The Gun We Point at Our Own Heads

  If you're sitting at a table and there's a loaded pistol in front of you, do you pick it up and point it at your own head?  Probably not, unless something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. How would you feel if someone else was holding that pistol to your head? But there is a pistol pointed at our heads and, unless we do something about it, we're goners. It's not a Glock. It's fossil fuels and the industry is slowly squeezing the trigger. Proven fossil fuel reserves are sufficient to generate 3.5 trillion tons of greenhouse gas emissions .  Russia and the United States each have massive reserves of fossil energy sufficient to push humanity through the 1.5C heating limit, sometimes called the "carbon budget."  I have it on reliable authority that Washington and the Kremlin aren't getting along very well these days. After all, if you won't hold the line on nuclear proliferation, you might not be inclined to voluntarily give up a major source of na

Devil Take the Hindmost

  It's been a while so let's return to the subject of climate breakdown. There's news. No, it's mainly bad. Remember when we first heard about "tipping points"? Back then the narrative was these were "do not exceed" limits beyond which we risked waking the sleeping giant, nature, triggering runaway climate change. We even crafted this political process that this year celebrates its 27th anniversary to do, basically, next to nothing. The business about tipping points has lost most of its urgency even though it's there for all to see. We've become somewhat inured to the process, perilous as it may be. A new report  in the journal, Science, clarifies how near we are to five major tipping points that would drastically alter human life and that of most other species. Here are excerpts of the summary from "Getting Tipsy" - Climate tipping points (CTPs) are a source of growing scientific, policy, and public concern. They occur when change

The Queen is Dead, Long Live the King

Elizabeth II, 70 years Queen, has died at age 96.

The Uber-Rich and Have Their Own Climate Worries

  How is a mere billionaire to cope with climate breakdown? The rich and powerful have sought answers to their angst from Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist, lecturer and author. His most recent book, " Survival of the Richest ," draws them to him as a light draws moths. Rushkoff writes of a meeting with five of the uber-rich seeking his advice.  All had their luxury subterranean retreats, pantries larded with everything they would need to hold out for a year, even more. Some even had US Navy Seal alumni on retainer to defend their quarters from the Great Unwashed.  There was just one snag. Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system, and asked: “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?” The event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, solar storm, unstoppable virus, or malicious computer hack that takes everything down. Thi

How Secure is Canada's Bountiful Fresh Water Resource?

We think of Canada as a vast land studded with lakes assuring a bountiful supply of fresh water. Things change. Across the high north, lakes are vanishing - much faster than we had imagined. Arctic lakes are drying out nearly a century earlier than projected, depriving the region of a critical source of fresh water, according to new research. Models had predicted that as warmer weather thaws the Arctic, melting ice would feed into lakes, causing them to expand. Eventually, as ice melted away, those lakes would drain and dry out, sometime later this century, according to earlier projections. But satellite imagery reveals that lakes across the Arctic are shrinking rapidly today. Researchers tracked a distinct downward trend in Arctic lake cover from 2000 to 2021, observing declines across 82 percent of the study area, which included large swaths of Canada, Russia, Greenland, Scandinavia, and Alaska. As warmer air and more abundant autumn rainfall melt permafrost around and beneath Arcti

Hard Talk

  In climate change circles the talk lately has taken a clear turn to the dark side. One prominent scientist told me that, to make sense of where the world leadership stands today, I need only watch DiCaprio's "Don't Look Up" on Netflix.  Spoiler alert - politicians dither until it's too late to prevent a major asteroid strike. In a similar vein, a new book, " Inconvenient Apocalypse ," has been released. For a number of years now I've been told that Earth's sustainable human population is about 2 billion. That's a bit jarring since we're now at 8 billion. Inconvenient Apocalypse pegs it at 2 to 3 billion. In An Inconvenient Apocalypse, authors Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen style themselves as heralds of some very bad news: societal collapse on a global scale is inevitable, and those who manage to survive the mass death and crumbling of the world as we know it will have to live in drastically transformed circumstances. According to Jackso

Our Brave New World - A Glimmer of Hope

  Guardian economics editor, Larry Elliott, sees welcome change on the horizon. Our 20 year wait may soon be over. For the past 40 years the world has been organised along neoliberal lines. This has involved long and complex global supply chains, privatisation, deregulation, small government, weak trade unions and a dedication on the part of independent central banks to keeping inflation low. The world that emerges from the chaos caused by a combination of the pandemic and the war will be different. Supply chains are going to be shorter as countries aim for self-sufficiency in food, energy and industrial components. There is going to be a wariness about being over-dependent on autocratic regimes for key commodities. There will be pressure for much tougher regulation of utilities and even renationalisation. Governments will get bigger and a shortage of workers, amplified by an ageing population, will shift the balance of power away from capital and towards labour. ...The public is ready

What Will We See Half a Century Later?

  Behold "Earthrise," the iconic 'blue marble' photo taken in December, 1968, by William Anders on the first Apollo mission to orbit the moon. What will Earth look like from the moon 54 years later? Will it look as pristine or a little beat up?  Those who can recall what the environment was like in 1968 and how much it has changed - mainly for the worse - over the last half century may be in for a surprise. The atmosphere has changed. Upwards of 14 per cent more water vapor. The poles have changed. The jet stream has really changed. What will we see as NASA attempts the first permanent habitation on the moon? Comment Response -   I wouldn't be banking too heavily on China these days.  

What's In a Name?


Sagan Says

  Comments Response -  I understand the truth of your observations, Lungta, but I still, after all these years, struggle to accept the reality of our predicament.

How Do We Get Out from Under This?

The American contagion has set in. Stephen Harper to Maxime Bernier to Pierre Poilievre to the Freedom Convoy - the signs are everywhere.  But what about the British contagion ? That's a more troubling problem - the lack of ideas. Does this sound vaguely familiar? If mainstream politics feels surreal and inadequate, this is partly due to the mysterious absence of a phenomenon that, for most of the past 150 years, was treated as an integral feature of politics and policy: ideas. Ideas have come in various shapes and sizes and from various sources. Some, such as those that formed Keynesianism, are associated with a single individual. Others, such as those that underpinned Thatcherism, were forged through an alliance of thinktanks (such as the Institute of Economic Affairs) and public intellectuals (such as Milton Friedman and Keith Joseph). It is when the status quo breaks down in some way (as occurred in the UK in the 1970s or within the left after 1989) that ideas and intellectuals

I Know How He Feels. Do You?

  Is decline the new trend for civilization?  With the exception, perhaps, of population growth, humanity seems to be at or on the cusp of decline. Tom Engelhardt, of TomDispatch , has written an oddly touching column on decline in the latest ScheerPost .  He writes of the decline that accompanies old age but also the decline in his United States of America and in humanity itself. It’s strange, if not eerie, to be living through the decline of my country — the once “sole superpower” on Planet Earth — in the very years of my own decline (even if Fox News isn’t picking on me ). Given the things I’m now forgetting, there’s something spookily familiar about the decline-and-fall script in the history I do recall. As Joe and his top officials do their best to live life to the fullest by working to recreate a three-decades-gone Cold War, even as this country begins to come apart at the seams, all I can say is: welcome to an ever lousier version of the past (just in case you’re too young to ha

Michael Harris - Conservatives Can't Shake the Curse of Harper

  Michael Harris has sized up Pierre Poilievre and concludes that he's a symptom of a sickness the Conservatives just cannot shake. The Conservatives are still the party of “Make Harperism Great Again.” Instead of taking the rejections of 2015, 2019 and 2021 as signs of the urgent need to reconstruct a party that had grown authoritarian, undemocratic and out of touch, they have doubled down on the policies that have turned them into the perpetual opposition, including fossil fuel worship, environmental myopia, anti-democratic practices and dismissiveness towards Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Poilievre is more of a Harper protégé than Andrew Scheer or Erin O’Toole ever were. Some Conservative commentators have tried to dry-clean Poilievre, saying he would come to the leadership with a clean slate. That is the stuff of nasal coffee rockets. Poilievre was Harper’s personal attack chihuahua in the House of Commons, a job he pursued with such alacrity that he elbowed his way into cabin

Trump Being Investigated Under the Espionage Act

  The Independent has obtained a copy of the warrant to search Mar-a-Lardo. The search warrant, which federal agents obtained on 5 August, directed agents to seize “physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation” of three criminal laws: the Espionage Act , a US law which makes it a crime to remove information related to national defence “from its proper place of custody “ as well as sections of US criminal law covering obstruction of justice and removing government records. Some of Mr Trump’s allies have speculated that the FBI search of his property was an attempt to find him in violation of the Presidential Records Act, which has no criminal penalties. But the laws cited on the warrant to search Mr Trump’s property could result in the ex-president serving many years in prison should he be charged and convicted of violating any of them.

Faster Than We Imagined.

It's widely understood that the Arctic has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Wrong, we got that wrong. A paper published in Communications Earth & Environment  contends that, since 1979, the Arctic has warmed not twice as fast but four times. In recent decades, the warming in the Arctic has been much faster than in the rest of the world, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification . Numerous studies report that the Arctic is warming either twice, more than twice, or even three times as fast as the globe on average. Here we show, by using several observational datasets which cover the Arctic region, that during the last 43 years the Arctic has been warming nearly four times faster than the globe, which is a higher ratio than generally reported in literature. We compared the observed Arctic amplification ratio with the ratio simulated by state-of-the-art climate models, and found that the observed four-fold warming ratio over 1979–2021 is an extremely rare occas