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12 Years to Save the Planet? Make That 18 Months

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/25/12-years-save-planet-make-18-months

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Pulp Fiction…by the fall of 2020 we will have a Blue Ocean Event, not some great meeting of the minds.

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Yeah, the math is very clear, but those in power are so fuckin ignorant and corrupt, focus instead on maintaining the status quo and their vulture capitalist profits and “growth” above all else - and that goes a thousand times for the orange syphilitic moron in the WH, dreaming his narcissist fantasy’s that all others are subject too, as there is no majority of opposition who apparently give a shite or will really do anything with the force needed except make empty promises and blather about 2050 or some other astonishingly moronic statement, or claim “we don’t have the votes”, or some such mindless craven rot!.

Anyhow you slice it we as supremely fucked it seems. Just say bye de bye to the late, great, Mother Earth, sing “so-long, its been good to know ya”, and mourn Her brilliant evolution of never to be seen again life forms, going extinct by the millions, because of the utter criminal stupidity of humans that fancy themselves “leaders”!

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Poor Greta. I’m a fellow aspie, but I hope anyone can see in the photo her discomfort in the public attention surrounding her (not to mention physical contact), rather than her cause.

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With Trump holding the reigns for about the next 18 months, we’re really and totally fucked! Conservative Christians rejoice; the rapture is on its way.

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The crime has been building and ignored for decades - over half a century - from John Muir and Rachel Carson to Greta Thunberg and others, but the politicians didn’t bother to listen, or just ignored the warnings with platitudes and evasions - too many campaign-contribution bribes to chase - and still they are deaf and blind to the enormity of the crime. Like “religious” nutters who will be “saved”, all living in Cloud Cuckoo Land!

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All the earth is infected by organized mental illness and suicidal stupidity!

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How much longer before the military turns around and beheads the oligarchy?

All this 12 years, 11 years, 18 months reminds me of the “7 minute abs scene” in “There’s something about Mary” (starts at 0:45)

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I’m feeling much better since I discovered my Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Neven’s edifying, somewhat snittily-contentious Arctic Sea Ice Forum. Maybe not the most likeable characters around (said one of the most genial spirits on CD comment threads!), but I swear to God: these folks know more about the ice than anyone, so far as I can tell. The most credible are those who admit how little they know. It’s a great place to ride out 2019: the first fall into a potential BOE. The scenery, the scale of cryospheric transformation, is absolutely breathtaking!

I mean, you only get to watch the Arctic crack up for good once. We might as well enjoy it, since it’s for damn sure there’s not much else to do about it at the moment. Remember: it’s still before that European heat wave hoves from Scandinavia north. Possibly the most striking feature of 2019’s slushy Arctic is “the crack” where it does not belong: from the north coast of Greenland then west, all the way over the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This opening happens precisely where we expected to see the thickest ice hold out; the whole icecap is now detached.

Here’s a glimpse of Greenland’s northernmost point (7/25) in fabulous Worldview.

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The idea that we can have anything like this sort of precise knowledge over the sort of time necessary to “save the planet” is fanciful and unfortunate.

It is not that there is any reasonable doubt that climate change and an associated panoply of ecological disasters is well under way. Doubt exists; it’s just not reasonable. But it is not a similar sort of knowledge to claim to be able to see where the various tipping points and counterbalances might be within a complex and self-regulating system.

It is really analogous to the difference between saying “The stock market appears to be in trouble, so it will likely crash” and saying “AT&T will go down on the first of February in 2022.”

It is like the difference between saying that the #1 billboard popular song on New Year’s Day in 2021 will employ melodic use of pitch and announcing that at minute 2:49 will sound a lone quarter note at a middle C.

People mess up all the time, but we have not really ended an entire world before. It does not mean that we cannot do it. It does mean that we do not really much know what we are doing or how it will go down.

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“Right now a number of countries seem keen to slow down progress. Last December the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia blocked the IPCC special report on 1.5C from UN talks.”

Gee, all but one long time allies of the US, and the other a dubious newbie (more likely a Trojan horse).

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The world will be very lucky of we can hold global heating to 3 degrees C by 2100. One problem with the projections by the IPCC is that I think they are still not taking into account the release of methane variants. These are rapidly increasing and climate scientists are now even more concerned that we will experience a “methane burp” that pumps billions of tons of methane into the atmosphere over a short period of years as vast areas of permafrost melt.
Actually, a book came out years ago that described what would happen as the world got hotter and I remember that at 3 degrees C it was disastrous. A group of Russian scientists reported a few years ago that they had discovered a column of methane rising up from Siberia that was 60 miles wide! Projections are that certain cities such Karachi, Pakistan could experience daily high temps of up to 140 degrees. Life there would be untenable.
I’m of the opinion that the changes we are seeing are a cascading effect with various inputs feeding on each other and accelerating the change. This at a time when the U.S. will almost certainly abandon the Paris Accords entirely if Trumpo the Traitor is “re-elected” next year. I heard recently that there was an audio recording of oil corporation execs laughing among themselves about how easy it was to gain influence within the Trump regime. No surprise there. Trump and his fellow scum are an out and out enemy of the planet. They see it as a giant resource supermarket on dollar day. Mike Pompeo said recently that the melting of Arctic ice is a great opportunity to exploit the minerals and oil of the region. With assholes like this in power it looks pretty hopeless.
12 Years? That seems very optimistic to me. The Earth is a remarkable planet of interconnected
processes of physics, chemistry and biology and it doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what a bunch of insincere, co-opted politicians say about what they intend to do. Their cheap, insincere rhetoric is worse than useless.
I live in Washington State and our governor, Inslee, is running for president. His main campaign issue is global warming. He is the only one doing so. He won’t win and that is good news for us residents because his leadership in WA politics is more enlightened and appropriate for this century. However, I can’t help but conclude that it is too late. If COP26 ends up like all the others we are screwed.

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Actually, climate models have become more and more accurate due to faster and more sophisticated processing programs and are able to predict general patterns of climate change over the planet. Your attempt to try and draw an analogy with predicting a popular song in 2021 doesn’t hold up. But no, we aren’t going to “end the world”. We ARE on the road to making it unviable for the majority of human inhabitants. Just one of many examples - the nearly 2 billion people who rely on the water draining from glaciers in the Himalayan region. The glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate. These people will become victims and join hundreds of millions of others who are climate or environmental refugees. I know a bit of this from personal experience. I used to live in Juneau, Alaska. I left there in 1992. I came back to visit in 1999 and in only 7 years the Mendenhall Glacier north of town had retreated nearly 100 yards and the face of the glacier was much smaller and shorter. Greenland’s melting of ice is so huge that vast quantities of fresh water are entering the North Atlantic and impeding the Gulf Stream’s natural current flow because of the colder fresh water. It is the Gulf Stream that keeps Europe relatively “warm”, a condition that allowed the Continent to be populated as it has been. Europeans should stop worrying so much about “illegals” and immigrants and start being concerned about the changes that are likely to come to their homes within their lifetimes.

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Boris is now PM of the UK. He is a denialist a la Drumpf, so expecting anything positive out of the United “Kingston” is foolish.

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All these “Save 10% Here and Cut 10% There” plans are total B.S. if the human population continues to grow.  What good are the 10% per capita improvements if there are 50% more “capitas”???

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Thanks for your thoughtful post. My view is that the current Arctic catastrophe, in particular, will change the conversation and severely challenge the science. Some ice geeks like me think the BOE will change everyone’s mind or something, but just watch: it’ll be a headline for a few days maybe, then get blared over by some infernal tweet, and promptly forgotten as shippers prepare to use shorter (if more turbulent!) lanes and plenty of scientists assure us that losing the icecap isn’t such a big deal. I can’t believe how much controversy remains on that subject, among apparently serious people!

So the Arctic’s first Blue Ocean Event probably won’t be considered the tipping point until the global thermostat and ventilation system go melodramatically apeshit over the following few years. Then at least the scientific argument over what a BOE means would be settled – possibly at the cost of most Life on Earth, who knows? We haven’t run this experiment before. Nobody knows.

With the Arctic crashing so very soon, you’d think there’d have to be a reassessment in the climate science community: How did we miss so badly, in all our projections? I have a strong hunch (probably without the scientific chops to assess the literature on this question) that the problem is more heat energy going into the water, and more ocean heat transport, than our calculations previously determined. The lion’s share of 2019 Arctic melting is in situ , just dissolving in place, characteristic of warm water beneath. I think climate scientists might generally overestimate the role of atmospheric relative to oceanic warming, maybe only because it’s so much easier to collect reams of detailed data about the atmosphere.

There’s also a systems-science problem to such a true tipping point: we’re already encountering the limits of what models are capable of, and consequently getting surprised by Gaia’s behavior. The usefulness of models – which means our capacity to predict at all – declines to zilch as the system devolves into apparently chaotic behavior.

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They’re still not in agreement, Bruce. The models do not return similar results. The reason that they do not is not that they are not sophisticated. They are, but the complex, self-regulating systems that they are attempting to model produce wildly divergent results in response to far tinier distinctions of input than can be modeled.

This is called “the butterfly effect.” If it’s not familiar, it’s easy to search for if you dispense with the references to a recent movie that had the phrase as a title.

Lots of things can be learned and stated about such systems. The argument that we are in trouble because of man-made warming appears quite sound. But to predict a given date in the future “to save the planet,” even leaving aside the complexity of that judgment, is to invite the impression that the entire problem is imagined.

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So we need this to happen while the most anti-environmental presidents ever are reigning over the US & Brazil & authoritarians are taking over the world.

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One of the ice geeks on Neven’s site observed (I’m paraphrasing):

We are so far beyond screwed, you can’t even see screwed from here.