Monday, January 04, 2016

El Nino turns super chaotic: the climate change shit is getting real, suddenly, and the US Congress is powerless so long as Republican deniers are in control ... by gimleteye

I am just returning from a first visit to the coastal Patagonia region of Argentina. At the very bottom of the southern hemisphere, coastal zone forests are dying. The sight reminded me of the rapidly thinning forest in Maine where I spend part of the year, and even more; of vast expanses in the American and Canadian Rockies succumbing to the pine bark beetle.
Originally published in Yale360 in October 2015: Many scientists ... are deeply concerned about the state of the world’s largest forest. The Arctic and the boreal region are warming twice as fast as other parts of the world. Permafrost is thawing and even burning, fires are burning unprecedented acres of forest, and insect outbreaks have gobbled up increasing numbers of trees. Climate zones are moving north ten times faster than forests can migrate. And this comes on top of increased industrial development of the boreal, from logging to oil and gas. The same phenomena are seen in Russia, Scandanavia, and Finland.

These disturbing signals of a forest in steep decline are why NASA just launched a large-scale research project called ABoVE — Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment, a “major field campaign” with 21 field projects over the next decade. But the studies will confirm in detail what many know is well underway.

“Boreal forests have a potential to hit a tipping point this century,” said Anatoly Shvidenko, of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and a co-author of a survey of a recent research on boreal forests in the journal Science. “It is urgent we place more focus on climate mitigation and adaptation with respect to these forests.”

Eight years ago, the UK Guardian published, "James Lovelock: Enjoy life while you can, in 20 years global warming will hit the fan". A friend, one of the nation's top entrepreneurs, recently read the Guardian piece and offered an insightful and devastating critique of money, politics, and democracy.

The bottom line is that we are dithering, as though scientific "certainty" of climate change could actually move the dysfunctional politics that obstruct sound public policy. My friend wrote yesterday, echoing the words of a former president who also believes the United States is no longer a democracy. But my friend, one of this generation's leading business leaders, takes his criticism a step further. Sir Nicolas Stern, the British economist, called global warming, "the greatest market failure in world history". My friend lays the failure at the door of capitalism:
Yes. He (Lovelock) is so right in my opinion. And it could have been averted. Such a pity. The root cause? It’s all driven by money in politics. We no longer really have a Democracy.

On climate change we are over the waterfall and have been for a while. That wet feeling is not from rough water ahead, it’s from the spray dropping down from the edge above. We are over the waterfall and tumbling and are just beginning to realize it. And the Congress-money complex is just saying paddle faster!

Capitalism is an amazing force and I strongly believe it is the best system when you want more of something. More cars: it produces 17.4 million new cars in the U.S. a year. A miracle. More air transportation – 20,000 flights a day, and flawless. More food – we have fed the world.

But it’s the worst system for moderation, when you want less of something. Privatize the prison system and we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. Allow poison production and we supply cigarettes, pesticides, herbicides, and agricultural hormones to the world so cancer rates track GDP growth perfectly. Let it loose on gun production and we have 300 million hand guns among the populace. Let it loose on fossil fuels and we cook the planet.

And while true free-market capitalism might moderate some of these trends, true free market capitalism gets defeated by scale. The corporate entities become so powerful that they buy the politics, distort markets in their favor, and accelerate society towards disaster. Their scale allows them to defeat the very feedback mechanisms that capitalism’s efficiency is predicated upon.

Hopefully our kids can fix this. But the next century is going to be even more of a mess than the last. I feel like we are living in 1916 unaware of the coming of world wars, the Depression, the Holocaust, the atom bomb, and the miserable experiment of world communism.

Enjoy 2016 while it lasts.

As EOM has noted, the climate change deniers are fading like mob instigators afraid of being caught out. Lovelock may have been off by a generation when he talked to the Guardian in 2008, but as our current bizarre El Nino extreme is showing: the climate shit is hitting the fan.

Sea level rise in Miami is certainly a pressing concern, but as we observe dying forests like gawkers at a car crash, more people ought to ask this question: if the forests die, and the oceans no longer bear fruit of the sea, how far behind is the terrestrial food supply serving the industrial world?

That's the question that ought to be raised by this December's torrential rains in South Dade farming areas. That's the question our current politics have no answer for, and because they have no answer, our political majority -- it happens to be the GOP -- is behaving like thieves in the granary.


Jeffrey Scott Wilson said...

Well stated and hopefully will be well read.

Geniusofdespair said...

Good video.

Anonymous said...

will not play on firefox

cyndi said...

played fine for me on firefox. There is a good Bill Nye video afterwards.