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July 2016 was the hottest single month recorded since 1880

Written By: - Date published: 6:32 pm, August 16th, 2016 - 104 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Economy, energy, Environment, International - Tags:

And 2016 will almost definitely be the hottest year yet

Time Magazine reports on data provided in the last day or so by both NASA and JMA.

July 2016 was the warmest month ever recorded, the latest in a slew of new temperature records set in the past several years, according to two new reports.

Scientists have recorded month after month of record-breaking temperatures this year, but July shattered all those records to become the hottest of any month in any year since record keeping began. The data was confirmed separately by NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA), and provides near certainty that 2016 will be the hottest year in recorded history.

Current estimates are that at this rate, 2016 will be the hottest year globally in modern records (>99% chance at this time).

This comes on top of reports in July which said that the Earth had just experienced its hottest 6 months on record. Canadian media The Star even commented on NIWA reporting that NZ temperatures were running at a massive 1.4 deg C above normal, spectacularly smashing through the previous record.

Temperatures in the South Pacific nation were 1.4 C above the long-term average for the first half of the year, according to the government-funded National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

That’s the highest since record-keeping began more than a century ago, and significantly higher than the previous record of 1.1 C above average, reached in 1938 and again in 1999.

As a result, I question how serious the world leaders (and their advisory teams) who signed up the Paris COP21 to an “aspirational” target of limiting global warming to 1.5 deg C really are.

Now that the self applause of the UN Paris climate change conference has died down, I’ll make my views plain again. Stopping 2 deg C warming was a ship that sailed sometime around the 1980s.

And because of this thing called “thermal inertia” (i.e. a cold pot of water takes a long time to heat up, and our planet happens to be covered in very deep pots of cold water called oceans), the Earth has so far only experienced about half the total temperature increase that will result from the greenhouse gas emissions of the 1980s.

There is fully another half the warming to come from the decade of Tom Cruise’s TOP GUN movie. Next will come the warming from the emissions we put out in the 1990s. Then the warming from what we released in the 2000s. Then the 2010’s; you get the idea.

Of course, that’s not going to stop the pro-establishment loyalists in both politics and science putting on their very serious faces to talk on TV about how we can successfully limit global warming to 1.5 deg C (or 2.0) deg C.

104 comments on “July 2016 was the hottest single month recorded since 1880”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    This is not an anti-vaccination post. For your attack on an author, your disrespect for the patient right to not consent to unwanted treatment and your generally undisciplined inability to control your inner troll, you are now banned from commenting on my posts until 2017. CV.

  2. b waghorn 2

    But carbon credits are back up to $18 so that will fix it , hmmm lovely weather out there today.

  3. Is your argument that because world leaders are setting targets woefully below even the minimum required to mitigate the warming that they should be called out for this and confronted with the truth no matter how unpleasant.

    How does that work when some political leaders are deniers. How do we call them out.

    edit. Good to see you back btw.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      It would seem that denial of the climate realities that we face comes in many shades.

      And thank you, Marty Mars, your comment was kind.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      It doesn’t really matter if the leaders are deniers or not.

      Making actual changes that would combat climate change would be to destructive to our global economies. Even if the elites that really pull the strings somehow let the changes happen, the voting public as a whole wouldn’t stand for it.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Just today I heard Derrick Jensen say something about that. We are naturally afraid of significant change for the better because of the short term disruption and damage to our preferred comfortable way of being that it inevitably brings. Even though the long term gains and benefits can be massive in comparison.

        Although from the way NZ society has skillfully avoided dealing with the nation’s obvious in your face crisis problems, from the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, a hundred thousand plus Kiwi kids in poverty, housing that only the top 5% in Auckland can afford, to thousands sleeping rough every night and the many filthy streams and rivers across the country, I suspect that you are right: Neither the voting public nor the politicians will do any thing more than sound concerned and pay lip service.

      • marty mars 3.2.2

        I wonder where the tipping point of the voting public is, probably zombies at the friont door.p

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.3

        Making actual changes that would combat climate change would be to destructive to our global economies.

        That’s the lie that the rich have been giving us.

        The reality is something different. All that addressing climate change would do is destroy the rich. The economy would be fine. In fact, it’d probably be better than it is now because it simply cannot support the rich.

        • jbc 3.2.3.1

          What’s your thinking there?

          It would seem that if it was possible to just “magic away” all the fossil fuel consumption (oil, gas, coal, etc) then the world would pretty much grind to a halt. There wouldn’t be an economy as we know today and there would be a lot of hungry people (rich or poor) without any means to feed themselves. Then the zombie apocalypse would begin.

          Or a less drastic option where it was priced as high as needed to cut consumption to 1990 levels would still seriously wind back economies. My guess would be the poor would be hurt the most as they are always the first to be hit with any resource shortages.

          For sure, those poor would be joined by a lot of today’s middle-income earners.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.2.3.1.1

            It would seem that if it was possible to just “magic away” all the fossil fuel consumption (oil, gas, coal, etc) then the world would pretty much grind to a halt.

            I don’t believe in magic like those who believe in capitalism.

            If the governments of the world created their own money to utilise their own resources then making the necessary changes to combat climate change would be easy as it would just be the government directing the countries resources where they need to go. It’d take time and during that time fossil fuels would still be used but that use would be in decline.

            Also don’t need the IMF, World Bank or the WTO. We could get rid of those and thus remove the hegemony that they represent.

            There wouldn’t be an economy as we know today and there would be a lot of hungry people (rich or poor) without any means to feed themselves.

            The economy that we have today is delusional and so getting rid of it would do us and the world a whole lot of good. And, no, there wouldn’t be any poor people – far too much work to be done for there to be any poor people.

            You and Lanthanide are holding on to the mistaken belief that the economy needs to stay as it is when it really needs to be changed.

            • jbc 3.2.3.1.1.1

              I’m not holding on to any beliefs here.

              I’m just thinking about the scale of the problem. Just looking at NZ (and forgetting coal-powered China). Our entire vehicle fleet is fossil-fuel powered (not sure if there are any Tesla owners in NZ). If that energy requirement shifted to electricity then that would also need to come from somewhere.

              Look at the failed resource consents for wind and hydro over recent decades.

              Then there’s the cost.

              Then there’s shipping and air traffic that connects NZ to the world. That’s all fossil fuel.

              Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to see all this change. I just cant see it happening any time soon. Probably not in my children’s lifetime unfortunately.

              Maybe 10+ years ago when car emissions standards were being debated for NZ – this idea was discarded by the govt of the day because it would make cars more costly.

              Bottom line is that *everyone* needs to pay for the necessary changes but nobody wants to.

              • Draco T Bastard

                If that energy requirement shifted to electricity then that would also need to come from somewhere.

                Yes, we’d have to build it up. My suggestion is offshore wind and solar on houses. This has advantages for the local environment and resilience:

                Wind
                1. The infrastructure would act as reefs
                2. Due to the infrastructure commercial fishing couldn’t be allowed with in the wind farms
                3. This means that we would have several large fish breeding grounds around the country undoing the damage that commercial fishing has done over the years

                Overall
                1. Decrease fossil fuelled generation thus decrease GHGs and premature deaths from them (especially particulates)
                2. As it’s distributed more widely, especially solar, there’s less chance that a complete power out will occur even to remote areas
                3. It will help develop the economy

                Then there’s the cost.

                Costs aren’t really a problem as I’ve explained – if we change from the private banks creating our money to our government creating our money. We have the resources available already – they’re just not being used correctly.

                Then there’s shipping and air traffic that connects NZ to the world. That’s all fossil fuel.

                Shipping can use sails. Flight will become seriously limited. That won’t be bad for the economy.

                Bottom line is that *everyone* needs to pay for the necessary changes but nobody wants to.

                Yes because we’ve always been told that it’s the private sector that will do it whereas the private simply won’t. The government, on the other hand, can and should do but it does require shifting the private sector into a minor role in the economy.

                • jbc

                  Costs aren’t really a problem as I’ve explained – if we change from the private banks creating our money to our government creating our money. We have the resources available already – they’re just not being used correctly.

                  With respect, I don’t believe you fully understand the problem.

                  Do you know where the raw materials are mined for the manufacture of generators and solar cells?

                  Even if we had them, good luck with the resource consent for the mines.

                  If we can’t mine them then we need to buy them outside NZ as we do now. Without an economy that works roughly how it does now we won’t be able to afford the technology as we certainly don’t have it locally nor can we make it out of domestic renewables.

                  Printing money doesn’t help with that, and creates even bigger problems.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    The answer is pretty simple: we will have to make do with a much simpler, slower pace of life, much less energy per capita in the near (and long) term, and re-prioritising what is done with the resources that we do have.

                    • jbc

                      This I can understand – didn’t notice the comment earlier.

                      But I don’t think people are willing to make those sacrifices. A couple of weeks back there was a family budget printed in one of the papers that showed, among other things, utilities and petrol.

                      I was quite surprised to see that the struggling family spent more on petrol in a week than my family (of 4) spends in a month, and double the utilities.

                      If that represents a tight budget then I really don’t think we have much hope. I have friends that put my energy usage to shame.

                      It takes a conscious effort to be efficient; kids always want the car instead of the bus and they hate walking any great distance – but they’ll get over it.

                      If everyone (and that means everyone) cut their energy usage in half then we’d be in a very different situation.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I suppose your household doesn’t have two adults in Auckland travelling around to four different part time jobs which are at least 30 minutes travel time apart in a day?

                      You have a well insulated home with efficient well maintained heat pumps and you have taken the trouble to get the best power deal that you can?

                      By the way, I suspect that the fuel required for an international flight/holiday was not listed in that article you saw. In essence, a one way flight to the northern hemisphere burns up roughly as much fuel per person as a typical car uses in a year.

                      I don’t think that the struggling household you noted was using up all that petrol that you are critical of holidaying.

                    • jbc

                      I suppose your household doesn’t have two adults in Auckland travelling around to four different part time jobs which are at least 30 minutes travel time apart in a day?

                      No, but neither did the story in question. I don’t want to take the discussion into the weeds, but I’ll just say I’ve done a lot of things to cut car and electricity usage that required nothing but determination and planning. I’ve always been something of an efficiency geek.

                      Your comment illustrates both parts of the problem
                      – we all want someone else to be the one that “takes the trouble to…”
                      – the ‘easy’ options have costs and no government wants to be the ones to impose them on the public.

                      I’d love to see a government with willpower in this area but they all know that the bulk of voters will never knowingly vote for something that will inconvenience themselves or cost them money. (which I think is lanthanides point above)

                      And then I think about China and the billions of others that won’t care. Its going to have to get catastrophic before people are forced to change their behaviour.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The west burnt a massive amount of coal to get to where it is now. China and India are doing that now.

                      But why should we worry about China? USA, Canada, UK, Australia even NZ emits more CO2 per capita than China does.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    With respect, I don’t believe you fully understand the problem.

                    I do.

                    Do you know where the raw materials are mined for the manufacture of generators and solar cells?

                    I know where those resources are in NZ, yes. they’re not mined yet but they will be. We pretty much don’t have any choice on that. It’s just a question of when, not if.

                    Even if we had them, good luck with the resource consent for the mines.

                    Just so long as the environment is cared for during and after the mining I really don’t see a problem with that. Papatuanuku has been taking care of mere holes in the ground for a long time.

                    Without an economy that works roughly how it does now we won’t be able to afford the technology as we certainly don’t have it locally nor can we make it out of domestic renewables.

                    Did you know that all research undertaken with US Federal funds is publicly available?

                    Printing money doesn’t help with that, and creates even bigger problems.

                    Printing money works fine. In fact, having the government print it instead of the private banks as happens now works a whole lot better.

                    And there will be people outside of NZ quite willing to take NZ currency. It is, after all, still a claim upon our resources.

        • Chooky 3.2.3.2

          +100 DTB…the super rich oligarchy who control laissez faire capitalism are the problem

          ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate’ by Naomi Klein

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Changes_Everything

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_Klein

      • Robert Atack 3.2.4

        And that kind of goes for all of us, stand up those who are not going to go to work, shops or the maternity wards, or turn on their computer today, or for the rest of their lives.
        Look at me I know everything I do is fucking the environment, but I get up each day and help turn nature into firewood (builder) and I’m flat out, about to stick another $50.00 worth of gas through the tail pipe.
        «The Earth is not dying – she is being killed. And those who are killing her have names and addresses.»

        – Utah Phillips

        • Corokia 3.2.4.1

          What is it with you and “maternity wards”? If you want to limit population growth then the ‘maternity ward’ stage is a bit late in the process.
          If you mean that there should be widespread contraception available and used, then fine, just say that.

          What bugs me though whenever I hear talk of limiting population growth, its almost exclusively about women. Hardly ever anything about vasectomies. Maybe if men the world over were offered cash incentives to get the snip (after 0,1,2 kids whatever?) then population might actually decline.

          • Chooky 3.2.4.1.1

            +100 Corokia…re “Maybe if men the world over were offered cash incentives to get the snip (after 0,1,2 kids whatever?) then population might actually decline.”…this is very good thought

            • Corokia 3.2.4.1.1.1

              Don’t know if you are male or female Chooky☺ , but my experience so far online has been that men just avoid discussing this. I’m also basing this on international podcasts I’ve listened to from people (men) who have written books on overpopulation . It’s all ” we need to educate women in poor countries ” and that’ll fix it. I mean 100% yes to educating and empowering women, but women need decades of contraception and female sterilization is much more major surgery than male. But for all the rhetoric about the consequences of over population, it seems that family planning is considered an issue for women

              • Chooky

                yes totally agree with you…males should be made responsible for birth control….which most of them inherently are not…and yes it would be physically easier for them to just to get snipped

                i think the emphasis on “educate women in poor countries” is because many women are denied education which leads to well paid work and economic independence of males and therefore self determination and control of their own fertility (…and of course in many places family planning is not an easy option anyway..patriarchal values and religions like the Catholic Church see to this)..the other issue is that if women are given the choice they have the most incentive not to have children or too many children because childbirth is potentially dangerous and bringing up children is usually left to women

                ( btw male chooks are called roosters)

                • corokia

                  ( btw male chooks are called roosters) 🙂
                  of course, bit embarrassing missing that one

                  • Chooky

                    re population control and global warming..seems males in power in particular are reluctant to consider this..but both ‘The Atlantic’ and the ‘Huffington Post’ do:

                    ‘The Climate-Change Solution No One Will Talk About —

                    Studies have shown that improved access to birth control can be a valuable tool in slowing global warming, but many politicians are afraid to broach the subject.’

                    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/the-climate-change-solution-no-one-will-talk-about/382197/

                    ‘Voluntary Birth Control Is a Climate Change Solution Nobody Wants to Talk About — A growing population means greater environmental strain. The solution could be rooted in women’s rights’

                    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/birth-control-climate-change_us_565339cde4b0258edb322194

                    and

                    ‘HUMAN POPULATION GROWTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE’

                    http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/climate/

                    …”One of the study’s authors, Paul Murtaugh, warned that: “In discussions about climate change, we tend to focus on the carbon emissions of an individual over his or her lifetime. Those are important issues and it’s essential that they should be considered. But an added challenge facing us is continuing population growth and increasing global consumption of resources. . . . Future growth amplifies the consequences of people’s reproductive choices today, the same way that compound interest amplifies a bank balance.”

                    CO2 Emissions by Country

                    The size of the carbon legacy is closely tied to consumption patterns. Under current conditions, a child born in the United States will be responsible for almost seven times the carbon emissions of a child born in China and 168 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh.

                    The globalization of the world economy, moreover, can mask the true carbon footprint of individual nations. China, for example, recently surpassed the United States to become the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter. But a large portion of those gases is emitted in the production of consumer goods for the United States and Europe. Thus a large share of “China’s” greenhouse gas footprint is actually the displaced footprint of high-consumption western nations….

                    • Corokia

                      Even when family planning is mentioned it’s still pills, IUDs (which can have awful side effects) and condoms. I’m not about to start a campaign, but I just don’t get why , If overpopulation is a problem, there isn’t any talk of male sterilization. Guess it’s all to do with macho stuff which must be so much more important than trying to save the climate.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Make vasectomies free on demand and you’ll get a take up of thousands a year.

          • Robert Atack 3.2.4.1.2

            Sorry about that, it didn’t really occur to me I was ‘picking’ on woman via maternity wards.
            Yeah sure vasectomies at birth from now on, and mandatory for every male NOW. As a rule men just want to bonk, I was the product of a drunken fuck, I bet most of us are, if not a dawn raid.
            But still, actualy taking the fuckup to full term, is kind of all the woman’s choice (ala the abortion rights people), so yeah overpopulation could be said to be the result of a woman taking the child to full term. Maybe?? At least in the west???
            If prospective mothers started saying we don’t want children because this planet can’t sustain life much longer, therefore we chose not to have children, maybe the population would drop?, but alas all I’ve seen these past 16 years is woman having multiple births, ignoring the facts, which I’ve tried to explain. Those children do not make the facts disappear. All they have done is make a bad situation worse, and a shit load more personal, and involved.

            I went under the knife about 6 months after reading this – http://www.vhemt.org , @40 something no kids, $300.00 + the frozen peas. Not that I was planing on having kids, but I was sure I would be getting drunk.
            If every current/soon to be breeding couple limited their number to 1 child, it would take something like 100 years to bring the population down to 1 billion. Which is supposedly 3x what it could ‘sustain’ ?
            So yeah close the maternity wards, make it bloody hard to have children, it will not be much longer before ‘the pregnant’ will be look at as foolish, if not criminal. …. ouch, hope that doesn’t generate a ban, apologies in advance. But I truly believe at some stage in our blood bath of a future having a child will be looked upon as insanity. Or food.

            • Robert Atack 3.2.4.1.2.1

              re -but alas all I’ve seen these past 16 years is woman having multiple births.

              All of the 15 – 30 new overpopulateding children I’ve seen born have been from willing mothers. These are computer literate people in New Zealand, most if not all do not associate with a religion, ‘are middle class’, generally employed. Who as a rule believe the BS and think humans have a chance of surviving EG COP 21

            • corokia 3.2.4.1.2.2

              “But I truly believe at some stage in our blood bath of a future having a child will be looked upon as insanity. Or food.”

              That’s a seriously sick thing to put out there.

              Yes I get the situation is dire, but we haven’t quite got to the zombie apocalypse yet.

              People with kids and grandkids (and many others without) want to do something other than just give up. And we don’t care if you think thats stupid.

  4. Andrea 4

    The whole notion and practice of ‘carbon credits’ is, IMO, the greatest evil we have ever wrought against the planet and its life forms.

    They have to go.

    Whether it’s carrot or stick or both – the bottom-line mob have to realise they cannot buy themselves out of cleaning up their act.

    And the sooner they do so, without bleating, ‘Jobs will be lost! The sky will fall! Society as we know it will cease to exist!’ the better. If they’re so very smart and capable – let’s see how they can entrepreneur and manage through this without being subsidised by the ecosystems, taxpayers and workers, for once.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Not sure why you are talking about “carbon credits” as I do not mention them and this post is about the officially sanctioned mass delusion of keeping climate change under 1.5 deg C or even 2.0 deg C. With or without the use of carbon credits.

      • b waghorn 4.1.1

        Carbon credits are part of that mass delusion , they have been popping up in the press a bit lately and there will be the odd poor fool who thinks they can make a difference.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          Well, bailing out the Titanic with a bucket will also make a measurable difference, but not one that will matter in the end to any one on board.

  5. Pat 5

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/aug/15/climate-urgency-weve-locked-in-more-global-warming-than-people-realize

    “To put this in context, the international community agreed in last year’s Paris climate accords that we should limit climate change risks by keeping global warming below 2°C, and preferably closer to 1.5°C. Yet from the carbon pollution we’ve already put into the atmosphere, we’re committed to 1.5–3°C warming over the coming decades and centuries, and we continue to pump out over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year.”

  6. Pasupial 6

    This Guardian article gives more details than the Time piece. Also, the reproduced Schmidt tweet graphs are really worth a thousand words. But this was the standout for me:

    Nasa’s results, which combine sea surface temperature and air temperature on land, showed July 2016 was 0.84C hotter than the 1951 to 1980 average for July… David Karoly, a climate scientist from the University of Melbourne… pointed out that Nasa’s baseline temperatures, which new measurements are compared against, already included about 0.5C of warming in global temperatures. That meant July was about 1.3C warmer than the pre-industrial average.

    Karoly said about 0.2C of that anomaly was likely due to the El Niño, leaving about 1.1C mostly due to human-induced climate change.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/16/july-2016-was-worlds-hottest-month-since-records-began-says-nasa

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    Spring has begun in Dunedin – time to plant.

    • Pasupial 7.1

      Stuart; maybe it’s spring in your part of Dunedin, but where I am it’s still time to prune the trees away from the power lines before the sap rises. The frosts in the morning are definitely making it a bit slippery underfoot in the shade on the walk to kindy. Our last snowman from the snow a fortnight back only just melted on the weekend!

      That said, in a decade or two you’d probably be right.

      • Macro 7.1.1

        The mid winter plums have been harvested here in Thames last week and the new blossom is now in bloom.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      That’s a very short winter given how late winter was. Still, there will be more freezing weather to come…

  8. adam 8

    Seeing as it not a weka post, which I love by the way.

    We are politically fubar on this issue. No one is going to give up their perceived easy life. No one is going to acknowledge there is a problem when everything seems so normal. And no one is going to move an inch because they are comfortable and tomorrow never comes.

    In a nutshell, because the way we perceive and engage with our world – we can never get political traction on an issue which will happen some time in the future.

    No matter how much worse it is to put it off.

    I think we have gone beyond party political solutions. Now it’s about working out options how to live with this mess, and keep the species going.

    Sorry CV depressing rank on my part. Thanks for the post by the way.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Politically we are FUBAR on this point I have no disagreement with you whatsoever.

  9. joe90 9

    Bill McKibben hits the nail on the head but sadly I reckon any mobilisation on a par with WW2 efforts seems less and less likely.

    In the North this summer, a devastating offensive is underway. Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears. Experts dispatched to the battlefield in July saw little cause for hope, especially since this siege is one of the oldest fronts in the war. “In 30 years, the area has shrunk approximately by half,” said a scientist who examined the onslaught. “There doesn’t seem anything able to stop this.”

    https://newrepublic.com/article/135684/declare-war-climate-change-mobilize-wwii?utm=350org

  10. Jester 10

    So that’s it then? Game over. If the remaining emissions-induced warming from the mid-eighties onwards has yet to take effect then surely it’s all over red rover?
    That’s a helluva lot of greenhouse gases the effects of which we have to somehow remediate. Is there a technological solution? Unfortunately, our best efforts are going into producing new smart phones. At least we’ll be able text each other goodbye.
    Nice knowing ya’. Hope a more deserving species inherits Homo sapiens slot in the ecosystem (whatever post-human form that may take).

  11. Pat 11

    “He warned then that large areas could become so hot that they would be virtually uninhabitable for human beings, and could trigger an exodus of hundreds of millions of refugees. The July temperatures just underlined the urgency of the crisis, he said.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/16/worlds-hottest-month-shows-challenges-global-warming-will-bring

  12. RedLogix 12

    Carbon Capture and Storage, in any and all it’s possible forms, is now the only serious option left on the table. On an epic scale.

    Oh and welcome back CV. A solid post.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Thanks RL.

      Although I have to wonder why having the wasteful western world consuming 2/3 less, flying 2/3 less and restoring the forest, jungle and marine ecologies of the world are not serious options.

      But hoping for the last minute deus ex machina appearance of gigatonne scale sci fi carbon capture technology is a “serious option”.

      • RedLogix 12.1.1

        I wasn’t thinking in binary terms here; certainly there is nothing wrong with all those actions, especially anything to do with restoring the biosphere. All these need to remain on the table, they all remain important.

        But as you eloquently make the case, even if the Western world shut it’s fossil carbon consumption down to zero … tomorrow … it wouldn’t be enough. Nowhere near enough.

        • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1

          It’s a bit of a predicament. If we can take enough urgent action now to buy our civilisation an extra 20 or 30 years to get its collective head around what is happening, perhaps that will be sufficient. But even that’s not looking likely.

    • The planet would have to be on the way to a mini ice age by now, if ‘we’ stood a chance, we are about 100 ppm CO2 in the wrong direction, and accelerating away from the comfort zone at light speed.
      But how to and then what to do with a lump of carbon the size of the Greenland ice sheet?

  13. Anne 13

    Thanks for the summation CV.
    Since I’ve been out of the ‘weather/climate’ business for 25 yrs and have not kept up with developments or the technology used, your knowledge will now be far greater than mine. However your comment… our planet happens to be covered in very deep pots of cold water called oceans) is a reminder of another equally catastrophic effect which we have already started to see in different parts of the globe. I refer to the increasing temperature difference between the colder ocean waters and the rapidly warming atmosphere. Since temperature differentiation (horizontal and vertical) is the fundamental driver of weather systems, we are going to experience massive cyclonic storms at a far greater rate of frequency and intensity than we have experienced before.

    I note the ‘powers that be’ are noticeably silent about this unavoidable effect of global warming.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      Hi Anne,

      That’s a good point. As you know warm equatorial waters tend to head to the colder ‘ends of the Earth’. Which means that a 1 deg C temp increase as a global average average often results in a 3 or 4 deg C increase nearer the poles, resulting in what is known as “arctic amplification”.

      I just read that the Thames River barriers protecting London from a 1/1000 year flood are only good for 1/10 year floods if the sea level rises one metre. At 2 deg C temp rise globally there will be no Greenland ice sheet left (although it might take 100 years or 1000 years to melt no one knows which).

      That’s a 6m sea level increase just from that one ice sheet melting.

      • Colonial Viper 13.2.1

        the Earth’s oceans have been absorbing 90% of the world’s excess heat so far. Up here on land we’ve experienced just 10% of this excess heat.

  14. What to do, what to do!
    We are very likely in the cactus, or at least about to find ourselves there.
    Keeping a level head is going to be a challenge – it’s a depressing scenario.
    How useful is a severely depressed person in a crisis?
    How useful is someone who has correctly assessed the situation but maintains an “I’ll not go down without an epic struggle” attitude?
    I’m gonna find me some of the latter. When the “Hawke’s Bay Brown” hits the fan, I want to be in the “up” team, eyes wide open, “Bolt” muscles taut and ready to sprint. No use lying around on the couch, belly-aching!

    • Jester 14.1

      Your comment about not going down without a fight has inspired me Robert.
      In the recent “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Climate Change” lecture series delivered by Professor’s Naish and Renwick throughout NZ recently, the point was made that two things influence atmospheric temperature.
      Firstly, the amount of heat trapped in our atmosphere by greenhouse gases, and secondly, the actual amount of solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface in the first place.
      So obviously, the former is out of hand, and perhaps unfixable in a short enough timescale to avoid mass extinction. But for the latter, well, here’s my batshit crazy attempt at a solution.
      I’ve always imagined it may be possible to interpose something in a heliocentric orbit of sufficient size and at sufficient distance between sun and earth that it effectively lessens the amount of infra-red radiation reaching earths surface. Think of it acting like a pair of sunglasses – filtering, but not completely cutting off, the sun’s radiant heat energy. This could consist of some sort of solar-sail type arrangement, with a thin film of material with sufficient surface area such that the “shadow” it casts affects enough of the earth at any given time to significantly reduce incoming solar heat energy (think of a lunar eclipse , whereby the moon because of it’s relative size and distance between sun and earth casts a totally occlusive shadow on the earths surface).
      Of course, there’s a truckload of physics to work out with this idea. What material to use? How big and at what distance does it need to be to generate sufficient shading? How much shading can occur before we affect the planetary ecosystem? What sort of wavelengths should be filtered? Does it need to be all the time? etc etc.
      But this sort of technology may buy us enough time to lower CO2 in the atmosphere (assuming we devise a way to do this in less time than it took us to generate the imbalance in the first place!).
      Call me a crank, but desperate times call for desperate measures, so just throwing that out there. Because otherwise, the situation is looking pretty frickin’ bleak for us larger vertebrates.

      • Corokia 14.1.1

        Jester. Reducing solar radiation would do nothing to address the other consequence of fossil fuel use, that is ocean acidification.

        • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.1

          Give it a few years, the discussion amongst the serious talking heads will be of using nuclear weapons in deserts to cause a dust cloud nuclear winter to help cool the Earth.

          • Jester 14.1.1.1.1

            @Corokia. Yes, I agree. But first and foremost in the survival stakes will be getting global mean temperatures back down. The immediate affect of this would be to reduce/arrest other symptoms such as ice melt, wildfires, overly energised storm systems etc. This may buy time to allow development of tech. to scrub atmospheric CO2 and therefore, potentially neutralise ocean acidity. But yeah, I take your point that ocean acidification is a very serious side effect given that, left to run its course, will certainly result in collapse of the food chain and mass extinction.
            @CV I think the nuclear winter option only adds to the appeal of an extraterrestrial solution (well, not a solution as such, just something to buy us time). Certainly my crazy albedo hypothesis would make it easier for us to address the root cause of climate change. Dealing with the concomitant effects of a nuclear winter would undoubtedly make it harder to devise the necessary technology to remove CO2, methane etc from our atmosphere.
            Of course nature has her own CO2 absorbing units in the form of the photosynthetic organisms. So perhaps the time we buy could be used to plant long lived trees. At least in a cooled planetary environment, they won’t just end up as fuel for the prolonged wildfire seasons parts of the planet (e.g. California) are already experiencing.

          • Chooky 14.1.1.1.2

            yes well if we have to go down earlier than expected I would prefer death by freezing rather than cooking

  15. Where will useful actions come from? Imaginings (imo). That’s how we evolve. The question for me is; how should we go about imagining? Do we place recognisable icons on a field and encourage them to organise, or do we scry without expectation. In any case, well imagined, Jester.

  16. Chooky 16

    Science fiction from James Lovelock…’A Rough Ride to the Future’

    “‘We should give up trying to save the world from climate change, says James Lovelock-
    The scientist and inventor James Lovelock claims we should stop trying to save the planet from global warming and instead retreat to climate controlled cities”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/10752606/We-should-give-up-trying-to-save-the-world-from-climate-change-says-James-Lovelock.html

    ‘A Rough Ride to the Future by James Lovelock, review —
    James Lovelock argues that climate change may not be the fault of rapacious humanity but the constructive chaos that attends a new infrastructure’

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10739402/A-Rough-Ride-to-the-Future-by-James-Lovelock-review.html

  17. Leftie 17

    “Cut travel congestion and climate emissions by changing one simple thing – the government
    This year may be remembered as the year climate change went off the charts. The last nine months have all set temperature records. July has just broken the absolute record for the hottest month on record since records began in 1880. Eight months ago I was in Paris when the nations of the world agreed to try and limit global warming to 1.5°C in the Paris Agreement. We must take bold action immediately.
    Meanwhile this government wants to keep saddling New Zealanders with an $8 billion dollar liquid fuel bill every year, only to pour most of it into outmoded forms of transport that significantly add to climate woes.
    This is costing not only you and me, it is costing the Earth. It is polluting our cities, and heading us towards climate catastrophe.”

    James Shaw,
    Green Party co leader.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      The Greens are part of the pro-capitalist pro-consumer culture status quo.

      They talk about bold action but when are they going to slash the number of flights to and from NZ, slash the number of cars on the roads and slash livestock numbers in NZ?

      • save nz 17.1.1

        Can you imagine the Natz response if they suggest that???

        But good post. Climate change is not being taken seriously by governments. They are more interested in nukes, oil, wars and old technology and hanging onto power than bothering to actively respond to something that they can’t comprehend and prefer to listen to trade lobbyists than environmental scientists.

        • Colonial Viper 17.1.1.1

          Well, the ruling elite is finding that they need to at minimum pay lip service to Climate Change.

          Which some people might see as progress, but which I see as them buying bank robbery getaway time.

      • Leftie 17.1.2

        Lets do as James Shaw has suggested Colonial Viper, and change the National government for a Lab/Green coalition government and find out.

        • Colonial Viper 17.1.2.1

          At the moment I’m not motivated by this to help Shaw into a quarter million dollar a year job.

  18. “The Greens are part of the pro-capitalist pro-consumer culture status quo.”
    Poppycock, Colonial Viper!
    That’s as lame as saying East Coast tangata whenua were hypocrites for protesting off-shore drilling for oil, because they all still use cars. Your sweeping denunciation of the Green Party has just the same lack of depth as when right wingers witlessly denounce drilling protesters or when Key or Groser slagged James Shaw when he challenged them in the House for their paralysis over climate change.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      “The Greens are part of the pro-capitalist pro-consumer culture status quo.”
      Poppycock, Colonial Viper!

      You think the Green Party of Aotearoa stands against capitalism and against commercialism and consumer culture?

      • RedLogix 18.1.1

        While it is always true that one should set out on a journey in the direction of your intended destination; it’s rarely true that one arrives anywhere worthwhile on the first day.

        • Colonial Viper 18.1.1.1

          The crew’s rations are growing short, an approaching storm whips up fierce waves, and there is no sighting anywhere of a safe shore.

          Meanwhile the officers are feasting on fine food and wine down below in the mess, telling us to keep trusting them and their judgement.

      • Robert Guyton 18.1.2

        You think iwi protesting against off-their-shore drilling for oil are hypocrites?

        “Part of” doesn’t mean “pro”. Should we disregard your views on climate change because you contribute to it?

        • weka 18.1.2.1

          Let’s not forget that all those decades when the Greens were less centrist and more overt about their degrowth kaupapa CV was voting Labour. He won’t vote Greens now because they’re not a good cultural fit despite them being the only party with policies and intent to address CC. I’m guessing he will vote NZF, which tells us quite a bit about his relationship with change.

          • Colonial Viper 18.1.2.1.1

            There isn’t even 1ppm CO2 difference between a LAB/GR government and a National/ACT government.

            In fact the National/ACT govt may result in lower overall GHG emissions as the economy will do worse under their leadership and unemployment will be lower.

  19. weka 19

    “The best way to get a population to embrace authoritarianism is to subject them to a concentrated fear campaign.”

    😉

    • So, weka, what fearful events do you think will materialize to frighten New Zealanders into Key’s authoritative arms, between now and the election? It’ll be a “serious threat” that he’s been “personally notified of” but can’t share the details of, something that we need to be very, very frightened of. Anyone questioning the convenient timing of the series of events will be derided as “crazy”, perhaps even “bat-shit crazy”.

      • weka 19.1.1

        A 2017 version of the Dancing Cossacks is my bet. I don’t think it will work though, National are toast. Not that we should be complacent about that.

        If National are so desparate that they will invent terrorism threats, we’re in whole new territory.

        • Colonial Viper 19.1.1.1

          The world is entering a period of serious economic turmoil. National will play on the complete inexperience of Little and Robertson in economic matters.

          • te reo putake 19.1.1.1.1

            Would that be the same Andrew Little who ran an organisation with 100 staff, a multi million dollar property, superannuation and investment portfolio, and an annual subscription income of over $10 million dollars? Yeah, what would he know about economics? Bloody amateur.

            • Colonial Viper 19.1.1.1.1.1

              A small to medium sized not for profit operator with a guaranteed income stream from captive clients?

              OK I suppose you can try and make that case if you want to.

              • Fail. No guaranteed income stream, no captive clients. A larger enterprise than most NZ businesses, actually.

                The point is that your original point is bullshit. Little, by virtue of his being the leader of a large union actually has to know more about economics than most business leaders. Economics define the work unions do. Without a good understanding local, global, micro and macro economics, unions cannot deliver on income or job security for their members.

                So your point was both ignorant and snide. In a nutshell, Little knows more about economics than most people and is handily placed to argue with Key and English on the subject.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Oh for sure, I’m looking forward to Little and English defending their lack of macroeconomic and Cabinet experience next year in the TV debates.

          • Chooky 19.1.1.1.2

            @CV…I have been thinking about your proposed solution:

            “I think our best bet is to de-industrialise, collapse consumption in western countries by 2/3 (which means we will still live better than the rest of the world) and return vast areas of the Earth back to rich forests, jungles and seas.”

            (and I agree with it!)

            I have also been thinking about your criticisms of the Green Party:

            “The Greens are part of the pro-capitalist pro-consumer culture status quo.

            They talk about bold action but when are they going to slash the number of flights to and from NZ, slash the number of cars on the roads and slash livestock numbers in NZ?”

            (I agree with this also…they “are part of the pro-capitalist pro-consumer culture status quo”… as Naomi Klein has pointed out from her massive studies, working within the status quo is no solution to climate change!

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Changes_Everything)

            …but what to do?..because there is not much time

            …what is needed imo is a mass activist international movement in the West where people work towards these goals and take personal responsibility…maybe they should be called the DEEP GREENS or some such, to distinguish them from the political Green Parties which work within the status quo

            the goals have to be very clearly articulated (and achievement measureable) difficult as they are

            • Colonial Viper 19.1.1.1.2.1

              I reckon you are thinking along the right lines Chooky. There is quite a different political mindset and positioning needed.

              One which starts off with – we are going to have to make do with less, much less, but life isn’t going to be worse, in some ways it’s going to be much better.

              • Chooky

                agree with that….simplify life…do with less material things…enjoy nature

                …for a mass movement big names have to get on board for a leadership strategy eg David Suzuki

                ( intergovernmental and governmental leadership in a capitalist political system won’t work)

                …otherwise things just happen on an ad hoc basis…and we await what seems to be the chaotic inevitable

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