‘Oy Canada’: Imagine our northern neighbor in 2050

Prime Minister Harper on Hurricane Igor: “I have never seen damage like this in Canada.”

CONTEST:  Describe Canada in 2050, assuming we listen to folks like John Allemang, feature writer for The Globe and Mail, and keep doing not bloody much to restrict CO2 emissions.

In what appears to be a mostly serious — and thus mostly dreadful — article, “Canada in 2050? Future’s so bright . . . you know the rest,” John Allemang embraces human-caused climate change.

Perhaps I am missing something from the Canadian dry wit, since the column is printed with the above cartoon and opens with this mashed up intentional (and, I think, unintentional) humor:

I’d like to go all sci-fi on you, I really would. It’s 2050, climate change happened, and this should mean the world is following the post-apocalyptic Hollywood horror script you environmentalist doom merchants wrote in the early 2000s.

You know what I’m talking about: floods, famine, infestations, solar death rays, endless riots, maybe even a few mutant attacks. Well, sorry to disappoint, but things have turned out not too bad. At least up here in Canada.

There’s no Hollywood horror show, and not just because there’s no Hollywood – as the rest of Los Angeles dried up and overheated, it just made sense to bring what was left of the movie business up to Vancouver and Toronto. The most unbelievable thing about 2050 is that the grande dame of the Canadian stage, Miss Lindsay Lohan, is still alive and kicking butt at the Iqaluit Panarctic Shakespeare Festival – so you got her wrong too. The Russians, bless their cultured souls, are serious fans and hover all the way from Murmansk for a matinee of her Queen Lear. But I digress.

If those sci-fi stories really had come true, I’d be teleporting this message to you just so you could see the future for the rosy thing it seems to be. Granted, I’m wearing rose-coloured glasses, standard issue for us senior analysts at the Fort McMurray Utopia Institute. But when I look back at the projections you guys conjured up back in the dark days of eco-prophecy, with your scare stories that made the Book of Revelation look like Goodnight Moon, I pride myself on my more optimistic fashion sense.

I can’t time-travel my hopeful truths back to you, and yet I feel your fears for a future you refuse to see. So all I can do is record my thoughts here on the off chance that sci-fi will eventually come to the rescue and figure out how to transcend the laws of time and space long enough for you to hear what I’m saying and come to your senses.

As if. But stranger things have happened, as your children will soon discover. Canada in 2050 isn’t utopia – not yet, though we’re working on it. With that said, I think you’d find it pretty incredible.

The country is warmer, it goes without saying. And, big surprise, the resilient Canadian people (the very same ones who once learned how to wear tuques and long johns) figured out how to adapt. Couldn’t folks in the early years of the 21st century understand why a little more heat might just be a good thing? But you were so fixated on seeing the negatives, on fearing change rather than making it serve you, on feeling globally without thinking locally. And so you took your eye off the prize and almost knocked Canada off the podium that was ours to own.

For example, look at the Arctic, where we’re born to rule….

The unintentional humor bites, literally.

Canada is already victims of the most famous warming-driven infestation (see “Climate-Driven Pest Devours N. American Forests” and “Nature on stunning new climate feedback: Beetle tree kill releases more carbon than fires“).  “The pine beetle infestation is the first major climate change crisis in Canada” noted Doug McArthur, a professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver in a 2007 article that pointed out,” In some areas of the BC interior, almost 80 percent of the lodgepole pines will have been devastated by the beetles within 10 years, resulting in widespread economic consequences, according to resource experts.”

“We’re seeing changes in [mountain pine beetle] activity from Canada to Mexico,” said Forest Service researcher Jesse Logan in July 2004 (here), “and the common thing is warming temperatures.”  A July article in the Vancouver Sun notes that for all of BC, “By 2024, it is projected that 68 per cent of mature pine stock will have been destroyed by the beetle, 20 per cent of the total timber harvest land base” and over that tim, “the forestry supported population in the B.C. Interior districts affected by the epidemic will decline by 28,700 people, and occupied housing will fall by 11,500 units.

Good times, eh!

As for floods, reported last week:

Calling the devastation caused by Hurricane Igor the worst he’s ever seen in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday the Canadian Forces will be deployed to help affected communities.”I have seen flooding, but I have never seen anything like this,” said Harper, surveying the damage Friday in Trouty, one of dozens of towns coping with flood waters, downed power lines and washed out bridges and roads after Igor blew through on Tuesday with winds up to 170 kilometres per hour and rainfall in some place more than 200 millimetres.

“I have never seen damage like this in Canada. Where we were standing at one point, the water would have been over our heads here,” he said.

On the other side of Canada, CBC reports:

Residents of B.C.’s Central Coast and northern Vancouver Island are bracing for more flooding as forecasters predict 40 to 70 millimetres of rain could fall across the region by Tuesday.

A weekend deluge washed out roads and cut off several communities near Bella Coola and Port Hardy after more than 200 millimetres of rain fell on some coastal areas north of Vancouver, creating some of the worst flooding on record.

At least 120 people were still out of their homes on Monday morning and as many as 600 remained stranded by the floodwaters, said Steven Waugh with the Emergency Operations Centre in Bella Coola….

Waugh said they had expected heavy rains, but the flooding took them by surprise.

“We had no snow in the mountains whatsoever and our rivers were low. They’re very empty because it’s been so dry. So I believe that there may well be a factor in that the forest fires and the mountain pine beetles have dropped the water-holding capacity of the soils, reduced that in the upper slopes. So we’re getting more water down in the valley than we have in the past,” he said.

This notion that human caused global warming is going to be good for northern countries is something I thought would have died with the Moscow meltdown:

Even a hard liner and former skeptic like Medvedev said:

What’s happening with the planet’s climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate.”

But I guess Allemang couldn’t be bothered with that reality after he figured out fanciful stuff like this to write:

Fortunately, the corresponding hot-weather spike in death caused by climate change isn’t high enough to nullify the gains – we can still afford air conditioning in a relentlessly prosperous country like ours, we’ve learned to cool our overheated cities with plantings and water features and white-coloured roads, disease and disaster are no worse than what they’ve been over the previous centuries of Canada’s history. And admittedly, we’ve developed a bit of a laissez-faire attitude toward the more beleaguered parts of the world, because they need what we’ve got: water, food, jobs galore in the oil sands, which are now 10 times larger than in your time. For which, like the great industrialists of the Victorian age who saw prosperity in their belching smokestacks, we make no apology. Business is its own kind of benevolence, in the end….

Caviar – do I sound callous? But you have to be in this business sometimes: Climate change forces decisions, upsets the established order, makes you choose between losers and winners. We may have become a less sensitive people, it’s true, somewhere between 2010 and 2050. Am I a sellout, by your safe and exalted standards? Yeah, maybe. But believe me, I’m the one who kept it real. It’s you, with your prophecies of gloom, with your denial of prosperity, who is living in the fantasy world. There are no votes in despair, no profits in pessimism. The future, sad to report, turns out to be happy-faced. And remember what they say, or what they will say once you start coming to terms with your good luck: The 21st century belongs to Canada.

If this is broad satire, it misses by a kilometer and was lost on most of his commenters too.  Here’s climate blogger Alan Burke:

This is one of the most irresponsible, reprehensible and distortive articles about climate change in Canada that has ever been published, ignoring the overwhelming evidence provided by verifiable and reputable scientific studies showing the probable consequences of inaction in dealing with human-caused climate change.

I urge readers to look at the reality rather than this tripe, including studies by Natural Resources Canada, Health Canada and the Ontario College of Family Physicians, among many others.

These are but a few of the studies which I describe and point to on my page “Impact and Adaptation” at

There remains I think a very deep confusion about human-caused climate change, that we are just going to slowly drift into a moderately different state and then stop and “adapt”  (see “Real adaptation is as politically tough as real mitigation, but much more expensive and not as effective in reducing future misery for billions” and “Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future [Not!].”

In fact, the opposite is far and away the most likely scenario if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path:  Our slow climate change will accelerate us into a dramatically different climate — and then just keep changing, as, say, sea levels rise 6 to 12 inches a decade by century’s end and keep doing so for centuries on end (see “Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100” and “New study of Greenland under “more realistic forcings” concludes “collapse of the ice-sheet was found to occur between 400 and 560 ppm” of CO2“) — with the occasional big jump in sea levels (see “West Antarctic ice sheet collapse even more catastrophic for U.S. coasts“).  And the oceans will become hotter, more acidified, ever-growing dead zones (see Geological Society: Acidifying oceans spell marine biological meltdown “by end of century” and 2009 Nature Geoscience study concludes ocean dead zones “devoid of fish and seafood” are poised to expand and “remain for thousands of years”).  And let’s not forget those multiple Dust Bowls (see NOAA stunner: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe).

By the second half of the century, much of Canada and Russia and Alaska could well experience see rising 1°F a decade for a long, long time (see M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F “” with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F).

No country is going to benefit from humanity’s self-destruction.  I should probably do a post on the special Hell (and High Water) every major country will experience.  But let’s start with our neighbor to the north.

The contest is to imagine Canada in 2050 assuming the anti-science, pro-pollution disinformers and their dupes in the media triumph.  Winner gets a post on Climate Progress — woo-hoo!

You may find some useful science here:

70 Responses to ‘Oy Canada’: Imagine our northern neighbor in 2050

  1. Jason says:

    And he missed out the likely invasion by those south of his border…

  2. Peter M says:

    Actually I have-begun to look at Newfoundland (Cornerbrook) as a place to live out the end of my days.

  3. MapleLeaf says:

    OMG, help!!

    No longer can Canadians make jokes about our American neighbors not being smart…yes folks, many Canucks seem to think we are smarter than our neighbors to the south…this article suggests otherwise, so does Harper’s stance on AGW and so does our so-called Environment minister’s stance of AGW and the tar sands.

    Just ONE example of how AGW is already a problem in Canada…northern communities who rely on ice roads for supplies, can no longer rely on them.

    I knew the Globe and Mail had gone to the dark side, but this article is truly awful.

  4. MapleLeaf says:

    Worse yet, it appeared in the “Science” section!

  5. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Are we going to see a big fence on the forty ninth parallel? What will be the new names for the Great Puddles?

    Don’t worry too much it will only be a short war.

  6. mike roddy says:

    An old Canadian friend told me that the Harper government is very dangerous. As Texas oilmen took over the White House during Bush, so has Alberta conquered Ottawa now. Yuk!

  7. dorveK says:

    In 2050, nobody cares of the weather in Canada nor anywhere else… There is just nobody to care anymore.

  8. MapleLeaf says:

    Mike @ 5,

    “An old Canadian friend told me that the Harper government is very dangerous”

    You hit the nail on the head there. He is also muzzling government scientists, including those in Environment Canada. Welcome to our “Bush years”.

  9. Michael Tucker says:

    40 years from now very few of us will be around to witness what effect business-as-usual will have on our environment and our lives. It will be a very difficult world to live in. As MapleLeaf said, the ice roads are already unreliable so it is unclear how Canada will be able to continue mining in the north over the next 40 years. The most interesting and troubling piece of information I have found that illustrates what might happen in the next 20 years can be seen by following the link below. Those maps are from an article by Professor Peter Rogers published in Scientific American. Professor Rogers is Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering and Professor of City Planning in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University.

    The water scarcity those maps illustrate only hints at the tremendously difficult time all countries will have in simply delivering the basic necessities of daily life like water, food, and energy. The shortages in water will lead to electricity outages at a time when air conditioning will become mandatory.

    Will increasing costs of fossil fuels make PV and wind more affordable? Will unreliable energy from public utilities and unrelenting heat lead most who can afford it to switch to those clean energy solutions? Then what to do about water and food? It is not a happy future to contemplate.

  10. Wit'sEnd says:

    In 2050, in Canada, there will be only a handful of sickly trees left, at the farthest northern reaches of the boreal forest. The rest will have long since died, from ozone, from a climate that changed faster than they could possibly adapt to, and from logging the remainder for fuel.

    There will be far fewer people, and almost none of them will be related to the people now living in Canada. They will be the offspring of the most ruthless, vicious, and amoral of climate refugees who invaded from the south, roundabout 2020 when the temperatures below the Canadian border became unbearable and extreme weather rendered many areas uninhabitable wastelands. Women and children will once again be chattel, subject to every sort of abuse.

    The coasts will be inundated by sea level rise and pummeled by hurricanes. There will be virtually nothing alive in the acidified seas, the food chain having long since collapsed. Melting tundra will have brought upon the release of methane, rising temperatures incalculably (literally – no one can predict what will happen or how fast). Ever increasing violent weather, with periods of unremitting heavy rain, destroy most of the arable land. There is a constant battle among the survivors for food, civil society having long since been abandoned with the advent of ravenous, furious mob rule.

    The landscape is putrid with rotting vegetation and the corpses of humans and animals – those that aren’t scavenged.

    And that’s only if, in 2011, the US government stringently rations fuel purchases and halts virtually all air travel; restricts the use of fuel to only essential purposes; makes huge investments in clean energy technology; closes coal plants and shuts down all oil exploration – and tells every government on earth that if they don’t enforce the same draconian steps based on the existential nature of the climate change threat, the capital of said country will be summarily bombed back to the stone age.

    If, on the other hand, anything less transformative is undertaken, by 2050 in Canada there will be no more than 3,000 people. If that.

    Now I can haz a guest post pls?

  11. PeterW says:

    Yes we in Canada have plenty of climate illiterates. Remember that in addition to the Conservative party and their idiot leader Stephen Harper, we also produced brain surgeons like Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick.

  12. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    Here’s my entry, joe:

    Not Our Week for Electricity—Canada in 2050

    Good morning, fellow Canamericans. So few of you here today! (Ah, but so few of us anywhere today, eh?) Welcome to the October 2050 State of Survival (SOS) meet and greet for what we used to call Western Canada (and we romantics still do), but what others now call Western Canamerica. And good morning to you here who have roots in the Old United States (so few of you, too). Welcome, all.

    I’m here, as your Prime SOS President, to update everyone, in our monthly State of the Union speech, as it were, though there’s now no union, and not much of a state (nor, as you’ll soon see, do I have much to state. I recall when there was a real state, but…oh well, we romantics are die hards, aren’t we? I’m now 72, and one of the few who remembers…but no need to go there.)

    Anyway, as you know, we’re convened here at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta (for those of you viewing this via the intraweb, what’s left of it, anyway—wait, I forgot it’s not our week for electricity, so I guess you’re not watching after all)—anyway, we’re here to discuss…oh hell, let’s just get to the point…to see if there’s anything we can do to hang on by our thumbnails to what’s left of civilization. You all know that’s the real reason for these meetings, to remind ourselves to stay civil and keep moving forward. I know some of you object to this, and I do understand your anger, but we have to keep trying, eh? I’d like to begin with a list of topics we’ll cover today, and you all know we need to resolve these issues best we can by sundown, for, as I said a moment ago, it’s not our week for electricity.

    First, let’s address the ongoing issue of the flooding of the Red Deer River (and thank God that the museum was built on high ground). What are we going to do about all the flotsam and jetsam that keeps coming down our way? Some of you have suggested we try to reign it in from the currents and recycle it, while others say that’s much too risky. We also have the problem of once again rebuilding the bridge across to town, but some of us think we should just give up and continue using the boats. Except the flotsam and jetsam make that a bit dangerous. But, as you know, we’re having problems getting petrol to run the heavy equipment…but we’ll come back to that, as that’s another issue entirely and one some of you know too much about. Just as an aside, I’ve heard the CRMP, what’s left of them, anyway, are looking into the matter. And yes, I know, the mosquitoes have become a huge problem, and all I can say is, cover up when you’re outside, I’ve heard a rumor that there’s been a case of typhoid over by Old Calgary, and also several cases of West Nile in Banff.

    (Jessie, I’m going to have to ask you to please put away the Ruger, I know you’re from the Old U.S., but we all know you haven’t had any ammo for that thing for years, and seeing it just makes your compatriots nostalgic. Thank you.)

    Moving along, the second thing on our agenda is the state of our seed bank. Rumor has it that some genetically modified stock has been inadvertently mixed in with the heritage seeds. I have no way to verify if this is true, and I guess we’ll just have to plant and find out. In the meantime, be sure to remember our motto, “You Can Never be Too Thin” (thanks, Old U.S.). This brings to mind that Eric will be addressing us all after break on how to properly drain your fields, as well as how to plant what he calls “heat-seeds” that will provide shade for “feed-seeds.”

    The next item on the agenda is to address transportation issues. Without the petrol, I guess that’s been addressed.

    Speaking of transportation, I will add that we’re hoping to get a shipment of boots from the Norwegians through the Arctic Passage in here next month, but without the petrol…well, we’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, Sarah has developed a new technique for making sandals from the palmetto trees that seem to be encroaching along the river, and she’s offered to give a workshop on that sometime, if anyone’s interested. Also baskets.

    Moving along…what? Mr. Davidson has just had what appears to be a heat attack? Are you sure you don’t mean heart attack? No? Well, can anyone assist him in getting into the shade outdoors? Yes, I know, the museum can be an inferno with the air conditioning turned off, but it’s not our week for electricity. Maybe we should all go outside? Oh, what? The feral dogs are back? I thought I heard them barking. Damn, I guess we’ll have to just make do in here. He’s better now? Oh, good.

    Anyway, another issue is that of the museum itself. As you know, this was once one of the foremost museums in the world, having been given the royal designation. I know most of you don’t even know what that word means, but some of us old timers do. (Ah, the good old days.) But now it has served its purpose, and it’s been suggested by someone that we move the Burgess Shale exhibit out and use that room for indoor dried food storage, since it’s somewhat dark and has one of the most moderate temperatures of any room in the museum. I say that’s fine by me, as I’ve never liked those weird Cambrian squiggly creatures anyway, they kind of give me the creeps, and no offense meant to anyone here from Field. As you know, we already have conscripted the Lords of the Land exhibit for wheat storage, and the T-Rex and other dinosaurs have been put back into the ground near the museum where they came from originally (before we had the petrol shortage, may I add, and could use the excavator). Somewhat sad, but survival now has to take precedence over all that, and perhaps future generations can dig them back out for study someday. (Assuming anybody gives a rip and there are future generations.)

    Question Mrs. Wilson? Wouldn’t we all like to take a break now and retire to the Permian Extinction Room for some tea? That sounds lovely. We’ll reconvene in half an hour, and don’t forget, we have to finish up soon because it’s not our week for electricity.

  13. WitsEnd !! What a scenario! More please.

    As deeply disturbing as your prediction reads… I am not sure there is any science that says it cannot happen. The only two questions are 1.How bad? and 2. How soon?

    If there is a model that proposes a 5% chance of extinction by the year 2100… then certainly the year 2050 will be well on the route to that chaotic conclusion.


  14. Luke says:

    Canada in 2050:

    Melting permafrost unleashes enough methane to leave the entire country smelling like one giant fart. Conservative politicians and fat cat lobbyists reassure the horrified public with the same old excuse and sheepish grin my dad uses when faced with similar scrutiny:

    “it’s natural!”

  15. Aaron Lewis says:

    10, Wits’ End,
    Come on guy, get your science correct! By 2050, most of the corpses will be just bones and no longer stinking. I.e., it will be warmer and insect activity more intense.

    (I would put the major famines at around 2030 – 2040 resulting from repeated storm damage & SLR to facilities that manufacture agricultural fertilizers/chemicals/pesticides and unpredictable weather impacting crop planting and harvest activities.)

  16. Jim Galasyn says:

    @Wit’s End: The future is bright for dinoflagellates! (Jeremy Jackson)

  17. Wit'sEnd says:

    Why does everyone think I’m a guy? It’s kind of depressing. As if there isn’t enough to be depressed about already!

  18. Wit'sEnd says:

    Haha, DesdemonaDespair, you made me look it up!

  19. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    Wit’sEnd, take heart, I have the same problem. :)

  20. Wit'sEnd says:

    Ominous…will you have my baby??

  21. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    Sure, if you can figure it out. :)

  22. Wit'sEnd says:

    Honey, we’re on! You Sexy Lady!

  23. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    OK, meet me in Canada, 2050…

  24. Peter Lundell says:

    After reading the article, I would call it satire – perhaps not as artful as Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” but a decent satire, nonetheless.

  25. Leif says:

    Dinoflagellate: There but for time go us. Yet again? Perhaps we will have a moral brain next time.

    Even the bottom of an out house is utopia to some life forms.

  26. I believe the G&M spoof is based on the article and book by UCLA scientist Laurence Smith.. Will Canada be an Major Power in 2050..

    more info… Canada will be major world power by 2050: scientist

    Canada will be major world power by 2050: scientist

    Global warming to benefit ‘Northern Rim Countries,’ top U.S. geographer says


    A top U.S. geographer says Canada will emerge as a major world power within 40 years as part of a climate-driven transformation of global trade, agriculture and geopolitics highlighted by the rise of the “Northern Rim” nations.

    UCLA scientist Laurence Smith, whose previous studies have documented the toll that climate change is taking on Arctic ecosystems and communities, examines the full range of effects of global warming — many of them positive for places such as Canada — in his new book The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future, to be released next week

  27. Gord says:

    There are several good reasons the USA will invade Canada or give it an offer it can’t refuse to join the USA as the 51 through 61st states.

    1. Living space in a much hotter and more crowded North America,
    2. Huge resources from the large area of Canadian arctic waters,
    3. Fresh water from Canadian lakes,
    4. Access to strategic minerals that are not being sucked up by China,
    5. Canadians are well educated, speak English/French and are already inundated with American Culture … it’s a good fit,
    6. Food production,

    The only downside for the US would be the fact that each of the 10 or so new states would have 2 extra senators and umpteen Representatives. So there would be introduced into the US congress a voting block of at least 20 senators. In a 100 member house (presently) an extra block arriving of 20 would be a powerful force. They would dictate many if not all the legislation that would/could be passed. It would take a lot of generations of senators from the old Canada to vote for anything that went against “Canadian” interests.

    It would be kinda like the ‘tail wagging the dog’.

    As this unfolds over the next hundred years … it will be interesting to see what happens. And something will happen for sure.

  28. Robert H says:

    Methinks were the tongue to be any further in the cheek it would have popped out…

  29. Ryan T says:

    Global warming to benefit ‘Northern Rim Countries,’ top U.S. geographer says

    Yes, but is that his actual emphasis, or does he treat the topic with any sort of balance, and how well-rooted in climatology is it, given that he’s a geographer? Joe, might you have any thoughts on the book?

  30. adelady says:

    Oh lordy.

    Will anyone have any photo albums showing their long lost cousins in the Antipodes? Or Grandma’s holiday shots from the Caribbean?

    What a dill!

  31. Richard Brenne says:

    Canada in 2050 is a very different place from the bold country that politely asked England for their own constitution in 1982 “if it’s not too much trouble, really. . .sorry.”

    Global average sea level has raised half a meter, but the rate is constantly accelerating. The fact that so much of Canada was under so much ice during the last Ice Age means that most of it is rebounding, including both coastlines, so only the Fraser River delta, some of Prince Edward Island and other low spots have been impacted.

    There is a demand for many Canadian resources, especially wood, water, food and energy.

    An “h” was added to the “O” in “O Canada.”

    There the good news just about ends since fossil fuel use wasn’t curtailed when it could have been.

    The Great Global Oil Crunch of 2015 with The War including attacks on the oil tankers that shipped 25% of the world’s oil through the Strait of Hormuz meant that Canada, like essentially every nation (the ones with oil were at the center of The War), had very little access to oil. Their attempts to ramp up Tar Sands production further ramped up global warming and led to a, uh, let’s say conflict with their southern neighbors, who, well, how do I put this – let’s just say the American flag now has 51 stars.

    The old tired cliché that global warming will produce “winners and losers” was amended to “run over with a truck” and “run over with a truck and pushed onto train tracks and run over a by a train that then backed up and ran over them again.”

    Agricultural zones didn’t neatly march north in lockstep because the soils under glacial ice during the last ice age are different from soils like in Iowa where the wind and glacier-carried soils were deposited. More than crops, pests migrated north into Canada, and 300 million of them had guns.

    The wheat fields of Canada became too dry to grow wheat and rivers like the North and South Saskatchewan that were used for irrigation also dried up, just as voyageurs’ accounts indicated they did in 1796. But the Canadian Rockies icefields that provided a baseline of melt in most years are a Koch of their former shelves (Koch is now a noun meaning “pathetic shadow”).

    The forest fires in BC and other northern boreal forests that had exploded upward after 2000 continued that trend until precious few forests were left, and those were scavenged for firewood when people could no longer access oil, natural gas and electricity to heat their homes.

    All the problems of Anthro-Earth were like a firing squad facing humanity and some weren’t as bad as feared, but others were far worse, including several factors that no one saw coming. Chief among these was the global die-off of most trees and plants including crops due to ozone, or the cumulative soup of all pollution. The primary early hero alerting us to this was Gail Zawacki, also known as Wit’s End (and a chick). She was so right when so few scientists had the generalist’s, big-picture view to see what was happening that “Zawacki” became a verb for “I told you so.”

    The entire world is wracked by storms you couldn’t imagine just decades ago. That’s because for every degree Fahrenheit increase (the 51st state now returned to Fahrenheit, miles, etc – Americans don’t like being stupid alone), 4% more water vapor is added to the atmosphere. Since we’ve added 4 degrees Fahrenheit here in 2050 (since 1970), this trend is sadly accelerating.

    That means 16 per cent more water vapor in the atmosphere than there was in 1970, and the result is simply breathtaking. The storms that rack Canada with 100 mph winds are now commonplace, and due to permafrost melt, logging, ozone, pine beetle deaths, forest fires and windstorms the boreal forest that covered Northern Canada is far more horizontal than vertical, where it exists at all.

    Rainstorms and snowstorms are just as bad, and just as the forests hadn’t evolved to handle 100 mph winds (as the tropical trees in coastal areas often faced during hurricanes), the landscape and infrastructure hadn’t evolved and been developed to handle 10-inch a day downpours, sometimes lasting three days or more.

    Much of this was because of the loss of Arctic sea ice during the summer and then well into the fall months, that cold but open water creating much more moist cold fronts drifting south and violently colliding with increasingly moist and warmer warm fronts migrating north. The amount of energy fueling storms went from being like the earliest atomic bomb to corresponding to the largest hydrogen bombs.

    With most of Southern Louisiana now completely under water (Disneyland has an attraction with a sea wall around the French Quarter, but when the Pirates of the Caribbean are real and not audio-animatronic, it becomes far less popular with tourists), the Cajuns who had originally migrated from Arcadia in Nova Scotia have now migrated back. Originally the lobsters were so attached (sometimes literally) to the Arcadians that they followed them to Louisiana but the journey was long and harsh and they became crawdads.

    When the Cajuns returned they found the lobsters were now mostly naked and dead because of ocean acidification. They brought alligators with them who now thrive throughout much of Canada, just as President Drew Barrymore (sorry, Lindsey Lohan remained a drunk) had predicted in 1982 when she spoke of “Alligators in the sewers” in E.T.

    Canadian and American realtor associations had claimed that everyone should live in no less than 1000 square feet (thus 4000 square feet for a family of four), and this turned out to be correct, but mostly for raccoons.

    Europeans originally came to North America looking for the Northwest Passage, then decided to create it by burning sufficient fossil fuels. But the highest levels (outside China) of civilization didn’t migrate from the Mediterranean to the Indian, then Atlantic, then Pacific then Arctic Ocean because in the latter the methane explosions were regularly lethal to ships and anyone near shore.

    All of this is sad beyond belief. We should have listened to Hansen, McKibben and Romm, and it gives me no pleasure to say this but here it is: Zawacki.

    [JR: Updated by request of the author.]

  32. Artful Dodger says:

    Uh Joe, the “anti-science, pro-pollution disinformers and their dupes in the media” HAVE already triumphed, when the Kyoto Accord failed in 1997. This was the last real chance to change our Emissions trajectory.

    Western Governments run on a 2-year (or less) time horizon. The Will of the People is easily thwarted for such a short period. Such periods of denial have now been strung together for many Election cycles.

    Meanwhile, powerful Multi-Nationals run on a 100-year time horizon. So there is no real Contest, and no path to Change either. Money wins, people lose.

  33. Peter M says:

    Smith’s book and assertions seem already obsolete considering what happened in Russia over the summer.

    These northern locations will not be immune to the societal chaos happening in the south. Smith seems to believe that regions between the latitudes 30-45 will be havens of heat, disease, crime, erratic storms, water scarcity, pestilence and societal breakdown by mid century.

    The northern areas will be the new centers of culture and commerce- how Smith thinks these northern cities and regions will not be affected by climate change, and the turmoil to the south is perplexing.

    I feel- the entire globe will be consumed in ACC -as drastic and quick as predicted- no one will escape, Smith fails to take in the sociological ramifications that will affect all geographic regions of the globe as whole populations try and adapt to A world that is undergoing such profound changes.

  34. mike roddy says:

    A future profusion of dinoflagellates, oceanic single cell organisms, will be nature’s reset button. Basically she will be saying “OK, let’s try this again. This last apex predator was on a suicide mission, that unfortunately included almost everyone else”.

    The problem is that we will only have a billion or so years, maybe not enough time to allow a better double helix configuration to get the upward march of evolution on the right track. The earth will get hotter as the sun winds down, too, so you better be double careful next time.

    We need to begin thinking about an underground history, kind of like the tombs in Egypt. All the books and electronic records will be long gone. Let’s make sure we tell the story right, and chisel the cartoons into the granite as deep as we can. It’s going to be a long wait.

    Unfortunately, if future sentient beings are also screwing up they are not likely to pay attention to a message from us. After all, we’re not even listening to what the facts are saying right now, in the present.

  35. catman306 says:

    This really amazing 11 year old will be 51 in 2050. Though he’s speaking about healthy foods here, I’ll bet he can talk climate change with the best of us.

  36. Jeffrey Davis says:

    A common theme: why won’t some politician|journalist|whatever see the obvious truth and change his ways?

    The answer is simple: because they’re gangsters. They aren’t concerned with truth or policy. They’re lining their pockets as toads of the powerful.

    We need to change our arguments.

  37. Gail of Wit’s End, I too was long thought to be male during the years I spent commenting on Dot Earth.

    Once revealed as female, I was referred to as a “housewife in Brazil” (well, that was by a denialist cretin MCP named Bob, who is sipping the Kool-Aid for free even).

    Your blog and comments here are great! (btw, I still can’t get a comment to go through on your blog.)

  38. Mark says:

    J.G.Ballard, British author,

    wrote “the Drowned world” in the late fifties.

    storyline: (he missed the cause of the catastrophe, probably gets the result right)

    The Drowned World opens within the conventions of a hard science fiction novel, as the catastrophe responsible for the apocalypse is explained scientifically – solar radiation has caused the polar ice-caps to melt and worldwide temperature to soar, leaving the cities of northern Europe and America submerged in beautiful and haunting tropical lagoons.

    Yet Ballard’s novel is thematically more complex than is immediately apparent. Ballard uses the post-apocalyptic world of the story to mirror the collective unconscious desires of the main characters. A theme throughout Ballard’s writing is the idea that human beings construct their surroundings to reflect their unconscious drives

    lots of responses to the article skewered above, all that I read were scathing. so far.

  39. Wit'sEnd says:

    Hi Tenney! I apologize for Blogger, it is very temperamental. Somebody who found out I was female said that he expected anyone so doom-y to be male. I guess for some, we girls are just supposed to be giddy and gleeful!

    Mark #39, I think the outrage towards John Allemang’s satire may be misplaced. Poe’s Law is immutable.

  40. homunq says:

    You guys are totally forgetting the benefits. Canada will win the 2050 World Cup, against the other 3 participating countries (Greater Mexico, New England, and Norway; luckily the cup itself got stuck in the northern hemisphere after the controversial England/Argentina massacre of 2036.)

    More seriously: Yes, Canada will “benefit” in a relative sense, in that there are many other countries that will have it worse. And I live on a hill, so when my city flooded last week (that part is true – 50 year flood, my daughters’ school filled with mud) I was overjoyed.

  41. mattlant says:

    Wow, so much doom and gloom here! I agree with some, but have my own take:

    Canada in 2050 will definitely prosper. Canada has resources needed by the rest of the world. The problem is that demand will be so high that many places will end up in conflict. And with conflict comes problems, including for Canada. Canada definitely won’t be as prosperous as it would be in a non warming world.

    I imagine that Canada and the USA will enter into some sort of union, but still two sovereign nations. Possible single currency and many more open trade possibilities, possibly a completely integrated and unified economy, and unified military. It will be likely that through this union, the USA would be the only receiver of Canada’s resources, with little to spare for other allies. Reasons being that without this, Canada would likely not be strong enough militarily for possible conflict.

    Amongst non allies are going to be countries such as Russia and China. They will probably enter into some sort of similar union as well, China being the economic powerhouse, Russia being the resource rich country.

    This will bring about so much tension that it will be a return to the cold war. The major flash point will be in the arctic for its resources.

    It won’t be the end of the world, as some predict, but it will be very nerve racking, probably far worse than the first cold war.

    Of course none of my comment even touches upon issues with other countries such as in Africa and South America.

  42. Alan Burke says:

    I make no apology for my vehement reaction to Allemang’s supposed “satire”. I knew when I responded in my comment on the Globe & Mail that I’d receive a lot of flak for “overreaction”. Let me make an analogy.

    Imaging that it’s 1944 and you are aware of what’s going on in Nazi concentration camps. You see in a newspaper a “satiric” article perhaps inspired by Joseph Goebbels about how nice it is in the recreational relocation camps which they have set up for Jews and what a “gas” it is for them there, having so much fun. How would you react to that article knowing that millions were dying from that gas?

    Now come forward to the late 20th century when it became abundantly clear in scientific journals that our burning of fossil fuels, releasing carbon sequestered over millions of years in a century or so, is causing potentially catastrophic changes to our global ecology. With the documented risk of hitting some “tipping points” we could trigger the death of not just millions but billions of people. Yet, as is well documented by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, both respected science historians, in their book “Merchants of Doubt”, an organized campaign of disinformation has derailed action to avoid or adapt to that damage.

    And then comes along this piece of “satire”. I perceive it’s publishing in the absence of rebutting articles to be both irresponsible and reprehensible, with humour that can only be described as some of the blackest I’ve ever seen.

    I’ve been fighting that disinformation campaign for several years in Canada’s online mainstream media and because of the limitations of those media have created my website, a repository of scores of citations to the science so blatantly being ignored by politicians. I intend to continue that commentary until there is a turnaround to address the real issues. That may be happening now in the USA but the ideologically-inspired war on science has clearly moved north of the USA/Canada border.

    [JR: Again, it fails to follow the rules of satire in this case, where the obviousness of the satirical message becomes clearer in every paragraph. The last paragraph simply fails at satire and in any case pushes an uninformed message. The problem is that the majority of people who read this will either fail to see that it is satire or be misinformed even if they suspect it might be.]

  43. Bill W says:

    There are some great responses here, but I read Allemang’s story as Swiftian satire. As with Swift, many (most?) people won’t get it.

    [JR: I read everything the Tea Party says as Swiftian satire. Sadly, they don’t.

    More seriously, real satire makes itself increasingly clear, which this piece didn’t, so it is either spectacularly bad satire or just spectacularly bad.]

  44. Chris Winter says:

    @Peter Lundell, Bill W:

    I didn’t read it as satire, and I can usually pick up on that if it’s there.

    But what does John Allemang say now? If his intent was missed, I’d expect him to point that out.

  45. Tyler says:

    If it was satire it shouldn’t be in the science section. In any event, I agree this kind of writing seems to be the result of Prof. Smith’s new book. A couple of weeks ago a columnist at the Toronto Sun basically republished a press release promoting the book, and this release only emphasized the benefits for the north. This doesn’t accurately reflect the book or Smith’s intentions. I e-mailed Smith recently to get his thoughts on the “Canada should celebrate AGW” coverage and Smith was appalled at the reports so far. You can read what he said at, if Joe doesn’t mind me including this link. Thanks.

    [JR: Always happy to have a link to CleanBreak!]

  46. Mark says:

    42: recommends and predicts :

    “Possible single currency and many more open trade possibilities, possibly a completely integrated and unified economy, and unified military.”

    yes, by all means, let us Canadians, with the only banking sector in the world, that did not participate in the recent financial meltdown, and a relatively stable economy, and real estate sector,

    form a currency and trade union with the USA, where the designer, and creator, of the worst global financial crisis since 1929, which has a stumbling economy, and a tanked real estate sector.

    very fine idea indeed.


  47. MapleLeaf says:

    Tyler, Just to save people the trouble (excellent piece by the way!) of switching between blogs

    Here is what the author of the book (Dr. Smith) being misrepresented had to say about a similar situation in another Canadian newspaper recently:

    “The handful of ‘benefits’ accrued by a small fraction of the world will be overwhelmingly exceeded by negative impacts in the rest of the world. I’m already alarmed by the angle being seized by some Canadian papers, i.e. “great! this is all good for Canada!” I hope this perception fades quickly next week, when the book comes out and people actually read it. I argue strongly against coal development globally, and Alberta’s tar sands specifically, for example. The book maintains a neutral/scientific tone throughout and I always point out both sides of an issue, but end it with a moral argument about the role of societal choice… it is my sincerest hope that people get the message and realize the goal of this book is to avert it biggest conclusions, not to justify them. Far from encouraging “northern development,” it is my sincere hope that this book will challenge people to think harder about the long term negative impacts of our current trajectories, and motivate real action to avert many of the terrible outcomes it projects.”

    So there you have it, the truth form the author. And truth that is at odds with what Allemang wrote.

    Personally, I think Allemang is hiding behind this lame “satire” argument b/c he has been called on his awful article. I hope that Alan Burke takes the G&M to task for this.

  48. paulm says:

    Here is what goes on up north. Not a mention in the G&M about this. Absolutely criminal…

    Tightened muzzle on scientists is ‘Orwellian’
    Documents reveal federal researchers, whose work is financed by taxpayers, need approval from Ottawa before speaking with media

    The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.

    Natural Resources Canada (NRC) scientists were told this spring they need “pre-approval” from Minister Christian Paradis’ office to speak with journalists. Their “media lines” also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.

  49. paulm says:

    Reading the most popular comments on that article you can tell that the Canadian public is coming round to GW as a serious issue.

    Too bad the MSM is stuck in the rutt of denialism.

    THat is apart from the CBC, which I think has got to be the most progressive MSM I have seen. They are promoting CC new positively almost every day through out their programs now. Happend in the last 6months or so.

  50. mattlant says:

    #48 Mark Says “very fine idea indeed.”

    Hey Mark, I am a Canadian, and it is not an idea per say, but a reality we may face, and would not be something I like. But it is being realistic.

    Lets say russia decides to just take our north. Tell me Mark, what can we do? Do you really think our Navy would stand a chance?

    Would you not go into a deep integrated partnership of some sort with the USA if we faced serious threat from Russia, and/or China, considering our pathetic military?

    It is just one of many possible ways we can secure our future if the shit hits the fan! Something I hope we can avoid by getting our collective a$$es in gear :)

  51. rule30 says:

    Here’s my effort; sorry it’s a bit belated.


    Oh, Canada – I remember; je me souviens.

    We were once leaders, weren’t we, in our younger days? In 1987 the Montreal Protocol was signed, to phase out CFC’s and preserve the ozone layer. Even now – some sixty years later – it remains widely praised the single most successful international environmental agreement, ever.

    Here in 2050, those of us alive back then gasp for how we have fallen, and weep for what we have lost. Historians will argue about turning points; for me, like many my age, nothing compared to the symbolism in that famous 2017 photo of the three thousand Canada geese, lying dead in the tailings pond. Whoever said it first, was right: Canada – our Canada, the ‘old’ Canada – sank in the tar pit of the oil sands.

    Over the decades, we have seen successive leaders pawn pride and prestige, honour and virtue to the supposed ‘easy wealth’ of the energy sector. Like many a petro-state, we chose inheritance over intelligence, ever doubling down on resource extraction even as the world moved beyond fossil fuels. To quote one humourist, we stuck with Stone Age thinking in a Bronze Age world. More dourly, the raw goods colony for the British in the 19th century and for the Americans in the 20th, stunted itself to remain so for the Chinese in the 21st.

    In the end, though – and as another wag wrote – the fault was in ourselves, for we were followers. We did note the growing exodus of scientists, entrepreneurs, and even artists moving to more progressive and forward-looking societies, including the US, whose “full-court press” on climate has now more than made up for their initial inaction. But none of us imagined that Canada, long-time refuge for migrants, home of the multicultural mosaic – would in our own lifetimes, have its own global diaspora.

    And though we gathered a rabble (yes, I was literally a rabble-rouser in my day) to press and plead our case, to argue for greatness and genius, to look to the future instead of the past, our movement was plagued by fratricidal allies too enamored by their one cause to unite behind a broader banner. That I could not do my part better to hold this coalition, I hold as my single greatest failure. The fossil fuel lobby, wagons circled and marching in lockstep, neutralized us all in turn.

    In an earlier, gentler clime, I remember turning our children’s eyes to the heavenly aurorae, in winter. But in these hotter times, what their own children see now, is the orange inferno of our forests in ‘burn season’. O my country, O beautiful country of my youth; forgive me in my senescence; forgive me that it has come to this.

    Oh, Canada, beloved Canada – I remember; je me souviens.

  52. another joe says:

    rule30: fantastic!

    As a G&M reader, I was expecting satire from Allemang – but as JR pointed out, he failed miserably if that was his intent.

  53. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Just ONE example of how AGW is already a problem in Canada…northern communities who rely on ice roads for supplies, can no longer rely on them.

    This summer I worked up in boreal forest and bogs of the James Bay and Hudson Bay lowlands. The First Nation people said the ice road only lasted 3 weeks this year instead of six. They also said the ice conditions have been poor the last 10 years. In one of the local papers for the region, they said a state of emergency has been declared for these small towns as the necessary supplies and equipment were not able to arrive before the road failed.

    Water levels were down a fair amount too. Flying over lakes, you could see the rocky shorelines exposed and some of our crews camped on shorelines that should have been well underwater.

    In the bog itself, we were able to hike across large areas that should have had the water table right at the surface. We camped next to a creek for a week and the water level fell by 30 cm in that one week.

    When the wettest land area (bogs and fens) of the province is drying up, then you know you’ve had an extraordinarily dry summer (and dry winter–snow melt came almost two months early: End of February we were snowshoeing in 10 to 15 degrees C weather instead of -10 to -15, and by mid-March even the snow in the bush was gone. The ice carnival held at the end of March (South Porcupine) when ice is supposed to be a few feet thick was canceled by the beginning of March as the ice was already getting too dangerous to be on.

    More anecdotal stuff: While working up in the far north this summer, our data loggers recorded localized temperatures of 40 and 45 degrees C at some of our sites. I was stunned. I knew it was hot…so hot that I drank over 6 L of water in 10 hours and just lay next to the lake trying to avoid heat stroke instead of hiking around doing work…but was shocked to read the temp data when we returned south. We had many hot days, and thunderstorms were so common our helicopter either couldn’t leave base or couldn’t pick us up on time almost every time we went out.

    It was the north like I’ve never seen it before and it is a north that I wish our delaying/denying PM and his cronies would spend some time visiting and listening to the people who have lived there. But, hell, if they’re not listening to the scientists, then they’re not going to listen to people who live in remote fly-in communities with low voting turnout for federal elections.

  54. Alan Burke says:

    Re #49. Mapleleaf I did indeed write the Editor in Chief of the Globe and Mail about this article by John Allemang. I received no direct reply but I have noticed in the past day or so that there have been a couple of articles dealing with reality rather than fantasy. There will also be major changes in the G&M within the next few days, part of which is an attempt to try to “elevate” commentary away from the current trend for domination by argumentative trolls.

  55. Mark says:



    “over that tim, “the forestry supported population in the B.C. Interior districts affected by the epidemic will decline by 28,700 people, and occupied housing will fall by 11,500 units.

    Good times, eh!”

    We just drove the southern interior of B.C.

    Speaking to residents, and looking at the “forest” of for sale signs up on houses etc. I feel pretty safe in saying that the above described is happening now.

    good times alright.

  56. Gnobuddy says:

    @11: Wit’sEnd says: Melting tundra will have brought upon the release of methane, rising temperatures incalculably (literally – no one can predict what will happen or how fast).
    Wit, you do an excellent job of painting a word-picture out of most of the contemporary climate projections, as best I understand them. (I have scientific training in my background, but not in this field.)

    However, all these “incalculably increasing” (exponentially growing) graphs of global temperature, etc have bothered me for years. Many physical processes (including populations of living things) take off exponentially, but all run out of steam and flatten out as competing terms in the differential equations that describing them start to take over and rein in the unbridled growth.

    So I’ve long had the gut feeling that the exponential growth projections are the result of inadequate climate models. The mathematical models work when run backwards, yes, so they’re probably decently accurate for the short term heating just ahead, but something is out of whack when the model predicts exponentially soaring temperatures for centuries. In the real world, something would occur to eventually level off those processes – and that “something” is missing from the models.

    It is quite common, by the way, for computer simulated math to run perfectly backwards, but go nuts when run forwards, because of tiny errors from computation that accumulate and increase with every new calculation (numerical instability). It is an issue that anyone doing computer numerical simulations has to keep in mind when formulating the numerical equations used by the simulation. This highlights the fact that certain types of physical processes can be accurately simulated backwards, even with slightly imperfect math, but cannot be accurately simulated forwards without more accurate numbers. In the case of the planetary simulations, the problem isn’t round-off and truncation errors in the computer, but some missing physics somewhere, something that wasn’t significant at the old lower levels of C02, but which will be significant when the C02 levels rise past some threshold.

    Very recently I saw a You Tube video of a talk by James Lovelock, one of the smartest and most clear-thinking climate scientists around, even at his advanced age. In this talk he discusses the exact same issue that has been bothering me – and he points out that the climate models used by the IPCC and most climate scientists only model the atmosphere, without including the biosphere and its interactions with the atmosphere. This is no minor omission – billions of plants on earth all use carbon dioxide and spit out oxygen into the atmosphere, and billions of animals live on that oxygen and eat the plants and spit out carbon dioxide. So there are several coupled terms here, all interacting with each other. A change in C02 will cause a change in the quantity of plant life, which will change the quantity of oxygen in the air, and also change the quantity of animal life, which in turn will again change the quantity of plant life (by eating some of it). And so on.

    Anyhow, Lovelock came up with a simplified model that adds these interactions to the mathematical models used by the IPCC. And when he runs predictions on his model, something rather different emerges: first, the temperature starts to wobble, going wildly up and down. Then it goes nuts and jumps rather abruptly to a hotter state. Then it wobbles up and down a little more before stabilizing at this new hotter temperature. (It doesn’t keep climbing for ever like those exponential predictions).

    It turns out too that Earth has done something very similar before – Lovelock says the evidence is that Earth has two or perhaps three stable temperature states, and it has jumped between them in the geologic past.

    This is not rosy good news by any means – the jump will likely be five or six degrees Celsius. Most life on earth probably will die, including most human life (Lovelock guesses maybe a billion humans will survive, of the 7 billion living now). Last time this happened, there were prehistoric crocodiles living in polar waters, which hovered around 70 degrees Fahrenheit – a pleasantly warm day in contemporary Los Angeles.

    So we have disaster ahead, certainly. But it seems matters may not be quite as abysmal as you describe. Statistically, you and I will both likely die due to impending extreme climate change, as will most people and most animals. But it seems likely that life will not disappear entirely. Florida may be under water, Europe a desert, and much of North America a lifeless blast-furnace, but there will probably be survivors, human, animal, and plant, in Canada and in some other parts of the world.

    I’m glad that life, including mammalian life, will probably survive. It took the Earth billions of years to create life from scratch last time round, and I’m glad that won’t have to happen again.

    Lovelock’s model (and the talks I listened to) date back a few years. Now, in 2010, there has been so much bizarre global weather (Los Angeles just set a coldest ever on this day of the year record last Wednesday, followed by a hottest ever day (113 deg F) record five days later, on the following Monday). I think it is not too much of a stretch to hypothesize that the increasingly weird and unpredictable weather these last few years matches those growing wobblies in James Lovelocks model, the wobblies that immediately precede the big jump to the new, hotter, stable state. If that’s true, it won’t be very long now before the jump – more likely a decade or so than the century or so that the IPCC has been talking about.

    The You Tube video I refer to was one of a series of clips of a talk by James Lovelock hosted by “Corporate Knights” and titled “The Vanishing Face of Gaia”. Lovelocks mathematical model (showing a step change in temperature) is discussed in Part 3 of the talk. I’ve provided links to the 1st three parts for context. Lovelock is an excellent speaker, and I encourage you to watch all the parts of the talk. Here we go:

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Part 3:


  57. MapleLeaf says:


    “In this talk he discusses the exact same issue that has been bothering me – and he points out that the climate models used by the IPCC and most climate scientists only model the atmosphere, without including the biosphere and its interactions with the atmosphere.”

    First, That is simply not true. Might I suggest you read about coupled AOGCMs from a reputable source. Second, no-one in the climate community is talking about global runaway warming, certainly not the IPCC.

    Third, one does not necessarily need a climate model to infer climate sensitivity to doubling CO2, you can use paleo data, or events such as Mt. Pinatubo etc.

    Hope this helps.

  58. jyyh says:

    There are so many stories already, but here’s mine…

    After the religious extremists from south had hijacked the Amish communities to work as their slaves, it was only a matter of time when they decided to invade Sascatchewan. In there, they forced the native canadians to dry the remaining bogs to be the promised land of plenty, in which they would grow the sugar canes they needed to keep their children fat and healthy. As the migrating herds of cattle released by the desperate farmers in the south came, the priest of the sect decided to die as he had filled his promise.

    The rest of the Canada was adapting to the climate change the best it could, sending their stupidest troops against the invaders who considered them be devilishly clever in their war-skills.

  59. Gnobuddy says:

    @59 – MapleLeaf, to be more specific, Lovelock mentions that there is some partial inclusion of the effect of the biosphere, but that it is along more or less as a “passenger” than as a fully interacting element; he was speaking for a general audience, but I take that to mean some coupling terms he considers necessary were in fact missing from the model. I did not quote him word for word in my post, so consider any errors mine, not his.

    Fine details aside, the results from Lovelock’s model do differ substantially from the predictions of the other model (he compares against the average of what he refers to as “the best models of the Hadley center”). The conventional model shows a smooth, roughly exponentially growing temperature increase from year 2000 to year 2100, where the plot ends; Lovelock’s model shows a much slower almost linear temp increase, with growing small fluctuations, out to roughly 2060, after which there is a pretty sharp transition to a hotter state, where the temperature again plateaus out.

    I haven’t heard any reputable source suggest that the temperature will grow exponentially for *ever*, nor did I mean to say so – if I was unclear, my apologies, it was the result of my attempts to minimize the length of my post. But it does seem that the most widely used climate change models predict a slow mostly exponential growth for the next century and more before the leveling off occurs, while Lovelock’s 1994 model shows something that is closer to a step-function change occurring over a time scale perhaps an order of magnitude smaller, preceded and followed by “ringing”. Not terribly different from what you see when you run a square wave into a low-pass filter with a Q high enough for it to “ring” a little, in fact.

    That Skeptical Science column you link to, unfortunately, shows no units on either X or Y axes, so both the temperature scale and time scale of the processes are unknown to the viewer. But presumably the horizontal axis is considerably longer than the 100 years shown on the typical IPCC plots, which show no such leveling-off.

    Why not take a look at part 3 of the talk I linked to yourself? Perhaps you can clarify the issues better after that?


  60. jyyh says:

    Gnobuddy – The sharp rise in some models maybe related to a wide-scale ecosystem breakdown, possibly related to fe. the Amazon dieback. Exponential rise in temperature for a long time (over 200 years, to be vague enough) would happen if the vegetation dieback/diminishing would be exponential which is not very likely, as there are some species like kudzu. The plateau could possibly be a result of civilization breakdown, as Lovelock tries to take that into account too, after which the vegetation should be able to recover from the changes (after a while).

  61. MapleLeaf says:


    I’ll try and watch the vids when I have time…can’t promise though, very busy right now.

    All the figures in the SS link that I provided have both axes labeled. Only Fig. 3 has no label for the y-axis and that is easily found by reading the caption or following the hyperlink to Knutti and Hegerl’s Nature paper…please do not be so lazy. And again, the climate sensitivity is not derived exclusively from AOGCMS (see their Fig. 3).

    Some info on AOGCMSs:

  62. Gnobuddy says:

    jyyh, I’m sure some of the factors you mention are relevant ones. Lovelock mentions several factors he included: the effect of atmospheric C02 levels on the growth of plants, the amount of C02 consumed by the plants, the amount of oxygen released by the plant population, the amount of animal life that lives by eating the plants, the amount of oxygen consumed by the animal life, and the amount of C02 released by the animal life.

    He gives no details beyond that in the talk (though presumably he published his model somewhere). But it is pretty obvious all these terms couple to each other, so you get a series of coupled differential equations. The temperature oscillations preceding the sudden jump remind me of the classic prey-predator oscillations that are sometimes taught in introductory math classes on differential equations – those equations have similar terms, growth rate of predators, growth rates of prey, kill rates of prey by the predators, etc.

    Another analogy I see is to electronic oscillators. Often a prototype amplifier circuit ends up with trace amounts of (usually unintentional) positive feedback, and you can sometimes observe both exponentially growing small sinusoidal oscillations and subsequent violent switching between two somewhat stable limit states, qualitatively rather similar to Lovelock’s graph. There are even circuits – “blocking oscillators” – designed to do just this. Usually the output is AC coupled, so you “see” only the transitions between the two quasi-stable states rather than the actual DC levels of those two states.

    Incidentally, I don’t think civilization breakdown is necessarily a major factor – evidently the earth has flip-flopped between two (or perhaps three) somewhat stable temperature states in the past, including the event 55 million years ago when volcanic activity burned a similar amount of petroleum compounds into the atmosphere as recent human activity has. While there was plenty of animal life on the planet 55M years ago, surely there was no species of the same size (order of magnitude 10^2 kg or 10^5 grams) as a human being and the same population (we’re close to order 10^10 people now) – so even without an incredibly huge 10^15 grams of human biomass die-off, the planet apparently did in fact flip rather quickly from one fairly stable temperature to another in the past.


  63. jyyh says:

    Thanks Gnobuddy, I don’t know how advanced the ecological models currently are, I’m on the 1980s level on that… I might add to your thoughtful post the Arctic tipping point is also somewhat affected by the life processes, as the ice thins it’ll let more light to the algae under it, which in turn gives energy for more sea plankton, which will die and decompose in the fall.

  64. Wit'sEnd says:

    Gnobuddy, when I said:

    “..rising temperatures incalculably (literally – no one can predict what will happen or how fast).”

    That’s all I meant – it isn’t possible to calculate how high temperatures will go or how fast because there are too many variables.

    That’s not the same as what you described as:

    “incalculably increasing” (exponentially growing) graphs of global temperature”

  65. dyuane says:

    I worked UP of Michigan. Up there the joke was that we were going to take over Canada and it was going to be the 51 state.

  66. espiritwater says:


    With the rest of the world reeling from coasts being submerged under water or decimated by droughts, famines, or volcanic eruptions, Canada emerged as a rather idyllic sanctuary. Her once frigid climate had turned pleasantly cool and agriculture much more productive. Even people in the lower 48 states had become peaceful and quiet once they reconciled to the fact that Canada’s border’s were firmly closed and desparate refugees could no longer migrate up North.

    Much of the human population, of course, was culled during coastal inundations. Approximately 2/3 of U.S. population had lived along the coasts (and more than a billion people, world-wide) and most could not escape before the tsunamis struck. There were no CNN news anchormen to warn of impending chaos, no special broadcastes over FM radio. Nothing. No warning at all before the ice sheets of Antarctica suddenly became unhinged and plunged into the oceans’s icy depths… crashing and sliding into the cold, dark waters of the Southern Ocean. No one even knew that sea levels had fallen drastically within 200 km of impact. Or that monstrous tsunamis, 200-foot-tall walls of water were speeding directly toward their coasts– coasts of both North and South America, the coasts of Africa, and other countries. It all occurred so quickly and in the wee hours of the morning, when everyone slept.

    Few government officials had even attempted to adopt measures which could have prevented the catastrophes. And after the chaos ensued, after the suffering and misery from so much loss– hundreds of millions of humans and other species, central governments eventually collapsed. There was no money left for rebuilding essential infrastructure, telecommunications systems, or the security forces to quell the angry mobs. Even Canada’s government couldn’t withstand the turmoil after Antarctica’s impact. In 2050, her government broke down too. She became balcanized into smaller and smaller units– “transition towns”, focused on sustainability.

    Finally, with fossil fuel emissions at a virtual standstill, (who would even attempt to reve up “the machine” again? They’d been hung from a tree!), the Earth began to renew itself. Tree saplings sprang up everywhere. The air became cleaner. “Civilization” was gone. The humble– with ancient wisdom– inherited the Earth. And the world began anew.

  67. espiritwater says:

    Ominous Clouds, yours was great!! Loved it!!!

  68. espiritwater says:

    #58– Gnobddy– Concering your paragragh 3– Ordinarilly, there are negative feedbacks (which are actually positive in their outcome) which would intervene to offset some of all the exponential warming. However, according to Jim Hansen, these feedbacks will not occur under Anthropogenic global warming because of the speed of the warming. We’re dumping CO2 emissions into the atmosphere about 1,000 times faster than in the past, under natural global warming scenarios, so the offshoots you’re refering to just won’t occur this time around. It’s all happening simply too fast! We’re clobbering the planet with all our CO2 emissions!