We do indeed live in interesting times

trumpefigyA giant effigy of Donald Trump holding Hillary Clinton’s head to be burned at Lewes bonfire night festival.* Image: Tony Kershaw/SWNS.com

“May you live in interesting times” – it is an ancient Chinese curse.

Victoria Coren-Mitchell summarised the situation well on the BBC’s Have I Got New For You programme last night, when she wryly observed that, “America is possibly going to elect its worst president-ever, or someone even worse!”

I must admit I have been very concerned that the USA might elect a President even less-fit to hold such a position than was GWB in 2000.  However, my anxiety rocketed when the FBI launched a fresh investigation into misuse of email by Hilary Clinton (HRC) when she was Secretary of State.

Today, I am just plain astonished that people like Julian Assange and John Pilger seem to think HRC’s abuse of office – and the crime of accepting money from foreign governments sympathetic to ISIS/ISIL so serious – that it is worth increasing the chaces of “the aboination that causes desolation” that will be Donald Trump in the White House.

According to the UN, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is a triumph of international diplomacy.  Even if it is, however, it is still too little too late: This is because the vast majority of genuine experts agree that, even if all countries deliver on the promises made, post-Industrial warming will reach between 2.5 and 3.4 Celsius by the end of the Century.

Given the accelerating rates of glacier-melting, sealevel-rise and ocean-acidification we are already witnessing – as a result of just 1 Celsius rise – there seems little doubt that such a change will be catastrophic:  This is because the rate of change – ten times faster than any such previous change – is too fast for most organisms to adapt.  Heavilly-populated areas are likely to be inundated by seawater and intensively-cultivated areas are likley to become infertile.  One thing is for certain:  Trees cannot migrate.

The ideologically-driven rejection of the accumulating evidence of accelerating change is already having dire consequences for the World’s poorest communities.  The total disregard for this reality amongst some of the World’s wealthiest communities is sickening:  Elysium does not exist; and it will probably never get built.

And what is Donald Trump’s response to all of this:  He has said he will withdraw the USA from the Paris Treaty on Climate Change.

That being the case, why on Earth are people like Julian Assange and John Pilger making a Trump Presidency more likely?  Judge for yourselves at:


* See Daily Mail article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3908070/Believe-best-bonfires-best-Britain-gets-ready-Bonfire-Night-Guy-wants-burn-tonight-DONALD-TRUMP.html

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‘Climate Inaction Figures’ campaign to combat Anti-Science Absurdity Posted on July 22, 2016

‘Climate Inaction Figures’ Campaign Launches To Combat Anti-Science Absurdity (DeSmogBlog/Brendan DeMelle)

‘Climate Inaction Figures’ Campaign Launches To Combat Anti-Science Absurdity (DeSmogBlog/Brendan DeMelle)

With my thanks to DeSmog Blog for alerting me to this.


No prizes for guessing who would feature prominently if such a campaign were to be launched here.

Posted in Anthropocene, Climate Science, Denial, James Delingpole | Tagged | Leave a comment

Will it matter 100 years from now?

Here in the UK, I have spent a lot of time trying to decide how to vote in the Referendum on our membership of the EU. Working away from home, I had to apply for a postal vote. Having sent my postal vote off, I almost immediately regretted it… For all its faults, I believe the EU has been a force for good in the battle to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption. Sadly, however, I think the EU is unlikley to survive in its current form; a probability that negates all the arguments for remaining part of it. Will this matter 100 years from now? Well, if humanity survives that long, I suspect it will. Sadly, however, that does not make the Leave or Remain choice any less of a lose-lose scenario. Therefore, I will understand fully if large numbers of people do not vote and/or spoil their ballot papers in protest. http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/silent-spring-revisited-9781408157602/ However, if all of the above is too much for you. I would heartily recommend Silent Spring Revisted by Conor Mark Jameson, as published by Bloomsbury in 2013, which they summarise as follows:

American scientist and author Rachel Carson is said to have sparked the modern day environmental movement with the publication of Silent Spring in 1962. She made vivid the prospect of life without birdsong. But has her warning been heeded? Fifty years on, Conor Mark Jameson reflects on the growth of environmentalism since Silent Spring was published. His revealing and engaging tale plots milestone events in conservation, popular culture and political history in the British Isles and beyond, tracing a path through the half century since ‘zero hour’, 1962. Around this he weaves his own observations and touching personal experiences, seeking to answer the question: what happened to the birds, and birdsong, and why does it matter?

Buried deep inside this book, on page 137 in the paperback, is this shocking quote from a Greenpeace leaflet that Jameson came across in 1987:

Planet Earth is 4.6 billion years old. If we condense this into a conceivable time-span we can liken the Earth to a person of 46 years [old]. Nothing is known about the first seven years of this person’s life, and whilst only scattered information exists about the middle 35 years, we know that only at the age of 42 did the earth begin to flower. Dinosaurs and the great reptiles did not appear until one year ago, when the plant was 45. Mammals arrived eight months ago; in the middle of the last week, human-like apes evolved into ape-like humans, and at the weekend the last ice age enveloped the Earth. Modern humans have been around for four hours. During the last hour we discovered agriculture. The last industrial revolution began one minute ago. During those sixty seconds, humans have made a rubbish tip of the Earth. We have caused the extinction of many hundreds of animal species, ransacked the planet for fuel and now stand gloating over this meteoric rise, on the brink of the final mass extinction. We have almost destroyed this oasis of life in the solar system.

I truly hate feeling so pessimistic and misanthropic but, when you consider what humanity has achieved in its short time at the top of the evolutionary tree, it is hard not to hope that things will work out better once we have removed ourselves from the stage. Will it matter 100 years from now? Hell, yes. That is because, as the Geological Society has warned, the palaeoclimatic record strongly sugggests that the Earth’s ecosystems could “take around 100,000 years to recover…” from the post-Industrial warming that we have initiated. http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Policy-and-Media/Press-Releases/Earths-sensitivity-to-climate-change-could-be-double-previous-estimates-say-geologists http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Geoscientist/Archive/March-2014/Climate-Change-Statement-Addendum Closing Down Sale - Everything Must Go

Posted in Anthropocene, Climate Science, Environment, Greenpeace, Mass Extinctions, Palaeoclimatology, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

AGU continues complicit support for Merchants of Doubt


Scientists Asked to Boycott Major Conference After AGU Votes to Retain ExxonMobil Ties

This is not surprising given the AGU’s failure to discipline Richard Lindzen for academic misconduct, hypocrisy, and the denegration of fellow AGU members, but, as reported via DeSmogBlog recently:

Scientists are being asked to boycott the next major meeting of the world’s biggest earth sciences organisation after it voted to retain relationships with ExxonMobil. The American Geophysical Union last week rejected calls from members to break ties with ExxonMobil over the oil giant’s history of funding and supporting climate science misinformation. AGU members have been voicing their dismay at the decision, which ignored the concerns of more than 200 scientists, many of them AGU members, calling for the relationship to end. AGU’s board said it would accept sponsorship from ExxonMobil for a breakfast event at its Fall Meeting in December – an event the oil company had previously sponsored. But Professor Charles Greene, of Cornell University, told DeSmog: “This is far from over. There can be little doubt that this will lead to the biggest shake up in AGU’s history. There is a lot more at stake here than $35,000 for a graduate student breakfast.” Greene has called on scientists to boycott the December meeting held by AGU – an influential organisation with about 60,000 members in 139 countries. In a statement Greene said: “At what level does the behavior of a corporate sponsor become sufficiently reprehensible for AGU to refuse its support? I guess that a corporation like ExxonMobil, which has deceived the general public for decades while placing human society at great risk, has not achieved that level. “The only conclusion to be drawn is that AGU will accept money from just about any corporate entity, no matter how unethical its behavior. I certainly will not attend an ExxonMobil-sponsored Fall Meeting, and I hope that every AGU member who feels the same way about this lapse in judgement will consider sending a similar message.” ExxonMobil is facing investigations from several attorneys general, led by New York, over allegations the company misled shareholders and the public about the risk of climate change caused by fossil fuel burning. The probes were sparked by investigations from Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, which highlighted internal Exxon documents showing in the 1970s the company’s own scientists were aware of the clear risks of burning fossil fuels. Over the years Exxon is known to have spent tens of millions of dollars funding dozens of organisations that have worked to mislead the public about the science linking greenhouse gas emissions to global warming. Check out DeSmog’s research into ExxonMobil’s Funding of Climate Science Denial. In the run up to AGU’s decision, more than 100 AGU members signed an open letter alongside other scientists asking for their organisation to end the relationship with Exxon. Some members also issued a detailed dossier to the board claiming the organisation’s relationship with ExxonMobil violated its own organizational support policy, agreed in April 2015. That policy states that AGU “will not accept funding from organizational partners that promote and/or disseminate misinformation of science, or that fund organizations that publicly promote misinformation of science.” The dossier included numerous examples of Exxon funding organisations, including the American Enterprise Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National BAltman Chamber of Commerce, that have underplayed and disparaged the science linking fossil fuel burning to dangerous climate change. Scientists are also pressing the AGU leadership group to release more details of how the board came to its decision, including their deliberations over the dossier. In announcing the decision, AGU president Margaret Leinen wrote that “it is not possible for us to determine unequivocally whether ExxonMobil is participating in misinformation about science currently, either directly or indirectly.” She said it had been decided AGU’s acceptance of ExxonMobil sponsorship did “not constitute a threat to AGU’s reputation.” ExxonMobil also funds meetings of ALEC – a lobby group with strong corporate ties that creates template bills for legislators that block attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow the development of renewable energy. Stephen Moore, a member of ALEC’s advisory council alongside ExxonMobil government affairs manager Cynthia Bergman, told an ALEC meeting last year: “The biggest scam of the last 100 years is global warming!” Professor Nathan Phillips, of Boston University, said: “What was called for was an exercise of judgment. Instead, the AGU avoided taking a principled stand by claiming it is not possible for it to make a judgement. The leadership seems prepared to accept some loss of membership, but what it may not be prepared for is the redoubled commitment of members who won’t relent in shining an even brighter light on the inconsistency of the AGU’s mission of a sustainable planetary future with its endorsement of ExxonMobil’s past and current activities.” ExxonMobil’s company position on climate change says: “The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. Increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken to further quantify and assess the risks.” The AGU is holding two conference calls this week where members can ask questions of AGU President-elect Eric Davidson, CEO Christine McEntee and Leinen.

Image courtesy of Natural History Museum

Posted in Climate Science, Denial, Ethics, Fossil Fuels, Lindzengate, Merchants of Doubt, Richard Lindzen | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Open Letter to David Cameron

29 March 2016 The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP The Prime Minister 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA Dear Prime Minister, Whatever happened to the greenest government ever? Given my experience of working in environmental consultancy or regulation, I understand the importance of making pragmatic, risk-based decisions (as opposed to dogmatic, opinion-based ones). I therefore believe that government policy should be formulated this way. Unfortunately, however, this does not always seem to be the case. As a pragmatic scientist, I am not ideologically opposed to nuclear power. However, I do question the logic of pursuing ‘Hinkley Point C’ when equivalent investment in distributed renewable technologies – from domestic solar PV to submarine tidal stream – could probably generate more electricity faster. Indeed, as Greenpeace has recently pointed out, the UK could meet nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030.[1] With regard to risk, the scientific consensus is that, in order to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the World must now embark upon the fastest-possible transition to a zero carbon economy. Therefore, I also question the logic of simultaneously promoting investment in shale gas; discouraging investment in renewables; and cancelling investment in Carbon Capture and Storage research. It is now over 50 years since scientists started warning of the climatic implications of continuing to burn fossil fuels;[2] and 50 years since fossil fuel company executives started spending huge sums of money on being “Merchants of Doubt”.[3] As such, along with their counterparts in the tobacco industry, they have clearly not acted in the long-term interest of humanity as a whole. However, as with the individual health benefit of ceasing to smoke tobacco, the sooner we stop burning fossil fuels the greater the collective environmental benefit will be. Therefore, I am pragmatically opposed to shale gas exploration because burning it is not consistent with the need to transition away from fossil fuels as fast as possible. I am certain that you would like to secure an enduring political legacy; and would therefore like to ask just one question: What could be better than being remembered as the Prime Minister that committed the UK to meeting nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030? Yours sincerely, Rick C. Altman ———— [1] See: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/uk-can-be-almost-entirely-powered-renewable-energy-2030-new-study-shows-20150921. [2] Nuccitelli, D. (2015), ‘Scientists warned the US president about global warming 50 years ago today’, Guardian newspaper, 5 November 2015: London. [3] Oreskes, N. & Conway E. (2010), Merchants of Doubt, New York: Bloomsbury. See: http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org/

Posted in Carbon Capture and Storage, Climate Science, Energy Crisis, Environment, Fossil Fuels, Greenpeace, Merchants of Doubt, Politics, Renewable Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The post-1998 pause in warming is over

Last month was the warmest February on record; 1.6 C above its pre-industrial average. The post-1998 pause in warming, which has also included the warmest-ever decade, is almost certainly over. warmest-ever-decade Therefore, I hope the ideologically-blinded, not-at-all-like Galileo, pseudo-sceptics will now stop arguing about what is happening; and start engaging in the debate about how best to stop it happening. In short, there is now no valid excuse for being anything other than a ‘policy sceptic’. Categorising Climate Change Sceptics See: https://anthropocenereality.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/a-brief-history-of-climate-change-scepticism/

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It’s ‘Game Over’ for Fossil Fuels

bookcoverleggettI’d really like to think oil companies will soon admit the game is up: The extraction of fossil fuels is going to become increasingly financially uneconomic and socially unacceptable. After all, it is almost 4 months since Mark Carney said as much at the Bank of England: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/09/30/bank-england-head-warns-potentially-huge-risks-literally-unburnable-fossil-fuel It is also 20 months since Lloyds of London urged financial investors to consider the risks of continuing to back fossil fuels: http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/05/09/insurers-should-consider-climate-risks-says-lloyds-of-london/ No wonder academics that have watched 50% of the Great Barrier Reef disappear in the last 30 years – and say it will all be gone in another 20 years – are almost reduced to tears: ‘Does Australia Care About Saving The Great Barrier Reef?’ (Andrew McMillen, in GQ Australia, 18 January 2016) The Guardian may be five years late with it’s warning that humanity has now delayed the onset of the next Ice Age by 100 thousand years – a prospect first highlighted by the Geological Society of London in 2010 – but this is no excuse for the oil industry to continue to deny the nature of reality. The game is up. Now is the time to invest in non-fossil alternatives that could even make Forumla1 carbon neutral. Alternatives like the mixed alcohol fuels being produced by Bioroot Energy: Fuels that can be created from any waste product containing carbon. http://www.biorootenergy.com/about/ This is the hydrocarbon equivalent of the nuclear industry’s Fast Breeder Reactor, which could burn all the world’s nuclear waste and the 99% of the Earth’s uranium that a conventional reactor cannot burn and, when we’re through with all of that, we could extract uranium from seawater… https://anthropocenereality.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/our-three-biggest-problems-solved/

Posted in Anthropocene, Climate Science, Denial, Energy Crisis, Environment, Financial Crisis, Fossil Fuels, Palaeoclimatology, Politics, Renewable Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment