Friday, May 31, 2019

It's Not Hard to See Where This is Heading

A really good soup usually has three or four key ingredients, stand outs that define the texture and flavour.  The environment is like a soup and it is shaped by a handful of key ingredients - heat, humidity, ocean currents and air currents. Those Big Four are all in flux right now. They're no longer stable. They've shifted and that's changing the environment.

The atmosphere is hotter. Easiest thing in the world to prove. It's hotter pretty much everywhere but some areas, such as the Arctic, are even hotter than others.  Hot air - high pressure. As the atmosphere over the Arctic has heated, the pressure gradient between the Arctic and temperate zones has weakened. The difference between them has narrowed. This has caused changes in the polar jet stream. It's gone lethargic and all wobbly at times, forming these Rossby waves that plunge far into the south and back up into the north transferring cold air deep into the south and hot southern air far into the north. That leads to weird situations like that period in February a few years back when Atlanta, Georgia was icebound while Barrow, Alaska basked in mid-60s temperatures. Can't be helped.

The oceans are also heating up. Easy to prove. Just ask the marine life - fish, marine mammals, birds - that are migrating pole-ward to cooler waters. The Maine lobster, once a staple of the local fishing fleet, is moving to Canada at a rate of about 45 miles per decade so far.  The west coast has all sorts of newcomers from large populations of humpback whales, transient orca, dolphins, even pelicans.

The ocean is more than its creatures. All that heat it absorbs is circulated to keep regions, such as Europe, relatively mild in winter - or at least it used to. The Atlantic Conveyor is starting to turn less reliable. Oopsie.

The oceans absorb a good chunk of our man-made greenhouse gas emissions - or at least they used to. Just as we have a terrestrial or "surface carbon cycle" there's also an "oceanic carbon cycle" and it too is showing signs of profound change as this NASA article explains.

Hotter oceans also release more heat energy to the atmosphere and the hotter, moister air generates severe weather events of increasing frequency, duration and intensity.

So, what's the point? It's that, unless we give up on the carbon economy and transition rapidly to a clean energy regime, all of the things mentioned above are going to worsen. We've pretty much pushed this thing as far as she'll go. So, what are we doing about it? Not much at all.

OPEC, the International Energy Agency and other organizations forecast a steadily growing demand for fossil fuels for decades to come.

In Canada, our federal and many provincial governments are banking on it. There's a fossil fuel boom coming and they want in. But what about the heat and the humidity, the ocean currents and the jet streams and Rossby waves? That's where cognitive dissonance comes to the rescue and, boy, do they have that in spades.

But what about this looming mass extinction? Yeah, what about it? So what?  And what about all these severe floods and protracted droughts? Yeah, what about 'em? What about food insecurity, dislocation, death and mass migration? Sucks to be them, eh?

Aside from some gestural responses, i.e. carbon taxes, we're not showing much appetite for real change, just the opposite. If the market for fossil fuels is going to grow faster than all others, perhaps another 40 per cent in the coming decades, it's a big thumbs down on decarbonization. We don't have the will to stop and that means we don't have resilience to endure what is coming, the future we alone ordain. It's the old adage that, if you're struggling to get out of a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. Only we're not interested in stopping this dig.

You can't have clean energy without stopping the fossil energy regime and, so long as the world has enough Donald Trumps and Jason Kenneys and Justin Trudeaus, we're not stopping. By the time we've rid ourselves of them, in that fantasy world, it will probably be too late in any event.

Stopping the fossil energy regime is akin to stopping a heavily laden ocean freighter going at full speed. It takes miles and miles and miles to stop and the rocky shore we're heading to is not that far off.


Toby said...

Mound, everything you tell us about climate collapse is true and, frankly, obvious to anyone paying attention. What I find so depressing is that so many are not paying attention and that out political castes are totally captured by Big Carbon.

A few days ago I was waiting for service at a counter when the guy next to me started mouthing off about Climate Change being a fraud. Not being able to resist I told him to forget what the politicians say, ignore the media and pay attention to the guy who sells house insurance. I went on to say that the insurance industry cares only about risk and their present focus is fires and floods. I had his attention! When I told him that the insurance industry is pushing for remapping flood plains I had a convert.

The insurance industry may make more progress on Climate Collapse than our politicians.

John B. said...

Toby’s action may be more effective than anything a public figure might either write or say. I’ve been doing something similar for years on the subject of other issues for which I have some understanding, but generally people just find me to be annoying. The tie-in to the insurance industry is comparable to making reference to testimony from a respected expert source, an aspect of instructional technique we were supposed to have learned in trade school. Excellent.

The Mound of Sound said...

I've had a similar experience, John. It's not that they don't believe you. It's being made to think on what they already know to be true that they take as an affront. "I was having such a lovely day until you opened your mouth" sort of thing. Perhaps in polite company we should only speak of pleasant matters. Nobody wants reminding that the grandkids are going to fry. That's Greta Thunberg's job.

Anonymous said...

Just a shout out of thanks to Alberta for the wildfire smoke now available for free in the Maritimes, courtesy of the jet stream such as it is these days, wobbly or straight. Uncounted pollution because it's "natural" - Pope Jason 1, Chief Religious Tea Leaf Reader and Tarsands Digger-in-Charge. Now Northern Ontario is getting in on the act with evacuations and more pollution. Can BC be far behind? Quebec is still waterlogged.

If we need increased insurance premiums to cut through the political scuzz surrounding climate change deniers, then so be it. The current stasis is unacceptable.

The current worry is about the future US food supply due to horrendous weather causing floods throughout the entire midwest this year thus preventing seeding, is even making the mainstream press. Australia is apparently going to have to import wheat this year instead of being a major exporter. And still our leaders seem unable to add 2 and 2. Jason did put off an outdoor speech on his voiding of Alberta's carbon tax due to the smoke, and said it indoors rather than inhaling a lungful of Alberta mountain air. No fool him, eh?

As for the Chinese, I hope they don't need our canola or US soybeans to keep their populations eating. Supposedly they are going to have to destroy 200 million pigs due to African swine disease, more than the US raises every year. China's treatment of Canada is beyond the pale threatening, far in excess of what we have subjected them to over Huawei. Shows the real bully's spots. If they eventually come begging for our food, I say we tell 'em to bugger off. We don't need their garlic at our farmer's markets stuffed three to a nylon sock and Walmart stuffed to the gills with their petrochemical plastic products.

Looks like things are going to go pear-shaped a lot sooner than the mainstream media seem to think. Much more in line with your dire predictions of early onset, Mound. Oh well, the Bilderbergers are gathering at a posh hotel in Suisse-er-land. No doubt global human head count reduction, as they've discussed for some time, will be on the agenda. Problem solved. Only genetically superior billionaires will be left if they get their way.


Trailblazer said...

It's not hard to see why Canadians dismiss AGW.

The great spaghetti monster crowd are ruling the day.
They will take us to Armageddon ,like it or lump it!!


The Mound of Sound said...

Well, BM, you certainly wrapped things up. With the world down to a 60-day reserve of grain the floods in the US heartland are threatening and, as you note, that's ditto for Australia.

We know this will not be a linear process in part because it involves a confluence of forces, a synergy of calamities.

If you go back just 10 years you would find we had a much different understanding of these phenomena than we do today. The outlook back then was bleak enough but paled compared to what we know today.

The wildfire smoke has made it out your way. That's worrisome. Vancouver has already been hit. So much for the prevailing westerlies that even spared us from the ash and smoke when Mt. St. Helens erupted. The heat from these fires is sufficiently powerful to force a change in wind currents. It even comes out to the ocean and blankets the island when it gets severe. Over the past couple of days we've caught the odd whiff of smoke.

Do you think our governments have taken the measure of our predicament and simply thrown in the towel?

The Mound of Sound said...

Toby, an outfit to keep an eye on is Munich Re, one of the great international re-insurers. They produce a lot of timely reports that are quite useful. Recently the company warned that we're nearing the point where many people will no longer be able to find affordable coverage, meaning they'll have no coverage or very little. That will be a signal of the Great Unraveling.

the salamander said...

.. 'rats in the granary' - 'mould in the hay mow' - 'the pipes are frozen' - 'late, killer frost'
These were and are, standard problems any farmer must recognize and deal with. Though I have mucho experience, aside from farming, I never had to deal with the standard ebb & flow of what a fisherman, or a miner, a logger, a teacher, a railway engineer, or a First Nation elder on a rez might also have to face and resolve. Nor do I have a shred of political experience & the bizarro partisan dance with lobbyists & Mainstream Media. I do have personal experience and views re organized religion.. which somehow gets to sup at the so called 'adult table' with the political animals & lobbyists & PR firms, while the electorate is left outside the door, hoping for table scraps.

I don't hold much hope for a society like Canada or the USA, if infested by parasitic political freaks, faith based christian zealots, multinational fossil fuel entities and mainstream media who've bought in & sold US out. That's a losing reality.. and truth be told.. is anarchy. Its an environment fostering deviance, deceit, grifters, thieves,

We know the risk of farmed salmon to the natural wild marine food chain, or overfishing herring etc. We see what fracking and rhe twr sands is doing to the boreal forest. We see the wild fires of Northern Ontario. The dumping of raw sewage in the St Lawrence, the deadly harvest of asbestos, the opiod scourge, the massive toxic outflow from pulp mills, the melting of the permafrost, the mercury dumping endgame in Grassy Narrows, the flooding. Not a day goes by we don't know of catastrophic ship collisions or dead engine ships adrift.. or hell - mass shootings " the 'gone postal' killings. Yet we persist.. we tolerate, shrug, ignore, pretend, delay, avoid.. dammit but we are f'n benevolent !!!

We Canadians got a nice throat punch the other day courtesty of that toady sack of evangel froth, Andrew Scheer.. when some piece of elected crud, from Alberta sneered as he read from the Christchurch murderer's 'manifesto' and lectured a witness with 'you should be ashamed of yourself'.. I guess for being brown & a muslim.. whereas Cooper is white & proud.. and presumably a 'christian... Are Canadians to expect 'wisdom' from such losers ? We pay their salaries, pensions, all their expenses.. let them vote on environment, finance, social services, resources, agriculture, forestry, immigration.. and they're what ? Lower on the evolutionsary scale that Kim Kardashian ? Lard Black ?

Rats in the granary ? Mould in rhe haymow ? First and foremost, the rats have to go. Mould in the haymow, you have to unpack the entire section and burn the mouldy bales. Frozen pipes you hire a welder to run AC current through them.. there are no shortcuts or bandaids.. nor can Canadians pooh pooh the corruptions and sellouts of OUR governance.. the hidden money.. the climate change denialism, its time for the 'purge' - get the disease vectors out of OUR antiquated and crumbling political institutions

The Mound of Sound said...

We are racing to the cliff, Sal, and we're locked in the trunk. You've got a good idea how it ends but there's nothing you can do to stop it.