Bringing Environmental Activism Home

Recently, I’ve reviewed environmental policies and legislation promulgated by our local Santa Cruz County and its municipalities (Santa Cruz, Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville). County government has a good General Plan and well crafted County Code, but the municipalities are woefully inadequate. But even in County government, those codified policies are rarely followed to the letter, or in most cases even unto intent.

A recently published petition: William J Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M Newsome, Phoebe Barnard, William R Moomaw, World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency, BioScience, , biz088, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz088) includes descriptions of immediate actions needed to reduce human impacts on the biosphere. While they are predicated on reducing greenhouse gases and climate change, they also apply to very real immediate human impacts on the non-human world.

In my next post, I’ll compare these actions with local existing county and municipal codes, and suggest new policies to bring our local government into alignment with these global concerns.

Energy
The world must quickly implement massive energy efficiency and conservation practices and must replace fossil fuels with low-carbon renewables and other cleaner sources of energy if safe for people and the environment. We should leave remaining stocks of fossil fuels in the ground and should carefully pursue effective negative emissions using technology such as carbon extraction from the source and capture from the air and especially by enhancing natural systems (see “Nature” section). Wealthier countries need to support poorer nations in transitioning away from fossil fuels. We must swiftly eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels and use effective and fair policies for steadily escalating carbon prices to restrain their use.

Short-lived pollutants
We need to promptly reduce the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, black carbon (soot), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Doing this could slow climate feedback loops and potentially reduce the short-term warming trend by more than 50% over the next few decades while saving millions of lives and increasing crop yields due to reduced air pollution. The 2016 Kigali amendment to phase down HFCs is welcomed.

Energy
The world must quickly implement massive energy efficiency and conservation practices and must replace fossil fuels with low-carbon renewables and other cleaner sources of energy if safe for people and the environment. We should leave remaining stocks of fossil fuels in the ground and should carefully pursue effective negative emissions using technology such as carbon extraction from the source and capture from the air and especially by enhancing natural systems (see “Nature” section). Wealthier countries need to support poorer nations in transitioning away from fossil fuels. We must swiftly eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels and use effective and fair policies for steadily escalating carbon prices to restrain their use.

Nature
We must protect and restore Earth’s ecosystems. Phytoplankton, coral reefs, forests, savannas, grasslands, wetlands, peatlands, soils, mangroves, and sea grasses contribute greatly to sequestration of atmospheric CO2. Marine and terrestrial plants, animals, and microorganisms play significant roles in carbon and nutrient cycling and storage. We need to quickly curtail habitat and biodiversity loss, protecting the remaining primary and intact forests, especially those with high carbon stores and other forests with the capacity to rapidly sequester carbon (proforestation), while increasing reforestation and afforestation where appropriate at enormous scales. Although available land may be limiting in places, up to a third of emissions reductions needed by 2030 for the Paris agreement (less than 2°C) could be obtained with these natural climate solutions.

Food
Eating mostly plant-based foods while reducing the global consumption of animal products (figure 1c–d), especially ruminant livestock, can improve human health and significantly lower GHG emissions (including methane in the “Short-lived pollutants” step). Moreover, this will free up croplands for growing much-needed human plant food instead of livestock feed, while releasing some grazing land to support natural climate solutions (see “Nature” section). Cropping practices such as minimum tillage that increase soil carbon are vitally important. We need to drastically reduce the enormous amount of food waste around the world.

Economy
Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere. We need a carbon-free economy that explicitly addresses human dependence on the biosphere and policies that guide economic decisions accordingly. Our goals need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality.

Population
Still increasing by roughly 80 million people per year, or more than 200,000 per day, the world population must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced—within a framework that ensures social integrity. There are proven and effective policies that strengthen human rights while lowering fertility rates and lessening the impacts of population growth on GHG emissions and biodiversity loss. These policies make family planning services available to all people, remove barriers to their access and achieve full gender equity, including primary and secondary education as a global norm for all, especially girls and young women.

 

Chaotic, nonlinear climate systems are unpredictable.

systems-04-00037-g005.png

The degree to which observed natural climate variability is influenced by human emissions is unknowable, because we do not as yet understand all of the parameters of natural climate systems.

Furthermore, coupled ocean/atmospheric climate systems exhibit chaotic, nonlinear behavior, the results of which are unpredictable due to small differences in initial conditions, and highly variable limiting factors.

Even the IPCC has repeated a caution against using models as predictions of future climate states:

AR4 Climate Change 2007:
The Physical Science Basis
Glossary. p. 950

“Predictability:
Since knowledge of the climate system’s past and current states is generally imperfect, as are the models that utilise this knowledge to produce a climate prediction, and since the climate system is inherently nonlinear and chaotic, predictability of the climate system is inherently limited. Even with arbitrarily accurate models and observations, there may still be limits to the predictability of such a nonlinear system.”

CLIMATE CHANGE 2001: THE SCIENTIFIC BASIS
Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Chapter 14.2 The Climate System
14.2.2.2 Balancing the need for finer scales and the need for ensembles; page 773

“In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

This underscores the fact that the results of numerical climate models are not predictions, but are hypotheses requiring validation through subsequent observations.

Therefore, the wild, hyperbolic headlines in popular press, websites, political statements and corporate publications are baseless wastes of electrons and dead trees.

Since climate models and the IPCC can’t tell us what will happen, even in the near future, let alone a hundred years to come, our only rational response to observed climate variability is to strive toward resilience and adaptability in our physical infrastructure, our governments, economics and cultural norms. We mustn’t put all of our climate response eggs in the basket of Anthropogenic Climate Change, lest we wake up one fine morning to discover that we have invested all of our egg money in preparation for a future that has not come to pass.

As Aldo Leopold told us 70 years ago:

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

Reviving Radical Environmentalism

Radical Environmentalism has fallen on hard times.

7740d-backhoe

Ever since “The Death of Environmentalism” by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger appeared in Grist in 2005, accompanying the global obsession with climate change, environmentalism, real environmentalism, has evaporated under a flood of climate change hysteria, with side branches of Extinction Rebellion, Green New Deals and corporate managed school walkouts.

Keith Makoto Woodhouse’s 2018 book, The Ecocentrists: A History of Radical Environmentalism, tells the sad tale of the rise and demise of radical environmentalism, from its roots in the New Left, SDS and Aldo Leopold’s traditional conservationism, to Earth First! and the Sea Shepherd Society confrontational tactics, to the rise of Washington-based Big Greens and the inevitable compromises that turned radical environmentalists into corporate toadies and hunter-gatherers of government funding.

It’s a weird new world we live in these days, with the United Nations touting climate disaster to pump up their Sustainable (sic) Development program, to fund economic growth in less developed countries so they can join the global economy freight train rushing toward the collapsed bridge over Extinction Canyon.

Now we see impressionable children paraded before the ubiquitous media eye, reciting their memorized mantra of climate disaster caused, so they’ve been indoctrinated to say, by burning fossil fuels.

Climate change hysteria is the ultimate separation of human beings from Nature. Climate alarmists and their unthinking followers, call for us to “fight climate change,” to “stop climate change,” and in its most benign form, to “reverse climate change,” as if climate is something outside of human beings that we can control at will. Climate change alarmism is the ultimate expression of our species’ hubris (is there any other kind?).

If we are to rescue radical environmentalism from the clutching claws of climate change alarmists, we must also revive an understanding of ecology, evolution, geomorphology, and, most of all, a common sense perception of the world we share with billions of others species on this benighted planet.

To cultivate this perspective, find a patch of undeveloped Earth, get down on your hands and knees and stick your nose into the plant and animal life at your feet. Stay there for a day or two, maybe three, until you know intimately every creature crawling in and around every plant in your field of vision. Then, when throughly familiar with that wilderness, stand up on your hind legs and look around you, in a 360 degree scan of the roundabout thereof. Expand your awareness of the wilderness at your feet, to the wilderness surrounding you. It’s there, even if, temporarily, hidden under roads, houses office buildings and other monuments to human folly. The same biophysical processes are at work wherever you look, inescapable, perfectly natural (Nature-all), continuing apace as they have since the beginning, if there is one, of this Universe thing we inhabit.

Once you are thoroughly at home with your own bleeding piece of earth, your dealings with local government, developers, Chamber of Commerce growth maniacs, militaristic imperialists and other butchers of things natural and good, take on a depth and authenticity unavailable to those drifting in a sea of social media, cell phone obsession and dislocated, electronic distraction.

“O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!”

Radical environmentalism is a revolutionary awakening that brings into sharp focus the yawning chasm between human ignorance and uncaring profligacy, and the natural world that arises of itself within and around us. Once awakened to this all-encompassing reality, one can never see the world in any other way.

I’ve been walking this path for a long time. For a glimpse of my travels and travails, go to The Way of Nature, and join me as we look beyond our toes at the edge of the abyss, turn around and take our first steps forward.

The Juvenile Climate Change Feeding Frenzy

studentsIn a disgusting fit of political correctness, Mother Jones, Truthout, National Geographic, NPR, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, LATimes and just about every other media source in the world are falling all over themselves touting “Kids Protest Over Climate Change.” (See my previous post, Student Strike … or Strike Out)

Not one of them has bothered to investigate who is organizing these demonstrations and what is their agenda. Nor is anyone in the global media circus bothering to fact check the claims displayed on posters during these gatherings, and blasted from loudspeakers amidst the giggling gaggle.

“There are two parallel counterrevolutionary confusionist tactics: the partial cooption of new values, and a deliberately anticultural industrially facilitated production, the latter being a natural continuation of the imbecilization of young people begun in their schools and families. We have arrived at a stage of ideological absence in which advertising has become the only active factor, overriding any preexisting critical judgment or transforming such judgment into a mere conditioned reflex.” Guy Dubord, The Society of the Spectacle, 1967

It chills my heart to witness such blatant ignorance and cynical exploitation of impressionable, ignorant and unaware youth, all in the name of capitalism and the economic status quo.

Climate alarmism in all quarters has become increasingly strident as we learn more and more about natural climate variability and the inadequacy of global climate models to account for contemporary observations of existing climate variation around the world. And isn’t it fascinating that climate alarmism reaches a screeching crescendo as we come closer to the next “Climate Summit“, September 23, 2019?

NGOs, Big Greens, the United Nations, major governments, energy corporations, think tanks, and government “leaders” down to thoughtless local governments, and unto the 23 hoodwinked elementary students who played hooky and gathered at the clock tower in Our Fair City on Friday … all of the them are willing and unwitting pawns of a global propaganda and public relations scheme to prop up global capitalism and for-profit corporations, including oil, coal, natural gas, oil shale and tar sands producers, and, let’s not forget, the nuclear power industry.

Yes, the youthful “strikers” are touting so-called “renewable” energy, which by the way they haven’t learned is in reality energy from renewable sources captured by non-renewable technologies. But this is not instead of fossil fuels. Oh no, the corporate oligarchy wants it all, renewable energy AND fossil fuels. Examples-of-renewable-and-nonrenewable-resourcesThey want to  control and profit from all energy required by 7.5 billion people and counting. And the politicians around the world want their share of the filthy lucre from energy production and consumption to fuel their future political campaigns.

Will the students strike again? Will global temperature exceed 2 degrees over pre-industrial levels? And what will happen to Greta Thunberg?

soap-opera

 

Tune in next week for the next exciting episode of

Love of Climate Change.

Student Strike … or Strike Out?

school strike

Today is the day of the much ballyhooed “Student Strike Against Climate Change”.

Well, the name says it all, doesn’t it?

We are told by the Fawning Press and the Big Green Mouthpiece that these children are fed up with government inaction on climate change and they are demanding … what? Stop climate change? Replace fossil fuels with solar and wind? Stop driving cars? Abandon our profligate consumer economy?

Reading mainstream news reports reveals little about specific demands of the stalwart students. All attention is focused on cute little Greta Thunberg, a Swedish student who, all by herself, sat outside her school on a Friday to protest climate change inaction. And we’re expected to accept the claim that students all over the world have rallied to her cause, all by themselves, because they too want us to stop causing climate change.

Really?

Enter investigative journalists Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palme, who have written an article series that reveals the players pulling the strings, and the goals they wish to achieve by supporting Greta Thunberg and the young people it is hoped she will inspire.

In The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent, the authors disclose that “Greta Thunberg, the current child prodigy and face of the youth movement to combat climate change, serves as special youth advisor and trustee to the burgeoning mainstream tech start-up, We Don’t Have Time,” and “partnerships between the well established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Morningstar and Plame disclose that this seemingly youthful grassroots uprising is in reality a cynical exploitation of children to forward a global agenda of support for transnational corporate capitalism and the status quo energy economy, including oil, coal and nuclear interests that would capitalize on $9 trillion that could be invested in NGOs, professional environmental organizations and transnational energy corporations.

I’ve long puzzled over the impetus and incentives for climate alarmism by the United Nations, the global energy industry and corporate media. It just didn’t make sense that the wonky IPCC, a UN funded environmental policy organization, could have so much influence on global politics and popular culture.

Now I understand! Rather than calling for meaningful systems change in the face of global pollution, resource exploitation and habitat destruction, this new “Student Strike” movement is designed and deployed by the very international organizations and corporations that would profit from a change to so-called “renewable energy resources,” not instead of fossil fuels, but in addition to. It’s a whole new economic boom just waiting to be plucked from the hands of naive children and their unwitting proponents.

Read the series. Check out the references. Spread the word.

Climate Cycles, not Climate Crashes

Gary Patton’s Blog, We Live in a Political World, cites Jessica Stites, Deputy Editor of In These Times. as claiming:

“within 100 years, many of our cities will become uninhabitable, submerged under oceans or deadly hot. Storms will become more violent. The gentle planet we’ve known will be no more.”

I have a Doctorate in anthropology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where my dissertation and post-doc research was on the chronology of occupation of the Bering Strait from 2500 BP to the present. I published papers on the effects of climate change on human population movements in Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. I did dendrochronological and dendroclimatological research on driftwood and archaeological wood from Siberia, St. Lawrence Island and the Alaska mainland. I studied tree ring research at the University of Arizona Tree-Ring Research Lab, and climate change at the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute.

I agree that many indigenous cultures have, in the past, “demonstrated [the] ability of the human species to adapt to changing conditions.”

I strongly disagree that “the extinction of the human species is a very real possibility,” with respect to climate variability. I strongly object to the statement “within 100 years, many of our cities will become uninhabitable, submerged under oceans or deadly hot. Storms will become more violent.”

There is simply no evidence to support these alarmist predictions.

Patton also cites Dahr Jamail’s book “When the Ice Melts,” as justification for these alarmist claims. I must point out that Dahr Jamail is not a climate scientist nor an anthropologist, nor a scientist of any sort. He is a journalist, one with a long record of unrealistically inflammatory rhetoric regarding what he calls “climate disruption,” which is in reality natural climate variability.

Yes, many glaciers are retreating, as are many glaciers advancing. That’s what glaciers do and have done for millennia, long before human civilizations developed. Climates around this planet (and all the other planets in the solar system) vary cyclically in tune with its variable travels around its star, and our planet’s own internal cycles of the closely coupled ocean/atmosphere system.

Does atmospheric CO2 and CH4 warm the planet? Yes, up to certain point. Does increased atmospheric CO2 result in increased global warming? No one knows, as this has never been tested. Does human produced atmospheric CO2 threaten runaway global warming? Not in the slightest.

Jamail and Stites’ dire “predictions” are not supported by climate science, not even by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is a policy making organization, not a scientific research organization.

Should we “civilized” cultures change our ways to be in closer harmony with natural cycles? Of course. Human population growth coupled with cultures based on unlimited consumption cannot continue in a world of finite resources. We not only must change our ways, we most certainly will.

Humans may think we live in a world separate from Nature, but Nature functions otherwise. Humans are subject to the same ecological cycles as all other species. There’s no exit strategy. There’s no other planet to escape to. This is our only chance and either we figure out how to get it right, or Nature will haul us back into place in ways we make not like.

The choice is ours.

 

IPCC’s Lineal Projections of a Non-Lineal World

SR15

“Global Warming of 1.5°C,” an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty

Special Report SR15 (https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/) recently released by the IPCC is a rehash of old policy conclusions and recommendations, repackaged to emphasize the projected effects of a 1.5°C increase in global average surface temperature over the 1850-1900 global average surface temperature.

SR15 states (A.1) “Human activities” have “caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels”;  (A.2) “Warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia“; (A.3) “Climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5°C than at present, but lower than at 2°C.”

The report projects: “increases in: mean temperature …, hot extremes …, heavy precipitation …, and drought and precipitation deficits …”. The report goes on to project decreased species loss and extinction on land, a slower rate of sea level rise, reduced increase in ocean temperature and pH fluctuation, compared to the effects of a 2°C increase in GASP. But then …

Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human
security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of
1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.

It seems clear that someone or someones in the IPCC hierarchy has/have decided that 2.0°C of Global Warming is insufficiently scary to prompt world leaders to toe the Global Warming line and get on the IPCC Sustainable Development bandwagon.

Choosing between 1.5°C and 2°C of acceptable warming increase is akin to deciding which deck chair to throw over the rail of the Titanic to keep it afloat. In reality, nothing humans can do or not do will significantly change the rate and “direction” of climate variation. Allow me to explain:

The entire concept of Global Warming, aka Anthropogenic Climate Change, and the latest aka “Climate Disruption,” is based on (at least) three assumptions:

1) Global Warming (calculated as Global Average Surface Temperature or GASP) equals Global Climate Change;

2) Human produced CO2 is the thermostat for all observed climate variation since the ill-defined beginning of the Industrial Revolution; and

3) Presently observed climate variation will continue indefinitely into the future at the same rate or faster.

Temperature is only one variable of climate. We go outside. It’s warm or it’s cold. It’s warmer or colder than it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Last year was warmer or colder than this year. Alaska is colder than Southern California.

Global Average Surface Temperature (GASP) is derived from some of the temperature measurements from existing instruments around the planet, adding them up and dividing by the number or readings. Raw data are frequently manipulated by a variety of correction factors thought to balance the widely differing characteristics of instrument stations around the world. (This is, of course, incredibly simplified, but you get the idea.)

So-called “Global Climate” is then depicted as a graph, usually as a time series of GASP, usually converted to “temperature anomalies” from an arbitrarily selected time period, for example, + or – differences from the global average surface temperature between 1850-1900. The result is promoted as significant and meaningful, and all manner of dire troubles for humans and all other life are variously interpreted from these simple graphs.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn1.globalissues.org/i/climate/global-temperature-anomalies-1800-2014.pnghttps://threegenerationsleft.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/crclimatep1.gif

https://i2.wp.com/www.infiniteunknown.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Global-warming-trend.jpg

What is ignored in these projections is that Global Average Surface Temperature is a meaningless calculation, and there is no global average climate to change.

In a 1964 published article (“The Problem of Deducing the Climate from Governing Equations,” Tellus 16 (1964), pp. 1-11), Edward Lorenz established that a highly complex adaptive systems such as weather does not converge to an average. In other words, weather variability is so complex that averaging the extremes produces a perception of “climate” that is meaningless in terms of predictability. Weather variability is the result of a complex system of interacting variables that cannot be predicted with any reliability beyond a day or two.

This reality is further complicated by arbitrary (or self-serving) choices of endpoints in comparisons of GASP trends. In the graphs above, start and end points of temperature anomalies, and the date range of the average to which they are compared, are chosen to emphasis a particular conclusion. The beginning points of the graphs are usually chosen as 1850, because that aligns with the almost universally held assumption that global warming and/or climate change began with human CO2 production as a result of the industrial production based on fossil fuels. This ignores the reality that today’s observed GASP increase began in the mid-1600s, not 1850, long before human CO2 emissions.

None of this matters to the IPCC, however, as it’s business is political policy recommendation rather than scientific theory confirmation. The IPCC produces projections of future risk assessment, not predictions of actual outcomes. That’s why their reports are couched in terms of scenario ranges rather than discrete events.

https://i0.wp.com/slideplayer.com/slide/8651031/26/images/4/IPCC+GHG+emission+scenarios.jpg

Even though weather and climate variability are nonlinear and therefore unpredictable other than in meaningless general terms, IPCC reports persist in deriving linear conclusions from the nonlinear data, as in A.1 through A.3 above. That’s the IPCC’s job, in support of the political and economic agendas that prompted the formation of the IPCC in the first place.

Global climate change consists of long term fluctuations in global weather patterns, such as the periodic change from from glacial to interglacial periods over the past several million years. Climate variability consists of shorter term fluctuations in global weather patterns within those larger cycles, such as the warming period we are experiencing now, coming out of the most recent cooling period of the Little Ice Age. This too shall pass as we make our way through the Holocene toward the next glacial period on the horizon.

Will the alarming prognostications of the IPCC come to pass? Will reducing our “carbon footprint” stop Global Warming or even change climate variation and climate change? No one knows.

What we can know is that we cannot predict what weather will be like in the future, so we would be well advised to organize ourselves and our material culture in ways that are more resilient in the face of inevitable change.