Climate change is still on track — but that’s all right

Comments are at the bottom of the page. Please leave one.

A climate change denier left this message in response to my essay, But there is no need for despair:

      nice try bob, but the world isn’t going to end like you think but you didn’t notice in this chart with the ice cubes it starts at 16k and ends at 3k with in those years. when it hits 0 its not the clock that just stops and hell brakes loose we have already been though 13k and not much has changed from then believe it or not 3k will not melting will not cause temperatures to rise 40-50 degrees. globle warming is a myth its been proven look it up they have been trying to prove it for years and scientists are starting to notice. even though Methane is more potent it will still have only a little or no change on are atmosphere

I know my editing friends will wince, and not at the content, but I’ll merely address Anthony’s message.

First, my essay is basically about equanimity: the practice of contentment in the face of anything and everything. It advocates an attitude that staves off despair, even when the worst happens. Sadly, the evidence bears me out, not Anthony, but that’s all right. We can face it with peace in our hearts. We can do our best to work for a miracle; to delay the inevitable and to lessen its effects. We can compassionately aid those who are worse affected than we are at this moment. We can build the seed of a sane society, in the hope that, if some humans survive, they can learn from us and construct a better new world.

Second, as I said in that essay and in many other places, climate change is not a problem as such, only the most serious symptom of the disease. This disease is a global culture of greed and conflict, a culture that is destroying us because its inevitable consequence is economic growth. Enough is never enough, but people, and their derivatives such as multinational corporations, want (they think need) more without limit.

And there are limits. We have exceeded them. Since 2008, humanity has used more resources in a year than could be provided by 1.5 planets, but we only have one. We have been mining the future, and guess what. The many problems of our current world are directly due to people in the past mining their future, which is our life, now. They have stolen from us, and we continue to steal from our children.

OK, Anthony, you are sure climate change is not a problem. Let us accept this for the moment, for the sake of argument, and let us look at some of the other symptoms of a crazy society.

The sixth great extinction event of this planet is the second worst. The most recent report is only accessible to subscribers to Science, but here is a description: “Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life. And while previous extinctions have been driven by natural planetary transformations or catastrophic asteroid strikes, the current die-off can be associated to human activity, a situation that the lead author Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology at Stanford, designates an era of ‘Anthropocene defaunation’.”

In fact, a 2010 study, which combined data from over 100 biologists around the world, found that 20% of all currently existing vertebrate species are threatened with extinction. “Multiple factors have contributed to the demise, including logging, agricultural land conversion, over-exploitation, population growth, pollution and the impact of invasive alien species.” They could have added urbanisation, huge levels of pesticides and other carcinogens in the environment, ocean acidification, and monoculture.

An independent, similarly comprehensive report states that, by coincidence, 20% of plant species are also threatened. The authors state: “We cannot sit back and watch plant species disappear — plants are the basis of all life on earth, providing clean air, water, food and fuel. All animal and bird life depends on them, and so do we.”

This is the point. So what if we lose the lesser red-footed tree frog of the Amazon, or Leadbeater’s possum in Australia, or if beetles are killing the forests of western North America?

One of my cliches is, “We are a part of nature, not apart from Her.” We are destroying the web of life on this planet, and this is a form of suicide. Chief Seattle is supposed to have said, “When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”

This leads me to the third consequence of cultural insanity, the global financial system, which is also a monster that is devouring itself. The system collapsed in 2007-2008. The Economist explains, “The collapse of Lehman Brothers, a sprawling global bank, in September 2008 almost brought down the world’s financial system. It took huge taxpayer-financed bail-outs to shore up the industry. Even so, the ensuing credit crunch turned what was already a nasty downturn into the worst recession in 80 years. Massive monetary and fiscal stimulus prevented a buddy-can-you-spare-a-dime depression, but the recovery remains feeble compared with previous post-war upturns. GDP is still below its pre-crisis peak in many rich countries, especially in Europe, where the financial crisis has evolved into the euro crisis. The effects of the crash are still rippling through the world economy.”

Those taxpayer funded bailouts were actually the Emperor’s new clothes. Governments simply printed money, or more exactly, extra zeros were added to certain numbers in certain computers, without anything to back them up. But it was convenient for everyone to act as if that money had meaning. As long as you are willing to trade your goods or services for my money, it has value. So, we all pretend that it does. But the global debt exceeds the value of all the goods and services that can be provided.

Millions are suffering, now, because of the greed and criminal negligence of the “1%” who are robbing everyone. Only one country did the right thing: thanks to the “pots and pans revolution,” Iceland jailed the financiers and bankers responsible for mismanagement. However, the same sharks in other countries still run the global economy — and are running it into the ground. There are many well-argued, evidence-based predictions of a global financial collapse of a severity never before seen, including The Death of Money by James Rickards.

If — when — that happens, it will probably lead to the critical situation I focused on in my essay: no food in the supermarkets, no fuel at the petrol stations, no electricity in the grid, in so many places at once that no one can help others. This will lead to violence, social disintegration, destruction on such a scale that many communities may never recover. A global economic collapse will not be the end of humanity, but may well be the end of global civilisation. Certainly, it will cause immense suffering to most people, even including the “1%” responsible for the problem.

War is the fourth symptom of greed and conflict. Currently, there are two looked on as major threats: The “Islamic State” (a real misnomer) in Iraq and Syria, and the Ukrainian crisis. Both could still present us with unpleasant surprises. Down the track, there will be more, because war is an inherent aspect of currently dominant cultures. (There have been past cultures where conflict amounted to the shouting of insults, and perhaps a spear in a leg, but groups fighting each other is foreign to some hunter-gatherer societies).

War is a major source of suffering. What’s worse, it increasingly strikes the innocent. Civilian casualties outnumber the death of combatants many times over.

Modern warfare uses up obscenely large amounts of resources. An essay in the Guardian states that global military spending in 2012 was $1.75 trillion (about 40% of this by the USA). In contrast, “the costs of reducing mortality rates by two-thirds, improving maternal health as well as combating Aids, malaria and other major diseases, are estimated to be $60 billion.” This is one-twenty-ninth of the cost of armed forces. To quote further, “The estimated total cost of achieving the six of the UN’s millennium development goals related to poverty, education and health — eradicating hunger, universal primary education, child mortality reduction, disease prevention — is $120 billion annually in additional resources, a fraction of what is spent every year on militaries.”

And the environmental damage wars cause is horrendous.

The cold war is over… sort of. The mentality that led to it, and the dangers it encompassed, are still with us. A nuclear war could still happen.

There are other serious symptoms, but I feel I’ve made my point.

So, Anthony, we have many dangers directly caused by the insane global culture, even if we ignore climate change. To understand how such dangers (and climate change) work, please read my essay How to predict disaster. As insurance companies know, risk is not a continuous process, but follows a logic called a “Markov process.” During the Cuban missile crisis, we teetered on the edge of global extinction. If the Ebola virus mutates so it can be spread by small droplets in the air, we will be facing the risk of the death of billions of people, and this risk is a Markov process. So, do read that essay.

Even if you choose not to believe in climate change, even if you choose to dismiss all I’ve written here, there is still the question of happiness. Is the average Joe or Mary happy? Are people satisfied with the world they live in?

If people were content with what they have, they would stop buying. Only a small proportion of people love their means of livelihood (I am lucky to be among them). So, if workers stopped buying, they would no longer be under pressure to continue as wage slaves. Therefore, consumer society is fuelled by structural dissatisfaction. I describe this mechanism in detail in my essay How to change the world.

So, even if you reject all of my arguments that humanity is in great danger, you should still ask the question, “Is business as usual good for me, the people I love, and humanity at large? Could we build a better world in which the vast majority of people are content with their lives?”

When thinking about this, consider that the overdeveloped countries have epidemics of depression, anxiety, suicide, alcohol and other drug addiction, problem gambling, senseless violence… all symptoms of people pushed beyond their ability to cope.

The cultural change needed to reduce such pressures is exactly what’s needed to reduce the risk of major catastrophe from the dangers I have described. So, whether I am having a paranoid fantasy, imagining the dangers, or am right on the ball, it is more than worthwhile to change from a crazy culture to a sane one. And it is possible.

OK, let’s return to the start: climate change.

I have studied futurology (predictions based on current trends) since 1972, and have kept up with the field. I have had email exchanges with some of the planet’s top climate scientists, and have sufficient knowledge to read published articles on the subject. I do not know of any climatologists who agree with your claim that “globle warming is a myth its been proven.” (Really, I can’t stand it: you mean “global warming is a myth, as has been proven.”)

If you send me links to scientific studies that back your claim, I will publish your letter on my blog. If they are powerful enough, and well enough conducted, I will change my mind and thank you. But I feel perfectly safe that there is no such evidence.

If you go through the various predictions I made in January, 2012, you will see that many of them have actually occurred. I stick by my timeline.

Have a good life, even if, like humanity’s, it’s a short one,

Bob

Advertisements

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
This entry was posted in Projects. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Climate change is still on track — but that’s all right

  1. andrewgaines says:

    Thanks Bob – wise at every level. While recognising that we are in the midst of a slow motion ecological disaster that is starting to rapidly heat up it is crucial to both do our best to turn thing around, and also connect ( or reconnect when we lose it) with our inner sense of wellbeing.
    Nelson Mandela said that when he was in prison he refused to give into despair, because that way lay death.

    What can we do to turn things around? Much of what is needed is already happening. Some people, like you yourself Bob, are choosing to live materially modest lifestyles. Huge advances in energy efficient engineering are occurring. Organic farming as an alternative to industrial agriculture is gaining ground. Awareness of climate change is happening at every level from grassroots to senior boardrooms.

    However, it is far from happening fast enough. We need to speed it up. So Be The Change Australia is catalysing a Great Transition initiative to seed transformative ideas into mainstream culture. One way to do this – a way that we can each act on to our own initiative – is to conduct personal conversations with people we know about the need and hopeful possibilities of rapid large-scale transformative change.

    The One Stop Shop at http://www.greattransitioninitiative.net provides tools for conducting personal conversations.

    We are also developing a platform that can ultimately engage thousands of organisations as thought catalysts championing the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society: http://transitionleader.net/the-great-transition-initiative.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Colby says:

    Very wise words. After finishing my computer science Ph.D. in 2007 I began reading a lot about Global Warming. I closely observed the delusional behaviors of those around me; I became very depressed. I wrote my colleagues that I could no longer find meaning in being a computer scientist.

    Eventually this changed. Now I am using computer science, investigative journalism and social media to make government open, transparent and accountable. We cannot address Global Warming — if time remains — until the world citizenry wrest control of their governments from corporations and finance. We cannot make the fundamental changes required until we dismantle (global) neoliberal capitalism.

    On a geological scale, human existence is a tiny dot. At the very least, we may hope to leave behind knowledge which another, wiser species can utilize. At best, we can reduce the devastating impact of Global Warming so that humans can survive, so civilization can re-manifest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      John, thank you for your wisdom. The global economic system is the enemy of humanity. It is a cancer eating the ecosphere of the planet.

      As Andrew’s comment indicates, there is a cure: changing the way millions of people come to see reality. This is happening, spontaneously, mostly unorganised, in many places, carried out my many independent people and groups.

      We are part of perhaps the most exciting change in human history. It may amount to nothing, because it’s very late, very close to a wrong step off the cliff road, but we can do our best.

      Like

  3. Jim Coffman says:

    Spot on Bob, very well said.

    Like

  4. kentclizbe says:

    Very interesting and emotion packed essay. Sure to scare the horses and children.

    Now for some empirical facts:

    It’s Official: Global Warming ‘Pause’ or Standstill extends to over 18 years – ‘Pause’ has ‘endured for a little over half the satellite temperature record’

    Climate Depot

    Like

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Sorry Kent, just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it true.
      That report you cite is by Lord Monckton. He is known as a science sceptic, in the pay of the fossil fuel industry. Follow the money. He has no credibility.

      One of the scientists I respect the most is Andrew Glikson. I have reproduced several essays from him in past issues of my newsletter. The earliest has a permanent place at my mudsmith site. His research is now accepted, established climate science. He pointed out years ago what has now been confirmed by many measurements: most of the heat generated by the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere was warming the sea. This meant that for some time, air temperature rises were less than the models predicted.

      This was seized on by the denialists. Current models include sea warming, and we find that total warming is actually HIGHER than predicted.

      Here is a graph on the increase of heat stored in the oceans, from NOAA:

      Second, Monckton’s graph doesn’t take into account that as a NASA map shows, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the average for the rest of the planet. And the northernmost quarter of the landmass is (now melting) permafrost, releasing stupendous amounts of methane every northern summer. This is the feedback loop my 2012 predictions referred to.

      In any case, air warming is real also, and rapidly increasing. Some of the statistics are here:
      http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-effects/air-temperature.html

      There has been no ‘pause’ or ‘standstill.’ 2014 is heading for an all time record hot on global average.

      Here are the data on September, 2014. These are measurements, not modelling or theories. The report is from a government body, not some web site with no accreditation.
      http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/

      However, I return to the purpose of my essay. Even if climate change were an illusion (I wish!), there are many other things going wrong with humanity. And even if there weren’t, life is still a misery for all too many people. We need to change global culture. Would it be so terrible for you if greed and aggression were discouraged, while decency and cooperation were encouraged?

      🙂
      Bob

      Liked by 1 person

      • kentclizbe says:

        Bob,

        Thanks for your sage advice: “Follow the money.”

        All of your alarming data comes from government-funded studies, or government bodies.

        The corruption of climate science is not dirty money from (horrors!) industry. The corruption is government money. They have foregone conclusions, and they pay scientists to create “facts” to support those conclusions.

        Since 1989, the US government alone has spent more than $79 TRILLION on climate research and technology.

        And yet, there is still no empirical evidence for the hypothesis that man-made CO2 has a deleterious effect on Earth’s climate.

        Whatever happened to “Question authority?” They are wasting our grandchildren’s inheritance to produce scare scenarios.

        Like

    • pendantry says:

      @kentclizbe It’s sad that so many members of homo fatuus brutus insist on going down the up escalator.

      Like

      • kentclizbe says:

        Pedantry,

        “@kentclizbe It’s sad that so many members of homo fatuus brutus insist on going down the up escalator.”

        Don’t be sad!

        Be glad!

        Your alarming escalator is a figment of your alarmed imagination!

        Read the abstract below to calm your feverish fears.

        The changes in your “escalator” are within the range of error for measuring “global temperature.” Each station’s potential error is plus/minus 0.2C. And the systematic error is plus/minus 0.46C.

        Your scary “escalator” shows a change within those margins of error. In statistics that means “Meaningless” or, as the author here says, “Unknowable.”

        So, relax. Gaia is not incinerating. Breathe. Drive an SUV. Help to spread the fruits of our capitalist economy to those less fortunates–like the vast majority of Africans who live in mud huts and burn dung for heat, light, and cooking.

        UNCERTAINTY IN THE GLOBAL AVERAGE SURFACE AIR TEMPERATURE INDEX: A REPRESENTATIVE LOWER LIMIT

        Patrick Frank, Palo Alto, CA 94301-2436, USA, Energy and Environment, Volume 21, Number 8 / December 2010 DOI: 10.1260/0958-305X.21.8.969

        Abstract

        Sensor measurement uncertainty has never been fully considered in prior appraisals of global average surface air temperature. The estimated average ±0.2 C station error has been incorrectly assessed as random, and the systematic error from uncontrolled variables has been invariably neglected. The systematic errors in measurements from three ideally sited and maintained temperature sensors are calculated herein. Combined with the ±0.2 C average station error, a representative lower-limit uncertainty of ±0.46 C was found for any global annual surface air temperature anomaly. This ±0.46 C reveals that the global surface air temperature anomaly trend from 1880 through 2000 is statistically indistinguishable from 0 C, and represents a lower limit of calibration uncertainty for climate models and for any prospective physically justifiable proxy reconstruction of paleo-temperature. The rate and magnitude of 20th century warming are thus unknowable, and suggestions of an unprecedented trend in 20th century global air temperature are unsustainable.

        Like

      • pendantry says:

        @kentclizbe I am entirely aware of the statistical error bars to which you refer. Your one cherry-picked report is an outlier in the vast body of information that proves beyond doubt that we are headed deep into uncharted climate territory. I suggest you read A pause or not a pause, that is the question, which is one example of the reality.

        Positive thinking such as yours is a feature of homo fatuus brutus; and it can be credited with getting our species to where it now is. It is also what is pushing us unthinkingly towards an uninhabitable planet. What is needed now is a dose of realism, not positivism.

        By all means, be happy in your delusion, but please do not continue to spread it to others.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. John James says:

    Bob, you are too gentle, by far. This is not longer a pleasant after-dinner debate between friends. With methane erupting, ice mass on the edge of collapse and and unprepared populace we are on the edge of a catastrophe that not even we, who understand the situation, care to imagine.
    These events are going to combine and relegate all our minor personal issues into the crater.
    We have to be honest with ourselves and stop pretending that a little sustainability or a pinch of new governance is going to solve the pickle we have prepared for ourselves.
    Not one scientist supports the most recent IPCC report because it leaves out the potential catastrophic changes and uncalculable tipping points that we all know are waiting. We cant date them or quantify them, but we all know they are imminent.
    when they come it will be all over in a flash, in months or a couple of years at the most.
    Your grandshildren and mine do not have a hope.
    why? because at 400ppm CO2 we are alreadt beyond the highest concentrations of the past 800My by 60%.
    take that in…. the catastrophes in the past have occurred at 250ppm. that we are at 400 means we are just waiting while Gaia catches up.
    we are already in the gas chamber. the doors have already been locked.
    If the world acted together for the sake of humanity as a whole we might – just – excape.
    See my talk on these Tumultuous Times
    John James

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you John. Of course, as you know, we fully agree. We are way past the points of no return, and the sad thing is, there are people plummeting toward disaster, ready to hit the rocks below who still say, “So far, so good!” I suppose they are the lucky ones. No worries if you are blinded by fairy floss. We have a Prime Monster who STILL thinks coal is the future of mankind! And Americans have elected a majority of the Dinosaur party!

      The discontinuous, stepwise catastrophes cannot be dated in advance, but the probabilities can be estimated. I’ll eat the Antarctic if some kind of global disintegration doesn’t occur before 2020. That’s why I laugh ruefully when I see plans to do so and so by 2020. 1970 would have been more appropriate, because of the lag times.

      This is where my philosophy comes in. There is no need for despair, and John, I love my grandbabies too.

      1. There is scientifically remarkably convincing evidence for reincarnation. There is Something that survives death, and then takes on another body, life after life. Despite ups and downs, overall It grows and learns and develops. That’s why I titled my latest book Ascending Spiral.

      2. On the time scale of this Entity, one life is like a year in school is in the life of a mature adult. It really makes no difference if a life ends after 90 years, or 9 years, or 9 months, or before birth. There is always another life to complete the set tasks.

      3. Suffering is also put into context. All of us will have periods in a life when we suffer, and in some lives where we suffer way too much. It’s like when I was 5 and hurt myself. It felt terrible, then. But if I suffer a worse injury now, I can shrug it off. In the same way, whatever befalls in this life, it’s merely an opportunity for gaining strength.

      4. There is no evidence available to us humans about life elsewhere, but I am convinced there is. During my past life regression, I encountered two of mine that were non-terrestrial, and while these could be imagination, I would not have dreamed of inventing them. I have also encountered a great many people who, like me, feel like visitors to this planet — temporary humans. I am convinced that if they do past life regression, they will “remember” being something entirely different.

      So, OK, the students are burning down this school. Most of us will die more or less at the same time. Maybe humanity will become extinct. Maybe life more complex than a cockroach will disappear for a few millennia.

      So what. There are billions of other schools in the universe. This is what helps me to gain equanimity: to watch the idiocy and manage to keep peace in my heart.

      And at the same time, we need to keep striving for the miracle.

      🙂
      Bob

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dr Bob Rich says:

    kentclizbe, thank you for giving me a laugh.

    “The corruption is government money.”

    Some of the climate scientists whose work is the clearest in indicating the dangers of climate change work in countries with governments that are climate denialists: Canada and Australia. Most of them work in universities, in tenured positions, and their income is not related to the direction of their conclusions.

    The American government (as it has been until now, until large scale voter suppression scams have given the midterm election to the Republicans) has been for action on climate change because President Obama’s advisors have looked at the evidence, and found it convincing. I wish the same were true of all other governments, but sadly it isn’t.

    There is subversive funding and conspiracy regarding climate change, but its name is not government. It is Koch, Shell, BP, Mobil.

    You are welcome to believe whatever you like. I simply look at the empirical evidence, which I have listed, time and again, in various issues of my newsletter.

    Everywhere on the planet, ice is melting.
    The West Antarctic Ice Shelf has started an irreversible breakup.
    Methane is being liberated in huge quantities from the permafrost, and from methane hydrate in shallow Arctic waters.
    Global temperatures have been consistently rising.
    The number and severity of extreme weather events, wildfires and droughts has been rising.
    If it wasn’t all the air pollution industry puts into the atmosphere, we would have fried already.

    But, I repeat. Why are you responding to my post as if it was about global warming? It isn’t. It is about a culture based on greed and aggression, which is destroying the life support system of this planet in many ways. Global warming is only one of these.
    For example, read Dr Glen Barry’s essay on how the Ebola epidemic came into being: http://www.ecointernet.org/2014/10/01/ebola-a-symptom-of-ecological-and-social-collapse/.
    Population pressure and the clearing of forest has forced people into closer contact with infected animals, and to eat “bush meat.” This is because the overdeveloped world has been stealing from the poorest of the poor in Africa for generations.
    Another example is the rise of the “Islamic State.” It is a direct consequence of American foreign policy in the middle east. “War is wealth.” But war causes immense damage. Wouldn’t you like to live on a planet without war?
    Or look at the plight of a surprisingly large proportion of the US population. Why is homelessness rife in the world’s richest country? Wouldn’t you like to live on a planet where everyone is treated with respect, decency and compassion? I don’t know what you job is, but I expect you are employed by some company. What happens if tomorrow they outsource your work to China? You could end up among the homeless, through no fault of your own.
    THIS is the kind of issue my post is about.
    🙂
    Bob

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s