Tripping down the road to Earth’s Hothouse Hell and Global Mass Extinction

In this article David Spratt explains how we have embarked on this road to Earth’s Hothouse Hell.

These are well established tipping points on the road to runaway global warming. This and my featured image are from Steffen et al.’s 2018 article in PNAS, Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.

18 January 2022

Have tipping points already been passed for critical climate systems? (1) The basics

by David Spratt in Climate Code Red

First in a series.

As global heating reduces the extent of floating Arctic sea-ice each summer, the heat-reflecting ice is replaced by heat-absorbing dark ocean water, adding energy to the Arctic system, driving more melting. This is a “positive feedback”, a self-reinforcing change. Examples abound in the climate system. On Greenland, for example, warming is reducing the height of the ice, and this lower elevation means it will melt more, because the temperature is higher at lower altitudes. 

Sixteen years ago, James Hansen warned that “We live on a planet whose climate is dominated by positive feedbacks, which are capable of taking us to dramatically different conditions. The problem that we face now is that many feedbacks that came into play slowly in the past, driven by slowly changing forcings, will come into play rapidly now, at the pace of our human-made forcings, tempered a few decades by the oceans thermal response time.”   

Those feedbacks can drive non-linear (or abrupt) change that is difficult to forecast. That happened to Arctic sea-ice in the summer of 2007, when a collapse in the ice extent led one experienced glaciologist to exclaim that it was melting “100 years ahead of schedule”; actually, the scientific understanding was 100 years behind reality!  The same thing is happening in Antarctica now, according to the new observations of the Thwaites Glacier. 

For the full article ….

Spratt’s story will continue

Spratt warns us that more posts will follow in this series. One might relate to the unexpectedly rapid thawing of the Siberian permafrost (H on the map above) that holds at least two times more carbon Earth’s entire atmosphere.

This is something I have researched in detail with my own eyeballs using the original satellite scans. My findings are described in my graphical essay/presentation, “Portents for the Future – 2020 Wildfires on the Siberian Permafrost.” The authors of the tipping point papers Spratt cites and linked generally anticipated thawing of the permafrost would be one of the later tipping points. These authors certainly did not anticipate that all-time record temperatures would be recorded in 2020 above the Arctic Circle (due to Arctic amplification), or how this heat affected the rapid acceleration in frequency, extent, and ferocity of wildfires on the Siberian permafrost.

Spratt and I and a few other generalists (some of us with complex systems engineering backgrounds) can see that what is happening is well outside the boundaries of the IPCC’s super-conservative and bureaucratic approach to climate science that assumes that future climates can be predicted – at least in a statistical sense – by treating climate change as if it followed the universal laws of physics in a statistically repeatable way. However, even the IPCC’s tightly controlled conservative approach that only mentions the possibility of global mass extinction on one out of the 3949 pages of their recently released AR6 Report still shows we are well on the road to climate Hell.

As Spratt notes in the article here and I explain in detail in another graphical essay/presentation circulated earlier this month, “Some fundamental issues relating to the science underlying climate policy: The IPCC and COP26 couldn’t help but get it wrong“, climate change does not behave repeatably as one would expect in physics experiments. Climate is generated by a complex dynamical system of many variables interacting in non-linear and some times actually mathematically chaotic feedback loops such that climate change is actually unpredictable as one looks more than a few weeks into the future.

What this means for our future is that we are moving down the road to Hell farther, faster and sooner than anyone putting total faith in the IPCC’s complacent discussions of emissions budgets and 2050 net-zero targets would believe, and that the government and media puppets of the fossil fuel special interests are happy to refer to in their blizzard of optimistic humbug about a rosy future and keeping a vibrant coal burning industry going so there will be full employment.

The stark reality is that if we cannot very quickly mobilize a global effort to

  1. immediately stop human generated greenhouse gas emissions,
  2. engineer processes to capture and safely sequester a significant proportion of all the carbon in our planetary atmosphere, and
  3. enable to Earth to reflect away with out absorbing a significant fraction of the solar energy received,

we will soon have passed the point of no return where the natural climate feedbacks are warming the world sped up so fast that nothing humans could do would prevent temperatures from running away to Earth’s Hothouse Hell state. That climatic flip would, of course, lead to completion of the global mass extinction event we have already started. Humans would be among the 90% or more of Earth’s biosphere to go extinct (as happened in the End Permian mass extinction).

Our current LNP COALition Government is clearly comprised of puppets of the greedily gluttonous special interests of the fossil fuel and related industries that are exploiting Australia’s natural resources for minimal return to Australia or its citizens. To have any hope of generating effective action on climate change against the blizzard of humbug, lies, misrepresentation, misdirection, alternative facts, fake news, bulldust and blather that members of this government emit to provide subsidy, cover, and protection for their patrons, they must all be removed from office and replaced wherever possible by electingtrustworthy people who have made public commitments to make action against climate change their first order of business.

Vote Climate One is dedicated to helping you achieve this replacement (where needed) in every Federal Electorate by making it easy to use our Australian preferential voting system to full effect. This help is provided via our Traffic Light Voting System. If we can sterilize the pigpen our Parliament has become and replace it with houses of genuine leadership and legislation, we might actually be able to engineer a solution to the climate emergency that provides us with a path into a foreseeable future.

If you agree with the program outlined here, we are seeking like-minded volunteers to help us in this effort to change our Parliament as Climate Heroes or in any other way.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

What a good idea!

Berlin may show the world how most of its citizens can live without private cars.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

What a good idea!

Berlin may show the world how most of its citizens can live without private cars.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Big Oil feasting on what was the world’s most powerful nation and hope for the future

Beware Australians, under our LNP COALition puppet government we’re also on the menu to be barbecued by feasting special interests — but we still have a chance to change it

With this the article linked here, an American FB friend, Hieronymus Bosch, reminds/warns us Australians just how perilous our freedoms may be if we leave the fossil fuel industry’s LNP COALition puppets in charge of our government for any longer. Aside from controlling or at least disabling Congress, Trump and his puppet followers have also managed to replace/control a majority of the Supreme and Federal Court judges such that now, even with a sort of progressive President, the mighty USA is now little better than China or Russia where the practice of real democracy is concerned.

As demonstrated here, the fossil fuel special interests main aim seems to be to preserve their gluttonous but eventually nihilistic quest to prevent any action anywhere against global warming so they can continue unhindered their quest to turn fossil carbon into an ever increasing volume of greenhouse gases. We can already see that these sill growing emissions are forcing global temperatures higher into the zone that will virtually guarantee Earth’s next global mass extinction, even though such an extinction will almost certainly include their human bodies along with the rest of humanity.

At least til now Australia’s federal and state Electoral Commissions and Courts seem to be intact enough that we can still claim to be a functional democracy where the people retain the power to change the government if they feel the need to do so. However, if we don’t remove the COALition puppets from government in our upcoming Federal Election we may soon end up like Americans – essentially powerless to elect people who will work to protect our futures rather than feeding the burning appetites of the gluttonous special interests of the fossil fuel industries and other exploiters of our resources.
See how Vote Climate One and our Traffic Light Voting Guide can help you to remove or prevent special interest puppets in your electorates who want to destroy our futures. With a new government of people who can be counted on to put acting on climate change as their first order of business in office, we may have a chance that our species will have a possible future in a reasonably intact biosphere on our only planet.

Regarding the article that follows, Hieronymus said, “Living in an undemocratic and crashing empire [i.e., my original home country] where corporations have all the money and power. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked, but DAMN. … Texas’s governor, Greg Abbott, has written to the all-Republican court – half of whose members he appointed – in support of Exxon. He accused the California litigants of attempting “to suppress the speech of eighteen Texas-based energy companies on the subject of climate and energy policies”“.

How Exxon is using an unusual law to intimidate critics over its climate denial

America’s largest oil firm claims its history of publicly denying the climate crisis is protected by the first amendment
Exxon, headquartered in Houston, argues that lawsuits filed by out-of-state politicians infringe on the sovereignty of Texas. Photograph: Reginald Mathalone/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Chris McGreal in The Guardian, Tue 18 Jan 2022

ExxonMobil is attempting to use an unusual Texas law to target and intimidate its critics, claiming that lawsuits against the company over its long history of downplaying and denying the climate crisis violate the US constitution’s guarantees of free speech.

The US’s largest oil firm is asking the Texas supreme court to allow it to use the law, known as rule 202, to pursue legal action against more than a dozen California municipal officials. Exxon claims that in filing lawsuits against the company over its role in the climate crisis, the officials are orchestrating a conspiracy against the firm’s first amendment rights.

The oil giant also makes the curious claim that legal action in the California courts is an infringement of the sovereignty of Texas, where the company is headquartered.

Eight California cities and counties have accused Exxon and other oil firms of breaking state laws by misrepresenting and burying evidence, including from its own scientists, of the threat posed by rising temperatures. The municipalities are seeking billions of dollars in compensation for damage caused by wildfires, flooding and other extreme weather events, and to meet the cost of building new infrastructure to prepare for the consequences of rising global temperatures.

Read more…

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

If we are to survive global warming, we have to shut down the coal industry ASAP

The right government local action using local knowledge can provide local opportunities that are more attractive than continuing the lethal coal industry pushing us toward extinction

3 local solutions to replace coal jobs and ensure a just transition for mining communities

Liam Phelan and Kimberley Crofts (17/01/2022) in The Conversation

As the world shifts to renewable energy, helping the communities that have depended on fossil fuels for jobs is becoming ever more pressing.

The 2015 Paris Agreement notes the imperative of a “just transition” for affected workforces, with “the creation of decent work and quality jobs” to replace those lost.

Trade unionists have been arguing this point for at least several decades. The first use of the phrase “just transition” attributed to the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, which called for a “Just Transition Program” for workers in the logging industry in 1996.

Yet for all the talk since, action remains scarce.

Three clear priorities for policy makers, however, have emerged from Australia’s Hunter Valley region, where coal mines employ about 14,000 workers directly and thousands more indirectly. These are:

  • the need for a local coordinating authority
  • funding for a “flagship” job-creation project, and
  • more resources for technical and vocational education.

(… more)

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Our puppet governments organize banquets where their piggy patrons with special interests can feed on our roasting environment

If Howard and I are right, we have already passed several tipping points triggering positive feedbacks that will cause global warming to increase exponentially towards a point-of-no return where global mass extinction (including humans) is almost inevitable (he links the same science articles I use in this context). To avoid this end we need to turn the barbecue around to roast the pigs and their wooden-headed puppets first.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Do you really want to your Government to give a free pass for fossil fuel special interest ripoffs to take multiple billions of revenue essentially tax free?

Who Benefits? Who gets cooked? I think the pigs win snouts down!

If you want unambiguous evidence that at least some of our governments protect the interests of their puppet masters in the fossil fuel industry long before they consider the citizens who vote for them. This example would certainly seem to represent a colossal special interest ripoff at the state level; and surely it should be within the bounds of the Federal Government’s regulation of overseas trade to prevent such arrogant giveaways. Voters mustn’t forget that they have the power to remove complicit parties and individuals by electing responsible people who will prioritize fighting climate change over promoting the interests of puppet masters and patrons who often are not even Australian citizens.

Woodside's Pluto LNG plant at Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia.

WA’s offshore gasfields pay almost no royalties and stoke carbon emissions, report finds

Peter Hannam in the Guardian
Mon 17 Jan 2022

Australia Institute report finds state received only $430m of its revenue from industry that generated $27bn in exports last year

Australia’s giant offshore gasfields are paying almost no royalties, create few jobs and are a large and rising source of greenhouse gases, according to a new report from the Australia Institute.

The “Gas-fired robbery” report, released Monday, finds Western Australia receives only a tiny fraction of its revenue from an industry that generated $27bn in WA exports last year.

The $430m that ended up in the state’s coffers was a mere 1% of budget revenue, or half as much as it collected from motor vehicle registrations. By contrast, the iron-ore industry tipped $7.8bn into the 2019/20 budget, more than 18 times as much as gas.

“Oil and gas companies like Woodside and Chevron are being given this valuable and finite resource virtually for free, making huge profits from its sale, creating few jobs and returning almost nothing to everyday West Australians,” said Mark Ogge, principal adviser at the Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program, and author of the report.

Read the complete article….

If you want to clean out the piggery, use Vote Climate One’s Traffic Light Voting Guide to cast your ballot for someone who will try to protect your future on this fragile planet by putting solving the climate crisis as their first interest in Parliament, and to ensure that any preferences that flow from your vote WON’T flow to a pig.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Don’t look up — Captain Humbug (a.k.a. Scotty from Marketing) and his puppets and clowns obscure the climate emergency by playing the Djoker card

Whether the media frenzy over the deportation of the world’s no. one tennis star and notorious anti-vaxer happened by good luck or was designed by the Australian COALition Government’s gang of fossil fuel puppets and clowns, it has and will serve for many days as a marvelous distraction to obscure the climate emergency from voters attention. The two-year long Government humbug and media blather about how we faced utterly horrible dangers from Covid has worked very well to divert attention from mobilizing any effective action against the genuinely existential climate emergency. Playing the Djoker Card only makes that more effective.

‘While the decision was almost a certainty, the government’s handling of the circumstances around it was not pretty.’ Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

It was ugly and embarrassing, and the Djokovic saga only ever had one possible ending

Malcolm Farr – The Guardian – Sat 15 Jan 2022

After inexplicably failing to foresee the problem, Scott Morrison was left with only one solution: play the border security card.

Scott Morrison kept Novak Djokovic waiting nine days for the ultimate and inevitable decision to tear up his visa, no doubt ensuring the Serb suffered further for causing trouble the government struggled to handle.

The Djokovic visa snub was released in time for the main TV news bulletins on Friday and, they had hoped, late enough to limit the tennis champ’s lawyers chances of getting a judge to re-hear his case.

While that hope proved unfounded, the government believes a court could only examine the probity of immigration minister Alex Hawke’s use of his power to withdraw a visa, not whether Djokovic deserved to be punted.

However, the damage to Australian tourism and Australian sport caused by a single, stubborn tennis player and a hesitant federal government could require a formal inquiry to sort out.

The government might further explain how Djokovic obtained a visa in the first place, and Tennis Australia might tell sport fans why it welcomed a player – admittedly the best in the world – without insisting he comply with vaccination requirements, or without closely examining his claim for an exemption.

The long wait for Hawke’s announcement was an indication the government wanted to get the visa matter right, something it might have considered more rigorously several weeks ago when the Djokovic problem poked over the horizon.

Morrison has had to juggle complex factors involving big sport, inflamed diplomatic contacts, and his self-burnished record as being untiringly vigilant on Australian borders. [My emphasis]

Shades of Don’t Look Up! — – See the movie. Ignore the comet. (Part 1), and The phenomenon of ‘Don’t Look Up’ (Part 2)

Again, I ask the question, is this just the COALition’s cack-handed ineptitude or a Scotty crafted distraction to obscure the climate emergency to protect his fossil-fuel patrons?

As an evolutionary biologist, population and molecular biology (i.e., the basis of virology) are major components in my qualification. I am completely confident that at its worst, even with no quarantining and treatment, the Covid pandemic would have killed no more (and probably substantially less) than 5% of humanity, representing only a small blip in human history (comparable to the Spanish Flu 100 years ago). By contrast, global warming genuinely threatens mass extinction of most of Earth’s complex life, including humans. This is a truly existential emergency triggered by the greenhouse gas emissions from burning of hundreds of thousands to millions of years accumulation of fossil carbon that fueled the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago and continues today. Yet the continual emission of government blather and humbug over minor but titillating events and factoids as further amplified by fossil fuel friendly shock jocks consumes so much of the media’s available bandwidth that only the most extreme weather events ever come close to making headlines. There is almost total silence about how these events relate to the bigger picture.

For a hint of the bigger picture of the existentially real emergency we face see:

The evidence continues to pile up (e.g., “Portents for the future — 2020 wildfires on the Siberian permafrost“, “Australia ties Southern Hemisphere’s all-time heat record of 123°F; epic heat cooks Argentina“( that the greenhouse gas driven warming of the planet is accelerating. But the LNP COALition doesn’t want you to know and think about what it means for the futures of your families.

Take an objective look at the Abbott, Turnbull, and Morrison led LNP COALition Governments’ years of denial, lies, fake news, misrepresentations and overall humbug in relation to global warming and the climate emergency it is causing…. Can there be any doubt that the principal interests they are serving are the special ones in the fossil fuel and related industries? The government puppets and clowns have never expressed major concerns relating to the horrific consequences Australian citizens have and are facing as a consequence of the accelerating increases in temperatures and climate extremes. If any concerns have been expressed, none have resulted in substantive actions to control and reduce the damages being caused by the industry’s carbon emissions and other activities. In fact, the puppets work hard impede and prevent action on climate change and to subsidize and protect the industry from citizen-led actions.

Re whether playing the Djoker card was cack-handed or in any way deliberate, it is clear that this saga was played for the longest possible time and the maximum likelihood that disgruntled punters will continue it for a long time yet. Get Up’s marvelous video summarizing Captain Humbug’s very similarly ambiguous cack-handed/deliberate responses to the Covid crisis raise exactly the same questions in my mind. Is he just a moron or is he actually a very crafty marketeer working for clients who are not the mass of the Australian people who voted for the COALition?

However, Australia still is a democratic country where it should be possible to vote the COALition out of power in the upcoming Federal Election. We should be able to replace every last puppet and fellow traveler of the special interests with people who if they are elected are committed to put mobilization and action to resolve the climate emergency as their first priority of business.

Vote Climate One doesn’t tell you how to vote, but our Traffic Light Voting Guide shows who not to vote for and provides practical assistance in ranking all the candidates in each electorate to ensure your preferences don’t flow to the puppets, but rather towards people committed to solving the climate emergency. Also, if you really want to help, we invite you to become a Climate Hero.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Case study and dissection of a fossil-fuel puppet politician holding a government to ransom

America’s Joe Manchin illustrates shows how damaging a puppet can be when a balance of power can be exploited

Although America’s Congressional electoral system differs substantially from Australia’s, the role super-wealthy special interests play in controlling both governments is similar. Geoff Goodell’s article in Mother Jones explores the impact a single special-interest puppet politician can have where he/she can exploit a balance of power. It is even worse when a whole government in power is riddled with with such puppets as is the case in Australia now.

Manchin’s Coal Corruption Is So Much Worse Than You Knew

The senator from West Virginia is bought and paid for by Big Coal. With his help the dying industry is pulling one final heist — and the entire planet may pay the price.

By Jeff Goodell
January 10, 2022

At this point in human evolution, burning coal for power is one of the stupidest things humans do. Coal plants are engines of destruction, not progress. Thanks to the rapid evolution of clean energy, there are many better, cheaper, cleaner ways to power our lives. The only reason anyone still burns coal today is because of the enormous political power and inertia that the industry has acquired since the 19th century. In America, that power and inertia is embodied in the cruel and cartoonish character of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who, paradoxically, may have more control over the trajectory of the climate crisis than any other person on the planet right now. Kidus Girma, a 26-year-old Sunrise Movement activist who helped organize protests against Manchin this past fall, calls him “the final villain.”

Manchin’s influence comes from the fact that in an evenly divided Senate, he is the swing vote that can make or break legislation. He presents himself as a pragmatic man from a hardscrabble state who is always trying to do the right thing. He values good manners and civility, and sometimes seems to be channeling the folksy charm of another famous West Virginian, test pilot Chuck Yeager, who was immortalized in The Right Stuff.

The truth is, Manchin is best understood as a grifter from the ancestral home of King Coal. He is a man with coal dust in his veins who has used his political skills to enrich himself, not the people of his state. He drives an Italian-made Maserati, lives on a houseboat on the Potomac River when he is in D.C., pals around with corporate CEOs, and has a net worth of as much as $12 million. More to the point, his wealth has been accumulated through controversial coal-related businesses in his home state, including using his political muscle to keep open the dirtiest coal plant in West Virginia, which paid him nearly $5 million over the past decade in fees for coal handling, as well as costing West Virginia electricity consumers tens of millions of dollars in higher electricity rates (more about the details of this in a moment). Virginia Canter, who was ethics counsel to Presidents Obama and Clinton, unabashedly calls Manchin’s business operations “a grift.” To Canter, Manchin’s corruption is even more offensive than Donald Trump’s. “With Trump, the corruption was discretionary — you could choose to pay thousands of dollars to host an event at Mar-a-Lago or not,” Canter tells me. In contrast, Manchin is effectively taking money right out of the pockets of West Virginians when they pay their electric bills. They have no say in it. “It’s one of the most egregious conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen.”

As a citizen of both countries (born in the USA, naturalized in Australia), I am distressed to se how completely both governments have been corrupted by obscenely wealthy special interests at the expense of the vast majority of their citizens. In the best of circumstances this would be bad. But now, our whole species realistically faces potential extinction from a climate emergency triggered by the fossil fuel industry’s many decades of greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than acting to protect their citizens from the emergency, to protect their masters, these puppet governments are impeding and even stopping effective action against the emergency.

The special interests use many tools beyond influencing/controlling our governments to deny, hide, misrepresent, and distract to keep people from from recognizing just how urgent the need for action on climate change is.

Australia is still nominally a democratic nation. In the upcoming Federal Election, we have the option to remove the LNP COALition puppets and their ‘independent’ fellow travelers from power. In their place we can elect candidates who can be trusted to act to solve the climate emergency as their first order of business in Parliament.

We are not telling anyone who they should vote for…. Vote Climate One’s Traffic Light Voting Guide is designed to help you rank all the candidates on your electorate’s ballot to maximize the chance that if your first preference is not elected, at least someone else who supports climate action will be elected and to exclude exclude the possibility that your vote will flow to a special interest puppet if your first ranked candidate is not elected.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

IPCC’s guidance downplays risks in climate emergency

IPCC’s guidance is dangerous in rapidly evolving climate emergency due to time lost for peer review between observing and reporting reality

Introduction: Year by year we are seeing increases in both the basic readings for global warming and in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events attributed to the warming that show we are in the midst of a climate emergency. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is considered by many scientists (and politicians claiming to be guided by the science) to be the ultimate authority on the likely evolution of global warming and the future risks we face from it. However, the IPCC’s guidance in forecasts and predictions has consistently ignored or underestimated the rising levels of catastrophic and existential risk associated with the accelerating increases.

I don’t dispute the IPCC’s science, as the work leading to it is usually meticulous. But, at the same time, their processes add years of bureaucratic and political delay between the observations of reality and the eventually publications of conclusions from those observations. This means that any guidance offered in IPCC reports and assessments is likely to considerably understate the risks, impacts and rates of global warming. The peer review process and sociological factors in the academic/institutional environments most IPCC authors work in lead authors to minimize dramatic and scary risks irrespective of minimal they might be. These thoughts and their implications are detailed in a January 2022 presentation of mine, “Some fundamental issues relating to the science underlying climate policy: The IPCC and COP26 couldn’t help but get it wrong” on the Researchgate repository .

Slide 3 from my January 2022 presentation exploring issues with the reliability of the IPCC's too conservative forecasts for the future evolution of global warming and why it shouldn't be trusted.
Slide 3 from my January 2022 presentation.

The article discussed here is an example of recent observations that should greatly change many presumptions in even the most recent IPCC AR6 report.

Carbonate rocks (e.g., limestone, dolomite) in permafrost zones may be global warming time-bombs for methane release.

The article linked here describes an unexpected observation from satellite scans of methane gas concentrations in the atmosphere over Siberia. As the frozen land warms in spring and summer remarkably high concentrations of methane are associated with geological outcroppings of common calcium carbonate rocks such as limestone and dolomite. Carbon is a significant component of these kinds of rock. Ordinarily this carbon is considered to be quite inert in relationship to short-term climate change. The authors were surprised to discover that largest releases of methane (~ 85 times the greenhouse potential of CO₂ over 20 years) in Siberia — not associated with fossil fuel production — were from these rocky areas. The observed behavior of the methane releases suggests these areas represented a risk of becoming global warming time bombs.

Methane release from carbonate rock formations in the Siberian permafrost area during and after the 2020 heat wave

by Froitzheim et al., PNAS August 10, 2021

ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic global warming may be accelerated by a positive feedback from the mobilization of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost. There are large uncertainties about the size of carbon stocks and the magnitude of possible methane emissions. … Two elongated areas of increased atmospheric methane concentration that appeared during summer coincide with two stripes of Paleozoic carbonates exposed at the southern and northern borders of the Yenisey-Khatanga Basin, a hydrocarbon-bearing sedimentary basin between the Siberian Craton to the south and the Taymyr Fold Belt to the north. [see featured image above] Over the carbonates, soils are thin to nonexistent and wetlands are scarce. The maxima are thus unlikely to be caused by microbial methane from soils or wetlands. We suggest that gas hydrates in fractures and pockets of the carbonate rocks in the permafrost zone became unstable due to warming from the surface. This process may add unknown quantities of methane to the atmosphere in the near future [my emphasis].

Read the complete article….

When the IPCC’s AR6 was being drafted its authors never encountered or even contemplated many of the discoveries made like the above, or the kinds of NB4 extreme weather events observed over the last 4-6 years (they were “unknown unknowns”)

The IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 6th Assessment Report that informed COP26 totally missed this risk — the abrupt release of prodigious amounts of greenhouse methane gas from permafrost. They also missed or downplayed many other risks that have only begun to appear as the climate emergency accelerates. My graphical essay, “Some fundamental issues relating to the science underlying climate policy: The IPCC and COP26 couldn’t help but get it wrong“, documents the fact that the IPCC’s claim to provide the best and most stringently peer reviewed scientific understanding of basic physics of Earth’s Climate System is true. However, their scientific methodology is deeply flawed when applied to predicting the rapidly evolving and changing behavior of the large and complexly dynamical Climate System:

  • By the time the IPCC’s deeply bureaucratic and political review processes result in publication, the work is based on the reality of a world that existed several years ago, not the reality of today’s increasingly rapidly changing world
  • Research and publishing in academic and institutional environments are deeply (but most subliminally) constrained from publishing novel ideas and scary stuff. This is called “scientific reticence” — a situation that can only be amplified by the requirements that publications are approved by their political sponsors.
  • Finally, the Climate System involves non-linear and often chaotic feedback interactions of many variables – some of them not at all well understood. Many climatologists come from backgrounds in physics and mathematical modeling is very helpful for understanding the behaviors of mostly linear systems. Climate behavior in the antithesis to this kind of system. Where climate is concerned, modeling is useful for understand what can happen under specific circumstances where most of the variables are controlled. It is inappropriate for long term forecasting.

However, even taking the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report at face value: “The best peer-reviewed science we have” shows unambiguously that if we don’t stop and reverse global warming very soon, human life on the planet will be faced with a growing crescendo of extreme weather events and climate hell within a few decades at the most.

Today, we are already seeing the beginnings of this crescendo! But there is only one mention of a few sentences in the entire 3949 pages of the full IPCC report of the realistic possibility that if we fail to stop the warming, that runaway global warming will lead to the global mass extinction of most complex life.

The point raised here is that the scientific methodology underlying IPCC reports cannot help but underestimate and down play the full range and magnitudes of risks humans face from the rapidly accelerating climate emergency. This also provides great cover for the fossil fuel industry special interests, the humbugging puppets in our governments that keep spruiking the message that we shouldn’t look up, because there is noting there to see, and the much too compliant press.

To conclude, if we are to find and execute any way to stop and reverse the still accelerating warming of our only planet, we have to begin by replacing all the humbugging puppets in our Federal Government with people able to rationally understand the risks we face who also have the gumption to put acting on the climate emergency as their first order of business if elected to Parliament.

Our Vote Climate One Traffic Light Voting Guide will help you elect candidates in your electorate who are most likely to meet these critria, and equally identify LNP Coalition Members and fellow travelers and those whose preferences might flow in a way that would elect/reelect one of the humbuggers.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.