Canada’s boreal forest still burning into a new fire season

Act now before it is too late!

Colossal wildfires burn across Canada, driving thousands of people to evacuate with kids, pets and precious belongings

CNN’s featured image shows a pumper truck spraying fire retardant on trees around the evacuated neighborhood of Beacon Hill in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on Wednesday.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press/AP, 16 May, 2024

Some of the fires are resurging from overwintering remnants of last year’s unprecedented holocaust in the boreal forests. This is assisted by continuing droughts, increasing temperatures, and minimal snowfallls. Ft McMurray, that was partially cremated in 2018 with $ billions in damage costs and the commercial and residential center of the tar sands (dirty!) oil producing district, is again being evacuated under threat from a repeat by another monster blaze. Other population centers are also under threat.

From my 2016 research presentation: The angst of global warming — Our species existential risk (
Cover of my 2021 research presentation: Portents for the future — 2020 wildfires on the Siberian permafrost ( exploring the feedback relationships between global warming and arctic/subarctic wildfires, giving special attention to fire-stimulated greenhouse gas emissions.
From my 2016 research presentation: The angst of global warming — Our species existential risk (
My annotation on a graphic posted to X-Twitter by Peter D Carter, Center for Climate Safety demonstrating the increasing emissions of methane with increasing temperature through 2016. These are likely to be still higher in 2024.

Clouds of smoke, toxic aerosols, and greenhouse gases are already spreading into the higher Arctic and over the northern United States.

It’s likely that the Russian taiga (boreal) forests and tundra are also beginning to burn as they did in 2019 – 2021 (see Portents for the Future – 2020 Wildfires on the Siberian Permafrost). This alone will keep temperatures rising unless we can reduce the constant input of solar energy enough so Earth can again radiate (mostly long wavelengths of IR) more energy than it receives. If we don’t do this soon, Earths ecosystems will be collapsing at a steeply accelerating rate over a few more decades until no accessible carbon is left in the geosphere – i.e., after most life save a few preadapted extremophiles – are left.

To stop the warming we will have to join in total global mobilization to geoengineer zero new emissions, draw down a substantial fraction of the presently existing GHGs to open the atmospheric windows for more IR emissions to escape Earth, and to increase Earth’s reflectivity enough to significantly reduce the absorption of solar energy. Led by America, the West was able to achieve this kind of mobilization to win WWII in little more than 4 years from the start of America’s joining the fray at the end of 1941. Such mobilizations need to be managed and led by governments, however, most current governments of the world (including Australia) are controlled by puppet-masters in the fossil fuel and related industries who are actively blocking any attempts to initiate effective action.

For our species to have any chance in any kind of sustaining biosphere, our mobilization must begin with replacing fossil fuel puppets in our ‘majority’ controlled governments with climate aware and progressive Greens and community independents who understand the issues and work for their constituents rather than their (often non-citizen) puppet masters.

@VoteClimateOne and Climate Rescue Accord can show you how to do this legally and ethically in the next available elections. See

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

March & April 2024 climate extremes threaten doom

If we don’t reverse the climate system’s growing energy imbalance it will soon drive us over the lethal fall into global mass extinction

ALL the global climate indicators are at or near all-time records so extreme that by September last year staid climate professionals have called the readings “gobsmackingly bananas.” — a phrase that is now in common usage in the climate science community. To some, the readings spell doom is nigh. But, here, i’m with the Guardian’s Fiona Katsaukas and her friend in the green shirt.

These gobsmacking records bear witness that Earth’s climate system has shifted into a new kind of rapidly evolving climate regime that is not encompassed or anticipated by existing climate forecasting models (at least not before 2050…). Every month since September has set new, still more extreme records.ALL the global climate indicators are at or near all-time records so extreme that by September last year staid climate professionals have called the readings “gobsmackingly bananas.” — a phrase that is now in common usage in the climate science community. These records bear witness that Earth’s climate system has shifted into a new kind of rapidly evolving climate regime that is not encompassed or anticipated by existing climate forecasting models (at least not before 2050…). Every month since September has set new, still more extreme records.

In 1985, the renowned planetary systems scientist and cosmologist (also one of the best communicators of hard science to the public the world has known), Karl Sagan addressed the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Hazardous Wastes and Toxic Substances hearing on the greenhouse effect to explain the then scientific understanding of global warming. The 17 minute video on YouTube of his speech is extracted here by C-SPAN. C-SPAN also has the full 2 hour, 24 min video of the hearing. I mention this to triply underline the fact that the science of global warming and its consequences was already clearly understood four decades ago. The only fault in Sagan’s exposition is that the predicted dire consequences are happening sooner than he anticipated. This is still a common problem in climate science today where most climatologists trained in maths or physics still fail to appreciate the importance of fundamental non-linearity and chaos of complex dynamical systems like climate. The existential emergency Sagan predicted for the latter half of the 21st Century has already started now.

Because the [greenhouse] effects occupy more than a human generation there is a tendency to say that they are not our problem. Of course, then nobody’s problem, not on my tour of duty, not on my term of office… It’s something for the next century. Let the next century worry about it. But the problem is that the greenhouse effect is one of them which have long time constants. If you don’t worry about it now, it’s too late later on; and so in this issue, as in so many other issues, we are passing on extremely grave problems for our children when the time to solve the problems if they can be solved at all is now.

Carl Sagan, 1985, transcribed from C-SPAN video [2:30-3:15]

Today’s screams heard now from continually breaking climate records are the realities anticipated 39 years ago in this address;

In my “Feb. 2024 climate extremes” report (published March 12) I review the records as they were being broken in the February peak of the global climate cycle. I am currently trying to finish an update on the first anniversary of setting continuous daily record high global sea surface temperatures. detailing the piling up energy flows through the climate system (as described by Sagan) from the time solar energy is absorbed in the climate system and is eventually emitted back to space in the form of infrared emissions leaving the Earth. I have posted the current state of the first part, “Considering the first anniversary of a new climate regime — Accelerating down the road to extinction in Earth’s Hothouse Hell?” in the Google Docs format (that everyone should be able to read). Completing this is difficult because many indicators are literally breaking records faster than I can write about them. The most important of these regularly breaking records is the daily average sea surface temperature (SST), which is the first place excess solar energy piles up in the climate system. On 9 May SST is still more than 0.1 °C above 2023’s 9 May record – the 423 day of continuous daily records. The graph below focuses mainly on the part of the years where this year’s record is on top of last year’s. Note that Sagan also predicted rapidly rising sea levels. Today’s Washington Post describes how the southeastern US is currently being affected by this rise (probably because hot water is being backed up in the slowing Gulf Stream).

However, so people can see the evidence that is driving us here in @VoteClimateOne to do what we can to fight the emergency, I have also been posting to X-Twitter, and I include a couple of samples here:

As ever increasing numbers of climate scientists and aware commentators are crying out that it is time to sound the emergency alarms and urgently mobilize to fight the global emergency while there is still some chance that with our far greater knowledge and more powerful science than Sagan knew about (he suggested that by now it would be too late to stop the inevitable catastrophic end), it might still be possible for us reverse the solar energy imbalance that is rapidly driving our planet’s temperatures towards runaway feedbacks that will ensure global mass extinction is truly under way before the end of the 21st Century.

Another new fact in today’s in box hit me in the face. The record high rate of increase in CO₂ causing a majority the backup of the solar energy that is cooking us is still ACCELERATING UPWARDS at a record high RATE OF ACCELERATION. To me this suggests that runaway warming driven by positive feedbacks with temperature has well and truly started. ‘Natural’ emissions are already coming out of the ground, permafrost, wetlands, forests, and oceans faster than we are reducing fossil fuel emissions.

I’m like the girl in the green shirt in Katsaukas’s cartoon. I think it is well and truly time to sound all the emergency alarms and start total global mobilization to fight the crisis. My knowledge and experience tell me that if enough of us are willing to accept the reality of the danger and work together as a disciplined emergency force, we have sufficient knowledge and technological prowess to turn off the road to extinction and find some way to sustain at least some of the living world we know today.

Born in 1939, I’m old enough to remember living in a blacked out house in Los Angeles, and then the successful ending of WWII in 1945 little more than 4 years after America mobilized and joined the war at the end of 1941. At least in 1941-42 Americans managed the kind of mobilization we need today. I think we might still be able to defeat the runaway warming enemy if we start soon enough and fight hard enough to find a place in a still sustainable biosphere. On the other hand, I’m as close to certain that if continue to avoid looking at the grim and (for some) terrifying reality in hopes of continuing with business as usual, we will be burning up in the midst of the worst global mass extinction (i.e., even worse than the End Permian extinction ~ 250 million years ago).

As well as learning about global mass extinction when I learned to read from my father’s university textbooks in geology and paleontology, I grew up in navy towns started university as a pre-engineering student before changing my major to zoology and earning my PhD in evolutionary biology as well as teaching a variety of genetic, organismic, systems and population biology courses. I also worked professionally as a radiation ecologist and for the last 17 years before ‘retiring’ I designed a variety of documentation and knowledge management systems for Australia’s then largest defense engineering company. There, my systems helped ensure the on-time, on-budget completion of the ~7 billion $AU ANZAC Ship Project. (This is one of the very few large defense projects in world history that did not end up years overdue and billions of dollars of cost overruns, thanks in good part to systems I designed specifically to solve the kinds of management and engineering change issues that defeat most large defense projects). Finally in retirement I have spent some 15 years researching and writing on the coevolution of humans and our technologies prior to deciding that doing what I could to address the climate crisis was far more important than finishing a book for a society doing nothing to save itself from extinction.

In we have thought a lot about what we can do to help the mobilization. It is clear that most governments in the world today are being run by fools, useful idiots, or puppets owned and led by already insanely rich fossil fuel and other special interests will do or say almost anything to gather more wealth. Political party discipline means that a majority government can be controlled by a handful of ‘strong’ party members and functionaries in leadership roles. For example, in Australia, the supposedly ‘climate friendly’ Labor majority government has just demonstrated its fealty to its puppet masters over effective climate action. has a two-pronged approach to try to change governments into supporters and even leaders of the climate emergency mobilization effort.

Given how urgent the need for action is, we hope to convince the puppets and other blockers that climate action is far more important and urgent than whatever benefits they gain from catering to the desires of their patrons and masters. However, this will take a massive effort – much more than just supplying truthful information that is easily ignored or actively denied. Minds might be changed if enough people piled on each and every recalcitrant parliamentarian – but this would take the concerted action of a large number of climate and environment action groups that has to this point not been forthcoming.

The other prong in the spear, is to actually replace enough of the recalcitrant parliamentarians with progressive community representatives or small party members who truly understand and accept the crisis and the need for action; and who are willing to put in the effort to get elected — to prevent either major party from forming a majority government. Not only will there be more sensible and effective parliamentarians, but any party forming government will have to listen to and compromise with genuine community representatives to do anything, even if this requires them to mobilize an effective climate action.

Our home page, ACT NOW, and TRAFFIC LIGHT VOTING explain how this all works, and provides examples of how we have addressed past elections. Hopefully all voters will have the chance to see and think about what these pages have to offer, and inform their voting decisions with the climate crisis in mind. As elections approach, CLIMATE SENTINEL NEWS will be providing frequent updates on the state of the climate and relevant political news.

Our grandchildren tell us all to “vote climate one” so they can have a happy future rather than the descent into Earth’s hothouse hell (like Sagan and most climate scientists until the last few months, the authors of the referenced paper have overestimated just how much time we have left for effective action).


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

Feb. 2024 climate extremes: Welcome to 2024 as we race down the road to Hothouse Earth

Rev. 0 – 11/03/2024!

2023 set new planetary extremes as our activities force global temperatures ever higher on the way to mass extinction. 2024 looks even worse! Soon humans will no longer be able to survive in the climate we are forging.

My featured image of the state of Earth’s oceans up to February 1 is already dated (see below). The world’s sea surface temperature is still rising and setting new records every day since 14 March last year and is within 4 days of overlapping last years’ unbroken sequence of record days. ClimateReanalyzer – updated daily – shows global average Sea Surface Temperatures for every day since Sept 1, 1981. (This web page also provides links to details on the methodologies used to compute these values.)

The implications of these observations is truly alarming when placed in the context of Earth’s climate system. Emergency mobilization of global action is required if we are to have any hope of avoiding the existential consequences of runaway warming that may have actually started. This level of action will require many individual sacrifices that governments and people prefer not to think about and will be reluctant to make. However, history shows (e.g., mobilization for WWII)1 that humans can and will unite and act if the reality of the threat is accepted and taken seriously.

What follows is no hoax! It is how universal physical laws work in the real world of our planet. Ignore the evidence at your peril, or accept reality and work to survive the impending apocalypse foretold. As will be explained, my featured image announces the existential threat all humanity faces from global warming – currently being largely ignored by politicians, press, and citizens.

March 13, 2024, when this year’s continuous all-time record heating builds on top of last year’s continuous-all time record heating, should be taken as our “Pearl Harbor Day“.

Hot oceans drive many potentially catastrophic changes to planetary climate.

Earth’s accelerating energy imbalance

Earth oceans are warming at a geologically prodigious rate that we can clearly see major changes in a human lifetime (Figure 1). This is because oceans are being flooded with excess energy much faster than they can lose it. The rising temperature has dire consequences. However, before presenting the consequences of ocean warming, we should understand what is causing the warming.

The average surface temperature of our planet (i.e., the biosphere) is determined by balance between the amount of (heat) energy it receives from all sources versus the amount of energy it loses to outer space as radiant heat.

The vast amount of energy received by the biosphere comes directly from the Sun, as “radiant energy“, mainly in the form of visible light. This varies only slightly over time, due to astronomical factors. There are also two very minor internal sources (“internal energy“) left over from Earth’s formation billions of years ago that I mention for completeness: (1) the decay of radioactive elements in the Earth’s body and (2) the residue heat from the conversion of gravitational potential energy into heat as our planet formed by condensation of small part of the solar nebula that also gave birth to the Sun. This internal energy, brought to the surface from below by conduction and volcanic activity, accounts for only about 0.03% of the total energy warming the surface.

Given that vacuums cannot conduct heat, and that gravity stops particles from carrying away energy (i.e., convection), the only way Earth can lose heat is by radiation. All objects warmer than absolute zero, including Earth, lose heat by “black-body” radiation. Objects close to absolute zero lose energy via microwave radiation. As the object’s temperature rises heat energy is able to escape at shorter (more energetic) wavelengths – with a growing percentage of energy at these shorter wavelengths. E.g., hot iron may be ‘red hot’; molten iron is literally ‘white hot’. The hottest stars actually radiate most of their energy at the blue end of the spectrum. Under normal circumstances surface temperature fluctuates up and down until there is a balance between the amount of radiant energy received by the surface and the amount energy radiated away.

At Planet Earth’s temperature, most heat is lost as relatively short wavelength infrared radiation, because ‘greenhouse gases‘ block some of the longer wavelengths (Wikipedia’s articles do a good job of explaining the physical laws and processes governing Earth’s energy budget). With no greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the average temperature of Earth’s surface would be about −18 °C, rather than the present average around 15 °C. As explained, for a given mix and concentration of greenhouse gases Earth’s average temperature will rise or fall until the same amount of energy (mainly in the form of infrared) is radiated to outer space as is received from the Sun (mainly in the form of visible light).

However, Figure 2 shows that is not the case today. Our planet is suffering from what is an extraordinarily rapidly growing energy imbalance that vastly exceeds anything that can be reconstructed from the last 150,000 year geological record of the planet. Currently, 93% of the excess energy is being stored by heating the Ocean. According to Trenberth and Cheng (2022),

About 93% of the extra heat from [Earth’s Energy Imbalance] ends up in the ocean as increasing ocean heat content (OHC). In 2022, the global OHC was the highest on record (Cheng et al 2022) and the global warming signal in OHC is large compared with the natural variability, unlike [Global Mean Surface Temperature], so that trends in OHC can be detected in four years….]

Read the complete article….
Figure 2. Base source: Shackleton et al. (2023). Benthic δ18O records Earth’s energy imbalance. Nature Geoscience. See Lopatka (2023). A new proxy for Earth’s past energy imbalance. Physics Today. for a short take on how these measurements were made. @Leon Simons’ X-Twitter thread presents what he calls “The most important graph in the world”, and explains the methodology in more detail.

Figure 3 below, shows that this imbalance is rapidly growing in the 21st Century, the latest reading (mid 2023) is around 5 times what it was in 2001. This imbalance is what is driving the rapid growth of sea-surface temperatures shown in Figure 1.

Figure 3a. Earth’s net radiation balance for February 2024 as measured by NASA’s CERES project. Some of the Sunlight that reaches Earth is reflected back to space by bright surfaces like clouds or ice. The rest is absorbed by the atmosphere, oceans, and land. This absorbed light is converted to heat, which the surface and atmosphere emit back to space. “Net radiation” is the total amount of absorbed sunlight and heat energy that does not escape from the top of the Earth’s atmosphere back into space.
Specifically, net radiation is the sum total of shortwave and longwave electromagnetic energy, at wavelengths ranging from 0.3 to 100 micrometers, that remains in the Earth system. The net radiation is the energy that is available to influence the climate. On a global scale, the net radiation must be zero or else the planet’s overall temperature must rise or fall.
These false-color maps show the net radiation (in Watts per square meter) that was contained in the Earth system for the given time period. Regions of positive net radiation have an energy surplus, and areas of negative net radiation have an energy deficit. The maps illustrate the fundamental imbalance between net radiation surpluses at the equator, where sunlight is direct year-round, and net radiation deficits at high latitudes, where direct sunlight is seasonal. This imbalance is the fundamental force that drives atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns. (
Figure 3b. Rapidly accelerating growth in Earths Energy Imbalance during the 21st Century. @Leon Simons

The only thing that will forestall that flood of excess energy into the oceans making them even hotter is to reverse the imbalance by radically reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere allowing more heat to escape AND by reflecting more of the incident energy back to space before it is absorbed into the oceans.

Regarding reflection, Leon Simmons2 and others have shown that a reflective smog of sulfate aerosols produced by worldwide shipping burning dirty, sulfur-rich diesel fuel slowed ocean warming by a significant amount. This source of sulfur emissions largely stopped when the International Maritime Organization shipping regulations increasingly restricted sulfate emissions (see Hansen, Sato, Simons et al., 2023. Global warming in the pipeline. Oxford Open Climate Change). This unplanned experiment and the Mt Pinatubo eruption in 1991 demonstrated that sulfate aerosols could measurably reduce the amount of solar heat absorbed by Earth. However, given that the aerosol particles basically consist of concentrated sulfuric acid that eventually falls into the living biosphere to acidify land and ocean, sulfate aerosol production will probably cause more problems than the additional heating allowed by clean air. IPCC climate modeling grossly under represents the energy imbalance (Schmidt et al., 2023. CERESMIP: a climate modeling protocol to investigate recent trends in the Earth’s Energy Imbalance. Frontiers in climate; see also Leon Simons X-Twitter thread).

Ocean currents distribute excess heat from hottest areas to the rest of the planet. Far more heat energy enters the air via convection and increased humidity carrying latent heat in vaporized water from the oceans than is absorbed directly from Solar radiation. Heated land also contributes energy to the atmosphere via evaporation and convection.

Figure 4. European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) plot of global average temperatures at 2m above the ground from 1940 to date. The ECMWF reanalysis project ERA5 is a meteorological reanalysis project carried out by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). ERA5 has recently been released by ECMWF as part of Copernicus Climate Change Services. This product has higher spatial resolution (31 km) and covers the period from 1979 to present. Extension up to 1940 became available in 2023. – Wikipedia.
Figure 5. Grant Foster’s Adjusted Global Temperature Data removes the known effects of natural astronomical and geophysical effects on global average temperatures to show residual variations from other causes such as the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the global energy imbalance. Compare the strong upward acceleration beginning in 2001 observed in this graph, with the similar upward acceleration in preceding graph (Figure 3) of Earth’s Energy Imbalance.

Evidence the climate system is broken!

See the full thread

Figure 6a. On 18 February, the air temperature in Perth, Western Australia was so far beyond the kinds of record highs that can be expected from random variation around some “normal’ value for the time of the year that it was unimaginable — until it was recorded.

And then it was much hotter further up the Western Australian coast from Perth! See Sophie McNeil – 10 °C hotter in Canarvon and Shark Bay Airport; and based on satellite measurements, probably at least 14 °C hotter on the flatland inland of Shark Bay where there are no ground-based weather stations to record the measure. Closer to the boiling point of water than the freezing point! and well above temperatures where unprotected humans could survive. WeatherZone Business highlights these observations on their Instagram account.

Figure 6b. WeatherZone’s map, with Australian Bureau of Meteorology data Carnarvon Airport and Shark Bay Airport for 10 days as an inset. Given that the BOM’s reported dates for the official data apply to the preceding 24 hours, the actual peak temperatures would have occurred around 1 PM on the 17th of February.

This heating of the oceans (Figure 1) and atmosphere (Figures 4 and 5) caused by the energy imbalance is already causing a range of catastrophic extreme weather events around the world. However, before exploring these further we should first consider what causes the energy imbalance.

Global warming is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases emitted by and as a consequence of human activities.

Until the accelerating trends illustrated in the following graphs can be reversed to the point that the “increase” graphs extend into negative territory and the “concentration” curves begin to curve downward to show decreasing concentrations, physical laws determine that forcing of the energy imbalance (Figure 3) will continue to grow ever more lethal for the biosphere. The main forcing factor is the still accelerating rising concentration of infra-red blocking greenhouse gases.

Figure 7. Continuously growing concentrations of major greenhouse gas as a 10 February 2023 are amplified by increasing rates of growth. See Excepting only 3 years of the methane record, every year the concentration of each of the greenhouse gases has been hotter than the previous year, and generally by a larger amount than the previous years.

The record for direct CO2 measurements, a carbon dioxide concentration of 426.5 parts per million (ppm), was observed on Friday Feb. 3 2024 when the wind over Mauna Loa shifted to more northerly. This brought air in from North American and East Asian industrial areas thousands of miles upwind.

Figure 8. The Keeling Curve is a daily record of global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration maintained by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego – Note:  “On Saturday, Feb. 3, the daily Keeling Curve record was broken when instruments at Mauna Loa detected a carbon dioxide concentration of 426.5 parts per million (ppm). It was the first time in the modern record a daily reading had exceeded 425 ppm, though the annual peak does not typically take place until May. Since then, several daily readings have surpassed 425 ppm. The reading was also an increase of more than 4 ppm from the previous day’s. Scripps CO2 Program Director Ralph Keeling said that a shift in weather patterns played a role. “We attribute the large increase in CO2 that occurred from Feb. 2 to Feb. 3 to a strong wind shift, as a new weather system moved in,” Keeling said.  “Before this weather shift, the Mauna Loa Observatory was receiving air that had blown in from lower latitudes.  After the shift, the air was coming from northern latitudes, where CO2 is normally higher this time of year.  An upwards shift in CO2 was therefore to be expected.”- See also:

These measurements are made in many locations around the world as indicated on the following world map.

Figure 9. Locations where greenhouse gases are measured on a regular basis to track changes through time. Solid symbols are currently active measurement programs. Open symbols designate locations used in the past. –

Wherever in the world these trends are measured, the increasing concentrations of principal greenhouse gases show similar patterns. For example:

Figure 10. Recent growth in CO2 from pole to pole –
The figure shows daily averaged CO2 from four GML Atmospheric Baseline observatories; Barrow, Alaska (in blue), Mauna Loa, Hawaii (in red), American Samoa (in green), and South Pole, Antarctica (in yellow). The thick black lines represent the average of the smoothed seasonal curves and the smoothed, de-seasonalized curves for each of the records. These lines are a very good estimate of the global average levels of CO2. Details about how the smoothed seasonal cycle and trend are calculated from the daily data are available here.

The four locations in Figure 10 show relative decreases going from north to south. A majority of emissions are made in the Northern Hemisphere and a majority of the net draw-down into the biosphere occurs in the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere.

Figure 11. Blue Curve: CO2 rate of change based on Mauna Loa Record. ● Black Curve: CO2 rate of change based on the Antarctic ice core record from Law Dome before 1958 (Macfarling Meure, C. et al., 2006: Law Dome CO2, CH4 and N2O ice core records extended to 2000 years BP. Geophysical Research Letters, 33.) and a seasonally detrended arithmetic average of monthly air measurements from Mauna Loa and the South Pole from the Scripps CO2 program after and including 1958. The records were combined without adjustment. Ice core data are rejected after 1958 which overlap direct measurements. The ice core data are interpolated to monthly resolution using a spline with a stiffness of 0.8. The curve is smoothed to suppress short-term interannual variability, for example, due to El Nino events. ● Red Curve: Fossil fuel CO2 emissions.
Mauna Loa and South Pole data from Scripps CO2 Program.

The way in which this excess heat is distributed around our planet has profound implications for the planetary biosphere and human survival in it as expressed in the inevitable weather and climate extremes as the world warms beyond our physiological limits of adaptation.

Ocean circulation is the major engine distributing excess heat around the planet.

We know a great deal about the dynamics of ocean heating and the distribution of heat through the international Argo Float program (see Fig. 12 for a link describing the Argo program). In addition to the direct physical measurements by Argo Floats, sea surface temperatures are also based on scans of the whole of the Earth’s surface by numerous satellites launched by several different countries.3

Figure 12. The global distribution of active floats in the Argo array. The program started around 2001. In Jan 2024 there were 3879 floats. Although the USA operated the majority, 23 other nations also provided and operated floats, making it a truly international endeavor. – explains what the floats can do and how the data they produce is processed.

Wikipedia’s Ocean Heat Content article explains how the ocean redistributes its heat content around the planet.

Figure 13. Ocean heat content (OHC) is the energy absorbed and stored by oceans. To calculate the ocean heat content, it is necessary to measure ocean temperature at many different locations and depths. Vast amounts are stored in the ocean depths that may continue driving extreme events for several to many years even if we achieve surface cooling.

Heat absorbed in the ocean is circulated around the planet by ocean currents, where much of it is transferred over time to the atmosphere by direct contact.

Figure 14. Leon Simons’s chart of rising global average temperatures (as measured in the air 2 m above the ground). Note: 1940 is the oldest year shown on this chart. Note that Copernicus.EU, the Earth observation component of the European Union’s Space program, offers information services that draw from satellite Earth Observation and in-situ (non-space) data. Their just released just released Climate Pulse app provides easy user access to surface air and sea surface temperature variations (charts of daily variation in absolute value or anomaly – similar to the above – by year and global maps of these variations by date, month, or year).

AMOC under threat

Earth’s ocean currents are critical in distributing and regulating heat over the entire planet. These currents are largely driven by temperature differences between polar and tropical waters. Although the Atlantic Ocean is smaller than the Pacific, the Atlantic circulation is probably the most important because it is the primary connection between the Arctic Ocean and the tropical regions. (The shallow Bering Strait between NE Asia and Alaska completely blocks the exchange of deep waters between the Pacific and the Arctic Ocean). Wikipedia explains in detail:

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is a system of surface-level and deep currents in the Atlantic Ocean which are driven both by changes in the atmospheric weather and thermohaline changes in temperature and salinity. These currents collectively make up one half of the global thermohaline circulation that encompasses the flow of major ocean currents. The other half is the Southern Ocean overturning circulation, and both play highly important roles in the climate system.

Also, the most extreme oceanic heating has taken place in the North Atlantic (where shipping traffic has been the most concentrated and where there has been the greatest reduction in sulfate emissions).

Hot water in the North Atlantic does two things:

  1. It warms the surface waters in the Arctic.
  2. Excess heat in the ocean and in the air heated by the ocean speeds the melting of glaciers to dilute the salinity of the ocean at their feet (and raise sea levels).

Both factors work together to reduce the density of the northern waters to the point that they are no longer able to sink below relatively dense mid-level waters to form the Atlantic Deep Water flowing back to the tropics, leaving the warm currents (e.g., the Gulf Stream) bringing heat up from the south no place to go, stopping the flow. Paradoxically, this blockage would probably allow NE North America and NW Europe to become extremely cold over winter.

Leon Simons’s thread below explains:

Figure 15. Follow Leon Simons’ Show more thread for a detailed summary of how these conclusions were reached, and discussion of consequences.

Marine dieoffs and the collapse of marine ecosystems

As the oceans rapidly grow hotter, we’ll soon see the extinction of keystone coral species and collapses of ecosystems they support. Not only will we lose many species but their rotting remains will emit greenhouse gases such as CO2 and poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas…. The additional CO2 emissions will add to positive feedback increasing the energy imbalance –> global heating –> sea surface temperature.

In Australia and elsewhere, other than coral bleaching and death (e.g., the Guardian’s latest – Bleaching fears along 1,000km stretch of the Great Barrier Reef), we are also seeing dieoffs of mangrove, sea grass, and kelp. For several years we have known these were happening, but as the ocean continues to warm, the die-offs will take place faster and more comprehensively until the species (and the ecosystems they support) are lost entirely (i.e., become extinct).

Ice melting and sea-level rises

Warm oceans carry prodigious amounts of heat into polar zones, to substantially increase the rate of ice melting and raising polar temperatures to slow and eventually stop re-freezing. There is ample evidence for a greatly increased rate of melting.

Figure 16. Global sea-ice extent was at its lowest level for the year on 31 January ( This uses the same database is the US National Snow and Ice Data Center’s (NSIDC) Charctic application does, but with the addition of Global (here), Anomaly, and Deviation versions of the graph.

Antarctic sea ice extent is currently very close to its all-time low recorded last year. As of March 1, this year’s extent passed its low point as second lowest ever and has now risen to 4th lowest . In any case, at an extent of only 2 million km2 the Antarctic Ocean will not be reflecting much heat away from the planet.

Figure 17. Antarctic sea-ice extent at its lowest level for the year on 17-18 February (

Warming produces melt-water that lubricates the sliding of ice into a hot ocean

Figure 18. Dawson et al., 19 Jan. 2024. Heterogeneous Basal Thermal Conditions Underpinning the Adélie-George V Coast, East Antarctica. Geophysical Research Letters.
East Antarctica’s Adélie-George V Land has been relatively stable over the last few decades. However, this region contains the Wilkes Subglacial Basin, which has a downward-sloping bed inland of the grounding zone. This could make irreversible retreat possible if warming seawater off the coast enters beneath the ice sheet…. We find that areas near the outflow of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin, critical in maintaining the stability of the region, might consist of mixed frozen-bed and thawed-bed or near-thawed conditions on the scale of tens of kilometers across. This finding is important since the extent of basal thaw affects how easily ice can flow or slide over the bed. If parts of the bed are close to thawed, this could make Adélie-George V Land more sensitive to climate forcing, possibly resulting in mass loss. For media articles see also:; California-size Antarctic ice sheet once thought stable may actually be at tipping point for collapse.

Where Antarctica is concerned, its land ice has the potential to cause major rises in global sea levels compared to what Greenland can do. In 2024, East and West Antarctica’s riskiest glaciers are still plugged by grounded ice. However, as the article referenced above (Figure 18) discusses, several of the plugs on the largest glaciers are showing signs of impending collapse.

Sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate as a consequence of melting land ice (mainly Greenland and Antarctica)

In addition to the rise in sea level due to the addition of meltwater from land ice, ocean water expands in volume as its increasing heat content increases its temperature.

Figure 19. Rising Mean Sea Level. (
As global warming occurs, a direct reaction of the climate system is the sea level rise. This rise results from seawater expansion as a response to the temperature increase and addition of water from land-ice sheets and glaciers melting. Precise monitoring of the sea level rise is made possible using altimetry satellites that help understanding climate change and its socioeconomic consequences. The Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has thus become a key indicator of climate change.
The reference global mean sea level (GMSL) based on data from the TopEx/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, Jason-3 and Sentinel-6MF missions from January 1993 to present, after removing the annual and semi-annual signals and applying a 6-month filter. By applying the postglacial rebound correction (-0.3 mm/yr), the rise in mean sea level has thus been estimated to 3.6 mm/year with an uncertainty of 0.3 mm/yr.
Note that over the last quarter of year 2022, Sentinel-6 MF is affected by an inaccurate radiometer calibration error resulting in an overestimation of the wet tropospheric correction and therefore of the GMSL by about 5 mm (see issue #9170 of EUMETSAT User Notification Service at ).
Analyzing the uncertainty of the altimetry observing system yields to construct an uncertainty envelop for the GMSL climate data record (shaded area in the figure above). 
The dashed line displayed over 1993-1998 is an estimation of the GMSL evolution after correction of the TOPEX-A instrumental drift (Cazenave WCRP 2018). It is estimated from empirical correction derived by comparing altimetry and tide-gauge sea level data (see more details in Validation). The TOPEX-A instrumental drift led to overestimate the GMSL slope during the first 6 years of the altimetry record. Accounting for this correction changes the shape of the GMSL curve, that is no more linear but quadratic, indicating that the mean sea level is accelerating during the altimetry era (1993-to present, Beckley et al. 2017, Nerem et al. 2018). Currently, this empirical correction is not applied to the AVISO GMSL dataset, wainting for the ongoing TOPEX reprocessing by CNES and NASA/JPL.

The most immediate dangers from ice melting are in the Arctic Ocean

Figure 20. Sunny day flooding at high tide in Hampton, NH, USA. AccuWeather
@accuweather. Drone video shows the extensive flooding in Hampton, New Hampshire, on Sunday morning, just two months after the same area was hit with significant flooding. Melting land ice adds more water to the ocean. As water grows warmer it expands — increasing in volume. See video of beach erosion in nearby Massachusetts.
Figure 21. Winter maximums of Arctic sea ice extents from 1980 to 2024 (Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph). Note that February 2024’s extents closely tracks the extents recorded for the same days as 2012 (red dashed line), when the record low summer extent was reached that still holds today.

The reflection of a significant percentage of solar energy over many days of 24 hour summer sunlight Arctic Ocean’s sea ice and Greenland’s ice cap is an important component in Earths energy balance. Similarly, Greenland’s potential contribution to total sea level rise is limited by its small size compared to Antarctica. However, over the near term, Greenland’s proximity to the rapidly warming North Atlantic Ocean and an Arctic Ocean likely to be ice-free and also rapidly warming in the next few years puts the entire Greenland ice cap at risk for rapid melting. What happens in the Arctic over the next few years will profoundly affect the entire world.

Changes in the in the reflectivity (“albedo”) of the Arctic can have a profound effect on Earth’s planetary weather system. Sam Carana’s article started in 2012, Albedo, latent heat, insolation and more, explains the roles and feedbacks between ice melting, insolation, and temperature and explores the potential consequences of these changes.

The following images provide the evidence to bring the story up to February this year. They drive home the message that we are probably on the cusp of a critical tipping point to a new climate regime governed by an ice-free and rapidly warming Arctic Ocean that governs climate for most of Planet Earth.

Figure 22. Charctic sea ice concentration from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, Sea Ice News. Near the midwinter peak in early March of Arctic freezing (29 Feb 2024) 10-20% open water extends up from the North Atlantic near to and past the North Pole!.
Figure 23. Estimated Arctic sea ice thickness for 1 Mar. 2024. US Naval Research Laboratory HYCOM Consortium for Data-Assimilative Ocean Modeling – GOFS 3.1
Real-time 1/12° Global HYCOM+CICE Nowcast/Forecast System. Close to the winter maximum extent, except for a tiny sliver of thicker ice piled up close on the northernmost areas of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland. The thickest sea ice anywhere on the Arctic ocean is < 2.6 m. Over half the coverage is < 1.5 m. In the early 1980’s large areas of the Ocean north of Canada and Alaska were covered by 4 to even 5 m thick ice.
Figure 24. Albedo sea ice surface types and associated feedbacks in Earths energy imbalance.
The albedo for different surface conditions on the sea ice range widely, from roughly 85 per cent of radiation reflected for snow-covered ice to 7 per cent for open water. These two surfaces cover the range from the largest to the smallest albedo on earth. Melting snow, bare ice and ponded ice lie within this range. There is a general decrease in the albedo of the ice cover during the melt season as the snow-covered ice is replaced by a mix of melting snow, bare ice, and ponded ice. As the melt season progresses, the bare ice albedo remains fairly stable, but the pond albedo decreases. During summer the ice cover retreats, exposing more of the ocean, and the albedo of the remaining ice decreases as the snow cover melts and melt ponds form and evolve. These processes combine to form the ice–albedo feedback mechanism.
Year: 2016.From collection: Global Outlook for Ice and Snow: Albedo of sea-ice surface types –; Feedbacks associated with albedo changes – Cartographer: Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal.

Arctic temperatures are already rising at a rate 2-4 times faster than for the Earth as a whole (referred to as Arctic amplification. This reduces the difference between subtropical-temperate zones and polar regions that drives jet streams. With less energy to work with the jet streams slow and begin to wander chaotically that in turn enables the development of lethally extreme heatwaves or cold outbreaks in sub-polar and temperate zones that can remain stationary for days or even a week or more.

With some fluctuations, for the last several decades the extent of Arctic sea ice has been declining to annual minimums in the 2020s to around half the area the ice covered in the early 1980s. With much less apparent impact up to now, the thickness of winter ice has also been diminishing significantly, to the point that within a very few years the extent of midsummer ice will show a catastrophic drop to virtually nothing as its thickness drops to zero, as several national technologies have shown in the following thickness maps.

Given geopolitical conditions around the margins of the Arctic Ocean, the US Navy is particularly concerned with ice conditions in relationship submarine and surface ship navigation. The CICE Nowcast system developed by the US Navy Research Labs, was only operational beginning in 2015, but even beginning from then, a year before the minimum ice extent yet was recorded in 2016, today’s ice thickness is conspicuously less than ~ a decade ago.

Figure 25. Sea ice thickness for Feb 19 for 2015 and 2024 compared. (Source details as per Fig 23.). In 2015 (the earliest year available in this system, there is still a significant area of ice greater than 3.5 m thick. In 2024 this thick ice is reduced to a practically invisible sliver against the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland.

The next series of graphics are from European sources – mainly from the Danish Meteorological Institute’s Polar Portal. Greenland and the Faeroe Islands are autonomous territories of Denmark, so their waters are territorial waters of Denmark – which accounts for Denmark’s longtime concern with navigability and sea ice conditions in the Arctic and North Atlantic.

Figure 26. Sea ice thickness for Feb 1 for 2012 and 2024 compared. Summer 2012 still holds the record for lowest Arctic Sea Ice extent. !n 2012 near the winter maximum there were still extensive areas of the ocean covered by 3 m thick ice although the volume was at a record low for the date. It was still at or near the record low at peak thickness on May 1. However, approaching the midwinter peak in 2024 these areas of ice were reduced, but not quite to the extreme indicated on the US CICE maps (Fig 21). As at 21 Feb, 2024 sea ice thickness is at a new record low, ~ 2000 Km2 lower than the 2012 record for this date in the series. On 3 March the deviation below the previous record is even larger.

Some of the clearest and most intelligible data outputs of sea-ice changes are produced by University of Bremen’s research group on “Remote Sensing of Polar Regions“. Several of their programs connect directly with the EU’s Copernicus programs in climate science. Compare the observations below with US and Danish systems and are explicitly validated against direct physical measurements from buoys and ice-breaking ships and sensors placed directly on the ice floes.

Figure 27. AMSR2 sea ice concentration. Monitoring of changes on a daily basis. The image here for 20 Feb 2024, (MODIS-AMSR2, 1 km). “Since October 2019, we have been producing sea-ice concentration at 1 km grid resolution retrieved jointly from MODIS and ASI-AMSR2 data. The data are available operationally between October 1st and May 31st. No retrieval is performed in Summer.” The color palette used clearly identifies the different sea ice concentration values. Here you can very clearly see how much open water there is within the extent bounds of the ice cap. E.g., in the northern midwinter, the red areas indicate where there is between 10 and 15 % open water.extending from the extremities of the North Atlantic more than halfway across the ice cap passing in close proximity to the North Pole.
Figure 28. Left. Concentration of multi-year ice on 10 Feb 2024. This is a product of the Multiyear Ice Concentration and Ice Type project. Clearly most of the Arctic sea ice is less than a year old!. Some of new ice formed this year could get squashed together to make thicker multi-year. But it is likely that most will melt over summer to make a ‘blue’ ocean. Right. Product of the Thin Ice Thickness project. Analytical tools have been developed to estimate the thickness of thin skins of ice down to centimeter accuracy. This map from 21 Feb 2024 indicates that a large expanse of the Arctic Ocean close to the North Pole is covered by a thin skin of ice less than 10 cm thick. This would account for the fact that it is easily broken up enough to expose patches of open ocean indicated by the concentration maps. (Note: interpretation of the area of thinnest ice close to the pole is partially confused by radio frequency interference – visible here as dark grey and lighter color spotting rather than blue pixels. However, using the data browser, the large ‘blue’ area of thin ice traces back over several days earlier to patches not confused by the interference.)

The conclusion to be drawn from the body of remote sensing observations (backed up by on the ice measurements from oceanographic cruises such as the icebreaker Polarstern‘s voyages in the MOSAiC program) is that much of the ice sheet covering most the Arctic Ocean over summer, is presently so thin and broken in winter that it is teetering on the brink of dispersal and complete melting over summer, possibly as early as this year or the next. Replacing the reflective ice with close to totally absorptive blue ocean as shown in areas currently lacking multi-year ice (Figure 24, left) will substantially increase Earth’s energy imbalance. Surrounded by warm water and rising temperatures, any remaining multi-year ice will also soon melt. Depending on how fast summer’s 24 hour solar heating warms the surface waters well above the freezing point, the Arctic Ocean may soon remain ice-free over winter as well…..

For further background, see Polyakov et al. (2017). Greater role for Atlantic inflows on sea-ice loss in the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean. Science.

One more set of ice observations seems relevant to support the perilous state of Earth’s cryosphere.

Figure 29. North America’s Great Lakes practically ice free – a record low for what is normally when ice is at its maximum extent.

Polar ice and its feedback into polar and global air temperatures

The Danes’ long-term concerns about Arctic ice and weather has provided another set of charts that is particularly informative about the interactions between air temperature and sea ice that is likely to impact on future climate conditions (Figures 30 and 31).

Figure 30. Daily mean air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean (i.e., above 80° N) – Note: the link here gives yearly records going back to 1958. Average autumn, winter and spring temperatures begin deviating significantly from the 1958-2002 baseline between 1995 and 2000. This is illustrated more clearly by the plots of the seasonal and annual anomalies shown in Figure 27, below.
Figure 31 Seasonal and annual anomalies of the >80° N mean air temperatures (

Figures 30 and 31 illustrate an important phenomenon that will reveal itself as a step change in temperatures over the Arctic Ocean – possibly as soon as this year’s northern summer. Spring, autumn, and annual temperature anomalies began rising above the 1958-2002 baseline temperature around 1995. By 2015 they were between 2 and 4 °C above the baseline. The winter anomaly was between 4 and 8° higher than the baseline: offering clear examples of arctic amplification.

Seemingly paradoxically, the summer anomalies have continued to track the baseline anomaly quite closely through the entire measurement period. Actually, this just represents the physical fact that melting a given amount of ice absorbs as much energy as it would take to heat the same amount of liquid water to 80 °C ! Thus, almost any amount of excess summer heat over an extent of sea ice will be absorbed in the process of melting surface ice ice rather than significantly raising surface or air temperatures, whereas in other seasons with ambient temperatures considerably below zero degrees, excess heat directly warms the ice, bringing it from the deep freeze closer to the melting point. Once the ice is gone, summer surface air and water temperatures will rise considerably.

As long as at least a thin layer of sea ice remains frozen through summer it will continue doing its job of reflecting a lot of excess solar energy back to outer space. However, once a substantial fraction of that ice cover has melted, all hell will break loose! Excess energy that went into melting ice without changing its temperature will heat up cold water fast. An open Arctic Ocean under 24-hour a day solar heating will absorb several to many times as much energy that could be delivered through the ice, to say nothing of the fact that the air temperature over the open ocean may end up being many degrees hotter because it is no longer being cooled by melting ice.

For example, over the last few years weather stations on or near the Arctic Ocean coastline in Siberia and Alaska have recorded temperatures above 30°. With no ice cover, nothing would stop those temperatures extending out over the ocean adding to the heat. Ending the sunny season with sea surface temperatures of 10 – 20° could well prevent ice from forming over winter….. A radical change between one year and the next that would undoubtedly cause a ‘regime shift‘ in the behavior of Earth’s climate system. Removal of the sharp temperature difference between polar and sub-polar air masses will probably cause the polar jet stream system to collapse – at least over summer – leading to lethally extreme and long-lasting weather events such as heat domes beyond anything seen to date.

Time for a break before it gets worse…

Cartoonists sometimes have the knack of expressing human foibles. Their few words about cliimate hoaxes may provide a bit of a break before the last bit of climate reality reality that we humans are the only thing left with the capacity to resolve.

Figure 32 a couple of cartoons illustrating some of the difficulties in accepting physical reality. My guess is that pictures on the left are from last year’s movie, “Don’t Look Up” – only here we are talking of a few decades or years – where immediate action might actually minimize the collapse, while in the movie it was a matter of days….

The universal laws of nature and evolution are what they are irrespective of human desires and intents

Most of these laws relate to the interactions of heat energy and pressure on gases, their mutual solubilities (i.e., the degree to which they can mix together), changes of state from gas ⇌ liquid ⇌ solid, and their spectroscopic properties (i.e., relatively easily measurable details of how they absorb and emit different wavelengths of radiant energy as a function of temperature and pressures. These differ considerably among the important gases that generate weather (water vapor, CO2, methane). These three gases also are heavily involved in very different ways in various aspects of the metabolisms of living systems. Physical interactions of the gases were already well understood in the early 20th Century and their biological behaviors by the 1960s and 1970s. What they do in all possible circumstances is purely a function of the fundamental laws of physics and chemistry that are totally independent of any human beliefs, fears, and desires. In other words, we have to live (or die) with whatever laws of nature that the Universe provides.

This includes extreme weather that is mostly driven by energy released or consumed by water as it changes in temperature (the energy here is called ‘sensible heat‘ because we can actually feel the temperature changing) or changes its state from solid (ice), to liquid (water), to gas (water vapor). The changes between ice and liquid water, and liquid water and water vapor consume large amounts of energy, but do not change the temperature. In this case the energy being transferred is called ‘latent energy‘.

Either kind of energy will change the density/pressure of the liquid or gas transferring the energy, or conversely externally pressure changes will affect the energy content of the parcel of molecules being affected by the pressure. Wikipedia’s article on ‘Weather’ explains how these laws work to generate weather. The basic message I am trying to communicate here is that the more energy applied to parcel of atmosphere, the more extreme its weather will be….

Figure 33. Simple laws have major consequences! A useful rule of thumb is that the maximum absolute humidity doubles for every 11 °C increase in temperature. Thus, the relative humidity will drop by a factor of 2 for each 11 °C increase in temperature, assuming conservation of absolute moisture. For example, in the range of normal temperatures, air at 20 °C and 50% relative humidity will become saturated if cooled to 10 °C, its dew point, and 5 °C air at 80% relative humidity warmed to 20 °C will have a relative humidity of only 29% and feel dry (and have much more capacity to induce drought by drawing water out of crops and agricultural soils.

Some cases of extreme weather ramped up by increasing heat trapped by greenhouse gases

Figure 34. Some extreme examples of NB4 (‘never before” seen) climate events.
(1) Canada has a large proportion of the world’s subarctic/Boreal forests including a large area on carbon rich peaty soils on permafrost. For 20 years Canada has had a powerful satellite system for objectively tracking thee extent of wildfires. Record high temperatures and drought led to burning over 4x more area than than any of the past 20 years. The 2023 fires are estimated to have emitted 2.5 x times as much greenhouse gases as all sectors of the Canadian economy together. Some of the fires are still burning today in the peat soils and are already beginning to surface for the 2024 fire season (see also).
(2) on Sept. 10-11, 2023, a few days after dumping more than a meter of water on the north-eastern agricultural area of Greece, Storm Daniel dumped enough water on the Cyrenaican area of Libya to erase a major part of the high-rise center of the city of Derna, along with around 13,000 of the city’s inhabitants. (See Derna is our 9/11 for climate action for my initial survey of the event). I am still documenting details of the flooding from the comprehensive satellite, press, and social media imagery available, but it is clear from dateable geological evidence that this is the most extreme flood event along this area of coast since the Eemian period of the Last Interglacial ~120,000 years ago.
(3) Mexico’s major Pacific Coast resort city of Acapulco was comprehensively smashed by Cat 5 hurricane Otis. According to the US National Hurricane Center, Otis was the strongest hurricane in the Eastern Pacific to make landfall in the satellite era, and the second most rapidly intensifying hurricane in the recent era (US NOAA – National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service; unbelievable videos).
(4) Chile’s heatwaves and firestorms in early February are unprecedented and have killed more than 100 people.


The observations above point to the conclusion that we have already entered a new climate regime of positive feedbacks that are forcing Earth’s Climate System into the Hothouse Earth mode and a 6th global mass extinction event at least comparable to what caused the End Permian global mass extinction – only very much faster

Figure 35. Once extinct, that is the end point for that species – for all time. Hints of its past existence will be left in its remains and impacts (for better or worse) on the Universe. Humans will leave behind the consequences of the greatest mass extinction event so far in Earth’s history.

Dynamical physical processes driven by positive feedbacks tend to grow exponentially until the process runs out of fuel or the system they are part of breaks. Humanity’s experiment to turn a significant percentage of Planet Earth’s fossil carbon (accumulated in the geosphere over hundreds of millions of years) into greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in a little more than a century is completely unprecedented in Earth’s history.

If humans cannot quickly reverse the feedbacks in global warming processes documented in this essay that have been triggered by our burning of a significant fraction of Earths fossil carbon driven, we’ll soon be extinct along with most other large, complex organisms currently inhabiting our single planet.

Bill McGuire, professor emeritus of geophysical & climate hazards at University College London and author of Hothouse Earth: An Inhabitant’s Guide, acknowledges this:

If the fracturing of our once stable climate doesn’t terrify you, then you don’t fully understand it. The reality is that, as far as we know, and in the natural course of events, our world has never — in its entire history — heated up as rapidly as it is doing now. Nor have greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere ever seen such a precipitous hike.

Think about that for a moment. We’re experiencing, in our lifetimes, a heating episode that is probably unique in the last 4.6 billion years.

…[T]his is a problem — a big one. After all, we can’t act effectively to tackle a crisis if we don’t know its full depth and extent.

What’s happening to our world scares the hell out of me, but if I shout the brutal, unvarnished truth from the rooftops, will this really galvanize you and others into fighting for the planet and your children’s futures? Or will it leave you frozen like a rabbit in headlights, convinced that all is lost? It is an absolutely critical question. With politicians and corporations unable or unwilling to take action rapidly enough to stymie emissions as the science demands, all we as climate scientists are left with is to seek to rouse the public to try and force through — via the ballot box and consumer choices — the enormous changes required to curb global heating.

Read the complete article: Bill McGuire, 7 Mar 2024, CNN. “Opinion: I’m a climate scientist. If you knew what I know, you’d be terrified too”

Most people find it difficult to think about the possible near-term end of our green living biosphere as we know it and extinction of the human species that depends on this biosphere for its survival. Many prefer to deny the reality of this possibility and continue with business as usual in the blind hope that nothing will change, than take it seriously and try to do something to avoid the extinction that we are still driving towards.

True, no individual action on its own can stop the planetary climate system from doing whatever it is going to do. But, the collective action of millions or even billions of humans mobilized and working together to use the best of our knowledge and technologies may still be able to alter this fatal path enough to reach some kind of sustainable future.

What gives me hope that we can solve the crisis

is that even thoughtless greedy humans, starting ~200 years ago, had the demonstrated capacity to turn the planetary climate system onto its currently lethal trajectory.

The unplanned planetary geoengineering project to strengthen Earth’s greenhouse layer was driven by greedy men competing for power. It was begun by men wielding picks and shovels to mine fossil carbon, build canals, roads and rail, and men with poles and horses pulling wagons and barge loads of fossil carbon to fuel 18th Century steam powered technology. Much of the energy released from the carbon along with greenhouse gases was used by men to build increasingly sophisticated and powerful technology to dig up and burn ever more carbon faster and faster to fuel even more GHG emissions that are still increasing today.

Unlike our great, great, … grandparents, today’s instantly networked humans (women included!) have virtually instant Web access to the exponentially growing and collected knowledge of our history and increasingly powerful technologies and sciences. Is it not plausible that we now have the capacity to use the essentially unlimited resources of solar energy to reduce, remove, and repair enough of our past damage to Earth’s climate to find a way off the road to Hothouse Hell to a sustainable future?

As is blindingly obvious from the range of current measurements reported here of many different aspects of our global climate system it is clear average temperatures have risen so high and so much extra heat energy (both sensible and latent) has already been absorbed into the system that several temperature-related feedbacks have been pushed past thresholds where Earth’s natural processes will continue to force temperatures and GHG concentrations higher even if human GHG emissions stopped today.

Figure 36. A reminder of what dooms us if we cannot reverse this process.

As long as Earth’s energy imbalance continues to rise, global temperatures will also continue to rise as our planet tries to balance the books by radiating more energy at higher temperatures. Many animal species (including humans) and plants are already living close to the maximum temperatures their physiologies can survive. Local extinctions of populations are already happening every day – and when the last populations of a species dies off they can no longer (ever!) provide ecosystem services many other species cannot live without who could survive the ambient temperature. People can air-condition their living spaces, but they cannot survive the collapse of the agricultural ecosystem that provides the food we must eat in order to live.

Greedy stupid humans accidentally geoengineered the freeway to Earth’s Hothouse Hell and the Sixth Global Mass Extinction with the Industrial Revolution

This gives me a real hope that today’s wiser and more conscientious humans can geoengineer a greener road to a sustainable future.

Beginning very slowly in the mid 1700s, machine power began to replace human and animal muscle power for doing work to make and move things around in the environment. This began when it was discovered that the heat energy given off by combustion could be used to boil water to create steam in a pressure-tight container where the excess energy in the hot steam could be converted to mechanical work by driving a system of pistons, gears and connectors. In principal the steam engines could be fueled by burning wood, but the ancient forests were soon consumed by land clearing and agriculture. Coal was found to provide more energy per kilo than wood, but this had to be dug out of the ground and transported to where the power was needed.

Steam engines were first used to increase the rate of mining by allowing deeper areas to be mined. Gradually they replaced virtually every other source of mechanical power beyond the very limited areas that could be driven by falling water. Competition between nations and individuals for power in the broadest sense led to the positive feedbacks between the still rampant greed for power and the burning of fossil carbon in a wide variety of heat engines that is still increasing the rates of greenhouse gas emissions driving Earth’s Energy Imbalance to lethally high levels.

Human’s blind greed, starting with picks, shovels, and steam punk technology change ad whole planet’s life-giving atmosphere into a life-stifling heat blanket in less than 200 years. This fact screams out that with enough will, wisdom, foresight, and work that humans with our 21st Century knowledge of science, a vast array of technologies, and networking capabilities should be able to put the excess atmospheric carbon back into the ground. Although it may just still be possible for us to do this, it will not be easy. Greed and and the Second Law of Thermodynamics guarantee that. At the very least, it will involve a global mobilization on the scale of what Americans achieved in 1941 to win the Second World War (WWII). Two articles give small hints of what this actually involved: Social and economic changes –, World War II Mobilization 1939-1943; and The Scientific and Technological Advances of World War II. (Note: the mobilization affected so many aspects of society, was so pervasive, and so rapid that I have been unable to find any single document that does justice to the revolutionary changes enacted by an initially divisive, isolationist, and hedonistic society not unlike Trumpist America is today.)

However, more than most people now alive, I am old enough to remember the end of WWII and the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thanks to the diverse threads in my lifetime of learning, I have come to understand that as a child I had first hand experience with the incredible total mobilization beginning in December 1939 and almost totally complete by the end of 1941; that won the War by 1945 through largely united social action informed by vast advances science and engineering. By 1941 the Axis powers (Germany, Japan and tag-along Italy) had controlled the whole of Europe between Great Britain and Moscow, virtually all of the Mediterranean border lands, the whole of East Asia save the western reaches of China and most of the Western Pacific save Australia and New Zealand. Within a little more than four more years, led by America, Germany and Japan were reduced to smoking rubble and unconditional surrenders. Within a few more years, the whole theater of war outside of Russian control was restored to functionality and even some degree of prosperity by the Marshal Plan for Europe and similar aid in Asia, initially under General Douglass MacArthur who had been Supreme Commander in the Pacific and oversaw the post-war occupation of Japan.

The brutal, unvarnished truth is that if record breaking climate trends established over the last year continue to accelerate as they have over this last year there’s a high likelihood that most species of large complex organisms, including humans, will be extinct before the end of the current 21st Century.

Most academic scientists, especially those reporting via the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) find it close to impossible to deal with the reality included within the socially and politically unacceptable term, ‘extinction’. Thus, to get the ‘brutal, unvarnished truth’ about what the facts the measurements of climate change are telling us that you need to know in order to prioritize your actions, you need to consider what retired curmudgeons like me have to say. Of course, you should also investigate whether they have qualifications that would give you reason to have the qualifications to actually understand what they are saying.

Nevertheless, the facts reported above show that we are already well started down the road to extinction and are rapidly running out of time when physics will transcend any conceivable actions humans might take to stop that progress. This was already apparent in 2022, even from the hyper-conservative IPCC’s publications, when UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned world leaders at COP 27 summit that nations must cooperate or face “collective suicide” from climate change because:

We are on a highway to Climate Hell – with our foot still on the accelerator!

UN Secretary General António Guterres at the Opening Ceremony of the World Leaders Summit | #COP27, 6 Nov 2022 – the entire speech.

The facts presented in this article show that in the ~16 months since COP27 the climate situation is far, far worse than almost anyone anticipated then. Yet, so far Guterres’s often repeated warnings that we were already accelerating towards “collective suicide” in [Earth’s] “Climate Hell” have been almost totally ignored by virtually all of the world’s nations, national medias, and most people.

Around the world virtually all nations and states are still practically owned by the self-interests who have the financial power to elect their puppets and useful idiots who work to protect the interests to national and state governments. Even in supposedly representative democracies like Australia, the USA, Great Britain, etc., they only need to control a few key representatives in parties forming majority governments…. Party discipline gives them control of the majority party, and thus government.

We must change the politics that has allowed this to happen and will prevent effective action that may for a small while yet allow humanity to climb back up over the cliff before we are cooked in the caldera of Hothouse Hell

Figure 37. Our dilemma – the greatest danger to the biosphere and human survival is ourselves, and we keep voting for the puppets of the axe and shovel wielding special interests.

To have any hope at all to organize and implement the kind of total mobilization that will be required to marshal the people, science, technology, and logistics to deal with the global emergency we must first revolutionize our governments to cut their allegiances with the industries that are killing us, either by changing the minds of our present representatives, or by replacing the puppets and useful idiots with progressive community independents who will act for the citizens who elect them by promoting, authorizing, and leading the kinds of actions required to address the emergency.

Vote Climate One along with Climate Rescue Accord and a number of other volunteer organizations have been formed to address the critical political issues, by identifying, promoting, advising, and electing suitable progressive and climate oriented candidates to our parliaments and governments who can be trusted to focus governments on mobilizing emergency actions to address the current existential emergency.


  1. America’s mobilization for WWII shows what humans can do in an emergency situation if they work together.
    I was born in 1939 and am old enough to actually remember the war’s ending: My father worked in the defence industry. We lived on a boat in the Port of Los Angeles close to the 2nd largest builder of Liberty Ships in the USA, and then in San Diego Harbor directly opposite North Island Naval Air Station and home port of the Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carriers. In my postgraduate career I worked for 15 months for the Atomic Energy Corporation; and for the last 17½ years prior to retirement I was a knowledge management systems analyst and designer in logistics support engineering for Tenix Defence (at the time, Australia’s largest defence engineering project manager). I have also read a lot of history, so I know a bit about what was mobilized and how it was done.
    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! ↩︎
  2. Leon Simons makes a good case that the abrupt rise in the imbalance is at least partially due to the sharp reduction of sulfur emissions from worldwide shipping. The smog emitted along with CO2 by the burning of especially sulfurous diesel bunker fuel in the voyages of hundreds of thousands of ships per year almost certainly reflected a portion of the incoming solar energy back to space before it had a chance to be absorbed into the ocean – especially in the highly trafficked North Atlantic. See Stopping the sulfur emissions would certainly allow more solar energy to impinge on the ocean. Nevertheless it is still likely that the bulk of the rising temperature is due to the the increase in absorbed energy caused by the also rapidly increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. ↩︎
  3. Few people who don’t actually work with satellite remote sensing technologies or work with their data products since the early 1980s have any idea how comprehensively weather, oceanographic and climatological variables are measured over space and time. Hundreds of operational satellites in polar orbits and dozens in geostationary orbits collect and send tens of millions of individual observations every day to government and private supercomputer centers on the ground for cross checking, validation and processing. Such centers are operated by the USA, EU, Russia, Japan, China, Australia, along with several university and commercial centers in the USA and EU — all competing to provide their customers with the most accurate information possible. In fact, so much information is available that in a couple hours of searching I have been unable to find any single reference to site here that comes close to providing a reasonable overview of the complete scope and depth of the available remote sensing data from satellites. ↩︎
Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

News in a year of no winter from midwinter in the northern USA

If you want a future, it is time to take global warming seriously and totally mobilize to fight the fires driving us towards Hothouse Hell.

Bill McKibben, one of America’s most respected environmentalists and a founder of the international, reports from the northern state of Vermont on the winter that wasn’t. As noted by my featured image, even high school students in Pennsylvania have commented how extremely unwinterly their weather has been. These are signs of the rapidly accelerating global climate emergency.

From the article by Bill McKibben

As Winter Melts Away

Notes toward a eulogy for something I love

Bill McKibben, 29 Feb 2024 – The Crucial Years

I don’t write that often about developments in the actual climate in these pages—it’s uniformly depressing, and it is the part we can do the least about. None of us has the power to change how much heat a molecule of carbon dioxide traps, nor can we alter how the jet stream reacts to changes in polar temperatures. All we can do is determine how much CO₂ and methane there is up there in the air—and so that’s what I concentrate on.

And yet the changes underway on our planet are now so extreme, and so remarkable, that sometimes we do need to stand back and simply gaze in awe and sadness. At my latitude (43.97 degrees north, or very nearly halfway between the North Pole and the equator) the changes in winter may be the most dramatic signs yet. And the most dramatic in my heart for sure, because winter is the time I love the most.

This year in North America has been about as close as we’ve ever come to a year without a winter…. [T]he gases we produce increase the temperature: it was 70 degrees in Chicago yesterday, in February—which was also the day that the Windy City decided to join other American cities in suing the fossil fuel industry for damages. But that was just one of a hundred heat records broken in the course of the day, from Milwaukee to Dallas (94 degrees). But it wasn’t a single day of heat—it’s been an almost unrelentingly warm winter, with by far the lowest snow coverage for this time of year ever recorded (13.8 percent of the lower 48 as of Monday, compared with an average of more than 40 percent) and with the Great Lakes essentially free of ice.

In the high Arctic, previously unheard-of thunderstorms are melting ice faster than ever. As Ed Struzik reported last week from Greenland, “surface crevassing, which allows water to enter into the interior of the icecap, is accelerating, thanks to rapid melting. And slush avalanches, which mobilize large volumes of water-saturated snow, are becoming common: In 2016, a rain-on-snow event triggered 800 slush avalanches in West Greenland.”

Further south, those record winter temperatures let forests and grasslands dry out fast. That’s why Canada’s boreal forest burned at a record rate last summer, and it’s why huge blazes are driving Texans for cover today—the Smokehouse Creek fire in the Panhandle, which only started Monday, is already the second largest blaze in the state’s history; it forced the evacuation of the country’s biggest plant for disassembling nuclear weapons.


Read the complete article….

What does this mean?

I’m still trying to finish my February 2024 climate report on climate extremes as the indicators are growing faster than I can keep up with (Please see the working draft: Feb. 2024 climate extremes: Welcome to 2024 as we race down the road to Hothouse Earth). However, every day the meaning becomes more stark. Earth is heating up enough that large swathes of country are too warm for snowfall even in midwinter (amongst a vast array of other problems from extreme weather!).

Earth’s energy imbalance is currently increasing at an accelerating rate. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (mainly CO2 and methane) trap an increasing amount of solar energy striking the planet. Earth can no longer radiate enough energy as long-wave infrared radiation to balance the books. Earth rises until the excess energy can be radiated away as shorter wavelength IR, and it won’t be able to cool down below the new balance until GHG concentrations fall enough so the necessary amount of energy can again be shed as longer wavelength IR.

Earth’s energy imbalance is currently increasing at an accelerating rate. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (mainly CO2 and methane) trap an increasing amount of solar energy striking the planet. Earth can no longer radiate enough energy as long-wave infrared radiation to balance the books. Earth rises until the excess energy can be radiated away as shorter wavelength IR, and it won’t be able to cool down below the new balance until GHG concentrations fall enough so the necessary amount of energy can again be shed as longer wavelength IR.

Most of the excess energy is first absorbed in heating the oceans, and melting ice.

Rabid acceleration of Earth’s Energy Imbalance over the last 23 years. It is now ~4x as bad as it was at the beginning of the 21st Century. This will cause a comparable acceleration in rates of global warming (though perhaps with a few years of delay).
Global sea surface temperatures – every day since 1981. Temperatures have been above records for the day, every day of 2023 since since 15 March, and every day of 2024 so far (each of the thin black lines shows the variation in temperature for a year. Since my last version of this graph, on Feb 27, 2024 the temperature has risen to slightly above 21.1 °C. This is yet another new all-time record 2 weeks to 6 month’s before previous all-time records. (For details see my report for February 2024.)

Because of water‘s huge capacity for storing heat, more than 90% of solar energy goes first into heating the tropical and subtropical oceans. Currents circulate the heat around the planet, including its polar areas – even in midwinter. Warm water gradually melts polar ice from below and transfers heat energy into the atmosphere as ‘sensible heat‘ by increasing the air temperature and much more heat energy in the form of ‘latent heat‘ water vapor (= humidity). Particularly when water vapor condenses back into liquid (cloud droplets & precipitation), the atmospheric energy creates extreme weather and heats the land and melts a lot more ice from above. (Even if the ambient temperature is cold enough for the precipitated water to freeze as snow or hail, the region ends up being significantly warmer than if it hadn’t snowed!)

Decreasing snow and ice cover allows the Earth to absorb more solar energy in a positive feedback cycle to melt even more snow and ice. Warming soils, permafrost, and wetlands cause strong positive feedbacks by increasing greenhouse gas emissions to raise temperatures even faster…..

A couple of cartoons illustrate some of the difficulties in accepting the physical reality shown by this kind of evidence.

In other words, it is likely that Earth’s Climate System has already crossed several tipping points where exponentially growing positive feedbacks pushing us ever faster down the road of runaway global warming to Earth’s Hothouse Hell.

My guess is that pictures on the left are from last year’s movie, “Don’t Look Up” — where the mass extinction event was only a few days away.

Compared to a dinosaur killing meteorite strike in days, where runaway warming is concerned the final collapse will be decades to a couple of centuries away.

The problem is literally planetary in scale. Human greed, competition for power (both literally and figuratively), intelligence, and ingenuity led us to dig up and burn in little more than a century as much carbon as it Earth’s geological processes millions of years to sequester. We started this task with the aid of the original coal-burning steam-powered technology. And it is clear from the news I have been reporting on the Climate Sentinel that the emissions from the carbon we have already burned is probably enough to snuff out most complex life on Earth, including our own species.

However, if we take the threats of the climate catastrophe seriously and begin total emergency mobilization very soon, immediate action might actually minimize the collapse by reversing the global energy balance enough to allow some cooling to begin.

What to do about it?

With today’s vastly more sophisticated and powerful technology aided by our much greater understanding of science we should be able to work out how to recapture most of our carbon emissions and implement technology to put it back into the ground. However, this will require coordination at state, national, and global scales.

Unfortunately, most of our governments have been captured by special interests in the fossil fuel and ‘development’ industries who will have to immediately stop burning fossil fuels – and any effective action on their profits from emitting greenhouse gases is seen as a direct threat to their wealth. Thus they and their government stooges will do everything fair and foul to delay and deter actions to stop greenhouse emissions or broadly implement clean energy solutions. In the process they will invent very costly and thermodynamically impossible “carbon capture and storage” industries to sop up as much money as possible to keep it from being spent developing workable solutions. There isn’t much that we as individuals can do to solve these global scale problems.

Probably the most useful thing individuals can do is unite with others to change our governments by removing puppets and collaborators of the special interests from office, or convincing them that they will be replaced at the earliest opportunity if they don’t ditch their sugar daddy patrons and work for you and your community. You do this by electing people who are genuinely committed to working for their communities rather than special interest patrons (many of whom are not even citizens).

Vote Climate One was established to help you do this this, and our pages there offer a number of other suggestions as to how you may help change governments.

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

What if this year’s records extend last year’s? 2 months to go…

On Saturday the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) was less than 0.1 °C below last year’s record set in August. Traditionally the global peak temperature for the year is reached in March. This year will probably be well and truly off this chart, yet humans are still burning fossil fuels at an increasing rate driving us ever faster towards global mass extinction in runaway warming as polar permafrosts and retreating ice-sheets release vast stores of soil carbon as methane and CO2.

Note that about 90% of the excess solar energy absorbed by our planet goes into the upper layers of the oceans before being redistributed via increased atmospheric humidity and heat to fuel increasingly extreme and lethal climates and weather events.

The only hope our species has to stop this apocalypse is to reverse greenhouse emissions (stop new emissions and ‘draw down’ and sequester some of the existing excess) and reflect more solar energy away from Planet Earth.

Isn’t it time we made our governments work towards this rather than increasing the obscene profits of their mates and patrons in the fossil fuel industries?

If you want more evidence in favor of this choice, please read my past posts on Climate Sentinel News. As well as using your vote effectively, Vote Climate One suggests a number of things you can do between elections to pressurize your governments to work with you (rather than against) to solve the climate emergency.

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

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 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!


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.


Thank you very much.


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

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, … 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.”

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:

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.

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.


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.

Sept. 2023 climate extremes

Notable observations and news items from the Web, with no processing and little in the way of comment. Make of them what you will.

Leading up to this September’s extremes

Firefighters flying over a controlled burn to fight wildfires in Canada’s Quebec Province. Photograph: Genevieve Poirier/Societe De Protection Des Forets/AFP/Getty Images (from the article)

The hottest summer in human history – a visual timeline

Jonathan Watts, Lucy Swan, Rich Cousins, Garry Blight, Harvey Symons and Paul Scruton
29/09/2023 in The Guardian

From June to August 2023, a series of extreme weather events exacerbated by climate breakdown caused death and destruction across the globe.

As the world sweltered through the hottest three month spell in human history this summer, extreme weather disasters took more than 18,000 lives, drove at least 150,000 people from their homes, affected hundreds of millions of others and caused billions of dollars of damage.

That is a conservative tally from the most widely covered disasters between early June and early September, which have been compiled in the timeline below as a reminder of how tough this period has been and what might lie ahead.

For details and the complete timeline, read the complete article….
July 2023 @ 16.95 °C – hottest ever, by far; August 2023 @ 16.82 °C – second hottest ever! New regime stuff!

How much are these extremes costing society. For an idea see the following graphic from Scientific American’s blog. Note: this graphic applies only to the US,
Click the thumbnail immediately below for a parsed transcript of this critically important speech. Warning: Data is provided for this article by climate scientists who suffer from the reticence causing academic and institutional scientists to downplay any overly ‘dramatic’ warnings in order to avoid alarming departmental colleagues, administrators, or governments influencing hiring, promotion, financial support for research, etc. Google “scientific reticence” and you will find lots of evidence on how it works.

Pine Island Glacier

There is far worse to come as warming continues to increase


The current extremely low sea ice will have a range of impacts. Changed ocean stratification and circulation will alter basal melting beneath ice shelves48. Greater coastal exposure will increase coastal erosion and reduce ice-shelf stability49. Changes in dense shelf water production will alter bottom water formation and deep ocean ventilation50. Sea ice changes will also have contrasting influences on Adélie and emperor penguin colonies51,52, and substantially alter human activities along the Antarctic coastline.

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have been attributed as the primary cause of Southern Ocean warming, and here we suggest a potential link to a regime shift in Antarctic sea ice. While for many years, Antarctic sea ice increased despite increasing global temperatures6, it appears that we may now be seeing the inevitable decline, long projected by climate models53. The far-reaching implications of Antarctic sea ice loss highlight the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Off the previous chart, again…. In 12 days another ~500,000 hectares have burned! Will the burning stop for winter? What does this portend for Australia’s upcoming El Nino summer?

Cumulative total land area burned to date

2023-09-25 17,850,290
2023-09-24 n.a.
2023-09-23 17,812,661
2023-09-22 17,100,899
2023-09-21 17,012,456

The record for the 23rd blew the Canadian system’s off the chart! The following chart from Copernicus, the EU’s equivalent of NASA, that operates the satellites, suggests the data from the 23d is probably a real record of what the satellites actually recorded. In most years the wildfires would have been more-or-less through for the year. Yet 23 Sept shows BY FAR the largest number of hotspots recorded for the year so far, previous highs being 9269 for June 22 and 9692 for July 13.

For the latest Natural Resources Canada tabulation, see Note 1: the current version of the total burned area chart can be seen by scrolling down to the bottom of the table accessed by this link.

Note 2: the following Guardian chart was PUBLISHED on 22 Sept.
Yan Boulanger, @yboulanger2 Research scientist @NRCan CFS,
climate change impacts on forest landscapes, natural disturbances, wildlife habitat. – “This year’s out-of-control blazes released 2bn tonnes of CO2 – probably triple the country’s annual carbon footprint”.

Note: warmer winter temperatures allowed mountain pine beetle populations to grow explosively through this region due to additional reproduction of adult beetles that were normally killed off by hard freezing winters. I did several Facebook posts in 2016 and 2018 on the increasing fire hazard this would create until the dead biomass was removed. This year’s extreme temperatures facilitated this!

See Hall (2020) Portents for the Future – 2020 Wildfires on the Siberian Permafrost.

Permafrost zones on brink of runaway GHG emissions(?)

Global permafrost now (2000-2020) likely to be a net emitter of greenhouse gases methane and N₂O – Ramage, et al. (September 11, 2023 unreviewed preprint) The net GHG balance and budget of the permafrost region (2000-2020) from ecosystem flux upscaling.

[Note that 2020- Siberian wildfires plus this years’ wildfires in the Canadian Arctic Zone probably produced massive increases in permafrost GHG emissions beyond what was happening during the years included in this survey.]

Map of northern permafrost extent (data from Obu et al. 2021) overlain with the spatial extent of the permafrost domain included (BAWLD-RECCAP2 regions). The spatial extent of the permafrost region de ned in this study as an overlap of permafrost extent and the Boreal Arctic Wetlands and Lakes Dataset (BAWLD, Olefeldt et al. 2021a,b
Scheme of annual atmospheric GHGs exchange (CO2, CH4, and N2O) for the ve terrestrial land cover classes (Boreal Forests, Non-permafrost Wetlands, Dry Tundra, Tundra Wetlands and Permafrost Bogs); inland water classes (Rivers and Lakes). Annual lateral
fluxes from coastal erosion and riverine fluxes are also reported in Tg C yr-1 and Tg N yr-1. Symbols for fluxes indicate high (x>Q3), medium (Q1<x<Q3), and low (<Q1) fluxes, in comparison the quartile (Q). Note that the magnitudes across three di erent GHG fluxes within each land cover class cannot be compared with each other.
Stationary anomaly, somewhat hotter on 23rd than 22nd Note, as the frequency, extent, and ferocity of climate disasters continue to increase with accelerating global warming, newer disasters will overlap and add to destruction from previous disasters where there has not been enough time to complete repair and remediation leading to the accelerating accumulated climate damage — until society no longer has the resources to continue repairing and replacing what has already been repaired and replaced. At this point social collapse is inevitable…… We must stop and reverse the process of global warming that is causing this or face near-term extinction.

11 September 2023 – Coming out of winter — not a good look for the rest of the year in Australia!

Dwindling sea-ice reflects less solar energy away

Arctic sea ice 4th lowest on record 19 Sept 4.230 million km², with a lot of the remaining ice thin and broken. Animation 09/07-09/28 –

Shocking record low maximum sea-ice extent for Antarctica to 28/09/2023; also began net melting on 8 Sept. (

Antarctic sea-ice at ‘mind-blowing’ low alarms experts Excellent BBC article with good links to further research and discussions.

(13.09/2023) Nature Communications Earth & Environment. Record low Antarctic sea ice coverage indicates a new sea ice state.

In February 2023, Antarctic sea ice set a record minimum; there have now been three record-breaking low sea ice summers in seven years. Following the summer minimum, circumpolar Antarctic sea ice coverage remained exceptionally low during the autumn and winter advance, leading to the largest negative areal extent anomalies observed over the satellite era. Here, we show the confluence of Southern Ocean subsurface warming and record minima and suggest that ocean warming has played a role in pushing Antarctic sea ice into a new low-extent state. In addition, this new state exhibits different seasonal persistence characteristics, suggesting that the underlying processes controlling Antarctic sea ice coverage may have altered. [my emphasis]

a Antarctic monthly sea ice extent (SIE) anomaly time series from the National Snow and Ice Data Center over the satellite period, November 1978 to June 2023, in millions of square kilometres. Sea ice extent anomalies are calculated relative to the 1979–2022 climatology. Two change points are detected, separating the time series into three periods: November 1978 to August 2007 (grey), September 2007 to August 2016 (blue), and September 2016 to June 2023 (orange). The means of each period are shown by the horizontal lines and are statistically distinguishable. b Antarctic monthly SIE anomaly time series expressed as a percentage of the monthly climatology over 1979–2022. Periods are coloured as in (a). Record minima months occurring since 2016 are noted in (a, b). c Southern Ocean 50–65°S temperature anomaly time series from Argo over January 2004 to May 2023, in degrees Celsius. Ocean temperature anomalies are calculated relative to the 2004-2022 climatology. Dashed vertical lines show the sea ice extent change points. Stippling indicates values outside ± 1 standard deviation, where the standard deviation is calculated independently at each depth level to account for the change in magnitude of the variability with depth. Warm anomalies shown in orange and red are evident below 100 m from 2015, and at the surface from late 2016.
Antarctic five-day sea ice extent anomalies in millions of square kilometres for each year from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Sea ice extent anomalies are calculated relative to the 1979–2022 climatology. Anomalies are coloured by period as in Fig. 1: November 1978 to August 2007 (grey), September 2007 to August 2016 (blue), and September 2016 to June 2023 (orange). January to June 2023 is shown in bold orange, with the largest negative areal extent anomaly of the satellite era observed during June 2023.


The current extremely low [Antarctic] sea ice will have a range of impacts. Changed ocean stratification and circulation will alter basal melting beneath ice shelves48. Greater coastal exposure will increase coastal erosion and reduce ice-shelf stability49. Changes in dense shelf water production will alter bottom water formation and deep ocean ventilation50. Sea ice changes will also have contrasting influences on Adélie and emperor penguin colonies51,52, and substantially alter human activities along the Antarctic coastline.

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have been attributed as the primary cause of Southern Ocean warming, and here we suggest a potential link to a regime shift in Antarctic sea ice. While for many years, Antarctic sea ice increased despite increasing global temperatures, it appears that we may now be seeing the inevitable decline, long projected by climate models. The far-reaching implications of Antarctic sea ice loss highlight the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [my emphasis]

End. For the complete article see Record low Antarctic sea ice coverage indicates a new sea ice state.

A very good summary of the state of global sea-ice to the end of September:

Storm Daniel comprehensively trashed several countries around the Eastern Mediterranean between 4 and 13 Sept.

Wikipedia tells the story and links to many of the news items. It was the deadliest Mediterranean tropical-like cyclone in recorded history

Greece “The once fertile Thessaly plain, the nation’s breadbasket, now lies metres deep under mud and silt, with great swaths resembling a lake.” I read somewhere else that 1/3 of Greece’s TOTAL prime agricultural land was under water….

Key facts from CDR (Center for Disaster Recovery):

  • As of Sept. 15, the Libyan Red Crescent said the death toll had reached 11,300 people in Derna alone. Officials expect this figure to continue to rise, possibly as high as 20,000. About 170 people were also killed in other parts of eastern Libya, including in Susa, Marj, Bayda and Um Razaz. More than 7,000 people were injured and at least 10,100 people are still reported to be missing. Because of the lack of telecommunications, some may be displaced and unable to reach family, but due to the large-scale destruction, it is hard to confirm these figures.
  • According to Floodlist, Libya’s National Center of Meteorology reported, “in a 24 hour period to Sept. 10, a staggering 414.1 mm [16.2 inches] of rain was recorded in Bayda, while 240 mm [9.5 inches] of rain fell in Marawah in the District of Jabal al Akhdar, and 170 mm [6.7] fell in Al Abraq in the Derna District.”

I used publicly available satellite imagery to try assess the damage attributed largely due to the failure of two dams. My conclusion is that the dams were no more than momentary and relatively insignificant barriers to to the flow of an inconceivably large volume of water. The following satellite images from Google Earth, and Sentinel Hub’s EO Browser clearly demonstrate the power of our planet’s increasingly extreme weather events driven by global warming. As the oceans and atmosphere warm, the atmosphere is able to transport increasingly stupendous volumes of water (in the form of water vapor) over the land to be dropped when the air cools for any reason.

The following image is what appears to be the center of the city of Derna (pop ~100,000) immediately before Storm Daniel dropped part of its load of water in the watershed of Wadi Derna. The very dry stream bed of Wadi Derna crosses the center of the image. If you have access to Google Earth, you can zoom in to see shadows of the few individual people out in the mid-day sun.

Zooming in, note the large building on the NE side of the Wadi 3 blocks downstream from the bridge on the lower left corner of the picture. It is a high-rise, where the tallest part is 9 stories above the ground floor, and the rest five. I determined the number of floor by counting the sun shades visible on the downstream side of the building. This is one of the few structures left in this part of town that can be identified in the next image.

Immediately after it looked like this:

Note the conspicuous high-rise (10 stories) easily marked by its long shadow in this image. The image below images this building from the down-stream side. The image here is relatively low resolution, but the three lowest floors (facing AWAY from the flood) have clearly been gutted by the flood. The bridge referred to in the previous picture has vanished leaving only two supports (aligned with the stream flow) to show where it was. Rows of 4-6 story buildings (and even some 8 story buildings just off the left edge of this image) extending 3-4 and even more rows back from the Wadi have totally vanished or are only memorialized by a bit of concrete slab or trace of a foundation wall.

The next two pictures zoom in on the area between the vanished bridge in the above images and the next bridge upstream (just off the edge of the above).

The three buildings to the left of the Wadi at the bottom of the image were respectively 7, 4, and 7 stories high

The next two pictures show the site of the lower dam – 250 meters upstream from the inland edge of the city.

Note: the dam has no spillway. Overflow protection is provided by the flared drain pipe (circular structure) in the lower left of the picture. Using Google Earth’s measuring tool, the diameter of the drain as approximately 6m. On the upstream side the surface of the reed bed is ~24 m above sea level, and the level of the road over the top is 45 m, giving the dam height of 21 m. On the downstream side the base of the dam is at 26 m, with the outlet for the overflow drain at approx 22 m. The length of the dam across the top is ~115 m, across the bottom (at reed level) is 50 m; thickness at the bottom is ~74 m, 8.5 m at the roadway.

The next Google Earth image is of the upper dam (12.5 km upstream from the lower dam) from immediately before Storm David’s rain. There is no high resolution image available from after the flood.

The drain tube (right side upstream) seems to be 7m in diameter. The dam is ~10 m high and 270 m long. 143 m thick at the base and 6.5 m thick at the top.

The last composite graphic gives an impression of the amount of water held behind both dams in the days immediately prior to Storm David. All are sourced via Sentinel Hub’s EO Browser and all are at the same scale – close to the maximum resolution available. The left four images are of the upper dam and its lake, while those on the right are of the lower dam and its lake. The upper three images of each dam use the Normalized Difference Moisture Index NDMI – that basically highlights any moisture in the otherwise barren landscape. The bottom picture is the same view as the one immediately above, except that it displays “true colors”. On the left in the top picture, on 10/01/2023 there was some water backed up behind the dam, perhaps 2 m deep at the dam wall given that most of the upstream face is still dry. The second picture, on 02/09/2023 shortly before Storm Daniel shows essentially zero moisture behind the dam, except there is a tiny blue streak in the bottom of the bright yellow area that is too small to be resolved at the magnification shown here. The blue areas below the dam are well watered orchards and fields – not standing water. The dam is visible in both of the above pictures. The third picture, from 12/09/2023 immediately after Storm Daniel shows the Wadi Derna has been scraped clean of any sign of a dam or the well watered agricultural area below the dam save the blue area off to the side. Inspection of the area just downstream from the pictures here in the before and after show the complete obliteration of farms and vegetation together with the road to a height of 20+ meters above the bottom of the wadi. A little further upstream – a bit closer to the dam, the landscape has been scraped up to a height of 38 m! above the wadi bottom, where the width of the wadi is approximately 200 m across. The height of this point is ~215 m above sea level (at least 10 m higher than the top of the dam!).

A similar story can be constructed for the pictures of the lower dam in the right column. The dams were minor inconveniences to the flow of the total volume of the storm water.

The Wadi Derna drains a large and relatively barren plateau with some of the weirdest landforms I have seen, and could possibly be organized so it receives large volumes of water from a number of subsidiary drainages at the same time. Or, more likely, the insanely hot Mediterranean air was supersaturated with water, and the storm dynamics led to rapid cooling that squeezed all of the water out over a very short period of time….. And the barren plateau lacked soil and vegetation to slow the flow of the water once it hit the ground, and simply demonstrated what can happen when the Earth System has too much energy to dissipate all at once in the form of climate catastrophes.


Our planet is progressively becoming uninhabitable!

Earth beyond six of nine planetary boundaries

We’ve already breached 1.5 °C above preindustrial global temperatures and worse to come is already in the pipeline

Not yet getting back to anything as cool as last year’s near record highs after more than 3 months! –
3+ months and the anomaly is still trending ever more extreme as the sub-solar point moves towards the Southern Hemisphere!
Global Average Sea Surface Temperature still above previous years ALL TIME RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE with trend line still widening the gap. 90% of excess solar heat is first absorbed into the oceans to heat the globe as a whole. –
Southern Hemisphere anomaly also in record extreme territory and rising rapidly. Antarctic rising and ~1 day from record daily high.
Sept. 13 and Antarctic sea ice already beginning to melt after 4+ months of record low freezing rate, to create a global average record low amounts of sea ice. At the southern summer low to come will there be ANY sea ice left around Antarctica? What does this mean for ice shelves and glacier fronts exposed to warm pounding waves and tides? –
Sept. 19 and the ice is rapidly melting into ever more extreme low sea ice for the date.
Sept 19 and rapid Antarctic melting keeps global coverage more than 4 σ below any previous low for the date. Not good news for southern summer!
Record high temperatures & reduced temperatures between polar and ‘temperate’ zones lead to crazy, weak and chaotic jet streams; in turn allowing stalled extreme heat domes, droughts and wildfires; lethally moist air masses, biblical flooding, and catastrophic storms.

Forecast Image

South America mid Sept. — What about Australia this summer?

Biff Vernon – Facebook: Dangerous temperatures forecast for next week over a large part of South America.
Southern Hemisphere temperatures now: Brazil Max on Thursday 41 °C; 42 on Friday; Uruguay 43 on Saturday; 44 on Sunday.

Earth’s energy imbalance (solar radiant energy in – earth radiant energy out) = energy heating planet Earth.

Simons puts the previous graphs in a geological context based on Shackleton et al’s reconstruction of variations of Earth’s energy balance determined from measurements of Oxygen isotope ratios in sediment cores from the seabeds.

The thread from explains in some detail how the following graph was inferred and extrapolated from the above. At first I found it difficult to make sense of this graph until I grasped that the vertical line defining the right-hand side of the graph was data, comparing the imbalance observed directly over the last 50 years, with the variation recorded over the last 150,000[!] years, not the border….

Simons was one of the coauthors of the above paper.

Australia hasn’t escaped

Costs & Consequences

Note that the following X-Tweet is limited to the United States – based on a Scientific American article. The rest of the world is suffering at least as much! Total costs are adjusted for inflation. It isn’t clear whether this also applies to the individual “billion dollar” events in the graph below.

Jonathan Overpeck @GreatLakesPeck Environmental/Climate scientist for 30+ years; Samuel A. Graham Dean, @UMSEAS @UMICH . Tweets my own. Thinking grad school? Join me at @UMSEAS:

Given the rapidly growing accumulation of excess heat in Earth’s oceans, if we cannot stop and reverse global warming within the next few years the inevitable result will be ecological and social collapses, within a few decades, and likely global extinction of most complex organisms — including humans within a century or so….

We must act before it is too late!

Featured Image

Based on an image by Leon Simons, depicting the urgent existential problem facing humanity today: If we cannot reverse the heating spike forming the right-hand border of the graph and force it below the neutral line forming the graph’s X axis within a few years, most complex life on Earth will be extinct in a century or so.

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.