Permafrost Fires Advancing Toward Arctic Ocean Shores

Smoke from Siberian Tundra Fires August 1, 2014

(Smoke from Siberian permafrost fires entrained in wind pattern blowing over the East Siberian and Laptev seas. What can best be described as a synoptic pattern of smoke stretching for more than 2000 miles. For reference, we are looking at the heart of Siberia, the bottom edge of frame touches the Arctic Ocean. Total width of frame is more than 2000 miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

From the Northwest Territory of Canada to a broad central section of Russian Siberia called Yedoma, the permafrost fires this year have been vicious, powerful and colossal. They have burned deep into the basement soil and permafrost layer, casting out billows of dense, smokey material that, at times, has blanketed a majority of both Siberia and the North American Continent.

In Minnesota, two thousand miles away from the still raging Northwest Territory fires, James Cole, who comments here frequently, noted:

Forest fire smoke here in N.E. Minnesota was off the charts yesterday! I went out to watch the blazing red sun sink below the green hills. This almost invisible red ball brought back an old memory from watching a sun set in San Diego County during a very bad fire out break back when I was home ported with my ship there. These Alberta fires are a huge distance from here, but I can guess at their size by the thick gray haze, the smell and a sunset just like one in an active fire zone. (In confirmation to this eye-witness report, the Minnesota Star Tribune’s Meteorologist Paul Douglas reports Heat, Smoke, and Thunder)

Smoke Plume GOES

(GOES satellite shot of smoke plume from Arctic fires crossing Minnesota late yesterday evening. Image source: GOES.)

You can see the vast plume of filtering across Minnesota in the above GOES satellite shot.

Fires that Burn Soil

These fires aren’t anything normal. They burn the land as well as the trees. They cast off an inordinately high volume of smoke, such that they are far more visible in the satellite shot than more southerly fires of similar size. And they continue to burn for weeks and weeks — with lands that were lit nearly a month ago still casting off smoke and fire from the same locations.

The quantity of material necessary to keep such fires burning from the same location day in, day out, must be immense and it is becoming increasingly obvious to this observer that woodland as well as the soil and, likely, the thawing permafrost itself have become involved. It is a basement layer that, when fully thawed can be scores of feet deep. A set of peat-like material that, were it to be sequestered, would likely turn into a hundreds foot deep seam of coal over ages of heat and pressure. Instead, it is now being liberated as fuel for fires by human-caused warming.

Wildfire burning near Laptev Sea August 1, 2014

(Wildfire burning near Laptev Sea on August 1, 2014. The terrain in this region is tundra and tundra lakes, similar to the Yamal region where methane outburst sites where recently discovered. Wildfire is the comet like feature in upper center frame. The shoreline of the Laptev is visible along the lower frame border. Note the steely gray pallor of smoke running south to north [top to bottom] through the image frame. For reference, bottom edge of frame is about 150 miles, fire front is approximately three miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

On the Canadian side, the fires have primarily remained in the same region, simply continuing to burn from mostly the same sources or spreading only to local areas. But on the Russian side, the fires have leapt from their original cauldrons to ignite in massive blazes along regions both east and west, north and south.

Over recent days, fires have been creeping northward along a ridge line toward the Laptev Sea. Yesterday, a large fire ignited in the treeless tundra just 70 miles south of Arctic Ocean waters. You can see a close up image of this fire in the MODIS shot above.

So we have hard tundra burning just 70 miles south of the Arctic Ocean. No trees here, just an endless expanse of thawing ground.

Links:

LANCE-MODIS

Heat, Smoke, and Thunder

Hat tip to Colorado Bob (First Observation)

Hat tip to James Cole

 

 

 

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135 Comments

  1. mikkel

     /  August 2, 2014

    Wow. Are there prior known instances of large fires in tundra only zones?

    Reply
    • Yes. But the far north blazes, like this one, are rare. Perhaps less so these days.

      Reply
    • Spike

       /  August 2, 2014

      That question occurred to me too. I found a study back in 2007 suggesting that tundra fires would become more common and severe in a warming world, looking at an Alaskan fire which they found was unique in 5000 years.

      “There is a dramatic, nonlinear relationship between climate conditions and tundra fires, and what one may call a tipping point,” Hu said. Once the temperature rises above a mean threshold of 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) in the June-through-September time period the tundra is just going to burn more frequently.”

      http://www.news.illinois.edu/news/10/1117tundra-fires.html

      Reply
  2. Loni

     /  August 2, 2014

    Okay, well, go easy on me, I’ve never been cast in a movie before, but getting a role in “Extinction # Six”, is quite an…………er……….,well, I dunno yet. I’m sorry I missed the love scene with Raquel Welch…………..and a few others…….., but this whole final apocalyptical scene coming about when I should be enjoyin’ retirement and fishing in the river, ……………really man, can’t we put this scene off for a bit?

    Reply
  3. On Saturday the temperature in Moscow and Moscow region will reach 35C

    В субботу воздух в Москве и области раскалится до 35 градусов

    Abnormal heat in the capital region maintains its position. Rescuers on Saturday issued another warning: during the day the air in Moscow and Moscow region will get warm up to +35.

    The record is 39C

    http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/08/heat-wave-in-moscow.html

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 2, 2014

      Perhaps with this heat wave Putin will be tempted to walk around the streets of Moscow shirtless. The ‘Colbert Report’ needs new material😉

      But seriously, what is the state of climate activism and awareness in Russia these days? Can citizens and environmental groups openly talk and plan actions, etc.? Just wondering.

      Reply
      • Ecologists and environmental activists are sporadically active in Russia. The government there has done very little to limit emissions or wean itself off of fossil fuels.

        Reply
      • In my experience of Russia (direct personal experience) the state of climate awareness is little better than in America – which is to say absolutely dire and misinformed.

        It’s mostly a joke there – that they could benefit from a bit of warming – with a tinge of awareness in a few quarters that perhaps things aren’t changing for the better even for them. My impression is that Europe and China have a much better grasp on these issues on average than the US and Russia, and virtually no nation really has an adequate grasp either at the government or population level.

        Reply
    • Some rather large highs settling in over that region.

      Reply
  4. Mark from New England

     /  August 2, 2014

    Were fires in treeless tundra predicted in models years or decades ago? And if so, I wonder when they were projected to occur. This to me is a very ominous development. The arctic that we knew for all of recorded history is about to melt away.

    Reply
  5. Kevin Jones

     /  August 2, 2014

    In other related news: Wildfires and other burns play bigger role in climate change sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140731201529.htm

    Reply
  6. Kevin Jones

     /  August 2, 2014

    sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140731201529.htm

    Reply
  7. A quick set of questions from a layman. If there is methane being released from the melting permafrost and that some of this same permafrost is ablaze, can the methane still escape into the atmosphere or would it all, with respects to the area on fire, be consumed by said fire? A second question if the methane is actually consumed by wildfire; what is worse for global warming, the permafrost burning up through fire and the associated emissions or a thawing and release of methane instead?

    Reply
    • The fires are not perfectly efficient. So, yes, some would burn and some would escape. The burned methane, in any case, ends up as CO2, so that’s not necessarily a consolation.

      Reply
    • I think that burning activates the carbon store, resulting in a more rapid overall release.

      Reply
  8. Kevin Jones

     /  August 2, 2014

    Regarding your first question, lifeisnotanerror, I remember from long ago smouldering tropical slash and burn actually produce methane. 2nd question? How much of either is the best I can reply. Robert? Others?

    Reply
  9. Griffin

     /  August 2, 2014

    Speaking of tropical slash and burn…A new twist in the water woes of Texas. The irony of using an oil harvested in a manner that is a major contributor to rising GHG was not lost on me.
    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/parched-texas-city-hopes-cut-lake-evaporation

    Reply
    • It is all happening so quickly now Griffin. It is a good job that many have their attention turned away towards Gaza and the middle East or even the Ukraine whilst in the UK, many are focusing efforts on uncovering the child rape and abuse networks in the heart of government and the wider establishment. As a rational man who is perhaps best described as a Humanist with Buddhist inclinations, it has not escaped my attention that those of a more religious mindset are increasingly couching all of these events in terms of Good Vs Evil, with some of the more fervorous minded religious souls harping on about judgement day.

      In my part of the world, the city in which I live, Islam is the predominant faith and some of them talk to me about such things and the coming of the ‘superman’ (or the resurrection of Jesus). It is not something I believe and I mention it as a sociological comment because increasingly such religious talk is using the unfolding disasters of climate change and abrupt catastrophic climate change at that, alongside these wars and other events as indicators for their religious prophecies. Often the ‘truth’ and facts are not what motivates people to act so such beliefs, I feel, are intriguing in terms of the ‘social’ state of play in some of our countries.

      I guess in retrospect this period in Human history is a bit of a judgement day. We can either can look at ourselves and judge our actions and choose to consume less and decrease our emissions, or we can continue on as we are and bring an end to our civilisations and even ourselves and other vast swathes of sentient lifeforms. Interesting times are ahead.

      Reply
    • Wow. We are so desperate, we’re coating lakes in lime oil. This will lead to anoxia.

      Reply
      • Yes, desperate indeed and that is desperation at but a minor phase of what is yet to perhaps arrive. I am going to assume that yourself and many of your contributors here know how humans behave when true desperation sets in, they kill and sometimes eat each other. Hyperbole? Me? Granted we are way off that yet but when the stakes are so high it does not pay to mince words.

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 2, 2014

        Soylent Green – it’s what’s for dinner in 2060.

        (Under BAU emissions scenario…)

        Reply
      • Soylent Green! Now that is a reference I have not heard in a while. Personally I am betting on insect protein and I am considering putting together my first system this year to test it out.

        Reply
    • Another interesting one on water; State of emergency declared as Toledo tells residents: don’t drink the water.

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/02/toledo-residents-told-dont-drink-water-pollution-toxin

      Such are the effects of industrialised farming and a warming climate.

      Reply
      • Algae blooming in the Great Lakes. An upshot of warming there and a shoving of the entire lake system to a lower oxygen state.

        Reply
  10. Griffin

     /  August 2, 2014

    Robert, in the WestPac, Typhoon Halong is the latest storm we have seen undergo rapid intensification. In this case, about 100 Kts increase in under 24 hours. This intensification pattern has emerged as more the rule than the exception for this cyclone season in that area. When the season closes it will be interesting to see a statistical roundup of the probability of one season having this many storms undergo rapid intensification. This may prove to be the beginnings of scientific evidence of storms increasing in strength in a demonstrable way. Of course the area is a well cultivated garden for growing storms but it is the speed and strength of intensification that has caught my attention.

    Reply
    • Well, the available energy is certainly there. So when the right conditions for storm intensification arise you can really see them bomb out.

      Reply
    • Thanks for the link. It is indeed chilling stuff! The sad fact is that a lot of the powerful people who are in a position to make the needed changes, just do not care. Many of these people are of a conservative mindset and I’ll give you an example from my own experience.

      My father has always been a Thatcherite and an ardent conservative. When Borjon Lomborg’s book ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’ came out, he was quick to buy it. He never read the damn book but instead waved it around as some type of magical artifact to defeat and ward off any argument put to him, that anthropogenic climate change was real.

      As time past the magical power of Lomborg’s book waned, as it became increasingly apparent to my father that his position was indefensible; we were effecting the climate and not in a good way. I tried to suggest to him that it was rather selfish of us and indeed him, to continue consuming as much as we did and to remain wedded to this social Darwinistic pseudo-capitalism.

      Unfortunately that struck a sore point with him, “I believe in Capitalism!” he did boom, “I am not selfish!” he then did declare. A few minutes later and after I explained to him about some of the possible worst case scenarios, that it would mean an end game for humanity, he did declare with much triumphant turmperting, “well, that’s alright I won’t be around then! Why do I care”. He forgot that perhaps I, his son, and most definitely his granddaughter, would still be around.

      When an ideology blinds a person to the continuity of their own gene pool, it is indeed frightening stuff.

      Reply
      • A sickness of the mind and heart, that. Both ugly and more than a little sad. Hate to say that I’ve a number of family members who have ‘lost it’ in this way.

        Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 2, 2014

      The language used certainly conveys the urgency at hand. Not exactly some Joe on the street we are listening to, Dr. Box is one of the brighter scientists on this rock. When he starts throwing profanity around, it must really really bother him. Scary.

      Reply
      • It is. And I’m glad Box is taking this on. It seems to me that most of the observational scientists are pretty well convinced of the danger. We have a few that are lagging.

        Reply
    • Well, yes. Box joins a number of other Arctic scientists saying the same.

      How do ensure Arctic carbon is released in greater and greater volumes? Keep burning fossil fuels.

      Reply
  11. Here’s a 20 minute “Arctic Emergency: Scientists Speak” Youtube with Francis, Masters, Shakhova, et al on camera. The title speaks for itself.

    Reply
    • wili

       /  August 2, 2014

      I couldn’t get your link to work. Here it is again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3XpF1MvC8s

      At about 3 minutes, and MIT scientist Ron Prinn says that likely (95% probability) warming at this point is between 6 and…….._16_ degrees C………!!!!!!

      Reply
      • That’s Arctic warming.

        Think about this… All you need is 2 C global warming to warm the Arctic between 4 and 6 C. That’s where he’s getting these figures (for BAU emissions impact).

        Reply
      • Btw, this is a fantastic video. I highly recommend everyone take the time to watch it. Cheers to DT for posting it!

        Reply
    • Spike

       /  August 3, 2014

      That’s a terrific film – many thanks.

      Reply
    • Good one, DT.

      Reply
    • Based on this report and the many others I’ve seen over the years, this would be my emerging threat response evaluation:

      ALERT!! ALERT!!

      ALERT LEVEL — HIGHEST PRIORITY!!

      EXPERT SCIENTIFIC OBSERVATIONAL ANALYSIS SHOWS ARCTIC TIPPING POINTS REACHED OR FAST APPROACHING.

      MODERATE TO SEVERE LOSSES IMMINENT. SOME LOSSES LIKELY UNAVOIDABLE.

      FAILURE TO RESPOND RESULTS IN HEIGHTENING LOSSES WITH A RISING RISK OF TOTAL LOSS.

      EXTREME CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. THREAT IS EXISTENTIAL. WORST IMPACTS ARE LIKELY STILL AVOIDABLE.

      RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION: TOTAL AND IMMEDIATE MITIGATION.

      SEE ATTACHED REPORT FROM SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS (ABOVE VIDEO)

      Reply
  12. Gail Griffith

     /  August 2, 2014

    Arctic carbon is a source that hasn’t been given much attention as long as it’s been frozen in the tundra or in methane clathrates in the ocean. Current global heating is liberating methane explosively in the Russian tundra, allowing wildfires to consume tundra peat. and bubbling methane out of the Arctic Ocean. We’re seeing several feedback loops accelerating greenhouse gas formation. Is this a tipping point? It’s happening so fast it’s hard to evaluate, but we need to get a grip on the intensity and time-line on this new phenomenon.

    Reply
    • We’ve hit the tipping point where volumes of Arctic carbon have started to release and probably will release now, for quite some time. We can reduce the size of the overall release by removing as much of the initiate heat forcing as possible (human greenhouse gas emissions) and then by putting in place atmospheric carbon capture tech. None of this will be easy. But at this point it’s fair to say it’s necessary.

      Reply
  13. eleggua

     /  August 2, 2014

    ‘A Volcano of Garbage in the Arctic Has Been Burning For Eight Weeks’
    https://news.vice.com/article/a-volcano-of-garbage-in-the-arctic-has-been-burning-for-eight-weeks

    For more than eight weeks, Iqaluit’s dump fire — dubbed “dumpcano” after the Canadian city’s fire chief likened it to a volcano of garbage — has burned unabated. Though, to be accurate, it has been aflame since January when thermal imaging revealed the then-four-story pile of trash had been burning deep inside like a dragon with indigestion. When it eventually “erupted” into visible flames May 20, it was, for most Iqalummiut — citizens of Iqaluit — merely the latest of innumerable dump flare-ups in recent memory.

    Three, the landfill — which is a misnomer because it sits on top of permafrost and is not in fact infill — should’ve ceased collecting trash a decade ago. The site was first approved in 1999 as a five-year temporary location. Today, the same site continues to receive about 26 tons of garbage every day.

    ‘Iqalummiut for Action – Stop the Dump Fires’
    https://www.facebook.com/stopdumpfires/photos_stream?tab=photos_stream

    Reply
  14. wili

     /  August 2, 2014

    Friv at neven’s arctic sea ice forum, who, it must be said, is given to emotional outbursts, has just said this about the coming week’s melt prospects:

    HOLY SHIT!

    Reply
  15. ’16-foot Waves Measured in Arctic Ocean Where There Was Once Only Ice
    Reduced sea ice allowed the buildup of huge waves in the Beaufort Sea.’

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/07/140730-arctic-wave-height-sea-ice-climate-change-science/

    Reply
    • A new regime that started in 2012 and will likely have a growing impact on the pace of late season melt. Gives potential for ice to fall off a cliff. This year, the fetch/waves started early in the Laptev. At this point, it appears the Beaufort may be getting involved.

      Reply
  16. Rick

     /  August 2, 2014

    I would not count of insect protein because invertebrate populations are plummeting with a nearly fifty percent decline in the last several decades… Climate change will most assuredly accelerate this decline… Just sayin…

    Reply
    • Yes, it depends upon what enclosed system you use to cultivate them. Do you have some links or references you can provide me RE this decline? Which species are proving more resilient than others?

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 3, 2014

        Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles
        25 July 2014 UCL News/University College London

        Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers.

        The study, published in Science and led by UCL, Stanford and UCSB, focused on the demise of invertebrates in particular, as large vertebrates have been extensively studied. They found similar widespread changes in both, with an on-going decline in invertebrates surprising scientists, as they had previously been viewed as nature’s survivors.

        The decrease in invertebrate numbers is due to two main factors – habitat loss and climate disruption on a global scale. In the UK alone, scientists noted the areas inhabited by common insects such as beetles, butterflies, bees and wasps saw a 30-60% decline over the last 40 years.

        (Posted the link in a seperate post, still awaiting moderation.)

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 3, 2014

        The Forgotten Pollinators
        by Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan
        292 pages, paperback, Island Press, 1995

        Consider this: Without interaction between animals and flowering plants, the seeds and fruits that make up nearly eighty percent of the human diet would not exist.
        In The Forgotten Pollinators, Stephen L. Buchmann, one of the world’s leading authorities on bees and pollination, and Gary Paul Nabhan, award-winning writer and renowned crop ecologist, explore the vital but little-appreciated relationship between plants and the animals they depend on for reproduction — bees, beetles, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, bats, and countless other animals, some widely recognized and other almost unknown.

        Scenes from around the globe — examining island flora and fauna on the Galapagos, counting bees in the Panamanian rain forest, witnessing an ancient honey-hunting ritual in Malaysia — bring to life the hidden relationships between plants and animals, and demonstrate the ways in which human society affects and is affected by those relationships.

        Buchmann and Nabhan combine vignettes from the field with expository discussions of ecology, botany, and crop science to present a lively and fascinating account of the ecological and cultural context of plant-pollinator relationships.
        More than any other natural process, plant-pollinator relationships offer vivid examples of the connections between endangered species and threatened habitats.

        The authors explain how human-induced changes in pollinator populations — caused by overuse of chemical pesticides, unbridled development, and conversion of natural areas into monocultural cropland-can have a ripple effect on disparate species, ultimately leading to a “cascade of linked extinctions.”

        (The book’s nearly twenty-years old and even more pertinent today. Nabhan’s written several other highly recommended books.)

        Reply
      • Rick

         /  August 3, 2014

        lifeisnotanerror, here is a link for some recent research: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0714/240714_invertebrate-numbers

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 3, 2014

        I think this is due to the destruction of the food chain through monoculture and pesticides. I am in early stages of permaculturing my yard and have been blown away by how quickly insect diversity and numbers explode. Some days I spend hours just looking for new critters I haven’t seen, as well as the huge number of hiding places that predators like spiders and ladybugs, etc hang out.

        I knew it would happen intellectually, but seeing how fast it does gives me hope that we can rapidly reverse trends if we change habits.

        Reply
      • Burgundy

         /  August 3, 2014

        lifeisnotanerror, it may not be as simple as just swapping our protein source. Contrary to popular belief we cannot simply eat anything in a omnivorous fashion. Even our current meat based protein source seems to be causing considerable global health problems and increased mortality. So swapping to an insect based protein diet may well have dire results unless we humans have evolved to eat insects. That I’m not sure of.

        I’m actually coming to the conclusion that we’re not in fact an omnivorous animal at all and that our evolution has probably been based around on plant foods. And I’m not a vegetarian, yet! But the scientific evidence seems pretty compelling that we are naturally healthier when our diet is limited to fruit and vegetables. Which probably means that is what evolution has equipped us to eat.

        Reply
        • The pre civ humans would probably be better described as gatherer-hunters rather than hunter-gatherers. Average meat consumption was more on the order of once per week. A primarily animal product based diet is extraordinarily unhealthy, especially when considering all the crud that ends up in industrial meat/ milk.

          In any case, the protein requirement is vastly exaggerated. There’s more protein in kale by volume than in a steak.

          The two things to keep track of as a vegan are B vitamin intake and calcium intake. You can do this through nutrition, but people who are used to a western diet can have trouble.

    • eleggua

       /  August 3, 2014

      “I am in early stages of permaculturing my yard and have been blown away by how quickly insect diversity and numbers explode.”

      The Theory of Island Biogeography
      Robert H. MacArthur & Edward O. Wilson
      http://pup.princeton.edu/titles/7051.html
      “Biogeography was stuck in a “natural history phase” dominated by the collection of data, the young Princeton biologists Robert H. MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson argued in 1967. In this book, the authors developed a general theory to explain the facts of island biogeography. The theory builds on the first principles of population ecology and genetics to explain how distance and area combine to regulate the balance between immigration and extinction in island populations. The authors then test the theory against data. The Theory of Island Biogeography was never intended as the last word on the subject. ”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_biogeography
      “For biogeographical purposes, an “island” is any area of suitable habitat surrounded by an expanse of unsuitable habitat. While this may be a traditional island—a mass of land surrounded by water—the term may also be applied to many untraditional “islands”, such as the peaks of mountains, isolated springs in the desert, or expanses of grassland surrounded by highways or housing tracts. Additionally, what is an island for one organism may not be an island for another: some organisms located on mountaintops may also be found in the valleys, while others may be restricted to the peaks.”

      http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0728-fragmentation.html
      “…IBT is limited by the nonrandom nature of forest isolation; an ignorance of edge and matrix effects and community-level changes; and co-variance between habitat loss and fragmentation effects. He says that IBT also fails to account for that impact of fragmentation on ecosystem processes including forest dynamics, nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and forest-climate interactions. Further, Laurance highlights the significance of environmental synergisms in effecting species richness in forest fragments.”
      “”In coming decades, anthropogenic climate change may emerge as an increasingly important threat to fragmented ecosystems, especially if droughts, storms, and other rare weather events increase in frequency or severity,” he continues. “Thus, forest fragments and their biota are sometimes subjected to a withering array of environmental pressures that may be episodic or chronic in nature. A paradigm like IBT that considers only changes in fragment size and isolation while ignoring other anthropogenic effects is dangerously inadequate for conservation purposes. It is also inadequate from a scientific perspective. A more realistic view of fragmented landscapes is one that explicitly recognizes the potential for interacting environmental changes to amplify and alter the ecological impacts of habitat fragmentation.””

      http://blog.nature.org/science/2014/04/16/island-biogeography-theory-forest-remnants/
      “…ecologists have used island biogeography theory (IBT) — first laid out in a 1967 by Robert MacArthur and E.O Wilson to describe species distribution on islands — to explain and predict biological diversity and species loss rates in these patchwork landscapes as well, and to design and site biological reserves for tropical forest remnants.

      But an article published this week in the journal Nature casts doubt on the utility of IBT for non-island landscapes — particularly for the croplands in between forest remnants that this use of IBT treats as “water” between the forest “islands.””

      “True islands almost always had lower diversity than mainland habitats, while forest fragments supported as many – sometimes more — species than minimally disturbed forest. “The current model of nature reserves works toward separating humans and nature,” says Mendenhall. “That’s good to a point, but it can’t be the only approach. Today, the world’s biodiversity is living with humans, not apart from them. Increased integration looks like the way forward.”

      Reply
    • wili

       /  August 3, 2014

      We have indeed evolved to eat insects. They are a part of many traditional diets. Primates regularly eat them. But a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables is indeed quite ideal. Remember that evolution is still going on–it has allowed some to tolerate consuming the lactose of other species well beyond adulthood, while others can’t.

      Reply
  17. A couple of things from some who has lived in the Arctic.

    A) Pingos do not create ejecta when they collapse.

    B) Pingos do not create such a mass imbalance in their individual local (think deflating balloon).

    C) Burn in the arctic “normally” limits itself to a couple of years worth of material as it is on top of everything (non liquid). If liquid is does not burn.

    D) Permafrost is not supposed to burn, think of a bog. Highly liquid (water) pool with organic material.

    E) Pingo’s do not exhibit 9+% methane when they collapse. They are jut a blob.

    In order for permafrost / semi frost or bog to burn you need to remove enough moisture for it to react. As there is limited precipitation in the locale, you need to reduce precipitation for a long time, or evaporate the water with temperature.

    Folks we are past the point of recovery. Just make sure the denialists stay where they are. i will be buying land in XXXXXXXX (cant say yet) in the next 36 months. It’s done.

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 3, 2014

      We are not past the point of improving our future. We are not past the point of creating radical solutions to radical problems.

      We will never be past that point. Heck, we’ve barely begun to reach the point of widespread implementation of radical solutions. That day’s sure to come. Be willing to live for it. What could be better? Hiding? Giving up? No way.

      Reply
    • Well, I am glad that some have the capital to ‘protect’ themselves in a small way, such as yourself Andy. But what of those like me and my family that struggle to live as it currently now is? What happens to those of us who are already very poor by our ‘western’ standards? Perhaps the correct ethical choices for those with enough wealth to buy land that may weather some of the worst effects better than other locations, is to bring as many people as they can with them to their new ‘outposts’.

      Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 3, 2014

        I moved to NZ from the US not only because the physical climate is better, but the social climate is as well. There are a lot of people from the States that I’d like to have come over, but unfortunately NZ only recognizes having capital + jobs that can earn $ as valid for long term residence. That aspect is pretty frustrating, particularly since quite a few people are moving over to be climate refugees but are having a hard time finding people to join them here.

        Reply
      • We need to do everything we can to help as many as we can. Just looking out for oneself isn’t enough. We must help each other.

        Reply
    • Some tipping points are passed. We continue to add fuel, though. So we beg for more.

      Reply
  18. Tom

     /  August 3, 2014

    Those who believe they will by-pass the worst of the collapse, even fantasizing about long-term survival (to what end?), will be disappointed to find that they didn’t think of and prepare for every possibility that will affect them.

    Nuclear meltdown, by itself, is an extinction event. Fukushima has not been contained, is not under control and is spewing deadly radiation in untold amounts every second of every day into the Pacific and into the atmosphere, spreading its toxicity into the food chain. As other plants fail in the future (to be decommissioned due to lack of funds, energy and manpower) the radiation levels will undoubtedly increase.

    Climate change is due to steadily heat and dry out (and/or flood) our global habitat to the point where food production becomes near impossible. Soils are already depleted of nutrients and now contain a fine layer of radioactive particulates (among others like black carbon, power plant soot and brake dust).

    Diseases like ebola, dengue fever, West Nile virus and others are becoming more prevalent, as are tick and mosquito borne ones.

    The oceans of the world are dying due to acidification, heating and pollution, and will not be able to support marine life enough to feed the remaining humans.

    Economic collapse is right around the corner and the pressure for WWIII is building in both the Middle East and the Ukraine (with others continually popping up).

    These are just a few of the many factors leading to the extinction conclusion. Some others are: the human propensity for violence rather than cooperation, methane and hydrogen sulfide becoming ever greater percentages of atmospheric content (with their lethal side-effects), and the collapse of the “just in time” supply chains that keep humanity ignorant of the on-going collapse, that, like a sinkhole, just hasn’t reached your area yet.

    These and other factors are cumulative and interactive, like the near 40 (and rising) self-reinforcing feedbacks that increase the rate of climate change and habitat loss, and should be added to (or maybe multiplied by would be more accurate) the natural disasters that we’ve become accustomed to lately: typhoons and hurricanes of immense size and power, earthquakes, sinkholes (and now bursting methane pockets), tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and tornados.

    Waiting in the wings is sea level rise, silently, steadily creeping up on unsuspecting coastal dwellers (about 40% of the global population, according to one source, live within 100 km of the coast; another source says roughly 1/2 the global population lives within 60 km of the shoreline).

    Underlying it all is the fact that overpopulation is still on-going and drives a lot of the underlying human systems of resource extraction and use and of the results mentioned.

    Reply
    • mikkel

       /  August 3, 2014

      At some point it doesn’t really matter though. Even if rationally all seems lost, we still have to do something unless we kill ourselves.

      It is a lot healthier and more fun to take actions that reduce problems and may let us stick around longer in a more contented state than it is to just decide it’s impossible. If life does get too bad to live then it will, but until then why not enjoy and strive otherwise?

      Whenever I feel bad for myself I just try to remember that the majority of the populace still lives with existential insecurity, famine and disease. The bulk of humanity until very recently did so as well to varying degrees.

      Perhaps suffering is the natural state, not ease of life. But that’s not all there is, for joy and heroism and love have always existed as well. I don’t know how hard things are going to get, but just saw photos taken in the Gaza Strip where children were playing and people were singing in the hours between bombardment. If they can squeeze happiness out of a situation that is much worse than we’ll face on average for a long time, then what’s the point of getting so down now?

      There is a book by Jonathan Haidt called the Happiness Hypothesis. In it, he talks about happiness research, including the amazing studies that have shown people generally tend to have the happiness level regardless of what happens to them [there are a few things, but only a few things that can affect it over the long term.] They did studies about people who where paralyzed and those who won the lotto, and while the first few years had huge differences from the before state, after 5-6 years people had acclimated and enjoyed their lives just as much as they did previously — whatever that level may be.

      Similarly, research with some of the most exploited and downtrodden, such as prostitutes in India, have found that when they have strong social connections and agency over *some* part of their lives, they have a reasonable amount of happiness. It’s not as much as the average middle class American, but it’s more than people who feel isolated regardless of socioeconomic status.

      So while I can’t refute any of your points and agree with Robert that it is our prime moral and existential duty to alleviate suffering today, I am not convinced at all that calamity will ever extinguish all meaning and purpose. Even if one of the true extinction events comes to pass, it can be met with dignity instead of fear.

      Reply
      • I tend to agree with your position mikkel, I still see hope and will not simply roll over, shrivel and die. This is a very controversial thought that I am about to make; at what point do we, the educated classes for want of a better phrase, decide it is time to organize and uproot those in power who are the major barriers to achieving effective and meaningful change? When do we decide to go to war with the hegemonic culture ushering in the end so that we (the poor in particular) can have some chance, what ever that may be, to survive?

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 3, 2014

        I already have an insurgent mentality. The way I see it, revolutions have always needed the technological, philosophical and scientific elite to succeed because they are the ones that create the fabric for the economy and political systems. It is our duty to create a full system and opportunity that can inspire and provide for the masses, particularly since the bottom 60-80% do not have the or opportunity to do more than try to survive.

        If this can be achieved then the people that have already been kicked out of the status quo (the majority of people) can shift gears and find new agency and sustenance.

        Urban and developing world activists are starting to realize the potential to utilize ecologically sound principles as the source political and social power that can tip the scales — in my mind it is much better of a use to engage with them than trying to advocate for votes at climate conferences and the like.

        While blue collar and lower rung professionals are unlikely to sign on in the near term, many steps can be done to increase their economic security by reducing their expenses and offering more stable investments. As the economy worsens, more and more of them will find themselves as the working poor and be recruitable.

        And lastly, I think that the amoral aspects of financialization can be ushered to provide the backing for this transition. The numbers work better than for the status quo when analyzed by those who have a modicum of critical thinking, and so when rats start fleeing from the collapsing fossil fuel economy, they’ll pile in to support the transition.

        The only thing that has to occur is to have a group of people with the will, patience and crispness to lead. I think we are very close to a Montgomery bus moment — the only question is whether there is a SCLC type organization to coordinate. It is much more of an ask than even their task, but it also involves the whole world and so has an extraordinarily powerful base to operate in.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 3, 2014

        I should add that existential angst I’m having right now is that most people who care about this issue abhor power dynamics and the idea of having to strategically defeat the status quo. Perhaps it’s the Left distancing itself from the horrors of Communism or ineffectual 60s radicalism, or perhaps it’s the successful airbrushing of history that has painted leaders like MLK as changing history through mere opinion polls, but there is very little fight left.

        As Chris Hedges says, Liberalism is dead as a political force (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/once_again_–_death_of_the_liberal_class_20121112)

        “The presidential election exposed the liberal class as a corpse. It fights for nothing. It stands for nothing. It is a useless appendage to the corporate state. It exists not to make possible incremental or piecemeal reform, as it originally did in a functional capitalist democracy; instead it has devolved into an instrument of personal vanity, burnishing the hollow morality of its adherents…The ineffectiveness of the liberal class, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia and as was true in Weimar Germany, perpetuates a dangerous political paralysis. The longer the paralysis continues, the longer systems of power are unable to address the suffering and grievances of the masses, the more the formal mechanisms of power are reviled. The liberal establishment’s inability to defy corporate power, to stand up for its supposed liberal beliefs, means its inevitable disappearance, along with the disappearance of traditional liberal values. This, as history has amply pointed out, is the road to despotism.

        Rebellion always mystifies the oppressor. It appears irrational. It does not make sense. The establishment asks: What are their demands? Why do they hate us? What do they want? The oppressor can never hear the answer, for the answer is always the same—we seek to destroy your power. The oppressor, blind to the brutality and injustice meted out to sustain dominance and prosperity, escalates the levels of force employed to protect privilege. The crimes of the oppressor are seen among the elite as the administering of justice—law and order, the war on terror, the natural law of globalization, the right granted by privilege and power to shape and govern the world. The oppressor cannot see the West’s false humanism. The oppressor cannot, as James Baldwin wrote, understand that our “history has no moral justification, and the West has no moral authority.” The oppressor, able to speak only in the language of force and increasingly lashing out like a wounded animal, will be consumed in the inferno.

        “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction,” Baldwin wrote, “and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 3, 2014

        What Hedges repeatedly alludes to but never fully wraps up, is that the values of humanistic liberalism have always made it prone to co-opting and manipulation by power structures, as well as being very hard to organize and guide movements with long term aims.

        MLK recognized this and turned it into a great source of his power. (http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/pilgrimage_to_nonviolence/)

        “At this stage of my development I was a thoroughgoing liberal. Liberalism provided me with an intellectual satisfaction that I could never find in fundamentalism. I became so enamored of the insights of liberalism that I almost fell into the trap of accepting uncritically everything that came under its name. I was absolutely convinced of the natural goodness of man and the natural power of human reason.

        The basic change in my thinking came when I began to question some of the theories that had been associated with so-called liberal theology. Of course there is one phase of liberalism that I hope to cherish always: its devotion to the search for truth, its insistence on an open and analytical mind, its refusal to abandon the best light of reason.2 Liberalism’s contribution to the philological-historical criticism of biblical literature has been of immeasurable value and should be defended with religious and scientific passion.

        It was mainly the liberal doctrine of man that I began to question. The more I observed the tragedies of history and man’s shameful inclination to choose the low road, the more I came to see the depths and strength of sin. My reading of the works of Reinhold Niebuhr made me aware of the complexity of human motives and the reality of sin on every level of man’s existence.3 Moreover, I came to recognize the complexity of man’s social involvement and the glaring reality of collective evil.4 I came to feel that liberalism had been all too sentimental concerning human nature and that it leaned toward a false idealism.

        I also came to see that liberalism’s superficial optimism concerning human nature caused it to overlook the fact that reason is darkened by sin.5 The more I thought about human nature the more I saw how our tragic inclination for sin causes us to use our minds to rationalize our actions. Liberalism failed to see that reason by itself is little more than an instrument to justify man’s defensive ways of thinking. Reason, devoid of the purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations.”

        And from this, MLK also provides a way forward. A answer that doesn’t need to be theistic, but merely in the capacity for created meaning:

        “During the past decade I also gained a new appreciation for the philosophy of existentialism. My first contact with this philosophy came through my reading of [Søren] Kierkegaard and [Friedrich] Nietzsche. Later I turned to a study of [Karl] Jaspers, [Martin] Heidegger and [Jean Paul] Sartre. All of these thinkers stimulated my thinking; while finding things to question in each, I nevertheless learned a great deal from study of them. When I finally turned to a serious study of the works of Paul Tillich I became convinced that existentialism, in spite of the fact that it had become all too fashionable, had grasped certain basic truths about man and his condition that could not be permanently overlooked.8

        Its understanding of the “finite freedom” of man is one of existentialism’s most lasting contributions, and its perception of the anxiety and conflict produced in man’s personal and social life as a result of the perilous and ambiguous structure of existence is especially meaningful for our time. The common point in all existentialism, whether it is atheistic or theistic, is that man’s existential situation is a state of estrangement from his essential nature. In their revolt against [Georg Wilhelm Friedrich] Hegel’s essentialism, all existentialists contend that the world is fragmented. History is a series of unreconciled conflicts and man’s existence is filled with anxiety and threatened with meaninglessness. While the ultimate Christian answer is not found in any of these existential assertions, there is much here that the theologian can use to describe the true state of man’s existence.”

        Combine that with Faith and it becomes clear what drove MLK.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 3, 2014

        And then the last piece of the puzzles is provided by Aldous Huxley, in defining a Faith that simultaneously unites humanistic ideals with the fundamental purpose of spirituality.

        “Good Being is knowing who in fact we are; and in order to know who in fact we are, we must first know, moment by moment, who we think we are and what this bad habit of thought compels us to feel and do. A moment of clear and complete knowledge of what we think we are, but in fact are not, puts a stop, for the moment, to the Manichean charade. If we renew, until they become a continuity, these moments of the knowledge of what we are not, we may find ourselves all of a sudden, knowing who in fact we are.

        Faith is something very different from belief. Belief is the systematic taking of unanalysed words much too seriously. Paul’s words, Mohammed’s words, Marx’s words, Hitler’s words – people take them too seriously, and what happens?

        What happens is the senseless ambivalence of history – sadism versus duty, or (incomparably worse) sadism as duty; devotion counterbalanced by organized paranoia; sisters of charity selflessly tending to the victims of their own church’s inquisitors and crusaders. Faith, on the contrary, can never be taken too seriously. For faith is the empirically justified confidence in our capacity to know who in fact we are, to forget the belief-intoxicated Manichee in Good Being. Give us this day our daily Faith, but deliver us, dear God, from Belief.”

        With these insights, I believe it is possible to create a movement capable of rebellion. It won’t be quick and it won’t necessarily be dramatic, but it will be rebellion through creation, nonetheless.

        What I can’t figure out is how we can come together to rise above our individual weaknesses and sins into a self supportive structure that will stand against both internal and external insults.

        Reply
      • Oh no what have I started in this thread! More seriously, some very interesting points mikkel and some great references to follow up too! Was this your thesis? If not, are you going to do one on these themes?

        Reply
  19. Jacquelyn Koenig

     /  August 3, 2014

    Waco? Or Gandhi?

    Reply
  20. eleggua

     /  August 3, 2014

    “What I can’t figure out is how we can come together to rise above our individual weaknesses and sins into a self supportive structure that will stand against both internal and external insults.”

    By stating it, we’ve begun the process of figuring it out, of co-creating it.

    Reply
  21. RWood

     /  August 3, 2014

    I thank you, mikkel, for your insights, and to all in this humane expressing.

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 3, 2014

      I’ll second that. Great posts Mikkel.

      Reply
    • Mikkel, I wish I was able to express my views as eloquently as you do.
      My perspective is that any armed conflict would fail against the upper class. I am with Gandhi and Mandella;
      While, on principle, Mandela refused to renounce violence from his prison cell as long as the far more violent apartheid regime refused to do the same, he also recognized the limits of guerrilla warfare in a country where the regime had all the advantages when it came to armed conflict. However morally justifiable armed struggle may have been in the face of such brutality, it simply was not working. Indeed, in the final years of his imprisonment, he – like other ANC leaders – recognized that it was the growing waves of strikes and boycotts, the establishment of parallel institutions, and other forms of unarmed resistance by the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the ANC’s political wing, that would eventually free South Africa from white minority rule.
      From the popularresistance org site.
      The issue is that we have no leverage. Mandella and Gandhi had numbers on their side. This is multi-faceted, we need numbers for forcing change, and to survive. Therefore, I cannot see anything developing unless it meets the needs of the masses first. And that will be security and food. Not in the form of million dollar greenhouses, but more of households, neighbours and communities learning to survive together in a very hostile environment. I have to say I don’t see any change happening before we are well and truly in deep trouble. People aren’t going to break out of their stupor until it starts to bite. By that time the delay between fixing the situation and actually seeing some results will be a generation.
      So my view is that we need to be building a system of community sustainability now. With the full realization that we are preparing for multi-generational extreme hardship. Different regions will have different complications, a lot of areas will really only be viable with underground retreats (See Coober Pedy), and some not at all. I would love to see the abandoned mines eventually being converted (see the Eden project in England).
      I am trying to cover the issues in my blog, it is an understatement to say there are many many issues involved here.
      First though, you have to give the people food, and the community some form of income.
      http://preppingforexile.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/community-economic-viability.html
      I have agnostic faith, akin to Lao Tzu or Einstein. If I was asked what I believed in, I would have to answer, I don’t know but it’s there all the same.

      Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 4, 2014

        Transition has to be nonviolent because violence is incapable of creation; it can only destroy and at best create a blank template. Obviously most of the time that template is poisoned with hate and fear.

        In this instance, we are our own oppressors first and foremost, so violence can only destroy ourselves. Destruction will occur as new structures are created, but hopefully only because they fall from their own weight, not because of violence.

        I believe the status quo is putting all its resources into building a scaffold to save its tower, not accepting that the foundation itself is what is rotten.

        But something that I came to realize while reading MLK and then looking back at Gandhi is that they had been peace-washed. By that I mean that satyagraha is fundamentally about tension and conflict, as opposed to compromise and feel good mediation. Peaceful means are used not because they are inherently “right” but because they are more effective and karmic.

        Even Gandhi talked about non-violence in terms of strategy:

        “Gandhi rejected the idea that injustice should, or even could, be fought against “by any means necessary” – if you use violent, coercive, unjust means, whatever ends you produce will necessarily embed that injustice. To those who preached violence and called nonviolent actionists cowards, he replied: “I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence….I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour….But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment.””

        The secular liberal strain, of nonviolence believes rationality can either directly change minds or build up enough of a populist movement to force it through popular will. It puts its emphasis on feels of shared moral justice and thus arguments about what people should feel or act. It values compromise in an iterative fashion, with the belief that if two sides can take enough small steps then they will end up at the destination together [notice the US cease fire proposal to Israel and Hamas was framed in trying to put together a series of temporary ceasefires until there was peace; as if a string of temporary measures was equivalent to a whole of agreement].

        In this way, it tries to influence the flock and gains its strength only through numbers. It relies on being fashionable.

        By contrast, the active resistance of satyagraha seeks to covert the minds of the oppressors directly.

        “The view taken by Gandhi differs from the idea that the goal in any conflict is necessarily to defeat the opponent or frustrate the opponent’s objectives, or to meet one’s own objectives despite the efforts of the opponent to obstruct these. In satyagraha, by contrast, these are not the goals. “The Satyagrahi’s object is to convert, not to coerce, the wrong-doer.”[11] Success is defined as cooperating with the opponent to meet a just end that the opponent is unwittingly obstructing. The opponent must be converted, at least as far as to stop obstructing the just end, for this cooperation to take place.”

        It cares little for the opinion of the flock, for power is not derived in bits and parcels added up over the millions of supporters; it is derived from the strength and will of the soldiers who utilize it. Both Gandhi and MLK framed their followers in the terms of peaceful and spiritual “war” that aimed not to defeat an enemy, but purify them.

        Instead of trying to convince everyone to do their part, it puts the onus first and foremost on the practitioners, who know full well they will suffer and experience loss. But from that suffering comes strength and from that strength, comes leadership.

        Gandhi and MLK did not start out with numbers on their side, they inspired them through action. They did not spend time trying to convince people to join en masse, they merely identified a few key individuals and gave them deals that couldn’t be refused, for the cost of doing so would be a life time of regret.

        The greatest enemy we face is the belief that we do not have enough people to act, for the world is filled with anxiety and fear. Address that in a constructive way and we will have the largest movement that has ever existed; all without any intent about making it so.

        It is very obvious that the powers in charge are terrified, not only from their charges but from the consequences of their own actions. They are increasingly becoming wounded and cornered, and therefore increasingly dangerous.

        Yet it also means that they have no power in the face of a comprehensive and accepting movement that can free them from the burden of their own torment.

        Reply
        • I agree with you, non-violence is a strategic choice. Perhaps there would be some of us willing to make huge sacrifices (thinking Green Peace whaling) in order to turn some minds. I can’t get past the view though that in this case, it may come too late.
          The Stockholm Conference was held in 1972, since then CO2 has skyrocketed. Asia has just got into economic stride and now they are talking about the “African Lion” economies.
          So, for discussions sake, what is needed is a world wide act of defiance. Let’s say, that the concept of building a sea wall across the Bering Strait would actually stop (or slow down Arctic warming). The movement then decides that as a pilgrimage people would go to the Bering Strait and throw a single rock in, from either side. How long would it take to raise a following and how long to make a difference?
          Gandhi began his first non-violent action in 1907 it was 1931 by the time England was open for discussions – 24 years. Mandella – 27 years in jail, MLK 1955 (the bus boycott) to 1968 -13 years. All 3 were elected into existing infrastructures, they had a oppressed population, and all of them had time on their side. Eventually, it could work.
          The infrastructure we have is Green Peace, they protesting for years with little real effect, the general population is not oppressed, it is pacified, and time is not on our side. The atmospheric warming is minor compared to what is happening in the ocean. When the ocean heat feeds back into the atmosphere it is going to get very harsh. That, and the aerosols in the atmosphere reflecting heat means the general population is complacent, hell over a third of the world’s population are unaware of global warming at all.
          Even if enough people cared, there is no way to change the existing infrastructure in time. Nor is there enough funds. No general support will come from 3rd world countries, the general population there is struggling to survive.
          It is reasonable to assume that even if we completely cut CO2 now, we would pay the price for the next 40 years. Given the existing infrastructure it is feasible that this wouldn’t happen in the West for another 20 years, which is a fair time-frame for economic collapse.
          I believe that great people will arise and maybe large changes can be made, but regardless, large populations are going to suffer horribly.
          It will take a long time to establish some form of community resilient enough to survive what’s coming. Personally, I have kids so that is where my responsibility has to lie. That attitude may be viewed as perhaps cowardly or selfish, but if I can build an infrastructure perhaps other people will too.
          I cannot see meaningful change happening in time to alleviate the suffering, even for the people advocating that change. Once you have communities, then you can advocate change, while also alleviating suffering.

      • mikkel

         /  August 4, 2014

        Also the post you linked to is great!

        It is completely required as a prerequisite step to the non-violent disobedience aspect, and the prior movements made sure they had a solid foundation for addressing their (minimal) physical needs before entering into political confrontation.

        Although some of your post addresses clearly delineated physical communities, this part is universal:

        “Imagine a system whereby tithing is used to support community food gardens and infrastructure. Yes, it is a form of taxation but the result is community, security for the aged, religious expression, food on the table and potentially the ability to sell goods (particularly food) into the wider community at farmers markets. This is a somewhat simplistic view. Not everyone is suited to agriculture, some have great skills required in the larger economy. The larger economy needs services. So the community can also act as an personnel agency. Therein lies the potential.

        As an agency, the community receives profit, that profit is fed back into the community. In this case the tax is implicit. As an agricultural entity, the profit received is fed back into the system. Even if multiple communities buy and sell between them the profit is recycled within the same system.”

        I believe that this “community” can be dispersed across the world right now and become physical in the places that are most ready, while all successes have tithing back to the whole that create resiliency and allow it to spread. The profit generated is essential to providing new investment and thus new job opportunities.

        All of the things I’m working on are to provide the economic and investment structure to enable this, with the idea that it should focus on providing basic needs at immediate lower cost and sustianability.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 4, 2014

        You say there is a “business plan,” have you tried to get people to organize around it?

        Reply
        • The business plan is tricky because it actually involves my existing business (software) and its competitiveness in the market place (logistics). I have approached a couple of businesses looking to expand their business offerings, but ultimately I feel I would have to do it myself which is a daunting task as it, in total, is a very large proposal.
          If you are interested in having a look, post a comment to the http://preppingforexile.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/community-economic-viability.html
          The comments are moderated so include your email address and I will delete the comment after I have sent you a link to view it in Google Docs.

      • “Transition has to be nonviolent because violence is incapable of creation; it can only destroy and at best create a blank template. Obviously most of the time that template is poisoned with hate and fear”

        I think we often forget what is sometimes meant by a ‘break with history’. Every time violence is used to achieve change it creates, if successful, a set of losers who will fester in their loss only to regroup and come back fighting once again. Perhaps a break from violence is what is required to break free from the cyclic nature of human history, the history of conflict that is. I am not entirely sure that the time frames, just how short they are, will allow for peaceful transitions no matter how much I desire that path.

        Reply
  22. AThornton

     /  August 3, 2014

    From the article, “A set of peat-like material that, were it to be sequestered, would likely turn into a hundreds foot deep seam of coal over ages of heat and pressure.”

    It is my – possibly mistaken – impression coal produces oxygen during combustion.

    So: without human intervention (How? Who pays?) will these fires continue to burn until all available fuel (YIKES!) is exhausted?

    Reply
    • wili

       /  August 3, 2014

      Coal, like everything that burns, consumes oxygen during combustion–it is an oxidizing reaction. Perhaps you were thinking of carbon di-OX-ide?

      Reply
    • If there’s enough combustion, atmospheric oxygen levels fall. We have been seeing very slow drops in atmospheric oxygen for some time. Not likely to be the greatest, early concern, though.

      Reply
    • AThornton

       /  August 5, 2014

      Having had a chance to do some research (and where I got the notion coal fires produce oxygen is unknown. I blame situational stupidity due to lack of caffeine) …

      Coal seam and peat fires burn until they are actively suppressed or all the combustible material is consumed. Both can continue for centuries as they move through the coal seam(s) or peat layer(s). Evidence strongly suggests atmospheric moisture: rain, snow, etc., will not extinguish them.

      Thus I postulate these fires are not a One Shot but a continuous effect on global climate.

      Reply
      • Once the permafrost is melted and dried, then lit. Some will thaw and stay wet. If there is a basement water layer, the fire won’t burn through that. Also, the burning source must remain contiguous.

        I do wonder if any of these fires burn in the basement layer through winter only to pop out again during summer. Wouldn’t be too surprised if that’s what’s happening in some cases.

        Reply
  23. Robert, this study appears to answer a big piece of the ENSO puzzle. The way I understand it is that the warming Atlantic causes the trade winds to strengthen thereby delaying the onset of El Niño. I would love to read your thoughts on this paper.
    http://nyti.ms/1zL1jUt

    Reply
    • It’s an interesting paper, one whose possible implications are worth considering for some time. We have seen very powerful and persistent high pressure systems and related gradients in the regions affected. Not sure if we can just pin down Atlantic warming as the primary cause, though. We have a lot of atmospheric/ocean machinery getting shoved about at the moment.

      Reply
  24. Loni

     /  August 3, 2014

    Yes indeed, how will the future unfold? How do we design, build and prepare for a potentially all encompassing global maelstrom? These are times pregnant with upheaval and dramatic changes. Opportunities that should be taken are lost in the ‘fog o’ war. We are fighting so many fires, e.g. Gaza, Syria, Ukraine, closer to home, child refugees at the border, entrenched political malfeasance, that we are not fighting the REAL fires that can potentially drive us into the next extinction, namely the Northwest Territories/Siberia, and the same oversight problems can be applied to damn near every other aspect of climate change. Added to that as Tom pointed out, there are always those pesky nuke plants.

    The closer we get to the edge, the fewer options we have available.

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 3, 2014

      Loni = “The closer we get to the edge, the fewer options we have available.”

      I sense the opposite. The closer we get to the ‘edge’, the more available options will be become.
      In other words, those with vested interest in ‘no change’ will be removed from the equation, allowing the known options to be implemented and radical new options/solutions to be encouraged and discovered.

      Much of what mikkel speaks of above is spot on, relative to the soon-come availability of options, i.e. the unleashing of options.

      mikkel = “With these insights, I believe it is possible to create a movement capable of rebellion. It won’t be quick and it won’t necessarily be dramatic, but it will be rebellion through creation, nonetheless. ”

      Yes, agreed, however I sense that it will be rather quick and it will be very, very dramatic.
      Ala bringing down the Berlin Wall: not so much negative and tumultuous but rather, celebratory and positive.

      Also, this sort of discussion is at least as vital as discussion concerning the actual reality of climate change.

      Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 4, 2014

        I really hope so eleggua!

        I hope that more within the community start to agree that this discussion is as vital. Robert has done a great job of fleshing out forthcoming realities based on paleoclimate observations and he is great at intuiting some seemingly contradictory outcomes; but I feel that generally the overall community is starting to get obsessed with tracking details even though they are existentially unimportant and unknowable. Much better to focus on our actions and meaning.

        Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 4, 2014

      “Robert has done a great job of fleshing out forthcoming realities based on paleoclimate observations and he is great at intuiting some seemingly contradictory outcomes”

      and he is just as great in encouraging positivity and discouraging negativity! Super important.

      “Much better to focus on our actions and meaning.”

      In concert with awareness of the data and details. Not everyone need track all of the details, however it’s an imperative that some of us do so quite diligently and didactically.
      Information is power; the morewide spread the info, the more we share power.
      Critical right now, sharing of power. As Robert said in an earlier post above,

      “We need to do everything we can to help as many as we can. Just looking out for oneself isn’t enough. We must help each other.”

      That – co-operation – is going to become widespread, become global. Encouraging co-operation is necessary, right now and always.
      Particularly right now: it’s time to rev the engine of co-operation. Spread the word. 😉

      Reply
  25. Loni

     /  August 3, 2014

    To Andy in San Diego, (my home town as a matter of fact, me being a post war baby), we share the same state, albeit at opposite ends with me in Humboldt/Trinity counties. So how did the north end o’ the state fair in your relocation druthers column?

    (Hint; go ahead and lie to me, I’m too damn old to move, I’ve already got my garden in……..just tell me you gave it serious thought and I’ll be fine).

    Reply
  26. Colorado Bob

     /  August 3, 2014

    A mysterious surge in the trade winds that blow across the Pacific Ocean – one of the causes of a recent slow down in global temperature rises – is actually the result of the warming of the Atlantic Ocean, Australian-led research has found.
    Research published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday sought to solve the puzzle of why the trade winds of the Pacific Ocean were about 50 per cent stronger since the late 1990s, levels above anything previous observed.
    Previous research has identified the stronger trade winds as one cause of a pause in global surface temperature rises in the past 15 years, despite the large amounts of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere through human activity.
    That research found the stronger winds were altering ocean overturning patterns and driving the missing heat deeper into the Pacific Ocean.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/atlantic-warming-causing-stronger-pacific-trade-winds-20140803-zzwl8.html#ixzz39NLC8BKX

    Reply
    • This pressure difference between the two ocean basins isn’t expected to last. And as previous research reported, when it does end, a sudden acceleration of average temperature around the globe would likely occur.

      “It will be difficult to predict when the Pacific cooling trend and its contribution to the global hiatus in surface temperatures will come to an end,” co-author Matthew England said. “However, a large El Niño event is one candidate that has the potential to drive the system back to a more synchronized Atlantic/Pacific warming situation.”

      http://news.discovery.com/earth/global-warming/global-warming-kicks-up-record-pacific-trade-winds-140803.htm

      Reply
    • Interesting paper. I think we still need to look at this one as inconclusive. A lot of machinery getting shoved about.

      Reply
  27. Colorado Bob

     /  August 3, 2014

    Why an 1879 Voyage Is a Time Machine for Climate Change
    A doomed Navy expedition kept exacting records that show the rapid weakening of the polar ice cap.
    By HAMPTON SIDES
    —Mr. Sides is the author, most recently, of “In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette,” which will be published Aug. 5 by Doubleday.

    Over the past year, an international team of climatologists and historians, working with the National Archives, has dug back into those historic logbooks and started digitizing and analyzing De Long’s work. “The data De Long gathered is quite valuable and amazingly thorough,” says Kevin Wood, a scientist affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The Jeannette was well-equipped for science, and it was the first vessel ever to go through that part of the Arctic.”

    The climate-change story that De Long’s logbooks tell is a sobering one: The once impenetrable polar ice cap, at least in that 1,000-mile swath of the High Arctic north of Siberia, has shrunk, weakened and thinned far faster—and far more dramatically—than anyone had realized. Dr. Wood has taken dozens of research trips to the waters north of the Bering Strait and has closely compared recent ice conditions with those described by De Long. “If the Jeannette were embarking today in the same season,” says Dr. Wood, “she probably wouldn’t find any sea ice to get stuck in.”

    The extent to which the ice in the northern Chukchi Sea has shrunk since De Long’s ordeal is astonishing. “For the most recent decade, satellite data show that summer ice concentrations in the Chukchi Sea south of the 80th parallel have declined by as much as 70%,” Dr. Wood says.

    As the extent of the ice has shrunk, its quality has weakened. De Long’s journal speaks of enormous pressure ridges and towering bergs of multiyear ice unleashing a din of shrieks, groans and shuddering explosions. “The kind of ice that De Long describes seems almost fantastical to me,” says Dr. Wood. “In his journal, he repeatedly describes ridges and grounded floebergs that are as tall as 60 feet that have run aground in 150 feet of water. You just don’t see this kind of ice in that part of the Arctic anymore.”

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-an-1879-voyage-is-a-time-machine-for-climate-change-1406937914

    Reply
  28. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2014

    The video below was shot and edited last night quickly as we prepare for a return to our camp a few hours from now.

    Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2014

    Munster, Germany Deluge of July 28th

    On the afternoon of July 28th heavy thunderstorms developed over portions of western Germany and remained stationary for several hours depositing prodigious amounts of rainfall in and around the city of Munster (among other sites). A rain gauge at Munster’s main sewage works measured 292.5 mm (11.52”) of rainfall in a 7-hour period between 17:00-00:00 UTC. Of this, an amazing 163.5 mm (6.44”) fell in a single hour ending at 20:00 UTC and 261.5 mm (10.30”) in just 3 hours (see table below).

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/comment.html?entrynum=292

    Reply
  30. Tom

     /  August 4, 2014

    mikkel: thank you for your thoughtful, long reply. I’ve never advocated rolling over and dying (ie. I agree with your initial statement). By all means we should and will continue to fight the corporate control of our government that has been co-opted and captured by psychopaths and rogue agencies (NSA, et al) using non-violent means (because we’re out-gunned in the end). i’m sure after reading your lengthy comments that you “know” as well as I do that the people in charge have a warped world-view and wouldn’t hesitate to use violence to hold onto their power while we “play by the rules.” We’ve seen it time and time again and will continue to see it unfold until the system seizes up and becomes ineffective. They’re corrupted by their use of “absolute power” (ie. the military/police state) and we’ve been witnessing the death of American democracy (as Hedges points out). The government no longer works as designed (hasn’t since JF Kennedy was assassinated) and won’t be coming back now that they’ve shredded the Constitution in favor of corporate policy.

    At this point we can see the trajectory we’ve been on over the last few decades – climate change is out of control and ramping up, making all human efforts and desires moot. The best we can do is try to survive the trap we’ve set for ourselves (complete with the continuing dispersal of deadly radioactivity throughout the biosphere).

    Reply
    • mikkel

       /  August 4, 2014

      Tom, when I first started commenting on the blog I poked at Robert quite a bit by insisting that we should *assume* all was lost and we were already dead. If not quite dead physically, our egos are already dead because the entirety of the environment in which they formed is over and we have no control. Like you said, our desires are moot.

      While being antagonizing to see how he responded — after all, his blog is one of the few that highlights all the challenges we face — my greater point was that accepting uncertain death is liberating because everything becomes permissible. As long as we frame our desires in attachment to what we know, we will be paralyzed in the face of both the oligarchs and the impersonal natural forces that we have unleashed.

      If we kill ourselves, and live as things are, when things are, then we will be reborn each day.

      It is from this that I understand the Dalai Lama’s reaction when I saw him talk about global warming. He said that people say it is a big problem, but it is not a problem at all, for it is rapidly resolving itself into a solution where we are all dead. Then he cackled the most joyous and horrifying cackle I’ve ever heard for a solid minute. At the end, he regathered himself and said, “of course it is not wise to commit suicide.”

      So when I read your litany of horsemen, I can appreciate where you are coming from. I just want to advocate that it is still possible to align our efforts and desires with the whole, and whatever the ends will be will be. This is something that the NTErs miss (in addition to their outlandish claims about time horizons).

      Reply
      • Apneaman

         /  August 4, 2014

        I don’t know about NTE, but I do know most of the scientific community was scoffing at their warnings about methane until very recently. This is the same scientific community that, 5 years or so ago, was claiming the summer sea ice would not disappear until 2075 or 2050 at the earliest. McPherson was also urgently talking about positive feedbacks years before mainstream. Who’s claims about time horizons does one choose to believe? I guess it depends on if you have babies and grand-babies.

        Reply
      • mikkel

         /  August 4, 2014

        Yes, I’ve been very disappointed in the consensus view towards both of those outcomes. Both raw data and thermodynamic modelling clearly show the positive feedback loops that cause regime change, and it is embarrassing that they were caught so flat footed.

        *But* no process scales forever. Instead complex systems make fast jumps to new regimes and then adjust (with high volatility) at those new points. While I believe that sea ice will come very close to disappearing soon, the negative feedback loops that Robert has pointed out will most likely cause it to reappear at some level for some length of time. Who knows, if we truly kept under 2C then it is possible that sea ice can be recovered long term.

        Similarly, the permafrost and some clathrates will release methane over the coming decade(s), but then there will be quite a long pause.

        Drawing out exponential curves out far in the future is no more realistic than linear ones.

        Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 4, 2014

      “we should and will continue to fight the corporate control of our government”

      Please, let’s stop ‘fighting’. We don’t need to ‘fight’ corporate control.
      We ought to encourage others to ignore it, to divest their interest in it. And to educate those that don’t understand its totally ill effects on all of our nature what’s wrong with it.

      Adopt principles of akido. No more fighting.

      ‘Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on.
      This requires very little physical strength, as the aikidōka (aikido practitioner) “leads” the attacker’s momentum using entering and turning movements.’

      Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2014

    Wildfires and other burns play bigger role in climate change

    Date:
    July 31, 2014
    Source:
    Stanford School of Engineering
    Summary:
    Research demonstrates that it isn’t just the carbon dioxide from biomass burning that’s the problem. Black carbon and brown carbon maximize the thermal impacts of such fires. They essentially allow biomass burning to cause much more global warming per unit weight than other human-associated carbon sources.

    Jacobson, the director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program and a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy, said almost 8.5 billion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide — or about 18 percent of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions -comes from biomass burning.
    But Jacobson’s research also demonstrates that it isn’t just the CO2 from biomass burning that’s the problem. Black carbon and brown carbon maximize the thermal impacts of such fires. They essentially allow biomass burning to cause much more global warming per unit weight than other human-associated carbon sources.
    Black and brown carbon particles increase atmospheric warming in three ways. First, they enter the minuscule water droplets that form clouds. At night, that’s not an issue. But during the day, sunlight scatters around within clouds, bathing them in luminescence.
    When sunlight penetrates a water droplet containing black or brown carbon particles, Jacobson said, the carbon absorbs the light energy, creating heat and accelerating evaporation of the droplet. Carbon particles floating around in the spaces between the droplets also absorb scattered sunlight, converting it to heat.
    “Heating the cloud reduces the relative humidity in the cloud,” Jacobson said.
    This causes the cloud to dissipate. And because clouds reflect sunlight, cloud dissipation causes more sunlight to transfer to the ground and seas, ultimately resulting in warmer ground and air temperatures.
    Finally, Jacobson said, carbon particles released from burning biomass settle on snow and ice, contributing to further warming.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140731201529.htm

    Reply
    • I see a lot of people saying that smoke aerosols from these large fires tends to result in cooling. But the net feedback is probably positive due to overall impacts from black/brown carbon.

      Reply
  32. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2014

    Atlantic warming turbocharges Pacific trade winds

    New research has found rapid warming of the Atlantic Ocean, likely caused by global warming, has turbocharged Pacific Equatorial trade winds. Currently the winds are at a level never before seen on observed records, which extend back to the 1860s.
    The increase in these winds has caused eastern tropical Pacific cooling, amplified the Californian drought, accelerated sea level rise three times faster than the global average in the Western Pacific and has slowed the rise of global average surface temperatures since 2001.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140803193642.htm

    Reply
  33. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2014

    63-year record: Santa Cruz got 1,469mm rain in July

    MUMBAI: July has brought record rainfall for Mumbai and considerably reduced concerns about the extent of water cuts the city may have to face in the next one year. The rainfall for the month in Santa Cruz – 1,469mm – has been the highest for July since 1951 and has surpassed even the 1,454mm recorded in 2005, the year of the 26/7 deluge.

    In June, Santa Cruz had received only 87.3mm rainfall, the lowest in 63 years, forcing the BMC to impose a 20% water cut.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Days-rain-gives-Mumbai-over-a-months-water-supply/articleshow/39375299.cms

    Reply
  1. Fires in the North… | Maximum Freedom
  2. Methane explosion investigated as cause for mysterious Siberian sink hole (Update) | ClimateState
  3. Podsumowanie zmian klimatycznych i aktualizacja (6.08.2014) | Exignorant's Blog
  4. Climate-change summary and update | limitless life

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