Thursday, December 31, 2015

El Diablo's Weird Weather To Bring Floods to Lower Mississippi Valley.

AGW + El Niño → El Diablo (first coined by Andy Lee Robinson, here).

It should be common knowledge now what an El Niño is.

And as everyone ought to know but most deny -- AGW is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, sending excess Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate of 3 ppm per year.  We don't need to use fossil fuels, of course. Wind, solar, hydro can Carbon-free substitutes for electricity-generation fossil fuels, usually coal and natural gas. It'll be a long and difficult transition requiring heroic efforts to get off of our dependency on fossil fuels, but it's doable so long as there is the political will to do it. Plus, they need subsidies, of course. But then again, fossil fuels are also being subsidized, at a rate of $5 Trillion a year.

And a tip o' the hat to Robertscribbler - I stole the following paragraph from him! ;^)

To be very clear, though, we have replacements for fossil fuels now already. And there are vast political and economic forces that are still arrayed against them despite the obvious proof of the old fuel’s terribly destructive nature occurring in these freak weather and climate events now, globally, on a nearly daily basis. So it’s not just a new energy source that is needed, we have some of those already. And it’s not just an obvious crisis that’s affecting people everywhere. It’s the fall of an old, powerful, and now very destructive order that is necessary. An order that is pervasive and influential as any that has ever existed.

And as long as this old order continues not lead, not follow refuse to get out of the way, and propagandize and bamboozle the public, we will continue to burn fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow, until economic reality -- that is, the bottom line -- intervenes and makes it too expensive to profitably extract or mine fossil fuels and sell it at a price the end consumer can afford.

And so long as we burn fossil fuels, we will continue to increase the Carbon Dioxide content in the Atmosphere, and continue to contribute to and aggravate Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). And with AGW comes weird weather, which will get weirder and weirder, and worse and worse, until the climate restabil-izes.

And speaking of weird weather: the floods in the Mississippi, as well in other rivers such as the Ohio and the Arkansas, are going to endure a spell.

Long-duration Mississippi River Flood event underway

Terry Pinder, Daily Kos
30 December 2015

Heavy rains from Christmas week have drained into the Mississippi, forcing it to rise substantially.  This is a significant Mississippi River flood from about St. Louis southward.

This flood will last well into January.

This is just the Mississippi. The Ohio and the Arkansas, both of which empty into the Mississippi, are also both in flood, cresting not until early next week.

Jeff Masters writes:
On January 20, the flood crest is expected to arrive in New Orleans, bringing the Mississippi River to its 17-foot flood stage in the city, just 3 feet below the tops of the levees. In past years, though, when the river has been forecast to rise to 17 feet in the city, the Army Corps of Engineers has opened up the Bonnet Carre Spillway in St. Charles Parish, which diverts water into Lake Pontchartrain and keeps the river from reaching flood stage in New Orleans. The Corps may also be forced to open the Morganza Floodway in Pointe Coupee Parish, which would divert water down the Atchafalaya River.... The Corps also has the option of increasing the flow of Mississippi River water into the Atchafalaya at the Old River Control Structure in Concordia Parish

The Army Corp actually does know what level of flood will destroy Old River Control, wash Morgan City (which sits at the mouth of the Atchafalaya) into the Gulf and leave Baton Rouge and New Orleans on a fetid, salty swamp arm. You can read about it here.  Luckily this flood, this time, does not appear to be the one.

I have concerns that this will not be the end of it. The atmosphere is giving signs that it will shift in the next couple weeks—the Great Pacific Warm Blob that killed so much sea life and influenced much of the weather for the last couple years across North America is finally dead and El Niño is locked in.  It is going to get wet in southern California and the Southwest---and points east.

Typical El Niño effects. Source:

Points East, meaning: the Great Plains, Texas and Dixieland. Well during an El Nino event, the US Gulf Coast and Southeast are supposed to be cool and wet. Until last night, it's been mostly warm and wet. Now for a short while at least, it's going to be cold and wet like a dog's nose. :^(

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It's Happening!

Climate change is paying no attention to Peak Oil -- other than respond positively (read: negatively, for us humans and all other creatures) -- as the present production peak, which may be followed by yet another, higher peak when Iran's oil production comes on line to the market, will spew more CO2 than ever into the atmosphere, assuming the demand that has been destroyed is resurrected. Otherwise the glut of oil will just pile up in storage. But eventually it will be burnt; it's a question of when. The added carbon dioxide, along with the beginning of the failure of so many carbon sinks, has will help the atmospheric carbon dioxide increase to accelerate, as it just did this past year: 4 ppm year-over-year.

Non-tropical Cyclone Frank. Current Pressure 928 mb.
This storm is the size of Europe and is as strong as a major hurricane.
Source: dtlange at Robertscribbler.

Anyway, one of the responses is this wicked non-tropical cyclone the size of Europe in the North Atlantic that has bombed out to 928 mb -- Major Hurricane strength, bringing rain and above-freezing temperatures (34 degrees F = 1 C last night) to the North Pole. Robertscribbler, now the bard of climate change reporters, has this to say:

Warm Storm Brings Rain Over Arctic Sea Ice in Winter
By Robertscribbler, 29 December 2015

The Starks were wrong. Winter isn’t coming. It’s dying.

As The Atlantic so aptly notes, the hottest year in the global climate record is ending with a Storm that will Unfreeze the North Pole. A warm storm that is now predicted to bring never-before-seen above freezing temperatures in the range of 32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit for the highest Latitude in the Northern Hemisphere by afternoon tomorrow. A storm expected to dump six inches of rain and bring 80 mile per hour winds to a Northern England already suffering the worst flooding events in all of its long history. A storm that will rage ashore in Iceland packing 90-100 mile per hour winds and hurl both heavy rains and snows across that volcanic isle.

The impacts of this storm, which the UK Met Office is now calling Frank, could well be tremendous. Cumbria in Northern England may be set to experience yet another ‘worst flood on record’ — one of three occurring just this month. And the 920 mb range central low of this sprawling system is forecast to rip through the heart of Iceland itself. But the more visible risk of damages to England and Iceland may well pale in comparison to the quiet, yet drastic impacts taking place in the far north. 
As the first front of warm air proceeded over the ice pack to the north of Svalbard, the rains fell through 35-40 degree (F) air temperatures. It splattered upon Arctic Ocean ice that rarely even sees rain during summer-time. Its soft pitter-patter a whisper that may well be the sound to mark the end of a geological age.

What does the beginning of the end of Winter sound like? It’s the soft splash of rain over Arctic Ocean sea ice during what should be its coldest season.
What will Russia do when they can no longer depend on General Winter to kick hordes of invading armies out, like they've had for so long, at least since Napoleon's time.

Of course, Eurasia is not the only place affected by all this weird weather caused by El Nino and a meandering Jet Stream. The Christmas Weekend Storm of the Four Seasons over the US midsection is sending an immense amount of floodwater down Midwestern watercourses into the Mississppi River, flooding lots of floodplains as it goes.

When the water reaches New Orleans about the time of the Martin Luther King holiday. On its way there, it will pass the Old River Control Structure, which keeps the Mississippi from escaping down the Atchafalaya and which almost failed in the 1973 spring flood, and put it to the second worst flood level ever. And although they do not yet anticipate it, the Army Corps of Engineers might open up the Bonnet Carre Spillway and the Morganza Spillway to relieve pressure on this structure and the floodwalls and embankment levees in front of New Orleans.

And this is just two of the many, many meterological phenomena (weather events) which attest to climate change, like the changing intensity of rainfall over England, whose North is badly flooded now: that global warming is happening just as the climate scientists in the past predicted it would

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Why COP 21 Is a Fraud... Last Part.

Well I've exposited why COP 21 is a fraud, and let John Michael Greer have his say, mainly because it's targets for emissions curbs are non-binding, because there is no commitment to not continue using fossil fuels, and because countries are going ahead with fossil fuel reserve exploitation and other fossil fuel energy projects anyway. Another reason comes from an old study: that the present (2005 = +/-376 ppmV) overburden of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere will break the 2.0 degrees C (3.6 F) limit anyway.
Atmospheric CO2 is rising around 1.9 ppm per year, up from a pre-industrial level of 280 ppm by volume.
Source: Wikimedia Commons via Tom Murphy, Do the Math.

On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenges ahead.

V. Ramanathan and Y. Feng
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego

Edited by William C. Clark
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved July 24, 2008


The observed increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) since the preindustrial era has most likely committed the world to a warming of 2.4°C (1.4°C to 4.3°C) above the preindustrial surface temperatures. The committed warming is inferred from the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of the greenhouse forcing and climate sensitivity. The estimated warming of 2.4°C is the equilibrium warming above preindustrial temperatures that the world will observe even if GHG concentrations are held fixed at their 2005 concentration levels but without any other anthropogenic forcing such as the cooling effect of aerosols. The range of 1.4°C to 4.3°C in the committed warming overlaps and surpasses the currently perceived threshold range of 1°C to 3°C for dangerous anthropogenic interference with many of the climate-tipping elements such as the summer arctic sea ice, Himalayan–Tibetan glaciers, and the Greenland Ice Sheet. IPCC models suggest that ≈25% (0.6°C) of the committed warming has been realized as of now. About 90% or more of the rest of the committed warming of 1.6°C will unfold during the 21st century, determined by the rate of the unmasking of the aerosol cooling effect by air pollution abatement laws and by the rate of release of the GHGs-forcing stored in the oceans. The accompanying sea-level rise can continue for more than several centuries. Lastly, even the most aggressive CO2 mitigation steps as envisioned now can only limit further additions to the committed warming, but not reduce the already committed GHGs warming of 2.4°C.
I repeat the finding of the above study, that with the 2005 Atmospheric content of about 376 ppmV CO2, there is already 2.4 C (4.3 F) degrees of global warming baked in the cake. We've gone through about half that now.

And even what global warming we've passed through so far appears to be just too much to avoid global weirding and dangerous climate change, what with the Christmas weekend storms (with tornadoes) that left so much rain on the Mid-South and Great Plains that the Mississippi will be experiencing historic levels of flooding over the next few weeks. The place to watch may not St. Louis, or New Orleans, but the Old River Control Structure that keeps the Mississippi from escaping down the Atchafalaya River. That structure almost failed in the famous 1973 floods. Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground reports that the NWS River Forecast Center predicts that "the Mississippi River would crest at Red River Landing, where the Old River Control Structure is located, on January 19. The predicted crest of 62.5' is just 0.9' below the all-time record crest of 63.39' set on May 18, 2011."

The global weirding we've experienced so far has wrecked the climates of the Arctic, as Robertscribbler reports:

Record Hot Arctic: NOAA’s 2015 Report Card Shows Signs of Failing Climates

by Robertscribbler,  21 December 2015

In NOAA’s most recent annual Arctic Report Card, the records just keep falling as the litany of global warming related events appearing throughout the far north continued to crop up with ever-more dizzying frequency...

NOAA’s Arctic report is a stark expose of the state of the Arctic climate. What we view now is a system undergoing a rapid and dynamic transition from its previously stable state to something that is entirely new and alien to human civilization.

The 12 month period of October 2014 to September 2015 was the hottest one year time-frame since record keeping began for the Arctic back in 1900. As a result of these record warm temperatures, Arctic sea ice during the Winter hit its lowest maximum extent ever seen. Summer sea ice extent was likewise greatly reduced hitting its 4th lowest extent ever recorded. Old, thick sea ice which represented 20 percent of the ice pack in 1985, has precipitously declined to a mere 3 percent of the ice pack today. Snow cover also took a hit, declining to its second lowest extent on record during 2015 and striking a range of 50 percent below the typical average for the month.

Overall warming of the Arctic is at a much more rapid pace than the rest of the world. This accelerated pace of warming is due, in large part, to loss of snow and sea ice reflectivity during the Spring and Summer months. As a result, more heat is absorbed into dark land and ocean surfaces — a heat that is retained throughout the Arctic over longer and longer periods. And, though NOAA doesn’t report it in the above video, overall higher concentrations of greenhouse gasses like methane and CO2 in or near the Arctic region also contribute to a higher rate of warming (see NOAA’s ESRL figures). In a world that is now rapidly proceeding beyond the 400 ppm CO2 and 485 ppm CO2e threshold, this is exactly the kind of Northern Hemisphere polar amplification we would expect to see.
And this record hot Arctic, acting in concert with El Nino and The Blob (record warm water and high pressure air out in the Pacific), is spawning a wicked frontal system possessing multiple lows, hurricane-force winds and an area the size of small continents (examples.: Europe, Australia). This system is just one of the first h'ors d'oeuvres in the just-commencing multiple course meal of dangerous climate change that Jim Hansen called The Storms of My Grandchildren. I do not expect these storms to cease until the overheating of the planet finally reaches an equilibrium a thousand years from now.
Warm Arctic Storm To Hurl Hurricane Force Winds at UK and Iceland, Push Temps to 36-72+ Degrees (F) Above Normal at North Pole

by Robertscribbler, 27 December 2015

We’ve probably never seen weather like what’s being predicted for a vast region stretching from the North Atlantic to the North Pole and on into the broader Arctic this coming week. But it’s all in the forecast — an Icelandic low that’s stronger than most hurricanes featuring a wind field stretching over hundreds and hundreds of miles. One that taps warm tropical air and hurls it all the way to the North Pole and beyond during Winter time. And it all just reeks of a human-forced warming of the Earth’s climate…
Sunday afternoon, a powerful, hurricane force low pressure system was in the process of rounding the southern tip of Greenland. This burly 960 mb beast roared out of an increasingly unstable Baffin Bay on Christmas. As it rounded Greenland and entered the North Atlantic, it pulled behind it a thousand-mile-wide gale force wind field even as it lashed the tip of Greenland with Hurricane force gusts. To its east, the storm now links with three other lows. Lows that are, even now, drawing south-to-north winds up from a region just west of Gibraltar, on past the UK, up beyond Iceland, over Svalbard, and into the Arctic Ocean itself.
GFS forecasts predict a storm bombing out between 920 and 930 mb over Iceland by Wednesday. It’s a storm that could rival some of the strongest such systems ever recorded for the North Atlantic. But this storm’s influence is unique in its potential to shove an unprecedented amount of warm air into the Arctic. A warm storm for the Arctic Winter time.
Over the next few days these three lows are predicted to combine into a storm the likes of which the far North Atlantic rarely ever sees. This storm is expected to center over Iceland. But it will have far-reaching impacts ranging from the UK and on north to the pole itself. As the lows combine, GFS predicts them to bomb out into an unprecedentedly deep low featuring 920 to 930 mb (and possibly lower) minimum central pressures by this coming Wednesday. These pressures are comparable to the very extreme storm systems that raged through the North Atlantic during the Winter of 2013. Systems that featured minimum pressures in the range of 928 to 930 mb.
It’s worth noting that the lowest pressure ever recorded for the North Atlantic occurred in the much further southward forming Hurricane Wilma at 882 mb.
By early Wednesday, temperatures at the North Pole are expected to exceed 1 degree Celsius readings. Such temperatures are in the range of more than 40 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit) above average.
And it's not just storms we have to worry about. It's also wicked bad droughts, like the one California recently experienced for the past four years -- and is still experiencing to some degree and in some areas.

A study was made for California’s millions of trees and it looks like the drought stress on them has been extremely bad: bad enough to cause about half of them to be so water stressed that they’ll die if the drought comes back.

California’s Future Is in the Hands of Its Dying Trees
Newsweek – By Zoë Schlanger 29 December 2015

The past four years of punishing drought have badly hurt California’s forests. Rain was scarce, the days were too hot, and this year’s wildfire season was the worst anyone has seen in years, burning up nearly 10 million acres across the West. For the first time, a team of researchers has measured the severity of the blow the drought dealt the trees, uncovering potential future destruction in the process. The resulting paper, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a rich visual testament to just how much California needs its trees and how close the state is to losing 58 million of them.

A team at the Carnegie Institution for Science, led by ecologist Greg Asner, used a laser-guided imaging tool, more properly referred to as high-fidelity imaging spectroscopy (HiFIS), mounted on a plane to sweep over California, taking snapshots that revealed how much water content the forest canopy had lost over time. In these images, the trees that appear red and orange are severely depleted of water. Light trees, in shades of tan, are trees under “drought stress” resulting from this past year’s dry season. The trees colored in blue are “doing OK,” Asner says.

In total, the team found that up to 58 million large trees, shown in red, have been heavily impacted by the drought. If the drought recurs, or if the El Niño keeps the heat turned up in the region, Asner says these trees will likely die. New tree growth would also be suppressed, leaving room for shrublands or grasslands to take over, destroying the current ecosystem of plants and animals entirely. That poses a host of new questions for wildlife management and conservation. “For example,” Asner says, “if we’re going to lose habitat, what does that mean for bear populations?”

Of course, it's not just California. As Colorado Bob said to me today, Every tree everywhere is under attack. All over the world.

And this, at only half of the 2.4 degree Celsius temperature rise (+4.3 F) that we've already baked into the cake of Anthropogenic Global Warming. And Peak Oil won't reduce it, not one iota!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Methane Leak indicated portential problem for industrial-type Carbon Capture and Storage.

Tom Murphy of the UCSD Physics Department has an interesting post on his Do The Math blog on carbon capture and storage. One method is trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) dissolved in water and absorbed into sheets. A diagram shows that the CO2 reacts with the NaOH to create carbonate solids and water. A natural gas flame then cooks the solids to liberate the carbon as CO2, which is then filtered out and pumped under appropriate pressure into a "safe place," such as an underground oil reservoir.

He has included the sketch shown below:

Source: Carbon Engineering; Credit: Nelson Hsu, NPR -
via Do The Math, "Putting the Genie back in the Toothpaste Tube"
Well there's been a recent natural gas (methane - CH4) storage chamber in an old depleted oil well at Aliso Canyon in Southern California that's been leaking methane for quite a few days now. It appears that simply capping it will not be an option; a relief well will have to be drilled instead.

Why Engineers Can’t Stop Los Angeles’ Enormous Methane Leak

“Our efforts to stop the flow of gas by pumping fluids directly down the well have not yet been successful, so we have shifted our focus to stopping the leak through a relief well,” Anne Silva, a spokesperson for the Southern California Gas Company, told Motherboard, adding that the company is still exploring other options to stop the leak. “The relief well process is on schedule to be completed by late February or late March.”

Part of the problem in stopping the leak lies in the base of the well, which sits 8,000 feet underground. Pumping fluids down into the will, usually the normal recourse, just isn’t working…

So far, over 150 million pounds of methane have been released by the leak, which connects to an enormous underground containment system. Silva says that the cause of the leak is still unknown, but research by EDF has also revealed that more than 38 percent of the pipes in Southern California Gas Company’s territory are more than 50 years old, and 16 percent are made of made from corrosion- and leak-prone materials.

Right now, relief efforts have drilled only 3,800 feet down—less than half of the way to the base of the well. At that rate, the torrent of methane pouring into California won’t be stopped any time soon. -- hat tip to dtlange at Robertscribbler.
Let's see... doing the math, 150 million pounds is 70,000 US tons or 68,000 metric tons, i.e., 68 kT. That's not much for a total atmospheric methane burden of about 5 GT (5 billion metric tons) but we should be aware that there may be escaping gas problems in the future with industrial carbon capture and storage, especially if we try to capture as much CO2 and stuff into the spent wells as would fit in there.

Plus we must remember the Macondo Well (Deep Horizon) Blowout let 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3) with approximate mass/weight of  1.5 billion pounds or 670 kT of crude oil, an unknown amount of methane into the Gulf of Mexico, chased by 1.84 million gallons of "Corexit." The Louisiana marshes and the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida Gulf Coasts were very much adversely affected and fouled by this, ecologically they are still not as healthy as they would be otherwise.

Then, of course, is the amount of CO2 created by the combustion of natural gas, the making of the sodium hydroxide, the operation of the carbon dioxide capture apparatus and the final storage of the CO2. Tom Murphy figured that the amount of CO2 created by power required for the capture and storage of carbon dioxide and related work is about 50 kg CO2 for every 350 kg captured and stored -- then he did a reality check and found he was off by 3.6 times on the optimistic side, which means the amount captured and stored would be about double the amount generated by the capture and storage machinery! Considering we have billions and billions of metric tons of Carbon that must be pulled out of the air to achieve the 2 degrees C (over 1880s values) goal of limited global warming, my gut feeling tells me that might not able to be done, given the limited amount of fossil fuel reserves left in the ground so far.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dios mío! El cambio climático!

"My God! The Climate Change!," exclaimed a Shorecrest (Miami) resident in Spanish to Ms. Nicole Hernandez Hammer with the Union of Concerned Scientists one day this past October, about a month past the blood Supermoon in September. That day, like on other days with high-tide inundations before it, the water was coming out of the storm drains and into the street -- even out of the ground and onto the front lawns of people's houses,  I have a friend in Oakland Park who used to live in Shorecrest -- NE 84th Street to be exact. And now the Miami metropolitan area, in fact the whole of South Florida, will have to be abandoned in about two decades due to sea-level rise. In fact, there may be divestment in Shorecrest already -- there is a vacant lot at the corner of NE 79th Street and 10th Avenue, where a multifamily or commercial building once stood.

At the same time, Florida Governor Rick Scott denies there is any climate change happening and has even instructed the engineers, researchers and scientists under the state's employ or contract to not mention the term "climate change" or even sea level rise, but instead, if they must mention anything of the sort, couch them in more innocuous terms like "nusiance flooding" for tidal inundations from sea-level rise. You can't make this stuff up! When such flooding occurs, the irony, as Al Gore said at the time, "is just excruciatingly painful."

And you can't build embankments in Miami to keep out the sea... all the bedrock is porous limestone!

The Siege of Miami

Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker.  
The city of Miami Beach floods on such a predictable basis that if, out of curiosity or sheer perversity, a person wants to she can plan a visit to coincide with an inundation. Knowing the tides would be high around the time of the “super blood moon,” in late September, I arranged to meet up with Hal Wanless, the chairman of the University of Miami’s geological-sciences department. Wanless, who is seventy-three, has spent nearly half a century studying how South Florida came into being. From this, he’s concluded that much of the region may have less than half a century more to go. 
We had breakfast at a greasy spoon not far from Wanless’s office, then set off across the MacArthur Causeway. (Out-of-towners often assume that Miami Beach is part of Miami, but it’s situated on a separate island, a few miles off the coast.) It was a hot, breathless day, with a brilliant blue sky. Wanless turned onto a side street, and soon we were confronting a pond-sized puddle. Water gushed down the road and into an underground garage. We stopped in front of a four-story apartment building, which was surrounded by a groomed lawn. Water seemed to be bubbling out of the turf. Wanless took off his shoes and socks and pulled on a pair of polypropylene booties. As he stepped out of the car, a woman rushed over. She asked if he worked for the city. He said he did not, an answer that seemed to disappoint but not deter her. She gestured at a palm tree that was sticking out of the drowned grass.

“Look at our yard, at the landscaping,” she said. “That palm tree was super-expensive.” She went on, “It’s crazy—this is saltwater.” 
“Welcome to rising sea levels,” Wanless told her. 
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea levels could rise by more than three feet by the end of this century. The United States Army Corps of Engineers projects that they could rise by as much as five feet; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts up to six and a half feet. According to Wanless, all these projections are probably low. In his office, Wanless keeps a jar of meltwater he collected from the Greenland ice sheet. He likes to point out that there is plenty more where that came from. 
“Many geologists, we’re looking at the possibility of a ten-to-thirty-foot range by the end of the century,” he told me.

I went to the University of Miami back in the day. And about two decades from now -- it is laible to look like this: six feet of sea level rise flooding a considerable amount of land, with a lot of campus buildings having "wet feet." A lot of Miami-Dade County -- not to mention Broward -- will be a lot worse off, requiring complete evacuations and wholesale abandonments of all but the highest areas.

A lot of this "nusiance flooding" is being caused by the backing-up of the Gulf Stream due to meltwater pulses from Greenland. The Sea Level in Miami is rising at an inch a year due to this.  But Miami is not the only place that's getting flooded -- strong storms caused by the temperature gradient between the warm middle North Atlantic and the cold waters around Greenland are pummelling the UK.

Floods of a biblical proportion leave cities, towns and villages under water

Robin McKie The Guardian
It was the day the floodwaters inexorably advanced across the Pennines, leaving much of the north of England sodden and beleaguered. From Greater Manchester in the north-west to parts of North Yorkshire some 50 miles to the east, Boxing Day 2015 will be remembered as the day the rains came. 
In Todmorden, in West Yorkshire’s Calder Valley, Rebecca Marshall was last night facing the grim prospect of having to abandon her home as the floodwaters slowly rose around her house. The incessant rains had left the little town cut off after all the roads in and out were flooded. 
By late afternoon the waters were “inches” from the top of the local defence wall and Marshall was stuck inside her home without electricity. Then floodwaters started to rise through her floorboards. “At the moment in our house it’s ankle-deep,” she said. 
“There’s about three feet of water outside our door. With no electricity we will have to move out. However, I don’t think we can get out of the town. All the roads in and out of Todmorden have been closed. Fortunately we have had friends and family turn up from all over the place offering to help.”

It got so bad in the city of York, that the authorities had to raise flood barriers.

York's Fight Against Flooding As Barrier Raised

Thousands of homes are being evacuated in York, since the flood barrier protecting the town was lifted last night. 
The Environment Agency said it was forced to lift the Foss flood barrier after water entered the building, putting pumps in danger of failing due to electrical problems. 
If the barrier became stuck in the 'down' position, it would not have been able to discharge water into the River Ouse. 
So the agency made the decision to lift it, warning residents in the city centre to move valuables to upper floors and prepare to leave their homes.

The flooding is so bad in Midland and Northern England, that bridges could collapse, taking the structures built thereon (it's a European habit before the twentieth century) with them. And there's a "hurricane" still to come.

And the Mississippi River will reach flood stage at New Orleans around Martin Luther King Day due to all the recent rains in the Great Plains and the Midwest and Mid-South. Let's hope the levees hold.

These events, and others like them, shows that adapting to climate change is not going to merely cost chump change. A lot or resources, including energy resources, will have to go into this. Has anyone figured that peak oil, and peak coal and gas, may restrict the availability of these resources?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

An Archdruid weighs in: COP21 is too little, too late.

Source: Wordless Music.

And he doesn't beat around the bush. The COP 21 conference didn't deal with the necessity to rapidly zeroing out fossil fuels as soon as possible -- mainly because to accomplish that we'd probably have to cut back our energy consumption by some-odd 90%. Such a low energy demand will certainly not support our current automobile-centric way of life and such a drop in energy consumption en masse will really throw a monkey wrench into the domestic economy as well as the global one. Not to mention that individuals who would do such a cutback in consumption would not be able to get along in today's culture, and would be the objects of near universal opprobrium, to boot. Even amongst the greenies, many of whom think driving an SUV is okay, so long as it's a hybrid, and lighting your house up like a shopping mall at night is okay, so long as you use low-energy bulbs.

So we have too much, too little, too late: too much carbon still being burnt as well as left to remain in the air, too little action planned in response to predicted climate change, and too late to stop dangerous climate change anyway.

So without further ado, I am guest-posting his lates. Enjoy! Feel free to comment at the bottom of this post, or here, or here.

Too Little, Too Late

Guest post by John Michael Greer, 23 December 2015

Last week, after a great deal of debate, the passengers aboard theTitanic voted to impose modest limits sometime soon on the rate at which water is pouring into the doomed ship’s hull. Despite the torrents of self-congratulatory rhetoric currently flooding into the media from the White House and an assortment of groups on the domesticated end of the environmental movement, that’s the sum of what happened at the COP-21 conference in Paris. It’s a spectacle worth observing, and not only for those of us who are connoisseurs of irony; the factors that drove COP-21 to the latest round of nonsolutions are among the most potent forces shoving industrial civilization on its one-way trip to history’s compost bin.

The core issues up for debate at the Paris meeting were the same that have been rehashed endlessly at previous climate conferences. The consequences of continuing to treat the atmosphere as a gaseous sewer for humanity’s pollutants are becoming increasingly hard to ignore, but nearly everything that defines a modern industrial economy as “modern” and “industrial” produces greenhouse gases, and the continued growth of the world’s modern industrial economies remains the keystone of economic policy around the world. The goal pursued by negotiators at this and previous climate conferences, then, is to find some way to do something about anthropogenic global warming that won’t place any kind of restrictions on economic growth.

What that means in practice is that the world’s nations have more or less committed themselves to limit the rate at which the dumping of greenhouse gases will increase over the next fifteen years. I’d encourage those of my readers who think anything important was accomplished at the Paris conference to read that sentence again, and think about what it implies. The agreement that came out of COP-21 doesn’t commit anybody to stop dumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, now or at any point in the future. It doesn’t even commit anybody to set a fixed annual output that will not be exceeded. It simply commits the world’s nations to slow down the rate at which they’re increasing their dumping of greenhouse gases. If this doesn’t sound to you like a recipe for saving the world, let’s just say you’re not alone.

It wasn’t exactly encouraging that the immediate aftermath of the COP-21 agreement was a feeding frenzy among those industries most likely to profit from modest cuts in greenhouse gas consumption—yes, those would be the renewable-energy and nuclear industries, with some efforts to get scraps from the table by proponents of “clean coal,” geoengineering, fusion-power research, and a few other subsidy dumpsters of the same sort. Naomi Oreskes, a writer for whom I used to have a certain degree of respect, published a crassly manipulative screed insisting that anybody who questioned the claim that renewable-energy technologies could keep industrial society powered forever was engaged in, ahem, “a new form of climate denialism.” She was more than matched, to be fair, by a chorus of meretricious shills for the nuclear industry, who were just as quick to insist that renewables couldn’t be scaled up fast enough and nuclear power was the only alternative.

The shills in question are quite correct, as it happens, that renewable energy can’t be scaled up fast enough to replace fossil fuels; they could have said with equal truth that renewable energy can’t be scaled up far enough to accomplish that daunting task. The little detail they’re evading is that nuclear power can’t be scaled up far enough or fast enough, either. What’s more, however great they look on paper or PowerPoint, neither nuclear power nor grid-scale renewable power are economically viable in the real world. The evidence for this is as simple as it is conclusive: no nation anywhere on the planet has managed either one without vast and continuing government subsidies. Lacking those, neither one makes enough economic sense to be worth building, because neither one can provide the kind of cheap abundant electrical power that makes a modern industrial society possible.

Say this in the kind of company that takes global climate change seriously, of course, and if you aren’t simply shouted down by those present—and of course this is the most common response—you can expect to hear someone say, “Well, something has to do it.” Right there you can see the lethal blindness that pervades nearly all contemporary debates about the future, because it’s simply not true that something has to do it.  No divine providence nor any law of nature guarantees that human beings must have access to as much cheap abundant electricity as they happen to want.

Stated thus baldly, that may seem like common sense, but that sort of sense is far from common these days, even—or especially—among those people who think they’re grappling with the hard realities of the future. Here’s a useful example. One of this blog’s readers—tip of the archdruidical hat to Antroposcen—made an elegant short film that was shown at a climate-themed film festival in Paris while the COP-21 meeting was slouching toward its pointless end. The film is titled A Message from the Past, and as the title suggests, it portrays an incident from a future on the far side of global climate change. I encourage my readers to click through and watch it now; it’s only a few minutes long, and its point will be perfectly clear to any regular reader of this blog. 

The audience at the film festival, though, found it incomprehensible. The nearest they came to making sense of it was to guess that, despite the title, it was about a message from our time that had somehow found its way to the distant past. The thought that the future on the far side of global climate change might have some resemblance to the preindustrial past—that people in that future, in the wake of the immense collective catastrophes our actions are busy creating for them, might wear handmade clothing of primitive cut and find surviving scraps of our technologies baffling relics of a bygone time—seems to have been wholly beyond the grasp of their imaginations.

Two factors make this blindness to an entire spectrum of probable futures astonishing. The first is that not that long ago, plenty of people in the climate change activism scene were talking openly about the possibility that uncontrolled climate change could stomp industrial society with the inevitability of a boot descending on an eggshell. I’m thinking here, among other examples, of the much-repeated claim by James Lovelock a few years back that the likely outcome of global climate change, if nothing was done, was heat so severe that the only human survivors a few centuries from now would be “a few hundred breeding pairs” huddled around the shores of the Arctic Ocean.

It used to be all the rage in climate change literature to go on at length about the ghastly future that would be ours if global temperatures warmed far enough to trigger serious methane releases from northern permafrost, tip one or more of the planet’s remaining ice sheets into rapid collapse, and send sea water rising to drown low-lying regions. Lurid scenarios of civilizational collapse and mass dieoff appeared in book after lavishly marketed book. Of late, though, that entire theme seems to have dropped out of the collective imagination of the activist community, to be replaced by strident claims that everything will be just fine if we ignore the hard lessons of the last thirty years of attempted renewable-energy buildouts and fling every available dollar, euro, yuan, etc. into subsidies for an even more grandiose wave of uneconomical renewable-energy powerplants.

The second factor is even more remarkable, and it’s the existence of that first factor that makes it so. Those methane releases, rising seas, and collapsing ice sheets? They’re no longer confined to the pages of remaindered global warming books. They’re happening in the real world, right now.

Methane releases? Check out the massive craters blown out of Siberian permafrost in the last few years by huge methane burps, or the way the Arctic Ocean fizzes every summer like a freshly poured soda as underwater methane deposits get destabilized by rising temperatures. Methane isn’t the world-wrecking ultrapollutant that a certain class of apocalyptic fantasy likes to imagine, mostly because it doesn’t last long in the atmosphere—the average lifespan of a methane molecule once it seeps out of the permafrost is about ten years—but while it’s there, it traps heat much more effectively than carbon dioxide. The Arctic is already warming far more drastically than any other region of the planet, and the nice thick blanket of methane with which it’s wrapped itself is an important part of the reason why.

Those methane releases make a great example of the sudden stop that overtook discussions of the harsh future ahead of us, once that future started to arrive. Before they began to occur, methane releases played a huge role in climate change literature—Mark Lynas’ colorful and heavily marketed book Six Degrees is only one of many examples. Once the methane releases actually got under way, as I noted in a post here some years ago, most activists abruptly stopped talking about it, and references to methane on the doomward end of the blogosphere started fielding dismissive comments by climate-change mavens insisting that methane doesn’t matter and carbon dioxide is the thing to watch.

Rising seas? You can watch that in action in low-lying coastal regions anywhere in the world, but for a convenient close-up, pay a visit to Miami Beach, Florida. You’ll want to do that quickly, though, while it’s still there. Sea levels off Florida have been rising about an inch a year, and southern Florida, Miami Beach included, is built on porous limestone.  These days, as a result, whenever an unusually high tide combines with a strong onshore wind, salt water comes bubbling up from the storm sewers and seeping right out of the ground, and the streets of Miami Beach end up hubcap-deep in it. Further inland, seawater is infiltrating the aquifer from which southern Florida gets drinking water, and killing plants in low-lying areas near the coast.

The situation in southern Florida gets some press, but I suspect this is because Florida is a red state and the state government’s frantic denial that global warming is happening makes an easy target for humor. The same phenomenon is happening at varying paces elsewhere in the world, as a combination of thermal expansion of warming seawater, runoff from melting glaciers, and a grab-bag of local and regional oceanographic phenomena boosts sea level well above its historic place. Nothing significant is being done about it—to be fair, it’s unlikely that anything significant can be done about it at this point, short of a total moratorium on greenhouse gas generation, and the COP-21 talks made it painfully clear that that’s not going to happen.

Instead, southern Florida faces a fate that’s going to be all too familiar to many millions of people elsewhere in the world over the years ahead. As fresh water runs short and farm and orchard crops die from salt poisoning, mass migration will be the order of the day. Over the short term, southern Florida will gradually turn into salt marsh; look further into the future, and you can see Florida’s ultimate destiny, as a region of shoals, reefs, and islets extending well out into the Gulf of Mexico, with the corroded ruins of skyscrapers rising from the sea here and there as a reminder of the fading past.

Does this sound like science fiction? It’s the inescapable consequence of changes that are already under way. Even if COP-21 had produced an agreement that mattered—say, a binding commitment on the part of all the world’s nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions immediately and lower them to zero by 2030—southern Florida would still be doomed.  The processes that are driving sea levels up can’t turn on a dime; just as it took more than a century of unrestricted atmospheric pollution to begin the flooding of southern Florida, it would take a long time and a great deal of hard work to reverse that, even if the political will was available. As it is, the agreement signed in Paris simply means that the flooding will continue unchecked.

A far more dramatic series of events, meanwhile, is getting under way far north of Florida. Yes, that’s the breakup of the Greenland ice sheet. During the last few summers, as unprecedented warmth gripped the Arctic, rivers of meltwater have begun flowing across Greenland’s glacial surface, plunging into a growing network of chasms and tunnels that riddle the ice sheet like the holes in Swiss cheese. This is new; discussions of Greenland’s ice sheet from as little as five years ago didn’t mention the meltwater rivers at all, much less the hollowing out of the ice. Equally new is the fact that the vast majority of that meltwater isn’t flowing into the ocean—scientists have checked that, using every tool at their disposal up to and including legions of yellow rubber ducks tossed into meltwater streams.

What all this means is that in the decades immediately ahead of us, in all likelihood, we’ll get to see a spectacle no human being has seen since the end of the last ice age: the catastrophic breakup of a major ice sheet. If you got taught in school, as so many American schoolchildren were, that the great glacial sheets of the ice age melted at an imperceptible pace, think again; glaciologists disproved that decades ago. What happens, instead, is a series of sudden collapses that kick the pace of melting into overdrive at unpredictable intervals. What paleoclimatologists call global meltwater pulses—sudden surges of ice and water from collapsing ice sheets—send sea levels soaring by several meters, drowning large tracts of land in an impressively short time.

Ice sheet collapses happen in a variety of ways, and Greenland is very well positioned to enact one of the better documented processes. The vast weight of all that ice pressing down on the crust through the millennia has turned the land beneath the ice into a shallow bowl surrounded by mountains—and that shallow bowl is where all the meltwater is going. Eventually the water will rise high enough to find an outlet to the sea, and when it does, it will begin to flow out—and it will take much of the ice with it.

As that happens, seismographs across the North Atlantic basin will go crazy as Greenland’s ice sheet, tormented beyond endurance by the conflict between gravity and buoyancy, begins to break apart. A first great meltwater surged will vomit anything up to thousands of cubic miles of ice into the ocean. Huge icebergs will drift east and then south on the currents, and release more water as they melt. After that, summer after summer, the process will repeat itself, until some fraction of Greenland’s total ice sheet has been dumped into the ocean. How large a fraction? That’s impossible to know in advance, but all other things being equal, the more greenhouse gases get dumped into the atmosphere, the faster and more complete Greenland’s breakup will be.

The thing to keep in mind here is that the coming global meltwater pulse will have consequences all over the world. Once it happens—and again, the processes that will lead to that event are already well under way, and nothing the world’s industrial nations are willing to do can stop it—it will simply be a matter of time before the statistically inevitable combination of high tides and stormwinds sends sea water flooding into New York City’s subway system and the vast network of underground tunnels that houses much of the city’s infrastructure. Every other coastal city in the world will wait for its own number to come up. No doubt we’ll hear plenty of talk about building vast new flood defenses to keep back the rising waters, but let us please be real; any such project would require years of lead time and almost unimaginable amounts of money, and no nation anywhere in the world is showing the least interest in doing the thing now, when it might still be an option.

There’s a profound irony, in other words, in all the rhetoric from Paris about balancing concerns about the climate with the supposed need for perpetual economic growth. Imagine for a moment just how the coming global meltwater pulse will impact the world economy. Countless trillions of dollars in coastal infrastructure around the world will become “sunk costs” in more than a metaphorical sense; millions of people in low-lying areas such as southern Florida will have to relocate as their homes become uninhabitable, and trillions of dollars of real estate will have its value drop to zero. A galaxy of costs for which nobody is planning will have to be met out of government and business revenue streams that have been hammered by the direct and indirect effects of worldwide coastal flooding.

What’s more, it won’t be a single event, over and done with in a few weeks or months or years.  Every year for decades or centuries to come, more ice and meltwater will go sluicing into the oceans, more coastal cities and regions will face that one seawater surge too many, more costs will have to be met out of what’s left of a global economy that’s running out of functioning deepwater ports among many other things. The result, as I’ve noted in previous posts here, will be the disintegration of everything that counts as business as usual, and the opening phases of the bleak new reality that Frank Landis has sketched out in his harrowing new book Hot Earth Dreams—the best currently available book on what the world will look like in the wake of severe climate change, and thus inevitably ignored by everyone in the current environmental mainstream.(You can read the first five chapters of Landis' book here.)

By the time COP-21’s attendees convened in Paris, it was probably already too late to keep global climate change from spinning completely out of control. The embarrassingly feeble agreement that came out of that event, though, has guaranteed that nothing significant will be done. The hard political and economic realities that made any actual cut in greenhouse gas emissions all but unthinkable are just layers of icing on the cake, part of the predicament of our time—a predicament that defines the words “too little, too late” as our basic approach to the future looming up ahead of us.

And this is why Trump has an excellent chance to be our next president.

Source: CNN.

Putin doesn't mince words when he wants to get a message across. Kind of like Trump's bloody comments about Megyn Kelly.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Greece Needs Your Help

'O Allos Anthropos banner. Source: The Automatic Earth.

Greece is spiraling into a deeper and deeper economic recession and refugee crisis due in no small part to EU/ECB/IMF mandates. So even though I am not part of the "Finance Blogosphere" I am reposting here a call for aid that was posted today on The Automatic Earth.

An Urgent Christmas Call To The Finance Blogosphere

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, 23 December 2015

This is a call-out to the entire -financial- blogosphere to help the Automatic Earth help the poorest Greeks, and the refugees in Greece.
Please repost, rewrite, retweet, donate. Let’s grab our humanity by the horns and not allow this situation to deteriorate even further than it already has. It doesn’t have to.

This -late- spring I went to Athens. Because it seemed a place where things were happening, with Syriza, with Varoufakis in place. It turned out that during my stay, things did happen politically and economically, but not for the good. The EU and IMF crushed the Greek spirit. It was exciting, but then it was not.

Before I left for Greece, I asked our Automatic Earth readers if they would like to add something to the -financial- help I wanted to bring with me; at that time it was already clear that austerity was hitting the Greeks very hard (it’s gotten much worse since). I thought I’d get perhaps a few hundred dollars for the ‘AE for Athens’ fund. As of today, the counter stands at almost $12,000, a humbling number. Now it has become a responsibility.

Because I want to be careful with other people’s money, I’ve donated ‘only’ €5000 so far. And that includes a recent -second- trip I just got back from on Sunday (and no, I don’t pay for the trips from the money donated for Athens). €2000 of this money, I donated to a man I was fortunate to meet and become friends with, Kostas, full name Konstantinos Polychronopoulos. I first wrote about him here: The Man Who Cooks In The Street.

Kostas started -literally- cooking in the street some 4 years ago, something that soon became Social Kitchen ‘O Allos Anthropos’ (the other person, human, human being, the fellow man). As he describes quite eloquently in this little video, Kostas has very lucid ideas about what he aims for. He wants to not just give food to the hungry and homeless of Greece, whose numbers have started to swell rapidly since his effort took off, but also sympathy, and dignity, and simply conversation. ‘We eat together’ is not an empty slogan.

Because of his ideas of how he wants things to be, Kostas refuses to be beholden to governments, NGOs or corporations. Kostas insists he wants his project to be by people, for people, coming from one human being’s empathy for the other. Food for the soul is essential too.

We had an meeting on Saturday night with a group of people he’s gathered around him (there are dozens of volunteers by now, many -formerly- homeless). I donated another €1000 from our fund, but I was primarily interested in how he had been doing since we last met in July. Turns out, ‘The Other Human’ has grown at least 5-fold.

Because of media attention (I was not the only one who contacted him), Kostas gained some fame this year. And ‘offers’. The European Union awarded him a prize, which he -naturally- refused to accept. Coca Cola offered him a six-figure number to put their advertizing all over his operation, but that for him is his soul vs the devil. He also doesn’t want to become an NGO and spend half his time doing paperwork. It must be about people.

Existing NGOs are a story all by themselves in the Greek situation. I have no personal experience with what they do in the country, but I keep on hearing bad stories. Kostas’ people showed me a photo of bowls of food that they say refugees refuse to eat (and dogs too…), but that NGOs want to force on refugees because they get €7 per bowl handed out, from whoever it is that pays them. To compare: Kostas and his crew feed people for €1, max.

A good example of how the ‘locals’ look at the UNHCR, the Red Cross and other NGOs is this video by a native Brit who lives on Lesbos, Eric Kempson: Major Aid Agencies Are Deceiving The General Public on Refugees. Warning: there’s a few select F-words sprinkled in. Eric does angry well.

I was saying before how ‘The Other Human’ had grown at least 5-fold. That is a bit of an understatement. There are 5 now different ‘kitchen teams’ running (vs 1-2 before), and they hand out over 3000 meals a day today instead of the 300 earlier in the year. There simply is that much need. The Greeks themselves are getting poorer, fast, and refugees have become a major ‘target’ group as well.

Kostas began running operations on Lesbos over the summer, and has a team in place there now as well as on Salimani island and 3 different locations in the Athens area. And there’s no doubt he would like to do more.

Before, costs would be covered by food donations and sympathizers giving €5 or €10 a month from what little they have. Between pensions cuts, pay cuts and capital controls, the number of Greeks who have next to nothing rises fast. It’s no exception for former supporters to now come to rely on Kostas for their own food.

Nor is it exceptional for grandmothers to still insist on giving $5 from the €400 that’s all that’s left of their pension. Greeks do solidarity well.

But the numbers are getting out of hand, so many people need help, and it promises to get much worse in 2016, looking at the new austerity measures the troika is forcing upon the country, and the expected numbers of refugees arriving. The donations that used to run ‘The Other Human’ are simply not enough to cover operations any longer, let alone expand them where most needed.

And while the €1000 I donated earlier this year went a -relatively- long way, the second €1000, though at least as much appreciated, won’t go nearly as far. When I was told ‘The Other Human’ have been forced to cancel some cooking events now -for the cold and hungry homeless, for crying out loud, who are increasingly people that used to have jobs and homes and all until recently-, simply because they can’t afford to feed the poor, that actually hurt, and stung. That felt personal.

What we have here is a man who’s devoted his entire life to helping other people, no holds barred. And he’s by no means alone in that. The ‘social kitchens’ run 7 days a week. And if there’s anything I can do to make it possible for Kostas, and his crews, to keep on doing this, the way he sees fit, and they do, I will. I may fail, but it won’t be for lack of trying.

There is the food that needs to be provided, there are transport costs, they need to pay the rent for the building where donated food and blankets etc. come in, and that doubles as a school for homeless kids, as well as a laundry and shower facility for the -longtime and newly- homeless (the troika just forced through a new provision to make it easier for banks to throw people out of their homes in 2016).

Since this has grown beyond the scope of the Automatic Earth alone, I want to appeal to all of you, my friends and ‘competitors’ in the -finance and broader- blogosphere, for your help in what I think is about the worthiest cause there is. People are dying out there, and hurting, not just the babies that drown before they reach Greek shores, but also the ones that make it.

Medical care is crucial, so is schooling, and of course food, and shelter. With Kostas and his large team of volunteers, we have the people in place to provide all of this. What’s missing is the money. Not for them, they ask for nothing for themselves, but for the people they try to help.

There are hundreds of thousands of you who read the Automatic Earth, and our friends at Zero Hedge, Naked Capitalism, Aaron Krowne, Steve Keen, John Rubino, Mish, Jim Kunstler, Max Keiser, BI, Wolf Richter, Jesse’s Café, Davis Stockman, Bruno at Stealthflation, the Transition people, my dear friend Dave Holmgren, and those are just the ones that come to mind in the first few seconds, and that I’ve had personal contact with, and even then I’m still forgetting many (sorry!).

Between us, we should be able to help Kostas do what he thinks must be done. If only simply by drawing our readers’ and friends’ and families’ attention to this. If everyone donates just $5, we can feed and clothe all kids and their moms and donate some humanity for Christmas to those who need it badly. And perhaps for next Christmas too. It’s about the power of numbers, which y’all know about.

What Kostas and I discussed on Saturday is to run this -if there are any donations to begin with, that is- through the Automatic Earth for now, so he doesn’t get bothered up the wazoo by his government.
We may have to change that at some point, but we’ll tackle that one when we get there. For now, this is about saving people’s lives and dignity, today.

The Automatic Earth has a Paypal widget on our front page, top left hand corner. On our Sales and Donations page, there is an address to send money orders and checks if you don’t like Paypal. Our

Bitcoin address is 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.

To tell donations for Kostas apart from those for the Automatic Earth (which badly needs them too!), any amounts that come in ending in either $0.99 or $0.37 (don’t ask), will go to ‘The Other Human’. And no, I don’t cheat either on my friends or the poor -nor anyone else-, you’re going to have to trust me on that one.

If someone would like to start a crowdfunding campaign for the cause, please contact me at: contact •at• TheAutomaticEarth •dot• com.

Jesus was a refugee. Who got help. Tiny Tim got it too. I think I’ll rest my case.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Natural Gas Leak in Southern California Emitting TONS of Methane.

In the first month, 80,000 tons, which make 960,000 tons a year. And the company responsible for the leak is flummoxed as how its crews and contractors are going to fix it.

From Zero Hedge:

California's Worst Gas Leak in 40 Years (and Crews Can't Stop It)

While world leaders signed the ‘historic’ agreement signed in Paris to fix the world’s “greatest threat,” a natural gas storage site in southern California is belching 145,000 pounds per hour of Methane – a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. What is worse, while official proclaim this a “top priority” a fix won’t arrive until spring as emergency crews recognize “the leak was far from routine, and the problem was deeper underground.”
As Wired reports, in just the first month, that’s added up to 80,000 tons, or about a quarter of the state’s ordinary methane emissions over the same period !!!
The Federal Aviation Administration recently banned low-flying planes from flying over the site, since engines plus combustible gas equals kaboom.
And crews can’t set a deliberate fire, also known as flaring, which they often do at other remote areas with excess gas. The leak is so big and the flare would be so hot that it could make the mess even harder to contain.

And from the Wall Street Journal:

Gas Leak Fuels Frustration

Southern California residents go to hotels and students relocate in ninth week of ordeal.

“It’s like we’ve been hit by a Mack truck,” said Paula Cracium, president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council. “Most people didn’t even realize the gas storage field was up there.” The nearest houses are more than a mile from the underground gas-storage field and at approximately 1,200 feet lower elevation.

Of course, 1 MT a year is nothing compared to a 50 GT outburst of Methane from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf clathrates, which according to Russian Arctic field research scientists Natalia Shakharov and Igor Semilitev back in 2012, "could go at any time."

What Earth Would Look Like if All the Ice in the World Melted.

Here are maps of the Earth that shows the shorelines that would exist if all the ice in the world became unfrozen.

Example: Antarctica with no ice. Source:

This wouldn't be a problem if Simon Bar-Sinister caused all the water in the world to  DRY UP! But we'd have a different problem, now, would we?

Since Simon is a cartoon character, we have no fear of that other "problem." But we also should have no fear of the ice-free planetary conditions since the Business As Usual (A1F1 = RCP 8.5) global warming future will not be met due to lack of fossil fuels that can be profitably mined or extracted; still, we should expect to reach about 550 ppm CO2 by Century's end. That will give us minimum 3 to 4 degrees C (5.4 to 7.2 F). Now how much sea level rise will we get?

At 3 C warming, about 25 meters, which yield 80 feet.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

More Evidence that COP21 Is a Fraud.

Impact of national climate pledges (aka INDCs) on world’s greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalents (CO2e). Source: Climate Progress via (modified).
From the Austrian-German Climate and Energy College via Climate Denial Crock of the Week, an assessment that the proposed fossil fuel emission reductions committed to by the individual countries coming into the Paris summit now past would not meet the stated 2 degrees C (3.6 F) above "pre-industrial" (i.e., 1880s) temperatures required limit to avoid extremely dangerous climate change -- even though the summit agreed to peak fossil fuel emissions as soon as possible (i.e., 2020 at the latest) and an even more rigorous goal of 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the year 2100. This goals will require the removal of carbon from the atmosphere by anthropogenically-created carbon sinks (examples, industrial carbon capture and storage, biochar). Yet they trust that the goal is going to be achieved. Since the planned reductions were not enhanced by or at the conference, what confidence do they have in the Paris agreement?

The Paris Agreement writes history.

The crucial Article 4 is: “In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. ”
In our assessment, the Paris Agreement rises to the challenge of limiting dramatic climate change. It sets the framework for a chance to limit multi-metre sea-level rise in the long-term. Individual post-2020 country targets put on the table before Paris are insufficient to the task of limiting warming to 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. The so-called INDCs [intended nationally determined contributions] have not been enhanced here in Paris (they were never meant to be enhanced here because the main focus was on the global agreement). Thus, there exists a big gap between INDCs and the global ambition needed. This will need to be bridged by upgraded mitigation contributions from countries in the years to come.

Joe Romm of Climate Progress notes that the INDCs only run through 2025 or 2030 and that further meqasures will be required after that.

The world appears to have bought itself a little time in the fight to avoid climate catastrophe, according to a new analysis.

Virtually every major country has made pledges to limit or reduce carbon pollution in advance of the Paris climate talks this December. These pledges generally end in 2025 or 2030, and so they only matter if the world keeps ratcheting down its greenhouse gas emissions in future agreements until we get near zero by century’s end. Otherwise we will blow past the 2°C line of defense against very dangerous-to-catastrophic global warming, and hit 3.6°C warming by 2100.

 The good news, as you can see [in the graph at top], is that the INDCs have bought us another five to 10 years of staying close to the 2°C path. I asked Andrew Jones, one of the systems-thinking savants behind Climate Interactive, if that was correct and he said, “Yep, about seven years.” By “staying close” I mean staying close enough to the 2°C path that it remains plausibly achievable — though (obviously) politically still very, very challenging. 

Local officials in North Carolina rejected a solar panel farm there, because the idiot townspeople were afraid that it would suck up all the energy from the sun -- and under no uncertain terms, let the officials know it. HAHAHA what a bunch of maroons!

According to the Roanoke Chowan News Herald, the Woodland Town Council rejected a proposal to rezone a section of land north of town to M2 (manufacturing) from RA (residential/agricultural), essentially denying approval of a solar farm.

One of the residents, Jane Mann, expressed concerns that if the town allowed the solar farm, it would somehow prevent photosynthesis in the local plants.

Bobby Mann stated that solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun and businesses would not come to Woodland.

Another resident, Jean Barnes expressed concerns over the fact that the town would not benefit from the farms.

Over the past couple of decades, we've been adding renewables (bio, wind, solar) to our energy source mix but have been maintaining or reducing the percentages for hydro and nuclear power. Oil, gas, coal still command the same lion's share of about 5/6ths it held in 1997. And the negotiators of the Paris Agreement think we'll decarbonise by 2050. Willi at Robertscribbler noted on this subject that it would require three halvings of current fossil-fuel use. That, plus by my calculation a moderate (50%) rise in renewables above present. And it's doable. t'll be tough and will cause economic dislocations and hardships because of our extreme fossil-fuel dependency, but it can get done.

Well easier said than done because the biggest hurdle is political; and we all know who controls politics, and we all know who's telling people to consume more, more, more!

 The Paris climate deal is, potentially, an important first step toward addressing climate change. But some of the headlines have been wildly overstated, saying the treaty marks the "end of the fossil fuel era."

That's awfully premature. Oil, gas, and coal still make up about 86 percent of the world's energy supply — a fraction that has barely budged since 1997. Until that drops sharply, we can't really declare the end of the fossil fuel era:

Source: BP SRoE 2015 via

Yes, there are some genuinely hopeful signs that this is changing. Solar and wind power consumption is growing at 15.9 percent per year, whereas coal, oil, and gas are growing at less than 1.7 percent per year. But renewables are still rising from a tiny base, and in many cases can't yet offer the reliability or versatility of fossil fuels. By and large, oil, gas, and coal continue to rule our world.

And Common Dreams has noted that to meet the Paris Summit's goal of 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F) by 2100, we would need to have a wartime mobilization of resources -- just like during Second World War when the consumer economy was put on hold and all resources that were available to the Government went to the War Effort. Like I said before, the biggest hurdle to getting this done is political -- or do people think the to-be-bankrupted fossil fuel companies will just take this lying down? But at least some people in the Global Warming activist community recognises the urgency of the problem.

We believe humanity can still prevent civilization-destroying global warming – but only if we undertake a WWII-scale Mobilization to restore a safe climate immediately. We need to transition off of fossil fuels and carbon-intensive agriculture as soon as humanly possible. That means an emergency restructuring of the entire economy at wartime speed to achieve net zero emissions in the U.S. by 2025, net zero emissions globally by 2030, as well as an urgent effort to draw down the excess carbon dioxide that has accumulated in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.

 And speaking of politics, OMG a lot of people in the US are so fucking STUPID! AND they VOTE.

Slate notes that 30% of Republican voters (41% of Trump voters), 19% of Democrat voters support bombing Agrabah the city depicted in the animated Disney film Aladdin.

Apparently this is for real: PPP, which is known for asking cheeky/provocative questions in its polls, asked voters if they would support bombing Agrabah—the city* depicted in the animated Disney film Aladdin—during an otherwise straightforward survey, and some said yes.


And from more American stupidity!

1 In 4 Americans Thinks The Sun Goes Around The Earth

And the US Government announced plans to contribute peanuts, relatively, to a climate change fund at the Paris summit:

Last week, at a critical point in the Paris negotiations on global climate change, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States would commit $800 million annually to help developing nations adapt to a warming climate and move to cleaner energy. $800 million doubled the prior US pledge, and the announcement may have helped seal the deal.

$800 million is a great deal of money. But it is actually less than US taxpayers provided in the past year to each of five major for-profit college companies — all of which have been under investigation in recent years by federal and state law enforcement agencies for deceiving their students, lying to government regulators, and other abuses.

Of course, decarbonisation will come with a price.  If it means the end of electricity, we could end up without civilization as we know it. Or even civil conduct to and consideration for each other!  In reference to "Arborgeddon," a Hallowe'en 2011 storm:

Want to know what life is like without electricity? It’s the end of modern society. Nobody could get gas, because the pumps wouldn’t work. People were fighting (reports of someone pulling a gun) at gas stations that were open. Food spoiled (fortunately it was cold so that didn’t happen too quickly) and stores were closed. There was no heat for many and there was a thick haze in the Farmington Valley from all of the fires in fireplaces and wood stoves. People were becoming unruly and agitated and couldn’t cope. We are more vulnerable than people realize.