Chris Hedges on Climate Change

Last week I posted the Potsdam Climate Institutes assessment of climate change, research undertook on behalf of the World Bank. Reactions are coming in — below Chris Hedges’ article for Truthdig, which you can read in toto here:

Stand Still for the Apocalypse

Posted on Nov 26, 2012

In much of the world, including China and the United States, dirty energy remains cheap and plentiful, with disastrous consequences. AP/Elizabeth Dalziel

By Chris Hedges

Humans must immediately implement a series of radical measures to halt carbon emissions or prepare for the collapse of entire ecosystems and the displacement, suffering and death of hundreds of millions of the globe’s inhabitants, according to a report commissioned by the World Bank. The continued failure to respond aggressively to climate change, the report warns, will mean that the planet will inevitably warm by at least 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, ushering in an apocalypse.

The 84-page document,“Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided,” was written for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and published last week. The picture it paints of a world convulsed by rising temperatures is a mixture of mass chaos, systems collapse and medical suffering like that of the worst of the Black Plague, which in the 14th century killed 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population. The report comes as the annual United Nations Conference on Climate Change begins this Monday [Nov. 26] in Doha, Qatar.

A planetwide temperature rise of 4 degrees C—and the report notes that the tepidness of the emission pledges and commitments of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will make such an increase almost inevitable—will cause a precipitous drop in crop yields, along with the loss of many fish species, resulting in widespread hunger and starvation. Hundreds of millions of people will be forced to abandon their homes in coastal areas and on islands that will be submerged as the sea rises. There will be an explosion in diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever. Devastating heat waves and droughts, as well as floods, especially in the tropics, will render parts of the Earth uninhabitable. The rain forest covering the Amazon basin will disappear. Coral reefs will vanish. Numerous animal and plant species, many of which are vital to sustaining human populations, will become extinct. Monstrous storms will eradicate biodiversity, along with whole cities and communities. And as these extreme events begin to occur simultaneously in different regions of the world, the report finds, there will be “unprecedented stresses on human systems.” Global agricultural production will eventually not be able to compensate. Health and emergency systems, as well as institutions designed to maintain social cohesion and law and order, will crumble. The world’s poor, at first, will suffer the most. But we all will succumb in the end to the folly and hubris of the Industrial Age. And yet, we do nothing.

[ctd. here]

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3 Responses

  1. Poo says:

    I am happy to note that the Potsdam Climate Institute continues to make money by recycling old research to ever new clients. That is a profitable if unethical business model. I am less happy that the World Bank is one of them as Canada is consistently among the top 10 contributors to its coffers. They pee enough of my tax dollars away.

    But let us once and for all acknowledge the one constant in climate IS change. Is everybody happy now? But whether we were here or not, with or without pets and livestock, climate would change as radically and unpredictably as it always has since time began, since before us in other words. Ice ages would come followed by warming periods followed by ice ages and so it would go.

    There are hundreds of natural causes such as solar activities (radiation, winds, and upheavals), volcanism, fire, electromagnetic upheavals, gravity, cosmic radiation, magnetism and air and ocean currents. There are also the Milankovitch cycles (precession, obliquity, eccentricity, etc.) with time frames ranging from 19,000 to 400,000 years to consider. These cycles are currently causing the earth’s tropic and temperate zones to change by 4,000 sq. kms annually. All this without us lighting a fire let alone breathing out! Did I mention earthquakes and tsunamis?

    Population, or rather overpopulation, has increased by some 6 billion, give or take, during my lifetime. There are now incalculable billions of animals who join with all of us in pumping out massive totals of CO2 with every breath. Bad to awful agricultural and fauna management including deforestation of the tropical rainforests threatens to create another Sahara, itself once a fertile grassland ruined long before bad me. Hundreds of other destructive human activities are magnified by industrialization. Climate change study is a mass of confusion and uninformed analysis. It is, however, a profitable field of study particularly for the alarmists and doomsayers among us.

    Scottish naturalist Peter Middleton is convinced that no matter what we humans do, no matter the mess we make, the Earth will exist and something will remain on it.

    “It just might not be us,” he said.

    Put another way, 1998 Nobel Prize winner Robert Laughlin said, “The Earth has suffered mass volcanic explosions, floods, meteor impacts, mountain formation, and all manner of other abuses greater than anything people could inflict, and it’s still here. It’s a survivor. We don’t know exactly how the Earth recovered from these devastations; but we do know that it did recover. The proof of it being that we are here.”

    Our planet has transformed itself many times since its birth, in itself an explosion of some magnitude. The Arctic has been tropical; Europe, a desert; most of Ontario under glaciers two kilometres thick. Ice ages have come and gone, as have warm spells. Species have flourished, then, vanished. Extinction happens. We are a blip, a finger snap in time.

    If and when all the fossil fuels are burned over hundreds of thousands of years or all at once, the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would dissolve into the oceans, then, slowly transfer into rocks. “Eventually returning levels in the sea and air to what they were before humans arrived on the scene,” Laughlin writes.

    A report by two sea-level experts, James Houston, director emeritus of engineer research and development for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Robert Dean, professor emeritus of civil and coastal engineering at the University of Florida, examined historic data from tidal monitors around the United States and determined that sea levels rose very little in the 20th century. In fact, the rate at which they are rising has slowed considerably and this deceleration has likely been occurring for the past 80 years. This finding, the researchers added, is consistent with others and contrary to the predictions by computer climate models that show the sea rising quickly and catastrophically as global warming melts glaciers and polar ice caps.

    According to an IEA (International Energy Agency) report, given current consumption trends, the Earth is headed for a 3.6C of temperature increase by 2200, 188 years from now. I am trying manfully to remain calm.

    Were the 20th century trend to continue, the world’s oceans would only rise about 15 cms between now and 2100, far from the one to three metres predicted by the discredited IPCC and way below the 20 to 30 metres forecast by noble Nobel Laureate Al Gore.

    Why, has global sea level decelerated for at least the last 80 years despite what many scientists insist have been unnatural and dangerous global temperature rises over the same period? “Why,” Houston and Dean ask “do Western politicians continue to propose economically crippling solutions to man-made climate change when there is increasing evidence that such climate change is not occurring, or at least not occurring at a threatening or alarming rate?”

    There have also been major studies projecting that hurricanes will not become more numerous or more severe and concluding that ocean cycles such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) best explain climate fluctuations, not man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

    Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder (Climate Analysis Section), Colorado had this to say.

    “As for Sandy, however, a lot of the weather conditions that lined up were due to a ‘crap shoot.’ A hybrid storm can be an explosive storm, what we might call a meteorological bomb, without the influence of climate change. Sandy doesn’t tell us anything about climate change.”

    Ranked by Population and Wealth normalization in Billions of U.S. dollars, the 10 worst Hurricanes to strike the Atlantic coast are as follows:

    (i) Miami (1926)
    (ii) Galveston (1900)
    (iii) Galveston (1915)
    (iv) Katrina (2005)
    (v) Andrew (1992)
    (vi) Storm 11 (1944)
    (vii) Donna (1960)
    (viii) New England (1938)
    (ix) Lake Okeechobee (1928)
    (x) Wilma (2005)

    (Data based on Pielke et al. 2008 and updated by ICAT)

    There is even a ‘hurricane season.’ They are not rare. We’ve seen them before. We will see them again, big ones and little ones.

    There was even a prediction from William Livingston and Matthew Penn of the U.S. National Solar Observatory, that sun spots could all but disappear beginning in 2015. The sun has a great deal more impact on Earth’s climate than do idling SUVs and oil sands mining (which has a smaller carbon footprint than the auto plants). Is it possible , as some suggest, we might be headed for another Little Ice Age, such as the one that dominated Northern Hemisphere weather from 500 years from the 14th through the 19th centuries?

    Even the UN has admitted it was spectacularly wrong when it issued a dire warning that by now 50 million people would have been forced to become environmental refugees by the onset of global warming.

    Major data manipulation by many of the world’s leading climate scientists was an embarrassment but the “green” desire to micro-manage individual lives and regulate whole cultures still exists.

    So the truth is that efforts to control climate change or other environmental issues are not about ‘saving the planet.’ They’re about saving us before the sun gobbles us up in about 5 billion years.

    Nobel laureate (1973) Ivar Giaever resigned from one of the world’s leading organizations for scientists in protest at its assertion the evidence of damaging global warming is “incontrovertible.” He withdrew from the 48,000-strong American Physical Society over the society’s policy statement which says: “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.”

    “Incontrovertible is not a scientific word,” he said. “Nothing is incontrovertible in science.” He has joined like minded scientists by declaring “the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated.”
    If, however, we conclude climate is mainly influenced by natural factors, whatever man’s contribution, then the proposed cures are worse than the disease, since dramatically reducing the use and development of fossil fuels before there are feasible technologies to replace them, will increase human suffering beyond what it is today.
    There are no perfect solutions, easy answers or simple choices. We just wish there were. But to compare people who disagree with you to “racists”, as Al Gore has done, doesn’t help.
    Mind you, the Nobel committee did give a Nobel prize to Al Gore for fraudulently making people feel sorry for Polar Bears and one to Obama for writing 2 books about himself.

    In his will, Alfred Nobel wrote that the peace prize was to be given “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” By that definition neither Obama nor Gore qualifies. With this as their guideline, the new ‘Peace’ Pharaoh Morsi is a sure winner of a Nobel.

    The global warming industry threatens to bankrupt the wealthy nations by chasing futile gestures at outrageous cost. The resultant poverty will actually increase world suffering.

    Last year a questioner at the Heartland climate conference asked why European governments continued to promote such destructive and pointless policies. Roger Helmer, a member of the European Parliament, said it was a matter of inertia, plus the fact that there was no “Plan B.”

    Methinks there could be no better stimulus to the global economy than the scrapping of ‘Plan A.’ It sure beats borrowing more money and pouring it down a black hole. We have Greece for that.

  2. billoo says:

    “It just might not be us,” he said.

    Er…that’s the bit most of us don’t like!

    We are a blip. Perhaps, but is that all we are? Even if it were, amongst those blips are your Rembrandts and Bachs, and the people we love. ..and we would still be “thinking reeds”.



  3. Ed Baker says:

    “the global warming industry” ! I like that…

    let’s see this Industry ranks in the top half-dozen:

    1. Health-care Industry
    2. War Industry
    3. Education Industry
    4. Prostitution/Pornography Industry
    5. Climate-change Industry
    6. Big Money Industry
    7. Big Fear/Angst Industry

    I could continue but it s cold and I need to throw into the stove another log

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