Friday, March 22, 2019

Cognitive Dissonance


Manic depression 
Fractures my soul
     - Jimi Hendrix


I just don't know
       -Allman Brothers

PSA :.    Several African countries got "rain bombed",thanks to the carbon we emitted over the last 50 years.  Here are some ways to help. 

Here's Eric Holthaus on the fundamental injustice of climate change

"The initial post-storm reports are harrowing: 90 percent of Beira, Mozambique — a city of more than 500,000 people — has been destroyed by floodwaters. The first aid workers to reach the hardest-hit areas found people clinging to trees and rooftopsawaiting rescue, with waters still rising. Social media posts from Zimbabwe showed people swept away on flooded roads and aerial images in Mozambique showed countless homes underwater. Nearly 3 million people have been affected across the region, one of the poorest in the world.

Greetings


        I've been watching Gretta Thuberg videos.    It's just so fascinating.   And heart breaking.  Here is a 16 year old who knows more about climate change than 99 percent of adults.   But she's wired differently than the rest of us.   She is a straight shooter.  She lacks cognitive dissonance.  She can't hold two opposing ideas in her head at the same time.  The rest of say, "Yeah, its a big problem, but let's not think about it.".  She thinks " Well, if it's a big problem, we should think about it.  It's precisely what we should think about."

      Maybe it's her super power.  Maybe it's her curse.

       Here's her TED talk

       Here she is with her dad.   

        It's not easy being Gretta, or her dad.

      The NYT had an op Ed piece by David Wallace Wells called "Time to Panic",   which makes the same basic point.   Time is running out.   And he explains with charts and graphs what's going to happen

"As temperatures rise, this could mean many of the biggest cities in the Middle East and South Asia would become lethally hot in summer, perhaps as soon as 2050. There would be ice-free summers in the Arctic and the unstoppable disintegration of the West Antarctic’s ice sheet, which some scientists believe has already begun, threatening the world’s coastal cities with inundation. Coral reefs would mostly disappear. And there would be tens of millions of climate refugees, perhaps many more, fleeing droughts, flooding and extreme heat, and the possibility of multiple climate-driven natural disasters striking simultaneously.


Nevertheless, we expect things to go on as they are


"I know the science is true, I know the threat is all-encompassing, and I know its effects, should emissions continue unabated, will be terrifying. And yet, when I imagine my life three decades from now, or the life of my daughter five decades now, I have to admit that I am not imagining a world on fire but one similar to the one we have now. That is how hard it is to shake complacency. We are all living in delusion, unable to really process the news from science that climate change amounts to an all-encompassing threat. Indeed, a threat the size of life itself.
How can we be this deluded? One answer comes from behavioral economics. The scroll of cognitive biases identified by psychologists and fellow travelers over the past half-century can seem, like a social media feed, bottomless, and they distort and distend our perception of a changing climate. These optimistic prejudices, prophylactic biases and emotional reflexes form an entire library of climate delusion.
We build our view of the universe outward from our own experience, a reflexive tendency that surely shapes our ability to comprehend genuinely existential threats to the species. We have a tendency to wait for others to act, rather than acting ourselves; a preference for the present situation; a disinclination to change things; and an excess of confidence that we can change things easily, should we need to, no matter the scale. We can’t see anything but through cataracts of self-deception."

This "feature "of  human psycho!ogy is very useful to the energy companies, who have, as Robert Hunzicer points out, inserted themselves into the COP process.




" Fossil fuel companies were significant sponsors at COP24 in Katowice. Their logos were ubiquitous. And, at a mind-blowing out of this world event, the Polish Pavilion was stuffed full of actual lumps of black coal, as samplers.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda told COP24 delegates: “Using coal is not in contradiction with climate protection in Poland because we can lower the emissions and ensure economic growth at the same time.” What!!! Who falls for this kind of claptrap?
ExxonMobil pledged to cut its methane emissions and contribute funds for a carbon tax campaign in the U.S. Oh, please, stop it! Pseudo solutions like carbon markets and geo-engineering promises (that don’t work to scale) are pushed by corporate interests to legitimatize their current CO2 emissions. Oh please! It’s a ruse because if you lay claim to geo-engineering technology that fixes CO2 emissions, then you legitimize using as much fossil fuel as your little heart desires. But, the brutal truth is the technology is not perfected. Not by a long shot. Then what?"

Here in the US, there is some new interest in dealing with the climate problem.  Unfortunately many see it as just  another club to bash the other side in the" culture wars".  
Meanwhile Gretta is still waiting 

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Kids Are All Right




How can we sleep
When our beds are burning? 
   -Midnight Oil

Butterflies and seabirds
And fairy tales
    _Jimi Hendrix
     



PSA   Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction    1/28 5:00  pm


Greetings

     How about those kids?   Here's what 14 year old Greta Thunberg says to world leaders

For 25 years countless people have stood in front of the UN climate conferences, asking our nation’s leaders to stop the emissions. But, clearly, this has not worked since the emissions just continue to rise.
So I will not ask them anything.
Instead, I will ask the media to start treating the crisis as a crisis.
Instead, I will ask the people around the world to realize that our political leaders have failed us.
Because we are facing an existential threat and there is no time to continue down this road of madness… So we have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again.
We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not.

Here's the video

Also :

Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope,” [Greta] Thunberg said, “But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.
It's quite refreshing to see this young women "tell it like it is"}

We must not "continue down this road of madness"

Here is a quick peak at the madness    Yesterday's paper carried a report about the unprecedented heat wave in Australia.


"This month, fruit growers in South Australia reported that the pits in peaches and nectarines had gotten so hot that they burned the fruit from the inside. (Nyt)

Butterflies and Seabirds? 


The total number of West Coast monarchs was estimated at approximately 4.5 million in the 1980s. In the latest count, that number fell to 28,429, dipping below the number scientists estimate is needed to keep the population going.   (NYT)     See also. The Insect Apocalypse is Here.   (New York Times)

As for seabirds

Over a 60-year period up to 2010, for example, worldwide seabird populations declined by approximately 70%and globally, species are being lost 1,000 times faster than the natural rate of extinction (9, 10). 


Other kids are beginning to make noise   The Extinction Rebellion  started im 2018, already has groups om 35 coumyties.  see here   and here Portland Group here


Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez  (AOC)  is grabbing lots of attention promoting the Green New Deal.    According to some 80% support the Green New Deal   But that may be because it means different things to different people.  See here

One thing hat the it seems to contain is continued economic growth.  This of course requires "decoupling" of carbon from growth.    This is a very risky strategy.   It's not clear whether the proponents understand just how risky it is. But we hope

We seem to have a natural desire to believe fairy tales.  Whether it's too cheap to meter, the hydrogen highway,  corn based bio-fuel, cold fusion, algea based bio-fuel, burning wood as "green" power, ehatever. 


A very interesting article by Dave Robert's looks closely at recent studies on decoupling. .    He notes that recent studies call the notion of decoupling into question.     Simply put there is no precedent for such a rapid change.   It has never happened before and to assume it will happen the future can be seen as believing in magic, or fairy tales 

First it's clear that currently rich countries that appear to be decoupling are merely exporting their carbon emissions.


They specifically distinguish two different ways of classifying emissions: territorial, i.e., carbon emissions that take place within a country, and consumption-based, i.e., the carbon emissions represented by the production and transport of the (often imported) goods and services consumed by citizens of a country. (By way of example, consider a television that is manufactured in China and shipped to America. Which country is responsible for the emissions involved? Territorially, China. In consumption-based terms, America.)
In a nutshell, they found that “over this period there is some evidence of decoupling between economic growth and territorial emissions, but no evidence of decoupling for consumption-based emissions.” As economies get wealthier, they tend to offshore carbon-intensive industries, shift to more service-based economies, and clean up their energy sectors; emissions generated within their borders decline. They (at least partially) decouple their growth from territorial emissions.
But as they get wealthier, they consume more, and every bit they consume represents carbon emissions generated somewhere else. A country with a growing, developed economy may produce fewer emissions directly, but is still responsible for more greenhouse gases with every bit it grows. Again, consumption-based emissions are not decoupling from growth.

  According to this study
" The world’s current economies are not capable of the emission reductions required to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees. If world leaders insist on maintaining historical rates of economic growth, and there are no step-change advances in technology, hitting that target requires a rate of reduction in carbon intensity for which there is simply no precedent. Despite all the recent hype about decoupling, there’s no historical evidence that current economies are decoupling at anything close to the rate required.
“The key insight,” they write, “is that marginal, incremental improvements in energy and carbon efficiency cannot do the job and that what is needed is a structural transformation.” In other words, 2 degrees requires radicalism.
“Without a concerted (global) policy shift to deep decarbonization, a rapid transition to renewable energy sources, structural change in production, consumption, and transportation, and a transformation of finance,” they write, “the decoupling will not even come close to what is needed.”
We're getting there, aren’t we? We’re making the transition  towards an all-electric future. We can now leave fossil fuels in the ground and thwart climate breakdown. Or so you might imagine, if you follow the technology news.
So how come oil production, for the first time in history, is about to hit 100m barrels a day? How come the oil industry expects demand to climb until the 2030s? How is it that in Germany, whose energy transition (Energiewende) was supposed to be a model for the world, protesters are being beaten up by police as they try to defend the 12,000-year-old Hambacher forest from an opencast mine extracting lignite – the dirtiest form of coal? Why have investments in Canadian tar sands – the dirtiest source of oil – doubled in a year?
The answer is, growth. There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines. There be more bicycles, but there are also more planes. It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things. Given that economic growth, in nations that are already rich enough to meet the needs of all, requires an increase in pointless consumption, it is hard to see how it can ever be decoupled from the assault on the living planet

 When a low carbon industry expands within a growing economy, the money it generates stimulates high-carbon industry. Anyone who works in this field knows environmental entrepreneurs, eco-consultants and green business managers who use their earnings to pay for holidays in distant parts of the world and the flights required to get there. Electric vehicles have driven a new resource rush, particularly for lithium, that is already polluting rivers and trashing precious wild places. Clean growth is as much of an oxymoron as clean coal. But making this obvious statement in public life is treated as political suicide.


So, is insisting on more economic growth "acting like the house is om fire"?  I doubt it.    Is it worth the risk?

  The problem is that a growing industrial economy has produced lots of goodies,  and so it appears to be "unthinkable" that we could operate things in any other way.   Even if we have to "burn down the house"




When you want college education for your kids, when you want better health care, when you want net neutrality, when you want all of those things, but your house is on fire and it's burning down, you've got to put the fire out first and get your family out of the house," he said.

Looking at pointless consumption, how about this sensible suggestion.  Suppose the top 20% tightened our belts a little.   After all it is " our" lifestyle that is the problem.  


Here's an interesting alternative from Kevin Anderson


KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, firstly, although Oxfam used that data, that originally came from some work by Lucas Chancel and Thomas Piketty, and Piketty is well known for his work as an economist. And that demonstrates that rather than necessarily always focusing on countries, we need to focus on the people who are actually emitting. So the idea that 10 percent of the global population are responsible for 50 percent of global emissions, or 20 percent of the global population are responsible for 70 percent of all global emissions, tells us that we need to be tailoring our policies towards that small group, rather than trying to squeeze the emissions out of the majority of the world’s population, who are hardly emitting anything at all.
So, one of the ways to explain this that I often use, which will hopefully be helpful, is that if that 10 percent of high emitters reduce their carbon footprint, their individual carbon footprint, to the level of the average European citizen, that would be equivalent of a one-third cut in global emissions, even if the other 90 percent did nothing. I mean, a one-third cut in global emissions just from the 10 percent reducing to the level of the average European citizen.

I'll close with some more words from Dave Roberts

In a sense, we’re already screwed, at least to some extent. The climate is already changing and it’s already taking a measurable toll. Lots more change is “baked in” by recent and current emissions. One way or another, when it comes to the effects of climate change, we’re in for worse.
But we have some choice in how screwed we are, and that choice will remain open to us no matter how hot it gets. Even if temperature rise exceeds 2 degrees, the basic structure of the challenge will remain the same. It will still be warming. It will still get worse for humanity the more it warms. Two degrees will be bad, but three would be worse, four worse than that, and five worse still.
Indeed, if we cross 2 degrees, the need for sustainability becomes more urgent, not less. At that point, we will be flirting with non-trivial tail risks of species-threatening — or at least civilization-threatening — effects.
In sum: humanity faces the urgent imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then eliminate them, and then go “net carbon negative,” i.e., absorb and sequester more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. It will face that imperative for several generations to come, no matter what the temperature is.
Yes, it’s going to get worse, but nobody gets to give up hope or stop fighting. Sorry.






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Monday, December 10, 2018



Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool

     -Mary MacGregor

I know what I want
but I just don't know
how to go about getting it

    -Jimi Hendrix


Public Service Announcement 

Joint Interim Committee on Carbon Reduction meeting December 13


Greetings

Is it just me, or does it seem like things are accelerating?   It's been as busy couple of weeks 


The Washington Post sums it up better than I can

"In October, a top U.N.-backed scientific panel found that nations have barely a decade to take “unprecedented” actions and cut their emissions in half by 2030 to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. The panel’s report found “no documented historic precedent” for the rapid changes to the infrastructure of society that would be needed to hold warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.
The day after Thanksgiving, the Trump administration released a nearly 1,700-page report co-written by hundreds of scientists finding that climate change is already causing increasing damage to the United States. That was followed by another report detailing the growing gap between the commitments made at earlier U.N. conferences and what is needed to steer the planet off its calamitous path.

Then, we learned that 2018 was a record year for emissions.  from the New York Times


"Worldwide, carbon emissions are expected to increase by 2.7 percent in 2018according to the new research, which was published by the Global Carbon Project, a group of 100 scientists from more than 50 academic and research institutions and one of the few organizations to comprehensively examine global emissions numbers. Emissions rose 1.6 percent last year, the researchers said, ending a three-year plateau

And that temperatures are not rising in as straight line, but are accelerating. from Nature


"Three trends — rising emissions, declining air pollution, and natural climate cycles — will combine over the next 20 years to make climate change faster and more furious than anticipated. In our view, there’s a good chance that we could breach the 1.5 °C level by 2030, not by 2040 as projected in the special report (see ‘Accelerated warming’). The climate-modeling community has not grappled enough with the rapid changes that policymakers care most about, preferring to focus on longer-term trends and equilibria.
Sources: Ref. 1/GISTEMP/IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2014)


We know we need to have a carbon emissions peak by 2020. Washington Post
Everyone recognized that the national plans, when you add everything up, will take us way beyond 3, potentially 4 degrees Celsius warming," said Johan Rockstrom, the incoming director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
"We know that we're moving in the wrong direction," Rockstrom told the AP. "We need to bend the global carbon emissions no later than 2020 - in two years' time - to stand a chance to stay under 2 degrees Celsius."
But, currently, it looks like we might not have a carbon emissions peak until 2030.  The UN Gap Report says 
Concerns about the current level of both ambition 
and action are thus amplified compared to 
previous Emissions Gap Reports. According to 
the current policy and NDC scenarios, global 
emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let 
alone by 2020

The problem?  The monkey trap.  We can't let go of economic growth. From Resilience  

Economic growth measures the increase in the number of goods and services produced by an economy over time, and it has historically been tightly coupled with CO₂ emissions. Decoupling these two factors is not impossible, and indeed many leading academics argue that the power of human ingenuity will solve the climate crisis. However, this is certainly unlikely in the timescales needed to tackle climate change in a just and equitable way.

So, we now enter a new phase .   Harvard scientists have started experimenting with solar geoengineering. from Vox




And while solar geoengineering helps address the temperature issues related to global warming, that’s hardly the only concern with climate change. As Irfan notes, geoengineering could threaten crop yields by reducing crops’ access to sunlight, and it does not address ocean acidification, a significant environmental threat associated with climate change.
But if the world continues on its current emissions path, we might have to choose, in 2030 or 2040 or 2050, between the (quite bad) option of geoengineering and the (also quite bad) option of enduring and adapting to the effects of large-scale global warming. And the Harvard experiment could help us understand which of those two bad options would be worse.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

The art of the possible


I support the left
Though I'm leaning to the right
I'm just not there
 when it comes to a fight
     - Cream (Political Man)


Come Senators Congressmen
Please head the call
     - Bob Dylan

Greetings



       Well, the election returns are in, and the results are not that good for the environment.  Citizens of several states, unhappy with the pace of legislative action attempted to appeal directly  to the people.   The fossil fuel companies joined the fight, and the people were persuaded by their arguments.  However some environmentally minded representatives were elected.  See here and here

         The current political situation means that the only movement in the next two years will be with states and cities.   In the meantime it is encouraging to see young people getting organized and putting pressure on the democratic establishment to put together a climate program for 2020.  See here


Protesters have a simple question for Nancy Pelosi. Nelson Klein, Sunrise
On Tuesday, close to 200 climate activists crowded into the Capitol Building offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who will re-assume the position of House speaker when the new Congress is sworn in come January.


Meanwhile carbon emissions continue to rise.   And the effects of 1 degree continue to be felt in places liked California.   So, where does that leave us?  Here is one way to describe it.   In short, keeping below two degrees is very unlikely if not impossible.  Bellow three is the new target.  Two is a long-term disaster, three is a short-term one.  see here


The odds of succeeding, according to a recent study based on current emissions trends, are one in 20. If by some miracle we are able to limit warming to two degrees, we will only have to negotiate the extinction of the world’s tropical reefs, a sea -level rise of several meters and the abandonment of the Persian Gulf. The climate scientist James Hansen has called two-degree warming “a prescription for long-term disaster.” Long-term disaster is now the best-case scenario. Three-degree warming is a prescription for short-term disaster: forests in the Arctic and the loss of most coastal cities. Robert Watson, a former director of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has argued that three-degree warming is the realistic minimum. Four degrees: Europe in permanent drought; vast areas of China, Indi, a Bangladesh claimed by desert; Polynesia swallowed by the sea; the Colorado River thinned to a trickle; the American Southwest largely uninhabitable. The prospect of a five-degree warming has prompted some of the world’s leading climate scientists to warn of the end of human civilization
Caldeira and a colleague recently published a paper in Nature finding that the world is warming more quickly than most climate models predict. The toughest emissions reductions now being proposed, even by the most committed nations, will probably fail to achieve “any given global temperature stabilization target.”
More carbon has been released into the atmosphere since the final day of the Noordwijk conference, Nov. 7, 1989, than in the entire history of civilization preceding it. In 1990, humankind emitted more than 20 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. By 2017, the figure had risen to 32.5 billion metric tons, a record. Despite every action taken since the Charney report — the billions of dollars invested in research, the nonbinding treaties, the investments in renewable energy — the only number that counts, the total quantity of global greenhouse gas emitted per year, has continued its inexorable rise.
The timetable for this approaching disaster is always changing, as new studies find that things are moving "faster than expected".  One recent study suggests that the best guidance is  the one described by the IPPC as the worst case. RCP8.5 

One reason is that the climate is changing faster than expected, leaving the models behind.  As Ken Caldeira, one of the authors explained here and here


But an emerging challenge is that the climate is changing faster than the models are improving, as real-world events occur that the models didn’t predict. Notably, Arctic sea ice is melting more rapidly than the models can explain, suggesting that the simulations aren’t fully capturing certain processes. 

“We’re increasingly shifting from a mode of predicting what’s going to happen to a mode of trying to explain what happened,” Caldeira says.



See here for a detailed explanation of that study.

Here is the key graph:

Brown Caldeira 2017 Nature
Figure 2d
This would suggest that unless things significantly change, the following temperatures can be expected in 2020: 1.25,  2030: 1.75, 2040: 2.0,  2050: 2.5 2060: 3,  et cetera 
But, hopefully, that prognosis is too pessimistic.   After all, RCP8.5 assumes that the world will continue in its fossil-fueled ways for the rest of the century.  It doesn't address the possibility of a peak in fossil fuel use, either because of supply or demand.

When could we reasonably expect such a peak?  Well, here is a study from Carbon Tracker and Grantham that shows a scenario of peak carbon emissions by 2020.   On the other hand, the International Energy Agency suggests that fossil fuels will continue to dominate energy use and that CO2 emissions will not peak before 2040.  see here.  See also. Renewable energy is surging but not fast enough to stop warming

So, for now, lets split the difference and assume that CO2 peaks in 2030 and drops after that.    Based on the Caldeira study, by 2030 we would be at 1.75 degrees above pre-industrial.  What then?   Do we get off the RCP 8.5 curve?

I'd suggest that we may actually stay on the curve for another 10-20 years for two reasons.   First, after the peak we will continue to emit CO2, just at a lower level.  The difference will be small for a while.  I addition, as Dirk has pointed out, shutting down coal plants will reduce aerosols which are currently cooling the planet.   See here  (NASA) The removal of aerosols from the atmosphere will cause the temperature to rise by .5 to 1 degree.   These factors may offset each other in the short term resulting in continued warming..  

But those temperature predictions are not the important point.  What is important is what happens when we reach those temperatures.  And once again the story keeps changing.

Here is what experts currently expect at various temperatures   From here. 

"At two degrees, the melting of ice sheets will pass a tipping point of collapse, flooding dozens of the world’s major cities this century. At that amount of warming, it is estimated, global GDP, per capita, will be cut by 13 percent. Four hundred million more people will suffer from water scarcity, and even in the northern latitudes heat waves will kill thousands each summer. It will be worse in the planet’s equatorial band. In India, where many cities now numbering in the many millions would become unbelievably hot, there would be 32 times as many extreme heat waves, each lasting five times as long and exposing, in total, 93 times more people. This is two degrees — practically speaking, our absolute best-case climate scenario.
At three degrees, southern Europe will be in permanent drought. The average drought in Central America would last 19 months and in the Caribbean 21 months. In northern Africa, the figure is 60 months — five years. The areas burned each year by wildfires would double in the Mediterranean and sextuple in the United States. Beyond the sea-level rise, which will already be swallowing cities from Miami Beach to Jakarta, damages just from river flooding will grow 30-fold in Bangladesh, 20-fold in India, and as much as 60-fold in the U.K. This is three degrees — better than we’d do it all the nations of the world honored their Paris commitments, which none of them are. Practically speaking, barring those dramatic tech deus ex machinas, this seems to me about as positive a realistic outcome as it is rational to expect.
At four degrees, there would be eight million cases of dengue fever each year in Latin America alone. Global grain yields could fall by as much as 50 percent, producing annual or close-to-annual food crises. The global economy would be more than 30 percent smaller than it would be without climate change, and we would see at least half again as much conflict and warfare as we do today. Possibly more. Our current trajectory, remember, takes us higher still, and while there are many reasons to think we will bend that curve soon — the plummeting cost of renewable energy, the growing global consensus about phasing out coal — it is worth remembering that, whatever you may have heard about the green revolution and the price of solar, at present, global carbon emissions are still growing.
None of the above is news — most of that data is drawn from this single, conventional-wisdom fact sheet

But these expectations may be optimistic. Other studies are noting that more significant impacts can occur at lower temperatures.


Here's an example.  Recently biologists study a wildlife preserve in Puerto Rico.  This is an area which is far from the effects of humans.  No poisons, no hunting.  But no reserve can be far from climate change.  Robert Hunziker reports on their findings here



Biologists Brad Lister and Andres Garcia of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México returned to Puerto Rico’s Luquillo Rainforest after 40 years, and what they found blew them away. The abundance of insects, and arthropods in general, declined by as much as 60-fold and average temps had risen by 2°C over the past four decades. According to the scientists, global warming is impacting the rainforest with distinctive gusto.
According to Lister: “It was just a collapse in the insect community. A really dramatic change… The insect populations in the Luquillo forest are crashing.” (Source: Climate-Driven Crash in a Rainforest Food Web, Every Day Matters, Oct. 22, 2018).
It doesn’t get much worse than “crashing” of ecosystem support systems, i.e., insects and arthropods in general, which are in the phylum Euarthropoda, inclusive of insects, arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans. This equates to a loss of basic structures of biosphere life forces.
The research team believes they are already seeing today what the recent IPCC report predicted for climate change in 2040. In their words: “It’s a harbinger of a global unraveling of natural systems.”
“The central question addressed by our research is why simultaneous, long-term declines in arthropods, lizards, frogs, and birds have occurred over the past four decades in the relatively undisturbed rainforests of northeastern Puerto Rico. Our analyses provide strong support for the hypothesis that climate warming has been a major factor driving reductions in arthropod abundance and that these declines have in turn precipitated decreases in forest insectivores in a classic bottom-up cascade.” (Lister)


The reference to "what the recent IPCC report predicted for climate change in 2040", refers to the IPCC report that came out last month.  It describes some of the impacts which are predicted if we reach 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial, and it suggests that this could happen as soon as 2040.  See here from the New York Times


The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.
The report “is quite a shock, and quite concerning,” said Bill Hare, an author of previous I.P.C.C. reports and a physicist with Climate Analytics, a nonprofit organization. “We were not aware of this just a few years ago.” The report was the first to be commissioned by world leaders under
The scientists in Puerto Rico are suggesting that the impacts predicted for 2040 are already occurring,  20 years early,  and that the impacts are occurring at 1-degree c,  not 1.5 degrees. 

And of course, it's not just insects that are in trouble

From 1970 to 2014, 60 percent of all animals with a backbone – fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals – were wiped out by human activity, according to WWF’s Living Planet report, based on an ongoing survey of more than 4,000 species spread over 16,700 populations scattered across the globe.  see here

Fish, in particular, are on the edge

The world’s ocean fish stocks are “on the verge of collapse,” according to a special report from IRIN. Already small fishers in poor countries are reeling, turning to ever-more destructive techniques and suffering from poor health and dwindling livelihoods.
.....
The main trend of the world marine fisheries catches is not one of ‘stability’ as cautiously suggested early by FAO,” they write, “but one of decline.”
An estimated 70 percent of fish populations are fully used, overused, or in crisis as a result of overfishing and warmer waters. If the world continues at its current rate of fishing, there will be no fish left by 2050, according to a study cited in a short video produced by IRIN for the special report.  see here


It's kind of amazing is that although this information is available, most people's response is to completely ignore it.    But some folks have a different response.  As Joe Hill says " Don't mourn, organize"  Here's what George Monbiot says.  The Earth is in a Death Spiral, It will take Radical Action to Save Us




Those to whom we look for solutions trundle on as if nothing has changed. As if the accumulating evidence has no purchase on their minds. Decades of institutional failure ensures that only “unrealistic” proposals – the repurposing of economic life, with immediate effect – now have a realistic chance of stopping the planetary death spiral. And only those who stand outside the failed institutions can lead this effort.
Two tasks need to be performed simultaneously: throwing ourselves at the possibility of averting collapse, as Extinction Rebellion is doing, slight though this possibility may appear; and preparing ourselves for the likely failure of these efforts, terrifying as this prospect is. Both tasks require a complete revision of our relationship with the living planet.
Because we cannot save ourselves without contesting oligarchic control, the fight for democracy and justice and the fight against environmental breakdown are one and the same. Do not allow those who have caused this crisis to define the limits of political action. Do not allow those whose magical thinking got us into this mess to tell us what can and cannot be done.

But for many people, especially those folks on the front lines in California, mourning may be appropriate.  Eric Holthaus at Grist offers this


An organization called Good Grief is trying to take on the challenge of helping to guide people like me who sometimes struggle with the loss and uncertainty that comes with being immersed in stories of climate disaster. They’ve developed a 10-step path to resiliency that I think everyone could benefit from. (Here’s some background on how they developed these steps.)
Of course, for people close enough to experience the smoke of the fire, the grief is even more intense. There’s a national disaster distress hotline that was set up specifically for times like this. Studies show that PTSD in survivors of previous disasters is often triggered during national crises. Survivor’s guilt is real.
Feeling like this is expected, at least some of the time. We feel this way because we love each other and we love the world. The changes we’re seeing are happening at a geological scale, faster than at any time in our planet’s history. We humans just aren’t built to process that kind of change.
It’s also worth remembering — every damn day — that a burned and broken world is not our destiny. We aren’t fated to any particular future, and the choices each of us make every day mean a lot, especially at this important moment in history. The best thing that each of us can do going forward is to talk about how important climate change is with everyone you can. It’s only by building up a groundswell of support that our leaders will notice and take bold action in the time we have left.

There's another group of people, including those with young children,  who are hoping -hoping that people will try to fix things, and to the extent its too late, will try to help each other.    Here is a perceptive piece from environmental reporter Brian Merchant,  from here

My second son was born last week, right before two historic wildfires hit his new home state and burned whole cities to the ground. One burned about thirty miles west of the hospital he was born in, thickening the air with smoke, turning the sun deep red—we marked his first week anniversary by watching ash fall from the sky into our front yard. The other burned an hour and a half's drive north of where I grew up, of where my parents live, and reduced a town of thirty thousand people to embers so fast that the highway was left littered with abandoned and charred cars attempting escape, and dozens dead.  
...
My sons are going to live in cities on fire, in nations led by men who don't care, and they are going to have to learn to help tackle the problem, as we are. If I can in any way help them tap into that capacity that I felt last night, if they can help me, and if others can—and if that relation can help topple power in denial—then maybe we can sustain this pre-apocalypse, whether it takes another blue wave or nine, a political revolution, mass psilocybin hallucinations, or something else. If we can relate that goodness where applicable and confront power whenever possible, my sons may not have to live their adult lives in omnipresent fear of fires.
People are basically good, power corrupts but is not de-corruptible, and there is a lot of work to do.
At least, that's what gave me hope that week as I watched the world burn, literally and figuratively, but mostly literally, as my beautiful new ward eked out his being amongst the smoke.

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