John Wawrzonek

SENDING THE EARTH DOWN THE RIVER

to oblivion

WHAT WE ARE CURRENTLY DOING TO THE EARTH IS A FORM OF SUICIDE.

THE EARTH'S CLIMATE HAD BEEN STABLE FOR MORE THAN 400,000 YEARS. Based on current attitudes and actions, we will make it mainly unlivable.

Carbon dioxide is unique in that light passes through it unaffected but heat is partly reflected back to the earth.

The light from the sun, when it illuminates the darker colors of the earth, turns to heat. The amount of this heat that stays on the earth is determined by the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmospheric blanket.

For hundreds of thousands of years there was just enough carbon dioxide to keep the earth warm enough for life, including the evolution of human life. But the gradual civilization of human-kind led to agriculture which was followed mellenia later by steam power and the large scale burning of fossil fuels. This burning generates carbon dioxide and so the blanket that keeps the earth warm started to thicken and the earth became warmer.

Fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas trapped in the earth, became the foundation of the earth's economy. Virtually nothing could be made without burning the these fuels or by changing them into other materials by chemical processes which in turn consumed more fuel. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere began to grow with the invention of the steam engine in the mid-1800s when man began to burn fossil fuels for energy. In less than 200 years, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased by over 70% and has kept growing.

THE IMPACT HAS BEEN CATASTROPHIC. Although the earth only warmed by an average of 1°C (1.8°K), this represented an enormous amount of energy for the atmosphere, land and sea over the entire globe were warmed. The blanket was now too thick. There was too much carbon dioxide and more and more of the heat created by the sun was trapped and warmed the earth.

But humanity reacted in a strange way. Despite repeated warnings from the work of thousands of scientists, humanity for the most part ignorned the effects of the carbon dioxide and moreover kept adding more at a rapid pace when it was critical that the amount added should be drastically reduced. This continues to this day in mid-January 2019 and there is no sign that it will chnge. Terrible wildfires, droughts, record storms and deadly high temperature had litte effect on thinking about what was happening. Worse, and most unbelievable, the individuals and companies who sold the fossil fuels, despite being aware of the danger for decades, covered up their knowledge and kept working to sell more and more fossil fuel. And perhaps still worse the leaders of the world sat back as if nothing were happening. In the early part of the 21st century, the climate was reaching the point of running out of control.

We are at the inflection point of the exponentional curve of temperature as the CO2 in the atmosphere increases. And in a very recent horrific discovery scientists announced that the oceans had absorbed 40% more heat than previous estimates. This will increase the speed of temperture increase even more.

FROM MY PERSPECTIVE the worst behavior is that of the Trump administration. Just at the moment when drastic measure are necessary to reduce output of carbibn dioxide and when pressed about climate change is response is "I don't believe it."

It is concievble that Donald Trump will go down in history as the man who destroyed the earth.

THE ONLY NATION WHOSE PRESIDENT could lead the world, set an example and commit the resourses necesssary to reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is occupied with building walls and removing all restrictions on emission of carbon dioxide. The headline below, althought I expected someting like it, reduced me to utter despair. Could this really be happening? It is, and should he win another term it will result in a society that is occupied with combating its own destruction for thousands of years, an utterly tragic outcome of a previously maturing humanity. Reaching a criticsl turning point in globsl warming will result in our no longer being able to move back upstream in the infinite river of time, back to an existence we enjoyed and loved. Our decendents will curse us for our blindness.

THERE ARE TWO CHOICES

1. Spend a few trillion dollars in the next 20-40 years to bring carbon dioxide back to 1980 levels.

2. Spend every dollar we have, hundreds of trillions of dollars, 100 years from now to make the planet livable.

To accomplish #1, we must replace Donald Trump in 2020 with a climate superman president. It is that bad. I would bet my life on it. If you keep reading, you might understand why I say this. Read carefully and think. Don't let your friends brush you off. If you live, you will regret it.

EARTH TEMPERATURE 5.xlsx

A CLIMATE OUT OF CONTROL was beyond comprehension. Scientists warned, meetings were held by the United Nations, articles were written in the most prominent journals and newspapers. And yet something was not getting through. "Out of control?" could not happen. A warning that the ocean could rise as much as 170 feet collided with a human memory of a constant and reliable earth. Looking out of the window of an airplane or sailing the seas seemed no different than before, and so what was needed was not done. It had come to a place where the behavior of every country on the earth had to virtually reverse itself, turn upide down, and the focus had to change from all other issues to climate. But that was beyond comprehension to the leaders where it mattered the most.

Scientists unfortunately spoke in clear, quiet and reserved tones, as they had been trained. The public and the politicians could not translate "it is highly likely" to it is "dead certain." Simultaneously many projects for renewable energy, electric cars, solar cells and wind mills were begun and were successful, but gave a false sense of accomplishment and security for there contribution was not sufficient to make the critical difference.

FOR THE TRUTH WAS HIDDEN. It was power generation and transportation that had to reduce their carbon output, and primarily in the largest nations. And they did not understand, did not listen and did not take the actions necessary. The habits of maintaining the momenta of economies and of keeping political power were entrenched. And so "out of control" began to happen. The temperature rose high enough to begin release of the methane in the tundra, and was the beginning of the end.

To stay in control, emissions had to be reduced drastically and quickly for too much time had gone by, and just as critically, it became necessary to augument the process by removing carbon dioxide from the air, something called "negative emissions," a process that was so expensive and challenging that it would not be attempted because it was felt it would hurt the present economy. The customary short-term thinking locked in the status quo. And so a failure to spend a trillion dollors now portended the spending of a hundred trillion dollors in an attempted rescue 50 to 100 years in the future.

As the blanket grew, more heat was trapped, the temperature rose and every minute counted. But the major countries of the world: China, India, Russia and the United States were unable to rise to the occasion.

I have struggled for years to find a way to picture the future, to create a kind of metaphor for what was happening. In the minds of almost all of humanity they were living in their secure homes and for the most part the weather was comfortable. But in fact they were being carried along in a current of inattention and blindness. There eyes were clear but their minds were captive to the past. I call the current The Infinite River.

A METAPHOR

Climate change could have been stopped and reversed when it was first discovered, but we needed a new Enlightment, and it did not happen.

From my perspective a large part of the problem was the entrapment of minds in a single place on the globe. I felt that a remapping of climate change from a single place to an relentless, inexorable, unstoppable river that would carry humanity into an unknown, unpredictable, but almost certainly a catatastropic future.

The first chapter begins on a ski slope of sorts.

CHAPTER 1 - A MIDNIGHT SLIDE

To an engineer analyzing risk there is one over-riding question: How bad can it get? Not what we can get away with, not how much will it cost in investments now nor how much will it upset our lives now. For an airliner with an engine on fire, the risk is obvious. For climate change the risk is far worse but harder to see. And because there were so many more people involved that barring some miracle super-climate-man president, the outcome could be an uninhabitable planet. In comparison, if all the jetliners in the sky at this instant were to crash all on the same day, that would be small potatoes compared to wiping out a population of 10 billion or so human beings.

To lend credibility to the picture, we begin with the graph below, a most rudimentary forecast based only on the known past, the kind of preliminary analysis an engineer would do, side-stepping the hundreds of mechanisms scientists were exploring. This method assumes that a few basic phenomina dominate the situation and that these do not change. The process is called curve fitting and in this case is based on a single exponential term.

There is one phenominon that begins to creep into the mix and that is the positive feedback of the melting of the tundra releasing large quantities of methane. Methane is about 30 times more powerful a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide and would provide a strong accelerating force to warming, making an exponential increase in temperature more likely.

The last estimate I read was we had twenty years to made nearly impossible changes.

CHAPTER 2 - A FIVE-SIDED SQUARE

The earth is covered with a blanket of carbon dioxide that has helped to keep it warm. The blanket, and for that matter the rest of the atmosphere, is much the same all over the earth all the time. The same is not true under the blanket where the weather happens.

Each part of the earth has its own relationship with the blanket: it reflects more or less light, it has wind and upper air currents, ocean currents, humidity, ice and snow and more. Most of all it has surprises no one can predict.

The blanket warms everything, but that doesn't mean everything stays warm. Winds and ocean currents move heat from one place to another, warming some places more and consequently cooling other places. The heat also warms the ocean causing it to give off more moisture and thus raising the humidity which makes storms more severe. And this is just the start. To the extent that I cannot imagine a five-sided square I cannot grasp all the complexities of weather as the earth is being warmed under the blanket. And neither can the scientists for their predictions are often inaccurate and sometime severely so.

CHAPTER 3 - THE FIRST RUNNING: THE RACE OF ALL TIME

If there is one concept that must be understood, it is the race between temperature in the upper graph and the emission of greenhouse gases in the lower graph. This is for all the marbles. For purposes of simplicity we will take the starting year as 2020. Depending on the severity of climate change we are willing to live with, the target is 1.5°C in 2030 or 2°C in 2040. It is generally acknowledged that 1.5°C should be the target, but output of CO2 is going up while the target for 1.5 is going down. And if we survey the world, especially the US, China and India, we can easily loose all hope. Some powerful force must cause monumental changes in policy and action in combination with rapid building of negative emissions capability. I see no chance of this happening for we have waited too long and the urgency exceeds our capacity to comprehend it. And so we come to the infinite river.

CHAPTER 4 - THE INFINITE RIVER

Imagine if humanity lived on a river as wide as the earth is round. Imagine that normal homes were river craft, although the inhabitents were not conscious of this. However "outsiders" could tell that the river craft were moving ever so slowly, and that the depth and speed of the water was increasing because of tributatries forever making the river, wider and deeper, and faster.

This river is wider than the eye can see, and all humanity lives on this river. Every indvidual and family and living group has their own "house boat." At one extreme are tiny, leaky rowboats and at the other extreme are floating palaces with the palaces tending to congregate toward the center of the river.

For the most part life is good. Occasional storms do cause damage and the supply of food and fresh water from the various islands can be problematical, although the center of the river where the large luxurious boats congregate is substantially better off. At this point the river is moving imperceptably and there seems to be little cause for concern. However, as time passes and the boats move down the river there are more tributeries and the river begins to flow more rapidly.

The a hundred years or so later the passangers realize the current is now stronger and off in the distance is the sound of cascading water. Eventually the boats begin to reach the rapids and there is a little rocking and even occasionally a boat strikes an exposed rock and is damaged or even sinks. Sometime the passangers are rescued and othertimes not.

More time passes by and the rapids become steeper with more large exposed rocks. The decades go by and the weather becomes worse and worse. Tornadoes, violent hurricanes and intense heat become more common. Food and water become first difficult and then almost impossible to obtain, except for the larger boats, and eventually many people begin to perish. Even the floating palaces, now caught in the middle of the flow begin to suffer damage.

The death toll climbs and there is no recoursem for the current is too strong for even the fastest boats to reverse course. The flood increases until a large part of the population is gone.

Off in the far distance calmer water is sighted but it is too late for almost every boat has been destroyed and nearly every person has perished. At the very end just as a glimmer of the calm waters appears, the owners of the largest boats feel a split second of hope until there boats disappear in a spray of spliters. They had succeeded in burning all the fossil fuel on the earth, thinking their enormous wealth would save them. But the speeding river, the rushing rapids and the crushing rocks were merciless and all perished.

Is it sad that there is no one to record the history of the calamity. Perhaps, for in a hundred thousand years, when the earth is welcoming again, a new wave of humans might approach life with different eyes. But we know that is unlikely. It seems to me that is some way we are created and then tested. And the test brings us precisely to where we are now, at the point of inflection of a simple math curve and a profound race between the nature of humanity and the hidden river of life.
River Valley & Cloud Reflections II

"We are, at best, now thinking decades into the future, while pressing our foot hard on a CO2 accelerator that virtually guarantees climate chaos for millennia to come.".....

"Because of our collective failure to rapidly decarbonize the global economy and slash CO2 emissions, we are poised to leave future generations a grim legacy of climate upheaval."

Yale 360

CHAPTER 5 - EPILOGUE

I have found in reading about climate change, religion and politics that people believe what they want to believe. Needs and relationships trump evidence and experience. The new evangelical nationalism that identifies President Trump with King Cyrus of the old testimenet illustrates this perfectly. It is concievable that the evangelicals will make King Pyrus (as I call him since he set the standard for toasting) the destroyer of democracy. There is no time left, I believe, to solve the problem of politics and ideology and so we concede that humans have not yet become truly human.

There lingers the question of why this should be so. Perhaps there is an inevitability that our ability to understand the need to survive has been overcome by a kind of greed that allows technology to conquer us. We prefer to commit our best minds to viewing the cosmos rather than having the patience and judgment to preserve our ability to see the cosmos.

Click above or below for the link

Sea level rise has shrunk India's Ghoramara Island from nearly 8 square miles to 2 square miles in recent decades. Sea level rise has shrunk India's Ghoramara Island from nearly 8 square miles to 2 square miles in recent decades. ZUMA PRESS/ALAMY

Yale Environment: 360, Opinion

BY ROB WILDER AND DAN KAMMEN • SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

Climate change projections often focus on 2100. But the geological record shows that unless we rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we will be locking in drastic increases in temperatures and sea levels that will alter the earth not just for centuries, but for millennia.

BY RICHARD SCHIFFMAN • MAY 23, 2016


Physicist Klaus Lackner has long advocated deploying devices that extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to combat climate change. Now, as emissions keep soaring, Lackner says in a Yale Environment 360 interview that such “air capture” approaches may be our last best hope.

"For two decades, Klaus Lackner has pioneered efforts to combat climate change by pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Now, after years of watching the global community fail to bring greenhouse gas emissions under control, Lackner — director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University — is delivering a blunt message: The best hope to avoid major disruptions from global warming is to launch a massive program of CO2 “air capture” that will begin to reverse the buildup of billions of tons of carbon in our atmosphere."

Website author's note:

I have struggled for a year to summarize my view of climate change and to keep modifying that view as circumstances changed. The two articles above summarize my current view exceptionally well.

This is the pivotal moment of our civilization and we have been horribly, morally and stupidly lax. It is truly now or never.

The moral sins that we have committed are beyond the pale and they are getting worse. We could easily spend (and should) a trillion dollars now, in return for having a decent home for our civilization and saving a hundred trillion dollars in damages and repair for future generations, as well as likely billions of lives along the way.

—JW


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The following is a collection of sections of this web site (there is much that is out of site) and does not comprise a coherent whole. However, much is important to lend credence to the above. Some can be accessed by clicking on the links at the very top. Others have become obsolete or need rewriting badly and I must get on to other projects. I am aware of terrible writing, many typos and misspellings. I have spent a year trying to get this in shape and a trace of optimism has turned to despair. So it is what it is. If my wife had written it the writing and spelling would be far better.


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JAMES HANSEN HAS BEEN THE LEADING AUTHORITY and spokesperson on climate change for decades. He has just announced the "last chaper" in his comprehensive analysis of what is coming to the earth and its people. The blue link above is a pdf of his paper. Below is a brief ourline of that paper. You owe it to yourself to read both. Following that are my comments on risk.

Outline of Opinions

1. Climate has always changed, but humans are now the main drive for change.

a. Rising atmospheric CO2 levels, primarily a result of fossil fuel emissions, have become the predominant cause of continuing climate change.

b. Climate change is driven by cumulative CO2 emissions. The United States has contributed a disproportionately large share of cumulative global emissions.

2. Current levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), mainly CO2, cause Earth to be out of energy balance. This imbalance is driving climate change.

a. Earth’s energy imbalance is now measured and large. As long as Earth remains out of energy balance, the planet will continue to get hotter.

b. If GHG amounts continue to rise unabated, the energy imbalance will drive global warming to levels with climate impacts beyond the pale (see Opinion 3).

3. If high fossil fuel emissions continue unabated, consequences will be predominantly negative for humanity, especially for young people. a. Sea level: Continued high fossil fuel emissions will eventually make coastal cities dysfunctional, with incalculable consequences.

b. Species exterminations: Shifting of climate zones, with other stresses, may commit many species to extinction, leaving a more desolate planet.

c. Regional climate: subtropics and tropics will become dangerously hot, if global warming continues. Emigration chaos may threaten global governance.

4. Required actions to avoid dangerous climate change are guided by Earth’s climate history and by the need to restore Earth’s energy balance.

a. Science can specify initial targets, sufficient to define policy needs.

b. Substantial emission reductions must begin promptly, or climate will be pushed beyond a point at which changes proceed out of human control.

5. The United States government, via both actions and inactions, is behaving with flagrant disregard of rights and wellbeing of the public, especially young people

a. Action: authorizing, permitting, subsidizing massive fossil fuel extraction.

b. Inaction: absence of any coherent, effective program to reduce emissions.

R I S K
People Do Not Get It
~The predictions are ALWAYS optimistic.

~No one is acting like its our only place to live.

~We are at the inflection point of an EXPONENTIAL curve in temperature.

~Every child and every child yet to be born will curse us for not doing what we should have done.

John Wawrzonek: carbon@theearthistoast.com

The problem of appreciating risk is what has driven the The Infinite River. It has been to explain something that cannot be explained unless you have had something you thought you understood blow up in your face.

There are two problems:

The climate of the earth is the most complex system anyone has ever tried to understand AND we are continuing to abuse it by feeding it more and more greenhouse gases. Our predictions are already catastrophic, and they are probably optimistic like all our others have been.

We need to be turning ourselves inside out. Every nation. But we are going to smooze like we have in the past.

You don't keep flying an airliner to its destination with smoke coming out of the engines.

The most likely realistic outcome, taking all factors into account, is a very warm planet able to support about one billion people, about 1/10 of its projected population.

Every trillion dollars we spend now will pay itself back and then some. Every trillion dollars we don't spend now will require at least a dozen trillion down the road and a far more hostile planet.

But if you haven't been in the risk business, you won't get it. And hardly anyone does.

CRITICAL

A nightmare and an overview of getting the nations of the world to comprehend how serious the situation really is.

As of yesterday (December 15, 2018) the mood from Katowice was upbeat. Agreements were better than expected and there was optimism that the 1.5°C target was doable. However, there was and is a giant fly in the ointment.

If you look at the graph below, you see a sharp break in the 1.5°C and 2°C emission curves. which means something pretty drastic has to happen soon in order to turn things around fast enough. If such a drastic action were contemplated it would be big news and there was no big news.

The Paris Agreement, around which the Katowice meeting was based, is deeply flawed. A good summary is an MIT review of the agreement. The first and last paragraphs of this review are reproduced below. There are numerous other organizations that have made similar comments (including the US EPA), but this is among the clearest. The link is "Last Words from Me" above.

However, despite my favorable comments about the review, it focuses on 2°C which is unacceptable.

"An MIT analysis of the Paris climate agreement finds that—even if all the participating nations meet their pledges—global warming will exceed the 2°C maximum targeted for 2100 as early as 2050. To determine what else is needed, researchers at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change calculated a series of global energy technology mixes that would meet future demand while generating greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the 2°C target. Depending on the assumed costs plus a uniform global carbon price, different technologies dominate, but all the successful combinations are markedly different from today’s global energy system. The researchers conclude that substantial R&D investment is needed to lower the cost of key energy technologies and help transform the global energy system—a shift that must be well under way within the next decade or so if the world is to meet its targets."

"The researchers conclude that the transition to a dramatically different global energy mix must be well under way within the next 10 to 20 years to prevent an excessive temperature increase by 2100. They recognize that such an undertaking will almost certainly require extraordinary political agreement or sudden and unforeseen breakthroughs in technology. They assert that since it’s not clear which technologies will take the lead, substantial R&D investment is needed to develop current technologies, explore new ones, and increase the efficiency with which we use energy so less is required in the future. The technological advances and cost reductions that result will help countries move forward on climate change and support the transition onto a 2°C energy pathway as soon as possible."

Below are two graphs. The first is the MIT projections, the second is my extrapolations from what is likely the same NASA data. The results are similar for the simple reason that there are a huge multitude of contributors to carbon emissions, and neither incorporates a major (and I do mean major) change in how energy is created and/or how emissions might be removed from the air. The most probable program would require immediately beginning to build a very large number of nuclear reactors with a damn the cost approach finananced by wealthly nations, especially the United States, China and the EU. However, nobody has the (exuse the language) balls to get in front of the plenary session, read them the riot act and get them to face a very harsh reality. 2°C will likely be hell on earth and is not likely to be met, barring a drastic shakeup. Instead, whenever nations feel they are doing significantly better than before, satisfaction sets in.

The MIT scientists used a sophisticated dual modeling approach (read the whole MIT report; the link is above) to model what was really going to happen.

It has been clear for years (actually decades) that something drastic was necessary. James Hansen said recently that "the shit has hit the fan." But getting in front of 150 or more nations and telling them that the engines on their jetliner are on fire and so urgent is an understatement just is not happening. If you add to that the ongoing construction of coal-fired power plants and the unspeakable behavior of the United States who would have to play a major role in building and funding a nuclear or similar program, then you can predict that the earth will be toast.

"Talk to leaders who are gathered in Poland. They acknowledge that we aren’t close to getting the job done in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet. People are dying today because of climate change, and many more will die and trillions of dollars of damage to property will occur unless America gets back in the fight."

In my opinion, we do not have a prayer of saving the earth with Donald Trump as president. He is doing absolutely everything he can to make the situation worse by INCREASING emissions, but also by taking America out of its essential leadship and motivating role to the rest of the world.

The United States is necessary as part of the process not only because of its enormous output of carbon dioxide but because only it has the resources and technical prowess to take on the high risk but essential negative emissions challenge.

We are currently trapped between two nightmares: not knowing how the warming process will evolve and a presidential lockdown and lockup of America's contribution.


ADDITIONAL ISSUES

Note: Much of the following is repetitive of the above and is reproduced from earlier versions of this website. However, some of the material is not covered above and I have decided not to delete it at this time.-JW

HUMANITY AND THE EARTH HELD IN CAPTIVITY

CAN HUMANS BECOME HUMAN SOON ENOUGH TO SAVE HUMANITY

In the December 11, 2018 issue of Jacobin, Kate Aronoff in a story titled "Macron's Climate Tax Is a Disaster writes:

"The fuel taxes were less the cause of this wave of protests than the straw that broke the camel’s back. Macron has overseen a massive transfer of wealth to the country’s elites. His tax reforms will leave the bottom fifth of French households worse off as the top 1 percent — and corporations like Total, one of the world’s largest oil companies — reap massive gains, all while the cost of living continues to tick upward, public services are consolidated, and the unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent. Proposed fuel taxes were felt most acutely in rural communities that face cuts to both public transportation and speed limits, leaving many with longer and more costly commutes.

The United States ranks in the lower 30 percentile in income equality.

From Wikipedia:

"Just prior to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address, media[7] reported that the top wealthiest 1% possess 40% of the nation's wealth; the bottom 80% own 7%; similarly, but later, the media reported, the "richest 1 percent in the United States now own more additional income than the bottom 90 percent".[8] The gap between the top 10% and the middle class is over 1,000%; that increases another 1,000% for the top 1%. The average employee "needs to work more than a month to earn what the CEO earns in one hour."

Enormous sums will be needed to implement climate change mitigation, including negative emissions, and that money will have to come from the wealthy. Macon, as has been the govenrment in the United States, both conservative and liberal, has ignorned the enormous transfer of wealth to the wealthiest and Macon wants the poorest to finance it through a gasoline tax. This wealth transfer and the vicious power grab of conservatives in the United States represents a crossroads for humanity and for the earth.

Click on HUMANITY and PROFIT AT ANY COST for more comments.


LONGER RANGE ISSUES

       Positive feedback from methane release in the tundra. Under construction.


       Negative emissions may be necessary to achieve 1.5°C. Under construction.

           

A METAPHOR FOR CARBON AND THE CLIMATE


UPDATES

FROM GRIST, 12 12 2018
"Our current rate of warming will quickly lead us back to a climate that predates the evolution of modern humans, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That kind of rapid change has no direct comparison in all of Earth’s multi-billion year history."

REMINDERS

97952953
20170907_MCD_HURACAN_IRMA_CULEBRA_RTZ
Archimedes Northwest Passage Expedition


click on blue

FACTS

"What Andrews didn’t know was that the Carr Fire — to that point a dangerous but rather ordinary California inferno — was about to spawn something monstrous: a fire tornado the likes of which the state had never seen.

The vortex of air ripped around a column of rising heat, flames licking its walls. A freak of meteorology, it would annihilate everything in its path, uprooting trees and crumpling electrical towers. For the men and women who spend their summers on the fire lines, the tornado was an ominous glimpse of the extremes our warming climate will bring."

To the United Nations:
we must have a permanent

World Wide Climate Authority

for making sure the right things are happening everywhere
and that everyone knows about it

Above: Fire tornado  from helicopter.

Pretender to the Throne of "Chief Arsonist"

click for more on "chief" Trump: WOULD YOU LIKE THIS MAN TO BE YOUR FIRE CHIEF?

BELOW SLIDE SHOW: SOME OF THE RAVAGES OF GLOBAL WARMING SO FAR

WHY PANIC?

Engineers who have worked with power systems know of and have likely witnessed a phenominon called "thermal runaway" where rising temperature feeds on itself and runs out of control. Full thermal runaway is unlikely but something close enough that we would call "hell on earth" is not just a possibility, but a clear-eyed view says is likely because of what we are NOT DOING.

We already have flooding cities, vicious storms, record breaking wildfires and temperatures, mega-droughts, rising sea levels and despite all this and more THERE IS NO SENSE OF URGENCY OF THOSE IN POWER. There is no time left. In fact we are about 30 years late. What the hell is wrong with humanity? This is our only home. We have mega amounts of work to do to stave off a world none of us would like to live in. Let alone leave to our children's children.

Look at my graphs below. We are at what is known as the inflection point of an exponential curve. When we pass this, which we are doing right now, satan will seem like a friendly neighbor.

John Wawrzonek, MIT '63, '65, '67
carbon@theearthistoast.com

What we must have is

A WORLD CLIMATE AUTHORITY

and a plan.

here is a good example why:  Polish Meeting

The Situation: Critical

How to saddle your grandchildren's children with hundreds of trillions of dollars in debt

1. Emissions are rising, with the United States being a major contributor and the president doing everything in his power to make the situation worse.

2. Negotiations between IPCC and country representatives are going nowhere and have no prospect of going anywhere. The negotiations are with "representatives" of the various countries who themselves have no authority. It is likely they go back to their individual countries and communicate with representatives of the leaders, who then speak with the leaders. The likelihood that the leaders understand the severity and urgency of the situation is near zero.

3. No one knows how fast emissions will rise or fall. If the present situation continues (which is likely) then the climate will reach a critical state in the next 10 years if it has not already done so.

4. There is no effective process for getting leaders in line, since they do not know what to do and do not comprehend the need for immediate and drastic actions.

5. There are several scenarios by which emissions could rise drastically with no possibility of reduction. The most likely is reaching a critical state of melting of the tundra releasing large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Other unknowns are the recent discovery of ocean temperatures 60% higher than thought and the release of methane from deep in the ocean.

6. The greenhouse effect is still not understood by the population as a whole and by leaders in general. They do not realize that the earth is WHOLLY covered with a heat trapping blanket that is constantly growing in thickness like a metastasizing cancer and is not reversible.

7. The cost of remedies is already in the hundreds of billions of dollars and will soon reach trillions and eventually hundreds of trillions of dollars. It is unlikely the population of the earth can cope with this while storms, temperatures and disease increase and water supplies and food supples decrease. Every delay increases the prospects of this utterly bleak scenario.

A plan that is specific about each issue, need, goal for every geographic entity and every technology that is critical to success. The story in Climate Home News indicates why we are in a hopeless position without an authority and without US suasion there is little chance for one.

Each is in the context of the others so efforts do not compete, but reinforce each other. It is time to get moving. It is time to stop wasting time.

To reduce future damage, suffering, and loss of life we need specifics in these areas:

PEOPLE

1. Get some engineers: who are a bit less meticulous but know how to get things done, and speak plain, forcful English. "It is highly likely...." does not get the point across as well as "If we don't do this we're dead."

2. Combine engineers with scientists to create ACTION PLANS.


TECHNOLOGY: The need and role of each.

1. Negative emissions: A research and evaluation plan so we can execute asap. "It is highly likely..." does not get the same action as: "If we don't do this we're dead."

2. Nuclear power: is now ABSOLUTELY SAFE and essential to provide large quantities of emission free power anywhere.

3. Wind Power: What is its role, where, how much, who does it. Wind power has become economical and is already a significant contributor. How do we optimize its contribution?

4. Energy storage: Evaluate new lithium technology as well as other approaches. Make recommendations.


CHANGE—OVER PLANS

1. Develop a working plan for each country and other appropriate geographic entities with assessments, targets, methods (i.e. nuclear, biomass, conservation) so leaders know what to do.

2. Develop financial plans for technology development and assistance to countries that cannot afford to do what they must do.

3. Work with mega-wealthly businesses and individuals to fund "SAVE THE EARTH" because that is where the money is now. Failure on the part of the wealthy to do their part will cause untold suffering and destruction. Develop an "encouragement plan" to get President Trump to do what an intelligent president would do.


PUBLICITY

1. Hold public hearings to make known to the world how good a plan each country has.

2. Hold "PROGRESS REPORT HEARINGS" every 6 months so everyone knows how everyone is doing.

3. Put a giant display in Times Square, New York that shows on an ongoing basis how each plan is going.

4. Put up a giant THERMOMETER in Times Square, New York to show how the earth is doing.

5. Put up a giant EMISSIONS GUAGE in Times Square, New York to show how the people of the world are doing.


WE ARE CONVINCED. LET'S GET TO WORK.

Spring Morning After Storm, Sudbury River, Ashland, Massachusetts

THE BOTTOM LINE

Look at this graph I made. It is simple. It just takes what has happened and extends it. And you can see it grow.

We are now at the place where that growth is about to take off, and to put it in plain English, there will be hell to pay.

The United Nations IPCC keeps making predictions. But without the United States behind it, we can't stop it.

This is not new. It was predicted in 1824 by a French scientist named Joseph Fourier (all engineers know who he is).

The oil companies were lectured about it in 1959 by Edward Teller the inventor of the H-Bomb.

Congress got a complete lecture in 1988 from James Hansen, the head of climate science at NASA at that time. But what it did amounted to zero. Hansen's latest words were: "the shit has hit the fan." Or we have probably dragged this out too long.

So what does our president do, he wants to pay coal companies, the worst possible fuel, to mine more of it. I guess the closest I could describe my feeling is despair. I want to scream and cry at the same time. How could anyone, let alone the president, be so totally out of it. He could easily go down in history (if there is any) as the man who destroyed the Earth.

What can you do? Put voting for candidates that get it on climate change at the top of your list. Then write them, call them, and anyone else in power, and tell them that you are "very afraid."

HOW DO WE KNOW

The vast increase in weather anomalies has coincided with the increase of CO2 in the air so there can be no question as to the cause of the weather extremes: Storms, heat, drought, floods, and so forth that are plaguing many parts of the world. And all the scientific evidence supports the connection.

We are squabbling over what to do, and the IPCC is not getting the cooperation it needs. Somehow, the reports and pictures of record wildfires, storms, floods, heat, etc. are not registering. Going up 1/2 degree C will make things half again as bad. Going up two degrees will make things twice as bad.

WE ARE NOT APPRECIATING HOW BAD THAT WILL BE. AND IF WE LET IT GO HIGHER (I AM ANTICIPATING 3°C) IT WILL BE HELL FOR MANY MORE PARTS OF THE WORLD AND DOUBLE HELL FOR OTHERS.

And we are saddled with a moron for a president and a population that on the whole that does not comprehend what is happening.

It does take some scientific knowledge and reasoning ability to understand that climate change is not like a bad cold that can be cured, it is like a bad cancer that keeps getting worse and the treatment, if it can be made to work at all, will be enormously expensive, but we have no other place to go.

So like blithering idiots we shut down our science operations, and have a president do nothing but feed his ego. If you do believe the Bible, it could well be the end-times, and we have the devil himself as president to be sure all goes un-well. So the output of carbon dioxide has continued to increase despite promises, and the United States is the worst contributor, not even acknowledging the existence of a problem.

Along the coast  in Massachusetts. A stark example of what is happening. Despite being built on stilts, bigger storms and higher sea level and it will not take much more and this house will be gone.

1. It is illusive and nearly impossible to communiate what it has done elsewhere and what it is going to do.

2. Much of what it does is to amplify what would have happened anyway but resulting in record fires, winds, rainfall, droughts, flooding and more.

3. The cause, too much carbon dioxide and methane, is invisible and has no odor

4. How it works is difficult to explain, usually with a diagram full of arrows and much text

5. The scientists who have done impeccable research are conditioned to speak carefully lest they have missed something, so the force of their arguments is lost except to other scientists.

6. So the war-like mobilization that is necessary is not happening despite the efforts of scientific bodies.

However, as has been evident before, is simply that what humans can do has outrun their ability to understand themselves.

Perhaps the worst of all are two "phenomena." One is the total commitment of the fossil fuel companies to sell as much fuel as possible while knowing it was killing the planet. The second is the willingness of such a large number of people in the United States to not realize they are voting for a president who is, expect for bullying and lying, functionally illiterate and who is using them as fodder to further his own personal aims.

"...We must...find our way to “negative emissions,” extracting more carbon dioxide from the air than we contribute to it. If emissions, by miracle, do rapidly decline, most of the necessary carbon absorption could be handled by replanting forests and improving agricultural practices....If not, “massive technological CO₂ extraction,”....will be required. Hansen estimates that this will incur costs of $89 trillion to $535 trillion this century, and may even be impossible..."

Thus the present situation:

1. Global warming is getting worse; i.e. the average temperature of the earth is rising;

2. The rate at which the temperature is increasing is increasing;

3. All the havoc to date is the result of a 1°C rise
compared to the recent past;

4. Another 1/2 degree rise is certain, and another degree very likely.

That is expected to double the effects of warming. With record storms and 180 mph winds, record fires, record droughts, temperatures so high that you either die in your home or find a river to cool off in.

The nations of the world must recognize the problem and change their behavior immediately.

However, as politicians sit in air-conditioned offices far from on-going tragedies, one can get agreement but not action. Other problems and especially political survival take priority.

The presumption is that the leaders understand the problems. They do not. Or they are being lobbied by oil companies or are fighting other nations over far less important issues. Deniers are in the same situation. They do not comprehend that there is a difference between metastasizing cancer and the flu.

Then there are communication problems. Scientists speak a different language or speak the same language in a different way. They are so concerned with being precise, that urgency and conviction are lost. We are in a downhill spiral, and barring a miraculous coalition of leaders, the earth will become less and less livable until the lights just go out. The United Nations' IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) keeps holding meetings trying to find a way to get nations to cooperate, but without the power and suasion of the United States, I believe that is close to impossible. And the United States doesn't even admit officially that a problem exists and is encouraging the increased use of fossil fuels. A more dire situation is hard to imagine.

A combination of a failure of a full understanding of what is happening combined wtth an inability to communicate with each other or with the public adds up to a situation that is intractable. In addition the fossil fuel companies continue to push their products despite having known for decades their effect on the earth.

In the absence of understanding there were many preconcieved notions of what was true. This applied especially to conservative politicians, conservative religions, a large portion of the congress and, of course, the president.

The president pushed the issues even further by attacks on science and the beginnings of a systematic dismantling of the science functions of government, an act of extraordinary ignorance and harm.

What I have tried to do has begun to feel like an epic struggle against the forces of evil, a morality play with villains, heroes, an army of enemies and an army of supporters and every other necessary entity including, of course, the devil himself.

What began as an attempt to draw attention to global warming has turned into an examination of many parts of the human experience, of science and scientists and of global warming itself. None of them are what they seem to be. However, it has revealed to me a collossal degree of destruction with far worse yet to come. It has also revealed, despite much activism, a nation and a world not able to comprehend and confront this ultimate danger.

Global warming is a kind of perfect storm with the powers furthering the destruction and most able to do something about it, either ignorant or greedy. There is no time left. If James Hansen's negative emissions are going to make or break the outcome then every minute wasted in not getting to work makes the problem more expensive and the outcome less likely to be good. And, for the most part, leaders do not get how serious this is. Back in my first engineering studies, we had a term for situations like this. The term was

THERMAL RUNAWAY.
It means "out of control." And that is where we are. Except there are vastly more rapid and serious versions of it. And that is where we are heading.

The State of Our Planet

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