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The Mercury Doesn’t Lie: We’ve Hit a Troubling Climate Change Milestone


#1

The Mercury Doesn’t Lie: We’ve Hit a Troubling Climate Change Milestone

Bill McKibben

Thursday, while the nation debated the relative size of Republican genitalia, something truly awful happened. Across the northern hemisphere, the temperature, if only for a few hours, apparently crossed a line: it was more than two degrees Celsius above “normal” for the first time in recorded history and likely for the first time in the course of human civilization.


#2

As someone who lives in the Northeast I can say that in this part of the country we definitely had a winter. January and February were truly winter months. No doubt Bill McKibben was trying to stay warm in Vermont. I don't know the implications of this latest record of 2C in the northern hemisphere but it sounds bad. Clearly we need to keep climate change deniers such as Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich from becoming the next president to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. .


#3

In Central Illinois, I can tell you we had a very mild winter. Nobody was complaining after two years of the Polar Vortex, but we had barely any snow at all, and only one brief cold snap of sub-zero temps.


#4

You really do enjoy deceiving people Lrx. Technically even if the winter months kept hovering at forty and even fifty degrees that yes it still qualifies as winter, at least compared to summers of 95 degrees. The meteorological records are all there for anyone to check but you love manipulating people in the face of facts because most people don't bother to check facts even as easy as googling it may be. The word is troll. You don't really like people or maybe just progressives yet you know what we say is true. You are caught between the truth and your own hard place where you twist the truth for the fun of it.

Very strange stuff.

Check the weather records!


#5

They had two days of snow and it went back to 48 degrees the following day. The official understanding was that 'leave your car parked where it is and the warm temperatures will melt away the snow for you'.

It is like a game with this person just to see how much he can manipulate progressives despite the facts. Very strange and I bet he tells people that he is a progressive at heart...lol.

As I grew up winters were mostly below the dreaded 32 degrees >>> "Oh no, all the snow will melt!" mark. Cold was a few weeks of 20 degrees or even less. This winter it hovered around 45 degrees.

Heck, now I am feeling nostalgic for all those 'school closed' days that moms hated and we were in ecstasy! These days kids are surprised to hear that they closed city schools at all much less than for days at a time.


#6

Humanity continues its arrogance with the two-degrees C target. With all of the nonlinear feedback mechanisms extent in the global energy system there is NO way to know what an acceptable target would be. It is past time to think about a target and to TAKE ACTION. Less is more (life), that is certain.


#7

I urge people to get a handle on the actual nature of the emergency because, in the words of Professor Guy McPherson, people like McKibben are committing a form of malpractice by withholding from people the true urgency of the climate crisis.

Looking at the actual data and trends, it is almost certain now that there is going to be a mass extinction of humanity somewhere between the years 2030 and 2045. Please educate yourself and don't let the Bill McKibbens reassure you that things are merely bad, but there's time to turn it around. Things are not merely bad, they are terminal and almost certain to mean your death within as little as 15 years.


#8

"Anyone with a thermometer can see that we desperately need to be building solar and windpower instead."

Why does that follow? There are other solutions, for example the shutting down of this failing mass techno-industrial civilization in favor of global Fukuoka farming, but the real problem is that people are unwilling to change their lifestyles to actually preserve a habitable Earth. They want cars and televisions and great big sports arenas and an air force and jet travel and gigantic, neon-lit cities.

I'm sorry to be the one to tell you, but civilization is not sustainable. Humanity can either abandon it, or die because of it.

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


#9

Fantastic interview with Guy McPherson! Thanks for sharing it.


#10

Are you seriously saying that seven billion people go primitive? That we all become the noble peasant (the Khmer Rouge egalitarian horror last tried that). Even Mao's cultural revolution ended up going capitalist.

I don't have a farm (come to think of it I need to water my house plant ... This thing is a survivor lemme tell ya) do you want to give me one? I live like far away from farm country so you'll need to provide daily transportation and by the way when I keel over from a heart attack caused by thinking about doing farm labor at my age ... I suggest having a modern ambulance standing by to take me to a modern hospital (yay civilization) where etc.

I like civilization... Barbarian hordes and/or the emperor's legions aren't smashing and pillaging or chopping off the heads of the peasants and those too old to be slaves and so forth. Hey but that's just me I suppose. I like movies too and cheesecake cake brownies too.

"Cause of death?"

'Looks like ...Suicide! Look at the size of that cheesecake brownie in his hand! It's his own fault! Ooh with frosting and raisins too.'

"These brownies were a gift from his ex-wife. It looks like a case of murder!"

'You mean they might be poisoned?'

"Nope they aren't poisoned. They are delicious. Definitely murder ... Just civilized. Want a bite?"


#11

I think anybody who has ever studied English literature in school would know that "truly winter months" means it was typically cold as it usually is in January and February. Thankfully this winter was not as bad as the last two winters but there was a snow storm that dumped two or more feet of snow in the I-95 corridor from DC to NYC and some really miserable cold windy days. How anybody think that I am talking about the technical definition of winter is beyond me. While New England doctors may be talking about the allergy season the last two months in the northeast were seasonably cold. While I consider myself to be a progressive many statements by progressives are debatable. This is not a fundamentalist religion. Because Chris Hedges or Ralph Nader says something that doesn't make it true. Truth is based on evidence. It difficult to get really good evidence for many political views so to a large extent what you wind up with is opinion. Certainly there are a lot conspiracy theories out there. There is no such thing as monolithic progressives. Actually it is quite a broad category and very difficult to define. People have no right to declare themselves the arbiters of what is progressive. Anyone doing so should be called out on it. What is needed is dialog that stimulates thinking. Those that try to limit the discussion to only what they believe are doing disservice to others. My politics are based largely on environmentalism but I also am interested in other issues.


#12

Oh give me a break! Look at the evidence then. The weather has broken all previous records for being warm. A single snowstorm that melted away in a week and then went back to fifty degrees days during Jan and Feb is not normal. There were many 60 degrees days in the north-north east which is way above the former late winter temps. I find you a strange person who haunts progressive forums but with an underlying malevolence that truly seems part of a delusion on your part. You want to think you are being honest but it is not even a joke any longer... You are suffering from a delusional complex where you are in denial about your own motivations. So weird. Please seek a therapist and spare us your trolling.


#13

Hey, too bad about your heart condition! Civilized living does typically lead to a massive buildup of arterial plaque Maybe it's all the cheesecake and brownies, you know, those "diseases of abundance" that kill everyone these days when they don't die by a cop or a mass shooter or a car wreck: diabetes, heart disease, strokes. Let's not even talk about cancer, which was largely unknown before your beloved civilization. Now two thirds of people get cancer and rising. Better keep those ambulances standing by!

Then there's nuclear war. Way better odds of that happening than a species-ending asteroid hitting. Two million years of the human species and no problem surviving asteroids. Nuclear weapons? In the last 40 years there have been at least a half-dozen near misses with nuclear armageddon. How much longer you think your luck is going to hold? Hillary may be just the Queen of Chaos to trigger it, after all.

All that luscious civilization, all that cheesecake, wiped out in an afternoon. What a shame!

As the final insult, the final cheesecake denier, we have climate chaos. It's going to be tough to make much of it when you can't grow plants any more because there's no arable land where they'll grow. Just desiccated, salty wasteland. "Forests precede us and deserts dog our heels."

You're so clever though, such a smarty smarty smarty-pants that you'll figure a way to outsmart nature and physics and the odds. That's what clever naked apes always do, being the pinnacle of evolution and all.

I assure you, I have no illusions about anything significant changing. This ship of hubristic fools is going straight down to Davey Jones' locker, no question, with passengers and crew squabbling over fracking and windmills and solar panels as they disappear beneath the waves.


#14

I actually feel the self loathing and a will to Thanatos from you. You want the end of the world. You are unhappy and like some ancient pagan who believes in a punishing deity or even a biblical one, you think a sinful humanity should be punished.

I don't.

I think the vast majority of people try to live good lives and not be creeps towards other people. I think children want to play and girls just want to have fun and boys will be boys except when they want to be girls and then they just want to have fun... I like all of them. People have a hard time but most of us would rather have life be easier, better, more reasonable and in general nicer.

I'm with them. I do not believe that a sinful humanity should be punished or destroyed nor do I sit back and watch it happen with smug complacency. I told you so doesn't help as the mushroom clouds rise or the drought intensifies or the mutated plague spreads or fungus rots the wheat etc.

Vote for life not expect death... Or at least have some patience while waiting for it and leave other people do their best with what they are given. Why not have a fossil fuel free civilization... We might enjoy it more.


#15

You can stuff your b.s. cod psychology where the sun doesn't shine. It's not my fault that this species is proving too greedy and stupid to live. Your very first attack on me this thread was to mock an actual solution to the crisis in favor of McKibben's non-solution. Why don't you take a look at the actual science in the video above as explained by McPherson. If you still think windmills are a solution I've got some bridges to sell you.

Solar panels and windmills take mines, and manufacturing, and shipping, and roads and ultimately armies and banks and mega cities and monocrops and all the rest of civilization. People who think like you are about to be responsible for the deaths of billions of people and you're looking to pass the blame to someone else. I'm not having it. You want this civilization, you are responsible for the consequences.

I don't want it. Millions of people in indigenous and rural communities across he globe don't want it. Responsibility for the Holocaust belongs at the doorstep of modernity, and I refer here to both the one that occurred during WWII and the one unfolding as we speak, sometimes known as the 6th mass extinction.

Civilization, whatever else it is, is a heat engine and is simply not sustainable. So let's be clear: your "solution" is a joke and no solution at all. You are merely a force for despair posing as a force for hope.

So don't you dare project your own death drive onto me, while smugly kicking back with your cheesecake and claiming to be for all the children that are going to die because of the inability of people such as yourself to recognize and accept that civilization is a dead end for those children.

The indigenous communities that were destroyed by this culture were right about many things, but nothing so prescient as the fact that this culture has no future. It has no future because it is arrogantly and ignorantly anti-life while claiming to be a force for good, just like you.


#18

2°C? 2°C?!! Here in Arizona, the temperature has been averaging 8.3°C hotter since the middle of January when the "strongest el nino in a while" gave up after producing nothing close to even average rainfall. If this doesn't scream we need Bernie and his plan to convert to a renewable energy base we're doomed. Don't you all see through the man in charge's bullshit yet?


#19

That 2°C refers to global average temperature. Some places it's cooler than average, some hotter. When summed and averaged, you get your global average temperature number over historical baseline. I have to agree that it's a misleading number though, as when people hear about a rise of 2 or even 5 or 6 degrees Celsius they think, "meh, so I'll turn up the air conditioner."

What they miss is that this translates to blistering spikes 50° fahrenheit above normal in certain places and that runs right into the wet bulb temperature for humans where even in the shade we die as our bodies cannot cool themselves. These ranges and spikes also cause crops to die, leading to famine, mass migration, wars, and social breakdown. This is quite apart from flooding, storm damage and extinctions triggered by habitat loss.

Climate chaos is a Pandora's Box of problems, and the box is open, with all the contents loose and starting to cause mayhem.


#20

While I am familiar with McPherson's website and understand where he is coming from, no one can predict the future so precisely and it is also dangerous to tell people they are going to die between such and such dates (think of the many cults in which followers commit mass suicide due to a similar belief). Plus, why should anyone do anything to slow climate change if the future is so certain and dire? However, I imagine that McKibben and others like him understand the impending threats to the survival of humanity and other life forms but choose not to tell people they are going to go extinct in 20 or so years for the reasons stated above. Plus, they would sound like kooks and no one would listen to them. However, it is perfectly sound to calculate the odds of humans going extinct over the next several decades and longer based on lots and lots of hard data. I imagine the odds are pretty high right now given the recent 0.4 degree Celsius increase in average sea surface temperatures, if I read that recently reported number correctly.


#21

It's definitely true that no one can predict the future precisely, but trends are trends and these graphs are proving fairly predictable at this point. Of course it's always seemingly "worse than expected" every year now because bodies that present many of these papers are conservative, are overseen by governments with a vested interest in the status quo, and are encouraged to downplay truly dire scenarios.

I'm not sure that the fact it's dangerous to tell people the truth means you shouldn't tell them. When a doctor tells a patient that he's got terminal cancer, there is a serious risk that the patient will commit suicide or refuse treatment out of pure fatalism. It's still the right thing to do. We don't let people wander around with cancer believing they're perfectly healthy because we don't want to frighten them. People are much more likely to take whatever even desperate steps may be necessary to try to survive if they know they are facing death. Yes, some may commit suicide. Others may take Guy's advice and try to live each day as fully as possible no matter how long it turns out we've got.

At the end of the day we need to treat adults like adults. I am wary, however, of talking about this to children. I think parents need to think carefully about that. Now it may well be that it is in fact children that are being protected by this, and that people like Professor McPherson are there to give adults the real story while McKibben and Naomi Klein shovel the happy horse-shit on TV about windmills. I actually think that's more dangerous and irresponsible, really, but it is what it is.

As far as taking necessary action, it's not even clear at this point what that might be. There is so much CO2 in the atmosphere now, and with the 40-year heat lag built-in we're only just feeling the effects of oil, coal and gas burned before 1976. Even if humanity took a truly radical course and shut down civilization tomorrow, there is no guarantee that would be sufficient to stop the dozens of feedback loops in progress already from pushing the climate into runaway.

It's a predicament, for sure.


#22

You were not saying where you were from, but I assume you are in the mid-Atlantic somewhere. Check the climatological data. You will find that the one big snowstorm (which was mostly melted away in most areas only 2-3 weeks later despite the up-to 42 inch depth), and some brief cold snaps notwithstanding, average temperatures were significantly above normal in you area - they were in my area just a bit west of you.