‘Unimaginably Catastrophic’: Researchers Fear Gulf Stream System Could Collapse

Yves here. Pols and headline writers are having to come up with new, adequately urgent ways to convey the DefCon Level 1 climate change disasters starting to beset us. One with tremendous knock-on effects is the marked slowing of the Gulf Stream. Experts have discussed it as a likely outcome for some time. Without belaboring details, the melting of the Greenland and Arctic ice sheets reduces the salinity of ocean water, and that in turn brakes and if it goes far enough, will halt Gulf Stream water and air stream circulation. Despite being a blindingly obvious and hugely consequential tipping point, it’s bizarrely it’s never been treated as a imminent, even with the Gulf Steam decelerating in the last decade.

By Jessica Corbett. Originally published at Common Dreams

The Gulf Stream is an ocean current that carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean. (Image: NASA)

“Scientists say we cannot allow this to happen. People in power stand in our way.”

While heatwaves, fires, and floods produce warnings that “we are living in a climate emergency, here and now,” a scientific study suggested Thursday that a crucial Atlantic Ocean current system could collapse, which “would have severe impacts on the global climate system.”

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, focuses on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which includes the Gulf Stream. As the United Kingdom’s Met Office explains, it is “a large system of ocean currents that carry warm water from the tropics northwards into the North Atlantic,” like a conveyor belt.

Previous research has shown AMOC weakening in recent centuries. The author of the new study, Niklas Boers of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK), found that this is likely related to a loss of stability.

“The Atlantic Meridional Overturning is one of our planet’s key circulation systems,” Boers, who is also affiliated with universities in the U.K. and Germany, said in a statement.

“We already know from some computer simulations and from data from Earth’s past, so-called paleoclimate proxy records, that the AMOC can exhibit—in addition to the currently attained strong mode—an alternative, substantially weaker mode of operation,” he continued. “This bi-stability implies that abrupt transitions between the two circulation modes are in principle possible.”

In the absence of long-term data on the current system’s strength, Boers looked at its “fingerprints,” sea-surface temperature and salinity patterns. He said that “a detailed analysis of these fingerprints in eight independent indices now suggests that the AMOC weakening during the last century is indeed likely to be associated with a loss of stability.”

“The findings support the assessment that the AMOC decline is not just a fluctuation or a linear response to increasing temperatures,” he continued, “but likely means the approaching of a critical threshold beyond which the circulation system could collapse.”

As The Guardian‘s Damian Carrington reports, the collapse of “one of the planet’s main potential tipping points” would be devastating on a global scale:

Such an event would have catastrophic consequences around the world, severely disrupting the rains that billions of people depend on for food in India, South America, and West Africa; increasing storms and lowering temperatures in Europe; and pushing up the sea level in the eastern U.S. It would also further endanger the Amazon rainforest and Antarctic ice sheets.

The complexity of the AMOC system and uncertainty over levels of future global heating make it impossible to forecast the date of any collapse for now. It could be within a decade or two, or several centuries away. But the colossal impact it would have means it must never be allowed to happen, the scientists said.

“The signs of destabilization being visible already is something that I wouldn’t have expected and that I find scary,” Boers told the newspaper. “It’s something you just can’t [allow to] happen.”

It is unclear what level of global heating would cause a collapse, “so the only thing to do is keep emissions as low as possible,” he added. “The likelihood of this extremely high-impact event happening increases with every gram of CO2 that we put into the atmosphere.”

Some climate action advocates responded to the study by highlighting a science fiction movie that, as famed film critic Roger Ebert wrote nearly two decades ago, “is ridiculous, yes, but sublimely ridiculous—and the special effects are stupendous.”

“We all laughed at The Day After Tomorrow, back in 2004,” said Guy Shrubsole, policy and campaigns coordinator at Rewilding Britain. “Turned out it was a documentary.”

The environmental advocacy group 350 Tacoma respondedto the findings with a call to action.

“There are warning signs that the Gulf Stream could collapse, an unimaginably catastrophic (and irreversible) impact of fossil fuel-caused climate breakdown,” the group tweeted. “Scientists say we cannot allow this to happen. People in power stand in our way.”

The study comes ahead of a United Nations climate summitin Glasgow set to begin October 31. Last month, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres noted the upcoming event and reminded leaders of wealthy countries that “the world urgently needs a clear and unambiguous commitment to the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris agreement,” and “we are way off track.”

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  1. vlade

    If Gulf Stream breaks, the UK will turn into Newfoundland climate-wise. But no-one has an idea what it will actually mean in terms of temperatures and precipitation. Same goes for much of western Europe, central Europe has more of a continental climate, although again, who knows what butterfly effect it would have there.

    That’s IMO one of the missing arguments in the “we’ll just have to adjust”. Because we have no idea what to adjust to, because no-one knows what even the journey there will look like, never mind the final state.

    Out of the five summers here (central Europe), first three were really hot and dry. Two years ago, we had a once-in-500-years-drought. Then it started raining last year. It hasn’t really stopped that much since TBH. Much of produce in our vege garden last year just rotted from the rain. This year’s better, but not much. The country was lucky (so far) it escaped any significant floods.

    1. robert lowrey

      I’m glad you mentioned “the butterfly effect”. It’s my thesis that hydraulic fracturing is such an outlier in the enormous carbon footprint it stomps into the ground in order to introduce still more carbon into the atmosphere, that it has brought climate change forward: the methane it either flares off, adding CO2 and H2O, two powerful GNG’s, to the atmosphere, or allows to seep into the troposphere, is on such an unprecedented scale that it renders all climate models obsolete, as none of them included the fact that the two Petro States of Russia and the USA would start fracturing the entire continental plate of their respective continents, releasing huge amounts of this gas on top of the already burgeoning CO2 numbers. This is considered a more or less frackpot theory. That is why I like the fact that you mentioned the butterfly effect. Because it brings up a question I’ve recently wondered about. How is it that it seems perfectly acceptable to millions and millions of people that a butterfly flapping its wings in Asia can result in a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico (for example), yet the far more disruptive activities of the earth-shattering fracking industry as being at the heart of the acceleration of Climate Change’s effects, is shrugged off as nonsense? Because you see, to me, it’s staring us right in the face; but because we want to keep on riding around in our ginormous SUV’s and F-150r p/u trucks, ie want to continue the insane program of hydraulic fracturing, no matter how horrendous the repercussions, it’s dismissed out of hand.

      1. Copeland

        Agreed, except –where I live– F150s have been largely supplanted by F250s and F350s, and their RAM equivalents. You drive a half ton truck you ain’t nobody, RAM 3500 dually, diesel (so you can roll coal when needed) seems to be the holy grail.

  2. topcat

    …and yet here I am fitting a new kitchen in my house and discussing the pro’s and con’s of various universities with my youngest daughter as though there was actually going to be a future in which these things mean anything.

    1. Tom Stone

      topcat, my daughter will be graduating from the Honors college at USF next spring and has applied for a schwarzman scholarship at the urging of her Faculty advisor,
      She and her Fiancee had planned to emigrate to a European Country when he recieves his engineering degree from Cal Poly in 2023 ( Full ride scholarship, he’s a smart kid).
      Hostages to fortune, as we all are..

      1. topcat

        Sounds like you have a very clever daughter and prospective son-in-law, scholarships make a huge difference of course.
        I am an engineer living and working in Germany and here the universities are free, so the only problem is the cost of accommodation which is high in all of the main Uni. cities.
        Germany and Switzerland are the best countries in Europe for engineers.

    2. Blue Duck

      My children are 8 and younger. My wife is a physician and I am an accountant. We’re not raising our kids to become members of the clerical PMC. What good will it do to be a lawyer or accountant in 30 years time? We are teaching them agriculture, animal husbandry, we hike and canoe and camp. I teach them history, such that they can understand our society better and hopefully be able to adjust and survive in the future. I try not to be like Sarah Connor in the second terminator movie, but some days it’s hard to not want to teach them more acute survivalism and self defense.

      1. topcat

        I think you are on the right track but there is a danger of the kids becoming very stressed, worrying that the world is going to end. It is also difficult to imagine that we can revert to hunter gatherer societies, there are simply too many of us and too few resources. I fear that a great many are simply going to die.

        1. Blue Duck

          Ya I totally get that. We have pursued this lifestyle as much for its own sake as for anything else. The kids have no idea about climate change or the general instability of the world. They think covid is great because they got to stay home from school and play lego for 18 months.

          1. jsn

            Cooperation, coordination, communication and caring.

            We are super social animals and exponentially more capable as groups than individuals. Unfortunately, as a group sociopaths tend to take over the civilizational structures we have built. That is where we are and who is responsible, it’s been a recurring cycle but now maps over climate change and the systemic collapses that will force.

            Survival from the wreckage of those systems will be effectuated by those who organize the largest and best collective solutions. You are preparing them if you are encouraging them to be social, to cooperate, coordinate, communicate and care. That is where we will have to be to survive.

            1. JeffK

              “We are super social animals”, but take a closer look at social organisms in the animal kingdom – there aren’t many (any?) democracies. Many individual social animals fit into (by force) dominance hierarchies, on which the fitness of the collective organization depends. We humans seem to be unique in trying democratic social experiments, but the dominance hierarchy is pretty ‘baked in’ to our character (see Robert Lowrey’s comment above about pickup trucks: The big American automakers have been fabricating the hypermasculine image around selling pickup trucks for decades. It’s their best seller now. The men who buy the super duty 3500 are buying it to …what?, compensate for not fitting into the top of hierarchy in other ways? No, they need to pull the family’s 36 foot camping trailer to the nearest campground where the dominance hierarchy plays out again in other ways …like who has the biggest and best glamping equipment.)

              We ‘super social’ humans have always been torn between cooperation and selfish pursuits because conditions change where one strategy will be favored over the other – even among extended family members.

              1. Schofield

                Don’t think so. The new science of hologenomics puts dominance hierarchies into a different perspective. Needing a super-size and super-power truck strongly suggest poor parenting that’s created an inferiority complex in the off-spring!

            2. c_heale

              If you look at the history of ancient civilisations, some of which include, Easter Island, the Mayan cities, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, (hat tip Jared Diamond), the evidence suggests that we will not change until too late and our civilisation will collapse. We are the same species as those humans. Looks like we are going back to a society of small communities and subsistance living. And the genes of our elites might survive, but their lifestyle and social status will be exactly the same as that of everyone else. However, I expect a lot of violence on the way down, as people try to cling onto their social status, which means more damage to our ecosystem and less survivors.

          1. topcat

            Indeed, but what sort of agriculture? Certainly not modern agriculture which depends upon oil, R&D and electricity, none of which is going to be available in relevant amounts. The carrying capacity of simple human-powered agriculture is very low, certainly a tiny fraction of the current world’s population. Whether you happen to survive the transition is just a lottery (you need to be living on a farm with direct access to food growing outside your front door) , and remember everything else is gone, modern medicine, antibiotics, etc etc. At the very best it is 1800 again.

            1. Grateful Dude

              ummmm … organic? A lot of us are already doing it. And don’t believe anybody who tells you that it would be impossible to give up synthetic, ie petrol-based, nutrients and pesticides, and still feed the planet. That’s just more of the same tale from the same tale-waggers.

        2. Mantid

          Topcat, I feel an even worst danger is having kids grow up thinking the world as we know it is NOT going to end. It is going to end, and quite abruptly. So… might as well learn to be a hunter/gatherer and learn food production, storage, sanitation etc. Forced localization is coming so best to be prepared. Get youngsters off of their cell phones and into a garden. I teach many children and so, so many of them don’t know what aphids are much less how to repair a flat tire on a bike. Children on cell phones are in a world (to come) of hurt.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    This has always been the nightmare scenario. The shockingly rapid melt off in Greenland ice cap is making a rapid global change far more likely. I have to give credit to the Guardian as (from what I can see) the only outlet to give this news the prominence it needs. This is meteor about to hit the earth type news. And there is no engineering fix for this, unless someone wants to build giant dams along the entire length of Greenland to try to slow down fresh water flow.

    There has always been an assumption – and I include many scientists and modellers in this number – that climate change is a steady linear process. But there is copious evidence that in the immediate post glacial period in the northern hemisphere that that climate change can be remarkably rapid, far faster than humans or ecosystems can respond. We know that in the later neolithic and early bronze age there were several very rapid changes which wrecked havoc on populations at the time.

    1. Tom Stone

      PK,it is non linear, something I have mentioned to quite a few people.
      Very few are able or willing to accept that reality.
      I don’t expect to be around much longer due to my age, health issues and Covid but it would be nice if the youngsters had a chance.
      The current estimate of a 17″ sea level rise over the next decade alone is enough to cause massive disruption, AMOC dying would be a slate wiper.

    2. bold'un

      But the earth’s climate system in the end has to balance out; so if the AMOC changes, there will be surely be some winners as well as losers. We cannot predict chaotic systems, but maybe North Africa would become the breadbasket it used to be in Roman times…

      1. Eloined

        Maybe so. And maybe certain plants, insects and microbes will be the only discernible winners. But we all can hope, dream and spout on otherwise, right? Cheerio!

      2. EarlyGray

        After the AMOC flips, the global climate system will no doubt settle to a new equilibrium eventually, but on the way there there will be a period of instability. How long that period will be is something I cannot estimate, and I’m don’t think the best climate scientists can either.
        During this instability, it could be that the climate becomes too unpredictable for agriculture to be viable and if so the question will be whether humans can survive the unstable period. If this worst case scenario happens, maybe humans will survive in some form or other but its very unlikely that modern civilization will.

        1. Virtuous Sloth

          One of the other stable configurations is an ice age that after a few thousand years results in 1 km thick sheets of ice covering the north half of North America (and Asia, I presume).

          Tens of thousands of years of humans adjusting in that scenario.

        2. Mantid

          Early and Bold’un. I disagree. “but on the way there there will be a period of instability” or “climate system in the end has to balance out” – we are entering exponential growth of change on this increasingly hot planet. We are not going to get hotter and hotter, more and more acidic and then all of a sudden stop. The planet will become increasingly hot and my fear is that we end up like Venus. Thanks for your comments. Great discussion.

    3. Watt4Bob

      I read once that by examining cores from the sea bed around Britain, it was discovered that the glacier that had once covered the island had advanced from the south.

      It was thought that this meant the ice age involved had started all at once. It simply started snowing one year, and never totally melted, and the ice piled up.

      With that in mind, Vlade’s comment above, about never ending rain takes on an even more ominous tone.

      1. Synoia

        Got a reference or link?

        I went to school in North Norfolk, UK for 10 years, and am familiar with the glacial Till along the N Norfolk. Coast (Blakney to Sheringham and beyond.

          1. Synoia

            Yes. The film “If” is close to the regime.

            The regime was so good that I refused to apply to Oxbridge, which were the Universities of choice for about 500 years.

            I attended college on a scholarship elsewhere.

    4. aleph_0

      I find that linear thinking is probably one of the biggest faulty thinking heuristics that people use basically everywhere (technical fields and daily life) so I think your comment is spot on.

    5. Michaelmas

      PlutoniumKun; This has always been the nightmare scenario.

      This is not the nightmare scenario.

      The methane clathrate trigger/release will be far, far worse. One might argue that the collapse of the Atlantic conveyer belt might help trigger that, except that if you look at what’s happening in Siberia the last two years the methane release and melting of the permafrost there has already begun and doesn’t need help.

      And yes, it’s not linear — the process of tipping over to a new eocene or miocene-type phase of the Earth’s climate could take as little three years to happen. We know this from the (pre)historical icecore record.

    6. topcat

      HI PK,
      As an electrical engineer and Dubliner living in Germany I can certainly say that the vast majority of the power electronics that we rely on is not designed to operate at ambient temperatures above 40°C. This is the reason that the air-con on the ICE trains failed a few years ago leaving train full’s of passengers being broiled.
      Making stuff reliable at an ambient of 50°C would mean either reducing capacity or renewing lots of stuff.
      In Germany the diesel supplies are switched to winter diesel in October – it doesn’t freeze until -20°C (I think).

  4. Eustachedesaintpierre

    I don’t know much about it but from what I have seen of housing in Canada it appears to be built to withstand what their climate throws at it, which I believe would not be the case in the British Isles. A few years back here in Northern Ireland we suffered from an ice storm with temperatures low as minus 20 C & basically large parts of the province shut down, mainly due to power lines collapsing due to ice build up which in order to fix meant bringing in workers from the Republic & England.

    Our oil heating froze over & the roads became like ice rinks. Fortunately it only lasted 52 hrs although it felt much longer & we had a propane gas cooker so we could heat water & cook during those times when we were forced to venture out from under 2 duvets dressed as we would if heading out on a Winter’s day. I also had a tight deadline for a sculpture but couldn’t work as the modelling wax which is normally soft & pliable became like concrete.

    1. vlade

      If the British Isles get current Newfoundland climate (deep below 0C winters), they will suffer massively. The infra will just give up. It’s not just that people will start heating (more CO2) more, but I have doubts whether the infra (in the UK certainly, in Ireland I’ll leave it to PK to comment) is capable to withstand it both structurally and capacity-wise.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      There is a fundamental problem which will hit all countries which is that infrastructure and housing is built using explicit or implicit assumptions on weather extremes. We’ve already seen this in Texas last winter where a very cold spell knocked out the natural gas system. That cold spell would have been nothing in Alaska, but thats because Alaskan infrastructure is built to handle it.

      There are many unknowns that could be devastating for infrastructure of all types. Rising, or dropping ground water levels could have serious impacts on apparently solid looking structures. Saline intrusion, the shrinking of clay soils, higher intensity winds, increasing electric storms and so on are all major potential impacts on everything from power lines, pipelines, to individual homes. Large thermal power stations can shut down if seasonal patterns mean they lose cooling water, or they can even shut down if habitat changes mean they are overshelmed with jellyfish or seaweed. The so-called intermittency problem of renewables will be as nothing compared to the regular shut downs we will see once unpredictable weather patterns hits our conventional energy networks.

      I’ve had arguments with this with engineers in the past, who base their assumptions on linear projections of rising sea levels and increasing flood extremes. I’ve seen supposedly ‘climate change proof’ structures built on assumptions based on an extremely simplistic reading of the models, one no climate modeller would support. And there is a huge problem which I’ve seen with flooding projections that once an assumption is built into a regulatory structure, it takes many years to change it, even when people can see with their own eyes that the assumption is incorrect.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘Large thermal power stations can shut down if seasonal patterns mean they lose cooling water’

        Hey, that would apply to nuclear power stations as well. How are they supposed to be kept cool if the water they use is frozen solid?

        Come to think of it, if the weather turns to snowy Newfoundland, are they supposed to put windscreen wipers on all those solar panels then?

      2. george

        I feel we would be extremely lucky to regard change to infrastructure as a solution here. From what I gather, that type of change to the North Atlantic Current will promptly deliver unbreathable cold air in the form of an extinction event, wiping out areas of the world above a survivable latitude that really can not be determined. At the same time the existing poles change places as these twister like storms are raising havoc. The only scenario with less doom will be to shelter in place until such time the killer cold clears and eventually evacuate to a new ice age.

        1. Mantid

          These interesting comments regarding infrastructure I find fascinating. I’ve built a small handful of structures and houses so have a moderate understanding of “structure” in the few different regions I’ve lived in. This leads to my comment that people (humans in general) will have to ignore the entire concept of “infrastructure” because there will only be very localized existence. infrastructure implies connecting various systems: water, power, transportation……… I feel all large systems will collapse and we’ll only have our immediate environment to (try to) live in.

          Combining complete collapse with constant change will be the tough part. No way will one be able to get “parts” or “supplies” from distant lands. Look what lowly Covid has done to supply chains. Imagine 4 – 5 hurricanes, 6 – 10 massive floods, a few regions in flames, a couple nuclear plants melting, and a few tsunamis all happening at the same time. Who’s going to be able to order, much less receive parts or material that they need? At least it could be then end of large wars. America will be sad.

    3. Skunk

      Not if those Canadian buildings are in the Arctic circle. The fires in the Arctic circle may make life in parts of Canada difficult, and melting permafrost can also destabilize building foundations.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    This is the scenario at the center of “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004) in which a hero renegade scientist, played by Dennis “Gordo” Quaid, warns the cabinet about what’s going to happen.


      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It was probablly built with several just-in-case scenarios in mind. ” A wall faces both ways.”

      1. mike

        all is a big word here…. IF they all agree it is probably more of a religion that you are talking about than science. How much of our standard of living are we supposed to make disappear to mitigate this upcoming disaster? do they all agree that too?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If all scientists agree that ” water is wet”, does that make “water is wet” into a religious catechism rather than a scientific statement of material reality?

          But if you suspect “man made global warming” is a delusion or a hoax, you have a tremendous contrarian investing opportunity laid out before you at your feet. Simply see what the Warmists are predicting, and whichever of those predictions you think won’t happen, invest in things which depend on those predictions not happening.

          If you are right, you will get rich.

          1. Reify99

            “Warmists” can play that game, too, by divesting from fossil fuels, as well as from greenwashing, virtue signaling companies and instead attempt to fund companies that are leading the shift to renewables, mitigation or whatever they believe is the right thing to do. This can be done even if they DON’T get rich. They can vote activists onto the board, etc.
            Yes, it may amount to moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic, but it is something one can do.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Even better would be if the warmists can somehow help all the hoaxists to make their contrarian investments while we are making our survival investments.

              Ideally, we could help all the millions of hoaxists buy a ticket and get a seat on Darwin’s Melting Iceberg.

          2. c_heale

            So our current system of markets is likely to survive this? Since it looks on the brink of collapse at this very moment, I expect a shortage of food in the next few years caused by drier weather conditions to tip it over the edge.

        2. Edward

          In the movie clip, it seems Jack is the only scientist warning about the climate problems. The politicians are questioning if they should act based on the views of this one person. In real life, though. many scientists have been warning about the Gulf stream problem for years, not just one lonely voice.

          As for “How much of our standard of living are we supposed to make disappear to mitigate this upcoming disaster?” , so far less then has been spent on the bank bailouts or the wars or health care or the consequences of off-shoring our industrial base to China.

          To me it makes sense that we should alter our lifestyle to avoid global warming. I don’t consider it the end of the world if I have to engage in some lifestyle belt-tightening. If the world had tackled global warming decades ago, the required changes would have been less severe. At this late date, we are going to find out the hard way how bad global warming actually is and if humanity can cope with it.

        3. Henry Moon Pie

          “How much of our standard of living are we supposed to make disappear to mitigate this upcoming disaster? do they all agree that too?”

          Where would you feel a pinch? The four-door F-250? Maybe the bass boat with a 200 horse outboard? The 3,500 sq foot house kept toasty in winter and chilly in summer?
          A visit to the Great Barrier Reef (before it’s gone, of course) or a cruise down the Danube?

          Those are the kinds of things we could do without (nearly all of us do already) but that would make an impact if they ceased among the affluent.

          Nobody is asking anyone to forego eating, receiving medical care or education, having a roof over their heads or enjoying our family and friends in spite of the fact that we are often told that some of us can’t have those things because of deficits, moral hazard, reasons, … The problem is that what were once luxuries reserved for the 1% are now considered almost entitlements for the top 20%. When the numbers get that big, it becomes a huge contributor to our problem.

          As part of my Common Earth class, we looked at a chart of carbon levels in the atmosphere since 1960. There were actually some down dips in what has otherwise been a sixty-year rise up and up. Those down dips coincided exactly with recessions in the USA. The only way out of this is to slow economic activity, and the first thing to tackle is the consumption of the affluent.

  6. The Rev Kev

    Whenever you have a natural disaster like an earthquake, a firestorm, a major flood or even a volcano, the pattern remains the same. The dead are buried, towns & cities are rebuilt and the survivors try to put the past behind them – mostly. This is nothing like that. If that stream shuts down, it will be for a minimum for thousands of year at the very least. Then Europe/UK get the same climate as Newfoundland – or Siberia. As others above have stated, the infrastructure is not built to stand it. And how are crops supposed to be farmed in this new climate regime? Will North Africa find themselves swamped by refugee boat-people from the European mainland? I have been reading about this possibility since years before that 2004 film “The Day After Tomorrow” was made but it looks like I may get to see it actually happen. God knows what it will do to weather patterns for the rest of the world.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > And how are crops supposed to be farmed in this new climate regime?

      This is not an adequate answer at scale, but at individual level there are methods for intensive growing in cold conditions. I’ve started into a dated book, a ’94 printing of “Solar Gardening”; the authors (two people) claim to feed themselves out of a 1/8 acre plot that is intensively gardened year-round, in a chilly New England state.

      Here’s a summary, of the same vintage, of their methods:


      Doubtless there are more recent presentations of and improvements on their methods.

      1. Mantid

        Spot on. I’ve been a small scale gardener for my whole life. The systems of growing food and preserving it has changed quite a bit from the 60’s. Most concepts remain the same, but the environment is shifting at a very fast rate. What grew there, now grows here. I’ve also noticed a large change in bird populations for example. As a kiddo on my porch folding newspapers to deliver, there was a cackophony (sp?) of bird chirps, songs and squeals. Now I mostly hear scavenger calls: scrub jay, crow, starling, etc. The scavengers will be the last to go. Canary, coal mine, that concept.

  7. Roger

    The last time Earth’s climate went non-linear to hot house the Northern Hemisphere went first and the Southern one took quite a long time to catch up (it benefits from less land mass and much more water, a melting Antarctica would also cool the southern oceans). A place in the foothills of New Zealand, South America etc. may be a better bet for the kids. The Northern Hemisphere will be a shit show between the collapsed AMOC and North Atlantic surface cold water lens from the melting Greenland (see “Storms of my Grand Children” by James Hansen), and all the melting permafrost turning into a massive bog spewing out methane. The recent two-decade plus massive rises in North American and UK house prices may look very, very dumb a decade or two from now.

    The non-linearity is what puts the lie to all the “we can do geo-engineering” crap as societies start to lose the functionality required to carry out such activities, let alone the international treaty making required and possibility of war. Archeology tends to show that sea levels go up in steps rather than linearly, a big rise in a couple of decades then a pause, then another big rise. May be driven by the geography of Greenland and Antarctica. Also, as Antarctica melts sea levels around it will FALL (due to reduced ice mass produced gravity) and the places furthest away from Antarctica will have the biggest sea level rise – i.e. North America, Europe and the Arctic.

    1. Tom Doak

      Not to minimize the extent of the problem, but I would think the disruption of the Gulf Stream would probably curtail the melting in Greenland.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        In one scenario postulated it would do that and then some, such as triggering the reglacierization of northern North America and Eurasia.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Perhaps you might be interested in one of Hansen’s latest efforts. He had been working on a book “Sophie’s Planet” and posting chapters and updated chapters of that book on what had been his webpage.
      [His new webpage is hosted at https://csas.earth.columbia.edu/blog/communications The old server that hosted his work at Columbia has been shutdown, but many of the links on the server he has been moved to are broken or bring up a login screen in a format suggestive of the student login screens on a horrible shareware product adopted at a Community College where I took some classes. I am not sure what is going on. Most of Hansen’s communications have broken links — not just those to chapters of Sophie’s Planet. I doubt Hansen is being muzzled but whoever handled configuring the new server should be fired immediately. And all the administrators who purchased the horrible shareware software — assuming my guess about the login screen is correct — should be fired and investigated for possibly receiving kickbacks or ‘favors’ of one kind and another.]

      Powell’s shows a hardback edition of Sophie’s Planet as a preorder item.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the ChinaGov decides to do geo-engineering, who is going to ask them if they have permission?

      ” Permission? We don’t have any permission. We don’t need no steenkin’ permission!”

      Who would start a war with China to stop the ChinaGov from geo-engineering?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        If US or Britain decide to do geo-engineering who is going to ask them if they have permission? I worry more about the US and Britain than China. The Chinese government at least appears to be somewhat competent.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If the US and/or UK keep deciding to not do geo-e, and to not do anything either, and carbon skyloads keep going up, and China keeps suffering more Harvey Dayloads of rain, eventually competence itself will drive the ChinaGov to ” do something”.

          And the only ” hail Mary” something left to do at that point will be geo-engineering. And so the ChinaGov will quite competently give it a try.

  8. William Hunter Duncan

    But think about all that oil that will be available for global markets when Greenland turns green again.

    People in power stand in the way? What are people in power going to say, no more consumerism for you? They would get consumed. They are in power because most people want the life they have grown accustomed to and more, and the elite have delivered more or less as long as anyone living has been alive. Such will not be in power anymore the less consumerism there is. Those gaining power will likely do so by promising a restoration of growth.

    I think we can safely assume any mitigating of the consequences of climate change will be primarily on the personal level.

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      “I think we can safely assume any mitigating of the consequences of climate change will be primarily on the personal level”.

      That’s my bet. I am not expecting any material change / assistance / coping top- down.

    2. Rolf

      At the national level, our current political and economic systems, and the poor quality of information — or outright disinformation — in media we permit (at least in the US), taken together simply seem to preclude any effective response. By design, they create enormous inertia, such that any positive changes are accidental or require decades, and are impermanent anyway. The only thing we seem able to do rapidly on a national level is 1) launch military strikes, and 2) protect the interests of asset holders, income assistance for people who already have money. Clearly, neither of these strategies will help us as a nation here. So, yes: I think we are largely on our own, and should assume the worst. Seems terrible to say this, and years ago I would have scoffed at such a statement.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If that is the case, that personal mitigation and / or global de-warming personal lifestyle gesturing and living-one’s-witness, is all the mitigation there is going to be, then it is very important that migitation information and assistance be withheld from those people who have done their personal best to make the problem non-solvable and not-even-discussable.

      Global warming deniers and denialists have no right to exist and do not deserve to survive, and helping them survive is an evil ecocidal crime against the future itself.

  9. Rick Shapiro

    Britain will never approach the climate of Newfoundland because it will always be warmed in winter by the maritime westerlies, even if those westerlies are cooler than they are today. The most underappreciated damage from global warming is the chaotic unpredictability of medium-term weather, which will make agriculture much more chancy. Some if this unpredictability is baked for centuries to come by extra heat and CO2 already absorbed by the oceans; and more global warming will make it worse.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, about those maritime westerlies. It is my understanding that the Gulf Stream picks up heat in the tropics and carries it northwards. In the northern latitudes it dives down deeper and this heat is released into the atmosphere. As the prevailing winds blow from the west, this heat is then pushed over the UK/Europe which gives it the mild climate that it was. So if the Gulf Stream shuts down, there will be no heat. And so those maritime westerlies will be blowing nothing but freezing air off the Atlantic, summer or winter.

      1. Nick

        Even if colder in future than it is today, ocean to the west of UK will be warmer than land to the west of Newfoundland.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          As may be observed in the North Pacific, where the north flowing warm current off Japan is much less robust than the Gulf Stream. Juneau still has a mild climate. Temperature and moisture content of air flow over the oceans is moderated by the water much more than air flow over continental land masses.

      2. begob

        Ocean westerlies have a moderating effect – relatively warm in winter, cool in summer. I believe that’s why western seaboards of continents in the northern hemisphere experience a tighter range of temperature than their eastern counterparts at the same latitude – they’re not picking up the extreme conditions generated in the centre of the landmass. And the prevailing wind direction is set by the spin of the earth.

        1. Rick Shapiro

          Westerlies are influenced, but not set, by the spin of the earth. They are also influenced by the Hadley cell structure of heat flow from the equator to the poles, which depends on the size of the earth, as well as on the intensity of poleward heat flow. Don’t forget that the prevailing winds in the trade latitudes are easterly. Where cell structure places ascending and descending air determines where coriolis forces drive prevailing winds. Of course, it’s possible that extreme climate change might change the structure of Hadley cells.

  10. Rod

    Just the thought of this possibility would motivate a saner species to change their behaviors, imo.
    Especially so for those with the luxury to have access to observations.
    Think this conjecture is getting play in Chad/Namibia/Borneo/Serbia/Turkmenistan/Argentina/Ghana, etc.???
    Because everybody needs to be raising their voice to Power and Believers in TINA and walking their talk, now.


  11. BillS

    I also doubt that Europe would freeze if the Gulf Stream stall continues. If the last few years are any indication, regions of high temperature will move further northward and southern Europe will become a desert. One of the most damaging effects we have seen in Europe in the last couple of years is the rising frequency of violent weather: hurricane like wind, violent thunderstorms with flooding and frequent large hail (which is particularly destructive to crops) as well as crippling drought – particularly along the Mediterranean Rim.

    I don’t think anyone in the MSM or political class is talking about how these weather events will eventually cripple our ability to grow food. It just hasn’t sunk in.

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      It hasn’t “sunk in” because the process of sinking in implies massive change.

      There a few forces that are more massive and durable than the inertia of humans.

      That’s 8 bil people actively, aggressively, zealously protecting their own gyroscope’s angular momentum. 24 x 7.

      We are going to take a trip over the falls.

      It’s taken me nearly 3 decades to finally get this thru my skull. Kubler-Ross and all the rest, I’ve got the T-shirt. I fought hard against this idea.

      Get your own situation buttoned-up while there’s still time. It’s hard to say when and where the next few 2x4s are going to land.

      Once you get yourself sorted out, you’ve got some emotional space to help others. And…best of all, you’ve got practical experience to share.

      1. Captain Obious

        “We are going to take a trip over the falls.”
        Very apt… Still way too many people think humanity is gonna luck out, and pooh-pooh the current situation.

        Amusing quote, putting all this decades into the future, from the Wikipedia article about The Day After Tomorrow

        “Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, an expert on thermohaline circulation and its effect on climate, said after a talk with scriptwriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff at the film’s Berlin preview:: ‘Clearly this is a disaster movie and not a scientific documentary, [and] the film makers have taken a lot of artistic license. But the film presents an opportunity to explain that some of the basic background is right: humans are indeed increasingly changing the climate and this is quite a dangerous experiment, including some risk of abrupt and unforeseen changes… Luckily it is extremely unlikely that we will see major ocean circulation changes in the next couple of decades (I’d be just as surprised as Jack Hall if they did occur); at least most scientists think this will only become a more serious risk towards the end of the century. And the consequences would certainly not be as dramatic as the ‘superstorm’ depicted in the movie. Nevertheless, a major change in ocean circulation is a risk with serious and partly unpredictable consequences, which we should avoid. And even without events like ocean circulation changes, climate change is serious enough to demand decisive action.’ ”

        What, me worry?

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        “We are going to take a trip over the falls.” I am curious — is the story about an explorer paddling down a river commonly used to explain the concept of a tipping point? In his Nye Lecture to the AGU, Jim White used a story about an explorer making good time paddling with the main current of the Niagara River. The explorer hears the roar of a falls ahead. The precautionary principle suggests the explorer should have stayed close to a river bank instead of trying to make good time in the travel. The explorer reaches a tipping point — not at the point of going over Niagara Falls — but at the point when it is no longer possible to reach the shore before reaching and going over the falls.

      3. Mantid

        True Dat Tom. Your passing comment about emotions is important as well. Imagine a relatively small group of humans trying to survive in an inhospitable region, on a melting planet, let’s say 100 people in a village of sorts. They will have to really work on cooperation, less ego, humility, acceptance, patience and downright goodwill. These are not strong human virtues and are hard to come by. We need to work on these attributes much more than some far flung geoengineering idea, me thinks.

        1. c_heale

          They won’t have a choice about which values they adopt. It will be a case of cooperate or die. Only the groups that cooperate will survive and probably many of those won’t survive either.

  12. TomDority

    I would like to see the weather effects based on geologically recent stop of the gulf stream – hope that will come out in conference as the land masses were around the same position they are today in that past event – will look into – its swimming around in my memory somewhere

    1. Scramjett

      One that comes to mind is the Younger Dryas. Check out the PBS Eons video “When the Earth Suddenly Stopped Warming.”

      I’ve always maintained that, what scares me the most is the climate feedback loops that we DON’T know about. The Earth’s climate is amazingly self regulating and we’d be fools to think that a swift and furious “reset” isn’t pending.

  13. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    This was all the premise of a book by sci fi author and famous UFO abductee Whitley Streiber and late night radio talk show host Art Bell back in the aughts. A film was made of it. Surprised no one else remembered.

  14. Ralph Reed

    In the 80s the Gulf Stream was identified in the media treatments of “Global Warming” as an example of a “tipping point” or “thermostat switch” and 1000s of column inches devoted to treating the uncertainties of whether climate change would be gradual or precipitous, with the biophysics described extensively but the caveat of the impossibility of accurate predictions given the complexity of the interaction of ocean currents and the atmosphere over geologic time.

    Lester Brown’s World Watch Institute’s State of the World annual series, The Whole Earth Review, Scientific American, the Science News dealt with the topic extensively and it was discussed in detail in the Progressive, Nation, Washington Monthly, and other popular “alternative” press and also in the broadsheets like the LA Times, Boston Globe, and New York Times.

    It’s almost like the collapse of the Soviet Union caused a case of aphasia and amnesia at the level of “science.”

      1. Susan the other

        Jim Hansen says that both the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass. Indicating ocean warming – because other info has glacier buildup on the continent of Antarctica due to more snow than usual. Lots of stuff on the internet about/from Jim Hansen dating back to around 2015 – he’s still saying the same thing and predicting “several meters” of ocean rise. And this: “The warm ocean releases as much CO2 as warm coca cola does.” And then there’s methane. It all sounds pretty out of control. It’s just my own radar, but I thought Jim Hansen was being censored a decade ago; not allowed to go on TV interviews and speak freely, etc.

        1. Skunk

          Yes, but isn’t it the temperature differential that is important for the speed of the jet stream in the air? As the ice melts at the North Pole, the temperature differential is smaller and the jet stream slows down. So in the air currents, the north would be different from the south, since the south would still retain a significant volume of ice.

          In terms of the gulf stream, both hemispheres would be dumping significant fresh water into the oceans. But possibly climate feedback is now happening faster in the northern hemisphere than in the southern hemisphere.

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      Well, the elites think New Zealand will be fine. I mean just take a look at the constantly changing story on how Larry Page managed to enter New Zealand. Yesterday, the story was “Google billionaire Larry Page was granted entry to New Zealand to seek emergency medical treatment for his son”, but a couple of hours later, it’s “Google co-founder Larry Page is now a New Zealand resident”.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Not quite the story. Page applied for NZ residency (under the “I have shitloads of money” criterion) in Nov last year, but which couldn’t be processed as the country was not open to foreigners. He the. applied for emergency medevac from Fiji for his kid in January, which is when they arrived in NZ. That residence (not permanent afaik) application was expedited, since he and his son had ended up in NZ because of the medevac, and was confirmed by the gov’t yesterday.

        Still not great but yeah.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Hopefully the True New Zealanders can find and kill every Elite refuge-taker in New Zealand when the balloon goes up.

      3. Tom Bradford

        Being there I can assure you that New Zealanders (those in my circle anyway, whom I think are reasonably representative of the breed), are perfectly aware of the motives of the Larry Pages and Peter Thiels in getting New Zealand citizenship and we know it ain’t for the pleasure of our company or any desire to enhance our community or culture.

        If they believe they can recline in their palaces here while the peasantry leaves its tithe at their doors in awe and humility they’re very much mistaken, and if they retreat to their bunkers to empty their wine cellars and laid up canned caviar ’til its over they might well find the doors barred on the outside when they decide they’d like to enrich the world with their presence again.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I read once about a low tech way that some people had to take down helicopters in combat zones where the helicopters were predictable in their overflights.

            They set up a system of a length of logging chain tied to a length of lighter chain tied to rope tied to lighter rope and on down to monofilament fishing line. The “other end” of the monofilament fishing line was attached to a crossbow bolt. The crossbow bolt with its attached fishing line would be fired through-between the rotor blades and get caught there. The spinning blade assembly would wind up the fishing line, then the string, then the various strenghts of lengths of rope, then the small chain, finally the logging chain, and at some point in all that the helicopter would come down.

            1. Scramjett

              Probably don’t even need to do all that. Just carve an arrowhead out of a piece of left over scrap metal. It works really well for the indigenous people of North Sentinel Island! They’ve carved such arrows out of boats and planes that have crashed on their island over the years. Crafty buggers!

        1. George

          I really can’t understand how he survives anymore than the rest. IMO, long before the floods, famine and fires make climate refugees out of us all, the very air we breath, the same air filling the lungs of anyone in New Zealand or elsewhere, will become so full of particulate it becomes unbreathable. (Think Venus) Some areas of the planet are there right now. No one will get a pass on that one.

          We are in the process of destroying the very thin atmosphere that separates us from instant death. Think of it like an egg painted blue and that blue is the atmosphere we are hell bent on wrecking.

          1. Scramjett

            That’s why some of them are trying to ejaculate themselves into space in their giant space penis…er…rockets.

            The one thing these guys have a terrible grasp of is physics. They can’t survive in space anymore than they can survive on some “refuge island” on earth.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Thiel will have hepafilters for his air vents so that the particulate matter will not disturb the peace of his pure bunker air.

            That is why if New Zealanders want to do something about Thiel when the balloon goes up, they will have to have a way to stop up all his air vents so that he suffocates in his bunker, even with his anti-particulate-matter hepa filters.

      4. Edward

        New Zealand is a giant volcano. If global warming increases seismic activity it might not be the safe sanctuary they think it is. Frankly, even without the volcano, global warming sounds like it will be a catastrophe everywhere.

  15. Michael Hudson

    The problem was seen clearly in World War I. Mr. Riker (of Riker’s Island fame) suggested a way for the United States to defeat Germany quickly: He urged dumping millions of pounds of sand off Newfoundland to divert the Gulf Stream, and thereby freeze Germany’s crops.
    Subsequent archaeologists have found the Little Ice Age (13th century) linked to the Gulf Stream’s diversion.
    When I worked at the Hudson Institute half a century ago, the US military and CIA did research on climate change and the Gulf Stream. I gathered that they thought freezing out Europe would help U.S. dominance.

    1. Rick Shapiro

      The cause of the little ice age (14th to 19th century) is very much an open question. Variation in gulf stream strength has not been demonstrated to be significant. It is possible that the black death was responsible, via large scale carbon sink (reforestation) and methane reduction (reduced paddy rice).
      It’s also possible (given the rough correlation with the Maunder minimum in sunspot activity) that (unlike today) variation in solar output was a factor, either by reduced total insolation, or by reduced blocking of terrestrial radiation in the ionosphere (because of reduced solar charged particle wind.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have read a very suggestive theory that first the Mongol Massacres killed enough farming that a million square miles of farmland went back to forest, and then the European Explorer Germocaust of the Indian Nations killed enough farmers that 2 or so million more square miles of farmland went back to forest.

        That much re-forestation sucked down enough skycarbon to lower earth’s heat-retention-settings enough to allow the Little Ice Age to happen.

        Makes sense to me.

    1. Lambert Strether

      This is an interesting link so I’ll pass it, but in general (1) dropping naked links is going to make Skynet think you’re a spammer, and (2) readers deserve a reason to click though, so please give them one.

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    The Nature article “Observation-based early-warning signals for a collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation” this post claims for its source, is set behind a paywall, and appears to have a single author, Niklas Boers, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. The timing of its publication 5 August is suspicious to me:
    “This month is IPCC month – the Sixth Assessment Report from Working Group 1 is out on Monday August 9.” [https://www.realclimate.org/ from “Unforced Variations: Aug 2021”]

    Speculations about the Gulf-Stream shutting down are not news. The abstract of the Nature paper states “estimates of the critical transition point remain uncertain”. The author(?) of this paper claims to have created “robust and general early-warning indicator for forthcoming critical transitions” and further claims “Significant early-warning signals are found in eight independent AMOC indices ….” The very same day that Nature publishes Boers’s article the Environment editor at the Guardian picked the story up and reported it. It became the third most viewed article in the Guardian.

    SPICE [Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering] was a multi-member team effort lead by Cambridge University to study geoengineering the climate. The SPICE effort fizzled for reasons Mirowski elaborates near the tail of his keynote lecture for ‘Life and Debt’ conference — intellectual property disputes. But as SPICE fizzled it passed the baton to the SCoPEx project under the wing of Harvard University. The SCoPEx project appears to be live and well, and entered into early testing this Summer.

    Perhaps I am channeling the paranoia and delusion of Good Soldier Conrad sketched in Snowden’s essay cited in today’s links … but I smell fish.

    Climate systems are highly non-linear and like weather systems they are chaotic. Human social and political systems are similarly non-linear and chaotic. The collapse of the Gulf-Stream is only one of many so-called tipping points in the climate systems. The paleoclimate has changed abruptly in the past and promises to change abruptly in response to what amounts to a large step change in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Jim White’s 2014 Nye Lecture, “Abrupt Change — Past, Present and Future” presented to the American Geophysical Union, remains — in my opinion — one of the clearest descriptions of what abrupt climate change and nonlinearity mean. As the Corona pandemic unfolds giving clear indications of the instability and fragility of our Society, I believe we should worry about the many tipping points in human social and political systems.

    The Elites have made their response to the coming abrupt changes to the Earth’s climate clear. They have their bunkers. They will do nothing, with possible exception of sponsoring various ill-conceived geoengineering projects.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The “rest of us” really need to create action groups dedicated to finding the Elite bunkers and sealing them in so they all die in their bunkers. Such action groups also need to be ready, trained, equipped and able to exterminate every Elite person which is able to emerge from its bunkers in the unfortunate possibility that our action groups were not able to kill them all . . . . all . . . . . all of them while still in their bunkers.

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    I remember reading a paranoid scenario think piece maybe 20 years ago or so. The premise was: what if the CIA and its social class masters know all about the likelihood of a Gulf Stream Shutdown? What if they welcomed it as a way to put EUrope into a new Frosty Chill Age and thereby knock EUrope off the field as a geopolitical competitor for America? What if the CIA was a hidden co-ordinator of much of the global warming denialism for just exactly that reason and with that goal in mind?

    What if there are still some left-behinds in the American Ruling Class who hope for a Gulf Stream shutdown in order to plunge Europe into a Frosty Chill Age in order to stop Europe from “competing” with America? What if EUrope were to re-arrange its policies and approaches bearing that possibility in mind as a ” just in case” scenario to prepare for, short circuit and redirect ” just in case”? What could EUrope do, all by itself, to try re-cooling the global in order to maintain the Gulf Stream in existence?

    Under the current International Free Trade Order, nothing. Not a Damn Thing. But if EUrope were to defect from the Free Trade Order, withdraw from the WTO, cancel its adherence to all GATT rounds starting with GATT Round One? Then EUrope would be in a geopolitical and international law legal position to autarkify itself as a region and begin working on a EUrope wide survival economy premised on exterminating the fossil fuel industry from its energy-use portfolio, and then work on reaching out and degrading and attriting the fossil fuel industry everywhere it could reach, all over the world? That would require restricting economic contact beyond the EU to only those countries which had verifiably adopted and applied the EU goals and methods for exterminating fossil fuel from their national-economic energy portfolios. It would also require a hard ban on any economic contact with countries which failed to do so.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Oh, and . . . as I read the thread up above this comment, I see that Professor Hudson already knew all about this and that it is/was more than just a paranoid scenario. Did such thinking go beyond the CIA and DOD people who were thinking about this? Did the Dean Achesons of the world also support this concept?
      Or did the Dean Achesons of the world not know or even imagine that someone(s) within their Bureaus and Agencies would be thinking about how to freeze out Europe?

      I am guessing the Hudson Institute was named after the Hudson River or something. I dimly remember that it was always devoted to Thinking About The Unthinkable. ” To go where no mind has ever gone before.” Their pet mascot House Harkonnen was a famous fat man named Herman Khan. Here are some images of Herman Khan mixed with images of other people.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    The paper “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 ◦ C global warming could be dangerous”, Hansen et al. 2016, contains a particularly chilling paragraph related to the topic of the post:
    p. 39, Section 6.6 The “Hyper-Anthropocene”
    “Our analysis paints a very different picture than IPCC (2013) for continuation of this Hyper-Anthropocene phase, if GHG [Green House Gas] emissions continue to grow. In that case, we conclude that multi-meter sea level rise would become practically unavoidable, probably within 50–150 years. Full shutdown of the North Atlantic Overturning Circulation would be likely within the next several decades in such a climate forcing scenario. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea level rise, and the attendant increases in storms and climate extremes, could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.”

  19. icancho

    One school of thought argues that the massive initial melting of ice-age glaciers around 12,900 to 11,700 years BP had the effect of shutting down the AMOC, provoking a sudden, though temporary, reversal of the global warming that followed the last glacial maximum. This sudden cooling is called the Upper, or Younger Dryas period. It bears a certain resemblance to current processes …

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    If the Gulf Stream stops, what will conduct the building-up heat out of the Gulfa Mexicaribbean ocean zone?

    Will all that heat just sit there and fester till it figures out a way to rise up from the surface in truly vast rivers of water vapor and move over Central North America? Should we expect more and better hypernadoes and hypercanes? And more raindump waterbomb events randomly everywhere throughtout the East and Central US and Canada?

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Steve Keen has immersed himself into the climate change issue since he looked into the economic aspects of the most recent IPCC report and discovered they’re based on the fatuous work of William Nordhaus and friends that date back to their leading the charge against Limits to Growth back in the early 1970s. He’s inserted himself into a network of serious climate scientists and in some recent writings he’s passed on their assertions that most of the portions of the planet – that is between the 40th parallels – will feature hours per day of wet bulb temperatures above 35 C, which kill exposed human beings. Nordhaus et al assert this is no big deal because only 11% of the economy takes place out of doors; the rest is indoors in air conditioned spaces. The energy required to cool those spaces is not taken into consideration.

  21. Dave in Austin

    Here’s a new term for you to drop at your next cocktail partry: “One Sverdrop”. A Sverdrop is a unit of fluid motion: 1 Sverdrop is 1 km x 1 km x 1 meter of fluid moving at 1 meter/sec. The Gulf Stream horizontal flow is measured in Sverdrops.

    The Gulf Stream is very salty because evaporation of water in the Gulf of Mexico leaves it saltier that the rest of the Atlantic. Salty water is heavier than less salty water. In the case of the Gulf Stream this is counterbalanced becaused warm water is less dense than cold water.

    But as the warm, salty water of the Gulf Stream cools, suddenly it is more dense than the surrounding cold water; north and east of Iceland much of it begins to sink in three huge columns toward the ocean floor. These, also are measured in Sverdrops… vertical Sverdrops. When the Gulf Stream water gets to the bottom the water heads south down the mid-Atlantic rift and out into the Indian Ocean where it disperses… and helps control the monsoons.

    The Greenland glacier water is cold but not salty, so it tends to stay on the surface as it drifts south and enters the Atlantic off Labrador. And because it isn’t salty it isn’t dense, but what it will do to the Gulf Stream is anyone’s guess… and should be everyone’s nightmare. The threat of some sort of discontinuous effect on the Gulf Stream is real but hard to quantify, but if the Gulf Stream collapses, the mild winters will end in Europe.

    We in Eastern North America and East Asia will be less affected in the short run than Western Europe. I’m afraid we may look back on Covid, Donald Trump and the coming conflict between the U.S. and China as the Good Old Days.

  22. SteveB

    I invite all who think the gulf stream is slowing to come down to FL.
    I will take you out into the stream and put the boat in neutral .

    You will observe on the GPS screen that the boat will travel in a northerly direction
    at 2-3 knots. Just as it has for as long as I can remember.

  23. William18

    Written about in a Guardian article 17 years ago, which mentioned an office of net assesment publication.

    Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

    A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

    The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

    ‘Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,’ concludes the Pentagon analysis. ‘Once again, warfare would define human life.’

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