We Still Have Time to Restore Our Climate. But the Climate Time Bomb Is Ticking

GR: The article below describes the current state of our changing climate, the disasters facing us, and the things we could do to save ourselves. Like David Wallace-Wells, Carlin leaves the sugar-coating off. There is some optimism here, but Carlin doesn’t minimize the difficulties. In fact, he makes it clear that the ticking has grown so loud it should be drowning out most other concerns. Recommended.

“A recent New York Magazine article about the climate ruin we are facing, by David Wallace Wells, has caused a furor for describing the catastrophes that could happen to our planet by the end of the century if we do not mitigate the harms to our climate and reverse course. This op-ed by guest contributor Alex Carlin contends that those crises could happen much sooner, and he details steps he believes could help forestall disaster.

“Yes, Virginia, we still have time to restore our climate. But the Climate Time Bomb is undeniably ticking–and Trump has pulled out of the Paris agreement.

What Should We Do To Restore Our ClImate?

“Trump climate policy is blind and deaf to the fact that the Climate Bomb can cause millions—or even potentially billions—of deaths by mid-century. I believe Trump’s rogue refusal to defuse the Bomb is an unfathomably heinous crime against humanity.

“While the Paris agreement focuses on lowering CO2 emissions, there is a second indispensable task we must also perform to defuse The Bomb: restoring the Arctic ice.

“For thousands of years, the frozen Arctic has been keeping our climate hospitable—until now. The Arctic is a critical part of the earth’s mechanism for controlling the planet’s temperature and climate.

“But ominously, the Arctic Ocean has nearly finished changing from a state of “perennial ice”–covered with sea ice in the winter and never substantially ice free in the summer–to a state of “seasonal ice”–substantially ice free in the summer.

“Completing this switchover would herald the biggest change in the global ecosystem since before the start of human civilization, and it would have a devastating impact.

“Billions of people will face the risk of death in this century from adverse climate change outcomes such as starvation, heat stress, resource wars and disease if we don’t restore the perennial ice.

Next: Mass Starvation

–Alex Carlin (Continue reading: We Still Have Time to Restore Our Climate. But the Climate Time Bomb Is Ticking).

Why Being Fearful Can Spark Climate Action

GR: When I introduced David Wallace-Wells’ story last week, I mentioned that some prominent climate scientists criticized the article because of its warning of disaster and doom. Those scientists believe that gentle persuasion instead of an emergency declaration is the correct way to deliver the climate-emergency message. They are afraid people would be so overwhelmed by the truth, they might simply give up.

By 2100, the coolest months in tropical South America, Africa, and the Pacific are likely to be warmer than the warmest months at the end of the 20th century. Photo: Heartless Machine

There are other reasons that scientists soften their warnings. Gentle persuasion is resistant to the most intense forms of ridicule by oil-company sponsored climate-change deniers (whew). And gentle persuasion isn’t criticized by other scientists (who learned at their mentors’ knee true science is never certain). However, I disagreed with the arguments for gentle persuasion because there hasn’t been enough climate-change action and almost no one is behaving as if they understand that we are in the midst of a global emergency.

I want to mention one of the best explainers of global climate change, Dr. Paul Beckwith. Dr. Beckwith posts informative videos on YouTube. Beckwith is a moderate climate scientist who believes the climate-change emergency is real. He has been very upset by the scientists’ attack on the Wallace-Wells story and has posted several videos discussing the attacks. Here’s the link to one of his videos if you want to sample the flavor of his response.

The article below by Margaret Klein Salamon, a clinical psychologist, explains why scientists need to drop the sugar-coating and let people worry if they will, for worry is often a necessary precursor to action. And we need action. Let me assure you that we are in a global climate emergency.

“Last Week, David Wallace-Wells wrote a cover story for of New York Magazine, The Uninhabitable Earth, on some of the worst-case scenarios that the climate crisis could cause by the end of this century. It describes killer heat waves, crippling agricultural failures, devastated economies, plagues, resource wars and more. It has been read more than two million times.

“The article has caused a major controversy in the climate community, in part because of some factual errors in the piece—though by and large the piece is an accurate portrayal of worst-case climate catastrophe scenarios. But by far the most significant criticism the piece received was that it was too frightening.

“Importantly, fear does not motivate, and appealing to it is often counter-productive as it tends to distance people from the problem, leading them to disengage, doubt and even dismiss it,” wrote Michael Mann, Susan Joy Hassol and Tom Toles at the Washington Post.

“Erich Holthaus tweeted about the consequences of the piece:

  • “A widely-read piece like this that is not suitably grounded in fact may provoke unnecessary panic and anxiety among readers.”
  • “And that has real-world consequences. My twitter feed has been filled w people who, after reading DWW’s piece, have felt deep anxiety.”
  • “There are people who say they are now considering not having kids, partly because of this. People are losing sleep, reevaluating their lives.”

“While I think both Mann and Holthaus are brilliant scientists who identified some factual problems in the article, I strongly disagree with their statements about the role of emotions—namely, fear—in climate communications and politics. I am also skeptical of whether climate scientists should be treated as national arbiters of psychological or political questions, in general. I would like to offer my thoughts as a clinical psychologist, and as the founder and director of The Climate Mobilization.” –Margaret Klein Salamon (Please continue reading: Why Being Fearful Can Spark Climate Action.)

Background for World Conservation Day

Nature Conservation Background

World Conservation Day is just around the corner. Here’s a series of background reports on global carrying capacity and human impact from the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB). Stock your neurons with useful information. I haven’t finished reading these reports, but the bits I’ve scanned indicate they are important contributions. My pieces on conservation here and here cover some of the ideas. My ideas are less focused on humanity than on the plants and animals of the natural world, but all approaches to conservation have merit. We need them all now.

Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee (Country Living)

More articles from MAHB.

 

Why delisting of grizzly bears is premature | The Extinction Chronicles

GR: As the world’s wildlife species fade out of existence, government agencies responsible for their protection push them back to allow tourists to cover the land and for-profit companies to fill their place with domestic livestock. The political pressure on heads of government agencies comes from companies that give money to our elected representatives. And of course, almost all of our representatives are there dancing up and down with their little hands stretched out like beggars in a Calcutta alley. Here’s an excellent article from George Wuerthner that exposes the government lies. (Link to more about grizzlies)

Yellowstone Grizzlies (Daisy Gilardini -Getty Images)

“The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has decided to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bears, removing them from the protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). And state wildlife agencies in Wyoming and Montana are anxious to start sport hunting the bears.

“If you follow environmental politics, it is very clear why industries like the oil and gas industry, livestock industry and timber industry and the politicians they elect to represent their interests are anxious to see the bear delisted. Without ESA listing, environmentally destructive practices will have fewer restrictions, hence greater profits at the expense of the bear and its habitat.

“Delisting is opposed by a number of environmental groups, including Center for Biodiversity, Western Watersheds, WildEarth Guardians, Alliance for Wild Rockies, Humane Society, as well as more than 100 tribal people. Conspicuously absent from the list of organizations opposing delisting is the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

“Proponents of delisting, including the FWS, argue that with as many as 700 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, thus ensuring the bears are now safe from extinction. Seven hundred bears may sound like a big number. But this figure lacks context.

“Consider that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is nearly 28 million acres in total area. That is nearly the same acreage as the state of New York. Now ask yourself if 700 bears spread over an area the size of New York sounds like a lot of bears?

“Many population ecologists believe 700 bears is far too small a number of animals to ensure long-term population viability. Rather than hundreds, we need several thousand bears.

“Keep in mind that the Yellowstone Grizzlies went through a genetic bottleneck when their population was reduced to an estimated 136 animals. Indeed, the Yellowstone grizzlies have the lowest genetic diversity of any bear population.

“This lack of diversity is exacerbated because dominant male grizzlies tend to breed with multiple female partners, further reducing the genetic diversity in the population.

“Add to this biological limitation is the changing food structure for the bear. Major food resources from elk to whitebark pine to spawning trout in Yellowstone have all declined, challenging bears to find new food resources.

“Plus, state wildlife management agencies are generally hostile to predators, seeing them hindering production of elk, deer, moose, and other animals desired by hunters.

“Without the protection of the ESA, and the loosening of restrictions on the killing of bears, more grizzlies will be killed for livestock depredations, as well as potentially by trophy hunters.

“Most predator biologists recognize that killing dominant animals, whether it is bears, wolves or cougars disrupts the social ecology of these animals, leading to more livestock depredation.

“In ecology, there is the “precautionary principle” which admonishes all of us to err on the side of caution. Instead of using the minimum estimates of what constitutes a “recovered” population, we should be careful and not rush to eliminate protections for an animal whose biological potential is low and is slow to recover from any declines.” –George Wuerthner (Why delisting of grizzly bears is premature | The Extinction Chronicles)

George Wuerthner is an ecologist who has authored 38 books, including “Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy.” He divides his time between Bend, Oregon, and Livingston, Montana.