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Murder, He Wrote

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"Murder, He Wrote"

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An excellent climate blogger, Johnny Rook, is dying. I’m hoping that you will take a look at his website, Johnny Rook’s Climaticide Chronicles, and post a comment for his family.

His most recent post, no doubt a great struggle to write, has some breaking news: “Alert: Wilkins Ice Shelf Collapses According to Spanish Scientists.” As you can see he hasn’t been able to post much recently for reasons he explains in his February 5 post “My doctor doesn’t think I’m going to die today–Updated.”

Rook makes a plea in that post I’ll repeat here because it is something that you perhaps can respond to in your comments:

My diaries, as those of you who are regular readers know, often contain depressing information about how temperatures and sea levels are rising, how sea ice and glaciers are melting and shrinking, how deserts are growing and heat waves becoming longer and hotter meaning that agriculture is becoming less and less possible in many places, how extreme weather is becoming more common and more intense, how oceans are becoming acidified, how species are going extinct, ecosystems are being rendered uninhabitable for the creatures that live in them, and how famine and diseases are spreading.

When I write about solutions I often focus on how people and governments are mostly oblivious to what is happening and to how little time we have left to act boldly and forcefully to effect the radical change that the scientists tell us is necessary. I agree absolutely with what what Steven Chu, the new Secretary of Energy told the LA Times in an interview a couple of days ago.

I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen.

I understand that such news can depress. At times it depresses me but, more than anything else, it has filled my life with meaning. I have a mission. Before I die, I want to have some sense that this beautiful planet that has provided the context for my life, will have some chance of enduring. I want to die with hope, believing that my teenage son and his children and your children and their children will live in a world that is reasonably hospitable to human beings.

I don’t know how that can happen if people will not face the reality of what is taking place in the world. So, I continue to sound the alarm, even though I know that most of what I write is discounted as alarmist or simply ignored as too uncomfortable to deal with.

Johnny Rook shares my initials and my sensibilities on climate, so I understand how optimism can be hard to come by.

My father, while he was alive, watched Murder, She Wrote — the TV series “starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher.” He would joke that the most dangerous place on Earth was in the company of Jessica Fletcher, because wherever she was, somebody was going to get murdered.

Humanity is, as the name Climaticide Chronicles makes clear, in the process of murdering the climate. Everywhere Rook — or any of us — looks, there is more and more evidence of that crime in process.

But it is not too late. The murder can be stopped. I wouldn’t be blogging if didn’t know that for a fact [see Irreversible does not mean unstoppable: "Why show me this, if I am past all hope?" and "Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 2: The Solution"]. I’m sure Rook feels the same way.

So there is hope as long as people like Johnny Rook are willing to use their energy — even their last drop of energy — to tell the world what is to come on our current path and how we can stop it.

I hope you’ll tell his family that.

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9 Responses to Murder, He Wrote

  1. I left a note for Johnny, and his family. His story touched my heart.

  2. Joe – I learn so much from Climate Progress every day I should be sending you regular tuition fees.

    But learning about Johnny Rook’s story and reading his blog today went well beyond climate change education. I got a needed life lesson and I thanked Johnny (Steve) for that in his comments section.

    Thank you, Joe Romm. I hope you know how much so many of us appreciate you, the work you do and the way you do it. You are a powerful inspiration and motivator for me personally and I’m certain that I’m just one of many for whom you serve as the standard.

  3. DB says:

    It is not clear how one can be optimistic about limiting scenarios to a 2°C increase, other than innate optimism. For example:

    “To achieve stabilization at a 2°C warming, we would need to install ~900 ± 500 MW of carbon emissions-free power generating capacity each day over the next 50 years. This is roughly the equivalent of a large carbon emissions-free power plant becoming functional somewhere in the world every day. In many scenarios, this pace accelerates after mid-century.”

    Ken Caldeira
    Climate Sensitivity Uncertainty and the Need for Energy Without CO2 Emission
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/299/5615/2052

    Or, looked at from a slightly different way, one sometimes reads that it is necessary to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2050 (of course, some would say an 80% cut is necessary). For example,
    http://www.energyblueprint.info/24.0.html
    “In order to avoid dangerous climate change, we need to reduce CO2 globally by 50% in 2050.”

    Projections for emissions are available. This one by the EIA
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/emissions.html
    forecasts that energy-related CO2 emissions in OECD countries will increase from 14 billion tons in 2005 to 16 billion tons in 2030—a 14% increase. In contrast, non-OECD energy-related CO2 emissions increase from 14 billion tons in 2005 to 27 billion tons in 2030—a 92% increase.

    Thus, forgetting about any growth after 2030, what these numbers imply is that achieving a 50% reduction in global emissions by mid-century is impossible unless developing countries hold their emissions almost constant over the next four decades. Even if industrialized countries reduced their net emissions to zero, achieving a 50% cut in global emissions would require major developing country emitters—China, India, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia—to reduce their CO2 emissions to below 2005 levels.

  4. Joe — Thanks for introducing us to such a beautiful and courageous person in our own corner of the country. I left a law firm partnership a little over a year ago to work for Climate Solutions, a Northwest regional non-profit organization that focuses on promoting practical and profitable solutions to global warming. When folks ask me how I like the change, I respond that I love almost everything about it, except for the constant exposure to depressing information about how much faster things are deteriorating than any model predicted and how widespread the impacts already are. We are forced to pivot that each day from the increasingly bleak reality to the positive frame that is needed to convince people to implement solutions at scale and to seize the economic opportunities that come with freeing ourselves from our addiction to fossil fuels. Johnny Rook beautifully expresses our need to both confront coldly assess reality with and to work tirelessly for positive solutions. That he does this in the context of failing health and a looming medical clock is truly inspiring.

  5. Geoff Henderson says:

    Good for Johhny Rook, what a powerfully humane person.

    “When I write about solutions I often focus on how people and governments are mostly oblivious to what is happening and to how little time we have left to act boldly and forcefully to effect the radical change that the scientists tell us is necessary. I agree absolutely with what what Steven Chu, the new Secretary of Energy told the LA Times in an interview a couple of days ago.

    I don’t think the American [or Australian] public has gripped in its gut what could happen.”

    Australia needs a person(s) of both Johnny Rook and Joe Romm stature and capability to ring the bell and make change happen.

  6. Richard Pauli says:

    The Stockdale Paradox and the Johnny Rook Example

    In the face of this hardship I am reminded of the words of Admiral James Stockdale – in military circles, he is tremendously respected. But his experience applies to our situation of global warming change

    Admiral Stockdale was a POW during much of the VietNam war. I pull his quotes from Wikipedia

    “I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

    Are we not now in the climate prison of our own making? Then Stockdale was asked who failed to make it, who could not face the ordeal:
    “Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

    Stockdale then added:
    “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

    Johnny Rook prevails in our civilization because he demonstrates the courage to look into the brutal reality of his own life, and define the struggle for the life of our survivors – our posterity.

    Johnny, you have a ruthless eye, a brilliant mind and tough-love attitude toward the future. Please know that you are a hero, and your writings will survive and your words remembered in struggles ahead.

  7. Johnny Rook says:

    Dear Joe,

    Thank you for such a touching enconmium.

    Humanity is, as the name Climaticide Chronicles makes clear, in the process of murdering the climate. Everywhere Rook — or any of us — looks, there is more and more evidence of that crime in process.

    But it is not too late. The murder can be stopped. I wouldn’t be blogging if didn’t know that for a fact [see Irreversible does not mean unstoppable: “Why show me this, if I am past all hope?” and “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 2: The Solution“]. I’m sure Rook feels the same way.

    [I do-Rook]

    I am proud to say that my 19-year old son, Aleks and a friend, Andrew, did make the choice to go in my stead and are already at the in D.C. for the Powershift Action. I know this is a going to be a very exciting time for both of them, and that they will carry the battle into the future until we have succeeded.

    It’s getting harder and harder for me to write, even simple comments like this, but my thoughts and sympathies are with you always.

  8. mofembot in france says:

    For those who are following this thread, I regret to say that JohnnyRook, aka Steven Kimball, died this past Monday. A lovely tribute to him and his work can be found at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/3/5/23559/31946/555/705253. The Earth has lost a great champion. RIP, JohnnyRook.