Dr Strangelove warned the oil industry about global warming 60 years ago

Four others joined Dunlop at the podium that day, one of whom had made the journey from California – and Hungary before that. The nuclear weapons physicist Edward Teller had, by 1959, become ostracized by the scientific community for betraying his colleague J. Robert Oppenheimer, but he retained the embrace of industry and government. Teller’s task that November fourth was to address the crowd on “energy patterns of the future,” and his words carried an unexpected warning:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am to talk to you about energy in the future. I will start by telling you why I believe that the energy resources of the past must be supplemented. First of all, these energy resources will run short as we use more and more of the fossil fuels. But I would […] like to mention another reason why we probably have to look for additional fuel supplies. And this, strangely, is the question of contaminating the atmosphere. [….] Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide. [….] The carbon dioxide is invisible, it is transparent, you can’t smell it, it is not dangerous to health, so why should one worry about it?

Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect [….] It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe.

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Look back, not forward, to connect with conservatives

The scientists theorize that “future framing” may contribute to conservative cynicism, especially “when year after year, we don’t seem to get that close to death,” Baldwin said. “Conservatives might become rather skeptical of the science that led us to the conclusion that we are in trouble. Perhaps focusing on the possible negative future doesn’t drive home the fact that our Earth really has changed a lot.”

This strategy might also counter the argument often invoked by conservatives that today’s global warming is just another example of natural climate variations that have occurred historically. …

In one of the study’s experiments, “We show people pictures of environmental change — for example, an image of a lake full of water, right next to an image of that same lake totally dried up,” he said. “Conservatives really respond to these images of drastic change from the more ‘perfect’ past. I can imagine doing something similar with extreme weather events as the focus. Following a large hurricane, for example, we could focus on how the planet in the past did not experience such events, and then create a contrast by saying something like, ‘Shouldn’t we work hard to return to a state of the planet where we don’t have to experience them anymore?’

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In 2011, solar power reached a tipping point.

The scientists found that, from 1975 up to 2011, solar panels were actually a source of greenhouse gases globally. The emissions avoided by existing solar panels were insufficient to offset the amount of emissions being produced by the rapid production of new solar panels.

But in 2011, this flipped. Instead of being a net source of emissions, the solar industry started avoiding more emissions than it emitted, providing a net climate benefit. Continue reading

Don’t Trump Climate Change

In a paper in the journal Science Advances, they said the actual range could be between 4.78C to 7.36C by 2100, based on one set of calculations.

Some have dismissed the idea that the world would continue to burn fossil fuels despite obvious global warming, but emissions are still increasing despite a 1C rise in average thermometer readings since the 1880s.

And US President-elect Donald Trump has said he will rip up America’s commitments to the fight against climate change.
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UN: 3C of warming under current global climate pledges

The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) said that pledges put forward to cut emissions would see temperatures rise by 3C above pre-industrial levels, far above the the 2C of the Paris climate agreement, which comes into force on Friday.

At least a quarter must be cut from emissions by the end of the next decade, compared with current trends, the UN said.
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Boiling the Humanity

This, on current trends, will be the hottest year ever measured. The previous record was set in 2015; the one before in 2014. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century. Each of the past 14 months has beaten the global monthly temperature record. But you can still hear people repeating the old claim, first proposed by fossil fuel lobbyists, that global warming stopped in 1998.
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Important Lessons from Studying the Planet

Lesson One. Physics Trumps Politics and Economics. Every Time.

The first lesson I learned from the planet is about the absurdity of our “real world” politics and economics.

Despite what many people claim, politics and economics are arbitrary systems of belief that people in power have invented over the years. And regardless of what we have been brought up to believe, the planet does not actually obey the rules of politics and economics. It never has.

Lesson Two. Thermodynamics and Systems Thinking are Powerful Tools.

The next lesson I’ve learned over the years is that thermodynamics and systems thinking are very powerful tools for understanding and describing the workings of our planet.

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Military and the Climate Change

Sara Flounders’ remarkable 2009 article on the Copenhagen climate meeting tied together the military and climate change, but delinking of the two persists. She wrote that “with more than 15,000 participants from 192 countries, including more than 100 heads of state, as well as 100,000 demonstrators in the streets – it is important to ask: How is it possible that the worst polluter of carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions on the planet is not a focus of any conference discussion or proposed restrictions? …the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.”

Overall, environmentalists pay little attention to the military, and the anti-war movement does not address the climate. Both squander precious time.   At a slow pace, industrialized countries have been “transitioning” to clean energy since the 1960s, without any specified and enforceable time frame.   Renewables remain a very small part of the energy mix and will not remedy the carbon-intensive military or industrial agriculture. Transition fuels like natural gas and biofuels have proven to be disastrous to human communities and to the climate. By contrast is the fast pace rapidly rising temperature, accelerating greenhouse gas concentration (due to amplifying feedbacks), increased military spending including nuclear weapons, and new weapons/surveillance/pacification technology.[1]   At some point recently, the climate goal shifted from elimination of greenhouse gases to mitigation. Continue reading

Climate change is not just about carbon dioxide – the dangerously high level of methane leak to the atmosphere

In February, Harvard researchers published an explosive paper in Geophysical Research Letters. Using satellite data and ground observations, they concluded that the nation as a whole is leaking methane in massive quantities. Between 2002 and 2014, the data showed that US methane emissions increased by more than 30 percent, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of an enormous spike in methane in the entire planet’s atmosphere.
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Green investment bank loses its green purpose

What a joke!

The bank set up by the government to to fund green infrastructure and cited frequently by David Cameron as evidence of the UK’s leadership on climate change will no longer be required by law to invest in green schemes, under moves put forward by ministers.

Campaigners said that changes proposed on Tuesday by small business minister Anna Soubry effectively delete the clause enshrined in legislation that gives the green investment bank its green purpose.

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Security-led approach to climate change and complex emergencies

Dystopian preparations by the state are reflected in the corporate arena. Where we see a future climate crisis, many companies see only opportunity: oil firms looking forward to melting ice caps delivering new accessible fossil fuels; security firms touting the latest technologies to secure borders from ‘climate refugees’; or investment fund managers speculating on weather-related food prices – to name but a few. In 2012, Raytheon, one of the world’s largest defence contractors, announced “expanded business opportunities” arising from “security concerns and their possible consequences,” due to the “effects of climate change” in the form of “storms, droughts, and floods”. The rest of the defence sector has been quick to follow. Continue reading

5% Digest (Week 23/03/15)

Gregory D. Johnsen wrote a detailed account of the rise of Huthis in Yemen. Adam Baron argued that the power struggle is primarily local and foreign intervention will be a very bad idea.

But what is abundantly clear at the moment is that this remains, by and large, an internal Yemeni political conflict—one that, despite frequent sectarian mischaracterizations and potential regional implications, remains deeply rooted in local Yemeni issues.

And if history is a guide, foreign intervention will only stand to exacerbate the situation. Ironically, talk now centers on a potential Saudi Arabian and Egyptian military intervention in Yemen, a scenario that immediately brought to mind the memory of North Yemen’s 1960s Civil War which saw both sides intervene—albeit on different sides—in a matter which only appeared to draw the conflict out further. This is not to say that there isn’t a place for foreign powers to aid Yemeni factions in negotiating some new political settlement. But any nation that aims to make Yemen’s fight their own is more than likely to come out on the losing side.

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November Reading List

  1. Fracking could carry unforeseen risks as thalidomide and asbestos did, says report 
  2. This headline will subtly mislead you and science says that probably matters
  3. 5 Key Takeaways From the Latest Climate Change Report
  4. Why Ebola hit West Africa hard
  5. Nuclear Arms Control in China Today
  6. Texas oil town makes history as residents say no to fracking 
  7. The secular stagnation hoax
  8. The Pentagon’s Arguments for Runaway Arms Trading Are Indefensible
  9. World’s first solar cycle lane opening in the Netherlands
  10. Raytheon acquires cyber firm for $420 million
  11. America’s New Mercenaries
  12. What’s the environmental impact of modern war?
  13. Petraeus joins pro-fracking choir at Harvard’s Belfer Center
  14. Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia
  15. Foundation of US nuclear system showing cracks
  16. Midterms 2014: The Red Wedding for Democrats
  17. Can (green) energy policy create jobs?
  18. Death Wears Bunny Slippers
  19. It is the 0.01% who are really getting ahead in America
  20. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and UK healthcare
  21. Is neoliberalism at last unravelling in Britain?
  22. For Whom the Wall Fell? A balance-sheet of transition to capitalism 
  23. Ministers’ shale gas ‘hype’ attacked
  24. Some Very Initial Thoughts on the US-China Deal
  25. The social, political and ecological pathologies of the Ebola Crisis cannot be ignored
  26. F’d: How the U.S. and Its Allies Got Stuck with the World’s Worst New Warplane
  27. Spied on by BP
  28. How did the first world war actually end?
  29. Don’t Throw Billions at an Obsolete Nuclear Arsenal
  30. Hard Evidence: are we facing another financial crisis? 
  31. Growth: the destructive god that can never be appeased
  32. Cameron is right to warn of another recession, but wrong to blame the world
  33. The Top 5 Foreign Policy Lessons of the Past 20 Years
  34. The .01 Percent Blow Their Fortunes on Yachts, Personal Jets and America’s Politicians
  35. How much is owed to Gaza? Does anyone know? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m really asking!
  36. International arms firm Lockheed Martin in the frame for £1bn NHS contract 
  37. We Love the Pentagon’s ‘Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure’
  38. Massive Rail Deal Gives China’s Push Into Africa a Major Win
  39. Exaggeration Nation
  40. Barclays boycotted over Israel arms trade shares
  41. Firms invested £17bn in companies making cluster bombs, report says
  42. There is Nothing Natural about Gentrification
  43. 41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground 
  44. The ‘crass insensitivity’ of Tower’s luxury dinner for arms dealers, days after poppy display 
  45. Fracking firm’s plans to look for gas in North Yorkshire criticised by environmental groups
  46. House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research
  47. Justifying War: “Just” Wars  

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September Reading List

  1. How the west created the Islamic State
  2. Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits?
  3. The Pentagon’s $800-Billion Real Estate Problem
  4. Lefties and liberals still don’t do enough to stop wars
  5. How the super rich got richer: 10 shocking facts about inequality
  6. ISIS’s Enemy List: 10 Reasons the Islamic State Is Doomed
  7. Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault
  8. Democracy in the Twenty-First Century
  9. Israeli drone conference features weapons used to kill Gaza’s children
  10. New Report on Water Impacts of Shale Gas Development
  11. Behind the headlines: Fracking and water contamination
  12. Story of a War Foretold: Why we’re fighting ISIS
  13. Richard Brooks and Andrew Bousfield, 19th September 2014. Shady Arabia and the Desert Fix. Private Eye.
  14. “My childhood was not an episode from Downton Abbey”
  15. Russell Tribunal finds evidence of incitement to genocide, crimes against humanity in Gaza
  16. ‘Blood on their hands’: Glasgow activists shut down drone manufacturer
  17. Inequality is a choice: U.S. inequality in two shocking graphics
  18. Europe Tries to Stop Flow of Citizens Joining Jihad
  19. On the streets with the People’s Climate March
  20. The Great Frack Forward
  21. The Unaffordable Arsenal

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