Thursday, January 28, 2016

Climate Denialism, Climate Fatalism and Porter Ranch: Confronting the Inevitability of the Carbon Crisis

Peak Oil happened 10 years ago according to the International Energy Agency.  I no longer mention Peak Oil (that's a peak in global conventional crude production, to be precise) in my description of this site because the technological advancements in fracking have punted the full ramifications downfield by at least a decade or two.  This in spite of President Obama's attempts to emphasize renewable energy use; proving that when you employ an "All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy" - dirty beats clean in the marketplace for liquid fuel consumption.  This will continue to be the case even after the shale bubble pops, which looks like what's happening now, and after US shale oil production peaks, which may occur as soon as 2020, according to the US Energy Department.  Look for coal to make a comeback (along with the Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-oil liquefaction process popularized by the Nazis) sometime in the 2030s or 40s at the latest.  That's regardless of whether it's a Democratic administration insisting that the coal is "clean" or a Republican insisting coal production should skyrocket regardless of environmental ramifications because of China, the Middle East, or whatever "other" is timely for a reactionary to demonize.

Bottom line: this means a peak in total liquid fuel production probably won't occur until sometime close to the mid-21st century.  This is not good news.  Delaying the inevitable peak through an increased reliance on non-conventional fossil fuels only intensifies the overall consequences, both economically in terms of demand permanently outstripping an irreversibly declining supply, and environmentally in terms of carbon (oil, shale, coal) consumption increasing greenhouse gas emissions to the point global warming becomes severe enough to diminish food production, among other disasters.  They are flip sides of the same coin that should be simultaneously referenced as the Carbon Crisis in referring to the predicament human civilization finds itself in.  I've been saying that for over two years now; I even did an annual update in 2013 and 2014.

I decided to stop doing an annual update - partially because of my terrible history in maintaining any kind of annual update on this blog (like UNDER THE RUG or Krampus of the Year), but also because I think it's better to report news as it occurs, rather than compile it for reporting en masse near the end of the year.  It's not as though there was a shortage of developments in the worsening of the Carbon Crisis in 2015.  But at some point, the enormity of climatological abnormalities happening either necessitates a universal awakening within civilization or a universal shutdown of civilization.  True existential threats trump denial every time.

So why am I writing this blog entry, since we clearly haven't reached that point yet?  Because I want to explore the sociological phenomenon of climate denial through a prism I've grown extremely comfortable looking through: conspiracy theory.  Interestingly, there are two diametrically opposed theories positing a cover-up of the truth about global warming:

1) The truth about global warming is being covered up because the United Nations, through the backing of such pro-eugenic wealthy elitists as David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and Bill Gates, is using this phony story, propagated by paid scientists and a compliant mainstream media, as an excuse to cull the world's population and institute totalitarian control by removing property rights via Agenda 21 and instituting a technocracy economy where carbon consumption is rationed through global policing.

2) The truth about global warming is being covered up because human industrial civilization has already burned enough greenhouse gasses to drive humanity to extinction, so to avoid spreading panic the mainstream media sells the worst effects as possibly happening, but in decades or hundreds of years, and mainstream scientists are soft-pedalling the immediacy of self-reinforcing feedback loops from clathrates and permafrost melt sending massive amounts of methane into the atmosphere, which could happen within the next decade or two.

Both theories deny the current consensus on global warming (the IPCC): one says the consensus is wrong because global warming isn't real and the other says the consensus is wrong because global warming is worse than admitted.  The first theory, which seems more prevalent in the parapolitical community, is actually more grounded in historical reality than most climate denial positions that reject the scientific consensus either from a religious prejudice (God wouldn't allow such a cataclysm, He promised that after the Great Flood) or an ideological/economic prejudice (Exxon says it's not real, why should I doubt their data instead of latte-sipping lefties who want us all riding bikes?) or both.  That's not to say climate denial conspiracy is devoid of those prejudices - just watch Alex Jones, who manages to combine everything.

But there is one researcher that I have a great amount of respect for who has been publicizing and advocating this theory: James Corbett.  I've quoted from The Corbett Report on numerous occasions, including the Sibel Edmonds Gladio B interviews, where he generously linked to my blog synopses, and the Boston Bombing coverage.  For the most part, I agree with his views on the Deep State, the total corruption of the political process, abuses of the National Security State, and his classic 9/11 expose video, among other issues.  But I am in absolute disagreement with him on the subject of climate change.  He presents his case for how he came to that assessment with quite a bit more research than the prejudicial examples cited in the paragraph above.

James Corbett, host of The Corbett Report  Photo credit:

It is certainly historically correct, as Corbett points out to buttress his argument, that the Rockefeller family has ties to eugenics and has advocated population reduction.  What I pointed out in a post on the Rockefellers last year is that where the Rockefellers have been responsible for a mass population reduction, i.e. genocide, in practice, it was through "development", i.e. deforestation, of the Amazon rainforest where death tolls ranged from 40,000 to 100,000 during the 1960s - environmental degradation that is currently losing the ability to regulate the climate.  Which kind of undercuts Corbett's argument that the Rockefellers are perpetrating a fraud by propagandizing against the dangers of climate change: the scientific research proves the Rockefellers in reality have perpetrated actual climate change.  Again, I must cite the excellent book by Charlotte Dennett and Gerard Colby, Thy Will Be Done, which documents not only the genocide I mentioned, but the Rockefeller ties to eugenics that Corbett mentioned.

Ultimately, on the subject of science, I know Corbett's counter to the evidence I've cited is that there are scientists that question the anthropogenic impact on global warming that he has interviewed on his show.  The reality is that there will never be a 100% consensus on any scientific theory: even Darwin's theory of evolution is controversial enough that over 500 scientists doubt it as recently as 2006.  It would be illogical for me to argue that every academic study that questions the link between human activities and global warming is funded by oil corporations and the Koch brothers, even though it's been proven that many of them are.  Likewise, while Corbett may have a point castigating the CRU for their attempts in 2009 to censor dissenters, it would be illogical for him to argue that every academic study that validates the link between human activities and global warming is the product of a UN plot.  But here's the implicit argument: if the UN and their fellow conspirators are really perpetrating a hoax, then you must reject the science behind the theory that radiatively active gases in the earth's atmosphere create a greenhouse effect.  Only by rejecting this scientific theory can you then dismiss the massive planetary deforestation and burning of fossil fuels and essentially say, "Well, that doesn't matter."

So why do I disapprove of this conspiracy theory so vociferously?  Primarily because there is so much evidence global warming is happening right now and not just in predictive models for the future by IPCC-approved studies.  The claim that global warming paused is old and fallacious: according to NASA, global temperature rose 1 degree Celsius past pre-industrial times during the first six months of 2015.  By the end of the year, both NASA and NOAA said 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history.  As far as the "rise of the oceans" mocked by reactionary politicians, their rapid warming is breaking scientific charts with carbon rates similar to emissions that drove a mass extinction event 252 million years ago; we've already seen sea levels north of New York rise by 128 mm.  But what's happening now that really scares me is the news that global warming is slowing down the Gulf Stream over the North Atlantic Ocean.  More about that later.

There are other parts of this theory that don't sit well with me.  I've noticed that a lot of people who buy into the UN hoax theory simultaneously promote the idea that the elites control the weather (though I'm not sure if Corbett promotes this or not) either through HAARP, chemtrails or other weather modification technology.  To me, buying into both seems like a way to have your cake and eat it too.  It's a built-in escape clause in case global warming becomes literally impossible to deny: the elites did it!  Now I don't deny there is truth to the charge that weather modification technology does exist and has been used.  But there's a logical conundrum in the elite control scenario.  If the elites created global warming to cull the the world population, how exactly would they institute totalitarian control when the climate is wreaking global havoc?!  Michael Ruppert explained in 2009, "As human industrial civilization collapses everything will be governed by a force as powerful and unyielding as gravity. That is geography. Things do not break up. They break down. They get smaller. Problems in Essen or the Rhineland will be different from problems in East Prussia or Bavaria."

Since global collapse necessitates re-localization, the good news is that we won't have to worry being controlled by the United Nations, NATO or the Federal Reserve, they will either become ineffectual figureheads or will cease to exist entirely.  But the federal government may suffer the same fate as well.  What is the best way to create a new society?  Unless you change the way money works, you change nothing.  While some may fear technocracy as a UN tool of enslavement, I think it has excellent potential for success in a post-industrial, re-localized society, which is how I advocate implementation.  But I also think it's important to remember that in such a future, there will be no one-size-fits-all solution.  Local currencies should reflect the output of that particular region, though hopefully if this is an ad hoc arrangement in the wake of the Carbon Crisis, the economy will be rooted in sustainability as opposed to growth.  Hopefully, if we learn the right lessons, we can build a new society that values sustainability and vilifies greed.

Unless there's no humanity left to rebuild society...

Which brings us to the second theory, what I would call climate fatalism.  This has been most prominently promoted by Guy McPherson, who has at times said that global warming would cause humans to be extinct on this planet by 2030; lately he has upgraded that estimation to 2050.  In fairness, this theory isn't predicated on a cover-up, but McPherson has asserted that it is a by-product, singling out mainstream climate change activists like James Hansen and Bill McKibben for being "guilty of malpractice" for not stating that we face extinction.  He has also criticized Michael E. Mann (who, coincidentally, James Corbett has also criticized, but for diametrically different reasons) for his call to "keep burning coal" because even though he thinks we're screwed either way, we should stop doing what got us in this mess in the first place.

Dr. Guy McPherson  Photo credit:

The criticism of McPherson seems to come in two different forms.  One form is to criticize him because of the fear that such "doom and gloom" will diminish the activism trying to reduce carbon emissions because people will give up if they think it doesn't matter because it's too late.  I think this charge is unfair; McPherson always encourages his audience to use their knowledge as motivation to live your life focused on what's most important to you and not to give in to hopelessness - since Michael Ruppert's death he has maintained a suicide re-consideration link on his website homepage.  The other form is in critiquing his methodology.  He has been charged with cherry-picking scientific data that in full does not support his position.  Another charge is that he only lists positive feedback loops without also taking into consideration negative feedback loops that might reduce the severity and immediacy of global warming.

McPherson's response does not directly rebut those specific points.  He does say that his larger point stands that methane is an issue that is not for our grandchildren to deal with, but for us right now.  While I may disagree with him on the specifics and immediacy of human extinction, where methane is concerned I do agree with him.  McPherson in his research quotes from a study by Malcolm Light that the methane clathrate gun was fired in 2007 when the Gulf Stream "energy/year exceeded 10 million times the amount of energy/year necessary to dissociate subsea Arctic methane hydrates."  That the slowing down of the Gulf Stream has been noted as a scientific reality by the Washington Post in 2015 as I mentioned before is an ominous sign that this research may be correct.  Also related to this is a story by the BBC that permafrost warming in parts of Alaska 'is accelerating.'  Methane's greatest potential for planetary destruction as a greenhouse gas is that it is 33 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period following emission, and 105 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period following emission.

This really hit home for me on a personal level living in southern California this winter.  There was a methane leak in Porter Ranch first reported October 23, 2015 that at this date still has not been plugged.  This one failed well at Southern California Gas Co.'s Aliso Canyon storage field has put out, according to the Los Angeles Times, "the equivalent of 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide - more greenhouse gas than 440,000 cars emit in a year."  The methane emissions have surpassed what is released by all industrial activity in the state.  While Governor Jerry Brown is currently working on a plan for So Cal Gas to "offset" the emissions, (click here to read how I really feel about what a bullshit concept offsets are) I find it astounding that they ordinarily wouldn't be required to pay for this leak "because California's climate change regulations exempt methane leaks — even enormous ones — as "fugitive emissions" that are not subject to the state's cap-and-trade program."  As reprehensible as that is, it's pretty much par for the course for authorities upholding the consensus view on global warming.  Guy McPherson has pointed out that most major climatological assessments "fail to account for significant self-reinforcing feedback loops" and the IPCC's praised Fifth Assessment "ignores important feedbacks."  The melting of permafrost and Arctic methane clathrates are two of the biggest feedback loops that could make global warming spiral out of control.

There's one more elephant in the Carbon Crisis living room that McPherson frequently brings up that most others fail to address.  That is the time lag between the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and its corresponding affect on average global temperature.  This time lag is approximately forty years.  In other words, even if we stopped all fossil fuel emissions today, the carbon dioxide emitted in 2015, which amounted to approximately 9.734 gigatons, (1 gigaton = 1 billion tons) won't have an affect on global temperature until 2055.  The global warming we're experiencing right now is from roughly 1975.  With so much future warming already baked into the system, drastic action must take place.  Yet reducing emissions alone won't stop climate change.  McPherson explains that carbon emissions contain reflective particles.  Dramatic emissions reduction of 35-80% would create an absence of solar dimming that would result in 1 °C of additional warming.  That would put the planet at 2 °C.  For those hoping for a techno-fix, the most recent conclusion of scientists is that we cannot geoengineer our way out of climate change.

This is the real crossroads of history at which we stand.  Do we confront the inevitability of the Carbon Crisis with compassion and dignity or wastefulness and recklessness?  Well, I suppose there are uglier ways to go.  It's ironic, but my idyllic childhood memories growing up in suburban LA were literally colored by greenhouse gas emissions.  The late Dennis Farina put it best in the movie Get Shorty: "They say the fucking smog is the fucking reason you have such beautiful fucking sunsets."  I thought they had disappeared for good with tighter emission standards reducing our smog to negligible levels.  But for the past couple months, they've returned.  My sister Anastasia has captured some of these spectacular sunrises and sunsets on camera.

Could this be from the methane leak in Porter Ranch?

Or the cesium from Fukushima?

Either way, what a beautiful way to go!