From Siberia to British Columbia Arctic Wildfires Begin an Ominous Ignition

It’s abnormally warm today near Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territory. And the smell of smoke from massive fires to the west lingers in the air.

Temperatures there yesterday afternoon read 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Where I sat typing this blog in Gaithersburg, Maryland, it was a somewhat cooler 67. A north-south temperature flip-flop that has become all-too-common in recent years. A warming in the Arctic that sets the stage for gargantuan summer wildfires burning through some of the world’s greatest carbon stores. Vast and thawing permafrost deposits stretching in a great arc from Siberia through Alaska and on into Northern Canada. Immense loads of fuel for a newly forming ring of fire that is now an entirely human invention.

image

(It was pretty darn hot near Great Slave Lake, NWT territory Wednesday. 80 degree readings in a polar region that, on average, should be in the mid 40s as a daily high for May 13. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Now, fires are starting to flare around this broad stretch of once-frozen lands rapidly warmed by an unprecedented belching of heat-trapping gasses into the Earth’s atmosphere. Though the fires are not yet widespread, many are rather large — erupting over a smattering of areas. It is not typical for large fires of this kind to appear at all in May. Nor is it usual to find them in regions girding the Arctic at this time.

Lake Baikal Fires Still Burn

The first set of blazes ignited during mid April of 2015 through a permafrost zone in the Lake Baikal region of Russia. Though the fires appear to have backed off from the towns and settlements they threatened at that time, they have continued to burn unabated — fading and flaring more than most of the past month.

Lake Baikal Wildfires

(In the above MODIS satellite shot from NASA we see numerous fires still burning near Lake Baikal in Russia. Note the multiple dark burn scars covering vast stretches of land near upper center frame. For reference, the larger, still burning fires in this shot range from about 3-8 miles wide. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

As the more southerly fires continued to burn through thawing permafrost zones, blazes began to erupt further and further north. As of this week, the fires have marched to the shores of Lake Baikal itself, scorching their black scars in the Earth like some great fire giant’s footprints.

Wildfires in Central Siberia

Leaping over Lake Baikal and moving north and westward we come to the great open spaces of Siberia. Here, in recent years, vast fires have burned through grass, forest and permafrost alike. Few settlements dot the wide expanses. So fire suppression efforts have only rallied when towns and cities were threatened. Meanwhile, the once frozen regions all about have increasingly caught fire. Turning the place into a land of summer flame.

Central Siberian Fires

(Fires igniting along valleys and ridge lines in Central Siberia. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

By Wednesday, a quartet of significant fires had erupted along a hilly region in Central Siberia. Tuesday, there was but a single blaze. Now four rage across a region that has felt an extraordinary warming not only this year, but for a long succession of years now stretching on for many decades.

Beyond these newly emerging fires, we begin a pass over the wide open plains of Siberia. There we note a tell-tale whiff of smoke or three. But no large burn points are visible in the moderate resolution satellite shot. Continuing on to just south of Yamal, Russia where the odd methane blow holes first appeared last summer we find a region still mostly frozen. But thaw is predicted to come quickly — coincident with a rapid warm up forecast for the next week.

Norman Lake Fires British Columbia

Shifting still westward we cross over Northern Europe, the Atlantic, a thawing Hudson Bay and return to where we started our narrative in Northwest Territory Canada. To near 80 degree Fahrenheit temperatures at Great Slave Lake. And to a thick cloud of smoke issuing up from the nearby valleys of Northern British Columbia.

Norman Lake Wildfire

(Norman Lake Fire in the MODIS satellite shot on Wednesday, May 13. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

There, near Prince George, at Norman Lake, a massive wildfire erupted earlier this week. Unable to contain it, more than 100 firefighters and numerous helicopter and heavy equipment crews quickly found themselves fighting a defensive battle against a rapidly expanding blaze. By this morning, the Norman Lake fire had more than quadrupled to 80 square kilometers in size. Indications from the above satellite shot are that the fire is still growing.

The massive blaze forced two regional districts to issue evacuation orders or alerts and more than 80 people to evacuate residences. Meanwhile, B.C. has closed its Dahl Lake and Bobtail Mountain provincial parks until further notice.

Conditions in Context

For wide stretches of the Arctic, especially in Central Siberia and Western Canada, winter heat and early spring melt are contributing to a very high risk of wildfires. In addition, the decadal warming forced by human-caused climate change is thawing ever greater portions of permafrost, which also adds near surface fuels to traditional brush and woodlands fires.

The early and intense fires we are seeing now represent just the beginning of what is likely to be an extreme fire event for these regions. At this point, we are looking at a worsening fire potential stretching from now through mid September for these vulnerable Arctic zones.

Links:

LANCE-MODIS

Earth Nullschool

UPDATE: Wildfire South of Norman Lake Now 8000 Hectares in Size

Siberia’s Road to a Permaburn Hell

Leave a comment

79 Comments

  1. Ouse M.D.

     /  May 14, 2015

    Since when had to we become familiar with the term the term “Arctic Wildfires”?
    I can only recall it from 2013 onwards…

    Reply
    • rayduray

       /  May 14, 2015

      Ouse M.D.,

      I share your recollection. Although I do recall reading about seasonal fires around Fairbanks, AK prior to 2013.

      Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 14, 2015

      Good point. It has not been part of the lexicon in the past, but I see it moving forward unabated.

      Reply
    • Started tracking unusual events in 2011. It looks like they began to become more common in the mid 2000s. Since 2012 they’ve been pretty much constant and apparently worsening.

      Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 14, 2015

      Ouse M.D.,

      Here’s a real milestone from 8 years ago :

      The Tundra is on Fire

      Hat Tip to DESIGNSNAKE for seeding this story.
      The largest fire in Alaska this year, has turned out to be the tundra …. the largest tundra fire ever seen.

      So, for those scoring at home, some highlights of what’s burnt this year :

      Most of Griffith Park in L.A.

      A swamp in south Georgia the size of Rhode Island.

      Greece … The fires in Greece burnt more acres than all of Europe has lost in the last 10 years.

      Milford Flat, Utah ….. This fire burnt 300,000 acres in 3 days, on it’s way to being the largest in state history.

      South Africa ….. 1032 sq miles, 28 dead 100’s homeless.

      Now we learn that 344 square miles of tundra has been blackened, that’s 344 square miles of permafrost that will absorb more solar energy until nature repairs the burn. My guess …. this patch of tundra will be some of the most studied ever.

      http://coloradobob1.newsvine.com/_news/2007/09/29/992565-the-tundra-is-on-fire

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 15, 2015

        ScienceDaily (Nov. 18, 2010) — In September, 2007, the Anaktuvuk River Fire burned more than 1,000 square kilometers of tundra on Alaska’s North Slope, doubling the area burned in that region since record keeping began in 1950. A new analysis of sediment cores from the burned area revealed that this was the most destructive tundra fire at that site for at least 5,000 years. Models built on 60 years of climate and fire data found that even moderate increases in warm-season temperatures in the region dramatically increase the likelihood of such fires.

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101117141516.htm

        Reply
      • And, yeah, Bob was there to report on first major events.

        Reply
  2. rayduray

     /  May 14, 2015

    Ah, wilderness! Here’s a delightful film about the Siberian taiga..

    Below you’ll find a YouTube of the original four part documentary, “Happy People: A Year in the Taiga” by Dmitry Vasyukov . Bahktia, a village at 62 Degrees North Latitude on the Yenisei River is the setting. The original documentary (see Part 1 below) was filmed in 2005, i.e. 10 years ago. Before the fires were an issue.

    Where is Bahktia? It’s about 4 degrees north of Krasnoyarsk, which is where the Trans-Siberian Railway crosses the Yenesei River.

    There’s another version of this documentary, a 90 minute cut narrated in English by Werner Herzog available on DVD.

    Reply
  3. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 14, 2015

    In BC fire season was July / August. Yes there would be spots here and there in June, but not this early, not May. The significant danger was July / August.

    However, that was 40 years ago.

    Current fire Map for BC.

    http://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/dmf-viewer/?siteid=5131184402955244847

    Reply
  4. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 14, 2015

    Little Bobtail Lake Wildfire (the fire Robert is noting in the article), currently ~13,000 ha.

    Status: Active
    • 0% guarded
    • 0% contained
    • 0% mop up

    Resources
    • 120 firefighters
    • 8 helicopters
    • 10 heavy equipment
    • 4 airtankers

    Today, additional ground, air, and equipment resources will be added to the fire to slow the rate of spread. All resources will work to establish containment lines on the fire today.

    Reply
    • So, Andy — is that a big clear surrounding the burn area? MacBlo at work?
      Thanks

      Reply
      • “big clear cut”

        Reply
      • Andy in San Diego

         /  May 14, 2015

        Yup,

        That’s good old Mac Blo performing “conservation” by leaving “seed trees”. It like looking at BC on google earth, nothing but a quilt work of chopped dead. Then of course the deciduous alders and their sort grow faster than coniferous so if anything returns, it is not even remotely what was there.

        NOTE: Seed Trees = Dried out dead shit that’s not worth cutting down.

        Reply
    • God that thing just keeps exploding. 45 square kilometers to 130 in 36 hours. They have a real situation on their hands in BC.

      Reply
    • Four active fire zones now for Arctic or permafrost regions — adding in another zone from Central Siberia about 600 miles west of Lake Baikal and 400 miles west of the quartet of blazes from yesterday. Starting to get pretty well involved here.

      Reply
  5. Thanks, Robert.
    Prince George, BC should not be burning.
    Beware of stagnant smoke ash filled ash air masses lingering over urban pollution zones. Casualties will accrue.
    The lethargic jet stream will not flush, or dilute, the burnt forests for us. (Say the last few words out loud.)
    From the globalnews article: “and extremely low humidity for this time of year.” This is most alarming.
    As the fires have expand, their severity has also increased. We will see more of this.

    – From PNW WA, USA: kuow org post spring-fire

    ‘Spring Fires In Northwest Burning Hotter, Bigger Than Normal’

    It’s not strange for fires to start this time of year. But it is strange for those fires to grow to 148 acres. That’s how big the Peavine Creek Fire in southern Oregon got last week before crews contained it.

    “You know, here on the forest, we’ve had conversations — especially this weekend — around the fire line and in fire camp,” said the Forest Service’s Franklin Pemberton. “You know, guys who’ve been on this forest 15, 20, 25 years. … And they certainly don’t remember a fire in May that burned quite this hot.”

    Pemberton said the fire has responded to water more like a fire later in the season — by turning it to steam and continuing to burn.

    Reply
    • These things just scare the living daylights out of me. Wildfires shouldn’t look like this in the satellite shot. And it’s still very early.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  May 14, 2015

        Yes, it doesn’t make me want to camping in the forests there anytime soon – event though I’d love to some day. How do hikers and campers find out where it’s safe to go?

        Reply
      • Check the fire alert levels for your region. For example fire danger in Shenandoah, where my wife and I like to hike is low.

        Reply
      • Jacque

         /  May 15, 2015

        Answer to Mark from a southern Utahn: you can smell the smoke, especially by the middle of the night or early in the morning, as it hangs in the valley bottoms when there is the least air movement. Even if it is too far away to smell, the blue sky appears unusually hazy. We’ve all become semi-expert at sensing area (and even quite distant) fires in the Southwest.

        Reply
  6. wili

     /  May 14, 2015

    It’s weird, because these areas are also the ones predicted to get more total precipitation as the Arctic Ocean becomes more and more open for more and more of the year. But so far that precip seems to mostly be coming in the winter, and then it just melts off quickly as soon as spring comes.

    The main point for me is, whatever short-term effects these fire and their smoke may have on the region, the long term effect is surely going to be a positive (exacerbating) GW feedback. Especially when, as we’ve seen, it’s the very ground that catches fire.

    Reply
    • – PNW and on up N: Something to note, and fear, is that the coastal ranges will surely burn as well.
      Any El Nino induced rainfall will turn into ash debris gully-washers — along with the loss of watershed.

      Reply
  7. Henri

     /  May 14, 2015

    There is a popular warning ‘Winter is coming’ in the hit series Game of Thrones. Here in the real world i find ‘Summer is coming’ a much more ominous phrase.

    Reply
  8. Griffin

     /  May 14, 2015

    Thank you for taking your time for another fantastic post Robert.
    It amazes me how much I learn from you and everyone else on here.

    Reply
  9. PCCP82

     /  May 14, 2015

    How long would death of winter take?

    Reply
    • Depends on how much carbon you dump into the atmosphere. At 550-650 ppm CO2 it’s pretty much a lock, but probably takes hundreds of years for the ice sheets to fully go down. Less in the Northern Hemisphere, though, where all that’s left is Greenland. If you hit 800-1000 ppm this century under BAU burning then the pace accelerates.

      Archer’s ‘Long Thaw’ is a good read in this regard — representing the conservative view on rate of melt.

      Reply
  10. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 15, 2015

    I remember in BC when I lived at Whistler (long before it became Gucci town, and was just a ski town). When we would get forest fires the rule was that the Forest Rangers and cops could “enlist” (draft) men to put on the fire line for 8 bucks a day.

    If you were drafted, you stayed on the line until you were allowed to leave (usually a few days).

    And where would they find able bodied men to quickly draft to put on the line? Bars of course! So many time we would be at the Boot, Alpine or other bars and there would be a forest fire sprouting up on a mountainside. We’ld be drinking with one eye on the front door. As soon as we saw cops or forest trucks pull up, we would slam our beers and head out the back door through the kitchen.

    You would have thought it was a spontaneous projectile ebola outbreak.

    Reply
    • That’s just nuts. Sounds like something straight out of sci-fi. I wonder if bar impressment for firefighters is still a thing in Canada?

      Reply
    • Great yarn there, Andy.
      You slacker!🙂
      Q: What kind of beer did you drink? In my early wilder years it was Uncle Ben’s with Johnny
      Walker Red for a chaser. Later, with maturity, it was Okeefe Extra Old Stock “High Test”, a very good commercial beer. Just sporadic — most years I was a non-boozer.

      Reply
      • Andy in San Diego

         /  May 15, 2015

        It was all High Test & Export-A’s back then.

        I got old & boring, but am good for a few beers here & there still.

        Reply
  11. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2015

    Bill McKibben nails it

    This simply has to be shared, as Bill McKibben expresses my thoughts exactly. This sentence just about says it all: “It’s as if the tobacco companies were applying for permission to put cigarette machines in cancer wards. And the White House gave Shell the license.”

    I haven’t seen such a good metaphor for quite a while.

    Here’s the op-ed McKibben penned for the New York Times:

    Obama’s Catastrophic Climate-Change Denial

    Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice Blog

    A very unusual post for Neven .

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2015/05/bill-mckibben-nails-it.html

    Reply
    • Very nicely done!

      Between TPP and this Shell nonsense, it appears Obama is backsliding again. Still a far cry better than republicans. But allying with them on these two key climate issues is not at all comforting.

      Gratitude to both Neven and McKibben for going to bat on this.

      Reply
  12. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 15, 2015

    Robert,

    My condolences for your cat. I hate when a pet passes and I know there is nothing that makes it better. Thoughts are with you.

    Reply
    • Yeah. Really appreciate it, my good friend.

      Reply
      • Yes, such a loss leaves a bit of a hole in one’s heart — the trust, the connection…

        OUT

        Reply
    • “It’s possible they will become more receptive once they find themselves in an environment without water, food or oxygen.”

      Not if they are HS corporatus maximus, HS teapartyus, or HS dominionis evangelicus christianus.

      Reply
      • Strange, this was a reply to Colorado Bob’s excellent satire by Andy Borowitz, below.

        PS Robert, my condolences on the passing of your cat.

        Reply
  13. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2015

    Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans
    By Andy Borowitz

    MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report) – Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

    The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

    “These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

    More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

    http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/scientists-earth-endangered-by-new-strain-of-fact-resistant-humans

    Reply
  14. Loni

     /  May 15, 2015

    Robert, I’ll echo Andy in S.D. and extend condolences. I’d much rather bury people than pets…………(.in fact I’ve got three on my list now). I’ve always thought that they go to await our reunion. I’ve got a heaven full of fury buddies to rest in one day.

    Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2015

    Thawing Arctic carbon threatens ‘runaway’ global warming

    Answer – it reaches the atmosphere at breakneck speed

    Researchers have checked the mouths of the Arctic rivers for the telltale evidence of ancient dissolved organic carbon – partly-rotted vegetable matter deep-frozen more than 20,000 years ago – and found surprisingly little.

    Now Robert Spencer, an oceanographer at Florida State University, and colleagues from the US, UK, Russia, Switzerland and Germany report in Geophysical Research Letters that the answer lies in the soil – and in the headwater streams of the terrestrial Arctic regions.

    Instead of flowing down towards the sea, the thawing peat and ancient leaf litter of the warming permafrost is being metabolised by microbes and released swiftly into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

    The scientists conclude that the microbes, once they get a chance to work at all, act so fast that half of all the soil carbon they can get at is turned into carbon dioxide within a week. It gets into the atmosphere before it has much chance to flow downstream with the soil meltwater.

    The researchers centred their study on Duvanny Yar in Siberia, where the Kolyma River sluices through a bank of permafrost to expose the frozen organic carbon.

    They worked at 19 different sites – including places where the permafrost was more than 30 metres deep – and they found tributary streams made entirely of thawed permafrost.

    Measurement of the carbon concentration confirmed that it was indeed ancient. The researchers analysed its form in the meltwater, then they bottled it with a selection of local microbes, and waited.

    Link

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 15, 2015

      Disturbing. To say the least.

      Reply
      • How many permafrost researchers does it take for the IPCC to listen? The risk is high enough that we need global policy measures that swiftly and completely cut off the human based flow of carbon to the atmosphere. There’s no time, no budget. And failing to act decisively now results in ever more severe harm down the road. We are simply asking governments to stop what is, for human civilizations, an ongoing flood of atmospheric poison, one that is starting to wring more of the same from the Earth System itself.

        Some are trying to use this clear WARNING SIGN to argue that we shouldn’t cut carbon emissions, because it is no use. But the truth is the more human carbon hits the atmosphere, the more feedback carbon you get. So those trying to roll back a bad 2 C ‘limit’ are in effect ensuring far worse to come.

        It’s like a smoker presenting the first signs of lung cancer coming to the doctor. What does the doctor say? Does he say, well, let’s stop smoking cigarettes over the course of the next two years? Does he say, well you’ve already got cancer, so there’s no use in stopping the smoking now? Or does he tell the goddamn truth and say — your best chances are if you never smoke another cigarette again.

        So the prescription is no more cigarettes for people with lung disease. And no more fossil fuel burning for civilizations at risk of a runaway greenhouse.

        Reply
      • Yes, indubitably. These findings in the Arctic and the recent change to the Keeling Curve are enough evidence we have zero, zip, nada left in the carbon budget — we need to stop burning FF’s *now*, not wait for business as usual to be duly hampered and delayed, and finally collapsed, by peak oil, peak natural gas and peak coal.

        Reply
        • My opinion is that peak oil is basically a red herring from the climate context perspective. New discoveries, new tech, and new resource management keeps extending the lifespan of fossil fuels. And we’re already well beyond the 350 ppm safe limit.

      • A red herring. That’s why the IPCC didn’t plot out the Green Line from the corresponding spaghetti models, and because peak oilers projected a maximum CO2 content of 450 to 550 ppm due to the peak oil induced faltering of BAU.

        Plus, in Dave Roberts’ article posted by Alexander Ac’, it is noted that we’ll probably blow through the 2C “safe” limit anyway. We’re at 1C above 1880 levels and already the weather’s gotten weird and dangerous. And if we were to stop FF’s tomorrow, six weeks later the aerosols drop out and we’ll be at 2.2C. Plus we’ll have no economy.

        The worst part is, to stop using FF’s cold turkey basically means giving up all the comforts and mandatory necessities of industrial civilization. That ain’t gonna happen.

        Reply
  16. Syd Bridges

     /  May 15, 2015

    Thank you for yet another insightful post, Robert. Having travelled by train from Vancouver to Prince George and then on to Prince Rupert, the forests of BC seemed so vast. But after the beetle kill, they, and the forests of NWT are now primed to burn at an unprecedented rate. It now seems inevitable that the trees and peat of the Aectic regions of North America and Russia will add a massive positive feedback to global warming.

    After reading this post, I scrolled down over your posts for the last month. With the exception of the Tesla article, all were ominous. A few were updates, but it struck me that any one of the stories would have been a rarity twenty years ago. Now the bad news seems to come almost daily. Then on Joe Romm’s blog, I saw Colorado Bob referring to the record temperatures in the Iberian Penninsular. From Espen’s updates on Neven’s Arctic Ice Forum, I see that IJIS/JAXA area is at a record low for this date.

    I joined all the dots together and they fitted exactly on the line y = -50x and I thought we were in real trouble. But then I realised that I could fit an nth order polynomial with n-1 turning points through these points. The excellent news is that now things are on the up and up! I’m certain that there will be no more bad news. Should another, lower data point appear, I’ll just reverse the slope of the line approaching the top point, and I’ll still end up with things rising at the end. If a couple of better news stories come along, I’ll scrub the clearly irrelevant and misleading earlier data and draw a rising straight line through the last two points. I do not claim any credit for this great mathematical insight; it was all inspired by the power of [Senate Environmental Comittee] Chairman Imhofe’s Thought.

    The steam regulator is now jammed fully open and the Republicans are busy cutting the brake lines. And we all know that the bridge over the ravine that we are now approaching was washed away by last week’s floods. Three passemgers have been recruited by the brakeman to act as extra firemen stoking the boiler. We are told that, at the appropriate moment, gravity will be turned off for a few seconds until we land safely on the other side-on the rails, of course-and continue our journey uninterrupted. Although two previous attempts to do this jump led to the deaths of everyone on board, it was later discovered that the first train probably included a gay passenger and the second one may have had both an atheist and a Muslim. We have all signed declarations that we are good patriotic American Christians. I’m assured that my beer won’t even get spilled, all due to the power of Chairman Imhofe’s Thought.

    Unfortunately, I lied on the declaration. I’m British.

    Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2015

    The really scary thing about wildfires is how they can worsen climate change

    One region where wildfires could have a large climate impact is in the forest of the Arctic. The fear is of a future featuring more fires like the gigantic, “unprecedented” 2007 Anaktuvuk River fire that consumed 1,039 square kilometers of North Slope tundra, single-handedly giving off 2.1 million metric tons of carbon. And 60 percent of that, a team of scientists found in 2011, came not from vegetation but from the Arctic’s carbon-rich permafrost soils, which the fire had burned away.

    Link

    Reply
  18. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2015

    Taiwan’s worst drought in 67 years

    BBC video report

    Reply
  19. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2015

    U2, B.B.King – When Love Comes To Town /live/ ( Rattle And Hum) /1988/

    Reply
  20. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2015

    The best version –

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  May 15, 2015

      Thank you for these CB. We need a little love to come to town. Maybe being present to all the natural beauty around us and the beauty that we can create as human beings, as seen through music for example, will save us. Off to see the crazy beauty created by George Miller in 3-D, no less. Hope to have a little fun before I hit the second shift at work….

      Reply
    • kevin jones

       /  May 15, 2015

      Yeah, CB But BB performed for me 1/2 his lifetime ago & 2/3 of mine at a Federal Prison where I was busy learning the Blues of Empire and the Betrayal of Science & Reason as sponsored by my bi-partisan corrupt government. With overwhelming support from my liberal and conservative Elders. (I was to enjoy my 21st and 22nd birthdays in there for refusing to napalm rice farmers half a world away.)

      Reply
      • rayduray

         /  May 15, 2015

        Sir,

        Thank you for your non-service, sir.

        [As an anti-war activist, I’m always a little rankled by America’s inane and propagandistic, ‘thank you for your service’ meme. The above line is a variant on “Sir, No Sir”, one of my favorite anti-war films]

        Reply
  21. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2015

    God bless BB King.

    Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2015

    April latest in series of very warm months for the planet, Japan says

    Last month was within 0.01 degrees of being the equal warmest April in records going back to 1891, adding to the hot start to 2015, the Japan Meteorological Agency says.

    Land and sea-surface temperatures were 0.3 degrees above the 1981-2010 average, placing them just behind the largest anomaly of 0.31 degrees set for April in 2014 and 1998, the agency said.

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/april-latest-in-series-of-very-warm-months-for-the-planet-japan-says-20150515-gh24lb

    Reply
  23. pccp82

     /  May 15, 2015

    the GFS shows continued extreme heat anomalies near Alaska/NW Territories as far as the models run. This will undoubtedly affect the sea ice melt season.

    Reply
  24. james cole

     /  May 15, 2015

    I live in boreal forest, the tip of the great Ontario boreal forest that juts down into Northern Minnesota. As far back as the mid 1980’s ,climate scientists predicting what a warming future would hold for our area forests had bleak news. Our famous Federal National Wilderness Area was predicted to turn into prairie land like the Dakotas. Drought, heat and wildfire was supposed to chip away at the forests until trees were no longer preferred by natural selection, but the open prairie grasses would flourish. I read this with alarm, but knew it would not be in my life time that this major change occurred.
    So far, in the 2000’s, we have had droughts more frequently. One major blow down of forest, and 3 major wild fire seasons. A canoe trip , through the once deep green boreal forests there, are now showing clear signs of trees losing the battle against heat, drought and wildfire. Those first real climate predictions made in the 80’s show every sign of having been totally right. The forests are on the way to replacement by open prairies.
    If the carbon of Siberian Forests gets added to Canada’s great forests, we are simply in big trouble. A look at a globe shows just how large these northern forest areas are, they are one of earths major plant systems, and mass carbon sinks. We can’t afford to lose it!

    Reply
  25. Greg

     /  May 15, 2015

    An innovation in wind turbines, bladeless, which are cheaper, safer for all, and the first ones are going to developing countries:

    Reply
  26. Reblogged this on The Rise and Fall of the Human Empire and commented:
    More of what the people want…I guess…

    Reply
  27. Nice piece from Dave Roberts, I think:

    So people want to hear that there’s hope of 2°C. Politicians want to say that there’s hope of 2°C. When asked, modelers are still able to produce scenarios that show 2°C. And nobody wants to be the one to pee in the punch bowl.

    The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit

    Alex

    Reply
    • entropicman

       /  May 15, 2015

      Cassandra accurately prophesied the fall of Troy, but was never believed and suffered a terrible fate.

      You can’t blame the scientists for keeping their heads down.

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 16, 2015

      As smart as David Roberts is, and he certainly is a good writer, he forgot to mention that as things get warmer, feedbacks kick in, and we will have even less control of the thermostat.
      As strongly worded as that article is, the situation is even worse than he lets on.

      Reply
      • Maybe the main message of the article is not as bad global warming is, but our inability to act collectively (you know, the political/behavioral part of the equation).

        Best,

        Alex

        Reply
      • sunkensheep

         /  May 18, 2015

        The feedbacks I worry most about are the ecosystem based ones. Most natural environments exist in a situation of local stability. Push them too far in any direction and they ‘flip’ to a new state. It has already been observed with habitat changes, polution and transit assisted species migration (aka “introduced species”).

        3-4 degrees represents a significant ‘push’ and some of these new states might not work out so well for us.

        Reply
    • sunkensheep

       /  May 18, 2015

      As I see it, the real truth about climate change is that it requires collective decision making to solve. Our dominant ideology placing the individual above all else makes such decision making impossible. It is an insane intellectual censorship (in no part helped by actual censorship) that prevents humans from using one of their major evolutionary advantages. Not only that but it prevents people from imaging alternatives. It is the wrong ideology at the worst possible time.

      A recent example is Obama administration’s approval of arctic drilling. I’m sure they cannot even see the contradiction in their actions, as they cannot grasp the concept of keeping fossil fuel in the ground. They have a micro view of the macro world and hence view the extraction and burning of carbon as unrealated processes.

      As I see it, there is no failure of scientific data. All the information necessary to act on climate change is available to our leaders, and the details could be clarified with the authors of the research directly. The problem is our rulers have convinced themselves that the best way to govern is to do nothing other than fund their reelection campaigns.

      Reply
  28. sunkensheep

     /  May 18, 2015

    The BOM’s ENSO model survey has been updated, and everyone has gone all-in on a massive event this year. The average forecast for November nino 3.4 is +2.4°C! I feel I should be out checking the pumps and firehoses already (despite heading into winter)! elNino means a dry, hot, often flammable summer in my patch of down under.

    Reply
  29. Big fires around Chita in Siberia yesterday:
    http://1.usa.gov/1HCFevC

    And lots of dark burned areas.

    Reply

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