Let’s assume that you have doubts about 'global warming'.
Some people do and, truthfully, we utterly lack the ability to accurately model how much warming will happen, where and by when (emphasis on accurately).
The reason is not for lack of trying or continual learning and model refinement, but centers on the complexity of the task.
Even seemingly simple systems that are actually complex are impossible to predictively model. An example is a pile of sand growing grain by grain that will finally slump at some unpredictable time and in an unpredictable way. You would think that such a simple system could be accurately modeled, but that’s not the case. Exactly when the pile will finally slump is unpredictable. Exactly how large the resulting slump will be is also unpredictable. The “when” and the “how much” are unknowable (using current modeling techniques).
All that can be calculated for certain is that a higher pile with steeper sides/areas (a.k.a. “fingers of instability”) is more likely to slump sooner and more catastrophically.
Now consider the tasks laid out before the global climate modelers where feedback loops abound, unknown variables still lurk, and the final result is the summation of multiple interacting complex systems. It’s not a pile of sand granules, it’s a gigantic interconnected system composed of heat flows, cloud formation, wind and oceanic patterns and currents, variable solar and cosmic radiation, volcanoes and dust and jet trails and a thousand other inputs all interreacting with and influencing each other…in unpredictable ways.
It’s chaos theory (i.e. the butterfly effect) which means it’s way beyond anything we can currently model with any accuracy or confidence. However, the inability to model the exact nature and timing of the “slumps” and magnitudes (to draw from our sand pile analogy) does not detract from the observation that the “fingers of instability” are growing.
Because greenhouse gasses trap heat by preventing it from radiating out to space more heat is being retained within the system. We know that for sure and the science is very settled. CO2 is a prime greenhouse gas, although not the strongest, and it is accumulating at a very rapid pace:
What happens next? We don’t know. If the system were linear we could simply measure the concentration of greenhouse gasses, factor in solar input (which varies over time), and then tell you how many degrees of warming and by when.
But the system is anything but linear.
What we don’t know is if the climate models have erred by overstating or understating the rate of global warming that will result. It could proceed faster than we think or slower, maybe a lot faster or a lot slower. Honestly, it could be either way. The range of uncertainty is huge.
The warming will also certainly not be evenly spread. Some places will warm up a lot and some will actually cool down, such as has been postulated for the UK and other parts of northern Europe if/when the Atlantic gulf stream conveyor belt slows down and slides to the briny depths, no longer delivering vast amounts of southern Atlantic heat to the north.
Actually, that’s already happened:
Atlantic ‘conveyor belt’ has slowed by 15% since mid-20th century
Apr 11, 2018
The Atlantic Ocean current that brings warm water up to Europe from the tropics has weakened by 15% since the middle of the last century, new research suggests.
Two studies, published in the journal Nature, use different approaches to show that the “Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation” (AMOC) is in a weaker state now than it has been for decades – and possibly even centuries.
The two studies differ on when and how they think the weakening was triggered. While one suggests it began in the mid-20th century as a response to human-caused climate change, the second proposes that it began a hundred years earlier following a natural shift in regional climate.
Despite the debate on when the weakening started, the studies agree that there has been a “continued decline in AMOC over the 20th century that may be attributed to recent global warming and melting of the Greenland ice sheet”, one author tells Carbon Brief.
The Atlantic Ocean plays host to a perpetual conveyor belt that transports heat from the equator up to the North Atlantic. The warm water that the AMOC carries northwards releases heat into the atmosphere, which means it plays a crucial role in keeping Western Europe warm. Without it, for example, winters in the UK would be around 5C colder.
If that conveyor belt breaks down, the UK suddenly discovers that its winters have a lot more in common with Hudson Bay (its actual latitude) than Virginia Beach.
Some models have predictions that the jet stream will become unreliable, and wobble out of its normal patterns bringing unseasonable cold (as New England and much of Europe experienced this “spring” which almost didn’t seem to happen as we stayed in winter mode and then lurched suddenly into summer) and allowing extreme heatwaves to settle in.
Actually, that’s already happened and here in August of 2018 much of the northern hemisphere is locked in a vicious heat wave. Records are being broken daily, and often by a lot.
Europe's all-time heat record could fall this weekend
Aug 2, 2018
A building heat wave in Portugal and Spain threatens to topple national and all-time high temperature records in a continuation of a series of remarkable heat waves that have roasted the Northern Hemisphere this summer.
The big picture: The heat wave will be most intense in Portugal, Spain and parts of France, although the U.K. will also see above average temperatures for this time of year. In Spain and Portugal, the fire danger will climb to dangerous levels as temperatures soar, humidity levels plunge, and downslope winds increase.
A massive high-pressure ridge, with a clockwise circulation of air around it, will pump hot, dry air filled with dust from the Sahara Desert into the Iberian Peninsula through the weekend. Already on Thursday, the high temperature in Alvega, Portugal reached 44.6°C, or about 112°F, according to the U.K. Met Office.
By the numbers: The heat is expected to crank up in coming days, with computer models projecting astonishing high temperatures of at least 118°F to 122°F, or 50°C, in southwest Spain and Portugal during the next few days.
What’s happened here is that the usual steering jet stream pattern has gone missing which has allowed a persistent high pressure system to squat over Europe and funnel heat up from Africa for days on end.
The associated crop failures are astounding. Heat misery and deaths are climbing especially in places that are so unused to heat that they lack any appreciable numbers of airconditioned buildings in which to escape the heat.
‘Furnace Friday:’ Ill-Equipped for Heat, Britain Has a Meltdown
Jul 27, 2018
The monthlong heat wave has broken records, spawned wildfires in Wales and England, spurred delays in the transportation system and given birth to names like “Furnace Friday,” as Britons tried to find ways to describe this puzzling pain.
“Shops are out of fans, ice, sun cream, ice cream, and there’s a water shortage that has left our beautiful, lush parks all parched and yellow,” said Lucy Thornton, 36, an interior designer, as she walked into a west London cafe on Friday in search of cold water.
“We’re not equipped for this,” she added, “so it feels kind of apocalyptic.”
Unlike other European countries that are accustomed to coping with hot weather, Britain had what others saw as a meltdown because it generally lacks the infrastructure and resources to deal with the effects of long spells of high temperatures.
As far north as the arctic circle, above it actually, temperatures of over 32C (90F) have driven people and reindeer alike into the water.
Records are being broken all over the place, smashed in some cases:
Death Valley Smashes Heat Record, 2nd Year in a Row
Aug 1, 2018
For the second year in a row, July in California's Death Valley National Park snagged the award for the "hottest month ever." Congratulations to this national treasure that is truly an unstoppable inferno.
Death Valley's Furnace Creek weather station recorded an average temperature of 108.1 degrees F (42.2 degrees C), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's temperature database, xmACIS2.
To add to the misery, a whopping 21 days in July saw maximum temperatures of 120 degrees F (48.9 degrees C) or higher in Death Valley. While unusual, that stretch of days is, surprisingly, not a record for this area; 29 days in July 1917 reached temperatures of 120 degrees F (48.9 degrees C) or higher.
Temperature records are being smashed which is an amazing feat because so many records were just broken last year.
2017 shatters global climate records including highest sea levels, hottest year without El Niño
2017 shattered various climate records, including the highest global temperature for a non-El Niño year, lowest Arctic sea ice extent, highest sea levels as well as greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, according to the American Meteorological Society's 2017 State of the Climate report released on Aug. 1, 2018.
To add to this the Arctic sea ice extent is withering away under all of the intense arctic heat and may even break the all-time low set in 2012. I predicted this, rather casually and unscientifically, when I was freezing my butt off this winter. Each arctic cold snap was the loss of a gigantic blob of cold air from the arctic. That was like a resource it lost that came south and so I surmised that there would be less cold and more heat up there this summer. Ergo less ice.
Maybe that’s a too-simplistic view of things, but the ice loss is very real at the moment and some are concerned that a “blue ocean” event is far closer than we think for the arctic. While the decrepit mainstream media nearly always wraps that idea up in the prospect of easier shipping or more oil and mineral exploration, what should really be at the center of our attention is the prospect of what will happen to weather patterns in the mid-latitudes due to the fact that blue oceans absorb and retain heat in far greater amounts than white ice.
While we don’t really know yet, the effects of all that new heat up north could be both quick and extreme, which you might say we’re already seeing in our abnormally harsh winters and brutal summers.
The question always emerges, what can we do?
Climate Change Movement Needs Some Honesty
I have some experience being the deliverer of tough news. The Crash Course takes an unflinching look at the intersection of the economy, energy and environment and concludes that our entire way of life, the very systems of money and economy that deliver our daily comfort are unsustainable.
Harsh message, right?
Then why was it so successfully propagated? Why did the Crash Course reach millions of people, and influence so many thousands of them to reshape their view of the world and take entirely new actions as a result?
Because I told the truth, as best I understood it, and did not pull any punches.
As the evidence mounts and the world is “on fire” here in the summer of 2018, I continue to be baffled and annoyed by the climate change spokespeople who hurt their own aims by failing to be honest and complete in their answers about what needs to be done.
I was listening to an NPR piece talking about the scorching summer and the climate advocate they had on was asked quite directly “so what can we do?” The answers he gave were evasive and incomplete. “We should return to the Paris Climate accord.” “People should examine their own carbon footprint and try to reduce it.”
Here’s the unvarnished truth.
Cutting carbon by 50% right now would result in massive starvation and the collapse of our economy and financial system as we know it. Massive joblessness, deprivation, and suffering would result. We are utterly addicted to fossil fuels and the constant barrage of “solar this” and “wind that” along with a daily dose of Elon Musk has blinkered most people to the true reality; ending fossil fuel use will be painful.
Very few are ready or able to hear that message, and the masses certainly aren’t, which is why the mainstream media goes out of its way to avoid bringing in voices that say such things.
Surplus energy is the lifeblood of any economy. Fossil fuels delivered the greatest and most concentrated burst of surplus energy ever enjoyed by any one species. Removing that surplus energy would shove the entire machinery of our industrial economy into reverse. Living standards would slip. Easy comforts would vanish. What we’d experience as hard times would return, although every single generation prior to 1900 would simply call that ‘life.’
There’s no political will for enforced simplicity or deprivation. Every possible element of the status quo machinery is arrayed towards the advancement of business as usual.
That’s just how it is…but you can feel the fear creeping in, the concern mounting as the world burns and the ice melts.
Nobody has a clue what to do about it because the answer is just too painful to consider.
So it’s time for some honesty.
Here’s what’s on the table:
This is Armageddon Summer in the northern hemisphere: out-of-control wildfires all around the Arctic Circle (not to mention California and Greece), weeks-long heatwaves with unprecedented high temperatures, torrential downpours and Biblical floods. And yes, it's climate change.
It's quite appropriate to be frightened, because the summers will be much worse 10 years from now, and much worse again 10 years after that. Prompt and drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions now might stop the summers of the 2040s from being even worse, but they wouldn't do much to lessen the mounting misery of the next 20 years.
Those emissions are mostly in the atmosphere already.[For humans] food is the key issue: as warming turns whole regions into desert, mass starvation is imaginable, although actual extinction seems improbable. It's also still possible that we will react fast enough to stop well short of mass death.
The situation is quite grim. Bad news, of course, but when you find yourself in a high-stakes game you should know what the stakes are.
If the oceans warm even further and then fail to turn over because circulation has collapsed, as seems increasingly likely, then the deep oceans will be deprived of oxygen, which means anaerobic bacteria will begin to produce hydrogen sulfide. That, in turn, will wipe out all the life in the ocean and most or all of it on the surface of the planet as has happened 3 or 4 other times throughout geologic history.
That’s what’s at stake, and the climate change activists and mainstream media cannot bring themselves to say the truth; cutting carbon means cutting jobs, reducing the easy abundance of our modern lives. It means making huge changes that practically nobody is ready or willing to make. It means applying self-imposed limits and admitting that our entire economic model is not just unsustainable, but self-destructive.
Which is why telling the truth matters. It’s why you don’t attempt an intervention on a drunk by telling them pleasant half-truths like “sometimes, Dave, when you drink you are little bit unreasonable, but not all the time, and I think we should hold some more meetings about that in the future.”
You say what needs to be said straight up, and brutally true. “Dave, your drinking makes you a complete asshole who nobody wants to be around and if you keep it up you’re going to die early and miserable and alone.”
Here’s my message to the world: If we don’t stop the destruction of the planet's ecosystems, we’re totally screwed.
So it’s time for some honesty. No, we’re not going to save anything at all by driving sexy electric cars. Instead we need to reconfigure our lives so we are not driving so much or at all.
We need to stop washing topsoil into the sea and begin farming in ways that build soils and store carbon.
We need to wean ourselves off of eating fossil fuels.
A lot of bullshit jobs are going to go away, themselves merely an artifact of surplus energy and the false belief that a 40-hour work week is some sort of honorable necessity.
Retirement? That too was an artifact of surplus energy and it’s already crumbling as an idea for the vast majority of US citizens who lack any retirement savings and depend on pensions and Social Security that simply won’t be there.
But mostly we have to give up on this crazy idea of infinite growth on a finite planet. That’s a relic of our system of money, and the sooner we do away with debt-backed fiat money the better. It was a passable idea in 1913, it’s a disastrous idea here in 2018.
None of these changes are going to be easy, but fibbing to ourselves and white-washing the “solutions” and understating the risks harms the cause.
A proper intervention requires unflinching truth.
So let’s have that discussion.
In Part 2: Building Resilience in a Warming World we discuss considerations for where to live and where not to live based on various climate and weather-related threats. If you're considering moving, or already planning to move, then you'll want to read Part 2 and join the conversation with our subscriber community.