The World Is Hot, on Fire, and Flooding. Climate Change is Here.

Yves here. I am convinced that one of the reasons climate change isn’t getting the media attention it warrants in the US is that the Northeast is one of the few areas to have gotten generally more moderate weather. In New York City, summers are on average less hot, with markedly fewer above 90 degree days, and winters milder than in the 1980s.

First, from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Global heat wave: an epic TV news fail:

This month’s scorching heat wave broke records around the world. The Algerian city of Ouargla, with a population of half a million, had a temperature of 124.3 degrees Fahrenheit on July 6, the hottest reliably measured temperature on record in Africa. In Ireland and Wales, the unusually hot weather revealed ancient structures normally hidden by grass or crops. In Chino, California, the mercury soared to 120 degrees. Another round of hazardous summer heat is expected this week, with record high temperatures possible in the southern United States.

The prolonged heat wave has been a staple of television news for weeks. However, most of the coverage has been sorely lacking in context: Humans are warming the planet, and scientists have already linked some heat waves to climate change. A recent analysis published in the journal Nature Climate Change concludes that human-driven climate change, rather than natural variability, will be the leading cause of heat waves over the western United States and Great Lakes region as early as the 2020s and 2030s, respectively.

Like the heat itself, much of the media coverage was stupefying. “Major broadcast TV networks overwhelmingly failed to report on the links between climate change and extreme heat,” according to a Media Matters survey. “Over a two-week period from late June to early July, ABC, CBS, and NBC aired a combined 127 segments or weathercasts that discussed the heat wave, but only one segment, on CBS This Morning, mentioned climate change.”

And now to Grist:

By Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and staff writer for Grist, covering climate science, policy, and solutions. He has previously written for the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and a variety of other publications. Originally published at Grist

The worst ravages of climate change are on display around the world.

Wildfires have ripped through towns in Greece, floods have submerged parts of Laos, and heat waves have overwhelmed Japan. These are striking examples of climate change playing out in its deadliest forms, and they’re making  the term “natural disaster” an outdated concept.

People in Greece were jumping into the Aegean to escape advancing wildfires, according to a report in the New York Times. More than 70 are confirmed dead so far, and some scenes are horrific. 

“Greece is going through an unspeakable tragedy,” saidPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in a televised address to declare three days of national mourning.

This is already Greece’s hottest year on record. Although the last few weeks have been mild and wet, it’s nearly certain that warm weather has played a role in drying out forests throughout Europe, where the number of fires this year is 43 percent above normal. Longer summers, more intense drought, and higher temperatures are all linked to greater fire risk.

We’ve known enough about meteorology to link extreme events to their increased likelihood as they are happening for years now. Recent advances in extreme weather attributioncan often tell us exactly how much.

Ample evidence links worsening fires with human activity. Greece and much of the Mediterranean region is projected to turn into desert over the next several decades, and there are signs that this shift has already begun. As the region’s native trees die off and urban areas expand into neglected forests, firefighting resources are becoming woefully overmatched. Regardless of ignition source — arson or lightning or human carelessness — massive wildfires will become more common as droughts intensify and heat waves get more common. Extreme winds, like those blamed for fanning the flames this week in Greece and during megafires in Portugal last year, can make an already dire situation uncontrollable.

It’s the hottest month of one of the hottest years in the history of human civilization, and unusual wildfires are sprouting up all over the map. Sweden has called for emergency assistance from the rest of the European Union to help battle massive wildfires burning north of the Arctic Circle. Across the western United States, 50 major wildfires are burning in parts of 14 states, fueled by severe drought. The wildfires burning in Siberia earlier this month sent smoke plumes from across the Arctic all the way to New England, four thousand miles away. Last year, big wildfires burned in Greenland for the first time in recorded history.

And then there are the rains. In Laos, after days of downpours, a hydropower dam that was under construction collapsed on Tuesday. Hundreds of people have been reported missing. Higher global temperatures increase the evaporation rate, putting more water vapor in the atmosphere and making extreme downpours more common.

In recent weeks, high temperature records have been set on nearly every continent. On Monday, Japan had its hottest temperature in recorded history— 106 degrees Fahrenheit — just days after one of the worst flooding disasters the country has ever seen.

Algeria has recorded the highest reliably measured temperature in Africa, 124 degrees Fahrenheit. In late June, the temperature never dropped below 108 degrees Fahrenheit in Oman — the highest overnight low temperature anywhere in the world.

Even in normally temperate places the air has been sweltering: Temperatures approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit hit parts of Canada, overwhelming hospitals in Montreal— where another heat wave is imminent this week.

According to calculations from climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, this year will likely be the world’s fourth warmest year on record globally, behind 2015, 2016, and 2017. With another El Niño on the way, next year could be even hotter.

All over the world, heatwaves are getting longer and more intense, the most well-documented and deadliest consequence of our failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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  1. Clive

    And Eric took his cut of this data, the heat has only got worse here in Europe. I’m currently sitting here in 34.4 degrees C (c. 94F) which might have your average Californian wondering what all the fuss is about, but this is 10 degrees C above average and here in the UK we start to record excess heat-related deaths above 25 degrees C and 15,000 died in France in a similar 2003 heatwave. Next week looks especially severe.

    I feel especially strongly on this subject. My grandmother-in-law died in February 2004 after the 2003 heatwave. While her death probably didn’t appear on the statistics associated with this, she’d had lung cancer (she never smoked, but was of an age where she was around lots who did and there wasn’t a ban on indoor smoking) and had had a lung removed. Anyone who would have seen her suffer in the 2003 heat would have known her subsequent death a few months later was directly attributed to it.

    We cannot go on like this. Yet here we are.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Your average Californian lives in a semi desert where the c. 40 C daytime temperatures drop to ~20 C at night, every night. They don’t have any idea of what it’s like to live with heat that doesnt abate by midnight.

      Having said that, the heat these past two weeks has been scary, and it’s been taking significantly longer for it to subside each day. We expect it continue; there is no sign of a break in the forecast.

      1. s.brown

        Your average Californian lives in a semi desert where the c. 40 C daytime temperatures drop to ~20 C at night, every night. They don’t have any idea of what it’s like to live with heat that doesn’t abate by midnight.

        Actually, it you live by the ocean, this might be true, but if you live in inland California this is not the case. The heat is brutal and only drops a little during the night.

        There’s a lot of stalled fronts now. They take weeks to move.
        For instance a high pressure system has been in place over the southwestern US for two weeks now. Just unheard of, that is, in the past.Stalled fronts, the new “normal.”

        1. Richard Kline

          ‘Stalled fronts’ is exactly the thought I had when I read the post header. What is significantly different to me regarding the heat patterns on the American West Coast—and I think in the Central Mediterranean as well—is the duration of elevated heat. Here in the Puget Sound region of Western Washington, 30 years ago one might see a few days in the low 80s F, a spike over one day to maybe 90—and then he next weather front would come in off the Pacific and the heat would plunge. We’re midway now though what will be at least 10 consecutive days around 90 F. High enough to be unpleasant, but not catastrophic—but the sustained heat doesn’t quit. Obviously, there’s a massive high pressure over Western North America that just shunts weather much, much further north or stalls it altogether. Very, very different by historical norms.

          In the near term, the biggest impacts of climate change may be exactly the disruption of prior normal major atmospheric circulation patterns, together with the wide swings in moisture content int he atmosphere mentioned in the post’s article. Longer term, biomass die-offs and glacial de-containment (i.e. what’s left starts moving seaward) will be more catastrophic in impact.

          —And it’s baked in folks, to hammer a metaphorical nail. We can mitigate peak impact some 60-100 years out, and should, but major impacts below projected peak are certain in the trajectories of change already underway and irreversible. Every petty political squabble and insta-transiernt social media bumpf which crosses my consciousness activates a *ping* on the human inability to perceive what it is not in the day to day interest of most of us to perceive. It’s not that we can do nothing: it’s that to do something requires and entirely different econo-political mobilization than we accept as ‘normal,’ to say nothing of personally profitable/tolerable. So the reality simply fails to engage perception. Frogs, boiled in their own chamberpots more or less. Cockroaches now: they’ll burrow deeper and change their digestion to handle slightly different cellulose chains. And outlive our folly. Along with c. one million of us around the balmy shores of the Arctic Ocean and another one million who have colonized Antarctica. Someone should write a future history on that . . . .

        2. Jack Parsons

          The “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” over the Western Pacific is what it’s called. There was some science in the oughts that predicted that higher Arctic Ocean summer temps would cause something very similar to the RRR.

          Cali is in a permanent drought. We’re watering the fields with “fossil water”, 15,000 year old aquifers.

      2. JCC

        It’s the little things that are very noticeable around here. The cold water out of the tap here in the north Mojave Desert (about 40 miles due east of Death Valley but 2500 ft higher elevation) hasn’t been less than 90F in the AM for the last three weeks and easily 95F or higher in the late afternoon. Typical bedtime temps outdoors are 95F + and during the day 112F, or higher, in the shade (right now, noon, 115F).

        Outdoor plants, mainly native/xeriscape at my home, are bleaching out with leaves slowly turning black, clearly dying, even with some weekly watering and plenty of mulch to help keep the ground around them cool, necessary since the temp of the open dirt right now, this minute, in my backyard is about 155F.

        Adding the caveat that my experience with Mojave weather is limited to 8 years or so and always feels hotter than normal to this former Northeasterner, it definitely is hotter this year.

    2. Jon S

      Florida is a better example than California. I was born and have lived much of my life in Central Florida. Here we are forced to live in air-conditioned cocoons for 6 months out of the year.

      The change I’ve noticed over many decades is that hot weather is starting earlier and lasting longer. And the wet season rain storms are vastly more intense and wet. It has not been uncommon this year to have the rain come down so hard that your windshield wipers can’t get rid of the water fast enough on even the highest setting. So an entire highway of people will try and pull off the road at the same time.

      It has been so wet this year that the water from Hurricane Irma is still standing in retention ponds all over the area. If we get hit by another hurricane this year, there will be flooding on an epic scale.

      1. Synoia

        Here we are forced to live in air-conditioned cocoons for 6 months out of the year.

        As Child I lived in Nigeria. Our hose was well designed for the climate, and we did not live in an air-conditioned cocoon for 6 months out of the year.

        I owned a house in North Carolina, and the a/c/failed. We spent more time out of the House with no a/c, because the shock of temperature change on entering or leaving was small.

        A/c is a trap.

        1. whip

          Totally agree. The more barriers between yourself from the world around you, the harder it is when barriers fail.

        1. blennylips

          and here I thought increased precip was a sign of warm air holding more moisture, say about 7% more per degreeC of warming.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Any particular chunk of water-vapor-saturated air only has to get cooLER than IT was in order to risk having its water-vapor condensed and pulled out of it by gravity ( rain).

              A chunk of air at 100 degrees can hold more water vapor than the same sized chunk of air at 80 degrees. So if the chunk of water-vapor-saturated 100 degree air encounters a relatively cooler chunk of air, it contains more water vapor to condense and fall as more rain than does the 80 degree chunk of water-vapor-saturated air.

              As long as the atmosphere isn’t the exact same temperature and/or humidity all at once all around the whole earth, we will still have weather.

      2. nothing but the truth

        “Here we are forced to live in air-conditioned cocoons for 6 months out of the year.”

        i’d say more like 10 on the gulf coast, and 1 month on heat.

    3. Lord Koos

      We are hitting 99 in the shade today in central WA. That’s not unheard of in these parts, but it used to be just for a few days. Now it happens for weeks at a time, and we have multiple wildfires every summer.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s crazy. I had always Seattle would be a nice, cool place to go, away from Southern California, in the summer.

        Of course, one person making such a trip is not so bad, when the weather is nice up there.

        But 10 million making the the same trip, the problem of global warming is exacerbated by humans trying to escape its consequences (humans moving means consuming more energy).

        And it Global Warming makes weather more extreme, millions on the east coast will move to Florida in the winter, again, making the problem worse (humans moving means consuming more energy).

    1. pretzelattack

      well, if you consider the use of fossil fuels as geoengineering. geoengineering strikes me as a less feasible solution than elon musk’s rescue sub, but it didn’t cause the problem.

      1. Eudeamon

        I described the idea of the rich spiriting themselves away from a rapidly declining planet or to escape the angry mob when the subjects of the ire transition from immigrants to the rich as nearly Biblical in nature — a Noah’s flood meets Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thats a false duality. Climate change can’t be stopped, but it can be slowed down to a level that can be manageable, at least for most people on the planet. There is an enormous difference between a 2 and a 3 degree global rise in temperatures in its impact on society and on ecosystems. We still have that choice.

      1. Isotope_C14

        That is unlikely.

        There is no way to prevent permafrost from releasing gigatons of CH4/CO2 at this point.

        You do not have the “choice” to cause bacteria to cease what bacteria do. On top of that methane clathrates are only going to increase their happy climb into the atmosphere as temperatures rise.

        If a “green-new-deal” was put forth in the mid 90’s – we could be in tenable shape now. However our benevolent wise leaders of that time were unwise and incompetent. They ignored Hansen. No one protested or demanded change in significant numbers. Our bed is made, and not by my choice.

        I just hope some bacteria survive the event, they are so cool and have neat metabolic pathways.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The clathrate gun hypothesis is just that – a hypothesis. Even many of the more pessimistic researchers don’t think it will be a major driver this century. You can’t abandon climate policy on the basis of a minority scientific view that its all hopeless.

          1. Isotope_C14

            1.) No one is going to actually reduce amount of GHG emissions, especially the US Military.

            2.) No one is *really* measuring how much CH4/CO2 is getting released by Siberia/Alaska/Canada thawing. Yes there have been small studies in various areas, but this is not a quantitative assessment.

            3.) None of the farmers are going to stop adding nitrogen fertilizer gases to the air because otherwise large-scale farming would be unprofitable.

            Please explain to me where the optimism here exists, because humanity has proven to me time and again, that they don’t have the wisdom/foresight to actually get off the rails of market-based idiocy.

            Check out some Paul Beckwith youtube vids, he did a good recent set on methane.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Its nothing to do with optimism, its everything to do with science. The current models indicate clearly that there is a good chance that climate change can be mitigated down to a level that humanity can adapt to with if we act urgently and radically. For as long as that is the situation, there is a moral need to fight for action. Shrugging your shoulders and saying ‘oh, its too late anyway’ apart from being demonstrably untrue is precisely the fall back line that the fossil fuel lobby wants everyone to take.

              1. Isotope_C14

                “The current models indicate clearly that there is a good chance that climate change can be mitigated down to a level that humanity can adapt to with if we act urgently and radically. ”

                Probably not.

                #1 – Models are usually crap, and people can not understand what bacteria are doing. They are using known data – there is too much unknown. The bacteria are kicking out more GHG than people do now, thanks to the warming.

                #2 – Do you really think 270 million Americans are going to stop driving? The entire country is set up so that is essentially the only choice. It’s a big place, and the average US meal travels 1500 miles. How can you change this “immediately” when you would have to tool over huge areas of land to vegetable production instead of monoculture crops? This is not “profitable” – last I checked capitalism is still the plan globally. The three-letter agencies and Wall Street aren’t going to permit change.

                “Shrugging your shoulders and saying ‘oh, its too late anyway’ apart from being demonstrably untrue ”

                Ok, what’s your plan for extracting the oil industry/MIC/Finance from power in the US? They will not allow change – nor will their EU collaborators across the pond.

                You can say “if” this and “if” that all you like, but Hansen warned congress in what 1988 or so, and really, what has changed? Some people recycled? Great. Nothing else has, and suddenly drastic change is going to happen?

                It’d be prudent to plan for Mad Max, rather than Star Trek the Next Generation.

                1. animalogic

                  PlutoniumKun said:
                  “The current models indicate clearly that there is a good chance that climate change can be mitigated down to a level that humanity can adapt to with if we act urgently and radically.”
                  He’s right.
                  With the emphasis on urgent & radical.
                  We are facing a danger greater than WWII. It will demand organisation, cooperation & centralised action on a world scale. Forget neoliberalism, forget Capitalism as we know it. These social/economic ideologies are either dead or civilisation will be dead.
                  Nothing less than revolutionary action on a world wide scale will suffice.

                  Impossible ? Probably. Our elites are corrupt at a “genetic” level & westerners, in PCR’s favourite term are simply insouciant.
                  Optimism – pessimism are neither to the point, because we have NO OTHER CHOICE.
                  Or we can leave it up to the elites who realise the quickest, easiest way of dealing with climate chaos is to work on the means of liquidating 5-6 billion people. If the means were available, does anyone really think they would not dispense with all of us useless eaters…
                  I’d be interested to see some estimates as to how long climate might take to stabilise with a world population of around a billion.

                  1. Isotope_C14

                    I think you are missing the point here.

                    You can not control the action of the already-hot areas that were once permafrost.

                    The bacteria are now warm enough to metabolize all the dead leaves, dead branches, dead roots, and all the other things that have been frozen in time in the northern climates. This is now food for bacteria. They divide, eat, and divide again. They release CO2 when they are doing this, they are non-photosynthetic organisms. They are now going to generate MORE CO2 than people. They are also sloppy eaters and will release methane as well.

                    Eliminating 7.6B people right this minute would likely still result in runaway global warming turning this planet into Venus 2.0.

                    The “Elites” could eliminate 6Bn people, and they would be (family-blogged) anyway once the costal nuke plants submerge due to rising oceans.

                    The climate will not stabilize due to lesser numbers of humans at this point. It’s a done deal now that the bacteria are going full-speed-ahead.

                    There really is nothing to do now

              2. blennylips

                > current models indicate clearly that there is a good chance that climate change can be mitigated

                Citation please. The IPCC reports are stale upon publication. The models (as I understand) have no non-linear components and precious few of the ever growing list of positive feedbacks, and ignore methane altogether.

                Many of the changes projected for 2100 are already exceeded before the update is published.

                > its nothing to do with optimism, its everything to do with science

                Or, more to do with denial? Try this science on for size:

                For explaining why humans are odd
                To Varki and Brower we applaud
                A great mystery they solved
                With denial we evolved
                And created the Higgs, overshoot, and God

                Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  The ‘good chance it can be mitigated’ idea, on that alone and I am not referring to any other studies, but just on that alone, it seems to imply a narrow path to victory or salvation, threading the needle just precisely.

                  1. blennylips

                    Since the deleterious effects are cumulative, any effort now to reduce emissions will allay some of the later consequences, sure.

                    I feel it is a fantasy at this point to believe we have _any_ chance of keeping below the 3.0 (or was it 2.5?) target.

                    Last week it was forty degrees above base line average! In Siberia! At the arctic circle! 90 friggen degrees!

                    There is comparable amounts of methane in the permafrost and the clathrates at the bottom of the nearby shallow arctic ice shelf.

            2. Lord Koos

              In addition it has been found that there has been much more methane escaping/leaking from natural gas facilities than was previously known. I’m pretty sure the planet is screwed as far as supporting human life. Even at this late stage the US is doing nothing. A giant cull is coming for our species I think.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I’m seeding a basin with the ironwood pods that are falling off my front yard trees. It’s easy. When the pods fall on the driveway, I sweep ’em up and drop them in the basin. When the monsoon rains return, they’ll moisten my pod pile and they’ll sprout.

      2. Sorry To Say

        Not that long ago there were six trillion trees; now there are half that. A few billion is good, but it is not a significant number in this context, nor in the context of how much deforestation is occurring annually. If we immediately stop deforestation–i.e stop eating meat–it would be huge. But this action would fly in the face of our long-standing societal policy of never doing anything that will inconvenience people.

        1. Arizona Slim

          FWIW, I seldom eat meat. I became friends with a group of vegetarians while I was a college student, and I found their meatless rationale to be pretty persuasive.

        2. curlydan

          I agree that a few trees are not likely to make much of a dent. The following article about “heat islands” mentioned Louisville planting 10K trees over 3 years…I’m thinking that’s 10 a day? Not enough.

          But there are certainly many things cities can do–pulling up a lot of asphalt and concrete, making “cool” roofs, etc. Here’s one “concrete” example:
          “To show the difference the [heat island effect] can make, he noted that in June 2017 the nighttime low at Arizona State University’s grassy campus in Tempe was just 69 degrees (21 Celsius). But the nighttime low just 5 ½ miles (9 kilometers) away at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, where expanses of asphalt cover former farm fields, was 81 degrees (27 degrees Celsius).”

      3. jrs

        as long as they don’t die, which trees are doing now at record rates (often due to climate change related reasons).

    2. Copeland

      We may not be able to stop climate change, but all of the things that one might do to stop it (except geoengineering), are good things to do anyway, for a myriad of other reasons, and would make the future less bad than it otherwise might be.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I think it might be more accurate to say there are no indications that those who rule us are or will take action to slow Climate Disruption. As for adaptation those who rule us show no signs that they are or will take action for adaptation. Climate disruption is only one of many swords hanging above our heads by slender threads. Those who rule have proven themselves most adept at stringing more swords above. I fear that adaptation is an individual choice we must make for ourselves and our families. Stopping or slowing climate change is not within our powers as individuals. Our governments are run by those whose best hopes for the future lie in passing problems on to the next guy — playing “hot-potato” in a small room with bag of dynamite, wired caps, and a timer to trigger the end to the game.

    4. The Pale Scot

      People don’t adapt, they migrate. Now and days though, there aren’t any open places to migrate to.

  2. Alex V

    Here in Sweden, generally considered to be quite “green” and aware of climate issues, we have the same issue with the media – not a peep regarding what could be contributing to the heat and wildfires. None of the news I’ve read or watched has mentioned possible causes for the incredibly dry conditions we’re having, the worst I’ve seen in ten years here. Some trees are starting to lose leaves, as if it were autumn. There have also been reports about low crop yields, meaning Sweden may have to import grain this year, when it is usually an exporter.

    The indifference and willful ignorance by the powers that be make me quite hopeless.

    1. Ignacio

      I visited Norway last week and was surprised by the heat particularly in Oslo. It only was somehow cool in Alesund.

    2. boz

      Alex this is a good point.

      Apologies for the shoehorning of Brexit into the discussion (the Barnier law, anyone?) shortly to follow.

      The hot weather in the UK is disrupting agricultural yields and will impact the crops normally going into winter stores.

      Play that forward six months when Brexit delivers the coup de grace to migrant farm labour and the price of food imports, and civil unrest (higher prices, empty shelves) looks like a reasonable prediction.

      Any Ag specialists able to comment?

    3. jrs

      Is your media owned by a few companies like ours is? I don’t actually know, I’m just a dumb American here, it’s why I’m asking.

  3. TG

    Since 1970, per-capita energy use has remained approximately constant.

    Since 1970, the population of the world has approximately doubled (and to a great extent, this has been due to specific government policies).

    Since 1970, total world energy consumption has approximately doubled.

    See the problem?

    There is only so much that we can conserve. Forget the hacked statistics about a third-worlder using a thousandth of the resources of an American. Assuming that it doesn’t collapse, India is slated to soon produce more greenhouse gases than the United States and China combined. And yet, the average standard of living in India will remain inferior to late medieval Europe. Even if we all agree to live at the meanest level of subsistence possible (and why should we?) in the medium to long run it won’t be enough.

    And yet any rational discussion of the effects of population growth is almost completely censored. Hear any discussion of how Syria’s pro-natalist policies cause the population to double, then double again, until the aquifers were drained and it all fell apart? Hear any discussion of the rate of population growth in Yemen, and how that is the primary driver of hunger there? Etc.

    Population growth is not something secondary, it’s not something that will automatically solve itself once we have achieved utopia, it is THE issue. Unless it is addressed, nothing else that we say or do will matter. But we have been conditioned to say nothing, it’s ‘racist’ and divisive etc. Because cheap labor. And so we continue on, screaming that the Titanic is sinking but refusing to discuss the effects of all those tons of water rushing into the hull… We sound the alarm, but demand that nothing of real substance can even be mentioned.

    We are like a shepherd, crying that the sheep are in danger yet attacking anyone who dares mention the word “wolf.”

    If the Titanic is sinking, and the Captain and crew will not allow anything to be done about the flooding, then the only rational course for the rest of us is to have another drink and enjoy the party while it lasts. The issue of “climate change,” as currently defined, is not even wrong.

    1. pretzelattack

      fossil fuels are the wolf. overpopulation, or geoengineering, or saying it’s inevitable are excuses for ignoring the wolf.

      1. TMc

        Seems like he is saying the increase in population using the fossil fuels is the problem, not the fossil fuels themselves. Not sure why you mention geoengineering.

        1. pretzelattack

          because it is another common distraction, and referenced by an earlier poster. yes, i agree, he is claiming fossil fuels aren’t the problem in changing the climate; that is not what the science says. it is much more effective to address the problem directly than to say well we can’t address the problem because of overpopulation.

          1. jrs

            I think he’s saying we should implement policies to reduce birthrates globally. So this reply seems like strawmanning to me. Do you agree that policies to reduce birthrates in the U.S. and globally is a good idea or not?

            1. pretzelattack

              uh, we’re talking about global warming. reducing overpopulation is a good idea, but not as a solution to global warming. it’s not the main cause of global warming. you’re in the process of getting lung cancer; you need to stop smoking. improving your nutrition is a good idea to improve your health, but it will not address your incipient lung cancer, which is caused by smoking cigarettes.s. do you agree that global warming is better addressed by looking at what causes it? another way of looking at it, a population of 7 billion using solar and wind power will have many problems, but it will mitigate global warming. that’s not a straw man.

              1. Brooklin Bridge

                What TG is saying -I think- is that the relationship between population and GW (via energy consumption) is indeed a direct (almost?) one to one relationship. One person = one unit of energy consumption. Double the population, double energy consumption and since up until very recently that has also meant doubling the amount of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere and double the amount of resultant heat being taken up by the NOT limitless ocean, it has also resulted in double the global warming. .

                Of course that also means, half the population = half the co2 being pumped into the atmosphere and up until very recently that has probably remained a pretty accurate statement and that in turn means that significant population reduction would indeed, still, result in significant reduction in emission of c02.

                There is room for argument, but that (again, as I understand it) is his point and your tobacco smoking analogy hasn’t addressed very well even if it is accurate in other contexts.. A stronger argument (being made in other contexts throughout this comment thread) might be it simply, “ain’t gonna happen.”, or “it’s too late since other irreversable processes have already been triggered.

                But it is incontrovertibly – and I realize you agree on that point – a worthy goal in and of itself.

            2. Antoni Jaume

              Birthrates have been going down all over the world, at present it is about half what it was in the 1950s,

    2. Ashburn

      TG – Thanks for your post. I couldn’t agree more that overpopulation is at the center of this crisis. In addition to the excessive fossil fuel use, there is also the accompanying species destruction—the sixth extinction—and the attendant pollution of air, water, and soil. And like so much else, our commercially funded media suppresses these facts. Would that we could have in the US a public, cooperatively owned, 7×24 TV news network dedicated to reporting on these existential developments. With the public’s taste for dystopian fiction it seems there might be a substantial audience for the real thing.

        1. Ashburn

          Please don’t presume that I propose any solution. My point was that we should at least start by acknowledging the problem.

      1. Steve

        Population is exactly it. The problems of pollution and climate change have been known for decades. The internal Exxon and Shell documents showed they were aware 40 years ago and if they were our government was too. If we had the capacity as a species to address these problems we would have already been doing it. It is very sad!

      2. pretzelattack

        it’s not the center. per capita use being equal means we are increasing fossil fuel use. that is the main problem. get off fossil fuels asap. it’s going to take decades to start reducing overpopulation in a significant way, unless global warming and attendant wars take care of the problem. it is much, much more effective to reduce fossil fuel use.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          This is a better argument – or you have clarified your argument – than that you make above. FWIW, however, I don’t think TG or others on this thread really disagree that it would not be realistic to solve the problem by an immediate reduction say by half of the worlds population. There might be some mild disagreement on who to start with :-)

          Over population is key to a host of long term problems but can indeed only be addressed (except by madness) long term.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            How about a soft-glide-path path to half over decades, achieved by lowered birthrate and delayed birth-age equally distributed across all identy groups?

            1. Brooklin Bridge

              Yes, that would work both in the sense of being realisticly implementable and hugely beneficial. Problem is, practical or not, it’s so unlikely that, “It ain’t gonna happen by design,” is a reasonable bet .

    3. boz

      Two comments here:

      1. Per capita energy use is I presume averaged? So would mask inequalities in usage (richer Western individuals consuming more energy, poorer non-Western individuals using negligible energy). I see your point about hacked statistics (more info)? I wonder what the distribution is.

      2. Is that 70s benchmark acceptable, given advances in energy efficiency (or not)?

      I’m interested in policies that might slow population growth as a secondary outcome, but I get nervous about policies designed to do this explicitly, as these suffer from ulterior motives / offences against individual liberty, just as pro-natalist policies might (your points cheap labour and also culture change via intentional demographic shift).

    4. Wyoming


      I argued this point on many blogs (under a variety of pseudos) for years and years (I gave up).

      If one looks at the data hard your point is paramount.

      Population is by far the most important item we have to deal with. If we don’t solve over population it is simply impossible to solve climate change. If anyone doubts this spend some time in the data regarding what part of CO2 emissions are attributable to the average 3rd world citizen. Then compare the rest our lifestyles to theirs and ask yourself what the chance is that any significant percentage of us rich folks are willing to start living like the poor folks. Not many. The base CO2 emissions of any lifestyle acceptable to the current global civilizational mix will never be able to stop the rise in CO2 parts per million – slow the rise we might but reducing them to zero is not in the cards. Technological civilization is not a sustainable system. Add in another 2+ billion people by 2050. Add in the heavy pressure to increase the affluence of those who are not affluent today. Note that our global capitalist system fully intends to do this because..Kching! Lambert likes to say. This strongly indicates that the average CO2 emissions will be facing strong upward pressure even with the advent of renewable energy, electric cars, etc. Green BAU has no prospect of saving us as it cannot offset the above issues.

      If we don’t reduced population dramatically we will suffer catastrophically. IF we don’t reduce the population dramatically and swiftly in as humane a way as we can – as hard as that may be. Then the effects of climate change will do it for us in a much nastier way. My opinion is that the second option is the most likely to occur but I am quite willing to be proven wrong.

      1. Lord Koos

        I’m pretty sure future events will take care of the overpopulation problem, and there will likely be much suffering accompanying those events.

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Meanest level of subsistence vs. 1970 level of energy consumption per capita.

      What about 1920 level of energy consumption per captia? How does it compare with the 1970 level? It would be that life in 1920 was not subsistence level, or the Belle Epoque period of 1871-1914. Like today, you had the rich, the in-between and the poor.

    6. Phacops

      Thank you, TG. A large part of accommodating to sustainable change is to discourage population growth. But then, whether done voluntarily, or with the Malthusian alternative, a lower population will happen as the carrying capacity of our planet declines past what will support the population.

      Growth is the logic of a cancer cell.

      1. Antoni Jaume

        You people should stop putting the blame on other people, and stop interfering with them reducing their fertility. The USA is the main forcer of fertility by making it difficult for women to both get an education and getting a good birth control. Note also that the ideology of minimal government espoused by the USA ruling class means that people need an extended family because there will be no government to help.

  4. coboarts

    Hi Clive! I’m your average Californian, born and raised. I like to remark on how when the first days in the 80s arrive in spring they seem so hot. By the end of summer 80 degrees is cool, cool. It takes time every year to adjust to the rising temperatures. And we’re used to that. Hot, hot requires a physical and a mental adjustment, and an adjustment to how you plan your day. Air conditioning allows us to temporarily forget that. I feel for all the friends I’ve made in UK and Europe, and everyone dealing with this heat. Slow it down and keep it cool, and like our troops in the desert say, “embrace the suck.” It really does help.

    1. Clive

      Thanks for the tip! We do rather complain a lot here about the heat, when we get it. As you say, it probably doesn’t actually help. I hadn’t even thought about mental adjustments. I will henceforth “embrace the suck” ! (or perhaps the British English version of this, “Keep Calm and Carry On”).

      1. JCC

        I had to smile with these two comments. Back in 2005 I took my time off in Iraq to visit cousins in the west of Ireland. When asked if it was hot over there, of course I said yes. My cousin then said to me, “Yes, it’s been very hot here, too. This August I had to stop wearing my sweater. It must have been 28 or 30 for two weeks!” (85 degrees Fahrenheit).

        Having just left normal temps of 120F and higher, I expressed sympathy but otherwise kept quiet.

    2. HotFlash

      Yup. I went to CA with a friend who was delivering a paper at a confrence in Anaheim. It was November, the hotel staff all crowded around the windows to watch those crazy Canucks in the outdoor hot tub. At Disneyland we bought ice cream, and the young lady (‘scuse me, cast member) who sold it to us was wearing hat, scarf and mittens and still looked cold.

      A couple of years later in FL I was chatting with a construction worker (transplanted from PA) who was aghast at our temperatures. “If it’s below 72 I just pull the covers up and go back to bed!”

  5. David

    Of the many references in this article, this one buried in the references inside the references was interesting:

    In the summer 2010 Western Russia was hit by an extraordinary heat wave, with the region experiencing by far the warmest July since records began…Dole et al. (2011) report the 2010 Russian heat wave was “mainly natural in origin” whereas Rahmstorf and Coumou (2011) write that with a probability of 80% “the 2010 July heat record would not have occurred” without the large‐scale climate warming since 1980, most of which has been attributed to the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations. The latter explicitly state that their results “contradict those of Dole et al. (2011).” Here we use the results from a large ensemble simulation experiment with an atmospheric general circulation model to show that there is no substantive contradiction between these two papers, in that the same event can be both mostly internally‐generated in terms of magnitude and mostly externally‐driven in terms of occurrence‐probability. The difference in conclusion between these two papers illustrates the importance of specifying precisely what question is being asked in addressing the issue of attribution of individual weather events to external drivers of climate.

    Good thing we have a third algorithm to mediate between the other two algos. /s

    1. Lorenzo

      oh dear. I know I’ll put myself in the podium for the stupidest comment to have ever been written here at NC, and even though I don’t really mean it I’ll just say it……

      I hate science!

      1. kimyo

        nc site policy:

        Bad faith: Deploying any of a long list of rhetorical tricks that are all about winning, as opposed to conversing. As former debaters, Yves and Lambert know these tricks well. Don’t use them.

        if david is incorrect, feel free to show us why. if the best you’ve got is an insult, you’re not winning the argument.

          1. Lorenzo

            also, thanks for directing me to the site policy, it was a pending task I had to read it.

            and lastly: if we’re going to be precise, the only insult in my comment was directed at my own self, or rather the statement I made which I clarified I don’t really agree with. saying ‘I hate science’ isn’t insulting anyone! So I don’t get where you’re coming from.

            1. kimyo

              i apologize for misinterpreting your comment. i took it to imply that david ‘hates’ science.

              in my defense, here and elsewhere, i often see posters who point out contradictions in the ‘body of settled science’ attacked as ‘planet-destroyers’ and neanderthals.

              it’s a shame, as the points they raise are often valid.

      1. kimyo

        it’s models all the way down.

        what will the population in europe be in 2020? modeled.
        how many cars will be sold there in 2020? modeled.
        how much will european airline traffic increase in 2020? modeled.
        how much more fossil fuel will europe burn in 2020? modeled.
        how much will carbon emissions increase in 2020? modeled.
        how much will said increases raise temperature in 2020? modeled.

        the ipcc predictions are based on estimated future fossil fuel consumption from the iea. for example: Working Group III: Mitigation

        The US Energy Information Agency (EIA, 1998), using NEMS, an energy-economy model of the US, projects that implementation of the Kyoto Protocol would lower US petroleum consumption by 13% in 2010, and lower world oil price by 16% relative to a reference case price of US$20.77/ barrel.

        The emission scenarios in the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios all show increased demand for natural gas in 2100, ranging from 127EJ in the B1 marker scenario to 578EJ in the A1FI illustrative scenario (Nakicenovic et al., 2000). These scenarios are baseline scenarios, which do not include policies to limit GHG emissions.

        The IEA projects rapid growth in the use of natural gas in many of the non-Annex B countries e.g., 6.5%/year in China, 5.8%/year in South and East Asia, and 4.9%/year in Latin America. Bartsch and Müller (2000) also see a significant growth in gas demand in China and India to 2020, but Stern (2000) questions whether the investments in the necessary infrastructure can be made.

    2. Antoni Jaume

      That apply mostly to single events, when they repeat so often, the conclusion shifts towards global warming.

  6. Synoia

    There are about 7 Billion people on this planet.

    My estimate is that the system will correct itself, in one way or another, by settling on a new temporary equilibrium. It is interesting to note it is the temperate areas which are the most stressed, and the strains, and the accompanying deaths, are now becoming very clear. The tropics appear not to be so stressed, probably because of they already operate at peak temperature for their climate, due to the abundance of water vapor.

    It will also switch to a new equilibrium very quickly. That the almost vertical part of a chaotic change system seeking a new equilibrium. The linear projection we have see on climate change a laughably naive, and are so because the “s” shaped growth curve would have those drawing it ridiculed immediately.

    My estimate is that 500 million humans may survive, because of the possible population density of hunter- gatherers. Those that do survive are the ones who have, or can learn quickly, to become hunter-gatherers.

    One can also speculate that intelligence as we practice it is an evolutionary dead end. The complete lack of controls on greed strike me as the evolutionary disadvantage. If this is a common trait of “intelligence” in this universe, it speaks volumes to the lack of success and futility of the SETI project.

    1. pretzelattack

      in what areas, though? and what are they going to hunt? i also see major wars as all this plays out. i think humanity will survive, but it looks like we are on course for the worst version of climate change. and our betters seem to be more focused on looking for refuges (new zealand! mars!) than doing anything whatever to mitigate the disaster.

      1. HotFlash

        in what areas, though? and what are they going to hunt?

        Well, at the beginning, other humans (easy pickings, wide distribution and even one is a fair amount of meat). It will get more interesting after that.

              1. ambrit

                Bar B Que Long Pork.
                Unfortunately, there are a lot of nasty diseases humans can have. These diseases are often transmissable through being in food-‘stiffs.’ Cannibals in New Guinea have been found to have a disease caught from meals of human source, called Kuru.
                For Kuru:
                There is also a moral ethical component to non ceremonial cannibalism.

    2. False Solace

      The mechanism by which a population of 7+ billion reduces to 500 million would not be pleasant to endure, to put it mildly. The natural human reaction to being liquidated ranges from mass migration to war. These days a serious war would have catastrophic effects, causing environmental destruction (even more of it) and destroying the carrying capacity of civilization. All those JIT supply lines…

      When yeast outgrows a medium its population doesn’t stabilize at a sensible number. It crashes.

      1. Wukchumni

        The mechanism that killed 13 out of 14 Wukchumni and other Yokut tribal members was measles, and this year is the sesquicentennial of it occurring.

        What did the remaining 1 out of 14 Indians left do after?

        Dance, Dance, Dance!

        The first ever ‘Ghost Dances’ were held in Eshom Valley in 1870, about 30 miles from where I type. The thought being that if there was a week-long marathon dance, why the 13 out of 14 would come back. It didn’t work, and the failure was that there were a few white onlookers, so they tried again in Farmersville, also about 30 miles away from this keyboard. No luck either, and they kept doing it until the mid 1870’s, and gave up, they weren’t coming back.

        The Ghost Dances started here, spread far and wide, culminating in one @ Wounded Knee in 1890.

        The Ghost Dance of 1890 was a new religious movement incorporated into numerous American Indian belief systems. According to the teachings of the Northern Paiute spiritual leader Wovoka (renamed Jack Wilson), proper practice of the dance would reunite the living with spirits of the dead, bring the spirits of the dead to fight on their behalf, make the white colonists leave, and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to Native American peoples throughout the region.

        Would we react all that different if 13 out of 14 died all of the sudden?

      2. tegnost

        interesting you use the term liquidated, the starfish here in the san juans basically melted, and we went from all over the place to nowhere in a very short span…that’s what will likely happen to our over abundant species as well

      3. The Pale Scot

        Radionuclides, the amount from the bombs is a thimble full compared to the tons of fuel and spent full sitting on the site of obliterated, or simply unattended nuke plants. add the recycling plants in France and Russia. Nobody ever seems to include that in their casualty estimates .

      4. The Rev Kev

        Considering that the average human weighs about 62 kilograms and that we are talking about 7 billion dead humans, we would be talking about 435,000,000 tons of rotting flesh which would be horrific to deal with. You would have to abandon all cities and towns for at least a year.
        Some of the talk here is starting to remind me of a 1976 story called “The Winnowing” by Isaac Asimov ( but in this story, the 2005 world that he was writing about had only 6 billion people in it. The idea is still there however.
        I don’t know where the figure of 500,000 population comes from. I have read that the calculated carrying capacity of the earth is about 2 billion people and there is an interesting article on this at but what stands out is that if everybody turned vegetation it would be far easier to do.

    3. Copeland

      Funny how when we hit 7 billion everyone took notice and that number kind of stuck in our heads. Perhaps we’re all thinking “it will be a long time before we have to start using the next larger number”. But guess what, the number is now 7.638 billion — closer to 8 billion than to 7 billion.

      I propose that when talking world human population, we use the decimal and include two or three places after.

      1. J Sterling

        I remember up to the last moment before it hit 7.00 billion, many people were quoting it as “six billion”, rounding down.

        1. Lorenzo

          so I don’t see how he’s proven that population growth has stopped? Population growth is births minus deaths, and he doesn’t make a single mention of what’s happened to death rates. They’re both in a downward trajectory, the birth rate’s slope being more pronounced, which means the growth rate has gone down, as opposed to net growth, which is only plateauing right about now at 84 million yearly additions, this in turn predicted to fall by a third by 2050 (UN)

        2. J Sterling

          Births have not declined, as the writer shows. They’re still at 130m per year a.k.a. 650m per 5 years. They show no sign of declining. UN forecasts that they will decline in the future keep being revised further into the future every year the UN publishes another forecast, at the rate of one year per year.

          In order for 8 billion to not happen, this 130m per year birth rate would have to result in people living no longer than 8,000m/130m=65 years. I do not consider that to be an acceptable lifespan. In order for 130m births per year to be compatible with 85 year lifespan, the population is going to have to rise to 85 years * 130m per year = 11 billion.

          Or, the annual number of births is going to have to drop far below 650m every five years, and at the moment that’s just a cheery prediction of population denialists. That’s what ain’t gonna happen. Come back in five years in you’ll see I turn out right, as I did five years ago. My track record is better than the UN’s.

    4. John

      How will the hunter gatherers decommission all the nuclear power plants? maintain all the containment vessels? seal off all the storage areas? Consider the distribution of Fukushima radioactivity. Then multiply and thrown in a little time, like a thousand years.
      But then maybe the radiation will cause a mutation to arise that results in a highly moral species practicing all the virtues and not afflicted with any of the the vices…

    5. Lord Koos

      Human instincts are programmed for the survival of the individual, or at best, the tribe, but not for survival of the species. Cockroaches and jellyfish, on the other hand…

      The human population may reach an equilibrium, but I don’t think the planet will, I think we have already passed the tipping point, or are upon it now. The earth has been very hot and very cold in the past, repeatedly, so it’s nothing new.

      1. pretzelattack

        there’s more than one tipping point, i think. we can still mitigate, by addressing the climate change we are causing by fossil fuel use. this is new, that we are causing it. it still works both ways, even if the ipcc estimates have been too conservative.

    6. William

      My estimate is that 500 million humans may survive

      Please see

      In 2003, Dr. Fowler and Larry Hobbs co-wrote a paper titled, “Is humanity sustainable?” that was published by the Royal Society. In it, they compared a variety of ecological measures across 31 species including humans. The measures included biomass consumption, energy consumption, CO2 production, geographical range size, and population size.

      Based on this research, Dr. Fowler concluded that there are about 200 times too many humans on the planet. This brings up an estimate for a sustainable population of 35 million people.

      This is the same as the upper bound established above by examining hunter-gatherer population densities. The similarity of the results is not too surprising, since the hunter-gatherers of 50,000 years ago were about as close to “naked apes” as humans have been in recent history.

      In 2008, five years after the publication cited above, Dr. Fowler wrote another paper entitled “Maximizing biodiversity, information and sustainability.” In this paper he examined the sustainability question from the point of view of maximizing biodiversity. In other words, what is the largest human population that would not reduce planetary biodiversity?

      This time, when the strict test of biodiversity retention was applied, the results were truly shocking, even to me. According to this measure, humans have overpopulated the Earth by almost 700 times. In order to preserve maximum biodiversity on Earth, the human population may be no more than 10 million people – each with the consumption of a Paleolithic hunter-forager.

      Addendum: Third assessment
      After this article was initially written, Dr. Fowler forwarded me a copy of an appendix to his 2009 book, “Systemic Management: Sustainable Human Interactions with Ecosystems and the Biosphere”, published by Oxford University Press. In it he describes yet one more technique for comparing humans with other mammalian species, this time in terms of observed population densities, total population sizes and ranges.

      After carefully comparing us to various species of both herbivores and carnivores of similar body size, he draws this devastating conclusion: the human population is about 1000 times larger than expected. This is in line with the second assessment above, though about 50% more pessimistic. It puts a sustainable human population at about 7 million.

      Please read the conclusion

  7. Temporarily Sane

    Scientists have been warning us about climate change for decades (!) now, but for the media it is pretty much a non-issue and, collectively, we really could not be taking it less seriously.

    The powers that be got to the “oh, you mean we might have to seriously consider making radical changes to our wasteful, but very comfortable, consumerist lifestyles and bring the state back on board to plan and coordinate what will be a massive undertaking that is emphatically not compatible with neoliberal rule-by-market ideology?” and decided to take the magic wand approach. If enforced positive thinking and entrepreneurial “innovation” can’t solve the problem, the problem does not exist. Simples!

    1. JTMcPhee

      And of course the men who wear expensive suits and have huge houses and work in the C-suites of Big Oil and coal and so forth paid lots of money to “scientists” to Pooh-Pooh all that science that pointed to what is happening now. So we have guys like Tony “I’d like my life back” Hayward, who sat atop the BP pile that brought not only the Gulf of Mexico deep well blowout and millions of gallons “lost into the environment,” and a whole bunch of other stuff.

      So what we’ve got is a bunch of rich sh!ts who live large now, and will continue to do so though all this, and because they are older, they will get to die nice and comfortably, all nicely cared for by loving people. And they will then escape completely from any and all consequences for what they have knowingly done, in the best tradition of psychopaths everywhere and everywhen. Free from any consequencesAnd thus it has always been. Too bad we mopes who suffer from this stuff can’t get together behind an organizing principle or two, and do something going forward to mitigate the current horrors and keep things like this from happening. “Hahaha, apres nous le deluge!! Eat sh!t, suckers!!”

      I would not put much store by the possibility that “better” has much chance of happening.

      1. Jeff W

        And they will then escape completely from any and all consequences for what they have knowingly done, in the best tradition of psychopaths everywhere and everywhen. Free from any consequences And thus it has always been.

        For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretences … since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

        —Thucydides, recounting what the Athenians said to the neutral Melians before they besieged and captured their city, executing all the adult males, and selling the women and children into slavery

  8. vidimi

    regarding the flooding in Laos, I know that there has been a dam burst that has flooded a huge area and the waters are now spreading to Cambodia. So that is a man-made catastrophe separate from global warming. Are there floods of another nature also happening?

    1. Shane

      It is a man-made catastrophe in conjunction with (man-made) global warming.

      A “normal”, i.e. pre-warmed atmosphere, amount of rain wouldn’t have broken the dam, so the flooding caused by its collapse is directly attributable to global warming.

      I can’t speak to your question about flooding elsewhere in Laos, but it is important to recognize the event you describe is a direct consequence of increased atmospheric carbon courtesy of us wise, wise homonids.

  9. Wukchumni

    Want to beat the heat?

    Build a “Fall In Shelter” er, cave, or on new home construction in the west, build deep basements where possible.

    Not really all that different from a fallout shelter of the 50’s or 60’s, same concept, but by being underground, 127 and no a/c isn’t going to fry your brains out.

    Or get high. It’s almost 4 degrees cooler or more for every thousand feet you ascend in the summer. It’s typically 100 when we turn the corner to go to Mineral King, and by the time were there 7,000 feet higher from whence we made the turn, it’s in the low 70’s.

    1. JCC

      I’ve read that out here in the Panamints and Sierras it’s 3.5 degrees F. per thousand feet on average. So far I’ve found that to be pretty accurate.

    2. Phacops

      Well, thinking about building . . . we were fortunate enough to afford ICF (insulated concrete form) construction with the lower level, a walkout, backed into the hill. We live @ 45 N a short distance from Lake Michigan. With ICF, while the native r-value is not all that great, the concrete core tends to act as thermal mass so it takes the interior longer to heat up in hot weather and longer to cool down in cold weather. And, with big south facing walls that are shaded by deep eaves in summer we get direct winter sunlight. A couple of winters ago we suffered a 3 day power outage (we use a open cycle heat pump) and on the third day with temps in the single digits it did not drop below 61 F in the house.

  10. disc_writes

    The water deficit in the Netherlands has just overtaken the record of 1976. If this continues, 2018 has a good chance of becoming the driest year ever and could sport the longest heat period ever.

    While the media report extensively on the drought, the links to global warming are mostly implicit, innuendos.

    In Italy the temperatures are not as extreme, but 2018 broke a number of monthly records. The debate about climate warming is mostly linked with the hydrogeological instability (floodings, avalanches) of the last years. As it is often the case, everything is blamed on the politicians.

    So in both cases, one cannot really accuse the media of underreporting or failing to mention the links to global warming.

    But you will not read anything like “s**t is hitting the fan now and time has run out”.

  11. petal

    One of my classmates lives in a suburb of Brussels and posted this morning how it is forecast to be 99F there today and tomorrow(nighttime low of ~70F), and that they have just had a massive downpour that has caused flooding with many road closures. Someone else commented on how dry it has been there. Here in my little area of NH, we’ve been in a moderate drought for some months. There has been some rain this week but apparently not enough to lift us out of it. Garden is not doing well.

  12. Zim

    Just wait for the methane clathrate bomb to go off. I just laugh when I hear predictions of what will be happening in 2050 or 2100. At the rate things are changing, we won’t be around by 2030. We’re toast, literally.

    1. Milton

      Guy Macpherson et al have lowered that year to 2025. I’ve been at step 7, in the stages of climate catastrophe grief, going on 5 years now. I have abandoned my retirement plans as I see no reason and instead, gone on a donation binge. I might as well do something that will impart some joy to my fellow titanic passengers.

      1. Aumua

        Well, I guess that means we’re probably gonna have Trump just about till the End of the World. Greaat.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, in either 2 or 6 years, there may be enough educational weather events in the US to convince people to vote for the Hard DeCarbonization Party, if there is one.

          Now . . . it would take 2-3 weeks of temperatures at or over 110 degrees every day, cooling to at or over 95 degrees every night . . . with hundred per cent humidity that whole time. And no clouds to provide any shade. This would have to happen over all the vote-rich climate change denial cities all over the coal belt and oil belt and all the rest of the Republican voting areas.

          If that won’t do it, hope for F6 and F7 tornadoes , and hailstorms with cantelope melon-size hailstones to provide some post-doctoral studies to people.

          If that doesn’t prepare Republican Country to vote for Hard DeCarbonization, then the future is Drill Baby Drill all the way down.

    2. Zachary Smith

      I don’t necessarily disagree with what you say, but I believe we must proceed on the assumption that the Doom and Gloom guys have erred and that a solution is still possible.

      Still, I know of Deniers with grandchildren. Don’t know how they can live with themselves.

  13. Synapsid

    For everyone,

    The beautiful image Yves posted at the top of this post is from the site Climatereanalyzer, hosted at the University of Maine. If you go there you’ll see that there are more topics than temperature listed along the left side of the globe and one is 2M Temperature anomaly, which shows how current temperature at any point on the globe differs from a baseline 1979-2005 (?). You can rotate the globe with the cursor.

  14. blennylips

    Food and Fuel (redundant?) prices are rising and about to skyrocket ’cause runaway climate change is here.

    Continents are turning green to brown, as satellite images show, in an incredibly short time. UK was green, end of May.

    And now we may be seeing the beginning of “Arctic Monsoons” with the amazing heat dome extending in to the arctic circle, right next to the shallow East Siberian Arctic Shelf, where I believe the clathrate gun fired back in 2013 or so.

    Jennifer Francis: Crazy Weather and the Arctic Meltdown

    paraphrasing: Now that there is next to no multiyear ice left in the arctic, all that heat that went into melting ice can go into heating the water. (same heat to melt ice will take melt to 80 some degrees). Soon the monsoon has plenty of warm moist air to draw in from the surroundings.

    Paul Beckwith is sounding the alarm: Arctic Monsoons: A New Climate Nightmare

    Former sinks of CO2 are turning into sources. yada yada yada.

    That’s more than anybody wanted to hear. I’ll just leave the rest of the links here

    Nature Review Article | Published: 06 June 2012
    Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere
    Anthony D. Barnosky, Elizabeth A. Hadly…
    download here:

    “A State Shift in the biosphere”, explicated in Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact.

    State shifts can happen fast. Recall

    René Thom’s Catastrophe theory from the 60s.
    and, just because it exists, The British Origami Society explains on their Origami & Catastrophe Theory page.

    1. Lord Koos

      I read a couple of weeks ago that temperatures in some pleaces above the arctic circle will reach 85 degrees this summer.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Looks like a real commodity trading speculation opportunity for Goldman Sachs and all the other Knights of the Blood Funnel.

  15. Utah

    Since some others are lamenting about their local climate issues- It is hot here in Northern Utah, and we’re in a pretty severe drought because we didn’t get enough snow to get us through summer. It’s been 100 Fahrenheit (37C) for nearly a month straight. 93F (33C) is the average.
    A city near me ran out of secondary water (what is used for lawns) because people decided that the $50 fines were manageable and it was better to have a green lawn.

    1. Massinissa

      The fact that people think its fine to have a lawn even in environments where lawns do not grow naturally is such absurd hubris. As if its possible to make the midwest look like the east without sacrificing something.

  16. Punxsutawney

    Well here, west of Portland, Oregon, summers these last five years or so are more and more seeming to resemble those of my childhood in the San Fernando Valley (1970’s). Not quite as hot, but humidities are somewhat higher here, about two to four times the arid sw. Long duration dry spells seem to be increasing in frequency up here in the summer, though not enough data to say with certainty. In any event springs seem to be ending sooner and more abruptly, where as the cool wet weather usually dragged on until the beginning of July. The last two years the faucet has been shut off suddenly in late April.

    And sea surface temperatures off the So. Cal coast are approaching the upper 70’s in some areas this summer and 80F in San Diego Bay. That’s unusually warm. About 80-82 degrees F. is the level which sustains tropical storms. I spent a lot of time in the water in my youth and a 70 degree temp was remarkable back then if memory serves me. (Not always!)

    1. ArcadiaMommy

      We did not see water temps anywhere close to this while in SD in June (surface or otherwise). Water temp was a little cooler than usual in the 68-70 range. In fact we thought it was chillier than usual overall, with very high surf and cool air temps (maybe from hurricane Bud?). Kids did not fight me on wearing wetsuits.
      Mission bay can be warmer as it is shallow and protected. Not sure about San Diego bay. It was close to 100 at the beach tho on a couple of days in early July. Miserable.

      1. Punxsutawney

        Interesting. Temps are running a bit above 76 from roughly La Jolla to Oceanside. Tails off rapidly though as you go north, to Catalina Island, or offshore a ways.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          I think that is pretty normal as the warmer months are at the end of summer and early fall. We were in Del Mar, so that air temp seems right to me. Catalina has really cold water temps in my experience (although Avalon can be warm).
          We will be in LA next week so it will probably be very warm, luckily will be near the beach. I will note water and air temps more closely.
          What I noticed were the extremely low and high tides. Again maybe because of hurricane bud?

  17. Sam Adams

    Climate collapse is baked in and has been for a decade. The logical choice is to prepare to survive. Most humans won’t prepare because “ hope and change” will come and we’ve already played this music once before.

        1. Zachary Smith

          It’s unlikely they’ll remain “standing” for long. The chaos and destruction are likely to be that bad.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Collective co-social co-survival may be possible in large enough groups doing all the right things together if they all do all the right things together starting real soon.

        It could be a kind of free-lance jackpot preparation/ jackpot mitigation.

        ” Climate-change denier keep on moving. This is a Jackpot community.”

  18. Steely Glint

    So where is climate change mentioned in this year’s election that is supposed “to change everything”? Haven’t heard much have you? Yes, healthcare will be a big deal when you collapse from heat-stroke, but to prevent that, affordable a/c is mandatory. Did the collapse of Enron solve rigging electricity prices. Not so much:

    This is happening in the northeast, and without remediation, could easily happen to you too.

  19. Jen

    As Petal noted above, we’ve had a long dry spell in NH this summer. I’ve been looking at my white pines. Last year was an epic mast year for them. I’ve never seen so many pine cones, and they hung on all through this summer. I’m having trouble spotting any new pine cones, now. If the trees are anticipating what’s to come this winter, I’m not buying any ski passes. And if they aren’t, that’s bad for a different reason. On a separate note, the chipmunks have been cheerfully defiling my gardens for years, and I haven’t seen one for days. I have noticed several hawks hanging out in the trees for a while, but now they’re gone as well.

    1. ambrit

      Do the critters move to higher elevations when the air heats up consistently? Their ranges could be shifting.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I believe a very restricted-range kind of toad got extincted when it got squeezed right off the top of its mountain.

          I believe pikas throughout the west are getting pushed uphill/ upmountain. Enough warming will squeeze them off the top of their mountains and then they will be extincted too.

      1. Jen

        We had a very warm summer 2 years ago, and I didn’t see any drop off in the chipmunk population. Little buggers spent the early part of spring digging up and eating all of my crocuses. I think the hawks, having cleaned out the all you can eat buffet, are now on to a new restaurant. I’m more worried about the trees, and what looks like a complete absence of new pine cones portends.

      2. Wukchumni

        We’ve have marmots drop 400 feet in elevation in Mineral King, 4 miles from where they usually hang out.

        Whada they know?

  20. Swamp Yankee

    Here in coastal MA, the summers are dramatically different than they were in my youth. The first really, really hot year I remember was 2002. Something seemed to change that year in a qualitative fashion.

    We are now seeing dewpoints the like of which have not been experienced here in historical time. A dewpoint above 70F was somewhat rare in my childhood (1980s-90s). Maybe one or two or three times a summer.; Now we get multi-day stretches where this tropical mass of air from the Bermuda High just sits over eastern New England, bringing Carolinian weather to us. I saw a weather station in the interior, swampy, and therefore both hotter and more humid towns a bit to my west. The dewpoint was something like 82F! We simply don’t have that around here. Or, haven’t — now we do, I guess. The air temp was a bit over 100F, which made for a heat index over 120F! Maybe even 130F, depending how you calculate it.

    Air conditioning is also far from universal here, so we are learning what those nights in Faulkner novels and To Kill A Mockinbird felt like, unfortunately.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And I am guessing that means that the hotter chunks of air over New England nowadays can hold more water vapor than in the past. Which means if the right just-cooler-enough neighboring chunk of air could forcefully attack your hot humid air masses, New England could get some real cloudburst downpour junk-rain water-bomb type of events.

  21. saylor

    With little time to wade through all the comments…,
    What I’ve noticed in recent discussions about the climate and heat seems to center around fire(s).

    I have a very big concern that I have not seen broached and it is that of a possible food shortage. This is currently the growing season for the northern hemisphere. As this is a global situation, were this heat wave to continue much longer it could significantly damage this year’s (or any succeeding year’s) crop production. As it stands now, many countries have populations that grow a significant amount of their own personal food supply. Be it heat or excessive flooding, there will be a higher demand for non-regional food because of this.
    I recommend NOVA’s “decoding the weather” as it shows that the jet stream has developed higher and lower peaks in its geographical range and also has slowed down. This slowing down means what ever weather you are getting, you are getting it for a longer period of time. Think….rain and…more rain.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Or . . . drought and . . . more drought.

      Or a month or two of one and then a month or two of the other.

  22. Zachary Smith

    Lot of talk about “population” on this thread. I agree that has been a huge driver in climate change, but disagree it must be solved first. There just isn’t time to do both, and the population issue is far more complex and divisive. That can come later after any GW miracle. On top of all that, we may be forced to resort to some geoengineering. Dangerous stuff, and truly playing with fire.

    I say concentrate on getting rid of fossil fuel usage. First drive it to zero, then continue to build enough capacity in the wind and solar farms to immediately begin removing carbon from the atmosphere.

    Alas, but I fear the rich ******** who control everything aren’t the least bit interested in doing any of this.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And carbon-capture farming also . . . over several million square miles of the currently carbon-release farming of today.

      1. Zachary Smith

        …carbon-capture farming…

        Good point, and one I forgot. The harvested plants might be converted into charcoal or even pure carbon, then sent to the nearest river/ocean port to be hauled to a deep sea trench for mega-year disposal. It could supplement the technical systems, and would provide employment to every suitable part of the Earth.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          One could even capture meaningful amounts of carbon within soil itself . . . . mixing in biochar or scattering it on . . . encouraging the kind of plant growth and root growth which secrets sugar juices ( based on down-pulled fixed skycarbon) into the soil feeding microbial growth and leaving behind some durable pre-humus long-chain carbon molecules, such as glomalin.

          That too is a way to capture and sequester carbon.

  23. Richard

    Climate change and human population growth can be and should be addressed simultaneously. And in fact they are, just — not fast enough to be confident that we will be able to avoid an unacceptable level of climate change and not fast enough to have hope that we can avoid a complete stripping of the Earth’s remaining biodiversity. Emissions actually declined here in the US, but increased globally. Getting rid of fossil fuels truly 100 per cent will be a problem since the agricultural productivity supporting our current level of 7.6 billion depends on fossil fuel based technology. But we should be trying to get as close as we can to 100 per cent. Stopping population growth completely will require open political engagement and more than just promoting family planning here in the US or abroad. A truly dramatic reduction without a violent collapse of civilization will be a truly long term project, a long slow decline over centuries. Methane is a wild card, but it is not yet a certainty that it will make things truly hopeless. A lot of things that seemed impossible turned out not to be so. No matter what the failings of the Democratic Party may be, we have to put the petal to the metal and make sure that they retake at least the House, even if it is only narrowly. And we have to make sure that Trump has only one term. That will not be the end of the struggle, but an essential step in a long contest for a truly different kind of civilization that is no longer in fundamental conflict with the rest of life on Earth.

    1. Zachary Smith

      Getting rid of fossil fuels truly 100 per cent will be a problem since the agricultural productivity supporting our current level of 7.6 billion depends on fossil fuel based technology.

      I doubt if electrical farm equipment is practical except on the smallest scale, so liquid fuels will most likely be needed in the future. But they don’t have to be derived from fossil fuel. Atmospheric carbon dioxide + energy can be the basis for warming-neutral artificial fuels which will work just fine. The Germans did this in WW2 on an industrial scale, and it was very late in the war before the Allies wised up and started bombing their factories.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Atmospheric carbon dioxide plus water plus solar energy is how plants have been making carbohydrate-based energy food to fuel their own activities ever since plants emerged.

  24. Felix_47

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former Einstein is said to have stated. Half of the world population has an IQ under 100. If you count malnutrition and violence it may well be more than half. There are solutions to the problem like population control, renewables, even nuclear but there is no solution to the stupidity of, for example, a nation such as ours spending a trillion per year on war, 6 trillion on Iraq egged on by the Israelis and Afg and on and on. There might be a solution for a lot of the world population explosion in South Asia where Pakistan and India seem to have decided nuclear weapons are more important than toilets and water for the population. The Hindus want more Hindu male children and the Pakistanis more Muslim ones. It is already hellish there. Huge numbers of South Asians are migrating to Europe and the US or anywhere. If and when, or is it only when, they go at it with nukes there should be a substantial reduction in world population as well as a nuclear winter for a while which will cool things down. I think the founding fathers were right when they restricted voting to landowners. Not because they owned land but because they probably were the only ones wealthy enough to be able to learn to read. The US could use a literacy and basic science and government test as a criteria to allow voting. Kind of like requiring instruction in compound interest before allowing someone to have a credit card. Without better decision making we may be doomed. It looks like expansion of voting has not worked out very well in the US, at least. Hillary’s voters seem to be as lost as Trump’s.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      But its the landowners and moneyowners and power owners who are making and driving the bad decisions.
      Under your plan they would still get to vote, and since they would be the ones writing the tests, they would pass all the smart-enough-to-vote tests.

      The voting masses delivered okay results for a while ( FDR/JKF/LBJ) till the masters of propaganda learned to pollute the information stream.

  25. Jack Parsons

    Another problem is that the scientific literature describes the change in Celcius, and Americans hear “2 degrees hotter” and it does not register. But in Farenheit that’s more like 5 degrees.

    But, yes, the relative immunity of the Eastern half of the US has been a major contributor to selling denial.

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