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Written By: - Date published: 8:06 am, May 11th, 2015 - 180 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, global warming, International - Tags: , , ,

A significant milestone has been passed:

Global carbon dioxide levels break 400ppm milestone

Concentrations of CO2 greenhouse gas in the atmosphere reached record global average in March, figures show, in a stark signal ahead of Paris climate talks

Record carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere were reported worldwide in March, in what scientists said marked a significant milestone for global warming.

Figures released by the US science agency Noaa on Wednesday show that for the first time since records began, the parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere were over 400 globally for a month.

The measure is the key indicator of the amount of planet-warming gases man is putting into the atmosphere at record rates, and the current concentrations are unprecedented in millions of years.

The new global record follows the breaking of the 400ppm CO2 threshold in some local areas in 2012 and 2013, and comes nearly three decades after what is considered the ‘safe’ level of 350ppm was passed.

See comment from 350.org and NASA scientists.

What I don’t understand about our collective inability to address climate change is that even if you’re not interested in leftie issues like saving the environment, the future for our children and so on, then right wing thinking should lead you to action anyway. Action to reduce climate change makes sense in purely economic terms, see the Stern Review, or see this recent “local” example:

Severe heat costs the Australian economy US$6.2 billion a year

Heat stress costs the Australian economy a whopping US$6.2 billion a year – a finding that shows what other countries might be facing in areas where global warming will make extremely hot days more common.

Kerstin Zander from Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia, and colleagues surveyed 1726 employed people to map the impact of hot weather on the economy.

People reported taking an average of 4.4 days a year off work because of heat stress. And 70 percent of respondents said heat had made them less productive on at least one day in the past 12 months, with a third saying it often did so.

Delving deeper into the results, the team calculated that heat-related absenteeism was costing the country US$845 per head of population per year. The figure for loss of productivity at work was even higher at US$932.

Together, that amounts to roughly 0.4 per cent of Australia’s GDP. That’s greater than the cost for Australia to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, estimated at as little as 0.1 or 0.2 percent of its GDP.

See also Extreme weather already on increase due to climate change, study finds.

Prediction – nothing significant will come out of the Paris talks.

180 comments on “400ppm”

  1. Colonial Rawshark 1

    As far as I can see, a 3 to 4 degree C increase is baked into the cake. And we all know what that means for our civilisation. Today’s primary school children are going to have to deal with a miserable unstable, insecure global situation by their 50s and 60s.

    • Sans Cle 1.1

      Future generations will look back on us/our generation as the greediest and most self centred lot, that ever roamed the planet.
      We are, as a collective of people, willfully doing diddly-squat, and I find that so depressing.

    • dukeofurl 1.2

      What is the Climate sensitivity?

      Whats the temperature that will result from adding say another 50ppm.

      I know there is a formula but no one seems to have found what λ is ??

      Or have I missed something somewhere

      • Macro 1.2.1

        It’s not low . In 2007 the consensus was about 3 degrees C for a doubling of CO2 but that is old school. Now the indications are that it could well be higher, certainly not lower.
        We are currently adding around 4 Hiroshima bombs per second to the heat of the planet. (That is the current energy imbalance). Most of that (90+%) is absorbed by the great heat sink of the oceans. (The Pacific is currently now emitting Heat at a great rate with an on going El Nino.). 3 % is represented in the ongoing global atmospheric temperature increase. (There never was and never has been a “pause”). The rest goes into the melting of global ice sheets and glaciers.

        • dukeofurl

          the number I have found for (λs -1) is 0.30 +-0.14K/(W m-2)

          Equilibrium temperature increase for doubled CO2 ∆T2 is 1.1 +-0.5K

          these are from Brookhaven national Laboratory

          • Gareth

            Please read this: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/09/climate-insensitivity/

            In it you’ll see a comparison of models using Stephen Schwartz’s estimate with the actual temp record and how it didn’t match reality.

            Basically his assumptions are wrong. He assumes that the global temperature time series has a single time scale, and it can be modeled as a linear trend.

            He was briefly the darling of the denial blogs, which may be where you found his paper, but papers have since been published showing his errors.

            • dukeofurl

              No I didnt look on a climate blog.

              • mickysavage

                Why not? You might learn something. You are taking one piece of information at face balue. There is a critique of it but you refuse to even think about the critique …

              • r0b

                Yeah dukeofurl, not safe to read climate blogs, you might learn something.

                • dukeofurl

                  The question was where did I find this scientific paper.

                  Then there was this :”Basically his assumptions are wrong. He assumes that the global temperature time series has a single time scale, and it can be modeled as a linear trend.”

                  So what. Calculus was called quackery when it was first presented, Eiensteins theory of Relativity had a whole string of objections and was even refuted by experiments. Same goes for Max Planck and the whole idea of Qantum theory. But of course the alternatives didnt stand up over time.

                  I remember as a student in an unrelated area a professor referring to a textbook we used as being wrong in a particular area.
                  Most likely there would be a lot more wrong now. But it didnt matter. Having a perfect model isnt the answer.

                  It seemed to me Climate blogs were just about saying this or that was rubbish, was this or that is the truth. better to look elsewhere if wanting some illumination.

                  • Macro

                    Professor Rahmstorf incidentally took his doctorate at Victoria University in Oceanography in 1990
                    The link above was contained in the first link I gave you. It is a discussion on the 1 that is ONE assessment of a low climate sensitivity that you are happy to accept as being the only one. It is shown to Highly Unlikely.
                    Just think about it. We have had nearly 1 degree of warming since the industrial era already. The pre industrial level was approx 270ppm. A doubling would be 540 ppm. We are no where near that level a climate sensitivity of around 1.3 degrees for a doubling of CO2 is obvious nonsense.

                    • dukeofurl

                      Im agnostic about whether ones persons research is the only answer.

                      Do you really think obvious nonsense is published in GRL ?

                      Seems to be you are classic climate blog eater, like fast food it looks good, tastes good, must be good.

                  • Macro

                    Spoken like a true believer of the cooling club!
                    I acknowledge the science and look at all the evidence, Presenting only one scientific paper to support your argument is not science – that is fundamentalism. There are thousands of papers produced annually on Climate Science. Yes Schwartz’s paper is an important piece of mathematical modelling but it s not in the same category as Einstien’s “Theory of Relativity” for goodness sake; and despite the fact that there were some heads in the sand, Einstein’s work and that of Plank were generally accepted quickly within the mathematical physics community.
                    When Stephen Schwartz’s simple model is taken and run through simulations, it does not replicate what we are currently observing. Schwartz’s model has a fundamental error in that it assumes -incorrectly- that the climate system can be effectively modeled as a zero-dimensional energy balance model. This would mean that there would be a single effective heat capacity for the climate system, and a single effective time constant for the system as well. One of the biggest problems with this method is that it assumes that the climate system has only one “time scale,” and that time scale determines its long-term, equilibrium response to changes in climate forcing. But the global heat budget has many components, which respond faster or slower to heat input: the atmosphere, land, upper ocean, deep ocean, and cryosphere all act with their own time scales. The atmosphere responds quickly, the land not quite so fast, the deep ocean and cryosphere very slowly. In fact, it’s because it takes so long for heat to penetrate deep into the ocean that most climate scientists believe we have not yet experienced all the warming due from the greenhouse gases we’ve already emitted.
                    The fact is that even though Schwatz is a respected researcher, and the work you quote is an important piece of mathematical modelling, it represents only a fraction of the work on our understanding of AGW. The paper you quote falls in its simplistic assumptions of the climate system. Schwatz himself acknowledges that in his discussion at the end of his paper. The importance of the paper is that it provides mathematical tools for investigating further the climate system in a far more complex model.

                    • dukeofurl

                      Thanks for that. I thought there was more or less a broad number for sensitivity.
                      Because I dont read climate blogs , I was wrong.

                      Of course Schwatz- who I had never heard of before- isnt Einstein, but I was just making the point that derision from colleagues has greeted many scientific papers, usually the unknown and obscure researchers – as Einstein was at the time.
                      I think there was some experiment done in the 1920s which agreed with Einsteins Special Relativity Theory . Very recently that experiment was found to have errors, but of course other work means that Relativity hasn’t been discarded.

                      My broader point was that any true new research will have assumptions and going beyond what ‘everyone else is doing’. Over time that will show whether they were heading in right direction.

                      [lprent: Your comments were going into spam because they overlapped a range being used by one of the weirder people who tries to comment here. One who keeps speculating on which royal family that they were really born into. We get at least 20 comments from it each week, so I keep them with the droning from PG. I have removed the IP block now. ]

                    • Macro

                      The experiment which verified Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was the “red shift”

                      Climate science and the effect of doubling of CO2 is not new science.
                      There are now literally thousands of peer reviewed papers out there and they almost all point to the same conclusion. The Climate is changing rapidly (in geological time frames), and it is almost certainly due to human influences.

    • John 1.3

      So why with the CO2 increase has the global temp only increased 0.6 degrees in the last 100 years. How do you get to 3 to 4 degrees, baked in? And with the increase in CO2 continuing unabated no temp increase for the last 17 years? Just asking…
      Maybe the disaster is being overstated.

      • Macro 1.3.1

        Idiot and liar alert.
        Can’t even get his facts straight.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.3.2

        Oh, you’re still buying all the BS that’s been disproved making you an idiot.

      • dukeofurl 1.3.3

        John , the temperature measured by satellites at the top of the atmosphere isnt something we should be looking at when we are on the planets surface.

        • John

          There is plenty of debate about this. Most of the commenters on this site suffer from confirmation bias. I used to agree, but then when I did my own research I found this is more complex, and the ‘science in settled’ is clearly not true.

          • Colonial Rawshark

            Ahhh another one who doesn’t care about the future his kids are going to have to deal with. Nice to know you. Look to California my friend. The future is already here, and ironically the US is going to be one of the countries worst hit by climate change.

            There is plenty of debate about this.

            Yes, caused by Murdoch and Koch Bros misinformation.

            • John

              Of course I care. The debate is actually caused by scientists who are having a valid debate about this. Not some right wing conspiracy. If there wasn’t so much dishonestly and misinformation – yes on both sides – we could have a proper conversation. Not that I expect to convince anyone here.

              • McFlock

                You’re not learning anything.
                You don’t expect to convince anyone of anything.
                Then why are you here?

              • Tracey

                who did you vote for in 2011 and 2014?

              • Draco T Bastard

                The debate is actually caused by scientists who are having a valid debate about this.

                There is, essentially, no debate about climate change being caused by man amongst the scientists. The only people who are peddling the lie that there is are people such as the Koch brothers who want to continue their rip, shit and bust ways.

        • Gareth

          What makes you think that satellites are unable to look past the top of the atmosphere?

          What makes you think they just use satellites to measure temperature?

      • dukeofurl 1.3.4

        Sorry I dont bother with climate blogs.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    And then we have the creative accounting that National will use to say that we’ve met our Kyoto commitments:

    Our politicians and bureaucrats could have focused on policies to reduce domestic emissions in order to meet the 2020 target. Achieving the 2020 target won’t be an outcome of policies to reduce emissions. Like fixing the emissions trading system. It will be an outcome of the accounting rules chosen for the carbon credits the Government can hold. NZ’s target is a scam and a sham, the result of dodgy creative accounting.

    So National is going to stick to form about our commitments and lie about it.

  3. Sable 3

    Its amazing that no one is taking this seriously. Its a disaster for us all and yet no one seems to care. Worse still attempts to cover up what is happening and ensure it keeps on happening seem to be the norm. In time it will become obvious to us all but by then it may be too late if its not already.

  4. Sable 4

    I’d add I think Australia and countries like it will suffer disproportionately given their already warm climates.

    • Maui 4.1

      And poor countries too will be much harder hit and hit first (they probably are already). Africa and South-east Asia as examples.

      • Colonial Rawshark 4.1.1

        During the Egyptian revolution they shouted: Bread Freedom Dignity. But bread was first.

        This political and social instability is going to get much worse.

  5. Paul 5

    Capitalism killed the world.

      • Sans Cle 5.1.1

        It was a sad realisation for me when I learnt that James Lovelock had given up hope of averting the effects of climate change…..and in his considered opinion, we should retreat to climate controlled cities. I guess they won’t be “affordable” cities.

    • No Paul, we killed the world. Us not some ‘others’, us, you and me and our ilk – grown fat on the fruits of exploitation.

      • vto 5.2.1

        Agreed. And we even now keep taking taking taking from the planet……

        take take take

        take the kauris for ships
        take the kahikatea for boxes
        take the whales for lighting
        take the seals for fur
        take the high country for sheep
        take the rivers for sewer
        take the hoki the gurnard the orange roughy take the fucking lot
        take the land for everything its got

        we aint moved on since ….. well since industrial evolution methinks …..

        I think that change can only genuinely be made at the personal level – what we each ourselves consume / use each day. Like right now today.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          depriving people of income is the most effective way to limit demand on resources.

          • marty mars

            the context of ‘effective’ seems problematic to me

            • Colonial Rawshark

              You give someone who is a little bit poorer an extra $50/week payrise or benefit increase, they will spend almost all of it consuming additional materials, resources and energy in order to improve their standard of living.

          • greywarshark

            What if we kept income lowish but controlled credit tightly? Rather than depriving income.

            • Colonial Rawshark

              the bottom line is that people have to make do with even less than they do today. For the bottom 50% of NZers that does mean real hardships (mainly because the Left has not focussed on creating alternative non-neoliberal infrastructure, systems and assets). For the top 20% “middle NZ” who like their overseas holidays and late model Holdens that is an unacceptable compromise to their expectations.

  6. Sabine 6

    Mr. Bush the younger was once asked if he cared about how History would judge him.
    His answer: “I will be dead then”

    and this in a nutshell is the attitude that has got us there.

    Auckland an example in a nutshell, if this government and any other future government would have the best of the city, the country, the planet on their minds, they would force people out of private transport into public transport, first with the aide of a carrot and then if all fails using the stick.

    alas, we are not doing that ey?

    • ” if this government and any other future government would have the best of (for?) the city, the country, the planet on their minds”

      They would depopulate Auckland and close the borders to immigration.. yeah right

    • Colonial Rawshark 6.2

      they would force people out of private transport into public transport, first with the aide of a carrot and then if all fails using the stick.

      Singapore did this 40 years ago. What’s so difficult?

  7. Never before in the total history of the planet have we been so well set up for the perfect storm.
    Never before has there been 400+ ppm CO2 in the atmosphere while 2,000 – 4,000 gigatons of mostly ABIOTIC CH4 (like the stuff on Mars) is sitting just under the fast melting ice – globally
    Like we are seeing off the east coast of NZ at the moment
    The is abiotic methane that has been held in the sub sea strata by frozen methane on the sea floor Now the oceans are heating up and the 4C water (that is the heavy stuff) is making it to the sea floor, melting ‘the cap’, picture an ice cork in a bottle of champagne.
    Future generations will not have to worry as there will be no future generations, that was as good as it gets.

    • This study was carried out in an area of about 100 km2, they discovered 766 gas flares – New Zealand’s EEZ covers 4,083,744 km2 … just saying

      • Colonial Rawshark 7.1.1


        • McFlock

          Not by itself – the change could be due to granularity in the latest mapping (or even regular seasonal changes if they mapped later in the summer the second time).

          The Siberian sinkholes are much more of a concerning, because they seem to be recent phenomena rather than a newly-discovered regular process.

          • Colonial Rawshark

            Interesting – so the premise is that the many under water gas flares are a routine and ongoing event, as opposed to a melt of centuries old frozen methane?

            • McFlock

              Depends where and how deep they are. The siberian ones are because the containing matrix of frozen ground is thawing, weakening and breaking, releasing the trapped methane.

              Now, I have no idea about the NZ ones – they could be akin to oil bubbling into water wells in North Africa pre-oil rush (apparently in the see-sawing through Libya in WW2 both sides claimed the other was tipping oil in the wells when retreating) – a simple long term geologic event. OR they could be a feedback of AGW.

    • weka 7.2

      “Future generations will not have to worry as there will be no future generations, that was as good as it gets”

      = May as well stop trying and party while the ship goes down then.

      • Robert Atack 7.2.1

        = May as well stop trying and party while the ship goes down then.

        Yes Weka, that has been my point for the past 16 years, there is nothing we can do to even delay (or speed up for that matter) what is ‘baked in’, and that is why I keep saying the only way to reduce future human suffering … in the most ‘humane’ way is very simply to not have any more children.

        Everyone alive is screwed.

        • weka

          You are part of the problem. You can’t predict the future you can only surmise. We don’t know if it’s set in stone or not. You want everyone to give up. I want everyone to do the right thing. Your way lessens any chance we have.

          • Molly

            It also lessens the social and spiritual quality of life that can be achieved even while the physical environment becomes stressed and untenable.

            • weka

              And it damns the rest of nature.

              • doomers – pack of fucken wankers imo and literally too – mustn’t have more children, must reduce human suffering ffs that shit makes me puke.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  get serious. Humans like us are the very last of the modern hominids. All the others died out over the last million or so years – a very brief pause in the history of life on earth. Modern man as we know ourselves today will be damn likely to be around a total of 250,000 years. A blink of an eye.

                  • weka

                    Oh that’s alright then, nothing to worry about.

                    No idea what that has to do with marty’s comment or this subthread though.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      It’s about understanding the scale of time beyond what is just in front of our noses.

                    • weka

                      I already understand the time scales. It doesn’t change the situation we are in or how we need to respond to it.

                  • “Humans like us are the very last of the modern hominids.”

                    that seems very doomerist to me – like how the hell do you know???

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Look it up. Everyone else in the Homo genus are history. We’re the last (Homo Sapiens).

          • Colonial Rawshark

            You are part of the problem. You can’t predict the future you can only surmise. We don’t know if it’s set in stone or not.

            So…you’re saying that we should believe the research which says that man made climate change is a real and serious problem…but you’re saying that we should ignore the research which says that 3 or 4 or 5 degree change is very likely and definitely catastrophic?

            I think RA is somewhat negative and disempowering in his views from time to time, but I also think it’s very likely that the rest of us are being (psychologically understandably) Polly-annish.

            • weka

              No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying messages of ‘it’s too late’ are basically the same as messages of climate change denial. They both make it less likely for people to take action.

              “I think RA is somewhat negative and disempowering in his views from time to time, but I also think it’s very likely that the rest of us are being (psychologically understandably) Polly-annish.”

              Yep, and how do we move on from Polly Anna? I don’t think it’s by telling people that it’s too late. People need to feel like they can do something, and that their actions have meaning.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                People need to feel like they can do something, and that their actions have meaning.

                Well, that’s very considerate of you, but it looks to me like most people don’t feel this way about climate change.

                • weka

                  You mean they’re going to act when they think there is no point?

                  My comment was based on my and many other people’s experiences with working on change issues, especially peak oil, cc etc. if you give people things they can do that are meaningful most people will do them where they won’t do them if they’re presented with only the scary stuff or ideas about doom.

                  I don’t know which people you are referring to. I’m talking about the people ready to change, or about to be ready, which are precisely the people with the power.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    I don’t know which people you are referring to. I’m talking about the people ready to change, or about to be ready, which are precisely the people with the power.

                    I’m referring to the 80% to 90% of the world population striving to access and use sufficient or increasing amounts of natural resources and energy on a daily basis to improve their standard of living. Who are you referring to?

                    • weka

                      A lot of those people don’t need to change in the context of this conversation. I’m talking about the people with the most impact and the most power to do something. You, me, people in this thread, people reading this, people reading the media today about thinking about 400ppm. Some of those people will read 400ppm and want to change. If they get met with doomer messages, why would they bother? If they get met with things they can do, then they can do them.

                      Not sure what you are doing here CV. I’ve been pretty clear about what I am talking about and I can’t see how what you are saying is relevant.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Sheeezus weka, Robert’s point as far as I can see is that absolutely nothing some small proportion of us is going to do is going to make fuck all difference in the broad scheme of global climate change and global civilisation collapse. (although it might make some difference to our personal lives and local communities).

                      Now make up your mind and decide whether or not Robert is correct, or whether he is simply a doomer who should be ignored because ignoring him will alter the likely course of things.

                    • weka

                      You’re off base with what I am saying CV. I don’t think Robert should be ignored, I think he should be challenged on what he is doing.

                      Your summation of his view is different than mine. What I’ve heard from him is that even if we did the right things it would still be too late. That idea (and it’s an idea not a fact) removes any chance of change. He presents his ideas as fact, and that’s the kind of bullshit that gets called on ts all the time.

                      This is why his actions are part of the problem. He presents no solution and no way out, and this encourages people to give up or to stick with cognitive dissonance and work against change.

                      I’ve explained this a number of times. It’s not really that difficult.

              • Gareth

                The realistic way to look at it is “Yes it’s too late to stop 4 degrees warming and yes, that will have a catastrophic effect on human civilisation, but we could still make it worse for ourselves, and if we don’t act now, it will get worse than catastrophic”. There is no point at which we shrug and say “No point in taking action, it’s as bad as it could get.”

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  well that makes sound sense IMO. Hundreds of methane flares from a small area of surveyed NZ coastline. My god, we’re pretty fucked.

                  • Okay how about this then ………
                    We stop having kids for say 30 years, that will still leave maybe 2-300,000 potential mothers.
                    Then for the next 30 years we try and cleanup this shit hole. We decommission the 440 potential ‘fukushimas’ We clean up the over 400 dead zones in the oceans, the ball of plastic the size of Texas, the dioxins that get into Inuit mothers breast milk.
                    Give the millions of homeless a roof, and feed everyone alive now.

                    As CA says ‘nothing some small proportion of us is going to do is going to make fuck all difference’

                    Alas that sums it up, by the time there is enough people doing something, we will be dropping dead by the millions.
                    If we were having this discussion maybe 200 years ago, and we could get the other billion people on board (including the Catholic Church etc). Maybe we could have stopped us leapfrogging 10,000 years of climate change …. that is what 400ppm equals ? No amount of wishing, or Maypole dancing … or paying into Kiwi Saver will reverse that.
                    The issue is massive and having people like Marty running the show (and they sure as hell are) we have zero to fuck all chance, plus all the brain dead that think FJK is someone to trust, that alone gives me zero hope, when utter wankers like him keep floating to the top, like the swamp scum they are, as always I’m including the other 120.

                    Most people will be sitting around 3 days after the water stops coming out of the taps, demanding their so called human rights.

  8. weka 8


    How many of us here are willing to do what it takes to change? Or are we waiting for others to go first?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      Speaking as one whose carbon footprint has been minimal for decades, it’s cold comfort at best.

      • weka 8.1.1

        What’s cold comfort?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          “Doing the right thing”.

          • marty mars

            It is an interesting point – what are the trade offs for a person to do the right thing today – a reduction in modern society? ridicule? a harder, simpler life? A ‘feeling’ that whatever happens I did the right thing even if over the globe most didn’t and the effects occurred to everyone anyway whether a person did or didn’t do the right thing?

            why are some choosing to do the ‘right’ thing even if it makes life more difficult? Does it make life more difficult? sorry – many, many questions fall out of this for me…

    • Maui 8.2

      I’ve made small changes like not being as big a consumer as before and have a more fuel efficient vehicle. I think I’m willing to make more significant changes, but keep being sucked back into the norms of our wasteful society. It would be nice if there was better infrastructure to support an alternate, resourceful lifestyle.

      • weka 8.2.1

        I think those things are all good, and yes it would be great if there was more support. I was meaning more what are we willing to change? Are we willing to make this one of the most important things in our lifes? Will we put aside the things we’ve been working on, and do this mahi instead?

  9. johnm 9

    For those interested more on the climate:

    The world’s potentially catastrophic gas problem
    Massive amounts of powerful methane gas under the Arctic have some scientists worried about apocalyptic results.
    Jassim Mater | 10 May 2015

    “As it is, though, humanity is heading straight towards the worst-case scenario with its foot on the accelerator.”


    Some notable links:

    Thin ice kills Arctic researchers
    How ironic the rapid ice melt they were out to document was to claim their lives.

    Studies over the last 15 years showed that Arctic ice melting faster year-on-year has led to a drastic loss in the fat contained in zooplankton – a fish food crucial for the entire area’s ecosystem.

    We Blew It: A Time Line of Human Impact on the Planet

    In California and around the world, water supply and carbon-based energy production are locked in a destructive feedback cycle.

    Polar meltdown sees us on an icy road to disaster

    The Antarctic’s glaciers are in retreat, risking a catastrophic rise in sea levels. Glacier expert Andy Smith is one of the team trying to prevent a meltdown by braving this frozen wasteland


    Sao Paulo’s method of waiting out droughts no longer works in an era of changing climates & overpopulated megacities.

  10. weka 10

    We need both. Both. All hands to the wheel.

  11. Bill 11

    Ice core samples go back about 800 000 years. No ice core samples yield evidence of atmospheric carbon at 400 ppm.

    Sea bed core analyses allow science to peer further back to when there was a CO2 concentration of 400 ppm.

    Hmm….20 million years ago there were atmospheric carbon concentrations of 400 ppm.
    Temperatures were around 4 degrees C – 6 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

    Now, what’s the expected lag time of AGW again, ie – how long after we’ve set the conditions in place do we get the results of those conditions?

    We’re at 0.8 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures and coming to end of a deep current ocean cycle that has swallowed heat into the ocean depths. I believe it upwells about now, give or take less than 1000 days. (2 or 3 years).

    So….we’re experiencing the temperatures of atmospheric carbon, minus the mitigating effects of a deep ocean current that’s about to end.

    If today is the result of CO2 emissions from the 1970s, then we have about 40 years before we get the effect of 400 ppm and + 4 -6 degrees C and there is absolutely nothing on this earth we can do about it

    If I was a betting man, I’d wouldn’t put a brass farthing on us surviving that – no matter what odds I was offered.

    • I think one of the worries of the ice core samples etc, is that they can’t measure the methane, it might have been 300 ppm C02 and 2,000 ppm C02e with the methane ?
      Even if we take the massive under value of 86/1 CH4/C02 over 20 years it will only take 10 – 15 % of what is under the ESAS to push the atmosphere to above 5ppm CH4 = to 430 ppm C02e
      And now there is the N20 coming from the 420 dead zones around the world.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.2

      If I was a betting man, I’d wouldn’t put a brass farthing on us surviving that – no matter what odds I was offered.

      It’s going to be bad but some of us, in the more temperate regions surrounded by lots of water, will survive. The rest of the world is pretty much fucked.

      • Colonial Rawshark 11.2.1

        Wait until they turn up on our doorstep. Aussies with their oversized military, for starters.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Yep, we’re going to need a good defence system that’s built and maintained in NZ from NZ’s resources. Make it so that they can’t reach our shores.

          • marty mars


            prob to be safe we should pre-empt them, yeah that’ll teach those fuckers


            • Draco T Bastard

              We can’t afford to be over populated when the shot hits the fan no matter how much we want to be nice about it. We cannot support the entire global population, we probably can’t support 1% of the population.

              • yeah we’ve gone down this road before – you want your side of the lifeboat to not sink

                • Draco T Bastard

                  No, it’s more that I want people to accept the physical reality that binds us and what we can do. It’s actually really important.

                  Letting ~200m people into NZ isn’t going to save 200m people. It just means that they’ll die in NZ rather than the country that they left and pretty much all of the present NZ population will die with them.

                  • weka


                    Marty, I can see only two ways that your position makes sense. One is if you believe that NZ can sustain much higher population in a post-carbon world. The other is if you think it doesn’t matter (let people come and die here, it’s the humane thing to do). Is it either of those for you?

                    • I believe that

                      yes we can support a higher population
                      yes there won’t actually be many that try to get here let alone make it
                      yes we should not kill them on the border
                      yes the close border mentality is the same as paula bennetts ladder-lifting
                      yes it is also morally wrong
                      yes it seems to be capitalist, exploitative, western notion this I’m all right fuck the rest of you concept

                      everyone dies – that isn’t the issue – how you live and conduct yourself is the issue

                  • Hyperbole does not an argument make – 200m? what about 1B? what about 10k, what about 100k and so on…

                    there is a line – where is it?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      200m isn’t hyperbole. Just look at where the people trying to get to Australia are coming from. Those countries have massive populations and, with 4 degrees of warming, humans will be unlikely to be able to live there as it will simply be too hot. Sure, most will probably try to go north further into the Asia/Europe continent but the rest will go south and probably trying to avoid Australia. Throw into account that NZ will also be having climate issues as well and won’t be able to support as many as we can now.

                      Climate change means that we’re going to have to do what we don’t want to do so that we can live.

  12. Bill 12

    Having scanned the thread and all the ‘What do we do? What can we do?’ comments… Pareto’s Rule suggests that around 1% of humans are responsible for about 50% of CO2 emissions.

    Now, given that we live in a capitalist market system where Pareto’s Rule would suggest that about 1% of people would have around 50% of all wealth generated by that economic system and given (we can take this as a given, yes?) that wealthier people are generally more profligate in their carbon use…private jets, endless travel, super yachts etc…

    Yeah, so draw your own conclusion for what action you need to take today to wind up in a world where (as per my previous comment) odds of survival wouldn’t attract so much as a brass farthing bet from me.

    • Colonial Rawshark 12.1

      I think 2B humans will make it through to 2100. I do think the number year 2200 will be fewer than that though…

      • Bill 12.1.1

        You just gone fcking Yoda on me?

        • Colonial Rawshark

          LOL just saying that I don’t think near term human extinction is on the cards (<100 years) but we are certainly well over the planet's carrying capacity for homo sapiens without fossil fuels (let alone climate change).

  13. Maui 13

    Well all we need now is Guy McPherson to comment here and we’ve got the most depressing commentary ever. I’m kind of joking, but not really.

    • Bill 13.1

      Well, if that’s all you need, here you go. Guy McPherson commenting on ‘ts’ back in Jan 2013. (Neither proselytising nor depressing…particularly)

      Halting Dynamics and Shifting Inertias

    • weka 13.2

      It’s interesting Maui, people say they believe it’s bad, but how many want to do something real as opposed to pointing out we’re fucked?

      • Robert Atack 13.2.1

        I don’t think Robert should be ignored, I think he should be challenged on what he is doing.

        Your summation of his view is different than mine. What I’ve heard from him is that even if we did the right things it would still be too late. That idea (and it’s an idea not a fact) removes any chance of change. He presents his ideas as fact, and that’s the kind of bullshit that gets called on ts all the time.

        Okay so I’m just an armchair jockey with zero qualifications, and all I do is read and watch docos, and have spent 15 years watching people run from any sort of disturbing fact. I could give you links if you like, but I found moderators didn’t always post my posts so I gave up on all the links.
        But the people I listen to and the snippets of info all add up to some horrific shit.
        Its just human nature to add a happy chapter at the end of most talks and movies, and that is the problem, everyone grabs hold of the wishful thinking crap and forget comments like ‘the 6th extinction’, ‘faster than any time in the past’, 400 ppm = 6c ,impossible to reduce 400ppm, all this stuff http://guymcpherson.com/2014/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/
        The fact that our so called leaders are basically insane psychopaths, and will do nothing to help, adds to my reasons I think we are utterly fucked.
        I guess we could argue this till the system crashes, I hope I’m wrong.
        12.5 million dead trees in California, waiting to burn.

        It is all to much for most people to get their heads around

        • weka

          I’ve not before had a problem with your sources, although you quoting Cowspiracy is making me rethink that. What I have is a problem with your interpretation and strategy (ditto McPherson). Compare “we’re all fucked and are going to die and there is absolutely no chance” with “things look extremely bad and there is this small chance to do something and here is a suggestion”. The first is you, the second is Bill below. You both have reasonably good grasps of the science and the politics, the difference is in strategy. I’ve explained enough why I think your strategy is part of the problem and so I’m now going to focus on the people who are doing the right things.

      • Bill 13.2.2

        So, given that 400ppm = ~ 4 degrees C or worse and that survival in that scenario becomes, at best hugely problematic. But further, given that ‘hugely problematic’ or even ‘dire’ edges towards ‘impossible’ with greater temperature increases, then the only thing we can do is stop….and then hope for the best as we prepare as best we can.

        Stopping, requires disempowering the small percentage of us who produce the majority of emissions. In essence, that means destroying or abandoning the market economy and the power it affords to the selfsame (more or less) small percentage who are also the greatest emitters of carbon.

        Tomorrow morning then – unless (broadly speaking) you work in social services or on public utilities, don’t go to your job. And then never go to your job again. Stop paying all rent and debts.

        That’s step one; the stopping. You might have noticed it’s kind of simple insofar as it doesn’t actually involve doing anything – a bit like simply not swinging the hammer that keeps hitting your thumb.

        Then step two, which is pointless unless step one has been taken.

        Put thought and action into preparing for a very bad case scenario and hope things don’t escalate beyond the very bad case scenario of anthropogenic global warming, that we know is unfolding, to runaway non-anthropogenic global warming.

        Now, it might well be too late already. We may have arrived in a phase of non-anthropogenic warming (tipping points and feed back loops).

        But every day we close our eyes or (in whatever way) say ‘tomorrow’ is another 24 hours worth of emissions taking us 24 hours closer to an impossible future (if we’re not already there); a future that doesn’t include any people anywhere on this earth.

        Depressing or hopeful? Realistic or pointless doom and gloom? Acceptable or getting too much in the way of having cake and eating it?

        As it stands, I, along with countless millions of others contribute 5/8ths of fuck all to this nonsense. We have no jobs and don’t drive. We use carbon neutral heatingand consume very little. But then, most of us pay rent and keep the market economy ticking by recycling small amounts of cash through market systems of production and distribution.

        Hmm. I don’t think we’ll manage step one and that warming will be what brings an end to our destructive strivings. More than happy to participate in any mass change in behaviours and habits that would serve to illustrate any wrongheadedness in my attitude though.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          You remind me of something Dmitry Orlov once said. Quit all this being busy doing work nonsense. It uses up too much resources and emits lots of greenhouse gases.

        • Maui

          Ok, some questions if you don’t mind. Are you voluntarily not working? (I.e. you’re not retired) And voluntarily not driving? Is there a growing community of people out there who don’t work/ don’t drive that you know of? Or are you one of the few visionaries. Just wondering.

          • Bill

            Not retired. Made a conscious decision to not learn how to drive.

            Count up the number of people across the western world on jobless benefits. It’s millions. Count the millions upon millions across countries and continents who can’t afford to have a car.

            Does all that add up to a community? No. Do I personally know a number of people who have no job and don’t drive? Yes.

        • weka

          Thanks Bill, that’s exactly what I am meaning. Name the problem then focus on any possible solutions. The biggest thing I take from your comment is that what is required is life-changing actions. That’s what I was referring to yesterday. If we (those of us reading) believe it’s this serious, then let’s talk about the actions that match that level of seriousness.

          I have some random thoughts about different levels. What you propose makes sense to me, and I think will be too much for many people, so there are some stepping stones in between. Maybe they can’t walk away from their job now, but they can look at doing that in the next 6 months.

          For the people for whom that is too much to even consider, then look at the myriad of actions available. Tell your instituional employer to divest from fossil fuels. Make this a priority over your career or pleasing your boss.

          If you have your own investments, remove them and put them somewhere useful.

          If activism is your thing, then find the best CC group available to you, join, and then put serious amounts of effort in there.

          Join your local Transition Town group, they’re the people who’ve been strategising around this for a long time (they don’t have all the answers, but they have some).

          Figure out how to eat local as much as possible. This takes money out of the global economy and supports local people who grow food to also step out of the local economy. Eating local means making an effort, so make the effort. It gets easier the more you do it and the more people that do it.

          We could make a huge list, but the main thing I got to yesterday was just making this the priority in our lives. Act as if the house is on fire now.

          • Maui

            Good points. I think the CC movement lacks a true activist movement. Transition Towns is about building an alternative lifestyle, not about making a song and dance about it. 350.org and Generation Zero just seem a bit tame. I’m sure they do good stuff to gain attention for CC, but I don’t think they will ruffle any feathers – which is required.

            • weka

              Yes! What we need alongside the tamer ones are organisations that will talk about what Bill is suggesting. This is why I am asking what we are willing to do, how much we are willing to change.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                Do you mean what we are willing to do as long as we maintain our current incomes and standards of living? Because outright economic collapse is, at this stage, basically the only way to to stop the world burning several more billion tonnes of coal and oil this year.

                • weka

                  Of course I don’t mean that. Wtf?

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    There really isn’t a middle way on this one. Even if we were to somehow freeze economic growth and population growth to zero, billions of tonnes of new carbon will go into the atmosphere in the next 12 months.

        • weka

          “So, given that 400ppm = ~ 4 degrees C or worse”

          I thought 400ppm was 2C locked in, with the potential for 4C if we don’t do anything.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            What does 400ppm look like?

            Recent estimates suggest CO2 levels reached as much as 415 parts per million (ppm) during the Pliocene. With that came global average temperatures that eventually reached 3 or 4 degrees C (5.4-7.2 degrees F) higher than today’s and as much as 10 degrees C (18 degrees F) warmer at the poles. Sea level ranged between five and 40 meters (16 to 131 feet) higher than today.

            • weka

              Thanks. I think that’s if we don’t do anything right? But if we did the right things now there is a chance that we could prevent 4C being locked in (can’t do anything about 2C now).

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                The only way to avoid the climate impacts of 400ppm is to get CO2 down below 400ppm.

                The article mentions 3-4° as the impact of 415ppm.

                Politically, though, the fact that we’ve hit 400ppm and emissions are still rising, well, what does that say? We’re locked in to stupid.

                You’d have to hope we can turn it around, and the evidence thus far is meagre at best.

                • weka

                  “The only way to avoid the climate impacts of 400ppm is to get CO2 down below 400ppm.”

                  I’m up for that.

                  • Bill

                    Up for it? Well, you’re going to have to be around for about 1000 years then. Because that’s roughly how long it will take for current CO2 to ‘wash out’ of the atmosphere.

                    • weka

                      Do you really think that’s what I meant?

                      Are you saying we are already locked into 4C?

                    • Bill

                      Your comment agreed with a proposition that we bring atmospheric CO2 concentrations down below 400ppm.

                      That can’t be done.

                      So, we’re absolutely locked into temperatures associated with 400ppm. To the best of my knowledge, that suggests a climate last seen about 15 – 20 million years ago (ie, during the Burdigalian of the early Miocene) and temperatures of ~ + 4 – 6 degrees C.

                    • weka

                      Yes but it was in context of my earlier comment

                      (I thought 400ppm was 2C locked in, with the potential for 4C if we don’t do anything)


                      So we are now locked into 4C and there is nothing we can do about it?

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      I don’t want to be a party pooper, but I think that Robert Atack figured all this out a long time ago.

                    • Maui

                      Bill – “So, we’re absolutely locked into temperatures associated with 400ppm.”

                      Hold on, doesn’t James Hansen talk about the goal is to get emissions back down to 350ppm through drastic cuts to make things “livable”? How are we locked into 400ppm if this is the case? Is Hansen just making it up that we can reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere?

                    • weka

                      Thanks Maui. Have to admit I’m not sure what people are talking about here. I thought the whole point was that we should reduce emissions so that we could reduce atmospheric levels.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Hold on, doesn’t James Hansen talk about the goal is to get emissions back down to 350ppm through drastic cuts to make things “livable”? How are we locked into 400ppm if this is the case? Is Hansen just making it up that we can reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere?

                      You’ve mixed a few ideas up here. I don’t see any technology which exists on earth today capable of reducing CO2 concentrations back down to 350ppm within the next 100 years. Not even economic collapse will do it.

                    • Bill

                      To be clear. There is no known way to take carbon back out of the atmosphere.

                      Carbon capture and storage, if it ever came to pass, and it probably won’t, would have precisely no effect on already existing atmospheric concentrations of carbon – none.

                      If we achieved absolute zero emissions tomorrow morning – an impossible thing to do unless everyone and everything stops breathing and refuses to decay – then today’s atmospheric carbon concentration of 400ppm would remain for hundreds of years into the future… ie, they’d reduce only very slowly; much, much slower than the rate we built them up.

                    • weka

                      Building soil sequesters carbon (quite different to carbon capture and storage ideas).

                      edit, I’m not quite following this. Are you saying that the natural carbon cycle is static? (or at least extremely slow so it appears static to our time frames).

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I thought the whole point was that we should reduce emissions so that we could reduce atmospheric levels.

                      The excess CO2 that we’ve been pumping into the atmosphere will stay there a long time:

                      All of this extra carbon needs to go somewhere. So far, land plants and the ocean have taken up about 55 percent of the extra carbon people have put into the atmosphere while about 45 percent has stayed in the atmosphere. Eventually, the land and oceans will take up most of the extra carbon dioxide, but as much as 20 percent may remain in the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

                      Just stopping emissions isn’t going to show an immediate reduction in atmospheric CO2. As Bill says, we won’t really see a change for about 1000 years which means that we’ve got 4 degrees of warming locked in.

                      To get an actual reduction in our lifetime we’d have to actively reduce CO2 in the atmosphere and we don’t have an artificial means to do that yet. About the only thing we can do is plant trees – lots of trees – and even that will take decades to make a measurable difference to the atmosphere.

                      And we’re also not in a position to immediately stop all carbon emissions unless you want to condemn a couple of billion people to what amounts to an immediate death. Of course, 4 degrees of warming will massively decrease the human population from the present 7 billion.

                    • Maui

                      Ok so all this talk of reducing CO2 to 350ppm is just bullshit then? a scam? Hansen says: “The measured energy imbalance indicates that an initial CO2 target “<350 ppm” would be appropriate, if the aim is to stabilize climate without further global warming. That target is consistent with an earlier analysis [54]."

                      Should he really be saying it's too late there no point in reducing emissions?

                    • Bill

                      Before soil was denuded and before forests were chopped down and when the oceans were thick with plankton; ie, before any human messing, there was a natural carbon cycle that ‘breathed in and breathed out’ and saw atmospheric carbon maintained at around the 280ppm or whatever.

                      Now that was, as far as I can figure, when natural sinks and what-not were essentially running at optimum levels.

                      But then we put external carbon into the mix. Lots of it. So, restore the natural world to some pre-industrial pristine and optimal state, and not a lot will be achieved…it was balanced and ‘worked’ with an ‘excess’ 280 ppm of atmospheric carbon.

                      Now that there is more than the ‘natural excess’, what’s the logic that would have it sequester an extra 120ppm? Surely if it could, then there would have been no 280 ppm balance, as it would have been reducing that concentration rather than being balanced at that point, no?

                    • Bill

                      @ Maui. “The measured energy imbalance indicates that an initial CO2 target “<350 ppm” would be appropriate, if the aim is to stabilize climate without further global warming. That target is consistent with an earlier analysis"

                      Maybe Hanson has a time machine?

                      I did a post along while back highlighting a solid presentation that lays bare a lot of the (mis)reports by Hanson and others. Here's the link.

                      Well done

                      The links to the presentation are in the post.

                    • weka

                      Maui, there is always a point to reducing emissions (not least because it prevents us from getting worse than 4C).

                      Bill, a couple of points. The carbon cycle exists irrespective of the ppm. It’s always going to be adjusting the amounts i.e it’s an adaptable system (within obvious limits) not a static one.

                      Building soil sequesters extra carbon over and above pre-industrial revolution. Think all those forests in NZ cut down and the same amount of land ‘taking in’ carbon and holding it. That area of land wasn’t taking in carbon in 1700, because it had climax forest on it that was relatively stable re the carbon cycle (carbon in, carbon out).

                      What’s at issue is how much carbon new soil will hold and how quickly soil can be built.

                      “Now that there is more than the ‘natural excess’, what’s the logic that would have it sequester an extra 120ppm? Surely if it could, then there would have been no 280 ppm balance, as it would have been reducing that concentration rather than being balanced at that point, no?”

                      I don’t think so. The logic is that the soil building is a new activity that wasn’t possible 500 years ago because the soil hadn’t been disturbed at that point (gross generalisation here, obviously in real time/space ecosystems are always changing). Also, the regenag farming techniques are a human intervention into the carbon cycle, so something we can have some control over in terms of increasing. There is a natural upper limit though. I have no idea what it is.

                      The theory is that say 100 parts of carbon release via industry over 100 years could be put back in the ground by building soil capable of holding 100 parts of carbon (I made 100 parts up to illustrate the point, nothing to do with ppm).

                    • weka

                      Needless to say (or needful in fact), if that is true, we still need to radically reduce emissions as fast as possible. Thinking that we can use soil storage to offset BAU emissions would be a special kind of crazy (albeit one we are well familiar with).

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      World soil is depleting at a couple of % a year; we can’t even stabilise that let alone create billions of tonnes of new soil a year to balance out the billions of tonnes of oil and coal being burnt.

                    • Bill

                      @ Weka

                      I’m looking at this simply. All the carbon in the world was all the carbon in the world and there was a certain balance. We took all the carbon in the world and injected over 1/3rd extra in on top of the natural atmospheric carbon from an external source while simultaneously reducing the ‘holding capacity’ element of other existing carbon – ie, chopped down trees etc.

                      Now okay, different land type/cover has a different holding capacity. But to suggest that a certain land type/cover can be developed that will sequester 1/3rd more atmospheric carbon than was sequestered before human intervention is…well okay, let’s entertain the idea. So, how the hell do you bring carbon down from 10 000 meters or 5000 meters up in the air in the first place so it can be sequestered?

                      Failing that, is soil or whatever merely intended to prevent more carbon from being atmospheric…a bit like emission reduction?

                    • weka

                      “World soil is depleting at a couple of % a year; we can’t even stabilise that let alone create billions of tonnes of new soil a year to balance out the billions of tonnes of oil and coal being burnt.”

                      Soil isn’t depleting, it’s being depleted by humans. We can stop that, and we know how to rebuild soil (people are already doing this). As I already said, rebuilding soil isn’t a panacea for BAU fossil fuel use. We have to reduce emissions as well.

                    • Maui

                      Thanks Bill/Weka, Alright I’ve processed all that. I’m with Robert Atack 80% unemployment and no driving for all! Let’s do this.

                      This sort of info takes a bit longer for one to process though. Geez, so little time.. and so much to comprehend..

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    Just to be a right pain in the arse, we should also recognise that atmospheric CO2 levels have been climbing by 15-20 ppm every decade. It has been doing this for the last 40+ years. And the trend shows no signs of stopping. By 2025 atmospheric CO2 levels will be around the 425ppm mark, and by 2035 they will be around the 445ppm mark.

  14. johnm 14

    Ice loss in Antarctica is ACCELERATING as giant sheets melt, researchers find

    In 2013, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said global sea level rose by 19cm from 1901-2010, an average 1.7 mm year
    Accelerated to 3.2 mm per year between 1993 and 2010, new report finds
    Meltwater from Earth’s ice sheets are the likely cause


    The Amundsen Sea has long been thought to be the weakest ice sheet in the West Antarctic.

    A study published in December suggests the barren region is haemorrhaging ice at a rate triple that of a decade ago.

    Researchers believe that the melting of glaciers in West Antarctica, which contain enough water to raise sea levels by at least a metre, may be irreversible.

    The findings of the 21-year study by Nasa and the University of California, Irvine claim to provide the most accurate estimates yet of just how fast glaciers are melting in the Amundsen Sea Embayment.

    Scientists found the rate by taking radar, laser and satellite measurements of the glaciers’ mass between 1992 and 2013.

    They found they lost an average 83 gigatons per year (91.5 billion U.S. tons), or the equivalent of losing the water weight of Mount Everest every two years.


  15. johnm 15

    On a lighter note commenting on Industrial man’s insatiable desire to grow grow grow:


    May 11, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    At some point in your career you realize that all of your knowledge isn’t going to change a thing. You’re in the backseat and there’s a thermodynamic creation, a hairy gorilla in the front seat with a bent towards optimism driving the car. Straight ahead is the great chasm and the ape swears he can reach the other side if he just gets a little more speed. There’s a smile on his face as he flies up the ramp and into mid-air. Problem is, there never was another side to the great chasm and the scientific certainty of gravity begins to penetrate the thick skull much too late. Between fits of panic in the last seconds there’s still a faint hope that the landing won’t be too bad, but it was, in the end.

    I really despise that ape, it’s stupid, delusional, arrogant and it stinks. It seems to go out of its way to turn the entire ecosystem into road kill while the radio blares dopamine-releasing stimuli into its thoughtless brain. Try to escape it and it will build a road into your refuge and put you in the backseat again. It goes everywhere, it destroys everything and will fill the car with many billions of others in their cars too before it makes the final run into Extinction Chasm. Everyone, three hearty cheers for the species that doesn’t have a clue and never will. Hurray, hurray, boooooooooooooo, you stink.



    I like this quote of Garret from a site called ThinkAdvisor: “

    “Civilization has enjoyed a tremendous burst of growth over the last few hundred years and that can be attributed to the discovery of energy reserves,” he observes. “I don’t see why it wouldn’t continue along a similar path. One way that might help is to use fuels that allow for growing wealth without changing atmospheric conditions, including renewables and nuclear power. Although we may switch to a regime less of discovery and more of depletion. Honestly, I try not to think about it.”

    I love the last part, “Honestly, I try not to think about it.” So, we need about one watt continuous feed to maintain every $100 worth of existing infrastructure/wealth of civilization, but as energy availability declines, the human component will destroy their own heat engine long before it’s laying on the ground useless from lack of energy. Garret also says we would have to build one nuclear power plant per day to maintain current arrangements without adding more CO2 to the atmosphere. Well, just one nuclear power plant seems to be enough to seed the entire northern Pacific Ocean with radioactive isotopes, what’s a few hundred more going to do? Maybe use up all of the uranium in a decade or two and create little radioactive scat piles that may, in the long run, be an effective radiation therapy to kill the civilizational cancer. As the world economy tops-out in energy and things begin to fall apart one watt at a time, all of the “wealth” will slowly, with many severe jolts, become worthless. But if fusion comes along, we can just trash all of the fossil fuel related stuff and buy a place on Elon Musks electric avenue. Any way you slice it, a lot of wealth and life is going to be lost in the near future. But thank goodness the strategic planners of the world are prepared and ready to clamp down on their populations and make them endure living within an infrastructure that will suck the last dollar out of them and then leave them for dead, financially and otherwise.

    • Colonial Rawshark 15.1

      Nuclear reactors use a lot of concrete and a lot of uranium. The manufacture of concrete releases shit loads of CO2 and the mining, refining and shipping or uranium requires shit loads of fossil fuel energy. And then we haven’t even talked about the energy required to safely decommission and mothball the old nuclear plants once they reach their end of life. Or will we not worry about that.

  16. johnm 16

    More James from collapse of industrial civilisation website

    We humans can believe in just about anything, arrange ourselves in various social organizations, doesn’t really matter which, and “automatically” build, design and use technology to voraciously eat any resource gradient we encounter. Some may look upon this as evidence of human superiority, a term which should be limited in use to the primate social hierarchy. We are neither superior or inferior, we are simply pathological. It is an unrecognized fact that that Homo sapiens is trying to build a second evolving system upon one already in existence without consideration of the incompatibilities. It’s criminal neglect at best but probably closer to criminal insanity.

    Found this link https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/348164/20140821_DCDC_GST_5_Web_Secured.pdf over at http://www.ourfiniteworld.com.

    It seems that government organizations can always create strategic plans to deal with the chaos created by civilization but can never plan to forestall the damage in the first place. And it doesn’t help that even though people can perform technological marvels, they’re still dumb as hell and will gladly build the scaffold for their own hanging. People perceive themselves as God’s gift to the earth rather than the mega-cancer that has already poisoned and so disrupted the thin living film of the ecosphere, that civilizational death is guaranteed and perhaps human extinction is not too distant from that. I say, until you can address the root causes of our slide into chaos, keep your silly strategic planning action reports to yourselves because they give the impression that you have things under control, and you do not.

  17. johnm 17

    And Monbiot:

    The Impossibility of Growth
    27th May 2014

    Why collapse and salvation are hard to distinguish from each other.

    By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 28th May 2014

    Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham(1).

    Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems(2). It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.

    To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues were miraculously to vanish, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.

    Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained(3). But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.

    It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and the pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, as the most accessible reserves have been exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.

    On Friday, a few days after scientists announced that the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is now inevitable(4), the Ecuadorean government decided that oil drilling would go ahead in the heart of the Yasuni national park(5). It had made an offer to other governments: if they gave it half the value of the oil in that part of the park, it would leave the stuff in the ground. You could see this as blackmail or you could see it as fair trade. Ecuador is poor, its oil deposits are rich: why, the government argued, should it leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is drilling down to the inner circle of hell? It asked for $3.6bn and received $13m. The result is that Petroamazonas, a company with a colourful record of destruction and spills(6), will now enter one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, in which a hectare of rainforest is said to contain more species than exist in the entire continent of North America(7).

    The UK oil company Soco is now hoping to penetrate Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo(8); one of the last strongholds of the mountain gorilla and the okapi, of chimpanzees and forest elephants. In Britain, where a possible 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil has just been identified in the south-east(9), the government fantasises about turning the leafy suburbs into a new Niger delta. To this end it’s changing the trespass laws to enable drilling without consent and offering lavish bribes to local people(10,11). These new reserves solve nothing. They do not end our hunger for resources; they exacerbate it.

    The trajectory of compound growth shows that the scouring of the planet has only just begun. As the volume of the global economy expands, everywhere that contains something concentrated, unusual, precious will be sought out and exploited, its resources extracted and dispersed, the world’s diverse and differentiated marvels reduced to the same grey stubble.

    Some people try to solve the impossible equation with the myth of dematerialisation: the claim that as processes become more efficient and gadgets are miniaturised, we use, in aggregate, fewer materials. There is no sign that this is happening. Iron ore production has risen 180% in ten years(12). The trade body Forest Industries tell us that “global paper consumption is at a record high level and it will continue to grow.”(13) If, in the digital age, we won’t reduce even our consumption of paper, what hope is there for other commodities?

    Look at the lives of the super-rich, who set the pace for global consumption. Are their yachts getting smaller? Their houses? Their artworks? Their purchase of rare woods, rare fish, rare stone? Those with the means buy ever bigger houses to store the growing stash of stuff they will not live long enough to use. By unremarked accretions, ever more of the surface of the planet is used to extract, manufacture and store things we don’t need. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that fantasies about the colonisation of space – which tell us we can export our problems instead of solving them – have resurfaced(14).

    As the philosopher Michael Rowan points out, the inevitabilities of compound growth mean that if last year’s predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%) is sustained, even if we were miraculously to reduce the consumption of raw materials by 90% we delay the inevitable by just 75 years(15). Efficiency solves nothing while growth continues.

    The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st Century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.

    Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn’t worthy of mention. That’s how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.

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