Monday, April 30, 2018

Our Communities Are Scaled and Built for a Climate That No Longer Exists


"Landslides forced the closure of Kuhio Highway from the area north of Hanalei known as Waikoko to the end of the road at Haena. That left residents and tourists stranded with no way in or out... This home was in the path of one of those slides in Wainiha" (source).

by Gaius Publius

This is your periodic reminder that:
  • The global warming wolf is already at the door, and
  • The people who rule this world will never drive him away.
Which means:
  • People who want to fix this problem will have to use force. That's just a fact.
If you remember nothing else from this piece, remember this. Force them to fix it or remove their control — those are the only choices for strong, effective climate action, and given the state of our government, wholly captured by wealth and its interests, those two options are the same.

We can despair or take control. Those are the choices. It's going to take force to fix this.

The Global Warming Wolf Is at the Door

Kauai is one of the wettest islands in the Hawaiian Island chain. Its residents have experienced devastating hurricanes, but nothing like the torrent of rain that fell last April 14 and 15.

From the LA Times (emphasis added):
Since the 1940s, the Hawaiian island of Kauai has endured two tsunamis and two hurricanes, but locals say they have never experienced anything like the thunderstorm that drenched the island this month.

"The rain gauge in Hanalei broke at 28 inches within 24 hours," said state Rep. Nadine Nakamura of the North Shore community. "In a neighboring valley, their rain gauge showed 44 inches within 24 hours. It's off the charts."

Actually, it was even worse. This week the National Weather Service said nearly 50 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

Now, as Kauai continues to recover, scientists warn that this deluge on April 14 and 15 was something new — the first major storm in Hawaii linked to climate change.

"The flooding on Kauai is consistent with an extreme rainfall that comes with a warmer atmosphere," said Chip Fletcher, a leading expert on the impact of climate change on Pacific island communities.
According to Kawika Winter, a natural resource manager, "This is the most severe rain event [in Hawaii] that we know about since records started being kept in 1905.... Climate change is affecting us, and has been for some time. There are striking similarities with the flooding that we experienced on Kauai and the recent flooding in California. The warmer atmosphere is holding more moisture and that builds up until it meets with cold dry air, creating this massive unstable system, which causes what some meteorologists are now referring to as a 'rain bomb.'"

As Chip Fletcher, a professor at the University of Hawaii, put it, "Just recognize that we're moving into a new climate, and our communities are scaled and built for a climate that no longer exists."

Meanwhile, Atmospheric CO2 Is Now Above 410 ppm

The climate organization was founded in 2007, when the goal was to reduce atmospheric CO2 from 385 ppm to 350 ppm, a target already well above the range of atmospheric CO2 for the last 5 million years.

Since the founding of 350org, atmospheric CO2 touched 400 ppm in 2013 and breached it solidly in 2014. Last year, atmospheric CO2 touched 410 ppm and this year will breach it solidly. Note in the animation below, CO2 reaches its peak in May. This year, CO2 reached 410 ppm in March, with May still two months ahead.

Note also that this is average monthly data. The weekly averages are much worse. According to NOAA, in the week beginning April 22 the weekly average was 411.68, with one daily average spiking above 412.

The increase is relentless, and if you do the math, it appears to be accelerating. In 2015, the Scripps Institute at UCSD wrote (emphasis mine):
The rate of growth in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere has accelerated since the beginnings of the Keeling Curve. The rate has gone from about 0.75 parts per million (ppm)/yr in 1959 to about 2.25ppm/yr today.
That was written in 2015. The recent increase in CO2 from 400 ppm to 410 ppm, which occurred between 2014 and 2018, took just 4 years, at a rate of 2.50 ppm/year. This is already significantly higher than the rate of 2.25 ppm/year noted by the Scripps Institute in 2015. For comparison, consider that the rate of increase in 1959 was just 0.75 ppm/year.

It's Going to Take Force

If there's any hope at all, it's going to take force to fix this problem. Mayer Hillman, an 86-year-old fellow emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute, and a man renowned for his forward-looking prescriptions, has famously said, in effect, it's over.

Why does he say that? “Standing in the way is capitalism. Can you imagine the global airline industry being dismantled when hundreds of new runways are being built right now all over the world? It’s almost as if we’re deliberately attempting to defy nature. We’re doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.”

It's true that many are complacent, and true as well that a strong structural force stands in the way (in my view, the pathological greed of the very very rich). But unlike Hillman, I see a clash of forces on the horizon, not no action at all.

Today, people are either complacent ("We have time; the next generation will help out") or resigned ("It's not bad now, so nobody's doing anything"). What happens when it gets "bad now"? What happens when this generation realizes it's paying the price today, with this generation's money and this generation's lives? What happens when this war "comes home," as the other one will as well?

What happens when, in Vietnam Era terms, the whole of a generation is directly affected by the self-serving policy of its elites, and the bodies of the victims pile higher and higher? As that era taught us, complacency turns quickly to anger and conflict.

Now consider what happens when the generation affected is global, encompassing everyone alive? Expect a battle that will enter the books as the greatest global war ever fought.

Now Is the Time. Non-Violence Is the Way.

As we move forward, my suggestion is this. If you're among those who haven't given up, start that battle now, and wage it non violently. Let the violence of the wealthy and their governments remove the last veil of legitimacy from their actions, and let your non-violence entice their enemies to join you. If both sides' combatants are violent, the ensuing chaos will make any further solution completely impossible. In this conflict, when violence erupts on all sides, it truly is Game Over.

Some global warming cannot now be prevented; too much is "baked in" already for a return to Holocene days, when a predictable human-friendly climate arrived, after hundreds of thousands of years, to give us agriculture and the iPhone. Much of the gift of that climate is going to be lost forever.

But not all of it. With effective applications of force, global warming can be made to stop at a far friendlier place than it otherwise would if carbon emissions are allowed to continue unchecked.

After all, we'll either stop or be stopped. The natural stopping place for human-caused global warming, sans deliberate intervention, is after our species is either pre-industrial ... or extinct. That's not a friendly place at all.


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At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I see that I'm being validated again on this page and by its best contributor. I'm honored.

"People who want to fix this problem will have to use force. That's just a fact."

This statement is true no matter what the problem is that might be discussed. From job guarantee to income redistribution to health care to foreign (arbitrary) wars to torture to election fraud to bank fraud to...

You mentioned the basic problems. Capitalism won't allow any of them to be solved unless by force. The capitalists make too much money too fast to ever willingly take even a minor haircut for the sake of the survivability of humankind. And humankind itself has proved far too stupid and docile to ever impose their will (should their will ever be formed) on the capitalists.
Religious beliefs are like that. Mom, society and all clergy (today, that's every toothy smile on the teevee machine) tell you something and you believe it, even in the face of total repudiation visible to the naked eye.

I believe that if you do just a little looking, you'll see that the global climate, sea levels and so on were vastly different in the geologic record when the atmospheric CO2 level was at 350. It takes thousands of years of volatility for relative stability to be achieved. We've been over 400 for only 10 years or so.

Check the geologic record for what is in store for us when, not if, we've stayed above 410 for a few centuries (assuming mankind doesn't die off so as to prevent records from being observed).

Your "baked in" = my more scientific term "resonance". Either way, we're headed to 550 by the end of this century absent all other factors.
We're also headed to 30 billion humans on the planet by then. And they'll all naturally want to eat, piss, shit, breathe and live in a heated and cooled home. All that will be over and above all those resonant forcings already inevitable.
should we find a way to feed, clothe and house 30 billion parasites, we could easily see 800ppm by then.

Check your geolic record and tell us what that means.

Guaranteed, americans (should America magically survive until then) will still be demanding their tax cuts and arguing how to suppress women, gays and blacks then. 60% of today's florida being under water won't even be a "thing".

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

WASF Cubed, might as well go down swinging IMHO

At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, I agree. However, almost no humans are capable of understanding that WaSF. And a tiny fraction of THOSE are willing to start swinging.

At 7:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above estimate of 30 billion people living on the planet by 2100 makes a huge assume: that we don't have a horrible global war in which every vile weapon system created in the last hundred years isn't unleashed upon us.

Trump rattles the nuclear saber just to show Kim Jong Un that his is bigger. Resource wars are already underway, most notably across southern and southwestern Asia. There is almost nothing stopping a world-sized Bhopal. Monsanto's glyphosate research isn't far removed from being able to destroy food crops - assuming any survive the changing climate.

And, does anyone remember how at least four nations raced to find viable strains of the 1918 flu virus? Once the scientists decoded how that virus worked, you can bet every biowar lab on Earth began working on how to create weapons using that knowledge.

It doesn't stop there, but I will.

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

quite so, 7:38. 30 billion was simply following the (current) trend curve into the future.

That number is ludicrous, of course. The planet cannot feed the 7.4B it is currently saddled with. We are constantly mowing down forests and all their unique species to grow the glyphosate-resistant GMOs so that the 7.4B can have calories; we continue to denude our oceanic garbage dumps for their protein; and we despoil our land, water and air factory farming our beef, pork and poultry (, listeria, e-coli...).

Increasing these all by factors of 4 would result in one kind of global catastrophe. And, of course, not every nation even has that potential. Nations with excess capacity now won't have it then, and if it did, they won't be sharing... they don't share now.

Wars seem inevitable over resources, probably potable water first. The dollar will still be an oil-base currency, which bodes disaster for CO2.

The best thing mankind can do for the planet is to just die. the sooner the better.


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