Sea level rise

Turbulent Times, the key message

Core message from my YouTube talk

Let go – or be dragged – but NEVER GIVE UP

I am letting go of the notion that homo sapiens will inhabit this planet beyond 2030.

I am letting go of the notion that within a few short years, there will still be any comfortable habitat for humans anywhere.

I am letting go of the notion that we will retain even one percent of the species currently in Earth beyond 2050.

But I am not letting go of the notion of resistance, for that is what makes me human.


Feel GOOD to be alive – always, every day

Don’t consume ANYTHING you don’t need

We are the most creative creatures on the planet



We have breached the first tipping point.

 Two critical tipping points have been breached. This is the critical moment in an evolving system when feedback becomes strong enough to continue on its own without any further input. The tipping point is that moment when a gradual increase becomes unstoppable because the feedback maintains its own momentum. There is nowhere to go under these circumstances, and nothing can be done to prevent it continuing. It is the point when an everyday infection turns epidemic.

We have now breached the edge from two events. One is a remarkable collapse of summer sea ice in the Arctic with enormous consequences, especially on the Gulfstream, which is driven by the flood of cold water that emerges from under the Arctic ice. Now that summers are going to be more and more ice-free the permanent disruption of the Gulfstream becomes more likely. With it will come, inevitably, a change in temperatures and weather in North America and Europe. It may herald an ice age, but it is more likely, according to current thinking, to create even more dangerous weather patterns than we have experienced hitherto.

The other event is the extraordinary growth of methane being exhausted into the air, especially in Siberia that has gained more heat than anywhere else. Some is from clathrates under the ocean floor, and some from the melting of the permafrost. These emissions are now many many times greater than science had expected, and it is feared that they have reached a point where they are feeding back on themselves and are becoming unstoppable.

Together they have brought us to the first tipping point, as this will set off more.

As methane is some 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in heating the planet, further heat is now expected to proceed at an extremely fast rate. It is likely that from here on the consequences of what we have been doing will impact on our lives more severely every year. Larger hurricanes, catastrophic fires, burning temperatures, endless droughts and fierce storm surges are to be the norm.

Together, the feedback loops now in place in the Arctic and in Siberia will inexorably build on themselves. The time when we could have curtailed this disaster has passed. Hanging on to a 2oC limit was a mistake. Thinking of limits when feedback cuts in is ridiculous. Some will continue to argue that we can still do something. Politically, socially, and militarily this is highly unlikely.

If we had listened to the science ten years ago we may not now be in this fix. In 2006 on the PlanetExtinction website my banner said “we have eight years to stop …”, only eight years to end the use of fossil fuels and reverse the trend. It seems that I was over optimistic. We had six.

We are not going to stop the juggernaut of greed that is determined to destroy this beautiful earth, all for the sake of profit, so what can we do under the circumstances? The end-game will be played out in its own time, and will be dealt us by Gaia. But we, the ordinary people, need to protect our lives and our children and what we can of our heritage. There are many schemes and proposals such as Transition Towns, and of these we may take our pick.

Essentially we need ways to increase our personal and social resilience while coming into communities that are dedicated to preserving what matters most. It means training ourselves from today onwards in the ancient trades of farming and clothing, of healing and shelter.

At the same time we need to consider the moral issues, for they will determine how we will react in stress. We need to discuss our options in advance of the coming catastrophe. For example, a sea rise of some metres in Australia would create more than a million refugees. In shock, destitute, desperate for food and lodging, how would any community that has set out to preserve itself handle such an influx? Governments would be compelled to maintain order with reflexes that are likely to be draconian, and political bullies would take advantage of the panic for their own ends.

How does a Morality of Survival deal with this and many similar situations? If not publicly aired, and quickly, our ability to respond is likely to be overwhelmed by events.

Ideally, governments should take the lead, and provide nurture and guidance where it is needed. Frankly, I think this is highly unlikely. It therefore comes down to us, as individuals and as communities, to find our way through the mess that is coming.

We cannot hide our heads and pretend there is still time left to change this world into a better place. From here on we will be more and more at the mercy of the grim forces we have unleashed.

If we continue to direct our efforts towards modifying the rush to insanity, we will have wasted our time and will be thrashed by the outcome. It is now time to become Survivors.

Graph Arctic sea ice

graph declioning sea ice since 1979.

Methane from Arctic permafrost is the most feared tipping point

These reports on thawing Siberian permafrost are signs that the tipping point may have been reached. This is when through feedback there is no stopping runaway global heating. They are chilling because methane is more than twenty times more powerful  in global warming than carbon dioxide. Also, over hundreds of millions of years spikes in global temperature have always been associated with spikes in methane release.

Methane turns into CO2. There is twice as much carbon held in permafrost than in the atmosphere.  The Arctic region is experiencing twice the global average of climate warming. Add these figures up, and ask why we are doing so little.

Carbon release in Siberia.

Less carbon being absorbed in Arctic.

Arctic warming feedback loops.

Abrupt permafrost thawing.


Arctic sea-ice melt record smashed

Climate change impacts are frequently happening more quickly and at lower levels of global warming than scientists expected, even a decade or two ago. And this week the Arctic has provided a dramatic and deeply disturbing example.
     According to IARC/JAXA satellite data at Arctic Sea-ice Monitor from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the sea-ice extent of 24 August 2012 of 4,189,375 square kilometres broke the previous record in the satellite era of 4,254,531 square kilometres set on 24 August 2007. Back then the were scientific gasps that the sea ice was melting “100 years ahead of schedule”
     [The 24 August figure is subject to revision the next day, the but point remains that record has been broken or will be broken in next day or two.  The NSIDC chart using 5-day running averages, so it is a few days behind.]

JAXA Arctic sea ice extent to 24 August 2012. Updates:

What is astounding is that the record has been broken with three to four weeks of the melt season to go, and that the rate of melting this month is unprecedented in the modern record. Check the chart above (click to enlarge), with the red line mapping 2012 sea-ice extent. The slope of the line is much steeper than in previous years for August.

For full article click here.

Triggering permafrost meltdown is closer than we think

Two future climate impacts above all others will overwhelm human efforts to mitigate global warming should temperatures and carbon dioxide levels reach critical levels, which in the latter case we are already close to achieving.
       The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 3 to 6 degrees Celsius higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 25 to 40 metres higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland.

For full article read here.

Drought may threaten within decades

For the world’s growing population these are the most fearsome maps you will see.

The United States and many other heavily populated countries face a growing threat of severe and prolonged drought in coming decades, according to a new study by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Aiguo Dai. The detailed analysis concludes that warming temperatures associated with climate change will likely create increasingly dry conditions across much of the globe in the next 30 years, possibly reaching a scale in some regions by the end of the century that has rarely, if ever, been observed in modern times.

coming droughts

Dramatic lessons from the Arctic big melt of 2012

Greenland melt index

Click here for whole article – its serious for the future.

Western Antarctic Ice Shield

Geoff Thomas has written: Something receiving little attention world wide that would seem to me very important is the Western Antarctic Ice Shield, (WAIS)
as it could soon contribute over 3 metres of ocean rise and in the long term almost 5 metres, – I have been watching the WAIS  situation as possible over the last few years and the situation there has deteriorated, particularly with the instability of the ice shields into the Amundsen sea and the increasing flows from the Thwaites, Smith and Pine Island Glaciers, which are now contributing an increasing portion of the world annual sea rise, – should those Ice Shields blocking flow from those three glaciers into the Amundsen Sea significantly collapse, a process already happening with no reliable prediction method to know how quickly or when, a good metre of sea level rise could happen in a month or two, as the unimpeded glaciers accelerate into the ocean.

Those three glaciers drain area containing ice total that would cause 2 metres in sea level rise if completely melted, so just how much would let go is hard to know, – we do know the Antarctic Archipeligo broke up very quickly.

In my opinion, if one or two of those glaciers accelerated enough to cause say half a metre in sea level rise I believe that would wake up the world without wiping it out, – I find myself actually wishing such a milder calamity would occur, to perhaps cause humanity to act enough to be spared far far worse.

Greenland’s ice sheet is melting fast

I wasn’t hugely surprised to see the news from Nasa about unprecedented melting of most of the Greenland ice sheet surface. Much of Greenland has been experiencing record warmth since May, and on the 29th of that month the weather station in the extreme south reached a positively balmy 24.8C, which set a new record May temperature for the country; this is significant because records from several weather stations extend back to the late 19th century.

greenland ice melt

The unusually warm conditions prevailed for much of June and into July, with the Danish Meteorological Institute website showing Greenland temperature anomalies about 2-4C higher than the 1961-90 baseline average during these last three months. Kangerlussuaq, the “gateway to Greenland” in the southwest, reached 24.6C on 10 July, just as the record melt reported by Nasa was under way.

This comes against a background of Greenland already having warmed 2.3C on average in summer over the past 20 years; this might not sound a great deal but is more than three times greater than the northern hemisphere average temperature increase of 0.5C in the same period.

For every 1C rise in temperature, the resulting effect is to increase the amount of melt by around a third, so we might expect double the climatological “normal” amount of meltwater being produced by the ice sheet during June and July this year.

click here for full article.