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December 09, 2005


The recent Nature article about the 30% slowing of the "conveyor belt", the ocean current that warms Europe, over the last 45 or so years, was pretty ominous. "Global warming" is kind of a misnomer, because what seems to be coming is global climate change, to more extremes, shifts in the patterns etc. If greenhouse gases cause faster polar ice melting (which is pretty clearly the case) and this, in turn, causes a slowing of the ocean "conveyor belt", Europe would become materially colder. Rainfall will even out, as dry areas become wetter and vice versa, with significant implications for food-producing areas.

Not so long ago, Europe WAS colder--the Thames River froze solid and glaciers advanced all over Western Europe. It didn't start to warm until the mid 1800s--when the Industrial Revolution began. It was also a lot warmer not so long ago--after the Dark Ages, wine was produced in England, Greenland was inhabited by farmers. That stopped in the early 1300s, when the "little ice age" began.

It is possible the Bushies think that the effects will be less here, so we don't have to worry. Or maybe they are just in to short-term thinking, make all you can in the next 3 years and hole up in a mansion somewhere pleasant. Who knows. But it is very likely to be not so good for the rest of us. This is serious stuff. There is a human tendency to think that things have always been, and always will be, the way they are now. Not so.

Mimikatz -

If it's going to get colder here than it is right now, I'm moving back to the US!

Seriously, though, that Nature article is quite scary. There are many research groups who agree that climate change is past the tipping point, that the Arctic sea ice will be gone in (x) number of years, etc.

It's not doomsday-speak, although the Bush administration is trying to debunk all of the science, and say "this is all hyperbole".

Maybe the Bushies do think in those terms, though, something like "well, when I die, I'm going to a better place, so why worry about what I'm doing to the world now? I won't be around when everything goes to hell..."

Likely the Bushies don't think past 2008.

You mean the Bushies are all going to self-destruct on Jan 20, 2009? Really, they have to live for a few more years. Don't they ever think what it will be like for their children? Guess not.

Do looters think beyond the looting?

I'm thinking of taking my kids up to Churchill in Canada in a couple years to see the polar bears. They may witness the last wild polar bears die during their lifetimes.

"global climate change" really should be the phrase of choice.

I remember when the first evidence of climate change started appearing in the mid-1980s in a few publications of the popular media. I probably was among the first non-scientists to see some of this stuff because the National Center on Atmospheric Research is based in Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a main branch there as well. Then, step by step because I am such a science dunce, I had explained to me why "global warming" could actually lead to an ice age.

Later, as we all know, this "anomaly" was used as a means to attack those scientists and eco-advocates who were warning about "global warming." See, it was argued, they don't know what they're talking about because they can't decide whether we're going to burn up or freeze to death, har-de-har-har.

Something I'd like to see you do, Page, is dig out statements by some of the critics of global climate change over the past 25 years.

First, they said the theory was a joke, and went so far as to smear scientists who said otherwise. Then they tried to claim that temperatures were not really rising. Then they said the temperatures might be rising but not by enough to matter. Then they said the rise might be enough to matter but that humans didn't have anything to do with it. Then they said humans might have something to do with it but there was nothing that could be done to change things without destroying the economy. Then - sometime after 2005 - they will say: how can we make a profit off this?

These people are of the same ilk who for a decade said the ozone layer wasn't at risk from CFCs.

The modern GOP seems to approach every issue as a weird variant on the Prisoner's dilemma. In the classic prisoner's dilemma, two prisoners can achieve the best outcome by cooperating, and each achieve a positive but less good outcome if the other cooperates and they betray them.

However, the Bushies seem to view the result solely by how much better they do than their opponent. So even if they could do better by cooperating, they prefer an outcome where they do well enough and others get screwed. But since they make no effort to hide this (after a few sneaky victories like No Child Left Behind), no one has any reason to cooperate with them, and we all get screwed every time. It's like it's even more important to them that their rivals lose than that they win.


Honestly, I think a lot of the GOP really do believe their own hype about global warming and other environmental topics. I think it's another form of the projection we see in so many other arenas. You know, the way they justify all their election dirty tricks by saying "we assume the Democrats are doing this, and because they're doing it we have to do it, or those dirty tricksters will win," despite having no evidence the Democrats are actually doing any such thing.

They know that they write position papers (both in government and business) by deciding on the conclusion they want, and massaging and cherry-picking the evidence to produce that conclusion. Because they know that, they assume that everyone else does the same thing, and therefore the only way to judge any evidence is from the ideology and tribal membership of the person presenting it. Since "their" science says that global warming isn't real, any effects that appear to result from it are coincidence, so they're not in the least worried about its effects. Therefore anyone who does take any action on it is taking a sucker's bet and hurting themselves economically for no good reason.

The overwhelming characteristic of the modern conservative is revealed wisdom, that what they know is true trumps any evidence. They're smugly certain they'll be proven right in the end, and anyone who points out evidence to the contrary is just motivated by ideology and partisanship.

Clinton in Montreal: "In America, there's no telling how many jobs we could create if we just made the decision that in the rebuilding of New Orleans it would become America's first green city".

And TPM has a NEW YORK Magazine report that Bush tried to muscle Clinton out of the conference ... and nearly succeeded.

I knew there was a reason I still like Clinton.

Clinton was an impatient guy. If you all want to see an earnest group of scientists debating the Atlantic undersea currents as an early image of global warming check this site where theorists engage in pyrotechnic debate peppered with a few Barton Republican assigned drolls attempting futilely to divert and damp the discussion on Atlantic currents circulation; of particular interest in this thread about Atlantic current slowdown is a pagelength comment by a Columbia University visiting professor from a German university's oceanography program an expert in ocean currents which appears in that same thread there.

The RealClimate.org discussion mentioned includes a link supplied by one contributor leading to a separate organization's site, one more tilted to enviroeconomics, which is more what DemFromCT has in the crosshairs in the lead article at the top of our discussion; the enviroeconomists tend to abstract outside the human tendency to worry about ruining the planet foremost, and instead try to reason with corporate leaders who opt to contemplate exclusively the probability of yet another century of fairly decent prospectuses with no need to admit publicly that behind the scenes they are doing their homework, hiring recent oceanography grads, and preparing for alternatives other than fossil fuels; the latter site adopts the theme of peak-oil, which is a catch-phrase coined as a message to the petrochemical industry that the time to look for alternative lines of business is arriving and is likely to require preparation right away. I assess TheOildrum.com to be a valuable site. As a bonus, if you are reading this far, and you are still interested in the Atlantic currents slowing debate you can find maps from the Nature article replicated at TheOildrum site here, I leave to the visitor to opt to view those maps directly; they are very clear maps.

The essence of Visbeck's argument, somewhat in agreement with other participants at the RealClimate site, is that Bryden's findings are so astounding that if true it means climate change is going to be huge and very soon, much like many of the indicators. But Visbeck and others advise the new sampling reported needs replication for verification because the measured medium has so many variables that instantaneous measurement techniques even when reported over fifty years as in the Bryden study, are confined by statistical reliability factors which will resolve only with the replication process; i.e., someone has to fund and remeasure. These people are scientists, but worried scientists, as they understand a lot about what climate does if Bryden is right, and the urgency of checking into that.

There is a raging debate elsewhere at RealClimate discussing the new 3km deep ice core green-house gases concentrations just reported from Antarctica's EPICA research; RC's discussion is typically robust and is there; be prepared for a neat expandable graph of 600,000 years of ice core dissolved CO2, and a deuterium ratio graph; extraordinary discussion

And to wrap this comment, I list some EIR-like images kindly archived for us in a lengthy prose and pictures report with a long technical bibliography by the forest service in AK; the captions are my own authorship. I am still learning some elements of using images in a blog, though I notice some contributors have that learned; so, for now I offer only the links.

The pics:
Mother polar bear shielding cub:

full river before Brooks range:

Surveying grid involves squadron of vehicles irradiating patterns of entire tundra; original tire tracks 1984:

Aerial view same tracks fifteen years after grid of vehicles diturbs tundra:

Groundplane view of vehicle tire tracks grid sixteen years later still eroding and surface unhealed:

The map grid viewed as ten of these grid patterns required per fifteen miles, thanks to the Alaska Forest Service study:

Meteor Blades is right, why are we using the GOP's terms in this debate? "Climate Change" is a Frank Lutz created term to frame the debate.

The Repugs know that they can take the pressure off "GLOBAL WARMING" by calling it "Climate Change". What is a disaster is instead framed as a nice spring day.

We are now seeing real policies predicted in many alarmist science fiction books becoming reality. When people saw movies like Soylent Green and Silent Running it seemed absurd people would let damage to the environment happen on a catastrophic scale. Now we see the ruling class is happy to let global warming happen, without even bothering to even try and fund alternative fuels.

I think it's a problem to consider this a prisoner's dilemma, because for that metaphor to work you're either dealing with two prisoner governments or two prisoner individuals. In this case, You've got a bunch of governments dealing with the US as if they are interested in the well-being of their society, when it's really a small number of individuals raping their country for their own benefit.

I think a more valuable approach is to think of them as willfully changing the organization of nation-states, away from something like sovereign nations (for which the prisoners dilemma holds) to something like corporate feudalism. Corporate feudalism recognizes only the power of a few strong entities. And those few strong entities depend on the insecurity of the many as the means to coerce "loyalty."

In other words, they don't care about global warming, because they figure they and their families can survive in one of the remaining habitable lands, and they can use the massive insecurity of gloabl warming to accrue more power.

What gets me is that, 30 years ago when I was getting a Master of Public Administration degree in Environmental Management, we read a book - "The Limits to Growth" - put out by the Club of Rome. The book was attacked on all sides for being "alarmist", using incorrect data and coming to wrong conclusions.

A few months ago, while going through boxes of books preparatory to moving, I found that book and looked through it again.

Every one of the predictions made in that book, for events that would happen by 2005, has come out as true. Peak oil, global warming, population doubling, etc., etc.

And people wonder why I sometimes seem to be in a constant state of political rage.


They've actually got an updated edition you might find interesting. The extrapolate out for here. It was published a few years ago, but they do make the argument that we're past the point of sustainability, and it's just a question of the response.

Errata: The images to which I linked are at the Alaska Fish and Wildlife service. My thanks to PlutoniumPage for hosting this thread.
The Atlantic convection currents revelations compared with the Epica antarctic ice cores make the climate shift look like it is going to be fast and way beyond what a few comfortable Hearsts could tolerate in the isolation of their castle by the beach.
It is incredible that the US and CAN both continue to permit use of the aerosols that are creating the ozone depletion zone.
Oh, and on the polar bear mime at the outset, there was one off camera, saying, we protect the right to arm bears; here ya go, now you bears head south for good, because when the Arctic ice no longer is forming large solid places, you will have no way to use your evolved foraging skills and you will need to learn other ways to survive or your species will go into extinction.
At least that is what wildlife biologists are predicting for polar bears; I need to find out why the polar bears would be incapable of surviving without the winter locked ice floes. Fortunately, the current administration is beginning to be recognized as un-real. The atmosphere at the Montreal Mandate meetings is helping write the Democrats' 2007 platform plank on global warming.

This thread is re-posted six days later, on a day when TNH's site has deleted a week's articles, perhaps a server will restore all later. Meanwhile, in this intervening week, I have learned why the polar bear's plight is perilous: as global warming proceeds the cap of ice expands less in cold months reaching fewer land shores in the Arctic. The pregnant polar bear gives birth to her cubs in a hidden onshore location during the warm summer, all the while fasting until the cubs are old enough about 3 months later to embark on the ice hunting expedition which is the food source for the species, seals. If the ice does not get close enough to the land the swim is too far for the bears to get to their hunting area, all the while the bears are fasting and progressively becoming too weak to swim to the distant ice. A group of three environmental watchdog agencies has pursued a ten-month legal forum effort to obtain endangered species protections for the polar bear, but the response would have to be halting global warming; so the government is foot-dragging because it would be unlikely to be ready to halt global warming in time to save the bears. According to one of the three environmental litigants the CBD, by 2060 there will be no polar ice cap at all and the bears will become extinct. Truly a quick timeline, and we find ourselves on this end of that span of time with a government (especially the admnistration's principal current leaders who are the president and vice president both former professional executives as energy industry moguls) still employing rhetorical argumentation to cast doubt that global warming exists, corollary: or, if it exists it is nonanthropogenic.

Re: the image linked to CBD in the preceding paragraph, my comment:
The caption on this photo was something about searching the sea, cf. mouseover;
I would wonder, as wildlife biologists suggest, if this bear in fact might be waiting
waiting for the ice floe that is in site but too far to reach with a little cub alongside
swimming the arctic sea.

The CBD notes on their website the February 2005 date on which they filed their first extensive petition for endangered species status for the polar bear was the final day the US walked out on the Kyoto agreement opportunity to sign. A lot more than polar bear species upheavals are engaged in this process. While the bears seem a sad predicament now, these next sixty years are likely to be replete with similar news. We need more than what minorities are fond of calling tokenism from government; we need a round of candidates in 2006 insightful enough to lead, to reverse the state of denial, and to examine problems forthrightly instead of profiteering and temporizing.
There is a US minerals management service site that discusses onshore impacts scaring bears away when they are trying to establish a den in which to hide and have cubs, conflicting with the wide disturbance caused by oil surveying and other exploration activities associated with oil.
Well, it is the next day again and Typepad restored the past week of articles, and perhaps this will repose on the TNH shelf archived like yesterday's newspaper aging and mellowing, electronically cryopreserved. The half-life of plutonium is a long time; Helen Caldicott reminds us of that longevity.

i think polar bears are cute and sweet. but not sweet. thanks love you all

I think instead of fighting and being little kids about it ( the Ice Age)you should work together and try to do somthin about it, half of these people wine and complain about global warming, yet when there done at work, they climb right on in there big S.U.V

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