As Tom pointed out, his piece isn’t just about the news of the CO2 hitting new levels, but on what can be done to stop the march to ruin?
By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!
Atmospheric CO2 levels have now reached 415 ppm. The last time humans experienced levels this high was… never. Human didn't exist.#climatecrisis #climatechange pic.twitter.com/xtRSF2ScGC
— Peter Gleick (@PeterGleick) May 13, 2019
–Wen Stephenson (source)
–Yours truly (source)
I wrote the sentence above in January 2018 as part of a backward look at 2017, the first of the years of consequences to follow the crossroads year 2016 — the year when Bernie Sanders was not elected president, was not even allowed to be a choice.
One of the train wrecks I foresaw is a consequence of our already-started revolt against the super-rich who rule us. The other is the coming climate catastrophe.
About the latter, the planet has recently passed a milestone back to which it may not return in our lifetime, or even in the lifetime of our species. For the first time since humans walked the earth — and perhaps since Australopithecus, our earliest post-chimpanzee ancestors, did as well — daily atmospheric CO2 crossed above 415 ppm to 415.26 as measured at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii. (As you can see from the chart at the top, CO2 for the previous 800,000 years stayed within a tight range, between about 180 and 300 ppm. It’s now well above that range and rising fast.)
Not only that, but every daily reading at Mauna Loa from May 11 through May 18 was above 415 ppm:
Small dots are hourly averages; large dots are daily averages. Note that the chart’s hourly peak, just before noon on May 15, crossed above 417 ppm.
May is usually the peak month for atmospheric CO2 — there’s a yearly rise and fall — but each yearly peak is inexorably higher than the last one. It appears that humans, as ruled by its fossil fuel–financed politicians, won’t stop burning carbon until they can’t — until they’re pre-Industrial at best, functionally extinct at worst. The train wreck.
Exxon Predicted This in 1982
Back when Exxon Corporation was studying climate change seriously, its scientists produced papers predicting atmospheric CO2 and global warming under a number of scenarios, including a “high case” scenario in which fossil fuel burning would increase and previously unavailable carbon resources, from shale for example, would become extractable.
Here’s a chart from one of those papers (pdf). It projects both projected atmospheric CO2 and global temperature increase from a 1980 baseline:
The Exxon prediction was startlingly accurate, at least so far. It put atmospheric CO2 (upper line) just below 420 ppm in 2019 and global warming (lower line) above 1.2°C after we add in the amount of global warming, 0.4°C, that occurred between the pre-Industrial low and 1980 [Hansen, 2018] — about where we are today, in other words.
Fossil fuel CEOs, including and especially those at Exxon, the global moneyed class in general, and their bought politicians — meaning almost all of them — are the reason we’re in this mess. They’re also the reason we may not get out of it, since I don’t see the revolt against death by fossil fuel, even at this late date, happening any time soon.
Which leaves us where we are today. Barring miracles, which do occur, we already know what’s coming. The Kochs and their carbon-lobby friends have essentially won. The train is approaching. All that’s left is to document the wreck.
Perhaps we need to introduce a global law against off planet colonies. Stop the ultra wealthy using our resources to leave earth. Make them stay and face the consequences. You certainly don’t want them going off and wrecking another planet (and killing of all the inconvenient plant and animal life)
There is neither the technology nor the knowledge to send manned vehicles to Mars in the foreseeable future. And to top if off Mars is toxic to human life in so many ways including the level of radiation, the poisonous soil, the lack of proven water, no oxygen to speak of.
If the rich think they will escape the mess they are making and leave the rest of us to die, then they are delusional.
An analysis of the problems has been provided by two MIT Phd students in astronautics at the Mars Society Convention, 2015. On youtube, Andrew Owens is one of them.
Bit like telling the emperor he had no clothes on, so very entertaining and informative.
Why don’t people understand this? Is science education really so bad that the average person does not know that nowhere else has earth’s precise gravity and atmospheric protection from radiation, and that both are necessary for human life? And that both will survive any climate apocalypse? And even the dinosaurs did not die all at once?
As Yves says, climate change is not likely to lead to human extinction, just the painful deaths of billions of us, possibly all but a few tens of scattered millions around the globe. WWII times 10000.
The billionaires are betting they will survive, forgetting that the wealthy are prime targets during social upheaval.
who knows, perhaps they’ve all been corrupted by childhood fantasies made in a Hollywood basement. Or is it just their narcissism has progressed to the point of a total break with reality? I mean they are none too bright to start out with, our billionaires, and even less moral.
Off-planet colonies are a fantasy. Let them throw their money at this stupid project the idiots.
DO your own research – but there is no Planet B.
Planet B, very clever.
A little Joan Baez while we build the domes?
“Don’t blow up the domes!” — Bruce Dern.
If the course in unchanged by 2030 we will nearly reach 450ppm. Average temperatures will raise to about 2,7ºC above preindustrial levels and the ice sheets will have mostly disappeared.
It is time to increase the pressure.
How do we increase the pressure?
In my opinion there needs to be completely unprecedented global level coordinated action on creating some kind of carbon tax system that redistributes the money to clean energy projects.
It’s a huge problem that emissions globally have an effect, but at least at early stages of climate change most of the direct effects are extremely localised and thus invisible and/or inconsequential for most people. Like pointed out earlier here in one post, most people were essentially positive about rising temperatures in their personal lives.
All at the same time there are significant amounts of people who agree on the principle of the climate change, but actually downplay the immediate effects and support kind of status quo preserving technological approach to climate change mitigation. To them climate change has almost been solved already, we all just have to buy solar panels and EVs and everything can continue as it has before.
To start, this friday I will show up at the global strike for climate change. I’ve sent the link to all my whatsapp contacts.
(for your service I feel like saying but that phrase has been taken, but perhaps we should take it back)
Besides doing what you can in one’s home and more importantly, their garden,
boycott Chinese and third world produced manufactured goods, which are produced with blatantly polluting and carbon emitting technologies.
In this respect, Trump’s tariff blather and whatever actions he takes on this front, might be a good thing to force some clean manufacturing back to the U.S. and denude Walmart shelves of Chinese plasticrap.
More importantly, elect peace candidates.
The “Defense Department”, is the biggest user of fossil fuels in the world.
The US, under Trump or any other Republican candidate, and in the unlikely eventuality of a Democrat president, the Democrat president, any one supported by the DNC and most of the current Congress and Senate, would only produce US-made crap which they would force on the rest of the world at a premium price by bribery, threats or war.
The only possible change will come about as a result of a radical change of government in all of the “First World”, and a radical reduction of the production of all STUFF. The world must change all employment to mitigation of the changes which are already inevitable and infrastructure destruction of car culture.
450 would take a big acceleration in CO2/per year output. we are currently doing about 2.5ppm/year on average: https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/gr.html. We are probably aiming for 1.4-1.6C above preindustrial by 2030 at this current rate.
415 + (2,5p/y x 12y) = 445 ppm by the end of 2030. Nearly 450 ppm if there aren’t CO2 and methane emission increases.
What pressure? It’s like nothing has even really changed. VW cheats on its diesel emissions, our “recyclables” are just piled up in poor countries, we build bigger and more useless war toys….
“It is time to increase the pressure.”
I think in the long run Ignacio, that it’s Isostasy that wins.
Capitalist does not owe anything to other people and especially to the generations coming after him. Same logic drives capitalists to tax evasion and avoidance and also controls the climate change discussion. Actual measures and actions would probably be much more significant right now if the Capitalists lived longer or forever.
Most of the senior Exxon executives who may or may not have read the 1982 report around that time have probably died of old age already.
You reap what you sow, until you don’t. People like to think we have this virtuous meritocratic society where everyone has to bear responsibility for their own actions. But actually there is very little responsibility. The blame for climate change is increasingly thrown to the masses, while the ones who grew rich creating and upkeeping this system get to keep living like they did before with relatively minor changes. People are called to follow very strict equality principle on global, country level, meanwhile at individual level people support the idea of carbon taxes, that paying more money somehow makes polluting ok.
Currently I’m living a very low carbon footprint life but I just don’t see us turning this ship. Personal greed and entitlement is too strong. When the atmospheric CO2 concentration curve actually flatlines I’ll believe something can be done, so far there is very little indication of that, it keeps on rising in very consistent steady manner.
You did not mention that less developed nations may look at the more developed nations as those who have created this climate change problem from the last 150+ years of hydrocarbon burning.
The less developed nations may feel they should have a chance at the easier “better” life afforded by the burning of ever more hydrocarbons.
As you say “I just don’t see us turning this ship” and I agree.
One could almost argue that the multiple ways that climate change can get worse: more energy use by less developed and developing nations, more energy used to extract remaining stores of energy (decreasing EROI), more energy expended to compensate for climate change effects (rebuilding after floods, fires, tornadoes, more energy used to pump water to dry regions, and more energy for air conditioning) will easily swamp attempts to ameliorate climate change.
If people around the world were not consuming the output from the energy companies, the companies would shrink and possibly die as have Kodak, Sears and numerous tech companies as markets for their products dried up.
The phrase “We have met the enemy and he is us” has been attributed (falsely, per some sources) to the comic strip Pogo’s author Walt Kelly.
But the phrase may capture the climate change conundrum.
Our lovely green planet will survive us and whatever we throw at her – she has survived much worse in the past. And some humans will survive – we are as resilient and adaptable a critter as has evolved.
But the road to a sustainable future will be full of chaos and death. Those who survive through the generations need to be adaptable and tough, very tough. The four horsemen are saddled up and on the move and we will see them and their works for generations hence.
Just look around and see who will not survive even a temporary collapse in agricultural infrastructure – take a walk down the snack aisle at WalMart and check out the dinosaurs waddling their way to extinction. Like it or not the person who will survive looks a lot like a redneck to me.
Climate Disruption is the new Jesus!
“And some humans will survive – we are as resilient and adaptable a critter as has evolved.”
Of course humans can become extinct. To think otherwise is hubris.
“And some humans will survive – we are as resilient and adaptable a critter as has evolved.”
Either trivial: We, like all other species who exists and existed, have evolved.
Or false in the worst, un-Darwinian, exceptionalist, way.
Almost no one will give up their gluttonous living, ever. Especially environmentalists that tell the peasants how they are destroying the planet while they jet off to yet another conference at someone else’s expense.
Why does everybody have to thrash like crazy to earn a buck? To delay your debt monster’s chomp out of your ass for another day. Correlation is not always causation, but here, it is. Moar debt equals moar energy expended to stave off the debt collector.
You underestimate the effect of the federal reserve monetary system. This may not be the best way of saying it, but I’ll try. In a debt-based money system the repayment of debt, or at least credibility or repayment, is essential to maintain legitimacy. However, paying of debt is not so easy so additional money must be created, which requires additional debt. The result is everybody thrashing like crazy to earn a buck. Not only that, any change in economic arrangements means powerful elites or large numbers of people may become insolvent. It is not just less money, but the debt payments can become impossible, meaning the arrangements collapse. The system becomes more and more frantic as compounding debt-money meets depleting resources and deteriorating environment.
KM —- A few additional thoughts on fiat and debt. Fiat, fractional reserve banking, allow us to consume well beyond carrying capacity of the finite globe. Oil has been the wonderful, energy-dense transportable enabler or lubricant. Go back 7 generations to industrial age dawning, examine population and carbon. Oil has enabled us to over-shoot capacity.
Gold standard is obsolete. The notion of a currency tied to resources or a limited finite ‘reality’ has environmental sustainable legitimacy. What about full-life-cycle analyzed truly ‘green’ or sustainable BTU’s as a currency. The opposite of bit-coin. Imagine a family generating PV-produced electrons off of their roof, and/or small trickle wind generators like one sees on larger sailboats. Imagine said family living with the sun, conserving, and actually producing more clean BTU’s than they use. They have just become entrepreneurs, business people, ‘more economic’ critters. How to track it? Computers, and cost accountants. Simplify the tax code to a three tier flat tax on gross, remove all deductions. One page return. On the reverse side of the form the basic branches of government/ departments, where a taxpayer can elect and vote his-her dollars. Ove r a ten year period, on a sliding scale of diminishment to the general fund. Departments can watch their trend lines and see which way the collective will of America is headed.
First year: 75% of tax dollar goes to general fund, 25% is directed by each taxpayer. And so on … such that in 10th year congress has control over 25%, taxpayer has control over 75% of each dollar. Direct democracy through taxes, a government by, for, and of the people.
You want defense/ MI complex, I want social services— our pocketbook votes.
And, a ton of accountants freed up to do existentially-critical valuable work.
Don’t leave carbon trading to JP Morgan and Goldman. They need to get on the spaceship with Jeff and Elon and do God’s work in Space. Man’s engineering is fallible, fails, and there is no way we can ever re-create the marvelous intricacies and sublime genius of Space Ship Earth.
And, apropos of that— Bezos has a concept of cool space silos… he’s not been overly impressive on sharing his gains here on earth with his employees, why is it that we are to suppose or imagine that all this space ex will be shared any better or broadly than we are presently — all of us— willing to finally share the earth, live a conscious, moral, socially-just life and carefully share , moderately use, and care for, collectively, this fragile planet with each other and all species?
Lemmings: To the Brink.
BTW… Exxon 1982 report. Science is amazing! Blaming Exxon for all of it— this is supply-side blame. If we believe in markets and capitalism, incentives, rational human behavior, do not each of us have more than a little blood on our hands for demanding in past, and continuing –to drive with Blythe down the road to ruin? Exxon Valzes, BP Mocando blowout… I am culpable, too…
So, get on the bike. Move closer to work. Telecommute. Eat lower on the food chain. Stay home. Garden and put food by. Live with the sun. Put on a sweater and a beanie. Divest from Wall-Street and invest in PV panel for your roof, or in a local community solar project that you share. Get to know your neighbor. Let your reps know that license and consent is wearing thin and they need to do the right thing. XO
1. Fractional reserve banking doesn’t exist. 2. If it did, then the money wouldn’t be fiat.
exxon 1982, and exxon’s continuing propaganda campaign–they knew it even as they continued to lie about it, they bear massive responsibility. why should we believe in markets and capitalism?
Some simple math (and clearly very simplistic): Consider that if wages would rise generally to livable amounts so that we could return to single earner households. Commutes to work could be cut in half thereby instantly reducing the environmental impact.
You can expect Australia to do its part to help pump more CO2 into the atmosphere by exporting more coal overseas, especially after the Coalition win. After all, Australia made $66.2 billion in coal exports just last year and over 70% of electricity generation of the national electricity grid is coal-fired power. Already the coal industry has begun lobbying the re-elected Coalition government to support hard-line positions, including building new coal-fired power stations and weakening approvals processes for new coal mines like India’s Adani mine in Queensland. Just to make it better, there was a split among members of the Minerals Council and a new hard-line industry group called the Coal Council formed to push against climate policy and for more coal exports-
Carbon Dioxide × Methane × Nitrous Oxide.
For many, they won’t see it as a real crisis and threat until it strikes them in the belly like a punch in the gut. Fear will move quickly to panic and terror.
It will be interesting to see how the security state will attempt to manage this, for those on whose behalf it operates.
Luckily Occidental Petroleum has a bold new idea to cut down on atmospheric CO2: use it to pump more oil out of the ground.
From Reuters: Proposed U.S. plant to pull CO2 from thin air, use it to pump oil
Oil reminds me of the trajectory of someone addicted to heroin.
As Kurt Vonnegut said:
I came across an interesting website by a Canadian climate activist named Cory Morningstar. She claims that the entire climate change movement and its initiatives, from the Green New Deal to the Extinction Rebellion, is a massive NGO mediated psyop on behalf of the global capitalist class, and it is designed to guide concerned citizens to advocating for green capitalism rather than for a reduction in carbon emissions. While people are led to believe they are taking part in spontaneous, grassroots citizen-driven campaigns, in reality everything is being coordinated behind the scenes by Davos-friendly NGOs that package “green” money making schemes as initiatives to “fight climate change.” The goal, Morningstar claims, is to reboot the sluggish global economy and it is being done on the backs of the global south and the people with the lowest carbon footprints so the elites in the global north can keep their scam going for as long as possible.
She backs up her assertions with copious research and provides links to all the documents she cites. I have not yet gone through all of it, but what I did read so far is compelling. Her thesis can’t easily be dismissed as paranoid ravings or poor quality conspiracy theorizing. Her overarching theme is what she calls the ‘NonProfit Industrial Complex’ and as anyone who followed the Syrian War with a critical mind knows, non-profit NGOs working in lockstep with major media outlets and establishment think tanks to create and publicize a propaganda narrative is not without precedent.
I did read in detail the sections on the Swedish girl Greta Thunberg who Morningstar claims is an NGO/finance capitalist construct….and it is pretty clear that she would not have gone viral without the backing of various “green” NGOs and a major Swedish tech startup, whose CEO openly states that he hopes to profit handsomely from her “movement.” Whatever else Thunberg is, anyone who is endorsed by the Davos crowd is certainly not doing anything that will reduce their bottom line.
The fact is, global warming is real and its effects are devastating. Climate scientists have been publishing stats and talking about their findings for decades, but we have made absolutely no progress despite Greenpeace, 350.org and other organizations supposedly working hard to convince TPTB to take the issue seriously. Why? The media could very easily get on the bandwagon and sell climate change as the massive challenge and existential threat it is, like it sells wars, identity politics and Donald Trump…but it doesn’t. Instead we get excuses about how doing nothing is “human nature” and how it’s sooo hard to get people to care. Bullcrap. If instead of 20 articles per day, per outlet dedicated to Trumpian gossip, idpol nonsense and Russiagate propaganda they focused on global warming, you bet people would be taking it seriously.
IMO, the lame excuses, the chronic inaction of the media and the cheerful focus on green consumption as the solution lends credibility to Morningstar’s assertions. Link below.
The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex [ACT I]
What amazes me is how the “Green new deal” people like AOC insist we have only 10 years, blah blah blah while countries like China pollute the dickens out of the environment. They’ll continue trashing their country no matter how “green” we make the U.S. and all for what?
Fact is, the Earth has been spinning for Billions of years and is a self-correcting entity. We Humans are a mere blip in it’s existence; if we become too pesky Earth will deal with it on it’s own terms. It’s foolhardy to the max to believe we can have an effect. In fact how do we know whatever steps we may take might not make matters worse.
we’re already having an effect, that is what global warming is all about–you acknowledge that in saying “if we become too pesky earth will deal with that on it’s own terms”. and as to china, they are investing more iirc than the u.s. in renewable, so they seem more aware of the problem than the united states does.
Wow, comprehensive, documented and pitiless Hard Left expose! many thanks for sharing. A must read imho.
Rips the band aid off the biggest, most cynical grift yet by the judgy-preachy global CorpLib set, and its smug Kids!-click-here-to-save-the-Planet-win-valuable-prizes! VC puppetmasters.
Living on earth right now is akin to Slim Pickens riding the H-bomb in the movie Dr. Strangelove.
I particularly like the Wikipedia description (bold letters is my interpretation):
Pickens riding a dropped H-bomb ( our increasing CO2 producing life style ) to a certain death, whooping and waving his cowboy hat (in the manner of a rodeo performer bronc riding or bull riding), not knowing its detonation will trigger a Russian doomsday device ( i.e. climate change resulting in a mass extinction event including many humans)
It is very interesting just how accurate Exxon’s projections were in 1980. Amazing really. And good in this sense – we seem to actually know what we are doing. But I’m not able to figure that part out. Yesterday I numbed out surfing for climate articles about new glaciations. I ran across an article, which looked to be done by highly qualified scientists and posted in one of the science digests (News or Daily I think). It was done within the last decade, so fairly recent. The point it made was that yes, the Earth is dipping into orbits that increase cooling temperatures and the sun is not as intense; yes we do have atmospheric CO2 warming and melting the arctic ice… all the usual stuff. And then the conclusion that it is within the realm of scientific predictions to speculate that man-made warming, CO2, could be controlled enough to prevent another glaciation from occurring for the next 500,000 years. I had to read that line twice. I suppose the pols think that carbon cap and trade and tax is going to achieve this ideal balance? So we should naturally be looking to mitigate all the flooding and crazy weather, I guess. Agriculture should be taking front and center about now. It’s probably best to come clean before 8 billion people go insane with anxiety.
The Exxon prediction was startlingly accurate
Incredible really. The math is dead on. And we’ve had 40 years of scientific advances in atmospheric measuring and chaotic system interactions.
I want to recommend Dahr Jamail’s book “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption” I know it was in the links a few weeks ago, but I think it is worth looking at as a companion piece to Tom Neuburger’s article. I finished reading the book a few weeks ago and just keep thinking about it.
Jamail has reported, independently and without embedding with the military, about the Iraq war and I take that as an indication that he is serious about doing good reporting. I think he demonstrates these reporting skills in his book. The book contains a lot of useful details, scientific and human, that can help clarify some people’s questions here. And provides useful references.
One fact that he talks about that sticks in my head: 69% of all fresh water is tied up in glaciers, so once the glaciers melt, many people are going to be without access to water. The Mekong River is fed by a glacial stream that begins in Tibet. 60 million people depend on the Mekong River.
And that is just one of the catastrophes.
He is not optimistic and neither am I.
Here are two links for interviews with Jamail.
Our predicaments are in part a legacy of visions of a beautiful way of life born in middle of the Great Depression when unemployment and economic collapse were the most pressing issues:
“The Radiant City (1935), the lead author of the Charter of Athens, Swiss architect Le Corbusier, envisioned his urban ideal: “The cities will be part of the country. I shall live 30 miles from my office in one direction, under a pine tree; my secretary will live 30 miles away from it too, in the other direction, under another pine tree. We shall both have our own car. We shall use up tires, wear out road surfaces and gears, consume oil and gasoline. All of which will necessitate a great deal of work . . . enough for all.” Corbusier’s dream of full employment based on dispersed, auto-dependent development has become in large part a reality in North America—and the nightmare of later generations who find themselves bound to a car and stuck in traffic.” [from “How Le Corbusier’s American Dream Became a Nightmare By Lee Hardy • April 19, 2019 linked to in the NC links]
Our way of life is built upon and deliberately constructed to require consuming large quantities of energy and so far, in my opinion, burning fossil fuels remains the only adequate source of energy for sustaining our way of life. Such mass transit as we once had in many cities was very deliberately dismantled and rightaways were sold into the winds. We have less love for cars than a horrible dependence on them. Cities grew in climates ill-suited to cities, built dependent on the capabilities of air conditioning. These are but a few examples. There are villains in our story and willing populations seduced by what was a beautiful dream.
This post is concerned with the increases in atmospheric CO2. I believe another problem will soon result from heat already stored in our oceans — a heat system of great inertia. The Arctic pole is melting, inexorably moving toward dark ice-free seas. The increases in CO2 will have tremendous long-term impacts on the Earth’s climate. Hansen likens the level of atmospheric CO2 to a thermostat for the Earth. But the melting of the Arctic pole will result in an extremely rapid transition in our climate and weather patterns. Little time remains to plan how to adapt to what will be a large, extremely rapid change.
Add to the Mekong the Indus (India and Pakistan), the Ganges (India and Bangladesh), the Brahmaputra (Bangladesh), The Yellow River/Huang He (China), and the Yangtze (China). Look up the populations of the listed countries, which depend on the rivers to support a great deal of their agriculture, and add the numbers.
There is suffering on an unimaginable scale looking us in the face.
Tibet isn’t called The Third Pole for nothing.
Plant Trees! Plant plants! Much more effective than (driving to) rallies etc.
The only credible way to return to single earner households is to legislate a 1 job/household limit. Otherwise the 2 earner households will just bid up the prices of everything people really want because they have the money to do so.
The demise of the feasible one earner household is an almost inevitable result of the widespread development of 2 earner households.
…was just wondering…is there enough methane in the permafrost…were it to be released more or less at once (in geological terms)…mix with air…what would happen …if it were to ignite…
That brings Mars’ atmosphere to mind….mostly gone!
I will assuredly try to minimize my contribution to the conflagration.