Open Thread And Cartoon Of The Week

Opine away during this warm December of this warmest year on record for the contiguous U.S.

A cartoon image

By Lee Judge, the Cartoonist Group



57 Responses to Open Thread And Cartoon Of The Week

  1. prokaryotes says:

    Met Office warns of catastrophic global warming in our lifetimes
    • Study says 4C rise in temperature could happen by 2060
    • Increase could threaten water supply of half world population

    A report last week from the UN Environment Programme said emissions since 2000 have risen faster than even this IPCC worst-case scenario. “In the 1990s, these scenarios all assumed political will or other phenomena would have brought about the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by this point. In fact, CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning and industrial processes have been accelerating.”

  2. Will Fox says:

    New wind turbines could be cost-competitive with fossil fuels – even without subsidies:

  3. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    Because of a recommendation from another CP commenter (?Spike?) I purchased and have now read “Under a Green Sky” by Peter Ward. I would like to add my name to a chorus of two recommending this book. A very short synopsis: Dr. Ward, a paleontologist specializing in the research of past extinctions, provides a background of what is known about past extinctions, and relates that knowledge to today’s changing climate. I was amazed to discover that virtually all of what scientists know about past extinctions has been learned in the last 30 years – much of that in the last 10 years or so. Dr. Ward, who is a resident at the University of Washington, and a significant contributor to said knowledge, is a more than adequate story teller. The book was published in 2008. I would welcome a CP post on this most relevant topic, by Dr. Ward himself if possible.

  4. Darth Vader says:

    After yet another unusually long and dry dry-season in the Amazon, the record flooding of 2012, which saw the water level at the Port Manaus peak 2,5 meters above normal, is now replaced with water levels more than 2,5 meters below normal. As of november the 21th, the water levels had dropped a staggering 13, 7 meters since the peak in May, and at that point the levels were still dropping with 8 cm a day. Compared to the average, which is a drop of 9-10 meters during the Amazon dry season, this drop is quite unprecedented, but what is worrisome is that this is the 4th consecutive year which sees a 11,5 meters, or more, drop occuring during this period of the year, which usually spans between June and November.

    What is also worth to notice, is that last time a record flood was followed by a dry season like this, in 2009, the next year saw the unfolding of the most devastating drought ever registered in the Amazon. Might this be about to happen again, may we be writing about a 2013-Amazon-record-drought one year for now? And even if we don’t, doesn’t this development deserve more attention?

  5. Tom King says:

    From here on, every mention of Climate Change actually strengthens Obama’s hand since it focuses the public’s anger on Republican obstructionism. Thus, if Obama fails to raise the Climate Change issue at every opportunity, he probably has an ulterior motive. The time to criticize Obama was not before the election. The time to start criticizing is now. The time to start protests and marches is now.

  6. Will Fox says:

    32 years ago today, John Lennon was shot dead in New York. Here is one of my favourite quotes from him — and although he was talking about something else, his words could just as easily be applied to climate change:

  7. Will, I could also make a connection to this short poem by Ezra Pound.

    When I carefully consider the curious habits of dogs
    I am compelled to conclude
    That man is the superior animal.

    When I consider the curious habits of man
    I confess, my friend, that I am puzzled.

  8. 13Emeth says:

    4 Things that Environmentalists can do to improve their Chances of Winning

    1. The environmental movement needs a form of uniform. Uniforms are significant elements in any real modern campaign for they are able to demonstrate strength and commitment in clear and unambiguous terms. Unfortunately the typical environmentalist is still stereotyped as unprofessional among numerous groups in society no matter how many suits are worn by their leaders. Adopting a uniform will instantly reduce the weight of these stereotypes. The commitment aspect of the uniform is also important for it conveys the power and significance/importance of the message. In most protests various parties are simply standing around in various outfits occasionally chanting something or waving some placard leaving observers to wonder about the involvement and dedication of those protesting. If all individuals were wearing the same shirt then there is no doubt regarding the unity of the group. Imagine the protest on Feb 18th with thousands of individuals all in uniform and the greater impact such a scene would have.

    Creating a uniform is simple in that major environmental groups can simply request designers to develop a symbolical and message appropriate t-shirt or long sleeve shirt and select the best one. 20% of sales would go to the designer and 80% of sales would go towards a travel scholarship fund, so that individuals who wanted to attend major protests, but were unable to afford it could apply via email or letter for a travel scholarship, which would provide some set amount for reimbursement.

    2. Write correspondence to pro-environmental House and Senate members to attempt to initiate climate negotiations between China, India and the United States. The point of this exercise is to develop an agreement structure among the most important emitters even before Congress as a whole is ready to address it because such preemptive action will save time and resources by eliminating uncertainty, increase trust among all three parties and give each party an understanding of what the others have to do and are willing to do.

    3. An environmentalist that genuinely cares about limiting the damage born by global warming needs to accept the fact that unless a miracle occurs some form of solar radiation management will be required to create a greater time window for successful carbon mitigation (the recent 3% increase in global emissions is further evidence that this miracle is not forthcoming). Therefore, strategies must be devised to address the potential detriments that could occur from various geo-engineering techniques instead hiding one’s head in the sand by taking the unrealistic stance that these techniques should never be applied. Overall geo-engineering is not as unknown or high risk as its opponents want to believe; to save the environment more than likely the sky will have to shimmer with sulfur and the Arctic will have to oscillate with bubbles or some other albedo increasing element for some period of time.

    4. Identify every anti-environmental member of Congress then identify those who are up for reelection in 2014 and of those candidates those who only won their last election by 55% or less (i.e. those who are actually vulnerable). Select a pro-environmental candidate who can run against that individual and begin seeding a ground campaign strategy to inform all voters in the given district (House seat) or state (Senate) about how environmental changes will specifically affect the region in which these voters live. In late 2013 start executing this strategy by realistically, objectively and transparently tying together changes in the environment to lifestyle changes to demonstrate the need to vote for the pro-environmental candidate.

  9. David Goldstein says:

    Tom- I am meeting with 350 next week. In the meantime I am posting this around climate blogs: It all may amount to futile gesture at this point, but…for a few years now, some of us have been posting on climate blogs and watching as the world simply goes even more quickly in the wrong direction. Has the time come to ‘put down our pens’? The scientists have done their good work. The politicians have NOT. The corporations have CERTAINLY NOT! The only possible bridge that I foresee (aside from scrambling responses to undeniable shock and catastrophe down the road) is this: For a critical mass of the people to bring pressure to bare- which means, essentially, getting out in the streets and, most likely, perform non-violent civil disobedience a la Vietnam war/civil rights. (along with financial pressure a la divestment campaigns) Here’s my question: If this is so, are you (the reader) willing to do this? Are you willing to ‘put your body’ on the line? Are you? To do so would be to ‘speak’ powerfully to your children and their children “I am doing what I can, though it may not suffice”. Lastly, I am not entirely naive- of course, this would have to occur as part of a sustained and well orchestrated campaign to have any chance of success. But- it IS coming to this. is calling a rally/protest/civil disobedience in Washington Feb 18th. Would you come…put your pen down…and, as well, lay your body down?

  10. Robert Callaghan says:

    Everything you need to know is in this speech by Guy McPherson.
    You are not ready for this.

  11. David Goldstein says:

    I like all of your suggestions. I also have these thoughts- we need to be assertive/aggressive AND figure out a couple themes to begin hammering relentlessly in protests, in the media, etc. The most potent image by far seems to be ‘The Children’. It is a demonstrable scientific conclusion that we are on the very verge of leaving our children and their children and so on a legacy of disruption and suffering which will be, in some senses, historically unique. This is, of course, nightmare-ishly unacceptable to almost every human- if that fact can be hammered home. How is this for an idea?- 1) Generate as large a crowd as possible for the protest march in Washington Feb 18th. All participants come with photos of their children/nieces/nephews, etc (or bring their actual children!) displayed. 2) Once the crowd gathers at the White House, we go into silence for 10 minutes. Everyone holds up their pictures and stands…in silence. (This ‘feels’ like an image the press would lap up) 3) At the end of the 10 minutes, in an organized fashion, all who volunteer to be arrested (by ‘blockading’ the White House or whatever) step forth, still prominently displaying their photos (or with their actual children- to be handed off to care-takers). HOPEFULLY- more and more celebs and even politicians (c’mon Al Franken, John Kerry and the rest who have spoken up about climate change). And then…do it again with an even bigger march sometime later. We have nothing to lose since we are on the verge of losing everything!

  12. Brian R Smith says:

    George Monbiot in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, headlined: Wanted: a new politics to save Planet Earth

    [..]”The climate summit (or foothill) in Doha probes the current limits of political action. Go further and you break your covenant with power, a covenant both disguised and validated by the neoliberal creed.

    Neoliberalism is not the root of the problem: it is the ideology used, often retrospectively, to justify a global grab of power, public assets and natural resources by an unrestrained elite. But the problem cannot be tackled until the doctrine is challenged by effective political alternatives.

    In other words, the struggle against climate change – and all the crises that now beset both human beings and the natural world – cannot be won without a wider political fight: a democratic mobilisation against plutocracy. This should start with an effort to reform election campaign finance – the means by which corporations and the very rich buy policies and politicians.”

    Filmmaker Steve Cowan, Habitat Media founder,won the D.C. International Film Fest Grand Jury award for his film Pricele$$ which is an excellent look at money & corruption in US politics and reform attempts. If you’re looking for a focus piece on this watch the 2 trailers here:

  13. Greatgrandma Kat says:

    It’s a very good and clear plan. Do we have the financial backing to take on the oil,gas and coal money, not to mention the Repug political money machine? Is there financial backing for this from the Democratic Party?

  14. Robert Siebert says:

    No comment. I’m just looking for a link to the graphs that show the number of record high and low temperatures in a given period—and often for a given region,e.g., state, country hemisphere. I’ve tried NOAA but so far no luck.

    Any leads?


  15. David Goldstein says:

    Those are great questions! You know, I have long felt that the more ‘lefty’ side of the spectrum in this country has been to meek and accommodating in general. Given that the nature of this emergency is, in fact, existential it may be time to drop this approach :) There are some VERY wealthy, relatively moderate folks out there. It is time to assemble a team of credible folks- James Hansen and other climate scientists, Bill Mckibben, politicians and celebrities (from Bill Clinton to Leo DiCaprio)…to begin a relentless campaign to raise the necessary funds. Call Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc. Lay it on the line: “This is it. A few more years with no action and we are going to go to 4C or worse warming. We are talking about the well being of your children and my children. All of our children.” Look, the reality is, as most of us know, that it is not likely that we are simply going to manifest a dystopic future (there are over 900 coal-fired plants on the drawing board in India and China alone for goodness sake)- but it seems to me that there is a certain freedom and even joy at finally dropping the polite and deliberate approach and just…going for it.

  16. Chris Winter says:

    Agreed on the desirability of a guest post by Dr. Ward (although I doubt he could find the time, but it’s worth asking.)

    I consider Under a Green Sky his best book, because of the urgency of its tone. You may enjoy my review.

  17. DRT says:

    A candle light vigil would be good, but more effective at night.

    20,000 people singing like this: might get noticed. Credit to Bill McKibben’s twitter acct for the link.

  18. David Goldstein says:

    yes, I thought of that as well- but, a NIGHT ceremony in February…..brrrrrr….!

  19. Richard Hewitt says:

    Is there any research on the gravitational effects of the melting of the ice caps on seismic activity?

  20. Superman1 says:

    Your post reflects almost every new post and article I see on this blog. Each article presents a more dire picture of our impending climate catastrophe than the previous article. We need some balance with potential solutions.

    I propose that a permanent ‘blue skies’ thread be established on this site, sort of the DARPA-E of the climate blogs, but well beyond DARPA-E in imagination. Ideas would be proposed to solve all or part of the full three-dimensional technical-political-sociological problem whose solution is required for dodging the bullet. Nothing would be off the table; e.g., independent Predator drones to take out every fossil fuel facility on Earth would be in play.

    Rather than the circular firing squad approach that characterizes the climate blogs, where each poster appears to relish the opportunity to find the smallest fault with any new idea, the ‘blue skies’ thread approach would operate in a purely constructive mode. Instead of finding what is wrong with each concept, posters would try to find what’s right, and build upon it. These continually dire articles are leading to a dead-end. Right now, the most probable course is the effective end of our civilization, possibly by the end of the century. Let’s see if we can improve those odds.

  21. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, good article but the emphasis on finance is misplaced. Plenty of countries have strict controls on campaign finance, gifts and inducements of all kinds but decisions still seem to favour the big lobbies like mining. Corruption is inherent in representative democracy via career politicians. In a system where people are pulled out of a hat to serve their terms and then return to being ordinary citizens, there is no point in bribing them. Applications of sortition to the modern state were worked out over 30 years ago, ME

  22. prokaryotes says:

    “Predator drones to take out every fossil fuel facility on Earth would be in play”

    A few month back i wrote this WHY WE REQUIRE A WAR ON FOSSIL FUELS

  23. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    Thanks Chris. I agree with your review. You chose a good set of excerpts. I haven’t read any of Dr. Ward’s other books, but I’m looking at “The Flooded Earth”. I’ve read your review and think I might be able to wade my way through the grammatical mistakes and confusing constructs (should be right up my alley;) in order to get at the worthwhile content.

  24. prokaryotes says:

    I do not think our current population numbers are a problem, it is the Co2 footprints which is. Actually we have soon a situation when we might get another genetic bottleneck, according to Lovelock.

  25. prokaryotes says:

    Yes, some…

    The rise in sea levels would be highest on the west and east coasts of North America where increases of 25 per cent more than the global average would cause catastrophic flooding in cities such as New York, Washington DC and San Francisco.

    McGuire conducted a study that was published in the journal Nature in 1997 that looked at the connection between the change in the rate of sea level rise and volcanic activity in the Mediterranean for the past 80,000 years and found that when sea level rose quickly, more volcanic eruptions occurred, increasing by a whopping 300 percent.

  26. prokaryotes says:

    There are multiple threats from less ice sheets on land OR changed Albedo from sea ice loss (warmer waters cause methane release, underwater landslides/tsunamis.

    Basically what is going to happen is that the land which once was under ice mass, rebounds. Though the main underestimation we make is the fact that mouline melt the ice sheet from beneath…

  27. prokaryotes says:

    Great talk from Dr. Guy McPherson (still listening)

  28. prokaryotes says:

    I think we need more attention on the fact that we will get more extremes, year after year after year AND that it only gets worse, not better. Mainly because we accelerate Co-2 emissions.

  29. prokaryotes says:

    Very warm November assures 2012 will be warmest year in U.S. history

  30. prokaryotes says:

    Weakened typhoon set to make second landfall in Philippines

    A much-weakened storm was set to make landfall in the Philippines’ northwest on Sunday, five days after the year’s strongest typhoon killed 540 people and caused crop damage worth about 8 billion pesos ($195.38 million) in the south.

  31. Paul Magnus says:

    Yep. A revolution is required. And one is just around the corner. Things can not be bau for much longer.

    Mother earth is putting her foot down,

  32. prokaryotes says:

    OMG this creepy guy…

    Ukip’s Lord Monckton thrown out of Doha climate talks
    Party’s former deputy leader impersonates Burmese delegate and tells conference ‘there’s no global warming’

  33. Spike says:

    I favour state funding of political parties with no private contributions allowed of more than $100 per annum say. This would halt the purchase of votes by corporations and wealthy individuals.

    Politicians and civil servants would have to accept no role on the board, management or consultancy to any private organisation for a minimum of 5 years after leaving office, to prevent the “riches later” approach to bribing them in office.

    It may entail paying them more in office, but would be worth it to sterilise corporate poisoning of decision making.

    Any breach of these rules to be a criminal offence by the individual and the corporation with unlimited penalties available to the courts for the corporation concerned, and jail as an option.

  34. Superman1 says:

    Fossil fuels have some characteristics of drugs, and the users of cheap fossil fuels are little different from drug addicts. Now, we have declared ‘war’ on certain types of drugs, and fought these ‘wars’ accordingly. For example, with Heroin, we attack the source (bomb, burn, and spray the poppy fields), and the user (jail terms for Heroin addicts). Even with these harsh measures at both ends, the ‘war’ continues.

    However, we can only fight such a ‘war’ because a small percentage of the population are Heroin addicts, and the vast majority goes along with this ‘war’. We have a similar approach to marijuana. With fossil fuel addiction, the numbers reverse. The fraction of addicts approaches 100%. Under those conditions, there will be no political mandates for economic penalties, criminal charges, removing the source, etc.

    If we could imagine e.g. the USA, Russia, and China agreeing that survival of the biosphere required immediate cessation of fossil fuel use, these three super-military powers could issue an ultimatum to all countries of the Earth: end fossil fuel use within one year, or the production, conversion, and storage facilities will be ‘taken out’ at that time. But, the USA and Russia are major fossil fuel energy producers, and would never agree on such an action. It should be obvious to all that these present international climate negotiations are completely useless, at a point where time is of the essence in reducing further emissions.

    We are not only re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as it is going down, we are drilling large holes in the hull.

  35. Spike says:

    Conflicting messages from the Met Office – they have Richard Betts,Head of Climate Change Impacts who posts on denialist blogs and states he doesn’t subscribe to the 2c = dangerous idea (and also states most climate scientists don’t!) and is consistently critical of alarmism, resorting to arguments about great regional uncretainties, and then we have reports such as the one you and Joe have previously linked to warning of potentially severe impacts. Confusing for the public if not for readers of this blog.

  36. Spike says:

    More controversial stuff (guff?) from Myles Allen on the Guardian website. Serious because I gather he has the ear of the UK government who I suspect find the messages he brings palatable in justifying their dash for gas for example:

  37. Joan Savage says:

    I agree we should pay attention to the Amazon Basin, but that also applies to equatorial conditions in general. Several factors come to mind and I trust others who post here could add to the list.

    The tropical rain belt has moved northward.

    In discussing Typhoon Bopha, Jeff Masters notes that the storm moved closer to the equator than typhoons have usually done in the past.

    Human-selfishly, stable cloud formation over a tropical forest benefits down-wind agriculture.

    As I’ve said before, Congress will have to pay attention when there’s no coffee to be had in their dining room.

  38. Raul M. says:

    How to turn a flooded basement with old and inefficient mechanicals into a nice clean aquaculture experience for the health and well being of the neighborhood?
    Should the entire basement be turned into a kelp farm with delicious fish growing?
    Or should the aquaculture be used as a fill in ?
    PERSONALLY- whew well if it is completely filled with salt water there wouldn’t be a shoreline. But, there could be scuba lessons.

  39. John McCormick says:

    fj, encouraging words from the Mayor. But the greening of NYC and reducing its carbon footprint will have to include keeping the Indian Point nuclear power plant on line a lot longer. It supplies half the kilowatts NYC demands. And the alternative is natural gas generators.

  40. Colorado Bob says:

    CW –
    NCDC US Records –

  41. Merrelyn Emery says:

    You are fiddling with the symptoms not curing the disease, ME

  42. Eric Timar says:

    It couldn’t hurt to start “green” youth soccer travel leagues. For the environment and for parents’ sanity.

  43. Merrelyn Emery says:

    OK Joe, what’s wrong with this comment? ME

  44. Joe Romm says:

    Not sure what comment you are referring to. Email me.

  45. David Smith says:

    So I’ve listened to this talk by Guy McPherson twice (the second time with my wife). He mentions things like possible 16C temp rise by 2100 and human extinction by mid century. Could you respond to this talk, Joe. Is his an extreme view or is he telling it without pulling punches?