Famines and Wars Predicted

In a recent article in City Watch, Seth Berenstein whinges on about apparent ho-hummieness about climate change among the public in the United States (mistakenly calling us “Americans” (Does that include Canada, Central and South America?). We’re apparently supposed to be “extremely worried” about climate change, as if being worried would in some way make it go away.

There are two problems with the popular perception of climate change that make it a non-issue.

1) The case for human causation, and, thus, human solution to the perceived problem of climate variation, is very weak. We all know that climates have varied for millennia, long before humans had the capacity to influence weather, let alone climate. If climate didn’t vary on its own, we’d all still be buried under miles of glacier ice. Despite this simple fact, we are expected to accept as rote that humans are so powerful as to cause climate change, and, worse yet, we’re even powerful enough that we can control climate change.

2) The social changes necessary to lower anthropogenic CO2 to levels suggested by the IPCC as sufficient to forestall climate disaster are never full explicated. They would amount to dismantling western civilization and replacing it with a low energy, highly dispersed economy, instead of the present high energy, highly centralized economy. This is not, mind you, a bad idea, whether it affects climate variation or not. But I digress.

No one knows how to do this, no politician or economist wants to do this, and few in the public understand the full implications of the anthropogenic CO2 hypothesis. Life in the United States, and much of the rest of the world, is dominated by propaganda promoting the very totalitarian capitalist consumer economy that is said to be the source of “global warming.”

How do we get the problem to solve itself?

Whether or not observed climate variation is “caused” by humans, or is a natural phenomenon subject to limited human influence, speculation about famine and wars, based on interpretations of worst case scenarios projected by an international policy organization run by the “Sustainable Development” arm of the United Nations, are baseless at best and ultimately counterproductive. This is eminently evident in the response of much of the public around the world to alarmist media pronouncements leading up to the looming major global summit meeting attempting to solidify the global corporate stranglehold on local economies.

Beyond the rampant hyperbole and screaming headlines, one thing is true: human growth and development must stop and some way must be found to decrease economic disparity throughout the world, global warming or not. Famine and wars will continue as they have for thousands of years, with or without climate change.

And still, all of life shares this world of finite resources. We Homo sapiens cannot continue on our present economic and social course. Either we deal with this reality or Nature will deal with us as she has done with all other species.

Exploring the Unseen

Now, to that other new thing up in the upper left corner…

“Exploring the Unseen.” How can we explore something we can’t see?

Glad you asked!

I’ve recently read several interesting articles that have placed my mental feet on this particular path:

Secession from the Broadcast: The Internet and the Crisis of Social Control, by Gene Youngblood 

The battle against global warming: an absurd, costly and pointless crusade,  from the Société de Calcul Mathématique SA, translated from the French original

Cultural Hegemony, by in Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution

I’ve been studying climate variation for 25 years now, as an archaeologist, a dendroclimatologist, and, most recently, as an interested amateur observer. Over the years, the debate over the source of observed increases in global average surface temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration has resolved into a struggle between proponents of anthropogenic climate change (aka Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW)) and so-called “climate skeptics” or “deniers,” as they are characterized by the more vehement AGW proponents.

AGW followers loudly protest perceived funding of skeptics and deniers by fossil fuel interests threatened by demands to “leave fossil fuels in the ground,” shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and shift to organic agriculture to reduce petroleum based fertilizers and equipment fueling. They accuse corporations such as Exxon/Mobil of employing public relations firms to support their cause and foster doubt about global warming by questioning the science, which, they vociferously proclaim, is settled. There are even public relations firms that have vowed to never represent climate deniers and skeptics, as AGW has more and more become a moral issue.

This got me to thinking, a dangerous proposition, I know, but inevitable. If the anti-AGW crowd employs cadres of dedicated Edward Bernays acolytes to sow seeds of doubt about AGW, how is it that the dominant perception is that of human caused global warming and the necessity for humans to do something NOW! to stop it? Where did that idea come from and how has it become ubiquitous in global western culture?

In steps the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is viewed by many as a science organization involved in studying climate change. It’s not. The IPCC is a policy organization that analyzes climate science (and other non-science) research to recommend national and international policies on how to deal with human caused climate change. AGW is the base assumption in their mission statement.

The IPCC is a daughter organization of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization, which are all a part of and beholding to the United Nations Development Programme. And you’ll no be surprised to learn that the United Nations has its own Department of Public Information, which contracts with numerous prestigious public relations firms to spread its message of “Sustainable (sic) Development.”

The Department of Public Information “fosters dialogue with global constituencies such as academia, civil society, the entertainment industry, educators and students to encourage support for the ideals and activities of the United Nations.”

There you have it. An international organization with billions of dollars of funding to dangle before academia, Hollywood, and the public and private education system to build support for “Sustainable (sic) Development.”

Development (aka growth) of “less developed” countries is now hobbled by environmental pressure to stop economic growth and the negative effects of unlimited growth in a finite world. AGW is used as a big economic guilt stick to beat about the heads of “more developed” countries, by accusing them (us) of being the proximate cause of climate change with an obligation to fund development in “less developed” countries so they can better survive the effects of climate change to come.

Have you ever pulled a loose thread on your sock, only to have it unravel into a loose pile of threads on the floor? That’s what it’s like to attempt to follow the connections woven into the AGW propaganda machine, connections that remain unseen, looking like a whole sock, until one starts to take them apart.

The concept of human caused climate change looks more and more like cultural hegemony, “the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class, who manipulate the culture of that society — the beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values, and mores — so that their ruling-class worldview becomes the worldview that is imposed and accepted as the cultural norm; as the universally valid dominant ideology that justifies the social, political, and economic status quo as natural, inevitable, perpetual and beneficial for everyone, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class.”

What then do we do now? How do we explore the unseen and bring it into the seen? How do we escape from cultural hegemony?

I’ll toy with these ideas, and many others, in future editions of Words Arranged.

Chicken Little Comes Home to Roost

Over-concentration on climate change as the greatest challenge to human civilization obscures the fact that humans have been operating unsustainably since fossil fuels were developed as the basis of human population increase and industrial production.

Fossil fuels are a temporary energy source, based on accumulations of millions of years of solar based photosynthesis. We are using up these energy reserves in hundreds of years, 10,000 times faster than were originally produced. We are now well into the end of the Age of Oil, the energy source of choice for Western civilization.

It’s just a coincidence that we are also discovering that our energy choices are influencing naturally occurring climate variation in ways that make our global environment less well suited to the patterns of development of Western Civilization. We are producing wastes, in this case carbon dioxide and other gases, faster than they can be assimilated in the biosphere through natural cycles.

This deadly, to humans, combination of borrowing energy from the past and limiting human energy choices in the future, in resulting in the unavoidable demise of our way of life, Western civilization. In order to significantly change the outcome we face, we would have to stop all greenhouse gas production, stop all burning of fossil fuels and reduce human population by a third. Even then, atmospheric and terrestrial processes already set in motion will continue on their present path.

As a result of our dominant social, political and economic systems, our governments do not have the will to change our way of being by taking the steps necessary to make a significant difference in the outcome. Like it or not, the future will have less energy availability, less food, less money and more and more strife and chaos.

The good news is that after human population and industrial activity decline, things will be better, for the remaining humans and the rest of the living world. Fortunately for all, there will be insufficient energy for our descendants to rebuild the same society we see crumbling about us today. Our ancestors will be forced to live within their means, unlike us, and will return to life as a part of Nature, not apart from Nature.

It’s hard and it’s fair.

Solar Reality is Climate Reality

It is abundantly clear that recent observations of global average surface temperature increase are the result of complex interactions among a variety of factors influencing natural global climate variation.
The combination of periodic oscillation cycles of solar irradiance, solar magnetic flux, internal heliophysical solar cycles, cosmic ray intensity and solar system precession create regular fluctuations in global climate on all planets in the solar system. The coupled ocean/atmospheric system on Earth further complicates the interactions among these cycles, creating a chaotic complex adaptive system that results in perceived climate variation. (D’Aleo 2011 http://icecap.us/docs/change/OceanMultidecadalCyclesTemps.pdf)
The effect of human produced greenhouse gases on climate variation is minimal, amounting to 0.28% (28/100 of 1 percent) of the total atmospheric “greenhouse effect,” more accurately called radiative forcing. The largest contributor to atmospheric radiative forcing is natural water vapor, at 94.999% of the total greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (Hieb 2007, http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html
Atmospheric concentration of water vapor is a function of atmospheric circulation driven by solar energy. 
“I can only see one element of the climate system capable of generating these fast, global changes, that is, changes in the tropical atmosphere leading to changes in the inventory of the earth’s most powerful greenhouse gas– water vapor.” Dr. Wallace Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, R. A. Daly Lecture, American Geophysical Union, May 1996.
What all this means is that proposed changes in human produced greenhouse gases would result in imperceptible changes in total overall climate variation.
The present world-wide focus on human produced greenhouse gases is a politically and economically motivated propaganda campaign to generate support for World Bank and United Nations “Sustainable Development” programs. The World Bank has produced an internally written document, “Turn Down the Heat,” purportedly, according to the World Bank’s own promotional press release, a “scientific report.”
The world is barreling down a path to heat up by 4 degrees at the end of the century if the global community fails to act on climate change, triggering a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people, according to a new scientific report released today that was commissioned by the World Bank.” (http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/2012/11/18/new-report-examines-risks-of-degree-hotter-world-by-end-of-century)
However, the report was prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, which states as its mission, “PIK addresses crucial scientific questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts and sustainable development,” (http://www.climateanalytics.org/) with help from Climate Analytics, which claims: “Our vision is to devise science-based policy to prevent dangerous climate change, enabling sustainable development.” (http://www.climateanalytics.org/)
Global Warming and climate change alarmism are promoted to the public by a vast interlinked system of global NGOs, “progressive” foundations, public relations firms and web-based advocacy groups. To “follow the money,” go to any web site promoting global warming and click on their “Who We Are,” “Funding” or “Partners” links. You’ll find yourself quickly immersed in a sea of interconnected links, from foundation to foundation to environmental group to NGO, populated by self-identified experts feeding at the global warming funding trough.
Proponents of human caused climate change claim that “climate skeptics” and “deniers” are a large, well-organized group, massively funded by oil companies, who sow seeds of doubt among the consensus of climate scientists who believe in anthropocentric global warming. (http://www.examiner.com/article/deceit-and-corporate-manipulation-of-the-dialogue-on-climate-change-redux)
The truth is exactly the opposite. The well organized and highly funded effort is the economic and political manipulation and misrepresentation of climate science to further global political and economic agendas.

Global Warming is Cool!

As with most polarized issues, Climate Change has adherents on both ends of the spectrum: on the one hand those who lay the cause of climate variation at human feet (and cars, factories, power plants and airliners); and at the opposite extreme, those who minimize or eliminate human causation and insist on natural explanations.

Of course, as one might expect, the reality lies somewhere in between.
Does human activity affect climate variation? Certainly. Does climate vary in the absence of human forcing? Most certainly. What does this mean for human civilization and the future of the Earth’s environments? We-e-e-ell, it’s hard to say. Prediction is a tricky business, especially with respect to the future.
As an archaeologist, I view climate variation from a different time scale than that discussed by most climate change enthusiasts on both sides of the argument. 17, 20, 50, 100 years is an eye-blink in geologic time, even in the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens. When we look at long series data, such as the Vostok ice core records, it’s clear that the current warming phase is the most recent warming in a cycle that goes back 1.5 million years. We’re about to the top of the cycle, ready for the long plunge into the next “ice age” that will bottom out in about 20,000 years.
Coupled with Peak Oil and the incipient decline in fossil fuel resources, human contributions to Global Warming will decline within the next 100 years. If human activity has delayed the onset of the next cooling period, this will certainly come to an end within the lifetime of many people now alive. That doesn’t mean glaciers will start marching across Fargo, North Dakota anytime soon. Rather, it means that Anthropogenic Global Warming will not continue indefinitely, atmospheric CO2 levels will decline as the cooling ocean absorbs the excess, and the Earth will slide gently into the next cycle of Global Cooling.
What does that mean for humans alive on this Earth right now?
Given the overwhelming force of natural climate change exhibited in long term climate cycles, there’s nothing humans can do to forestall the ultimate descent into the next cooling phase. At present, science, politics and public policy is focused on mitigation of observed increases in global average surface temperature, perceived to be caused by anthropogenic CO2. While this is ultimately futile, the economic and technological changes necessary to reduce anthropogenic CO2 will have the unintended consequence of also decreasing some human caused pollution, habitat loss and biodiversity reduction caused by fossil fuel exploitation.

However, reduction in fossil fuel use must be accompanied by increases in “renewable” energy resources such as wind, solar, tidal and geothermal, which have their own demands on natural resources, critical natural habitats and the species that live therein. There’s no “clean” energy source to replace fossil fuels that will eliminate negative consequences to non-human species.
Whether the coming changes in human societies be aimed at reducing global warming, preparing for the inevitable global cooling, or learning to live as a part of the Earth, not apart from the Earth, humans must develop resilient societies capable of accommodating to a variable environment shared by myriad other living beings. This means a drastically smaller human population, consuming considerably less energy and natural resources than we do today.

Rather than fighting among ourselves over the last bite on the plate, and wasting billions of monetary units from our declining economies, why not just do the right thing that we should have been doing all along? That is, reduce our impact on the natural world so as to increase the chances of all species surviving indefinitely into the future.
Now would be a good time to start.

Cries of "Costly Fraud!" are as deceptive as their targets

This article: Anthropogenic global warming is a huge costly fraud! by climatologist Cliff Harris, has a great deal of truth in it, and much hyperbole as well.

Yes, Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is overstated by many, mischracterized in the popular press, and generally misunderstood by a poorly informed public. While this is an unfortunate error, it does not pass beyond to deliberate fraud… maybe.

There is indeed “no peer-confirmed scientific research that establishes a cause-and-effect relationship between increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and higher (or lower) global temperatures.” There is, in fact, no scientific research that demonstrates the validity of global average surface temperature as a measure of climate variability

Surface temperature is just one variable in local climates. An average of all surface temperatures on the Earth gives us a number, but one which is not particularly useful in assessing variability in local climates, let alone in the speculative concept of a “global” climate. 

To then take this nebulous methodology and attempt to project it forward into the future through the use of mathematical global climate models results in a product that bears almost no relationship to the reality of climate variation and is meaningless in terms of the contribution of anthropogenic greenhouse gases to that variation.

The simple fact is: We just don’t know.

It’s OK to not know.

Admitting our ignorance is a healthy characteristic of a well adjusted human being. To pretend that we know everything and that we can predict something as complex and chaotic as climate 100 years into the future, when we can’t even predict the weather next year, is the height of folly.

The truth is, we’re just going to have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, we can prepare ourselves for any climate eventuality by keeping ourselves and our societies as resilient and flexible as possible. This means not tying ourselves to finite energy sources, not building major cities and human playgrounds on shorelines subject to storms and inundation, not building on the slopes of volcanoes, active or “dormant,” not building in flood plains and generally conducting ourselves as if we had learned something from 3.5 millions years of evolution.

Oh, and here’s the toughy. We have to learn to control our population so as to not consume more than our planet can naturally replenish.

That’s a pretty tall order. I have little confidence that Homo sapiens can pull it off.

Wouldn’t hurt to try.