“We do not expect our species to exist forever. But it is unworthy of us – and of what, collectively, we know we can become – to die in the way we’re threatening to die: blindfolded, blustering, callow, lying to each other and ourselves.”
Environmental campaigner, the late Dorothy Dinnerstein, quoted on OpenDemocracy.org
Daily average atmospheric CO2 as measured at Scripps Mauna Loa observatory at 9,000 ft altitude on 3 May was 415.09 ppm, approximately 10 ppm higher than the 405 ppm average at end-March last year.
That’s the highest count measurable from core samples, etc. in the past 800 thousand years and puts us on course for 10 deg. C, 18F of warming over AD 1750 levels. (from Arctic News, 6 May)
Wunderground carries and gives additional weight and exposure to an item that appeared on Arctic News a couple of months ago, regarding research at CalTech showing how one result of a 4C rise by 2100 could be the loss of marine stratocumulus clouds that reflect sunlight back into space.
“If humanity maintains its current business-as-usual emissions path for the next 100 years, the resulting 4°C (7°F) of warming may be enough to cause highly reflective stratocumulus clouds over the subtropical and tropical oceans to disintegrate, resulting in an additional 8°C (14°F) of warming, according to research published in February. The resultant “Hothouse Earth” climate, 12°C (22°F) warmer than pre-industrial levels, would be enough to melt all ice on the planet, raise sea levels by over 200 feet over a period of centuries, and produce heat waves too hot for humans to endure outdoors for over half of Earth’s population (as currently distributed.)
I love the optimism of scientists, don’t you? Because a) what if we hit not 4C, but 10C, on current trend, as forecast by “Sam Carana” above, possibly even in the next decade? Add 8C to that, and Venusians start to feel at home.
And b) long before it gets “too hot for humans” we will have suffered global socio-economic collapse, even assuming we can still produce food in underground farms and laboratories, requiring a huge energy supply; and, potentially, nuclear exchanges escalating from unsustainable conventional resource wars. While on the principle of co-extinction of species, with another million on the UN’s danger list humankind will be long gone before we drown.
Start saving now
A team of British, European and US researchers have been looking at the probable cost of various warming scenarios, based on the aim of the outdated Paris accord to keep warming “well below” 2C. Given the likelihood of non-linear warming caused by feedbacks such as Arctic “blue ocean” and consequent methane release, they estimate that if warming can be kept to 4C by the end of the century, the cost to the global economy by then will have been $2,197 TRILLION.
One tipping point frequently quoted is the loss of winter sea ice leaving the Arctic ice-free in summer, the darker water absorbing more heat. Thomas Krumpen of the Alfred Wegener Institute warns that an important current that helps to distribute new sea ice across the region in late autumn, known as the Drift, is becoming weaker and more erratic. It’s estimated too that 50 years ago, the Greenland ice sheet was losing 47 billion tonnes of ice annually. It’s now 290 billion tonnes. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet.
Lloyds of London made a $1 billion loss in the last year on insured disasters, while Aon Insurance estimates March alone’s extreme weather events cost the world economy $8 billion. Of course, the majority of disaster zones in poorer countries experience far greater uninsured losses.
(All taken from an article in Floodlist crediting Climate News Network, citing various papers)
La la la la la…
According to a major international survey, 17% of Americans believe that “the idea of manmade global warming is a hoax that was invented to deceive people” (54 million people!) 13% thought the climate might be changing but humans are not responsible. (Guardian, 8 May)
America has the highest proportion of climate change deniers in the world: of those who describe themselves as conservatives, over 52% said they believe in the hoax theory.
Coincidentally, it also has the largest per capita carbon footprint. (Followed closely in both categories by its friend, the oil nation of Saudi Barbaria.)
Of course, for it to be a hoax would improbably require the covert participation of thousands of trained researchers with actual PhDs across dozens of countries and institutions, producing peer-reviewed papers over many decades, going back to the late C19th.
There would also have to be some point to it.
To believe it to be a hoax would require the brand of logic that says you can go on pissing in your bath water forever and it won’t overflow or turn yellow and smelly.
The kind that can’t manage to balance objectively the likely gain to the shareholders of the coal, oil and gas industries of continuing denial, against any conceivable gain to the broader scientific community from continuously lying to people.
For it to be thought of as a hoax requires only a large enough number of poorly educated, self-promoting, attention-seeking, contrarian twats with their heads up their arses, plus a few million dollars worth of propaganda from the Koch brothers and Exxon-Mobil.
Plus, of course, the word of the least intelligent, most ignorant – most unqualified – president in US history. A trustworthy source who has otherwise made up more than ten thousand well-attested lies in 27 months.
Sure, it’s a hoax.
Justice is blind
“Today Anna Sorokin will be sentenced in New York for masquerading as Anna Delvey, an extravagant socialite. Sorokin bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of thousands of dollars she swindled from banks, hotels and friends who believed she was a wealthy German heiress.” (Guardian)
For over 30 years, a person has been going around New York masquerading as “Donald Trump”, a billionaire businessman and glamorous playboy. In that time he’s cost the US taxpayer half a billion dollars, stiffed his workers and suppliers, refused to pay bills, groped women, accepted money from gangsters, imported and employed undocumented labor. He bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of millions of dollars he swindled from banks, threatening to sue them if they asked for their money back.
He’s not going to prison at all.
While the Democrats in the House of Representatives have been battling the Justice department in vain to get hold of the unredacted Mueller report, judge Amy Berman Jackson, hearing the case against Trump crony Roger Stone, has issued a court order requiring the DoJ to hand over redacted material relating to Stone’s prosecution.
Lawyers have agreed, they cannot refuse. The material is due on Monday. Other judges are now making similar orders and may soon join the ranks of the few people in the USA who have been allowed to view all the material Trump’s tame Attorney General Bill Barr has blanked out and is refusing to let legislators see.
While, in case anyone is still clinging hopefully to the last few shreds of possibility that Trump is not the most corrupt president in US history, Bloomberg is reporting that the Chief Counsel at the Internal Revenue Service, the man who is blocking lawful Congressional demands for the release of the President’s tax returns – those bits that have not already leaked – and whose appointment was railroaded through the Senate confirmation hearing on the personal order of the President, was formerly for a time a tax advisor to… The Trump Organization.
No conflict there, then.
Donald and the magic money machine
Look, I know you just want to get on with your life, but this is bugging me. Has been for three years now.
What is he so scared will come out of his tax returns, that his dim Treasury Secretary, Grinning Steve “call me Stephen” Mnuchin is prepared to go to jail for, being as he is in contempt of Congress for refusing to allow a lawful request to the head of the IRS – himself a barely qualified Trump appointee – to release them?
Why is Trump fighting like a cat in a sack to prevent anyone knowing about his finances? It’s a perfectly accepted thing, every new president and senior government official, every candidate for high office has to ‘fess up, but he absolutely will not.
Just yesterday, the good ol’ New York Times financial people have reported, they’ve managed to get hold of a series of basic Internal Revenue Service documents, just the annual listings of their top and bottom wealthy taxpayers, just a headline thing with no details.
From which, it appears that for about 10 years in the 1980s and 90s one Donald John Trump, hugely successful and flamboyant billionaire businessman, paid a small amount of tax in only two of them.
In the other eight years, he managed to LOSE a total of $1.17 bn, thus avoiding tax on his business and personal revenue – which he basically believes are one and the same thing.
Now, we recall, don’t we, the pre-election TV debate with Clinton in which Trump accepted that he paid next to no tax, and that was because he was “smart” – billionaire presidential candidates shouldn’t have to contribute a penny to the nation, patriotism (as Edith Cavell once said) not being nearly profitable enough.
It transpired that his accountant had declared a deductible billion dollar write-down, that sheltered him from income tax for several years. It was reported in the mainstream media at the time, but everyone seems to have forgotten about it until now, when this actual evidence has emerged. (And also since the accountant has been spilling it to the Mueller team.)
Now, I love a good conspiracy theory, so the clouds parted when I saw the Times piece today.
All the leftish TV pundits are speculating that this is what he didn’t want to come out, that instead of being the brilliant supermogul he pretends to be, the world’s greatest dealmaker, he is a totally crappy businessman whose dad bankrolled him to the tune of half a billion dollars, that he appears to have pissed away, and more.
But there’s nothing new in that theory, journalists who have followed Trump around with a shovel have been trying to tell people for years that he’s the phonus-balonus.
I’m looking at it from a more squinty angle, however.
The Times financial team has been puzzling over one entry.
It seems that at one point, Trump declared a special one-off receipt for $50 million in interest earnings.
How, they are asking, and from where could he have earned $50 million in interest when his businesses were making such huge losses?
Well, my friend over at The Pumpkin brightly suggests, over a pint or two, it’s about what you’d expect to earn in a year on a billion-dollars worth of deposits, no?
In the sober light of day, I’m sure there’s a perfectly innocent explanation. In the world of accounting, not everything is what it seems, not necessarily illegally so. There might have been a very good reason why such a large amount needed to be lumped all at once into the column marked “interest earned on investments”, like “We can’t get away forever with not declaring something”.
So, what if he didn’t actually lose that billion, and instead had salted it away somehow, somewhere, in dribs and drabs of fifty, a hundred or two hundred million at a time, and merely declared the money as lost?
Say, in fake bank accounts in Russia, where the regulators are probably piled in groaning heaps in corners? (Has anyone looked for accounts in the name of David Dennisovitch, I wonder?)
Or, say he had carefully crafted those losses, purportedly to creditors (whom he reputedly seldom pays) but actually to confederates? (Like energy, money can neither be created nor destroyed.)
And say those deposits might be the true source of his Russian loans to his leisure developments? (Other countries and banks may be involved). That he’s been lending to himself, laundering his own money outside the system?
If true, that would be a far stronger reason for Trump to want to keep Mr Putin happy by helping to bring down the West, as if found out it would see him eating porage with no salt for many lifetimes to come.
Those debts Trump supposedly owes, that Putin has supposedly picked up the marker for – well, so what, frankly? It’s not illegal to be a lousy businessman, it’s not illegal to borrow investment finance from Russian banks owned by Putin’s mates or the GRU, like his idiot sons have explained he does, although in many people’s view it ought to be illegal to build tacky golf resorts everywhere over people’s land. He even loses money on those.
But huge hidden deposits, concealed from the IRS? Like, those big “debts” he supposedly owes are actually his own assets?
Just speculatin’. Usually wrong, yunnerstan’. No head for finance, least of all this stuff. Too easily detected. Pure supposition. Probably not even possible. Just ignore.
PS Mr Trump has hit back, claiming he lost the money deliberately, in a financial game all successful property developers play (aye, it’s called “laundering money”…) Then he exerted Executive Privilege over Congress to prevent any further inquiries into the Mueller report, appointing a new law firm just to delay release of his financial records, resulting in a declaration of war from the Democrats, who have started contempt proceedings against Trump officials resisting lawful subpoenas to produce evidence the President fears will incriminate him further.
So far, it’s all proceeding along exactly the lines familiar to historians of the Watergate conspiracy.
What is he hiding? And why doesn’t anyone appear to know?
GW: going down a bomb
Europe: A storm undergoing rapid “bombogenesis” (drop in pressure) out in the Atlantic is forecast to bring high winds and torrential rain across the British Isles into much of NW Europe down to Spain from 8 May. SW France is expecting severe thunderstorms and “a tornado or two”. (Accuweather) So far, here on the ground the forecast seems to be a bit of an exaggeration.
Meanwhile, as central and southern Europe continues to shiver under an airmass straight from the Arctic, Spain and Portugal are expected to warm up rapidly at the weekend, with a +14C spring temperature anomaly peaking in the high 30s C (high 90s F) next week. (Severe-weather.eu)
USA: Heavy flooding continued inundating towns and farmland along rivers in the Midwest on Monday. The swollen Mississippi River breached levees and forced road closures and drove people from their homes as high water levels make their way downstream. More severe storms are forecast to trundle northeastwards from Texas towards the mid-Atlantic during the week. (Accuweather)
The Weather Channel reports, nearly 3,000 avalanches have been recorded this year in Colorado.
Indonesia: 1 person has died and several are injured, with some localized farming losses, after heavy rain caused a flash flood in Samosir regency, North Sumatra, 3 May. (Floodlist)
Australia: The city of Mildura in Victoria state was engulfed by a huge dust storm on 7 May, whipped up by 50 mph-plus winds.
Insurance industry research has shown that extreme hot days in Australia are now 80 per cent more common and extreme cold days 74 per cent less common than the long-term average. (ABC News)
Namibia: A state of emergency has been declared as drought grips the country for a third successive year. Over half a million people are said to have not enough to eat. (BBC)
Russia: sweltering in a heatwave, Moscow has again (twice last year) been battered by a massive storm, with lots of hail and localized flooding. High winds tore up trees and flipped cars.
Get it together, guys!
One possible factor behind the public confusion over climate change that the denier community has improperly exploited, is the apparent inability of the scientific community to act like a community and cross-refer data sensibly across the barriers of specialized disciplines.
As a for-instance, take the story above, that in some parts of Australia you’re more than twice as likely to get dangerously hot days now than you were, say between 1980 and 2010, which is usually taken as the long-term average. Nationwide, it’s about an 80% increase. Sea level rise around some parts of the coast is also an alarming 6 cm, although the news report gives no starting date for that, so it’s hard to evaluate the significance. (ABC News)
The research was done for actuaries in the insurance industry, who have therefrom concluded that by 2100, getting on for a million homes will become uninsurable.
It really ought to occur to these clever risk-analysts that if extreme temperatures and sea levels go on increasing at the reported rate, which given the corruption and inertia prevalent among the country’s simply appalling politicians they are bound to do, there won’t be anyone around to pay the premiums.
Australia will have become uninhabitable long before it becomes uninsurable.
And in a similar vein, this morning the UK Environment Agency has published its views on the nation’s flood preparedness, urging the government to spend a billion pounds a year on resilience measures and warning that coastal communities will have to be relocated – if the global average temperature rises by 4 deg. C.
The Agency has completely failed to comprehend what a rise of 4 deg. C in the average temperature is going to mean in terms of the extremes we should experience in the meantime. Especially if the theory holds up, that at 4 deg. C the oceans will lose their reflective blanket of stratocumulus clouds, leading to a rapid rise of a further 8 deg. C. So far, that’s only a theory.
However, there has been a tragic tendency on the part of risk analysts to think lineally, in terms of these artificial cutoff points: 1.5C good, 2C bad; “blue ocean event” – as if there is one state prior to the last ice cube disappearing, and a new state immediately following it. And as if Chaos theory does not predict any sudden change of state resulting from tipping points being exceeded.
Many gloomier scientists whose prognostications are so frequently ignored by governments, NGOs and the media, all of them with their own half-baked perspectives, have concluded that a rise of 5 deg. C is the point of extinction for the human race.
How well do we imagine we are going to cope at 4 deg. C – which is, after all, nearly 5C and likely in itself to double the rate of warming? What will be the effect on global food production? On our cities, sweltering in 45C, 50C heat in summer?
Wel, so long as our clever department is focussed entirely on the effects of sea level rise and heavier rainfall, we can’t take the holistic view of a drastically changing economy and potential system breakdown to put out a more meaningful report.
Let’s just knock back the values of coastal properties for now.