ICUMI: global temps > 1.5 °C pre-industrial baseline SINCE 6 Sept

The Copernicus report said if December records a similar temperature anomaly to November, the average temperature for 2023 will be 1.48 degrees above the pre-industrial reference level.”

Chances are that if December is significantly hotter than November, Earth will break the 1.5 °C ‘barrier’ this year, that COP 28 is supposedly working towards stopping…… See the featured image here from the ABC article (“Global temperatures in 2023 are tracking well above every other year on record. / Supplied: ERA5/C3S/ECMWF)”

ABC gives the facts below. Climate Sentinel News has spent many months reporting how continued warming will result in near term human extinction (i.e., possibly within the currently expected lifetimes of humans living today). We suggest that you review these warnings and take them very seriously indeed, and work collectively to force our governments to immediately force the fossil fuel industry to stop carbon emissions of all kinds.

Yes, we will probably need to implement energy rationing while sustainable resources are ramped up. However, this is better than allowing Fossil Fuel control our governments and condemn Earth life to global mass extinction.

Globally averaged surface air temperature anomalies relative to 1991–2020 for each November from 1940 to 2023. (ERA5/C3S/ECMWF via ABC)
Scientists have confirmed 2023 is the hottest year on record, with a month to spare

Jess Davis, 8/12/2023 in ABC NEWS

Scientists have confirmed 2023 will be the hottest year on record, with the official declaration from climate change service Copernicus, run by the EU, made with a month to spare.

The startling heat records come as large parts of Australia are set to endure heatwave conditions, with temperatures expected to reach over 40 degrees in some places.

The world can’t stop breaking heat records this year, with each month since June becoming the warmest on record.

The Copernicus data confirmed the trend, with the warmest November on record globally hitting 1.75 degrees above the 1850–1900 pre-industrial reference period….

Read the complete article….

Editor’s comment

I haven’t posted a lot in the last couple of months.

September was horrific for its climate catastrophes and broken records for climate extremes at the end of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. For example:

Even worse for me personally, has been the fact that people in general paid virtually no attention to or showed any understanding of the significance of these and many other comparably extreme climate events and situations requiring emergency action.

Also, more specifically, the Derna situation was so extreme that I could not understand how a single overnight flash flood could comprehensively erase the fundamental infrastructure and fabric of a modern city — even given the fact that two earth-fill embankment dams were also almost completely erased in the process. Most people have blamed the cataclysm on the failed dams, making it easy to gloss over the fact that the dams were casualties not causes. Thus, I have felt compelled to spend my time forensically studying the vast array of imagery of the Cyrenaican region of Libya where Derna is located before, during, and after the flood(at resolutions down to 25-50 cm), press photography, drones, and ‘witness’ reports on social media to determine what actually happened.

Briefly summarizing what I have determined so far:

Derna was built on a relatively flat fossil delta whose seaward edge is 7-8 m above sea level, such that all runoff falls over sea-cliffs to reach the Mediterranean sea. The imagery of damage to surviving buildings more than 200 m from the banks of the normally dry wadi running through the city convincingly shows major flood damage up to the 3rd or even 4th floors. On the evening of Sept. 10 when the rain started the wadi reached the ocean via a 6 m drop at the delta’s edge. On Sept. 11 as the flash flooding was receding, the now uniformly sloping wadi floor reached sea level ~ 450 meters inland from where its spout had been the night before.

Making sense of this data has not left me time to continue reporting disasters that have little historical context and no one seems interested in reading about unless they are personally affected by them.

However, Derna’s long history tracing back to its settlement by Greeks around the middle of the 7th Century BC, and some strong geological markers I now understand give some very solid evidence regarding the extreme nature of the recent event. Also, around 650 AD three of the Prophet Mohammad’s followers who were martyred along with ~ 67 fighters in the First Islamic Conquest of North Africa were buried on the bank of Wadi Derna. Their graves have been marked and venerated since then and memorialized with proper shrines and then eventually with Derna’s largest mosque. Overnight on Sept 11, the shrines, the graves, and “meters” of soil below where the graves had been were erased in the cataclysm. That’s evidence that Derna never had a comparable flood in a millennium and a half.

The geological evidence is orders of magnitude more extreme: Deltas form at sea level. The last time the sea level was 7-8 m higher to enable the formation of the present deltas was during MIS 5e in the Eemian era of the Last Interglacial Maximum around 123,000 (or less likely 118,000) years ago. The geological history of Cyrenaica shows that this area has been very stable over this period, suggesting that the three fossil deltas (including Derna’s) found along this part of the Cyrenaican coast could not have been formed any more recently than 118,000 years ago! Until Sept 11, the wadi’s that built the deltas reached the sea via spouts 5-7 m above sea level. As is the case for Wadi Derna, the other two wadis also eroded beds beds to reach sea level significantly inland from the elevated spouts that existed the day before. This is rock solid evidence that the last time weather was this extreme was more than 100,000 years ago, i.e., 100 millenniums ago when the deltas were built!

This work should be published before the year is done, when we’ll be gearing up for more elections.

In any event, if we don’t stop and reverse the still accelerating global warming, we can expect even worse to come as air and ocean temperatures continue to rise to extremes not seen for millions of years.

The farce of COP28 shows that the only way this reversal will happen is if concerned citizens can take back control of our governments from the fossil fuel special interests. To do this a majority of people must convince or replace their elected representatives to actually work for their survival rather than working to feed the greedy special interests.

If you value your futures — ACT NOW! Look for Climate Rescue Accord on our main page.

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

Lethal Humidity for Derna – a 9/11 event in the climate crisis

(Rev. 2 – 29/10/2023)

Water was the cradle and mother of all life. When the world is too hot it is also the destructor that erases life, as in Derna, Libya on 11/09/2023

Life originated in the sea, dependent on and driven by water based chemistry. When our remote ancestors colonized the land more than 300 million years ago they had to carry enough water in their bodies to keep the organic chemistry of life working. Even today, between 50 and 60% of our body weight is the water surrounding and supporting our metabolic chemistry — truly water is the cradle of our life. Water-based chemistry is also controlled by temperature. Most of life’s chemical processes are facilitated and regulated by proteins called enzymes. Protein structure and function are strongly dependent on the temperature of the surrounding water. Water temperature also affects the rates of chemical reactions irrespective of any changes do enzymes.

For billions of years, complex life on Earth has evolved to live in a temperature range between water’s freezing point and a maximum of 35-45 °C. Mammals (like us) and birds who have evolved evaporative cooling (e.g., sweating) can survive somewhat higher environmental temperatures for a while if they can maintain the flow of water through their bodies. However, if our body temperature rises more than a degree or two above 40° for more than an hour or so it’s lethal because enzymes begin to denature and the chemical processes in our body cells no longer coordinate the keep us alive. We die ! (ref Wikipedia Colonization of land, Thermoregulation, Human body temperature).

As our planet grows ever hotter as a consequence of human’s industrial conversion of fossil carbon into greenhouse gases, rising temperatures are triggering a growing range of extreme and increasingly lethal ‘weather’ events. Many of these involve the effects of excess heat working with the physical properties of water — and we are far from understanding all of the implications for understanding this.

The latest example of lethal humidity at work was the rapid intensification of tropical rainstorm Otis in less than 24 hours into the “apocalyptic” category 5 hurricane that struck the tourist town of Acapulco on the Mexican Pacific coast around 1:00 AM on 25 October, 2023. None of the forecast models run on the 14th predicted that it would even become a hurricane at all. And then there’s Tropical Cyclone Lola, the earliest cat. 5 cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere that has just savaged Vanuatu on the same day.

Last month’s example of lethal humidity working in unprecedented ways is presented below.

During the dark early hours of Sept. 11, 2023 hot water demonstrated the power of humid air to erase life in the the normally dry drainage upstream from, and in the center of the Libyan city of Derna in a cataclysm never before seen in its ~2,600 year recorded history.
This satellite imagery can be viewed by anyone with a desktop computer by downloading the freely available Google Earth Pro (Windows, Apple, Linex), searching for “Derna, Libya”. Vision beginning with Planet Earth will zoom into about 8 km above your requested location. If you then search for “Al Sahaba Mosque” vision will zoom in to about 1 km showing the latest high-resolution satellite imagery of Derna’s center from late morning on Sept 13, around 56-58 hours after the peak of the cataclysm. Using your mouse wheel you can zoom in to ~12 m above the ground where you can readily see the ant-like shadows of individual survivors crossing the now dry wadi on foot, and the first attempts to make temporary roads to reconnect eastern and western parts of coastal Libya. Earth Pro also provides access to historical imagery (click the Time Time icon) allows you to travel back in time through historical imagery. The most recent imagery (also providing the highest resolution) prior to the cataclysm is from June 19. This provides the “before” vision of Derna. Unfortunately the post-cataclysm imagery has only limited coverage. The image above, at one edge of a Sept. 13 tile crossing the wadi provides the before and after in a single image. The image below compares the before and after of the mosque and the area to its north. The red lines are sight lines and measurements left by various measuring tools I used in trying to understand and reconstruct what what happened here in the early hours of Sept. 11.

The idea of “lethal humidity”

I was reminded of the fact that humidity can be lethal by Dr Andrew (“Twiggy”) Forrest’s recently initiated speaking tour on the climate emergency to economic forums, world leaders and top universities in the world. He stresses that if global warming is not stopped and reversed, a major killer will be heat deaths caused by the growing heat accompanied by excessive humidity from the increasing amount of water evaporated by the high temperatures.

Forrest, one of Australia’s leading multi-billion dollar mining and industrial carbon emitters, has accepted the reality that global warming caused largely by his and other industries will cause near-term human extinction. He began broadcasting his concerns and the absolute urgency of stopping and reversing the warming if we are to avoid social collapse and subsequent extinction. He first raised this at the Boao Asia Forum — sponsored by China in Perth on 30 August (transcript here), and more recently at Oxford University (video below) – the start of a global lecture tour to key universities around the world accompanied with meetings of world leaders and at COP 28.

As Forrest said in the Boao Address, this is not a concern for the future, but right now! Substantial numbers of people are already being killed by the accelerating warming. The main killer will be what he calls “lethal humidity”. As noted above, if the air is too hot, and humid as well, without air conditioning we die within hours. (He says that survival in these areas will depend on air conditioning – assuming the power doesn’t fail). Forrest stressed that large areas of the world, including areas of India, China and America are crossing that threshold right now. These points were reiterated and expanded on in a lecture and “Fireside Chat” at Oxford University .

In the “Fireside Chat” sponsored by the Rhode’s Trust, Forrest expanded considerably on his ideas expressed at Boao and lecture covering the urgent and critical need for people in general to force governments and industry to act seriously on climate change. This Q&A ‘chat’ runs for another hour, but is well worth listening to if you have any concerns about futures for yourself and your family members.

My Climate Sentinel News article following up on the Boao address, Billionaires & action groups can save the world together! summarizes the contexts (including his ‘time out’ from empire building to earn a PhD in marine ecology) that led Forrest to his current mission — and what the climate and environmental action movement needs to do to assist the global mobilization needed to stop and reverse the warming process.

However, as strongly as Forrest stresses the dangers of the heat deaths humidity will cause in our progress towards global extinction, high humidity can also be even more catastrophically deadly in other ways.

The lesson of Derna, Libya is that humidity can lead to the destruction of not just human lives, but all visible life in given areas, and even the infrastructure created by humans or any other evidence that life ever existed in those areas.

Another way too much water in the atmosphere will kill us

On 10 September, 2023, the ancient and small but relatively prosperous port city of Derna, Libya had a population around 100,000 people. Its history traces back to the settlement of Cyrenaica (the eastern, coastal part of Libya) by the ancient Greeks in the 7th Century BCE. It was an easy place to settle because the inland plateau area was suitable for agriculture and the small delta of the wadi draining the plateau offered a reasonable area of flatish land close to sea level on the normally steep shoreline for a port and settlement. Since Derna was settled it has been a secondary port city that served at various times as a regional capitol that was comfortably wealthy from the agricultural productivity of the hinterland during periods with adequate rain and its proximity to Rome on the other side of the Mediterranean. Under Muammar Gaddafi, Derna benefited from Libya’s oil revenue.

However, due to Derna’s location on the sediment fan (or delta) formed at the mouth of a relatively steep wadi draining somewhat more than 500 km², it has been subject to occasional damaging floods. But nothing remotely comparable to the 11 September cataclysm had ever been recorded before in Derna’s 2,600 year history.

What happened in the early hours of 11 September literally ‘erased’ more than 20% of the city and more than 10% of its total human population from the earth. Derna warns us that water, the cradle and mother of all life (can and will destroy most of that life if we allow the planet to grow much hotter than it it already is.

“Evaporation” is what happens as individual H₂O molecules break free from a liquid mass of water to form the gaseous phase or vapor of water that basically dissolves in the atmosphere. As liquid water warms, the rate of evaporation increases up to a limit determined by the pressure of other kinds of gases forming the atmosphere. If the vapor molecules become frequent enough they will begin to stick together to “condense’ back into the liquid state. it takes a lot of extra energy for a water molecule to actually evaporate free of a mass of liquid water. This energy is released as the “heat of condensation” when the water molecule returns to the liquid state. The rates of condensation and evaporation vary significantly with changes of temperature.

Aside from controlling the rates of evaporation and condensation, temperature also strongly influences how much water vapor can dissolve into the air before it starts condensing. As air temperature increases, the amount of water vapor it can carry before condensation begins also increases about 7% for every °C of temperature increase.

Global 2 m (‘surface”) air temperature has been in in world record territory since the end of May this year. Sea Surface Temperture has been been in world record territory since mid May (more than 7 MONTHS!). Hotter water evaporates more water vapor, hotter air absorbs and transports ever more water as vapor.

“Gas Laws ” relate air pressure, density of a given mass of air. As air warms it absorbs energy to become less dense by expanding. As it cools, its density increases and heat is released. In the atmosphere this leads to convection. with warm air rising and cooling as it expands while tending to cool further by radiation of excess heat to space until it cools enough that again becomes dense enough to sink alongside rising hotter air.

More details of the physics of water, how its various states are measured, and water’s implications for weather can be found in my mailing to politicians, “Act Now – Later may be too late” and in the related “Global Climate Change Now“.

My presentation linked below makes the case that Derna demonstrates how heat and too much water in the atmosphere can do far worse things than just cooking people by preventing evaporative cooling. The more water vapor in the atmosphere the more water there is to drop on the land, and the more heat energy there is available to force wet air masses high in the sky to squeeze out the last drop of what was already an excess load of water as rain and ice (the freezing of ice from water releases still more energy (the energy of fusion) to drive the weather to even further extremes.

Where Derna was concerned, another consequence of having several unbroken months of high temperatures setting daily and occasionally all-time records, the jet stream system that normally keeps cold spots and warm spots moving around the world basically broke down — becoming very weak and chaotic. The combination of record high land and sea temperatures over summer with stalled heatwave conditions all around the Mediterranean provided optimum conditions to load the atmosphere with a truly prodigious amount of water. The availability of so much water and heat energy resulted in the formation of Storm Daniel. With little or no jet stream, Daniel was left to wander more or less randomly around the eastern Mediterranean. Daniel first dumped more than 700 mm of rain were dumped on areas of Greece to flood more than a third of that country’s prime agricultural lands, and then more than 400 mm on the Libyan city of Al Beyda a few km west of the upper end of Wadi Derna’s watershed. These numbers are already crazy & incomprehensible, but a fluke of bad luck associated with the particular landscape of Cyrenaica may have added even more kick to the already stupendous amount of peak water in the pipeline provided by the wadi. The catchment’s main reach on the plateau behind Derna runs from west to east, and it’s probable that Daniel’s rain cells were also moving from west to east at a comparable speed to the progress of the flood peak down the Wadi.

In any event, except for the last (possible) fluke, this kind of increasing storm intensity is a predictable product of global heating — which is what makes the Derna situation so alarming. If we allow the world to continue heating at an ever faster rate (as driven by Earth’s Energy Imbalance), lethal humidity will soon be be cooking so many people and trashing so much infrastructure needed to feed ourselves and condition the ever hotter air to a livable temperature we will face social and ecological collapse. If this happens humans will no longer have the capacity to do anything further to stop the runaway warming that will put all of the accessible soil and organic carbon back into the atmosphere. The worst global mass extinction event in Earth history so far will then run its course unhindered.

The presentation ends with a possible silver lining — humans working together can do very remarkable things if sufficiently motivated. I’ll write more on this later, below.

Download a PDF version by clicking HERE. Note: Throughout the presentation there are many links to the web to source materials or other relevant information. These should work if you click on them.

Some comparisons to think about

Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011

Several of the commentators on the Derna cataclysm said it was like a tsunami. I spent a couple of months trying to measure the impact of the Japanese Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011 that led to the destruction of four of the Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear power plants from the vast array of news, social media postings of videos, and the Google Earth record. Obviously, the tsunami affected thousands of kilometers of coastline, but nowhere did the 2-3 waves of the tsunami as comprehensively erase the evidence of human existence as happened in Derna.

[Google Translation of title] “Great East Japan Earthquake] People fleeing the tsunami in Minamisanriku Town, Miyagi Prefecture (different angle)”. This is a snapshot from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_vIGlCk6ME There were countless videos like this (many now no longer accessible). Note that most of the structures being destroyed were wooden houses that were floated off their foundations before being crushed in the melee.
The comparison here is from the Japanese fishing port city of Minamisanriku of an area approximately 60% the size of the area depicted in the first graphic of this post from where one of its rivers meets the sea. Here, concrete buildings remain intact and except for the river mouth where significant soil has been removed, roads and the concrete slabs and foundations of buildings remain relatively intact. Boats in the upper picture were all destroyed, cast on the land or dragged out to sea on the return waves.
Devastation after tsunami in Rikuzentakata, Iwate, Japan. This image, which was originally posted to Flickr, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 7 April 2011, 15:40 by Akira Kouchiyama. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

At Rikuzentakata, one of the worst hit cities, the tsunami wave reached heights of 13 meters (third floor of surviving buildings), and possibly killed 10,000 people. Wooden structures were completely demolished, but roads and concrete infrastructure remained largely intact as can be seen in the large trove of imagery accessible via Google.

Unlike a tsunami that normally involves only two or three killer waves at the most, Derna’s flood seems to have lasted several hours – long enough to strip everything away more-or-less down to bedrock!

Possibly cataclysmic valley floods in other parts of the world

My first contact with cataclysmic flooding was in the summer of 1976, when I was teaching for a year on a temporary appointment at the University of Colordo in Boulder, where I was a near witness to the deadliest disaster of any kind in Colorado’s history. One very muggy (humid) afternoon a very ominous and noisy system of dark clouds and lightening passed over the university. I thought of possible tornadoes, but no rain was falling yet. Soon after this the storm cell got stuck in the valley of the Big Thompson River draining Glacier National Park ~ 45 km north of Boulder along Rocky Mountains forming the Continental Divide. The humid prevailing winds from from the prairie at around 1,600 m altitude were trying to push the storm over the Divide. The upper (western) third of the Big Thompson catchment is surrounded on three sides by ridges more than 3,500 m high (as can be followed on the clear contours of Global Watersheds‘ “Topographic” or “Thunder Forest” base maps). The storm cell dumped 300 mm in less than 4 hours. The resulting flood formed a “wall of water” more than 6 meters high that rushed down the steeply sloping canyon (2.4% gradient for the last 3 km — as measured to the accuracy allowed by Google Earth Pro) at a speed estimated to be 6 m/sec with a discharge rate of with a discharge of 1,000 cubic meters per second, killing 143 people (mostly campers).

As measured in the “slow lane” on the flat land in front of Al Sahaba Mosque well before the flooding reached its maximum height (upper floor of the main mosque) and erased the shrines and the 1,400 year old graves of the Companions of the Messenger of God, the water there was already moving at around 4 m/sec well before the flow reached its peak height. The peak speed over the wadi itself was probably two or three times what was measured in the Big Thompson flood!

When the flood happened, I was living in one of the University’s faculty flats situated alongside Boulder Creek. This has a drainage of 340 km² and cuts Boulder in half (a city that was then comparable in size and relative affluence to Derna with its Al Sahaba Mosque). I immediately considered what happened at Big Thompson and soon found other lodgings. Big Thompson had less sever another flood in 2016 that also caused substantial damage. So far, Boulder has been lucky.

Other potentially dangerous river systems

Other river systems with deeply incised valleys capable of producing cataclysmic floods under appropriate conditions that I know personally because I have lived in their neighborhoods are Melbourne’s Deep Creek-Maribyrnong system above Footscray and the Yarra River above central Melbourne. The Maribyrnong catchment above Footscray measures 1,300 km², and the Yarra river catchment at Kew (deeply incised from Warrandyte through Kew) measures 3,900 km² (or 5,500 km² measured at its mouth Port Philip Bay that includes the Deep Creek-Maribyrnong as a tributary). Both the Yarra and the Maribyrnong have flooded, with the Maribyrnong having its worst flood in several decades this time last year. Derna style floods fueled by high temperatures and lethal humidity would have unimaginably worse consequences for the cities these rivers flow through. (Note: the free Web ap, Global Watersheds, will plot the watershed extent and area for any point on the land in the world on a range of base maps. For understanding the landscape, I recommend “Satellite” – good but several years out of date, and “Topographic” or “Thundercloud” for clearly labeled elevation contours).

Catchment map from Global Watersheds, Google Earth Pro image from 22/04/2023. The controlled concrete spillway is located at the upper left edge of the dam, with the engineered topographic “natural” spillway near the lower right. This can be examined in more detail in Google Maps’ satellite view.

Possibly Victoria’s most dangerous drainage is the Campaspe River draining into the Murray Valley Vote Climate One’s home base in Kyneton is located in the middle of this catchment that begins just over the hill from where I live. The river is held back by Lake Eppalock, formed by a 650 m long embankment dam (i.e., similar to Derna’s mud-pie dams) that at full supply holds back 300,000 megaliters of water (possabably 1000 x as much as the Derna dams) from a catchment above the dam of 2,100 km². Unlike Derna’s dams that had no provision to manage spillage over the top of the dam. Eppalock has a well designed “controlled” concrete spillway with a maximum capacity of 8,000 m³/sec, as well as two “emergency” spillways enabled by the existing topography. [Based on Global Watersheds topography and Google Earth, the second emergency spillway is no more than a narrow topographic low that could pass only a small fraction of the volume passing over the engineered spillways.] In October last year, (and once in 2011), with the dam at 130% of full capacity, flooding exceeded the capacity of the controlled spillway with an outflow of 103,000 megaliters a day! (more than a third of the lake’s entire capacity at full supply in one day!).

Excellent drone vision is available for the effect of this outflow on the spillways, i.e., erasing the road along the top of the emergency spillway and scouring away the earth down to the bedrock forcefully enough to eat into the rock itself. Fortunately the scouring did not reach the concrete leveling wall designed to ensure that the overflow was spread uniformly across the very wide spill area to minimize concentration of the erosive flow of the water on small areas.

Google Earth imagery of flood scouring of the emergency spillway. Red lines show the location of the original road (erased) and the temporary replacement road below it. Arrows point to the deepest gouges eroded into the basement rock. Some of the erosion is a result of the prior spillage of the reservoir in 2011, but it is clearly deeper here. The leveling wall is clearly visible along the bottom of the graphic

Even more detailed imagery of the functioning of both spillways and very real damage sustained by the emergency spillway during and after the 2022 flooding is provided by Joel Bramley Photography.

Noting that the 2011 and 2022 floods were caused by ‘ordinary’ decadal scale extreme weather events, one wonders whether the dam would survive a Derna scale cataclysm.

The Wadi Derna dams across a topographically sloping drain could only hold small volumes of water limited by the dimensions of the sloping drain and height of the dams and were completely empty until Daniel arrived. By contrast Lake Eppalock is on the edge of a plateau where the topography allow the storage of many times the volume of water of the gorge immediately behind the dam. At full supply, Lake Eppalock has three main reaches. Two are approximately 10 km long, and the third is 5 km long. In places each of these is more than a km wide. Unlike the Derna dams, Epalock has well engineered spillways to minimize the likelihood of overtopping and it’s maintained. But, very much like the Derna dams, it is a ‘mud pie’ construction susceptible to cracking and slumping (especially if overtopped):

  • Significant cracking was observed on the crest of the main embankment at Lake Eppalock for many years, but in recent years increasing movement upstream [slumping?] during low reservoir levels indicated a progressively deteriorating stability situation. Investigations also revealed cohesive filter material [clay?] that would allow a crack to propagate. A fast-tracked [emergency?] remedial works program was completed in 1999 to rebuild the highly vulnerable upper rockfill shells and filters, both upstream and downstream. [Davidson et al., 2000. The Dam Safety Upgrade at Lake Eppalock]

Downstream, the Campaspe cuts through the center of the small farming town of Rochester, 56 km N of the Eppalock Dam. The 103,000 megaliter/day flooding over Eppalocks’ spillways soon flooded around 1000 of Rochester’s 1500 homes on its way to meet the also flooding Murray River in Echuca rising higher and causing a lot more damage than the 2011 flood, which was the first time Lake Eppalock spilled over the emergency spillway. Today, half of the flooded homes are still uninhabited, with some of the repairs expected to take another year for all of them to be completed because it seems there is no capacity left in the system to finish the work any sooner.

Rochester in the 2022 flood
Rochester, Vic., flood levels at 2011 Campaspe River flood
The extent of the 2022 flood was substantially worse than the 2011 flood indicated by the red line.

The end game

The stark reality is that climate change, currently driven by Earth’s exponentially growing energy imbalance, is already stressing human society to the point that we cannot even maintain a status quo where we are able to repair extreme weather damage as fast as it occurs. As cataclysm and catastrophes increasingly concatenate and overlap due to continuing global warming, resources and capacities will decline at an ever faster rate, until society can no longer avoid collapse into chaos and barbarism, and then near term extinction.

We are truly facing an existential emergency. If we cannot mobilize the the scientific, technological, and human resources reverse the imbalance to slow, stop, and reverse global warming in the very near term, the exponential growing feedbacks (primarily carbon emission from soils, permafrost, oceans and accessible fossil sources) that are driving the energy imbalance will be unstoppable until all the accessible carbon has been transferred to the atmosphere as greenhouse gases. By then humans and most other complex organisms on Earth will be extinct.

Personally, I think humans, if they can work in a focused way and cooperatively together to fight the common enemy, actually have the capacity to stop the lethal feedbacks while they are still in their early stages of ramping up. This thought is based on 14 years focused and in-depth research and writing on the co-evolution of humans and our technologies, 17 years working as an engineering knowledge management systems analyst and designer for what was then Australia’s largest defence project engineering and construction organization, and a lifetime student of evolution grounded in physics and Earth and marine sciences.

I am also old enough to remember the end of WWII and am fully aware of how America entered the war as a disunited mob of apathetic to passionate pro fascist isolationists to pro communist utopians. Yet, within weeks of being dosed with the reality of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the mob united, turned scientific glimmers into totally new sciences, technologies and logistcs, crafts into massive assembly lines, and anarchic mobs into war machines. The global war was won in Europe with America’s help with the German surrender on 8 May 1945; and by America in the Pacific with Allied help with the Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945 after the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August (well under 4 years). This was followed up by the formation of the United Nations (a good start towards global government), and the restoration of many nations to a road to prosperity under the Marshall Plan.

The realities reviewed above show that humanity is currently facing the most lethally dangerous crisis in our evolutionary history, probably even more extreme than the End Permian mass extinction event that our ancestors survived 250 million years ago. If we accept this reality it should motivate us to work together collectively with the necessary focus and discipline to put the Apocalyptic Horsemen back into their mythic stable in God’s Scroll so we can escape from the down-hill highway to Earth’s Hothouse Hell (see also David Spratt’s series on Climate Code Red).

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

Billionaires & action groups can save the world together!

Dr Andrew (“Twiggy”) Forrest tells international business and political forum the factual reality that “Business will kill your children!”

When I started this essay, Renew Economy, whose article is linked below, was one of the few mentions I found in the press or social media of the unique event where any self-made billionaire, let alone an Australian, stated simply and with honesty that his business kills our children and puts human survival at risk. He asks for help in making him, his industry, and business in general to stop carbon emissions. Simultaneously, and blissfully unaware of what Andrew Forrest was saying, a collaboration of climate and environmental action groups was organizing an emergency meeting, #SteppingUpTogether, for Melbourne Town Hall to crystallize a coalition of (hopefully ALL) such groups to provide precisely the kind of help Forrest was asking for.

Both Forrest and the people at Melbourne Town Hall accept that it may already be too late to avoid the existential climate catastrophe.

However, by working together, he and we may actually be able to defeat global warming, and work our way off the highway to Earth’s Hothouse Hell to find a probably rough and narrow road to stewardship of a habitable world with a sustainable future.

“Business will kill your children:” Was Andrew Forrest’s climate speech really that “loopy”?

Giles Parkinson — 4 September 2023 in Renew Economy

It was the sort of speech you [would be lucky to] hear from climate scientists and climate protesters; a presentation stunning in its simplicity and series of one liners.

“It is business that will kill your children,” Forrest declared. “It is the beginning of the end.

“Humanity it at risk. Now.”

Read the complete article… Listen to Forrest’s speech on YouTube… Read the parsed and formatted transcript

At $US 21.7 Bn, Forbes Australia’s Richest in March placed Andrew Forrest second (after Gina Rinehart at $US 30.6 Bn) amongst the motley crew of billionaire miners, tech sector high flyers, and property developers, most of whom seem to be more concerned to build even more personal wealth than they already have. To many in the climate and environmental action movement, these billionaire business people are the class enemy. It is their industrial businesses that are largely responsible for driving Earth’s climate system into what now looks like runaway warming. Warming that will lead to climate catastrophe and probable extinction at the end of the downhill highway to Earth’s Hothouse Hell.

Yet, Forrest’s 24 minute speech, delivered Aug 30 in Perth at the Boao Forum Asia (29-31 Aug — sponsored by China) and linked above, is the complete antithesis of what you would expect to hear from one of the self-confessed perpetrators of the currently accelerating climate catastrophe threatening us.

Amongst other things, the speech: ● confesses and condemns what business has done to put human survival at real risk; ● gives a meticulously and gorily detailed description of one of many ways that the business triggered climate catastrophe will reap human lives along he road to extinction; ● expresses Forrest’s promise and “steely determination” that he and ALL of his industries are committed to reach absolute zero carbon emissions by 2030 [I’ll have more to say about this promise below] — both to stop emissions from his business, and to show the world that it can and must be done; ● asks that China, India, and the USA step up together to legislate and subsidize doing whatever it takes to achieve what he is showing can be done; and, finally, but by no means least, ● Forrest begs citizens and consumers around the world to make governments and businesses do these things:

This is what I’d like to put out to you as members of the Boao Forum.

This is not my idea, or any single person’s idea.
If this is our idea in the Boao Forum, this is what I ask you to consider during the course of
this day and decide:

Do we want a member’s resolution of our forum to ask that discussions proceed at the G20?

That intention to proceed with law happens at APEC and that the business people of the
world gather BOAO Forum for Asia next year and work out how to do it.


Business people, if we are not fighting with our own governments, [we] can leave this [meeting] and make it happen….

and that’s what I’m asking [for], a simple agreement led by business.

Fast! …..Because it’s business.

I need you tonight….

It’s business which is causing global warming….

It’s business which will kill your children.

It’s business which is responsible for lethal humidity.

But it’s policies which guide business!

YOU MUST HOLD US TO ACCOUNT!

Don’t let us with our clever advertising blame

You — the consumer; or

You — the public or individual…..

That’s rubbish.

Business guided by government will either destroy or save this planet.

Hold us to account, the power of You!

Thank you…. Make us change….

That’s all I’m asking you to do.

MAKE US CHANGE….

Thank you very much.

YOU MUST HOLD US TO ACCOUNT!

Hear and watch Dr Forrest say this!

To understand greatness and gravitas of Forrest’s address and its implications for all humanity takes your patient and careful attention to his actual words and your awareness of several contexts surrounding the lead up to the conference. Of course, in the case of Australian media, his content and intent were so incongruous that it took two or three days into September before there were many reports at all.

Murdoch and the financial press (often the same) responded to Forrest’s attack on fossil fuel and gory details about how heat kills people by claiming that he must have lost the plot to ever increase his personal wealth due to a brain seizure or having gone troppo — bad news for his shareholders. Even usually progressive and climate action friendly press such as the Saturday Paper, Crikey, and the Guardian seem to have missed the point. However, in the last few days more articles, accepting that the speech was actually important, have given more thoughtful attention to its actual content (e.g., see ‘Twiggy’ Forrest: Climate messiah or billionaire opportunist?, from Sept. 13). But, even here, commentators seem to have real difficulties seeing past what they assume must be Forrest’s overwhelming drive to become even richer.

Personally, I think these commentaries trivialize and miss the major thrust. This man from the bush is staking his fortune, career, family — and everything else…. To crystallize a critical transition:

From: corporate business as usual — working for immediate profits that are far more important than even human survival in the face of the growing climate catastrophe.

To: business working to build a healthy society that can sustain itself into the foreseeable future.

What has Andrew Forest actually said?

In my diverse careers in science, teaching and corporate knowledge management, I learned that speech has a low bandwidth for communicating detailed facts and knowledge. You have to listen to strings of words before their meaning and import are clear. As Walter J Ong observed in his classic work, Orality and Literacy: The technologizing of the word, speech disappears in the instant of its impact on the ear-drum of the listeners. All that is left are fading impressions in the hearers’ brains that were influenced by all kinds of extraneous perceptual and cognitive issues, to say nothing of preexisting memories and biases. In other words, we often only hear what we expected to hear, not what was actually said, and certainly not everything that was said.

Because, on first listening to the speech, I thought that Forrest had said some very important things. His speech was important enough that I needed to read, and re-read it in a printed transcript. Not only is reading far faster than comprehending the spoken word, but it is much harder to misread than to mishear. And, if you missed something or are unsure what was said, you can re-read the work as many times as it takes. And if there is a video of the speech, you can go back as often as you want hear and see HOW it was said.

The only transcript I could find was YouTube’s totally unparsed and unpunctuated speech-to-text (click the three dots at the end of YouTube’s video menu bar, and select “Show transcript”). In any case, I had to do the parsing, punctuating and formatting of the text myself to be sure I understood it. I had to look at each word, and pick out each thought and sentence in the sequence and then parse out the thoughts on the screen/paper. Where there was any chance of misunderstanding (YouTube’s transcript has some fascinating garbles, e.g., 23 secs, in “Minderoo Tatterang” becomes “military”), I had to go back to the original speech and its various contexts to be sure that the transcript actually recorded the spoken word(s).

The deeper I got, the more impressed I was with the total precision and clarity of Forrest’s expression. Almost without exception, every single word was precisely chosen and placed to unambiguously convey a particular thought. He said exactly what he meant, and totally meant what he spoke.

Forrest must have put a great deal of thought and rehearsal into crafting the talk; and based on the hoarseness of his speaking, he had also been doing a lot of talking (arguing?) in the lead up. By no means was there anything sham or trivial about the talk.

As many of those commenting on the address dimly recognized, this is a pivotal turning point in Forrest’s personal and professional career. This giant of a man who arrived at the 20th Anniversary celebration of his mining company on one of his many 3 story tall dump trucks was once a jackaroo from the WA bush.

Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest arrives at the 20th Anniversary celebration of his foundation of Fortescue on one of his fleet of mining trucks. Picture: SoCo Studios via NewsCom.au

Forrest is betting his entire fortune, body, soul, and family on his understanding of Earth’s climate crisis and what he thinks he can do personally and via his business empire to help humanity find a sustainable pathway to an extended future.

I don’t think there is anything particularly messianic about this. Forrest is self-made, he knows his limitations and his very real capabilities. He has assessed that he has the capabilities to be an agent of changes that must happen if humanity is to survive the present climate crisis. “Again, someone has to do it. “And I just think, ‘If not me, then who?’ ” [quote from SMH 2/072022]. And if he hasn’t at least tried…. then emissions from his mining activities have been at least partly responsible for the end of humanity.

Definitely not a messiah, but perhaps a redeemer?….


Forest has placed his bet, turned the roulette wheel, and rolled the ball (the image is from his presentation).

He is helping us, …..so all those of us in the climate and environment action community need to hold him, business and government to account, so the ball falls in the correct slot for all of us to win the “one in fifty chance of 1.5 °C holding”.

Critical Contexts

Andrew Forrest more-or-less grew up in WA, on the Forrest family owned Minderoo Station (when he wasn’t away attending school), a 2,400 km² sheep and cattle station traversed by the Pilbara’s Ashburton River and 95 km E of Exmouth across the Exmouth Gulf.

He may spend more time on corporate jets than on horseback these days, but the fact that he hails from the wide open spaces is an important part of Andrew Forrest’s mystique. He likes to remind us that the red dust of the outback is deep in his pores – that even when he’s sporting a dapper navy suit, his mindset is that of a man in moleskins.

After meeting US President Joe Biden at COP26, the UN climate conference in Glasgow last November, Forrest accepted an invitation to visit the White House to continue the conversation about green energy. Describing how he felt as he entered the West Wing in April, he says: “Ex-jackaroo. Kid from the bush. So fortunate to be able to do this.”

Mounting debts had forced Forrest’s father, Don, to sell Minderoo Station in 1998. When the property came back onto the market 11 years later, Forrest sent two bidders to the auction – “just in case one had to go to the toilet or had a heart attack”. He bought it for $12 million and has spent millions more turning the station into a showpiece. He says he does his best thinking there. The place is full of memories, not all of them good.

When Forrest was a boy, just eight years old, he noticed smoke on a distant part of the property. Lighting a fire was the accepted method of sending a distress signal, so he and Don went to investigate. A man had been working on the engine of a bulldozer when it jumped forward and pinned him against a gum tree. He had managed to light a fire but it burned back towards the tree and engulfed him.

“When we got there, we found this charred but breathing body,” says Forrest, who travelled with the man in the back of the Land Rover on the long drive to hospital. “He could just speak and he said, ‘Sing me some nursery rhymes.’ ” Forrest held the man’s hand and sang to him until he died. He tells me during our lunch at Cottesloe that it was this experience, more than any other, that shaped him. From then on, he understood at a visceral level that life was short and not a day should be wasted: “I do tend to treat time as being incredibly precious.”

Time is valuable to Yindjibarndi leader Michael Woodley, too, and he has spent a lot of it slogging his way towards legal recognition of his people’s ownership of land on which Fortescue mines. “Everything is about Andrew Forrest. His image. His brand,” says Woodley, who contends that if Forrest has been able to live a large life, “it’s because of the wealth that he has generated from our country. That’s what money does, right? It turns you into a superstar.”

Jane Cadzow, SMH Good Weekend, 2 July 2023, From mega carbon emitter to … eco-warrior? What drives Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest…. Read the complete story!

Immense wealth also gives some people immense power to do things mere mortals can only dream about…., like saving human existence. In 2001 Andrew Forrest and his wife, Nicola, established Minderoo Foundation (named after his boyhood home) with part of their Fortescue wealth to work towards making our shared planet a better and safer place for people to live. As at 20 June, 2023, the Forrests have donated a fifth of their Fortescue shares to the Foundation (about $5 Bn), bringing its total endowment of the Foundation up to about A$7.6 billion).

“As our world faces enormous challenges, we have elected to continue to use our material wealth to help humanity and the environment meet these existential risks,” Dr Andrew Forrest AO said.

“Accumulating wealth should only be a small part of a person. Their contribution to their family and society is way more important. Other skills such as carpentry, farming, the arts, working in construction or for government are equally as important. If you happen to be good at accumulating wealth, then I believe in using that skill for the greater good.

“This is why we will continue to donate our wealth to causes where we can make a sustainable difference.”

https://www.minderoo.org/news/andrew-and-nicola-forrest-donate-one-fifth-of-fortescue-shareholding-to-philanthropy

Of course, Forrest presumably still controls how those deeded shares are voted. He may have ceded the capital and income they represent, but most likely still controls the power they represent.

Another large tranche of his family wealth is devoted to a private investment group with a very strong social and environmental policy called Tattarang (see also Wikipedia).

The name Tattarang pays tribute to a fiery but caring stallion that was owned by Andrew Forrest’s mother and cherished by all at the Forrest family’s Minderoo Station during the 1950s.

In a joint statement, Andrew and Nicola Forrest said: “The name Tattarang has held a special meaning in our family over many years and was the inspiration to rename our commercial group. For us, Tattarang signifies the unique bond of trust that is formed between a rider and their horse, and the seriousness each party invests in caring for and protecting the other.”

The Forrests said they wanted business to play a greater role in changing the world for the better.

“The way you earn your money will have a greater impact than the way you choose to give it away. Business is critical to improving the world,” added Grace Forrest, Director of Minderoo Foundation and Co-founder of Walk Free.

The Tattarang group entities remain separate from Minderoo Foundation, the philanthropic entity founded by Andrew and Nicola Forrest. As part of the name change, Tattarang has launched a new corporate website: www.tattarang.com.

Dr Andrew Forrest AO is Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, the publicly listed company he founded in 2003, in which Tattarang Pty Ltd holds a 36 per cent shareholding.

https://www.tattarang.com/news/2020/the-minderoo-commercial-group-rebrands-to-tattarang/

Tatterang’s climate policy is strong:

The scale and severity of bushfires in Australia over the summer of 2019-2020 was a clear example of how increased weather volatility due to climate change is already contributing to the intensity and scale of natural disasters.

The time to act is now. Collectively, we must act with all speed and determination to reduce emissions and create pathways to achieve a net-zero emissions global economy. Climate change is already exacerbating environmental degradation and as a society, we must also adapt to protect human health and threatened ecosystems through environmental conservation measures, including effective plastic waste management.

We must act immediately if we are to effectively adapt to the impacts of climate change and to achieve net-zero emissions well before 2050. If we do not act, we risk leaving enormous challenges, and terrestrial and marine ecosystem-wide destruction to our next generation. Tattarang accepts this call to action.

Tattarang has commenced an assessment to estimate the emissions from its investments, activities and operations. This will provide critical data upon which Tattarang can implement a range of actions including the development of science-based emissions reduction targets and emissions avoidance and mitigation projects.

Tattarang: Our climate policy… Read it all

And then, who is this titan of industry and business, who thinks that he can tell us that we are all doomed to oblivion if we don’t stop global warming NOW, while we still might? Forrest has made himself into a genuinely qualified marine scientist, with an earned PhD to prove it. It’s a real thesis, based on real research — done in the midst of building his fortune….

Personally, I grew up on and in the ocean — face to face with a diversity of life far beyond anything that can be experienced on the land. I am an academic scientist. Marine biology was one of my teaching specialties…. It’s a real thesis….

[Eight] years ago, Forrest was hiking in the Kimberley when a ridge gave way and he fell into a large pool. One of his legs shattered from the kneecap down as it wedged in a loop of submerged tree root, trapping him underwater. The pain was excruciating and in wrenching himself free, he mangled the leg further: by the time he struggled to the surface, his foot was facing the wrong way. The accident may not have killed him, as for a few heart-thumping seconds he thought it would, but it changed him.

During his convalescence, as he moved from a wheelchair to crutches and finally back onto his feet, he had time for reflection. He decided to embark on a PhD in marine science, a field that had always fascinated him. For four years, he immersed himself in the study of pelagic ecology and, more broadly, the state of the world’s oceans. “It was there that I really came across the reality of global warming,” he says. By 2019, he was Dr Forrest, eco-warrior.

Jane Cadzow, SMH Good Weekend, 2 July 2023, From mega carbon emitter to … eco-warrior? What drives Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest…. Read the complete story!

So far, the continuity of this interest is represented in real estate by the Exmouth Research Lab, a new marine biology lab he had built about 80 km across Exmouth Gulf from Minderoo heartland.

Is Forrest right about humidity being lethal?

The latest science says so. See: Vecillio, et al., 9/10/2023 in PNAS: Greatly enhanced risk to humans as a consequence of empirically determined lower moist heat stress tolerance.

Prospectus

I have parsed and reported what Andrew Forrest spoke to the world at the Boao Forum late in August, and analyzed the contexts from which the words came. What remains to be seen is whether the world will step up and unite to solve the existential crisis so forcefully laid out before us by this remarkable address.

If anyone has any residual doubts about Forrest’s sincerity, he has wagered control of his family and foundations’ fortune on being right (remember the imagery of the roulette wheel), and burned a lot of bridges along the way.

In his interview with 9News, following separation from his wife, Nicola, Andrew Forrest admits he’s hard to live with, and explains the high turnover of Fortescue executives: ‘My way or the highway [to Hothouse Hell]’. Several chosen the highway, and there may well be more. With his transfer of shares into Minderoo Foundation and voluntary settlement with Nicola, 9News reports that this moves Andrew from 2nd to 13th place in AFR’s Rich List (‘Nic and I are lockstep’: Andrew Forrest gives first interview since split from wife Nicola). This suggests he is left with a fortune of between $7.5 and $6.5 bn. Even if you assume that growing his wealth is Andrew’s main concern, he has risked ‘everything’ on his turn of the roulette wheel to decarbonize all of his businesses…..

If anyone can bulldoze his way through to convince our world leaders that they have to prioritize climate action above all else, Andrew Forrest has a better chance of doing it than any other person I can think of: Pope, UN Secretary General, David Attenborough, et al. But to make it stick, he needs coordinated support and cooperation from the bulk of society that I think the world’s climate and environmental action groups represents.

Some afterthoughts

VoteClimateOne.Org recently (9 September) participated in a recent emergency meeting of diverse climate and environmental action groups at Melbourne Town Hall called #SteppingUp Together focusing on how we might work together to advance action on the climate emergency. This was organized in part to begin establishing a structure able to help the (literally) millions of Australians belonging or subscribing to such groups coordinate their individual voices to make businesses and governments change their focus from promoting and subsidizing industries killing our children with carbon emissions to legislating and organizing the fight to stop and turn around global warming.

Although few of us at the #SteppingUpTogether meeting knew of Andrew Forrest’s Boao Address at the time, it stands as a clarion call to to mobilize the global war effort to defeat the existential enemy — global warming. It is no coincidence that the common goal to our diverse approaches is to give consumers and individuals tools to construct a common voice able to hold governments and business to account. We all see and understand the need to actually achieve what Forrest is calling for us to do!

Although the SteppingUp meeting was originally conceived to coordinate demonstrations and actions to convince the Government to stop fossil fuel export developments (especially in the Beetaloo Basin and Darwin areas), the crazy extreme deviations in global climate indicators (documented by Climate Sentinel News posts and in direct mailings to all Australian MPs) made the meeting a lot more urgent, with several important speakers being incorporated only shortly before we met. These last-minute additions included:

  • Assoc. Prof Mark Diesendorf, UNSW Sydney, was double booked so could not attend in person, but provided us with a couple of videos, focused on his research on how fossil fuel and other special interests have captured “captured” and control governments so they do their bidding rather than working for constituents’ interests. This gives the SteppingUp group a deep understanding of where and how we have to force change before our government will actually begin working in our interests. Diesendorfs’ ideas are fully laid out in his 2023 book (with coauthor Rod Taylor), “The Path to a Sustainable Civilisation: Technological, Socioeconomic and Political Change“. This helps us know our enemies….
  • Greens Senator for Victoria, Janet Rice, on “Building political power to tackle the climate crisis“, following a speech given in frustration the day before in the Senate Chamber in Canberra, “Chuck the denialists out!
  • Just back from the Northern Territory, Jane Morton, who helped bring Extinction Rebellion to Australia and co-convenor of Darebin Climate Action Now, who in 2016 instigated the first local council in the world to declare the climate emergency gave us a talk on some of her methodology.
  • Adrian Whitehead, who helped mobilize Darebin Council’s unanimous Climate Emergency Declaration, explained how CACE (Council and Community Action in the climate Emergency) can work up to higher levels of government, down to citizens, sideways to other councils, and inward to maximize local effort from the council itself to prioritize and enforce action on the emergency.
  • Charlotte Gallace, an amazingly poised year 9 student and school council member at Prahran High School, and also a school striker, presented the younger generations’ hopes that we would get our act together and leave her generation with a sustainable future.

SteppingUpTogether organizers had hoped that we could have at least one of the recently elected ‘teal’ community independents join us, but this proved impossible given their workloads while Parliament was sitting (both major parties have been happy to deliberately hobble independents by limiting each to only a single paid staff member).

Given the plethora and importance of these last-minute speakers, and the enthusiasm of our planned speakers to share their tools and ideas for changing the minds of currently ‘captured’ MPs, we had no time left for our planned workshop. However, you can be sure that we are already working towards assembling a user-friendly communications apparatus to share our practical knowledge and for coordinating public and MP-focused campaigns.

Given the urgency aroused by the crazy extreme and still growing indications that we already tipping into a hotter and more rapidly changing climate regime, you can be sure that within a few more weeks SteppingUpTogether attendees (and many other organizations) will be putting together a network facilitating the coordinated and collective involvement in public and MP-targeted campaigns of the millions of members belonging to one or more climate and environmental action groups.

End state capture!

Hold our governments to account: Make them work for Us — The Public…. The Consumers…. The Individuals.

Make the governments change…. Make the governments hold business to account….

Hold governments to account…..

Victoria first, then Australia, and then the world.

Some groups represented in SteppingUpTogether and their toolkits

Note: Following are banners for some of the groups who presented at or were involved in organizing the SteppingUpTogether emergency meeting. Click the banner to access their web site.


See also Invitation to Climate Rescue Accord livestream: ​Wednesday 20 September 2023 7PM




Host of the Sustainable Hour: Latest podcasts    |   Live streaming Wed 11am Melbourne time    |   Youtube    |   Facebook    |   Twitter    |   Instagram


Promotes and assists climate emergency declarations at the local council level – applies political pressures upwards, downwards, sideways, and inwards

“We need to treat the climate emergency as a global war we are on track to lose unless we can focus our efforts on the only task that matters — reversing global warming. If we fail here no other tasks matter — our species will soon end up extinct no matter how we arrange the deck chairs on the burning ship.”
Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

G20: subsidizing fossil fuels and more global burning

G20 nations broke records in 2022 subsidizing fossil fuel: $1.4 TN in 2022 — more than twice what they have invested in sustainable energy.

Clearly, fossil fuel subsidies help the greedy special interests whose carbon emissions are smothering our planet drag us towards mass extinction from the ‘runaway greenhouse‘. Equally clearly, members of governments approving and providing these subsidies must be getting something in return.

Ajit Niranjan, 23/08/2023 in The Guardian

G20 poured more than $1tn into fossil fuel subsidies despite Cop26 pledges – report

Public money still flowing into industry despite agreement to phase out ‘inefficient’ subsidies, thinktank says

The G20 poured record levels of public money into fossil fuels last year despite having promised to reduce some of it, a report has found.

The amount of public money flowing into coal, oil and gas in 20 of the world’s biggest economies reached a record $1.4tn(£1.1tn) in 2022, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) thinktank, even though world leaders agreed to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow two years ago.

The report comes ahead of a meeting of G20 countries in Delhi next month that could set the tone for the next big climate conference, which takes place in the United Arab Emirates in November.

It is crucial that leaders put fossil fuel subsidies on the agenda, said Tara Laan, a senior associate with the IISD and lead author of the study. “These figures are a stark reminder of the massive amounts of public money G20 governments continue to pour into fossil fuels – despite the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change.”

Read the complete article to see the comparison with spending on sustainable energy!

Considering the world as a whole, the International Monetary Fund thinks that fossil fuel is subsidized by A LOT! more than $1tn.


Simon Black, Ian Parry, Nate Vernon, 24/08/2023 in IMF Blog

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Surged to Record $7 Trillion

Scaling back subsidies would reduce air pollution, generate revenue, and make a major contribution to slowing climate change.

Fossil-fuel subsidies surged to a record $7 trillion last year as governments supported consumers and businesses during the global spike in energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the economic recovery from the pandemic.

As the world struggles to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and parts of Asia, Europe and the United States swelter in extreme heat, subsidies for oil, coal and natural gas are costing the equivalent of 7.1 percent of global gross domestic product. That’s more than governments spend annually on education (4.3 percent of global income) and about two thirds of what they spend on healthcare (10.9 percent).

As the Chart of the Week shows, fossil-fuel subsidies rose by $2 trillion over the past two years as explicit subsidies (undercharging for supply costs) more than doubled to $1.3 trillion. That’s according to our new paper, which provides updated estimates across 170 countries of explicit and implicit subsidies (undercharging for environmental costs and forgone consumption taxes). Download detailed data for different countries and fuels here.

Read the complete article or follow links above.

The longer this evil cycle continues the less likely our escape from the dead-end road ending in Earth’s hothouse hell becomes. Seemingly, the only way we can find a side-road to a sustainable future is by replacing our present puppet governments with people committed to representing the interests of those who voted for them.

The only for them to know they will be replaced if they don’t do this is if for everyone who thinks this to tell their government representatives by post, email, phone, or old-fashioned knocking on the electoral office door. Only if enough people do this to convince special interest supporters that they really will be out of a job, will they begin to take the climate emergency seriously.

It is in your hands to start this action. VoteClimateOne.Org has the addresses and information you need to do this, and many other climate or energy action groups can also help you to power your tangible demands for action.

If you want to understand the climate crisis, see what VoteClimateOne.Org is telling our federal and state governments, and Climate Sentinel News for the real evidence of what is going on with the climate:

If you reference any of our evidence in your petitions to government member, they will know that a lot more people than you will be working to remove them from office if they don’t respond with serious climate action. See ACT NOW! and Traffic Light Voting.

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

Gov’t fiddling while Australia faces global burning

Labor Gov’t slashes vital Antarctic research by $25 M while promoting fossil fuel production/export and gifting $200 million to Aussie sport despite the desperate need to understand how unprecedented Antarctic ice and oceanic conditions relate to the climate crisis.

Anthony Albanese and the federal Labor government are supposedly concerned to keep Australians safe. Yet, if you listen to what they say,

  • It is necessary to save money by cutting $25 m from Antarctic research into why such a record shattering low amount of sea ice has formed this winter — a phenomenon that seems to place the whole of the human species at risk of near term extinction if we fail to understand and mitigate the risk. See what the science journal Nature says about this: (16 Aug 2923) Australia’s Antarctic budget cuts a ‘terrible blow for science’
  • It is more important to spend $200 m in voters’ tax dollars on cake and fairy floss (for girls sports) because the Matildas came 4th in the contest for the World Cup (see more below).
  • It is more important to cater to whims of fossil fuel with subsidies the Australia Institute estimates to be worth $57.1 bn over the forward estimates (see more below).
  • It is more important to grovel to America and the UK by spending $268bn to $368bn over the next ~30 years ($10 bn per year!) for delivery of 8 nuclear subs able to project our ‘power’ around the world in the by and by (the majority of these costs would also go overseas) when we could build 20 air-independent subs, a huge kit of other defensive weapons & related infrastructure, with $hundreds of billions left over (see more below).

I would call this government malfeasance of the highest order!

NO SINGLE POLITICAL PARTY SHOULD EVER AGAIN BE GIVEN THE MAJORITY POWER TO GOVERN FOR ITS OWN BENEFIT !

A couple of news items and some basic data on our only planet may make the claim of malfeasance more real.


Incredibly low sea-ice extent around Antarctica. Since early May (i.e., for more than 3½ months!) there has been an all-time record low for the month of the year since records began in 1979. Sigma (σ) is a measure of the probability of observing a deviation of that amount from the average of all measures for that day, assuming the deviations are randomly distributed. -5σ is about one chance in 3.5 million, -6σ is about one chance in 500 million! – and we have seen these extremes day after day after day!!

News Corp, 2 Aug 2023

Vital research interrupted as Australian Antarctic Division faces budget woes

As many as 56 Antarctic research projects could be cancelled, delayed or restricted, said an email sent from the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) to its staff.

The email stated that the division was facing budget constraints and would need to locate $25 million in savings in order to deliver the planned projects, which include studies into the diminishing sea ice, declining penguin populations, and the “cleaner Antarctica program”, an initiative designed to remedy damage caused by human activity such as oil spills.

Further information from anonymous insiders confirmed that two of Australia’s Antarctic research stations would not be fully staffed during the upcoming summer season, when scientific research at the south pole is usually at its peak.

The announcement comes at a crucial time for scientists, many of whom say this research is more important than ever.

Just last week, it was reported that Antarctic sea ice levels are at a record low, with ice that is normally recovered over the winter being absent – an event that would naturally occur only once every 7.5 million years. [this assumes that the variation is random, but clearly, this record is not random as the deviation has lasted for months, and many other climate indicators are also going crazy at the same time for similarly long periods]

“It couldn’t be any more catastrophic to hear at the moment, considering we’re seeing these incredible changes, particularly the sea ice right now. We’re seeing so little sea ice relative to what we normally see this time of year.”

If there’s a gap in data collection, it’s catastrophic for our understanding. If we have data up to a certain date, and then we have a gap for three years, five years, and then we start the data set again, it doesn’t make it useless. But it makes it really hard for us to get that understanding that we need.” [Especially when we need that information right now!]

Read the complete article….

Global Sea Surface Temperature at an all time high since records began in 1981 — and still rising compared to previous high records for day of the year. ClimateReanalyzer. Grey lines – Global average SST variation for each year from 1981 to 2021. Dotted line – global average SST, dashed line – 2σ above the average, Red line – global average SST variation for 2022. Note: for legibility, the image only shows temperatures from March 1 to Sept 17.

Sea Ice Thickness: Given that only a thin veneer of sea-ice is left over the Arctic Ocean with 3-4 weeks of melting time left, it seems possible that there may be “blue ocean” at the North Pole this year.

These three CICE charts are a product of the US Naval Research Lab’s GOFS 3.1 Global Ocean Forecasting System. See also Wikipedia: Measurement of sea ice. Other products for both poles provide similar ocean graphics for Sea Surface Salinity (SSS); Sea Surface Height (SSH) – as the ocean warms, it expands so the surfaces of warmer volumes will rise above mean sea-level; and CICE Speed and Drift. They also provide GIF animations of the last 30 days variation for all plots, and daily plots back to 2014. Except for the ice-related products, all of these measures are provided for global oceans and subregions.

Like most Australians, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been inspired by the Matildas’ World Cup performance Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/FIFA/Getty Images / From the article.

Tony Sheppherd, 19 Aug 2023 in The Guardian

Albanese government to pledge $200m for women’s sport after Matildas inspire Australia

In the wake of the Matildas’ World Cup performance, the government will unveil new funding and changes to TV bidding rights for sporting fixtures.

The Albanese government will promise $200m to improve women’s sporting facilities and equipment after the Matildas’ historic Women’s World Cup run sparked an unprecedented outpouring of support for women’s football.

As the Matildas prepare for their third-place playoff against Sweden in Brisbane on Saturday, the government will declare the national team had “changed sport forever”, while unveiling a new funding package and flagging moves to make more major events available on free-to-air television.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, will announce a new grants program, called Play Our Way, with money available for all sports. The government expects soccer will need a significant amount, given clubs have seen a “mind-boggling increase in interest” in the wake of the World Cup.

The grant guidelines have not been completed, but the government said the money would go to “promote equal access, build more suitable facilities, and support grassroots initiatives to get women and girls to engage, stay, and participate in sport throughout their lives”.

[The total budget for the Antarctic Division is around $800 million…; The ANKUS Submarine Project will cost between $268bn to $368bn between now and the mid 2050s – assuming society doesn’t collapse from ‘global boiling’ and precipitate global mass extinction before then.]

Read the complete article….

Cumulative area burned in Canada by year estimated from satellite detected hotspots since measurements began in 2003. Natural Resources Canada. Black line is 2023. As at 23 Aug 2023 14,664,278 ha had burned (off the scale of the automatically generated chart) — 3 x larger area compared to the previous largest burn, 4,524,137, recorded for the whole of 2014. Note also that in previous years very little burning occurred after mid August. In other words 1.47 % of the total land area of Canada has burned so far this year, with no indication that the burning will be stopping any time soon.

Sea Ice Concentration: Where thin ice still exists, most of that is fairly broken up with 30% or more of the surface within the pixel apparently open water.

Sea Surface Temperature: Warmish sea water, 2-4+ °C comes up to the edge of the thin ice, and even seems to be detected within the edge of the mapped extent (>15% concentration)

Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere jet streams from ClimateReanalyzer’s Today’s Weather Maps. Normally each hemisphere has two circumferential jet streams: Polar and Sub Tropical. In the Northern Hemisphere the winds are mostly too slow to be considered as jet streams at all (> 60 kts) and essentially completely chaotic. This accounts for the frequent, long-lived, mostly motionless, and extreme heat domes promoting unprecedented flash droughts, wildfires, and floods. In the Southern Hemisphere, the winds are of jetstream strength, but again they seem somewhat confused and chaotic which may be associated with the extreme anomalies in sea ice.


What do these measures signify?

On its own, any one of the unprecedented deviations from ‘normal’ climate behavior over the last 40 years or more shown the the graphics above would be scary/remarkable. The fact that several different global measures are more or less simultaneously show similar degrees of (or even growing!) deviation over several months should be sounding emergency warning sirens around the world.

Reports posted to all Australian parliamentarians last month (available via VoteClimateOne.Org) provide more detail and explanation of these and other climate measures documenting the accelerating crisis: Cover Letter – 5 July 2023 and Australian MPs: Act Now! Later may be too late. These, in turn, link to still more recent data on Climate Sentinel News: Global Climate Change Now and an unedited collection of links to the latest news during August to date — Aug 2023 Climate extremes.

As explained, the nature, extent and duration of the deviations scream out that the complexly dynamical global climate system has been ‘forced’ by increasingly high global average temperatures out the semi-stable glacial-interglacial cycle where it is now beginning to fall (i.e., run away) towards climate apocalypse, collapse and global mass extinction in a much hotter ‘hothouse Earth’ state. The current rate of change in climate indicators is far faster than anything that can be reconstructed for even the worst of them all – the End Permian that also seemed to be driven by runaway warming as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions. As explained in the documents cited in the previous paragraph, if we cannot mobilize effective action quickly enough to halt and reverse the global warming, our climate system seems to be crossing several tipping points that will drive us ever faster down the road to our extinction in Hothouse Hell. If we continue our present ‘business as usual’ attitudes of supporting the fossil fuel industry and gaslighting emergency actions to manage the climate crisis, and the climate trends seen in the last few months continue at the present pace, society may well collapse before 2050 with probable extinction of our species by 2100.

Note: In the cited documents above I suggested one of the tipping points being crossed was stoppage of Earth’s ‘thermohaline circulation‘ in the North Atlantic. At least I have found solid evidence showing that it is still working — even though hot water is covering the ocean surface — the depressed sea level and actual whirlpools E of Newfoundland and S of Greenland show deeper cool salty water is still being sucked down the usual plug-hole to the bottom of the ocean: last 30 days GIF of Sea Surface Height.


Is doom now inevitable or are there good reasons to think we can still climb out of the hole to a sustainable future? YES! Stainability is possible, but only if we act fast enough and hard enough!

Even if we have the threshold to runaway greenhouse, I remain optimistic enough to think if we act fast and hard enough we can still manage to find a survivable future. My reason is based on historical experience. I’m old enough to remember the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Consider the history that led up to this:  It took something on the order of 150 years of work using steampunk technology starting with mining coal with picks and shovels to reach our current crisis point. However in the same 150 years our scientific understanding, technological prowess, and overall knowledge has grown exponentially over that same time with a doubling time of 2-5 years (see Homo habilis to Homo destructor ― How the rise of tool-making apes can destroy the world). 

America’s mobilization for WWII shows what humans can do in an emergency situation if they work together. Until Dec 7 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Americans were isolationist deniers of the reality of Axis aggression (not unlike Trumpist ‘MAGA’). By 8 May 1945 Germany had been expunged and on 6 Aug. 1945 the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (and then Nagasaki a few days later) overwhelmed Japan. In 1941 nuclear fission was a wacky idea proposed by some academics. In 4 years nuclear science was developed, the Manhattan Project was conceived, several different kinds of production infrastructure (Hanford, Oak Ridge Facility, Savanna River (a bit after the War), Los Alamos, etc…) were designed and built, atom bombs were designed, built, tested, and used. In the area of engineering and logistics, an average of 5 highly capable destroyers were built each month for 32 months and an average of 3 Liberty Ships every 2 days between 1941 and 1945. were able to be assembled and launched each week. The United Nations was formed, etc.. Equally prodigious challenges were met in many other areas that completely changed world history. Yes, conscription, coercion, rationing, etc. was required – but the global challenge was met and the common danger vanquished….

Today, we have massively more knowledge and prowess than we did in the early 1940’s. Humans can do remarkable things if people and governments unite and work together to fight the common danger. There is no greater danger than the near term extinction of our entire species and most of the rest of Earth’s biosphere!

In other words, there is no time left for the slow process of electing climate activists to replace sitting puppets in our parliaments.

We need a government fit and able enough to declare the emergency and lead an emergency mobilization to research and manage the climate crisis. If we are to gain effective government coordination and support we have no choice but to change the minds of the parliamentarians we have now.


Measuring Labor’s prioritization of the climate emergency relative to supporting the fossil fuel industry and crazy defence projects

A good measure of our government’s national priorities is the amount of our tax money being allocated to supporting various kinds of activities, and how these amounts change over time.

Australians are paying increasingly high costs due to more frequent, extensive, and severe weather and fire events associated with the accelerating rate of global warming driving climate change. One would think our government would give high priority to understanding what causes the extremes in hopes that we can better prepare for and/or mitigate the ever worsening catastrophes caused by the climate extremes. There are good reasons for thinking that positive feedbacks from ‘polar amplification‘ play a major role in driving the crescendo of climate catastrophes. This winter’s shockingly low rate of sea ice formation around Antarctica that might happen once in 500,000,000 (FIVE HUNDRED MILLION) years through random variation given the observed variations over the last 40 years. (Earth’s land animals emerged from the water less than 500 million years ago.) Clearly the missing winter sea ice is associated with the other similarly improbable climate extremes noted above for this year. Clearly we need to understand scientifically what has caused this year’s anomaly and how it relates to the other extreme variations…….. Yet, because the Government is cutting their funding, the Australian Antarctic “division [is] facing budget constraints and [needs] to locate $25 million in savings in order to deliver the planned projects, which include studies into the diminishing sea ice, …”, etc. Clearly, our government has little interest in supporting Antarctic research critical for understanding climate change.


Some indication of who our Australian state and federal governments are supporting big-time (along with many other countries) is their apparent patrons in the fossil fuel industry (mostly comprised of overseas multinational companies).

By comparison, it is interesting to see how concerned Federal Labor is to support action to protect citizens from the increasing catastrophic and existential threats from climate climate change driven by global warming.

According to the numbers the Climate Council has provided, their steps towards climate action amount to $3,621,600,000 for some very fuzzily defined categories — $3.62 bn compared to $29 – $57 bn (depending on who you follow) in pretty definite subsidies and supports for the mostly overseas fossil fuel industry.

What do they get in return for this money? In FY2022 [1], fossil fuel companies donated $2 million to the ALP, Liberal and National parties. Not a lot, but it helps them with ‘winning the election’ costs. Total revenue from the industry is around $20 bn (still less than the subsidies!)


And then there is government management of the potentially existential cost of the climate emergency versus abject kowtowing to ‘his master’s voice’ via AUKUS

Rex Patrick, ex submariner in Oberon and Collins Class subs, sonar and electronic technologies expert, defence contractor, author for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and Federal Senator from South Australia, is what I would consider to be a qualified expert on naval technology. In one X-tweet Mr Patrick demonstrates just how mindlessly stupid allocating $368 bn to AUKUS would be — even for the purpose of acquiring military kit to defend ourselves from other nations:

Instead of 8 nuclear subs that may (or may not) be delivered for the currently estimated cost sometime by the Americans and UK able to project Australian power (for whose benefit?) to the other side of the planet, the same budget would supply 20 air-independent (= very quiet!) subs to protect Australian interests around our shores and in adjacent waters (e.g., Indonesian Archipelago) and a huge kit of additional defence hardware that could mostly be manufactured within the Australian economy — leaving $200 BILLION FOR MEASURES TO KEEP AUSTRALIANS SAFE FROM CLIMATE CATASTROPHE.

What is it about Australian governments in majority power that makes them so eager to work for the interests of (mostly overseas) special interest patrons rather than for the safety and well-being of Australian citizens who have voted to put them in power? To reiterate:

We need a government fit and able enough to declare the emergency and lead an emergency mobilization to research and manage the climate crisis. If we are to gain effective government coordination and support we have no choice but to change the minds of the parliamentarians we have now.

The only way this will happen is if they can be convinced that voters will remove them from Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity if the don’t. They only way they will be convinced they will be voted out is if enough voters flood their mail boxes, in trays, and phone lines with demands for climate action — or else! And, I’m pretty sure there are enough members of climate and environment action groups that if we all sent our emails, posts, phone calls, and even personal visits to electoral offices to deliver this message, that action will be taken.

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

Northern globe burning & El Niño is just starting

Northern Hemisphere summer is just starting but heat and wildfire records are already shattered over three continents! Oz + El Niño + summer?

The 6 June 2023 Washington Post gives us a bit of a hint of the kinds of conditions humans are likely to face over the next few years if we fail to stop our accelerating slide down the road to extinction as our global climate system flips from its semistable Glacial/Interglacial cycle to its Hothouse Earth state. We need climate emergency action now!

Smoke billows upward from a planned ignition by firefighters tackling the Donnie Creek Complex wildfire south of British Columbia on Saturday. (B.C. Wildfire Service/Reuters) / from the article

Ian LivingstonDan Stillman and Jason Samenow – 06/06/2023, Washington Post

Extreme heat, wildfires wreaking havoc with hottest months still ahead

The oceans are record warm while heat waves have invaded multiple continents and ice levels are at historic lows.

Spring has only just begun to transition to summer in the Northern Hemisphere, but some of the season’s most odious and dangerous extreme weather is already running rampant.

Prolonged and punishing heat waves in Asia have sent temperatures soaring to 100 degrees as far north as Siberia and above 110 degrees in Thailand and Vietnam, breaking records.

Wildfires are raging in Canada, which has never seen so much land burn so early in the year. They come after a record-warm May.

Extreme conditions extend to the Southern Hemisphere too, where record warmth and historically low sea ice levels linger even as that part of the globe enters winter.

The extremes are all connected to ocean waters that have hovered at record-warm levels for months, boosted by human-caused climate change. The weather chaos could escalate in the coming months as summer temperatures peak and a developing El Niño elevates air and water temperatures worldwide further.

Read the complete article….

Compare what is happening this year in Canada with what was observed by Hall 2016:

See the complete presentation….

And then the 2020 wildfires on the Siberian permafrost and taiga as summarised by Hall 2020:

Apparently the situation this year in early June, which is still very early in the normal temperate and subpolar climate zones of the Northern Hemishere, is already significantly worse than either the whole years of 2016 and 2020.

Where climate change is concerned, in 2023 before the year is halfway finished, indicators of the progress of global warming are already of the map into previously uncharted territories.

This post here only adds to alarms being set off by Climate Sentinel News‘s posts of the last few days (click thumbnails to read the posts):

What can we do to turn off the road to extinction in Hothouse Earth before it is too late?

In a few days VoteClimateOne.org and affiliated organizations will be launching our “Tools for Changing Government Minds”. The need for change is too urgent to depend on replacing people in office. Instead we have to change the minds of the existing people in office. Our launch document(s) will provide access to the tools, explain how to use them, and provide an armory full of nuggets of knowledge to be used as ammunition.

The first nugget to be fired at your local representative from as many different sources as possible is: (again click the thumbnail to open the file):

We need climate emergency action now! to get it started email the link to or post a copy of the document above to your federal and state MPs and senators with your own comments: If they don’t immediately start acting on the climate emergency that they will be history come the next election. Actions must include declaring (or passing legislation) that they recognize that we have to fight an existential emergency and all parliamentarians must get off their arses to shut down all sources of carbon emissions and begin mobilization to develop genuinely globally scalable technologies for capturing carbon from past emissions and safely sequestering the captured carbon in soils or in the deep oceans.

You can start doing this today if you want. You are welcome to link to or download and print any of the Climate Sentinel News posts that will help drive home the points you want to make in your cover note.

The basic idea of the campaign is very simple.

What politician is going to continue working as a puppet for special interests against first a few letters on the climate action theme, then tens, then hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and possibly even hundreds of thousands specifically addressed to him/her with the message act or else…… The mailing lists exist, we are crafting proforma covering documents, etc..

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

Australian MPs: Act now! Later may be too late!

Human activities are triggering self-reinforcing existential climate risks that are growing more lethal with time — our extinction is likely

Over the last 200 years prodigious amounts of carbon-based fossil fuels (coal, oil, methane) have been burned to produce waste gases (mostly CO₂) and useful energy to drive the Industrial Revolution, our affluence, our toys, our technologies, our wars, and everything that has followed. The fossil carbon humans have extracted from the Earth and burned in an instant of geological time took our planet millions of years to accumulate and store in the geosphere (i.e., rocks & soil). In the same geological instant, the waste gases released from the burning are fundamentally changing Earth’s atmosphere (the air we breathe, etc…). Because of the physical properties of CO₂ molecules and other atmospheric emissions, this has trapped enough additional solar heat in the atmosphere to significantly raise average temperatures around the world. In turn, the added heat is already causing unprecedented climatic disasters. These existential climate risks will only become more frequent and catastrophic as temperatures continue to rise. (See CO2: Past, Present, & Future – one of many dozens of articles covering the same facts, and Climate apocalypse).

However, natural regulatory processes in the climate system have kept the environment stable enough for more than 800,000 years up until the 20th Century – enough time for humans to evolve and develop the social systems, agriculture, technology, and cultural riches we benefit from today.

Image modified from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Atmospheric CO2 levels (blue line) and temperature (red line) from year 1,000 to 1978. Data for CO2 from Vostok ice core, Law Dome ice core, and Mauna Loa air samples. Data for temperature from Vostok ice core. CO2 measured here is in parts per million (ppm = by weight), which is similar to ppmv (by volume).

As shown in the graphs above, the shock to the composition of the atmosphere caused by these human generated changes is increasingly disrupting natural climate regulation. If we do not quickly stop and repair the damage we have done to the atmosphere, then over the next few decades increasingly extreme, frequent and extensive climate changes and catastrophes will be causing more death and destruction to our societies than we have the capacity to repair. In turn, this climate collapse will lead to agricultural, economic and social collapse followed by mass die-offs and probable human extinction within a century or two.

Business as usual cannot cope with a global systems breakdown. Nor can uncoordinated individual actions. However, at least for a few more years before systems breakdown has progressed too far, we should still be able to assemble the technology and knowledge to avoid this doom. Beginning with primitive Victorian era steam-punk technologies backed by a very limited scientific understanding of climate and geophysics, humans took over 150 years to burn enough fossil fuel to accidentally cause the present crisis. Today we have now developed a deep and detailed scientific understanding of how the world works and vastly more powerful technologies. With will, leadership, and cooperation at international, national, state, and local areas we should be able to locate, diagnose and repair aspects of the climate system we have broken to re-stabilize it in a state we can live with.

However, to do this we will have to revolutionise many of our governments. We need to change them from their usual businesses of representing and working for the special interests of their donors, patrons and puppet masters (many of them associated with fossil fuel industries), to a new business of truly representing the needs of the citizens they supposedly represent – – especially in the face of the growing climate crisis.

If you are an MP, you need to join this revolution!

The factual scientific evidence of the consequence we face if we fail to stop and reverse global warming is overwhelming. However, I recognize that a life in politics where almost everything can be ‘negotiated’ does not prepare most politicians to understand the difference between responding to non-negotiable facts of physical reality and the business-as-usual of getting elected/re-elected and trading influence.

In the remainder of this work I present some of the overwhelming evidence of the dangers we face from an increasingly destabilised climate system driven by unrestrained global warming, and why our governments must change and act if we are to have any hope of surviving the existential global crisis this is causing. Because this evidence is based on scientific laws developed over some 400 years of testing and practical use, it is totally independent of whatever people might want to ‘believe’ now about how the world works

Laws of physics, geology, chemistry and biology

The scientific laws of physics and chemistry describe how the universe we live in works, irrespective of anything we humans might want to believe. Because atoms and molecules work the way they do, burning carbon releases ‘greenhouse’ (i.e., heat trapping) gases into the atmosphere. Because the increased concentration of these gases in the atmosphere traps reduces the amount of solar energy leaving our planet, the world is growing warmer.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s (NOAA) Mauna Loa observatory’s records show the longest available continuous series of meticulous(!) measurements of important greenhouse gases. Variation in the two most important gases are shown below. The amount of these gases in the atmosphere increased every year since the recording began (except for methane which showed slight decreases in three out of 5 years beginning in 2000). More importantly, the rate of CO₂ increase has also increased in 5 of the 6 decades in the record (i.e., it’s getting worse even faster now than it was earlier!). These kinds of graphs are based on many discrete observations taken every day for many years at particular locations (in this case Mauna Loa, Hawaii) that are replicated by similar observations from other stable locations around the world (e.g., Cape Grim, Tasmania – see also CSIRO Atmospheric Composition and Chemistry).

NOAA Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases / Trends in CO₂ (carbon dioxide) / Trends in CH₄ (methane). The average amounts of gas are plotted (red dots) on a monthly basis. The average increase in the amounts of gas are plotted yearly.  Source gml.noaa.gov.

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere act as a thermal blanket causing the Earth’s temperature to rise by reducing the amount of solar heat lost to space — same heat in, less heat out: inevitably everything covered by the blanket gets warmer. Just how much warmer is measured by the ‘temperature anomaly‘.

It should be no surprise that dumping millions of years worth of carbon accumulation into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases at an accelerating rate over 200 years or so has significantly affected global temperatures.

Berkeley Earth’s Global Temperature Report for 2022 – Posted on by Robert Rohde.
The global mean temperature in 2022 is estimated to have been 1.24 °C (2.24 °F) above the average temperature from 1850-1900, a period often used as a pre-industrial baseline for global temperature targets. This is ~0.03 °C (~0.05 °F) warmer than in 2021. As a result, 2021 is nominally the fifth warmest year to have been directly observed, though the years 2015, 2017, 2018, 2021, and 2022 all cluster closely together relative to their uncertainty estimates. In particular 2022 and 2015 are essentially tied, and 2022 could just as easily be regarded as the 6th warmest year. This global mean temperature in 2022 is equivalent to 0.91 °C (1.64 °F) above the 1951-1980 average, which is often used as a reference period for comparing global climate analyses. The last eight years stand out as the eight warmest years to have been directly observed. (Note: Berkeley Earth’s methodologies and their differences from other groups providing similar global temperature records are described here.)

Around ninety percent of the excess heat Earth absorbs is held in the oceans, and water in its three forms (gas, liquid and ice) is the main transporter for distributing that energy around the planet.

OCEAN HEAT CONTENT CHANGES SINCE 1955 (NOAA)
Data source: Observations from various ocean measurement devices, including conductivity-temperature-depth instruments (CTDs), Argo profiling floats, and eXpendable BathyThermographs (XBTs). Credit: NOAA/NCEI World Ocean Database. A more detailed graph including additional measurements from instrumented mooring arrays, and ice-tethered profilers (ITPs) covers the period 1992 – 2022. Credit NASA ECCO. Covering more than 70% of Earth’s surface, our global ocean has a very high heat capacity. It has absorbed 90% of the warming that has occurred in recent decades due to increasing greenhouse gases, and the top few meters of the ocean store as much heat as Earth’s entire atmosphere.
Note: If you want to grasp how many and what kinds of precision measurements – cross-checked across a variety of measurement platforms go into constructing these graphs, I suggest taking the time to go through one of ECCO’s presentations: ECCO: Integrating Ocean and Water.

Water (= H₂O) is a major component in the climate system and the main carrier of energy driving weather and climate change.

Each of water’s three physical states: water vapour (=gas), liquid water, and frozen water (=ice), together with transitions between the three states, all play important roles in the absorption, storage, transport, and release of heat around the planet. In its own right water vapour is also the most important and variable greenhouse gas.

Of all the natural materials forming the outer layers of the Earth, water has the second highest heat capacity of any known chemical compound. A lot of energy needs to be absorbed or released to warm or cool a quantity of water by even one degree — the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gm water by 1 °C at standard pressure and temperature has its own name, the calorie. (An old unit of measure, but the easiest to follow here.) This same amount of heat is released when the 1 gm cools by 1°. To raise the temperature of 1.3 sextillion litres just by 1° of the world’s oceans takes the absorption of a humongous amount of heat!

Water (Hydrosphere) and Air (Atmosphere)

Water in the world Ocean

At temperatures above 4 °C, water expands as it warms. In other words, a parcel of water composed of a given number of molecules occupying space expands in volume as it warms from 4 °C to boiling. Thus, as the ocean warms, sea levels rise. Water running off the land from melting glaciers and ice sheets causes sea levels to rise further and faster.

Warmer waters lying over cooler waters of the same salt content tend not to mix. However, as warm salt water evaporates, salt is left behind, making the remaining surface water denser, until it becomes heavier than cooler water below, allowing the warm water to sink and mix with the cooler water. This helps to suck in ocean currents to replace parcels of the cooling saltier water as they become denser and sink into the depths.

Thus, ocean currents are important engines for transporting heat around the globe.

Water in the atmosphere

Boiling or evaporating 1 gm of liquid water to gas (i.e., invisible steam) at one atmosphere of pressure takes approximately 540 calories of energy (= heat of vaporisation/evaporation)! Similarly, when H₂O gas condenses to form visible steam (i.e., a mist of liquid water) the same energy of vaporisation is released as heat.

When liquid water freezes to form solid ice it releases ~80 calories/gm, while 80 calories of energy needs to be extracted from the surrounding environment to freeze 1 gm of liquid water to ice.

The gas laws discovered in the 1800s through practical experience with the thermodynamics of steam and internal combustion engines govern the relationships between temperature, volume, and pressure of gases. As heat energy warms a parcel of gas at a standard pressure, the absorbed energy causes the gas molecules comprising the parcel to move faster – resulting in increased volume (lowering the density of the parcel compared to surrounding parcels that have not changed in temperature). Or, vice versa increasing pressure will cause the gas parcel to heat up. Similarly, cooling gas will shrink in volume (i.e., become more dense) as its temperature decreases, or warming gas will increase its volume becoming less dense as it is heated. This is why parcels of warm air tend to rise in generally cooler air and vice versa.

Finally, another set of laws describes the solubility of water vapour in Earth’s atmosphere, and the solubility of the various gases forming the atmosphere in water. A parcel carrying the maximum concentration of a dissolved material is said to be ‘saturated’. Normally any excess over the point of saturation is precipitated out of the solution. Where precipitation of water vapour in the atmosphere is concerned, the precipitated water is called dew (if it collects on a surface), mist (if the droplets are small enough to remain floating in the atmosphere), rain (if droplets are large enough to fall to the ground) or snow (if it is cold enough for the precipitation of solid water). Hail is precipitated as liquid droplets that coalesce and freeze on the way to the ground. Basically, the capacity for the atmosphere to carry water as dissolved water vapour and the rate at which the vapour evaporates from the liquid increases substantially with temperature.

Note that the process of evaporation absorbs a lot of energy (i.e., the vapour stores the energy that drove the evaporation as latent heat) which is released as sensible heat when the dissolved vapour condenses and precipitates. Warm air can hold a lot of water vapour while cold air can only hold a little vapour. Thus a warm air mass is often able to suck moisture out of vegetation and soils, but as that mass rises in elevation and cools a temperature may be reached where the air is saturated (this is called the ‘dew point‘) and possibly massive amounts of water are precipitated as rain or snow together with the release of huge amounts of latent heat as sensible heat causing the air mass to rise still higher (e.g., into towering anvil topped cumulonimbus clouds). The rising air is liable to suck in high speed winds and possibly even form small and large hail, cyclones, and tornadoes. The higher the temperature of the air mass is when the dew point is reached, the more precipitation, heat and wind is generated.

As global warming increases baseline and average temperatures around the world, the amount of energy contained in parcels of water vapour increases, and thus increases the total amount of energy available to drive extreme weather events.

Water on the land and in the biosphere

Liquid water is a powerful solvent for all kinds of minerals and flows downhill wherever it can. Flowing water is relatively dense, and therefore an important agent for the transport of solid materials ranging from particles of sand to potentially huge boulders and even buildings. Consequently, standing and flowing waters are the major agents of dissolution, erosion and storm damage: especially when combined with storm-force winds.

All living things on Earth are partially comprised of water, with humans being about 60% water and even trees 50% water. The water in and around living things acts a) as a solvent and as a medium of transport for the dissolved gases required for photosynthesis (where this exists) and respiration; b) as a medium of transport for the ions, molecular nutrients and waste products of cellular metabolism and growth; c) as a structural element in the three-dimensional folding of proteins and other macromolecules; and d) as a structural element in the maintenance of hydraulic rigidity of the shapes of cells and vesicles, and even whole organisms. 

Every type of living thing requires the availability of a minimum amount of water of a minimum quality to survive. Conversely, too much water and/or water of the wrong quality (i.e., it may be transporting harmful substances as particles or in solution) or wrong temperature (i.e., the shapes and activities of proteins involved in metabolism unavoidably change with changing temperature) may also kill.

Air in the water

Atmospheric gases (e.g., nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide) are more soluble in cold water than warm water. In other words, cold water can carry a lot more dissolved O₂ and CO₂ than warm water can.

CO₂ is relatively soluble in water because it readily forms carbonic acid. This is important for global warming because the oceans currently absorb about 30% of all global CO₂ emissions, thus slowing the rise of global temperatures due to the greenhouse effect. However, this is bad news for life on Planet Earth for three reasons: First, as the gas is increasingly absorbed into the water some of it turns into carbonic acid. This makes the water more acidic, dissolving calcium from shells and bones – contributing to the die off of plankton, corals, shellfish and bony fish. Secondly, given that CO₂ is the waste product of respiration it slows the respiration of all marine and aquatic organisms. Three, as water temperature rises CO₂ becomes substantially less soluble. This can be catastrophic for global warming because it acts like a time bomb. Rising temperatures drive significant amounts of CO₂ out of solution in the ocean, back into the atmosphere, where it acts as a positive feedback driving global temperatures still higher in a potentially vicious cycle.

O₂’s solubility in water is limited, but dissolved O₂ is critical to life for all complex organisms that respire water. This includes all aquatic or oceanic organisms: many bacteria, most protozoa, single-celled and multicellular algae (net O₂ producers by day, overnight they must extract O₂ at night for respiration) up to whole forests of giant kelp, giant squids, whale-sharks, and the largest whales. In the pre-industrial world O₂ levels in most waters were close to saturation. Any degree of warming beyond what species are adapted to live in reduces the amount of O₂ the water can carry. Species will begin dying when the O₂ levels fall below levels the different species have evolved to tolerate. For example, along the Southern California coast where I grew up, whole forests of giant kelp die off when the ocean temperature rises to around 23 °C. So do the myriad of other species living in those forests that may still be able to respire, because at some to many points in their lifecycles they required something the kelp provided. Other kelp forests around the world, and in Australia are also dying off, e.g., the once rich kelp forests of Tasmania – possibly even more comprehensively than they have in California (e.g., northern Tasmania).

And then there are the horrific die-off events in the rivers and lakes of Australia’s Murray-Darling region, where the combination of blistering heat combined with off-the-charts CO₂ levels is absolutely lethal to whole ecosystems. This year’s event even killed carp that can breathe air!

How will our Atmosphere, Hydro-/Cryo-sphere, Geosphere and Biosphere respond to global warming on the real Planet Earth?

Meteorology, climate science, earth systems science extend the basic laws of physics, chemistry and a little bit of biology into the real world. However, even a brief review of some of the basic laws of physics and chemistry above for water, oxygen, and CO₂ gives some hint of just how complex weather and climate change really are. Earth’s Climate System that generates weather and climate change in the world we live in is a complex dynamical system composed of probably hundreds of variables often interacting with one another in non-linear. Some of these interactions are poorly understood or even unrecognised even by the scientists studying them.

Even though the Earth System is absolutely and fundamentally governed by the physical laws of nature, trying to predict future weather and climate conditions is fraught with difficulties of two kinds. First, complex systems of many variables, where some of the variables have non-linear positive feedback relations with one another, often behave chaotically under some or even many conditions. (See also climate change feedback.) Second, is that some of the variables are probably still unknown to science or not well understood. Even the largest supercomputers in the world capable of performing more than 100 quadrillion calculations per second and working with millions of daily observations from around the world can only make usefully accurate weather predictions out to around 8 days before wandering off into random noise.

For these reasons, predicting the future trends of global warming with a high degree of accuracy and certainty is frankly impossible.  However, what is almost certain is that if we do not stop and reverse the process of global warming there will be major disruptions to all of these systems which will make much of the Earth uninhabitable for complex life.

How trustworthy are the sciences and the warnings?

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deals with the uncertainties by running large numbers of similar earth/climate system models (ensembles) with slightly varying inputs on supercomputers to forecast possible future trends and their likelihoods. These outputs are analysed statistically to determine frequent trends and the range of uncertainties around these trends. Thus, many believe that the models give us a relatively good idea of how changes in specific environmental variables are likely to change the climate.

Unfortunately, with regard to managing climate risks, the reality is that this approach is too conservative because:

  • It filters out some or all of the instances of chaotic extreme deviations from the likely results because these are usually considered to be consequences of “system breakdown” in what is assumed to be a bad model — even though system breaking ‘exponential blow-ups’ are to be expected in complex dynamical systems. In other words, the bad result where the model ‘breaks down’ may well be a realistically valid prediction of the model.
  • Most scientists agree that the RATE of climate change is increasing with time. However, the delays in knowledge flow between observation of reality and assessment and presentation of results mean that there is a lag built into the IPCC reports.  That is, the delays inherent in analysing and writing up the results, delays in conducting peer review and publishing the original research, conceiving and constructing and running the mathematical models based on those results to forecast the future, analysing and writing up the results of the modelling, delays in publishing these results; and then comes the added time cost to incorporate the published results in an IPCC Report. This IPCC process alone takes a minimum of 2-3 additional years of three drafts, two peer reviews, and a final sign-off by the political appointees of the 170 countries comprising the UN’s World Meteorological Organization. Thus, the years-old input data providing a baseline for the models’ predictions necessarily do not include the array of record-breaking temperature, greenhouse gas, and weather readings associated with the increasingly extreme weather events of the last few years.
  • Finally most IPCC scientists are associated with academic and research institutions funded by governments, where academic progress and promotions depend on not being too novel or controversial (i.e., exhibiting ‘scientific reticence‘). This leads to scientific self-censorship — downplaying alarming findings, reinforced by the need that IPCC Reports require political approvals by government appointees to be published.

The following graphic is the IPCC’s own depiction of their authoring and review process.

The graphic and a comprehensive description of IPCC’s writing and review processes are given in their document, Preparing Reports. In turn, even more detail on how each kind of document is prepared, reviewed and signed off is provided in the IPCC [Documentation] Procedures, according to the the Principles Governing IPCC Work that lay down the role, organisation and procedures of the IPCC. These guiding Principles establish comprehensiveness, objectivity, openness and transparency for all IPCC Work
.

Note, this and other issues with the IPCC’s predictions are examined in detail in my presentation: Some fundamental issues relating to the science underlying climate policy: The IPCC and COP26 couldn’t help but get it wrong.

Thus, when the formal IPCC reports publish their predictions for the future consequences: it follows that this is a gold-standard, scientifically correct but somewhat rose-tinted statement of the best possible outcomes we can hope for from the present state of the escalating climate emergency. The actual future is most likely to be worse, or even more worse. 

Given all of these factors, it is virtually impossible that the IPCC reports are in any way overstating the magnitude and dangers of the climate crisis.  Those who claim the IPCC reports are ‘alarmist’ are seriously misinformed or else aim to be deliberately misleading.

How do we know all of this?

There is a vast array of direct observational evidence from the real world (e.g., the graphs of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and rising global temperatures presented above) showing that our global climate is already deteriorating at historically and even geologically unprecedented rates. A few recent observations sample this kind of evidence.

Identifying, analysing, and managing climate risks

Most climate scientists have backgrounds in mathematics, physics or geology where they are used to working with well behaved regular systems — not complex dynamical systems with potentially chaotic and unknown variables where the models are inherently fallible in their predictions of the future. Although the mathematical theory of chaos emerged from early attempts to model climate, few have any formal grounding in complex systems or chaos theory. Consequently, they tend to believe their models can predict the future with some degree of statistical accuracy, rather than accepting that models are good for explaining what can happen but not what will or won’t happen.

Scientists (including a few climate scientists) who continue to deny that current climate change is mainly due to human activity are often used to dealing with changes over long periods of time, where natural and well understood processes are more or less adequate to explain how climate has changed in the past.  Many of today’s deniers formed their opinions years ago (e.g. 1980s) when even climate specialists actively debated the extent and causes of climate change.  In people prone to denial, ‘confirmation bias’ then begins to reinforce conclusions, where data fitting their belief is eagerly accepted, but seemingly contradictory data is critically scrutinised and rejected. 

Over time, with the overwhelming additional data supporting unnaturally accelerated climate temperatures on land, air and sea, almost all genuine climate scientists have come to conclude that human activities are in fact changing the climate.  The holdouts are usually in those other disciplines that have a default assumption that natural processes always explain changes in climate.

And then, there are those who have totally unscientific reasons for denying that humans cause climate change.Following on my career as an evolutionary biologist (PhD Harvard 1973) with strong backgrounds in geology, physics, systems sciences (systems ecology, genetic systems, cybernetics), I was employed for 17 years as a knowledge management systems analyst and designer with what became Tenix and then Tenix Defence through the life-cycle of “Australia’s most successful naval surface combatant project – by far” – the ANZAC ship project. I worked very closely with the company’s engineering systems analysts and risk managers (often the same people did both). The ANZAC Project was so successful because the prime contract was performance-based rather than specifications based. We were contracted to deliver for a fixed price certain capabilities and reliabilities in service rather than meticulously detailed products.

Large defence systems – especially like warships and aircraft with their multitudes of subsystems, assemblies and piece parts, are complex dynamical systems that are inherently but unpredictably fallible due to unanticipated dynamics, human errors, or unpredictable failures of critical parts. It was the job of contract analysts, systems engineers, design engineers and knowledge managers (me), to work out a ship design and construction process that could be trusted to meet the customers’ requirements within the negotiated fixed price.

Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA)

The critical analytical tool in Tenix’s success, apparently unknown to climate science, is application of the Military Standard, Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) within a risk analytical and management framework. Briefly, this involves (1) tabulating all conceivable failures and the potential consequence of the particular failure mode (i.e., its criticality) for every component of the system that might have a detrimental effect on the system’s safety or functionality, (2) preparing at least a matrix for every failure mode showing the approximate likelihood of failure, and (optionally) the likely consequences/costs to the system should the failure occur, and the costs to repair or mitigate the mode.

Applying FMECA to global warming

Should we ignore a risk because its consequences are so severe we fear accepting that it is real?

The following graphic plots an analytical matrix for the risk of human extinction from a failure to stop global warming at a safe global temperature for human survival. A serious analysis of this risk (that is unthinkable to many) demands examining the physical realities associated with each dimension of the matrix and looking for solutions to reduce consequences and likelihood of the risk happening, and to provide the maximum time possible to manage it; or alternatively, to entirely avoid the activities causing the risk. Unfortunately, given that the risk from global warming is associated with the project to power industrial, technological, and population growth by burning fossil fuels that began 150 years ago. Thus we have no choices but to live or die with the consequences arising from this project.

Slides 10 and 76 from Hall (2016). The angst of global warming – our species’ existential risk

Our planning to manage the risk must consider the third dimension — TIME. How much time do we have to manage the risk if we are to avoid its consequences? The possible consequences of the risk are existential – i.e., extinction of human society as we know it or even the entire species. The probability is likely to be certain if we do not stop and reverse global warming. The timescale is imminent, i.e., within the expected lifespan of today’s children.

Should we heed the science and the warnings?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established by the United Nations to research and provide the “best” scientific advice available to governments of the world regarding the science, trends, and likely progress of climate change. The Panel’s staff is selected and overseen by all the member states of the World Meteorological Organization. The peer review is exhaustive and intensive – probably more so than for any other scientific endeavour ever.

For reasons I have detailed it would be virtually impossible for any formal publication of the IPCC to overstate the dangers represented by climate change. Where the IPCC says that even the current trends will be catastrophic if realised, I would say that they are ‘existential’: A word the IPCC rarely uses and never defines.

Most dictionaries (e.g., see OneLook Dictionary Search) only define the word in terms of ‘existentialism’ – a branch of philosophy. In discussion of the climate crisis, in the framework of global catastrophic risk, “an existential danger threatens the very existence of something” (ref. Macmillan Dictionary).

The Wikipedia article on Global Catastrophic Risk defines “existential” in these terms:

Existential risks are defined as “risks that threaten the destruction of humanity’s long-term potential.” The instantiation of an existential risk (an existential catastrophe) would either cause outright human extinction or irreversibly lock in a drastically inferior state of affairs. Existential risks are a subclass of global catastrophic risks, where the damage is not only global but also terminal and permanent, preventing recovery and thereby affecting both current and all future generations.Note: This discussion of definitions may seem to be highly pedantic. It isn’t. It is deadly serious. Humanity faces a serious risk of triggering a global mass extinction event akin to the End Permian event that was “Earth’s most severe known extinction event,[11][12] with the extinction of 57% of biological families, 83% of genera, 81% of marine species[13][14][15] and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species.[16] It is the largest known mass extinction of insects.[17]If you are declaring a state of emergency, it does not help to describe the emergency in soothing terms.

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

A warming ocean will take its revenge on us

Around 90% of the extra heat trapped by the greenhouse layer warms our Ocean to slow rising temperatures. We’ll pay the price.

The climate scientist, Bill McKibben reminded me of this fact in his regular newsletter, The Crucial Years, in his 18 May post, Maybe we should have called this planet ‘Ocean’. His post on ocean warming begins with an earlier version of the graphic here from ClimateReanalizer. These are updated daily, so the record here is only a day or two behind the current reality:

The page provides time series and map visualizations of daily mean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) from the NOAA Optimum Interpolation SST (OISST) dataset version 2.1. OISST is a 0.25°x0.25° gridded dataset that estimates temperatures based on a blend of satellite, ship, and buoy observations. The OISST data product includes SST anomalies based on 1971–2000 climatology from NOAA. The datset spans 1 January 1982 to present with a 1 to 2-day lag from the current day. OISST files are preliminary for about two weeks until a finalized product file is posted by NOAA. This status is identified on the maps with “[preliminary]” showing in the title, and applies to the time series as well. The time series chart displays area-weighted means of the selected domain. For example, if World 60S-60N is selected, then the SST values shown are area-wieghted means for all ocean gridcells between 60°S and 60°N across all longitudes.

Something very troubling is happening on and under the 70 percent of the planet’s surface covered by salt water. We pay far more attention to the air temperature, because we can feel it (and there’s lots to pay attention to, with record temps across Asia, Canada and the Pacific Northwest) but the truly scary numbers from this spring are showing up in the ocean.

If you look at the top chart above , you can see “anomaly” defined. [His chart was for 11 May. Mine, here, is the temperature on 19 May.]That’s the averaged surface temperature of the earth’s oceans, and beginning in mid-March it was suddenly very much hotter than we’ve measured before. In big datasets for big phenomena, change should be small—that’s how statistics work, and that’s why the rest of the graph looks like a plate of spaghetti. That big wide open gap up there between 2023 and the next hottest year (2016) is the kind of thing that freaks scientists out because they’re not quite sure what it means. Except trouble. [My emphasis]

… A little-noticed [but quite important] recent study headed by Katrina von Schuckmann found that “over the past 15 years, the Earth has accumulated almost as much heat as it did in the previous 45 years,” and that 89 percent of that heat has ended up in the seas. That would be terrifying on its own, but coming right now it’s even scarier. That’s because, after six years dipping in and out of La Nina cooling cycles, the earth seems about to enter a strong El Nino phase, with hot water in the Pacific. El Nino heat on top of already record warm oceans will equal—well, havoc, but of exactly what variety can’t be predicted.

Read the complete article….

McKibben’s second graphic (the up to date version is my “Featured Image”) shows a global plot of temperature anomalies (also compared to the same 1971-1980 baseline) for every ¼° – ¼° square of ocean surface. “Area weighting” is applied because ¼° of latitude (the width of the ‘square) becomes much narrower as either pole is approached, reducing the physical surface area encompassed by the lines on the globe.

Earth’s oceans cover around 70% of the globe’s surface. Despite the 2nd or 3rd week of record breaking heat, wildfires and drought in western North America extending from California through the western 2/5ths of North America into the Arctic Ocean and a second belt in northern Eurasia extending from Scandinavia and Finland to western Siberia, the ocean temperatures are relatively even more extreme. And, in fact, the crazy heat in the warming oceans may be the driving force behind the record land temperatures — and may well be triggering what is likely to be the most extreme El Niño event yet in the climate change record.

In any event, this data doesn’t just freak me out. It suggests that the door to Earth’s Hothouse Hell is beginning to open to suck us in.


Is this data reliable enough to support action?

Where the climate record is concerned, From the beginning of the satellite era, our oceanic temperature record is very good indeed, and not just because satellite remote sensing measures virtually every square degree of most of the globe every day, but the satellites’ measurements are calibrated every day against the ‘ground truth’ measurements from many hundreds of Argo floats surfacing each day from their 9-10 days probing the ocean depths. The graphic below shows the physical locations sampled by Argo floats over the previous month. Added to these are more detailed measurements collected by fleets of oceanographic ships and a few special moored buoys that continuously record measurements from the ocean surface to the abyssal ocean bottom.

Supercomputers amalgamate the raw input data and assemble the kinds of human readable outputs that you and I can understand at a glance. Thanks to the exponential growth of measuring technologies and data processing power the accuracy and detail of our scientific understanding of climate and weather extends far beyond anything we could know in past decades.


How is all the additional heat in the warming ocean likely to affect the planet we live on?

Melting ice

As the atmosphere and oceans absorb more solar energy, some of this excess energy will inevitably be absorbed melting ice in the cooler regions of the planet where ice has existed more-or-less in an equilibrium state, e.g., in the form of glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice. The energy drives the equilibrium states towards more water and less ice.

One very obvious measure of ice melting is the rapidly shrinking area of the Earth’s surface covered by sea ice around the N and S Poles. Since the beginning of the satellite era this has been able to be measured accurately. The Australian Antarctic Program Partnership and the ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science’s 2023 Science Briefing: On Thin Ice explains what is happening around our local polar ocean

The graphics below show the daily extents of sea ice over both polar oceans since the beginning of the satellite era in 1979 as plotted by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center‘s interactive Charctic application.

Record minimums or maximums are updated annually. Therefore, a newly-set record may not be reflected in the chart until after the annual update.
View additional years by clicking the dates in the legend.
Roll your cursor over the line to see daily sea ice extent values.
Zoom in to any area on the chart by clicking and dragging your mouse.
To see a corresponding daily sea ice concentration image, click on a line in the chart. Sea ice extent is derived from sea ice concentration. Images are not available for the average or standard deviation.
When reusing Charctic images or data, please credit “National Snow and Ice Data Center.”
Currently, some functions do not work in Internet Explorer. We recommend using a different browser.
For more information about the data, see About Charctic data.
If you have questions or problems, please contact NSIDC User Services at [email protected].

What is currently happening in the Antarctic Ocean is also freakish and worrisome!

Rising sea levels

Of course, all the melt water released by melting ice has to go somewhere — i.e., adding to the volume of the World Ocean. As this wasn’t enough, as water warms it also expands to raise the sea levels even more. The graph below from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, plots the rising tide of the swelling ocean since 1993 through June 2022. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate.Gov site’s Climate Change: Global Sea Level also plots the rise, and considers its implications in more detail.

The Conversation’s May 17 article, Global warming to bring record hot year by 2028 – probably our first above 1.5°C limit, looks at these facts and warns us that the time to act is NOW! CSIRO’s State of the Climate/Oceans covers most of the trends I have discussed here and more…

Daily change in global mean sea level, as measured by satellite altimetry, from January 1993 to June 2022 (solid line), the associated uncertainty at 90% confidence level (shading) and the trend (dashed line). The data have been adjusted for glacial isostatic adjustment and have been corrected for the TOPEX-A instrumental drift during 1993–1998. Data source: CMEMS Ocean Monitoring Indicator based on the C3S sea level product. Credit: C3S/ECMWF/CMEMS. 
https://climate.copernicus.eu/climate-indicators/sea-level

Help! We’re sliding down the slope to Earth’s Hothouse Hell! Sound the sirens and mobilize for WW III against global warming and the existential climate crisis!


As is usual for the UN’s climate pronouncements driven by the UN’s IPCC findings that absolutely establish the dangers we face from global warming/heating, even this klaxon warning understates and downplays the magnitude of the crisis we face.

If we fail to mobilize genuinely effective action over the next decade to stop and reverse the warming crisis, our families will have their lives shortened due to increasing climate catastrophes and we will have condemned our entire species to death in Earth’s 6th global mass extinction within a century or two. We don’t have time to take more election cycles to elect new governments. Our existing governments must wake up, smell the smoke, and immediately begin acting to put out the fire before it destroys us all. If you are in government, read Guterres’ message in mind. YOU must act now!

Press Release

SG/SM/21799

16 May 2023

Planet Hurtling towards Hell of Global Heating, Secretary-General Warns Austrian World Summit, Urging Immediate Emissions Cuts, Fair Climate Funding

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the seventh Austrian World Summit, in Vienna today:

I thank the Austrian Government and Arnold Schwarzenegger for this opportunity.  The climate crisis can feel overwhelming.  Disasters and dangers are already mounting, with the poor and marginalized suffering the most, as we hurtle towards the hell of 2.8°C of global heating by the end of the century.

But, amidst all this, I urge you to remember one vital fact:  limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C remains possible.  That is the clear message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  But, it requires a quantum leap in climate action around the world.

To achieve this, I have proposed an Acceleration Agenda.  This urges all Governments to hit fast-forward on their net-zero deadlines, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of national circumstances.  It asks leaders of developed countries to commit to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2040 — as Austria has done.  And leaders in emerging economies to do so as close as possible to 2050.

The Acceleration Agenda also urges all countries to step up their climate action, now.  The road map is clear:  phasing out of coal by 2030 in OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries and 2040 in all others; net-zero electricity generation by 2035 in developed countries, and 2040 elsewhere; no more licensing or funding of new fossil-fuel projects; no more subsidizing fossil fuels; and no more fake offsets, which do nothing to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, but which are still being used to justify fossil-fuel expansion today.

We can only reach net zero if we make real and immediate emissions cuts.  If we embrace transparency and accountability.  Relying on carbon credits, shadow markets, or murky accounting means one thing:  failure.  That is why I have asked CEOs to present clear net-zero transition plans, in line with the credibility standard presented by my high-level expert group on net-zero pledges.

And the Acceleration Agenda urges business and Governments to work together to decarbonize vital sectors — from shipping, aviation and steel, to cement, aluminium and agriculture.  This should include interim targets for each sector to pave the way to net zero by 2050.

The Acceleration Agenda also calls for climate justice, including overhauling the priorities and business models of multilateral development banks, so that trillions of dollars in private finance flow to the green economy.

Developed countries must also make good on their financial commitments to developing countries.  And they must operationalize the loss and damage fund, and replenish the Green Climate Fund.  I commend Austria for increasing its pledge to the Green Climate Fund by 23 per cent and urge others to deliver their fair share.

On climate, we have all the tools we need to get the job done. But, if we waste time, we will be out of time.  Let’s accelerate action, now.  Thank you.

Featured Image

Note that about half the surface of Earth’s Ocean is a good 2 °C hotter than the baseline average temperature for this day of the year

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

Utter insanity: they’ll outlaw gravity next

As if a planetary system is going to pay an iota of attention to what Iowa thinks. New law says state regulations must ignore climate change!

The only people who will suffer will be those harmed by and dying from increasingly extreme weather events as a consequence of global warming from the fossil fuel industry’s continued contributions to Earth’s greenhouse layer.

Blind stupidity driven by boundless greed! You have to read the article to understand just how stupid and greedy some American legislators can be…

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

Puppet politics: Majority governments work for themselves

Labor puppets will work to benefit fossil fuel industries’ continued hyper-profitable exploitation come hothouse hell or high water flooding! How do we know this?

In the feature article here, Fake Reform: Jim Chalmers’ itsy-bitsy tax “hit” is a gift for foreign fossil fuel giants, Michael West Media compares the Australian experience with fossil fuel exploitation with the way Norway has managed their resources.

Gas giants are grinning too. Image: Jim Chalmers, AAP / from the article

Michael West – 07/05/2023, Michael West Media

Fake Reform: Jim Chalmers’ itsy-bitsy tax “hit” is a gift for foreign fossil fuel giants

Jim Chalmers’ long-awaited tweaks to the PRRT are the itsy-bitsyest “reforms” about, the equivalent of recycling old Christmas presents with a fancy new bow. Michael West reports on how the Treasurer is merely returning a couple of billion in gas sector subsidies, and only for a while.

“Chalmers slaps $2.4bn tax hit on oil and gas,” cried Murdoch’s The Australian. “$2.4bn gas tax hit on energy giants,” declared the AFR. Santos chief Kevin Gallagher was nowhere to be heard with his “Soviet-style” scaremongering. Is Australia still going the way of Venezuela and Nigeria, Kevin? 

Not on your Nelly. The foreign gas giants are profiteering from Australia’s resources like there is no tomorrow, and paying pocket fluff in tax to boot. Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ long-awaited tweaks to the PRRT are itsy-bitsy, the equivalent of recycling old Christmas presents with a bright new bow, really just “up-fronting” a piddling amount of gas revenue for the next few years, a clawing back of subsidies for a while. 

You know it’s a fake “hit” when the fossil media talks it up as a “hit” but the gas lobbyists from APPEA say it gets “the balance right”. Reality is there is no balance, just ongoing pillage.

Clearly our Government is receiving or expecting to receive some kind of quid pro quo that they think will help them stay in power. Staying in power is clearly more important to the party that has the majority in government than doing whatever is necessary to stop and reverse the carbon emissions currently forcing us all down the road to hothouse hell and global mass extinction.

How else could the robber barons of the FF industries count on our Government helping them to rip off such extraordinary profits from their pillaging of so many Australian non-renewable resources?

In Michael West’s article also see the linked video, “Another year of record fossil fuel subsidies. What’s the scam?“, and the more detailed article, “A tale of two fossil superpowers: what Australia can learn from Norway“.

Following this theme a little further, see the news from Alberta, Canada, that is currently burning to a crisp. This gives some of the evidence demonstrating how FF puppetry works through its ‘influence’ on the media:

The stark reality is that the successful puppetry of the fossil fuel industry to protect and possibly even enhance next year’s earnings is driving us ever faster down the global warming road that leads to human oblivion in the 6th global mass extinction. Even if the heating doesn’t kill us directly, the die-offs of increasing numbers of keystone species, will cause whole ecosystems (including human agricultural systems) to collapse, taking our species along as well.

The weather causing the fires in Alberta today is a sign of the times:

Note: The normal progression of waves in the Jet Stream is from west to east. In this time series, the Jet Stream is so disordered that the eddy is actually moving the heat dome from east to west!

What we are seeing here is the operation of a positive feedback look driven by increasing global temperatures. As the Arctic grows warmer, temperature differences driving the jet streams diminish. This change allows the streams separating frigid polar air from much temperate zone air to slow and meander both far north and south of their normal paths. As demonstrated above, this is how the monster heat dome causing the Alberta fires formed. Amongst other things, slow overall warming accompanied by periodic heatwaves like this over most of the world’s boreal forests has allowed bark beetles, normally killed off every year by winter freezing, to proliferate to the point that they are killing vast numbers of trees. This increases the forests’ vulnerabilities to fires and the ferocity of the fires themselves. Not only does this turn the carbon content of the trees into greenhouse gases, but the fires are often hot enough to ignite the peaty soil to release that carbon as greenhouse gases as well.

The feedback loop is further extended as underlying permafrost exposed by burning off of the insulating layers of vegetation and peat begins to release the vast accumulations of greenhouse gases held as icy gas hydrates.

In sum, fossil fuel interests have convinced (1) our government to protect and even extend fossil fuel’s profits from producing and burning Earth’s carbon stores into energy and greenhouse gases, and (2) our press from advertising the facts of this pillage to the people whose futures will be destroyed by the consequent global warming.

Governments controlled by political parties in majority are easy targets for special interests, especially when the parties operate on the basis that the only issue that matters is to retain control of the government. They will represent the special interests of any person/group/industry they think can help them keep that control before the interests of the people in their electorates or people in general.

To mobilize and coordinate the necessary forces to turn off the downhill road to Earth’s Hothouse Hell, our governments need to work for us humans, not vested interests:

  1. we need to convince our elected and candidate representatives that we will absolutely not vote for them if they put a vested interest before our interests;
  2. that we need to elect enough independents from our own communities who will represent us to ensure that no major political party can form a majority government in its own right.

Item 2 ensures that community interests can veto legislation favoring special interests put up by the party in power.


Featured Image:

A protest against the US government’s decision to exit the Paris climate deal in 2017. ‘Ignorance-building strategies’ by fossil fuel companies have bred climate change scepticism among conservatives in the US and Australia. Photograph: Anthony Anex/EPA | from the Guardian article by Graham Readfearn (08/05/2018), “It’s all about vested interests’: untangling conspiracy, conservatism and climate scepticism“)

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