desperate attempts will be unable to fend off catastrophe.

So why have governments been so slow to respond?

IV. Climate Reality: The Unspeakable Obstruction to Public Awareness and Action

An enormous gulf exists historically between scientific consensus on climate change and public awareness, with the media giving equal time to believers and deniers.

Grimsrud attributes this extraordinary negligence to “the humungous snow job that is being done to the intellect of the general public by the omnipotent fossil fuel dynasties that have dominated life on our planet for many decades.”[41]

For example, in 2009 former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev convened The Climate Change Task Force[42], a group of 20 scientists, economists, former heads of state, Nobel prize laureates and climate experts from developed and developing countries.

In June, 2012 the Task Force issued a 3-page “Appeal for Urgent Action on Climate Change”, calling on the UN Conference Rio+20, for “an urgent and profound international response to the increasing risks and threats of climate change,” and for “radical new solutions.” [43]

A Google News Archive search reveals that this body has never once been covered in the Western mainstream news since its inception in 2009.

Not surprising. From 2002-2010 a group of anonymous conservative billionaires channeled $120 million “of dark money” to more than 100 think tanks, many near Washington DC, casting doubt on the science behind climate change.[44] ”Those same groups are now mobilising against Obama’s efforts to act on climate change in his second term. A top recipient of the secret funds on Wednesday put out a point-by-point critique of the climate content in the president’s state of the union address.”[45]

The plan is in full swing, especially regarding the proposed $7 billion, 1700-mile Keystone XL Pipeline.

The 2,000-page draft environmental impact statement was issued by the US State Department on March 1st.[46]

It has since come to light that this statement was actually written by the TransCanada Pipeline contractor.[47] “The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline’s massive carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable.”

Why is it unstoppable? Because the public, deluged with media anti-science, still hopes its addiction to oil will somehow work out — and many believe that “cheap oil” is the only thing that keeps the economy from tanking.

But why is Obama, who knows the science and has two daughters who will live into the coming debacle, not taking the “transformative, radical action” urged by Gorbachev? Why does he not start by turning Keystone down, as the New York Times urged him to do?[48]

Obama has in fact tried to end the $4 billion in subsidies to oil and gas companies. However the March 29, 2012 bill was defeated 51-47 by the Senate (60 votes are required).[49]

But the unseen hand is ever-present:

1.US Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu resigned February 1, 2013, after a four-year term. Long criticized by the oil industry for his clean energy programs, Chu said that “only one percent of the companies we funded went bankrupt. That one percent has gotten more attention than the 99 percent that have not.”[50]

1.The pro-Keystone XL Bill that passed March 16, 2013 in the US Senate was co-sponsored by 14 Senators, who together have received $10 million in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.[51]

1.Vancouver economist Robyn Allan writes of the Harper government’s pro-Keystone agenda: “If the goal was to strengthen Canada’s economy, bitumen would be upgraded at facilities in Alberta (creating jobs and adding value to the petroleum product), and then moved east where there is a domestic demand in Ontario and Quebec.”[52] Canadian unions know this and urgently oppose the pipeline.[53]

In short, the whole Keystone debate has nothing to do with jobs, investigative reporting, or an informed public — and everything to do with narrow industry profits, election campaign chests, and industry-backed media fog.

These mercenary interests posing as climate deniers are holding sway over the future of both countries, if not the world.

V. Confronting the Unspeakable

If JFK, MLK, and RFK were assassinated while promoting peace in a military economy, how far can Obama push for renewables in a military/oil economy?

In 2009, the Department of Defense, the largest consumer of energy in America, used over 93% of all US Government energy, and more than the whole country of Nigeria with a population of 140 million.[54]

The military produced 4% of the carbon emissions of the entire U.S. How can Obama slow down this glutted war machine? If he tries, will he face the same fate as JFK?

When White House Press journalist Sarah MacClendon asked President Bill Clinton why he wasn’t doing anything about UFO disclosure, Clinton replied, “Sarah, there’s a government inside the government, and I don’t control it.”[55]

CIA veteran Ray McGovern, who for years delivered the morning intelligence brief to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, referred in 2009 to “two CIA’s.” One was created by President Truman to “give him the straight scoop without any fear or favor. [And there is also a] covert action arm,” which acts without oversight by Congressional committees. “I think Panetta, and to a degree President Obama, are afraid — I never thought I’d hear myself saying this — I think they’re afraid of the CIA.”[56]

Indeed, former CIA Director Leon Panetta advised Obama, when he wanted to downsize troops in Afghanistan, that “no Democratic president can go against military advice, especially if he asked for it…So just do it. Do what they say.”[57]

Such warnings would also explain Obama’s granting of immunity to 98 of Bush’s 100 CIA torturers in 2012, after he had sworn to bring justice to the issue.[58]

It’s therefore not much of a stretch to see that when:

a) the military depends heavily on oil, and

b) there is hard evidence that a covert arm of the CIA has been complicit in state assassinations,

a President who has already backed off on troop reductions and CIA accountability might well fear running afoul of “the abyss” if he took decisive action against the oil-based economic steamroller.

And here we come to the Presidential crunch between the “deep state” and the public (democratic) state. The deep state is the embedded politics of the corporate evil that has become so pervasive in recent years. The guts of the U.S. economy is a morality blind to bank fraud, rampant pharmaceutical toxicity, a fats-and-sugar food industry driving epidemic obesity, and fossil-fuel control of the media.

How can we help Obama to save the public state, and indeed the world, from global warming? How can we regain control of our national democracies to secure the survival of life itself?

In the final analysis, Douglass concludes, the Unspeakable is not far way. It is not somewhere out there, fused with a government that has become alien to us. To the extent that we fail to confront it, the void of responsibility is also within ourselves.

We might now turn to the words of Robert F. Kennedy before a large Indianapolis crowd the day Martin Luther King was killed. With his own brother’s death clearly in mind he cited his favorite Greek poet, Aeschylus:

“In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

Such pain has been known to all of us. It is the duality that deepens our compassion for humankind. Allowing it to live on in us marks the end of existential isolation and inertia.

VI. A Way Forward to Climate Sanity

It is clear from the foregoing that all people must rise to meet the crisis. To sustain life as we know it, humanity must reduce atmospheric CO2 from 396 ppm to 350 ppm, and soon.

“Business as usual” will lead to disaster and is now out of the question. We are at war with our own behavior and it is time to gear up, impose discipline, and win the planet back.

We must first consider the over-arching nature of reality. Contrary to the prevailing view, the economy is a subset of our ecology — not the other way around.[59]

Ecology is what we live in. We are dependent on the land base and we need it to survive. Our society lives within the land base, and inside our society is the economy. The most basic necessity is not the economy, but the ecology, and this truth must be recognized in order to map our recovery.

The actions below, if taken, would return us to living in an ecological society:

1. Tame the U.S. Senate on Climate Matters

First, the will of the people, the Congress, and the President must take priority over the Senate.

In August 1963, JFK, up against nuclear “cold warriors” and the Senate, waged an all-out campaign to win Senate approval of the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty. White House organizers led by Norman Cousins reached out through a Citizens Committee to business and religious leaders, scientists, scholars, universities, unions, newspapers, and NGO’s. This remarkable campaign succeeded within several weeks in mobilizing the anti-nuclear sentiment of the country, and the Senate approved JFK’s Treaty 80-19 in September.[60]

Obama faces a similar situation today: a) the planet is imperiled by fossil fuels; b) the Senate is under pressure from the oil industry; c) the public is becoming increasingly alarmed and could be mobilized to speak out; d) workable transition strategies for clean energy have already been developed.

2. Commit to Workable Principles for Transitioning to Clean Energy

Dr. Grimsrud has set out in his Short Course a simple, workable plan for transitioning to clean energy:[61]
1.Use only known reserves of gas and oil. They are the “cleanest” forms of fossil fuels. Halt exploration for new reserves.
2.Leave all other forms of fossil fuels in the ground, including coal, tar sands, and shale oil.
3.Pursue massive reforestation and biomass production to enable CO2 uptake.

3. Commit to Economic Incentives to Build Compliance

1.Immediately start taxing the full atmospheric cost of fossil fuel use to producers. Use this money to subsidize eligible clean energy businesses. Charge carbon import taxes on all products for which a carbon tax was not paid in the country of origin. (The Carbon Fee and Dividend Plan)

2.Transfer existing oil and gas subsidies to eligible clean energy businesses, including high-mileage cars and green buildings.

3.Create venture-capital programs for the clean-tech sector.

4.Create efficiency standards for household appliances and lighting.

5.Subsidize in-city public transport and bicycle use.

6.Rationing: Introduce rationing of oil and gas for automobiles, home heating (while subsidizing electricity and heat pumps), and non-essential flight travel.

World War II rationing in Great Britain worked well and was based on the following decisions: [62]

◾In 1939 and 1940 the government rejected proposals to rely upon increased taxation to cut consumption because the impact of tax rises would be slow and inequitable.

◾The government introduced rationing instead, as it was the best way to cut consumption quickly and ensure that reduced supplies were shared out equitably.

◾Policymakers rejected tradable rations, a feature of current carbon rationing proposals, fearing that it would undermine the moral basis of rationing, encourage coupon fraud and feed inflation, thereby negating the socially-progressive aspects of tradable rations.

◾The public accepted that rationing was a temporary but necessary measure due to persuasive economic arguments, underlying trust in central government, and positive memories of rationing during the First World War.

◾To introduce a successful carbon rationing scheme, the experience of the Second World War indicates that the government must convince the public that rationing levels are fair; that the system is administered transparently and fairly; and that evaders are few in number, likely to be detected and liable to stiff penalties if found guilty.

In this essay we have looked at the truth about climate, and what is needed to address it.

As Arundhati Roy has written, “The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it, and once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way you’re accountable.”[63]

VII. Conclusion

It is critically important that we respond to the precipice in front of us: there is no time to be lulled by a sense of normalcy while the planet quietly and irreversibly succumbs to ruin. We must act now, before the weather becomes truly terrifying.

Let us honor our assassinated heroes by learning from them.

John Kennedy, in his American University address, was proclaiming a way out of the Cold War and into a new human possibility. We need to connect with JFK’s new possibility by meeting the unspeakable: first in ourselves, and then in the deep hidden places that we sense exist behind our democratic institutions.

So far, we have failed these men unforgivably by not looking long and hard where they pointed.[64]

The price of not going into the heart of truth has become unaffordable. Bob Dylan once asked, “How far in will you go?”

This question must mark the beginning of a new journey at every level of society.


[29] Eric P. Grimsrud, “Short Course. The Earth’s Climate: Historic, Present, and Future,” May, 2012 ( Grimsrud is a Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Montana State University, who taught atmospheric science for 29 years, has written more than 100 published articles, and holds teaching and research awards. See also the 4-minute video “Climate 101,” narrated by Bill Nye ( ); and the TED Talk, by David Roberts, “Climate Change is Simple” (

[30] Glen P. Peters, et al., “The Challenge to Keep Global Warming Below 2°C, Nature Climate Change, December 2012 (

[31] Global Carbon Project, “Global Carbon Budget, 2012,” December 12, 2012 (

[32] Eric P. Grimsrud, “Short Course. The Earth’s Climate: Historic, Present, and Future,” May, 2012 (, Section 4.

[33] See Grimsrud “Short Course,” Section 4 (

[34] U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, “Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,”

[35] Shaun A. Marcott, et al., “A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years,” Science, March 8, 2013 (

[36] Justin Gillis, New York Times, January 8, 2013, “Not Even Close: 2012 Was Hottest Ever in US” (

[37] “Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change — it’s far, far worse,’” Heather Stewart and Larry Elliott, The Guardian, January 26, 2013 (

[38] World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at G20 Meeting, “Climate Change Represents Real, Present Danger, February 16, 2003 (

[39] David Runnalls, “Roasted, Toasted, Fried and Grilled: Climate Talk from an Unlikely Source,” The Globe and Mail, February 1, 2013 (

[40] “Letter from Secretary Steven Chu to Energy Department Employees Announcing His Decision Not to Serve a Second Term,” February 1, 2013 (Steven Chu resignation letter, Munich Re report at

[41] Eric Grimsrud, “Questions Concerning Short Course,” March 18, 2013 post , “Welcome to Freelandia” (http

[42] CCTF The full 27-page 2012 CCTF Statement, “Action to Face the Urgent Realities of Climate Change,” is at

[43] The Climate Change Task Force, “Appeal for Urgent Action on Climate Change,” Geneva, June 11, 2012 (

[44] Susan Goldenberg, “Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks,” The Guardian, February 14, 2013 (

[45] Ibid.

[46] U.S. Department of State. Keystone XL Pipeline Project, “Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement,” March 1, 2013 (

[47] Brad Johnson, “‘State Department’ Keystone XL Report Actually Written by TransCanada Contractor,” Huffington Post Blog, March 6, 2013 (

[48] “When to Say No,” New York Times, March 10, 2013 (

[49] “Obama Plan to End U.S. Oil Subsidies Rejected,” CBC News, March 29, 2012 (

[50] Tom Zeller, “Energy Secretary Steven Chu Resigns, Chastises Climate Deniers and Clean-Energy Critics,” Huffington Post, February 1, 2013 (

[51] David Turnbull, “Pro-Keystone XL Senate Bill Follows Pattern of Following the Oil Money,” Oilchange International, March 14, 2013 (

[52] Travis Lupick, “Economist Questions Financial Benefits of Alberta Oil Sands,”, March 26, 2013 (

[53] Gloria Galloway, “Oil-sands Workers Press MP’s to Oppose ‘Wrongheaded’ Keystone Pipeline,” The Globe and Mail, September 21, 2011 (

[54] “How Much Energy Does the U.S. Military Consume?” January 3, 2011 (

[55] Rick Bonner, “UFOs and the President’s Office: What the President Knows, and Doesn’t,” May 23, 2012 (

[56] Brad Friedman, “Ray McGovern Warns of ‘Two CIA’s,’” September 13, 2009 ( Dr. Peter Dale Scott has called this “deep politics.” Peter Dale Scott, “The ‘Deep State’ Behind U.S. Democracy,” Voltaire Net, April 6, 2011 ( My essay variously refers to the “deep state” as “the unspeakable”, “the abyss”, and “the void”.

[57] Bob Woodward, “Obama’s Wars,” Simon & Schuster, 2010, p. 247.

[58] Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s Justice Department Grants Final Immunity to Bush’s CIA Torturers,” The Guardian, August 31, 2012 (

[59] Satish Kumar, founder of the Schumacher Institute, “Economics is a Subset of Ecology,” posted November 10, 2011 (

[60] Lawrence S. Wittner, “Looking Back: Norman Cousins and the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963,” Arms Control Today, December, 2012 (

[61] Eric P. Grimsrud, “Short Course. The Earth’s Climate: Historic, Present, and Future,” May, 2012 (, Sections 8a and 8b.

[62] These points are copied directly from: Mark Roodhouse, “Rationing Returns: A Solution to Global Warming?” History & Policy, March, 2007 ( History & Policy is a collaboration between scholars at the Universities of Cambridge and London, England.

[63] Arundhati Roy, “Power Politics,” South End Press, 2001, p. 7.

[64] Indeed President Eisenhower had explicitly warned against it in 1961: “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961″ (

I wish to thank Dr. Michael J. Harvey, biologist, for his assistance with this essay.

This essay is dedicated to Dr. James W. Douglass, from whose book JFK and the Unspeakable and workshop I learned deeply.
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