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scarlet p.

I'm doing quite a bit of public outreach here in California:


Thanks to traffic volume and an overtaxed transportation department, I'm averaging about 100,000 views per sign, with a few seen several million times.


I don't know if that Colbert Report automatically starts to play for everyone, but if so: sorry, tried to shut it off, but couldn't find a way.


Just by the volume of traffic on the forum, in the Consequences and Policies & Solutions categories, I would say that the more people learn about what is happening to the Arctic Sea Ice, the more they begin to understand the linkage with Northern Hemisphere weather patterns.

I'm glad that a sociologist like Larry Hamilton is contributing to this blog. In the not to distant future, the sociological implications of unfettered AGW/CC may be as harmful to societal cohesion as the anticipated impacts on the weather.


"Sociological Implications" my include a whole bunch of people really angry about how long they were consistently manipulated.

L. Hamilton

Thanks for the note, Neven.

As some of you know, this is part of ongoing research on what the public knows and believes about polar regions.

A key finding here is the nonlinear effect of temperature on beliefs: people are more likely to believe in "major effects" if they are interviewed on unseasonably hot or cold days. Which oddly mirrors scientific discussion about Arctic warming and mid-latitude extremes.

Send me a note if you'd like a copy of the IJOC paper itself.

Hans Gunnstaddar

There seems to be a socialogical undercurrent that if we could just get everybody on the same page to understand climate change we could quickly make the changes needed to avert more severe weather.

Unfortunately it's not that simple. We are caught in a conundrum of damned if we do burn FF (climate change) and damned if we don't (economic contraction). Economic success is marked by quarterly percentages of growth. Even as we very slowly transition to renewables, the global amount of CO2 emitted annually continues to increase as more coal gets burned by developing countries.

Getting most people on the same page would be nice, but unfortunately it doesn't solve the conundrum.


Friends of mine in the UK have not been conversant with Arctic warming until this year. Better coverage in the national papers and on the BBC probably account for how their attitudes have changed.


Did I somehow get flagged with that other "Henry"?

He is different than me.

Pete Williamson

A strange day today

On the ASIB there seems to be something of a celebration because the public believe arctic climate change affects their weather when the scientists are clearly still debating this, and when L Hamilton says that belief is in part shaped by what the weather was like when they were interviewed. A (lack of) logic that would normally have consensus-believers frothing.

And over at WUWT they are celebrating the outputs from climate models, because they show something other than CO2 might be causing the changes in the arctic.

Where is the consistency?


"Unfortunately it's not that simple. We are caught in a conundrum of damned if we do burn FF (climate change) and damned if we don't (economic contraction)."

Hans -- This is a false dichotomy. The truth is closer to "damned if do burn FF, and FF financial interests damned if we don't." At least in the US, huge amounts of $$$ are (as they say) "sitting on the sidelines" waiting for some kind of demand to pick-up. Clear and long-term regulatory signals wrt forcing the industry to pay the full costs of FF-based energy, either through taxes or through properly managed carbon credit markets, would lead to massive investment in renewable energy and a surge in economic growth. The benefits of non-FF energy would manifest both in the short term (via all of the direct investment/jobs and secondary economic stimulation), as well as in the longer term through--once the infrastructure is built--very cheap energy, as well as less obvious (though still very significant) ways such as reduced heath care costs . . . Not even mentioning the potential benefits of avoiding additional sea level rise and other AGW negative effects.

Get the word out, clearly and succinctly: for 99% of humanity, and probably for the rest as well, immediate and massive efforts towards building renewable energy infrastructure--in fact all of our crumbling infrastructure--is truly a win-win scenario. Fortunately, renewable energy is reaching the economic tipping-point in many places and with multiple technologies so that government intervention isn't strictly necessary to make it happen. IMHO, however, everything we can do to prevent the extraction and burning of each and every barrel of oil, ton of coal, etc, is a huge victory for our children's future and the remaining biodiversity on our planet. On the other side sit the amoral FF fuel corporations lobbying for every possible advantage to extract every last ounce of oil, coal, and gas they can before the inevitable happens. Will we let them?

It is NOT a trade-off, a huge movement away from FF and towards renewables is nearly all upside!!!



Hans Gunnstaddar

Gideon, here is a pie chart showing energy usage, with oil at 41%, coal 25%, NG 20%, Hydro 4%, and others (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) = 1%

To illustrate the amount of coal used each day is equal to a train load of coal 110 miles long and oil is flowing equal to 45 full super tankers every day, and I don’t know how to equate how much NG is used daily, however to replace all that and add the energy needed for a growing population and expanding economies with renewables, which is now at 1% of the pie chart, is an undertaking that will take several decades. How long will it take with a concerted effort to just get to a point where CO2 no longer increases per year? And how many years do we have to stop runaway AGW? That's an open question I don't disagree with making our best efforts to increase renewables however, our best hope is probably fusion and fast! Keep your fingers crossed they get is right at Lawrence Livermore Labs or with the ITER in France.

[Fixed the link; N.]

Hans Gunnstaddar

Sorry about the long link that did not work Gideon and Neven. If you do a Google search with: pie chart showing energy usage you'll get pics at top with one showing the pie chart I was attempting to link.

On the ASIB there seems to be something of a celebration

That's your interpretation, Pete. I don't see any celebration here, just a hope that more people become aware of Arctic sea ice loss and its risks.


Hans -- I think we're fully in agreement--I don't disagree with the dismal numbers. Fusion energy is also certainly worth continued investment. Still, with the technology we already have--adding the potential of both conservation and renewable production--humanity could start to make a very large dent in that pie chart. The scandal is how little has been done so far, and how large an influence entrenched FF interests have achieved to perpetuate their dominance via both monetary subsidies (via tax breaks & give-aways), social subsidies (by not having to pay the true costs to society of FF use), and regulatory influence.

But, back to my main point: If you taxed FF at their real cost to society, and invested that money directly into building large-scale renewable energy production and associated transmission infrastructure, the overall effect on the economy would be a net positive. With so much cash looking for high value investments, government-driven stimulus, based on both additional FF tax revenue and (I can dream, right?) additional spending, would soon be multiplied many times over by private investment. Government could keep a fairly traditional role in this endeavor by focusing on the underlying infrastructure improvements that enable renewable energy transmission (sometimes transport)--smart grids, off-shore transmission lines, etc. Thus, we're looking at a "win-win" scenario. There are too many ways to kick this particular economic feedback loop into high gear to properly discuss here.

I will make an effort to find & link some of the better studies and arguments in this area that make a strong case for the economic benefits of renewable investment (and general diversion of resources towards renewables from other opportunities) outweighing the putative shorter-term economic impact of higher FF energy costs. One economist I read religiously is Paul Krugman . . . I know, I know, this is probably pretty obvious from what I've written! He has touched on this subject several times in the last few years (or has linked to other authors from his blog). The key is to turn capitalism loose on this problem and let it do its thing by putting a realistic price on the cost of carbon-based fuels, and doing so in such a way that the market has confidence in the long-term stability of reality-based carbon pricing. In that sense, the core of the problem is really political, not economic.

This is why I'm such a strong advocate for getting the word out to as many people as possible--we need VOTERS to be informed and to care enough to show-up on election day. Blogs such as this one, while appropriately keeping the focus away from ancillary/non-scientific issues, provide an extremely powerful tool to help build the case for the damage done by fossil fuels. By extension, this builds the foundation for justifying the price that must be put onto carbon as well as the regulatory changes needed so that free market forces can lead a renewable energy revolution. It is hard to predict what will resonate with voters, and the impact of AGW on the Arctic climate and (especially) sea ice seems to be something very powerful for the average person's imagination. The perception of the Arctic may turn-out to be one of the most important drivers for positive change and the swaying of voting patterns, and this blog is emerging as a key influencer. I personally needed no convincing about the importance of these issues before I stumbled upon this blog a year ago, but becoming a regular reader has helped me tremendously to articulate persuasive arguments for my friends and broader online community. I of course have the advantage of this merely being a hobby, and so take no personal risk in advocating for political, social, and economic change based on what I see and believe. All of us in similar positions should take similar advantage!




I've just seen a friend, a local shopkeeper who has retired. He and his family have just been on a cruise.

In Alaska they had been told to expect temperatures as low as 50 below but found that the temperature was in the 80s. They saw no animals in the country park (except the odd moose) because they were all hiding from the heat.

Later in Death Valley (in California?) their hosts were disappointed that the temperature only reached 130 they were hoping to break the record 131 again.

As you say Neven

What's striking is that even as scientists continue to debate this idea, the public seems to buy into it.


I doubt the arctic is really changing anyone's mind, an that the "huge majority" that buys into the jetstream theory is just the same bunch that already thought AGW was a serious problem.

What will change people's minds is not abstract knowledge of the arctic, but having weather disasters in their tangible local life.... especially when some aspect of the event is tied, by some "expert" - any expert - to the arctic with some theory - any theory - with non frivolous common sense plausibility. The jet stream theory is such, so it has taken hold.

Hans Gunnstaddar

If you taxed FF at their real cost to society, and invested that money directly into building large-scale renewable energy production and associated transmission infrastructure, the overall effect on the economy would be a net positive.

Agreed Gideon, yet so difficult when the FF corps have so much political clout to lobby against such taxes and weak economies seeking as much energy as possible from all sources just to maintain BAU. Even the UK is now considering fracking. That says a lot.

But, best hopes for a populace decides to demand the scaling up of renewables. One good start would be to require solar on every new construction; residential, commercial and industrial.

L. Hamilton

Where is the consistency?

The temperature effect on survey responses is funny but I see two hopeful signs in these in these results:

1. The great majority (89%) believe that if the Arctic warms in the future, that will affect the weather where they live. Most scientists would agree even if they don't agree on the details. For the public, this suggests some degree of global awareness -- what happens in the far-away Arctic has implications for them too.

2. The curvilinear temperature effect (right graph at the link below) stays around 60% at average temperatures, but goes higher if temperatures on the interview day were some degrees above or below normal. This unexpected result seems to unscientifically reflect the science and media discussion of Arctic effects on mid-latitude extremes -- a more complex concept than simply expecting warming to cause warming. The latter misconception was a topic of denialist hilarity in the snowy winter of 2011, but maybe won't work as well next time.


L. Hamilton

I doubt the arctic is really changing anyone's mind, an that the "huge majority" that buys into the jetstream theory is just the same bunch that already thought AGW was a serious problem.

There is overlap but these are not the same groups (we checked). The Arctic/weather group is larger than those who believe in anthropogenic climate change; it includes many who concede climate is changing, although mainly for natural reasons.

Because of this, the Arctic/warming responses were less politically polarized than a question attributing human or natural causes to climate change.


@Pete Williamson" "Where is the consistency?"

The "consistency" is over at WUWT, where the shrinking legion of WattsBots surprises no one by--again, and as always--desperately latching onto any and every single bit of out-of-context data Willard dictates to them they should, something he does only when he's manipulated reality enough to convince himself those bits somehow "prove" the planet's not warming, and even if it is it's not caused by man, and even if it is it's not that bad, and even if it is we'll find our way out of it, and even if we don't it doesn't matter because the planet's not warming...


Alas, we humans are terminally myopic. We make hippopatami look farsighted and wise.

As several here note, converting to alternative energy sources is all upside. And it is necessary. However it is not sufficient. Even saying that implies to some that then there is some answer or answers that is sufficient. And we poor humans want to believe that. Believing anything else leads to despair and worse.

But the truth of it is that we have crossed the Rubicon. We have gone beyond the points of no return in several ways. There is no going back. There is no bridge to the desired past.

Whatever we do now will only slightly change the trajectory of our headlong flight into oblivion.

Most among us have yet to glimpse that, let alone embrace that, and then ask - ok, what do we do now?

Worse, many of our kind have horse blinders on and feel the sting of the economic whip. For them, there is no choice but to gallop headlong forward as fast as possible. They do not see the abyss just ahead. As a result, they do not care. They cannot care. The whip bites their haunches harder and harder with each new stride. More of the same. Ever more of the same. If only we run faster yet, all will be well.

The truth, the reality, the world crashing danger is beyond their ken.

So here we are morbidly watching in fascination at the majesty of the Earth's intricate systems and balancing forces in action. We have an armchair seat to one of the greatest transitions mama earth can accomplish. We get to watch the changing of a geologic epoch in real time and at break neck speed.

Woo hoo! Hang on to your hats. You might be one of the (un)lucky survivors...


scarlett p. -- for your freeway campaign,

Arctic ice goes,
Wildfires come

Connie Quirk

"Whatever we do now will only slightly change the trajectory of our headlong flight into oblivion."

Sam, the science doesn't support that. With prompt-ish cutbacks in emissions--meaning sharp cutbacks within the next decade--we might even be able to stay below 2 C warming. There are pretty good prospects to avoiding the most extreme projected rises, such as 5-8C. (And thank goodness for that.)

Here's a fairly representative graph, more-or-less at random:


Adults today can't affect their *own* climatic future much. But they sure as hell can affect that of their kids and grandkids by a whole bunch. But we do have to start doing much better, and very soon.


"If you taxed FF at their real cost to society, and invested that money directly into building large-scale renewable energy production and associated transmission infrastructure, the overall effect on the economy would be a net positive."

Money is not energy. Renewable energy & it's infrastructure is indeed a worthy goal however one has to ask a few questions. What energy source was used to build all the existing infrastructures society is now accustomed to having? Where will the energy come from to "rebuild" these infrastructures given that renewables are currently only in the 1% range? Where will the materials come from to do this "rebuilding"?

IMO, what is happening to the Arctic (catastrophic melting) is nothing more than a preview of what will happen to this social experiment we are living in. The use of FF is destroying the ice via AGW but FF are running out and we have become woefully dependent on them for much too long. The Law of Unintended Consequences seems to fit. To correct either problem requires sufficient time & resources. I would love to be given an explanation as to how either can be salvaged.

Woo hoo! Hang on to your hats indeed!




Sam, the science doesn't support that.

Whose science?

Or rather, "which scientists"?

Since the official ones are so much behind the game why should we believe them? Was your graph from an ensemble of runs of those models that (as we've seen on this blog) are well behind the real world.

Can you get any of these scientists to admit any of this? I can't. Despite the graphs showing their failures.

Here, amongst readers and contributors that know a bit and read around the topic, "the science doesn't support that" should be replaced by "I don't think that".



At best (least heating) we are following A1F1. However, that and all of the models ignore completely several devastating known positive feedbacks. Several of these are now kicking in. Among them the current largest is the breakdown of the tundra and permafrost. That will ultimately lead to the release of something like 1,600+ gigatons of carbon. Much of that is now releasing as methane, CO2's evil little sister.

As the warmth is moving down into the oceans, the stability line for methane clathrates is moving deeper. As this proceeds, methane clathrate is boiling (slowly for now) out of the sediment. This is most evident in the arctic. But it will not stop there. Like the tundra collapse, this too is releasing massive amounts of methane. Before it is done, it will dwarf the releases from the land.

As all this progresses, and as the arctic sheet melts, the heat engine is breaking own. That has already led to chaotic weather across most of the northern hemisphere. If, as now appears likely, we are In the beginnings of a shift from a three cell (Hadley, Ferrell, and Polar) system with two jet streams at the boundaries to a single cell (Hadley only) system whose behavior we do not understand at all, the changes will be even greater and faster.

Agriculture as we have known it will likely be impossible in the northern hemisphere within a decade and for at least several decades there after. What happens after that is unknowable.

Whole biomes will be lost as the climatic bands we have known dramatically reorganize on timescales that most plants and animals will not be able to adapt to.

As all this happens, the great oceanic circulation will dramatically shift as the diving current if melt from the arctic is lost. As with the atmospheric circulation changes, it is unknowable what happens next.

Our best information and hints will come from deep geohistory with sediment cores from the land and cleans and places like lake El Gygytgyn. There are few of these that I've us reliable clues. But what they do tell us, is the that he world will look nothing like anything man has ever known.

And all of this is happening several orders of magnitude faster than anything we can reliably see in all of earths long history.

For us to significantly affect this, we must prevent warming from leading to ice free arctic summer conditions. Since that is coming I only two years or so, preventing that is now impossible. And so we are no longer in control. If we go all in on every possible mitigation, reducing fuel use to the maximum degree physically possible, all that will happen is that we will slightly slow the transition.

Enjoy the ride. It's going to get bumpy.

Charles Craver


the chart itself doesn't merely ignore feedbacks; it ignores CO2.

notice at the bottom, imagining a 'sudden stop' to CO2 emissions in 2016, the temperature immediately starts to drop. this, despite the lag in warming that occurs after CO2 emissions.

even if we stopped right now, even if feedbacks such as methane etc didn't occur, the earth would still warm for decades just from the GHGs we've pumped out recently.

in short, there's no way we're staying below 1.5C, and pretty much no way we're staying below 2C. to stay below 3C we'd have to wholesale change all of industrial society very quickly AND feedbacks from desertification to methane release would have to magically not occur.

Jai Mitchell


we will simply have to develop a renewable technology that also can also provide an environment for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. I am actually working on just such a project.

Jai Mitchell


addendum to the last regarding your post about the Ferrell and Hadley combining. These are starting to happen but there is no real sense if they will happen in the next 10 years or the next 30 years. probably not more than 40 years from now. It is possible that we have already cooked the goose. If we have not then in the next 20 years or so we certainly will. That is if we don't make sweeping changes.

Bob Bingham

I have just been to Australia which is heavily committed to coal both for export and consumption. The Murdoch owned press has blamed the carbon tax on the decline in the countries income and so both parties are committed to cancelling it. Australia is probably one of the most vulnerable countries in the World when it comes to climate change but they have a good life selling coal and are unwilling to face the truth.


Hmm, as an Aussie I'd say you're wrong on so many levels it's not funny, and as a contributor to this blog I'd say very little of what you know is true.

Australia sells coal and yes we use it. But we also have a carbon tax ( which will be a trading scheme if Labor gets in and nothing if the Libs get in ). Pray for a Rudd government

Murdoch owns some of the press, but his influence is actually quite small in Aust. I think you're thinking of the US, which is the media he IS trying to influence.

Climate change in Australia is not wholly bad. Many areas in the north will become better at food production ie northern NT and central QLD. I think we are also prepared to change agricultural practises far more than other countries. For example our cotton farmers are moving to hemp.

Our solar industry is strong and will get better. We have government schemes for solar panels and very good prices when households feed back into the grid.

Australia is certainly not the most vulnerable country. You might be thinking of Bangladesh, or the islands in the Pacific, or even central US ( which relies on the tropical wave from Africa being stable and persistent ).

So no, we have faced the truth and are probably better poised than most countries to spend money on solutions. We didn't collapse during the GFC if you recall.



Firstly, thankyou. Please succeed.

Secondly, the ice is going. Time is short, very short, very very short.


I have constantly remarked to people, over the years, that what I call the "head out of the window" view of whether "global" climate change is happening or not, is one of the biggest problems about climate change perception.

This is not something that a rapidly melting arctic will overcome. However drought, storms and flooding in the US have started to sway voters. But still with a nod to the head out of the window bias.

I doubt it will change any time soon. People are just not that interested. I recall remarking to some idiot on WUWT on his statement that "sea level rise was so slow he would walk much faster". I asked him where he would go, who's land he would take and who he would sell is current wealth in land and property to.

A marked lack of joined up thinking. It's not going to change.

On another note, I'm not one of those who believes that the inertia of 200 years of emissions by the whole planet on an increasingly massive scale, can be overcome or offset by any levels of "economy in emissions" we can achieve.

In fact I fully believe that if we do not turn around and sped at least 100 years taking carbon back out of the atmosphere, on the same scale as we put it in there, we will feel the full wrath of a climate system in transition to a new state which is hostile to humans.

As for taxing FF? I know most people don't get it but it goes like this. They tax FF and your fuel bills go up twice the price of the tax.

Next government please...... Democracy in action. The ability to be as stupid as you wish and get your government to support it.

Robert S

Excellent points by all. There is no question that we need to do all we can to reduce emissions. There is also, I think, very little possibility that we can do it fast enough to avoid the tipping point toward a new climate - one we may not like.

I may have mentioned it before on this blog, but I was in Britain when the truckers blockaded the refineries and fuel depots. It took 5 days to see no food in the stores, and hospitals running out of medicines. Essentially the end of the world as we know it is always only a few days away. That reality gives a good gut check on what it will take to transition away from FF. It isn't quick, and it isn't easy. Achieving meaningful change, with the best will in the world, will take decades, and a massive revamp of huge sections of our infrastructure, which in and of itself will take huge amounts of energy. Think rebuilding entire city infrastructures, electricity transmission grids, rail systems... basically everything we have built since 1840 will need to be changed, upgraded, rebuilt, added to...

To give another example, I ran economic sensitivities on paper production some years ago. That piece of paper on your desk? The number one ingredient, by value? Oil, at over 50% of total cost... and that was in Indonesia, with fuel much more subsidized than in most developed countries. Most people think paper is made of trees, which is superficially true, but not when you look at the entire process. Take that example and apply it to almost every item you see around you. Essentially, we exist at the mouth of flood of fossil fuels.

I'm all for reducing emissions - I've been working on projects to do that for more than a decade. But the bottom line now is adaptation. Or to put it another way, food, food, and food. Otherwise we will make all the holocausts of the 20th century look like a lightweight warm-up act to Satan.

Bob Bingham

Kate. I don't want to be unkind to Australians who are nice people but the fact is 70% of newspapers are Murdoch owned and the TV is either Murdoch or Packer. I spent some time in Queensland and could see the resources being taken from the ground and exported. This is what gives Australians there high standard of living and I believe they are the richest people in the World if you count the benefits for ALL the people.
People don't understand that with a carbon tax it is not a case of pay up and keep burning. It is only an interim stage before we stop burning it all together. And that's what Australia and the USA have not grasped and will have to face up to. Probably in the next thirty years.

Crozet Dutchie

Ask them their perception perhaps tomorrow 1 pm USA Eastern time.
Andrew Revkin (via Facebook) announced:
The hashtag for questions on climate and energy policy for Chris Hayes, me, Joseph Romm, Kate Sheppard and others is ‪#‎politicsofpower‬. Google+ Hangout Thursday at 1pm Eastern


Susan Anderson

Aforementioned Google+ Hangout was organized, I believe, by Chris Hayes (now doing "All In" every night on MSNBC). It is associated with this show:

The Politics Of Power

In his upcoming MSNBC documentary, “The Politics of Power,” Chris Hayes declares: “Climate change is a problem without borders; and developing countries are feeling the heat even more than the first world.” ....

The documentary begins after Hurricane Sandy, .... was Sandy an aberration? Or should we expect severe storms like Sandy to recur?

The answer is — yes. Without immediate intervention, extreme weather is predicted to continue and even worsen, the documentary reports. Last year was already the hottest year ever recorded for the continental United States .... [NCDC](NOAA),

... a comprehensive breakdown of the destructive and unalterable path we’re headed down, and how politicians and large corporations have politicized the issue.

Hayes urges everyone to act quickly: “The price for politics as usual is just too high, our timeline too short…The solution to global warming is just that—global.”

Looks like the audience for the "hangout" will be largish.

Paul Beckwith

I have been telling people for >2 years about the Arctic albedo collapse reducing polar to equator temperature gradients physically causing slowing and waving out and stalling jet streams causing extreme weather events to skyrocket. For example, my CMOS presentation in Jan,2012 was seen by >70,000+ by Aug/2012 (not sure what count is now), I have given multiple talks to the public, politicians, scientists and tweeted (>1200 follows, PaulHBeckwith https://twitter.com/PaulHBeckwith ) and facebooked (about 4000 friends, Paul Beckwith https://www.facebook.com/paul.beckwith.9 ) incessantly about these connections. I started blogging frequently with Sierra Club Canada about a year ago, as well as with Arctic News, the Elephant Journal, Canadian Daily, and now World Daily. Also I have YouTube videos and radio podcasts (EcoShock radio, Gorilla radio, etc.). I have also educated about 200 students on these connections within my climatology/meteorology classes in the last 2 years. I figure that I have reached at least 1 million people with this Arctic - jet stream - extreme weather link. Of course all this takes time away from research, but I'll eventually get the PhD.

So the poll on people connecting extreme weather to climate has an obvious result, in my view. The public is really coming to understand that we (collectively) are in great trouble...

Dan Ellis-Jones

Kate & Bob (and everyone else!)

I live on the western side of Australia and you both have a point. Australia has become quite 'right-leaning' politically - and the media agenda is dictated by the Murdoch press - we only have 1 national newspaper, and it's Murdoch's!

But our national energy use and intensity is dropping. The total annual reduction in electricity on our major grid was over 4 TWh (2.2%) and the reduction in associated emissions was about 11 Mt CO2-e (6.3%) in the 12 months to July 2013. Of this emissions reduction, about 40% is through fall in demand and 60% to the shift in generation mix to lower emission sources. So change is happening!

However we export a massive amount of GHG through our exports of FF. I can't remember the proportion of China's coal that comes from Australia, but it's somewhere between loads and figgin massive amounts.

Looking at the policies for the upcoming election here, and having worked on national committees on energy efficiency and on state-level energy efficiency in buildings, I know that the political priorities are (not surprisingly) protecting the economy - and that is done in a conservative manner - i.e. the economy is run on FF, and the way we've done it is the only cost-effective way of continuing.

I speak to people on a daily basis about making their homes more energy efficient, and increasingly the requirements are being seen as a massive impost to their freedoms, not a way of protecting the planet.

But it's obvious to me that we are starting to see some really disturbing effects of rapidly rising GHG levels, which are now looking to have moved towards 3ppm increase per year, throwing out all/most modelling and projections.

The 'mega-trends' that are converging (financial crash, resource depelation, AGW etc) are going to unravel our societies like a caught thread on a jumper.

But at least we're building more roads!


Uh, knock on the door all you want, the problem is nobody's home:

 photo Rx_zps1d40135d.png

1988 The first SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), Prozac, is made by Eli Lilly and launched in the US.
1989 The drug reaches the UK. It hit the covers of Newsweek and New York magazine, which described it as the "new wonder drug for depression".
1991-2001 Annual UK antidepressant prescriptions rise from 9m to 24m.
1994 Elizabeth Wurtzel's memoir Prozac Nation is published, establishing the drug's position in popular culture.
1994 The first of many lawsuits concerning side-effects of the drug goes to trial. Joseph Wesbeckerwent on a killing spree in 1989, killing eight before shooting himself. His violence was claimed to be a side-effect of taking Prozac.
1994 Psychiatrist Peter Breggin's Talking Back to Prozac, critical of the drug, is published.
1995 Prozac is referenced in the Blur song Country House: "He's reading Balzac and knocking back Prozac… It's the helping hand that makes you feel wonderfully bland."
1998 Prozac Diary, the candid memoir by Lauren Slater, is published.
2000 Zoloft overtakes Prozac as the most popular SSRI in the US.
2001 Prozac (fluoxetine) loses its patent. Eli Lilly loses $35m of its market value in one day and 90% of its prescriptions in a single year.
2004 Prozac is in our drinking water. The Environment Agency says the drug is building up in British rivers and ground-water supplies, probably via the sewage system, but in quantities so dilute they could have no effect.
2008 Antidepressants are now the third most common prescription drugs in the US.
2009 The Lancet ranks the top 12 antidepressants from 117 studies. Zoloft and Lexapro come in first for their combination of effectiveness and fewest side-effects.
2010 One in 10 people in Europe has now taken an antidepressant
2011, it was the second-most prescribed antidepressant on the U.S. retail market, with 37,208,000 prescriptions.


Although it will come way too late, I have seen signs of hope in Canada this past summer. For the first time that I can remember, all major media outlets, other then the extreme right wing group (all owned by the same man) started talking about AGW in relation to almost every major weather event this past summer. We have had a few of those. Now the Arctic has not been discussed as such, but to my way of thinking this is a very major step.
What is interesting is that for the most part, they are talking in terms of economic costs that hit very close to home. You get your home flooded because of a storm the insurance companies are not going to be there because that will never be covered any more. Municipalities are being successfully sued if their storm infrastructure fails because the courts are deciding that the evidence of GW storm effects has been proven for long enough that they should have taken steps to fix things long ago. That of course will drive taxes up to fix those issues. Governments are starting to really cut back on giving support to flood victims.
Right now The governments at the federal level and most provincial levels are still heavily supporting old big business but on the local levels moves and talk for the most part of facing the new AGW reality are being made. This will start to impact the top level governments because voters will start telling them that they also have to face the reality that their policies are costing them BIG.
The Arctic story in Canada is still very slow in coming but as we are right here I think with in the next year or 2 that will become a much bigger issue.

Jai Mitchell

between 2000 and 2006 The states with the greatest per capita increase in spending for these (anti-depressant) therapy classes were:

West Virginia, $196;
Kentucky, $185;
Alabama, $174;
Mississippi, $162;
Louisiana, $154;
Arkansas, $151

Geographic Variation Trends in
Prescription Use: 2000 to 2006


"For example, my CMOS presentation in Jan,2012 was seen by >70,000+ by Aug/2012 (not sure what count is now)" . . . "I figure that I have reached at least 1 million people with this Arctic - jet stream - extreme weather link."

Paul -- Very impressive. Way to go!! We can quibble about the just how dire our situation is . . . At least with the ethics I live by, the fact that we understand the stakes involved means we carry an incredible burden to help as many others as possible understand as well. If each of us succeeds to some degree, change will come sooner, and every day that hastens the demise of our FF-based economy translates directly to the avoidance of additional negative consequences--without question measured (among other things) in human lives and misery. I have an 11 year old son, therefore I simply cannot afford to even begin thinking fatalistically--as if armageddon is inevitable. I wish I could reach as many as you, but most importantly, I try to reach (teach) whoever I can. We must not understate the seriousness of these problems, and yet, a message with no hope has no hope of catching-on in broader society.

BTW, I took an SSRI for 6 months some years ago when some very tough times hit, and it helped me tremendously at the time.




Unfortunately American media does not like Canada and is banning me from Cobert. Apology is really funny but am too tired right now to show you.


@ Dan
- and the media agenda is dictated by the Murdoch press - we only have 1 national newspaper, and it's Murdoch's!

OK, yes he does own newspapers but more and more the average person doesn't use newspapers 100% of the time, it's social media that is more important ( Twitter, facebook, blogs etc )

and you might want to read this article because Murdoch is out of touch and thus not very effective at shifting the debate either politically or socially



Jai Mitchell | August 14, 2013 at 23:40 said


we will simply have to develop a renewable technology that also can also provide an environment for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. I am actually working on just such a project.

A lot of people will say nuclear power is not renewable. However breeder reactors can provide our primary energy needs at current levels for hundreds of millions of years (see Bertram Cohen).
One way of sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere has been advocated by GRLCowan - build a lot of IFRs or MSRs and use the energy to grind up olivine to micron size and throw it up several km into the nearest jetstream (while there is one I guess). Like our more familiar aerosols it stays up for a few weeks then comes back down. Because of increased surface area to volume ratio it does rock-weathering of CO2 faster than rocks do.
The olivine part is being tested by Olaf Schuiling. The IFR part is already proven.


Posted by: Wal | August 15, 2013 at 12:16

... (see Bertram Cohen).

Meant Bernard Cohen.


A major challenge to getting the public to understand what is happening in the Arctic are reports which overemphasise problems in the mistaken belief it will encourage people to take notice. In fact it does the opposite. Every time some fool holds himself to hostage by saying the ice will be effectively gone in a few years gets ridiculed when it does not happen. When someone states that Polar bears are on the edge of extinction; when commentators say that there will be no more cold winters, all these things undermine the reality of the situation. We know the Arctic is shrinking, we have reason to believe that this is connected with human activity and the ultimate effects may well be negative for our UK climate, Arctic wildlife and agriculture. But don't exaggerate ,make prophesies or try and scare people. Say what is happening in simple terms and the public will take it on board. Rant rave and exaggerate and you have lost them



The CO2 emissions from mining, milling, processing, enrichment, construction, deconstruction, dismantlement, reprocessing, vitrification, deep burial, and more make fission as much a dead end, trap, or pipe dream as fusion. There is no answer there; and even if there were, it certainly wouldn't be in time to meet the need.

And that doesn't even begin to count the enormous costs from both routine emissions of radioactive materials on health (noble gases, iodines, C14, T) or the much larger emissions from catastrophic failures like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and others to come, or even the more routine failures like TMI, Fermi, and a dozen others; nor the dead end costs of plants like Phenix and Super Phenix, nor the less direct costs of losing hundreds or thousands of hectares for centuries as has become all too common. Neither does that count the enormous distortions of law and culture as rules are changed following accidents, allowing massive exposures, as even nations cannot deal with the enormous costs and implications of doing anything else.

More, as the reactor fleets age, the rules are bent yet again to allow heavily fractured, corroded, eroded, dying systems to run to failure, and concrete to crumble to dust under the relentless bombardment of billions upon tens of billions of sieverts of radiation dose and more; creating yet larger risks of catastrophes on scales not yet imagined.

And no, thorium reactors are not an answer; especially not thorium breeders, as Shippingport demonstrated. Neither are molten salt reactors with their witches brew of beryllium salts an answer. These are yet more pipe dreams that turn to nightmares to haunt our futures.

No, thank you. Fission not and radiate me not, for there is not but illusory gain there to be had.

Worse yet, no matter the choice of reactor or fuel, the fissiles left behind become a nightmare for billions as those who would wage war extract them for weapons; weapons that are all too easily made. We already have a thousand tons of plutonium in the world; enough for a quarter million or more Nagasaki's.

Before we are done, we will have many times that. Plutonium ages even "better" than the finest wines, making yet better bomb materials as the millennia pass. And there is no getting rid of the stuff. Burying it deep with radioactive waste is no guarantee, as it outlasts its radioactive relatives. Burning it in reactors is no answer, as that only compounds the problem and makes the economics vastly worse, the emissions a nightmare, and the difficulties soar. And there are no better answers than these.

U-233 as a byproduct from thorium is in some ways even "better" yet. For it combines the reduced critical mass like plutonium, with a low spontaneous fission neutron generation rate making trivial to build gun assemblies easy. And no U-232 is no significant deterrent, despite the problems it creates.

No, fission not. There is no answer there.



@L. Hamilton
Thanks for the correction.


Bearing in mind 99.9% of politicians campaign on "economic growth", which of the following is more likely to be true:

A. Our way of life would be relatively safe if we magically and instantly converted to a carbon free economy and magically instantly restored atmospheric GHGs to 1850 levels, or

B. The whole global warming thing is merely a symptom of a larger civilization-threatening problem?

ANS: Melting of the arctic did not start with the burning of fossil fuels; it _started_ with the addiction to perpetual economic growth. To those commenters who appear to advocate renewables as the elixir that solves all our problems.... changing society to run on renewables is just practice for the societal transformation needed to keep growth from pushing us over the edge with some other crisis, even if we do change to all renewables.


Hitting the nail on the head there, Stevegeneral999.

But, I did create the forum for all this off-topic stuff to be discussed there.

John Christensen


Yes, I agree; economic growth = social stability

However, I may not agree on what could or should be done about that.

Historically, there have been attempts at creating societies that were not driven by economic growth - and there are still a few around, but as time has shown it has typically required substantial force and repression to sustain such a society, and unfortunately without the society being ruled by (the needs of) the people, these political systems also tend to become quite corrupt and injust.

We tend to be increasingly demanding what others have: Coffee, sun-dried tomatoes, kiwis, vacations in the sun/in the snow/in the mountains, a vehicle (or two), fresh vegetables, fruits, and berries year-round, and as democracies develop the standard for defining a 'poor' person is raised.

The supermarket tries to market what we are willing to pay for, the shipping company tries to meet the need of the supermarket chain, and the oil producer is happy to meet the need of the shipping company.

However, as societies develop and mature from a material perspective, growth rates go down, and modern socities all work within a framework of 1-3% annual growth at most.

The only upside is that it will hopefully be possible for developing socities to leapfrog some of the development steps by implementing more recent technologies with lower energy consumption, using less or better materials, etc.

We have seen so many ecological and environment systems crash that it is difficult to see which next crash will trigger a more significant response, so the only hope I carry is that our environment will deteriorate slowly enough for us to catch up and improve our impact on the natural systems.

Increasing our understanding of this impact will help moving our socities in that direction - as slowly and painful as this will be.


Sam | August 15, 2013 at 13:17 said

No, fission not. There is no answer there.

All I'll say is, after you convince James Hansen
(and James Lovelock for that matter) then you can convince me.


The two James see the world ending frightening aspects of climate change, and the ever seductive massive power densities of nuclear and are seduced by it. No surprises there. That some are seduced by the siren song does not mean that it will work. That way lie the shoales and rocks. It provides no escape, only a different disaster.

Susan Anderson

Jai Mitchell, that Youtube about the sustenance garden on 1/4 acre is fascinating and inspiring; it appears nothing is easy, but we are too addicted to "easy" and "fast".
I agree that overexaggeration doesn't help, but on the other hand, there are too many troops out there willing to assist the denial community, who lie and exaggerate every day, with the circular firing squad.
re nuclear, I'm also on the fence - unfortunately we have the worst of all possible nuclear worlds, due to finance and fear. The old plants really are dangerous, and since people won't approve the new fourth generation with recycled fuel which sounds quite "safe" (safe being an elastic term) we're just getting the old ones extended, with attendance dangers. I'm from the generation that had nightmares as a child, and I know we cannot easily override our emotions.
RealClimate has also put out a new article on the sea level rise analyses.

I think this thinking is helpful, as people all too often forget that accumulation does not stop at 2100, whatever happens before that.



No emotion here, just decades of first hand experience.

The costs are the final and most definitive nail in nuclears cophin. Even then, the costs and impacts will continue for centuries.


Looking at the real climate piece and the 2.3 m/C and the, likely 6 C rise we are baking into the system, we look to be in for a 14 + meter sea level rise. I wouldn't expect it to stop there. More likely, Greenland and West Antarctica will go ice free. The real question is how rapidly that will happen.

We have been so poor in predicting things so far, and we know from slower natural warmings that there have been much larger rises in less than the limit of or ability to resolve then at 1000 years. I would expect then that the rise will be substantially complete in 200 - 300 years as a guess.

Jai Mitchell

Myhrvold and Caldeira performed a significant work published here http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/1/014019/article

Figure 1 shows the lifecycle carbon values for different power generation technologies.

Robert S

Jai Mitchell: so many inspiring stories like that starting to pop up. Definitely part of the solution.


@Neven, thanks for an awesome blog.

Thus far, I have a good track record of being called out as "off topic" following a lot of "off topic" comments by others. For the sake of clarity, this being text on the screen, I'm merely observing what I believe to be fact; I might be wrong, and either way I am not mad about it. Rather, I am intrigued at the sociological implications.

When people go off on renewables, or nuclear, or any other topic obliquely related to the ice, it's also off topic. But when I talk about nonstop economic growth addiction being the true problem, I get directed to the forum. Again, I'm not mad, just observing that my comments seem to cross some sort of invisible threshold.

Being good western thinkers, we like to compartmentalize things in dichotomous mental constructs. It would be interesting, in a constructive way in my opinion, to explore the subjective lines we each draw between "on topic" and "off". This too is probably a forum topic, and I'm going to go dark again after I finish writing this. I just want to emphasize that the sea ice melt is a SYSTEMIC problem, and in my view, it is impossible to truly discuss perceptions of the arctic system, which is part of the climate system, which makes up a vital aspect of our system of civilization.... without being open to systemic commentary. Perceptions of sea ice? *** My *** perception rises above dichotomous thinking where the ice is tucked neatly into a comfortable little corner of my earth-science nerdy world view.

Quite the contrary, *my* perception of melting sea ice is all of that nerdy earth-science stuff, but also goes beyond to encompass a perception of sea ice as a poignant illustration of the true issue (nonstop growth). No one else need agree with my perception about the sea ice for my sharing of my perception to be directly on point. In fact, in my view connecting the dots between the melt and economic growth is even more on topic than debating nuclear energy as an effective mitigation technique.

And so, if you're going to depart from a laser focus on ice (the physical stuff) and explore instead sociological topics related to the ice, please be prepared to welcome unexpected perspectives in the comments related to the people-centered blog posts.

Thanks again for a great blog.

>>> Resuming lurk mode.

Dan Ellis-Jones


I agree with you whole-heartedly. I think this particular post has less easily defined boundaries from which to fall 'off-topic'.

I would doubt that many people reading this blog would disagree that the desire for perpetual economic growth is one of the root cuases that has led us to watching the Arctic sea ice melt in front of our eyes.

But this is a scientifically-based blog, and the social ramifications are hard to predict and not really part of this blog - maybe we should start another one on the potential consequences of an ice-free Arctic? But there are many others out there on this stuff too.

It would be wonderful to tap into the immense talent pool that Neven and the regular posters provide, but for a learned and respectful discussion on what could be in store as far as society's survival is concerned. As a government policy gonk, this could be invaluable.

Joining the dots is vital for the presentation I'm working on about ASI. Being in Australia, relating what's happening at the other end of the world to regular suburbanites is an interetsting exercise!

Shared Humanity

Stevegeneral999 & Dan Ellis-Jones...

Come join us over on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum (link is on the top right). The same people are hanging out and talking about everything related to AGW.

Bob Wallace

"The lights are rapidly going out on a large slab of fossil fuel generation in Germany and elsewhere in Europe – with three of the biggest power producers in the EU announcing massive closures and mothballing of plants.

In the past two weeks, companies such as RWE. E.ON, and EnBW have canvassed the closure of tens of thousands of megawatts of fossil fuel capacity as coal and fired plants get squeezed out of the market by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

RWE, Germany’s second biggest utility, said it would take around 3,100MW of power plant capacity offline in Germany ad Netherlands, and officials told Reuters that “thousands” of megawatts of further capacity could also be shut down or idled.

CEO Peter Terium blamed the “continuing, subsidy-driven solar boom for the closures, which are being brought about because wholesale prices have fallen by around a fifth, and the growth of renewables means that the hours that fossil fuel plant operate are being dramatically reduced."


"AGL Energy, one of the big three power utilities in Australia, says that 9,000MW of fossil-fuel baseload capacity needs to be taken out of the national electricity market (NEM) to bring it back into balance.

The claim was made by managing director Michael Fraser, on Wednesday, at the announcement that AGL Energy had secured extra financing for its 155MW solar PV project in western NSW – the first solar project of its scale to be built in Australia.

“There is too much baseload relative to where demand has got to, and rooftop solar has impacted on demand … and that has impacted on the economics of coal-fired generators."


"New analysis shows that the coal industry is in for some tough years ahead, as more than 280 coal-fired generating units are slated to be shut down in part due to stricter Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a partnership of industry groups, reports that the number of coal plants slated for shutdown is fives times greater than the EPA predicted would be forced to shut down due to its regulations.

Coal-fired electric generating plants will be shut down across 32 states, with the hardest hit states being Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana, according to the coalition."


And so, if you're going to depart from a laser focus on ice (the physical stuff) and explore instead sociological topics related to the ice, please be prepared to welcome unexpected perspectives in the comments related to the people-centered blog posts.

It wasn't a reproach, Stevegeneral999! In fact, if there's anything I'd like to discuss more than Arctic sea ice, or raise awareness of, it's the fact that Arctic sea ice loss and most of all other societal ailments (from financial crisis to resource wars, from the diabesity epidemic to top soil erosion) are caused by the way our economic system is set up, and the way we define growth: turning as much resources as possible into pollution/waste as fast as possible.

I mention this very explicitly in my Climate Disclaimer, where I tell a bit more about myself and my motivation for setting up and running this blog. The only reason I'm not connecting Arctic sea ice loss to the domination of the neoclassical economic concept of perpetual growth more on this blog, is that I still lack the knowledge to do it properly, and right now do not have the time to increase that knowledge.

I actually hint to the forum because my hands are itching to go off-topic every time we discuss these things!

Looks like it's time for another ASI update!

John Christensen


I have been called out several times as well - and rightly so, which I did again above, sorry about that Neven!

And looking forward to the next ASI update, Neven. There have been a lot of peculiar features this year, one of which will need to be that the thicker ice between Beaufort and the CAB - exactly where we had very extensive cracking last winter - is where the ice seems to hold up the best..

Espen Olsen

Yes there seems to be the same physics as when a leg is fractured, the result typically a reinforced bone.

Hans Gunnstaddar

Stevegeneral999, even though you've resumed lurker mode, I wanted to chime in on growth. In my post above from 8/13 at 23:12, I wrote "Economic success is marked by quarterly percentages of growth." Since resources are finite there needs to be a paradigm shift in what constitutes success to replace growth. Maybe positive substitution of FF w/renewables or poverty % drop, or % increase in healthcare availability. Let's lead the developing countries off of the growth bandwagon.

Although not going into lurker mode, from now on I will endeavor to stay on topic or post on the forum. I think what you'll find though Neven is as a thread progresses it will invariably diverge from the main topic. This is clear from message boards on other sites. Must be human nature.

Kevin McKinney



My perception of the Arctic right now is that this year, weather won.

(Although I do suspect that had the ice not been so thin and battered, the minimum would have been much higher than whatever we do actually end up getting this year. So give ice conditions that much.)

Allen W. McDonnell

Based on the data available on the Cryosphere Today website as of year day 227 the Arctic Sea Ice Area is lower than 1999 and all the years before that back to 1979 that have satellite records. Even if melting stopped today (17AUG2013 as I type this)the level of ice remaining should be troubling, and I strongly suspect the melt will still continue for another two or three weeks at a minimum.

Kevin McKinney

Allen, of course. This isn't what 'recovery' looks like. And we will see more ice loss; even if the 80N area remains coolish, there's still lots of ice south of there to lose.

But based on the ice conditions, and especially thickness, I'd expected that we'd see a new record minimum this year, and I think it's pretty clear at this point that that's not going to happen. And I think that the reason why is also pretty clear: we had a cool, relatively cloudy Arctic summer.

It wasn't global; and it wasn't even the whole Arctic. (Parts of Siberia and Alaska both got baked at various points.) But it was enough for a respite.

Not a recovery--a respite.

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