“Everything I was Dreaming of is Gone” — How Climate Change is Spurring a Global Refugee Crisis to Rapidly Worsen

Over the past two weeks, news of the plight of a swelling wave of refugees fleeing to Europe has filled the mainstream media. We looked on in horror at reports of innocent human beings fleeing destabilized countries in the Middle East, of people suffocating while stuffed into the backs of trucks, of drowned children washed up on the shores of nations their families had hoped would care for them.

It’s all a part of a growing global mass migration. A tragic dislocation and diaspora. But this time it’s not only birds, or polar bears, or fish, or walruses, or insects, or plants that are being forced to move by habitat and food loss, by toxified environments or by increasingly dangerous weather. It’s human beings too.

*   *   *   *   *

“Everything I was Dreaming of is Gone”

(Dead Syrian toddler is not only a victim of conflict. He is a victim of a destabilized climate. Video source: Here)

In the above video we are rightfully compelled to compassion for a drowned boy and his family. A family suffering in a country ripped apart by conflict. A country fractured by insurgent forces that will use any form of brutality to gain and secure power. And in this very narrow frame we are provided with a perpetrator — ISIS — and an-all-too innocent victim. The call for warfare against the human monsters that make up ISIS is clear. But the conditions that created the monster in the first place, as happens all too often with climate change, are completely ignored.

Climate Change as Threat Multiplier in Syria

Syria was never a stable country. At least not so long as colonial and post colonial powers inhibited its development as a functional state. There was always a reason for interference in Syria’s affairs and for a related exploitation of its resources. As the fossil fuel age dawned, such interference became even more intense. Powerful nations and empires wanted Syria’s oil. And when Syria’s oil was gone and the country left suffering from the bitter after-effects of that resource’s deleterious curse, those same powers wanted Syria to remain both stable and weak. To remain sidelined so as not to influence the flow of oil from nearby countries. Countries like Iraq where the West has conducted an ongoing war since the early 1990s.

We justified this under such international relations terms as the realism-based ‘rational self interest of nations.’ And it was this self interest paradigm that national and international businesses — primarily oil companies — used to justify an ongoing exploitation of an increasingly fractured land, its people, and of a resource itself whose continued burning would make an ugly situation far, far worse.

On October 13 of 2014, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called human-forced climate change, through the fossil fuel based dumping of carbon into the atmosphere, a ‘threat multiplier’ saying:

“Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.”

What he failed to mention, however, was that for Syria and ISIS it had already happened.

The Drought that Forged ISIS

Before there was ISIS, there was drought. A three year long drought beginning in 2007 and finally ending in 2010. A drought so severe and intense that it basically wiped out Syria’s farming industry. The farmers, mostly family farmers, were faced with a situation in which water use was terribly constrained (due to the combined drought severity and the short-sighted policies of the Syrian government). Farm after farm failed. By 2011, more than 1.5 million people had migrated from the ruined and desiccated rural farms to the cities. Cities that, in turn, became hot-beds of unrest and insurgency.

NOAA Syria worst drought on record

(Map published by NOAA in its 2011 report on Mediterranean drought during 2005 to 2010. In a related finding, Syria experienced its worst drought on record during 2007 to 2010 resulting in the mass loss of farmland and the displacement of 1.5 million people to urban centers. Image source: NOAA — Climate Change Probably A Factor in Syria’s Civil War.)

A scientific report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March found that Syria’s epic 2007-2010 drought had been developing over the course of a century of warming. That the drought was both spurred and made more severe by human forced climate change. And that the increased intensity of drought added by human forced warming likely pushed Syria’s rural farms past the breaking point. The report noted:

There is evidence that the 2007−2010 drought contributed to the conflict in Syria. It was the worst drought in the instrumental record, causing widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families to urban centers. Century-long observed trends in precipitation, temperature, and sea-level pressure, supported by climate model results, strongly suggest that anthropogenic forcing has increased the probability of severe and persistent droughts in this region, and made the occurrence of a 3-year drought as severe as that of 2007−2010 2 to 3 times more likely than by natural variability alone. We conclude that human influences on the climate system are implicated in the current Syrian conflict.

The drought, therefore, led to desperation, hunger, anger, and unrest. It provided a mass of displaced persons who had lost the means to provide for themselves and their families. It provided both the trigger and the means for the development of what would later become ISIS (for more on how the Syrian drought helped destabilize the country you can read this brief, but very informative, comic strip). Threat multiplier indeed.

Worst Heatwave in 130 Years Forces Russian Crop Failures, Spurs Arab Spring

As is well known, the flood of refugees coming to European shores are not solely Syrian. Libya, Egypt and a broad number of African and Middle Eastern countries now face destabilizing unrest, violence, and growing numbers of internally displaced persons seeking asylum in other countries. It is this now endemic instability and displacement that can be primarily linked back to two events — drought-spurred crop failures in 2010 and the related food riots that ignited what is now known as the Arab Spring.

For as Syria was experiencing its worst drought in a century, the most intense heatwave in at least 130 years was in the process of also crippling Russia’s agriculture. This terrible heatwave spurred fires, wrecked crops and resulted in the hothouse mass casualty deaths of over 50,000 Russian people. It was an unprecedented event that climate scientist Stephan Rahmstorf identified as 80 percent more likely due to human-forced warming of the atmosphere and oceans. An event that put Russia, typically a major grain exporter, in such a terrible food security situation that it was forced to halt grain exports entirely.

Wildfires and Pyrocumulous Clouds over Russia During the Great Heatwave of 2010

(Wildfires and pyrocumulous clouds over Russia during the great heatwave of 2010. A heatwave that killed 50,000 people and crippled Russia’s agricultural industry. Image source: Earth Observatory and Discovery News.)

By 2011, global food prices — spurred ever-higher by wide-ranging droughts and extreme weather — put millions of people in the Middle East and North Africa in a desperate situation. Food became less and less accessible. In Egypt, the plight of a child set off mass food riots. These food riots spread across the Middle East resulting in the collapse of Egyptian, Syrian, and Libyan governments. Setting in place the severe refugee situation we see today.

Climate Change as Trigger to Europe’s Refugee Crisis

In emerging threats terminology, given the scientific basis for climate change’s influence on extreme weather events related to the refugee crisis, related to the destabilization and collapse of nations, we can identify the Syrian and Russian droughts and heatwaves as precursor crisis influencing and trigger events. What the US Department of Defense terms threat multipliers. Climate change, in this instance, made the Syrian drought and the Russian heatwave worse. These impacts in turn increased desperation, displacement, and hunger in numerous countries spurring unrest and, in some cases, societal collapse.

In Syria, 1.5 million people were directly displaced as the result of a climate change worsened drought. In the Middle East as a whole, nations were indirectly destabilized due to a crop-destroying and climate change worsened heatwave in Russia which set off a wide-ranging food crisis. This destabilization, in its turn, led to still more internally displaced persons in places like Libya and Egypt. Many of whom eventually joined the rising flood of human traffic to the still greener shores of Europe.

And it is in this way that climate change is a root cause to Europe’s refugee crisis. For without climate change we remove the extreme weather amplifier which is a trigger to the whole growing disaster.

Refugee Crisis is Massive, Global, and Growing

Unfortunately, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East are not the only regions seeing growing bodies of internally and internationally displaced persons. This week, President Obama in a recent visit highlighted the plight of tens of thousands of Alaskan coastal dwellers whose 31 communities are being devoured by an increasingly stormy and rising Arctic Ocean. In Pakistan coastal farmers are fleeing inland as the fertile lands in the Indus River Delta are being tainted with salt. So far, the count of migrant climate change refugees due to farmland loss is 150,000 Pakistanis. But as seas continue to rise, the situation only worsens. In Bangladesh, cities are already overcrowded with tens of thousand fleeing a rapidly receding coastline. And in the Pacific, low lying island dwellers in the Maldives, Kirubati, and hundreds of other shrinking atolls are seeking homes in far-flung countries possessing lands well above the rising tides.

Kivalina Alaska Washed Away

(Kivalina, Alaska is one of 31 communities now being devoured by the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea due to a combination of sea level rise, permafrost thaw, and increased wave action due to loss of sea ice. Image source: The Union of Concerned Scientists.)

In total, around the world, 158 million people were displaced by extreme weather events related to climate change since 2008. The fires, floods, hurricanes, extreme droughts, heatwaves and other storms are all growing worse, more violent, more likely to destroy homes and livelihoods. And it’s due to the heat we’ve added into the Earth’s climate system that extreme weather is now a greater direct cause of displacement than even the terrible scourge of warfare.

Some of the persons driven from their homes by such worsening events are able to eventually return to their livelihoods. But some are bereft of necessary aid — living in regions or nations which lack the resources to help. Such persons eventually become tent dwellers or add to the ever-growing tide of people seeking refuge in other, more seemingly stable, countries.

Climate change, extreme weather, human displacement and related political instability are thus now linked in a broad web that spans the globe. And the situation keeps getting worse and worse. It’s a situation that won’t change anytime soon. And one that can only be abated by a concerted response by nations — all of which are now under threat — to both help those people put in this terrible situation and to stop worsening the damage through a rapid cessation of fossil fuel based carbon emissions. Otherwise, by failing to rapidly act, by focusing instead on broadening warfare and conflict rather than root causes, more and more nations and regions will fall under the threat of destabilization, mass impoverishment and collapse as this climate change spurred crisis grows in scope, breadth and intensity.


Everything I was Dreaming of is Gone

US Secretary of Defense: Climate Change is a Threat Multiplier

Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the Recent Syrian Drought

Russia, Crippled by Drought, Bans Grain Exports

Climate Change Increased Likelihood of Crippling Russian Heatwave by 80%

Obama Visits US Climate Change Refugees

Sea Level Rise Sets off Mass Migration in Pakistan

Bangladesh: Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land

Has the Great Climate Change Migration Already Begun?

Climate Change Refugees — Extreme Weather Displaced 157.8 Million People From 2008 to 2014

Climate Change a Factor in Syria Civil War

The Great Russian Heatwave of 2010

Native Alaskan Villagers Among First US Climate Change Refugees

Leave a comment


  1. wili

     /  September 4, 2015

    Great overview–few places are connecting all these dots as clearly as you do.
    (First to like and share on fb again! Yes, I have no life! ‘-))

    • I haven’t seen too much in the way of broad reports of this kind on the subject. In all honesty, it’s not really easy to write such things. But there’s really no excuse for journalistic laziness. And the sole focus on just ISIS is really amazingly shameful. ISIS is a symptom of a larger problem. One we created. We could probably add it to our list of climate monsters coming out of the dark and deadly closet.

      • – Yes, very good “overview” of a worsening situation, Robert.
        A quick response too. How many fingers do you have? 🙂

        “Environmental and social justice served here.”


      • Abel Adamski

         /  September 5, 2015

        Just a query RS
        I have seen elsewhere that the toddler and family were actually Kurds from Syria that had been living in Turkey for 3 years and were fleeng the anti Kurd Pogrom in Turkey.

        However the Guardian article does highlight the groundswell of public and local government and community support for the refugees

        • If this is the case, then you have one family from a targeted ethnic group fleeing persecution in one region, entering a Syrian region further destabilized by climate change, and adding to the growing number of war, hunger and climate displaced persons in the region. The issue is not that warfare and prosecution doesn’t generate refugees. The issue is that climate change greatly swells their numbers or makes the plight of those already displaced by warfare worse, or creates conditions in which the triggers for warfare and violent conflict are intensified. To look at this problem in context, you’re going to need to be able to hold multiple causes and impacts in mind — that is if you want to gain a clear picture. And it’s pretty disingenuous not to tell the climate change story when dealing with refugees from this region — because it has already had a major impact on the situation there.

          Edit: with regard to your OT query, I’ve reviewed the comment filters and found none of the posts you mentioned. Sometimes double links get caught in comment limbo. But I haven’t found any. So either the problem is on your end or has something to do with the WordPress comment filters themselves (usually involving malicious code).

  2. climatehawk1

     /  September 4, 2015


  3. The feedbacks you describe in this article are a large part of why I predict a relatively rapid and early collapse compared to most people. Positive feedback within the human dynamic cannot be ignored, climate change in the environmental sense doesn’t proceed in a vacuum from our vantage points.

  4. Paul Swann

     /  September 4, 2015

    Thanks for this Robert. I’m sure Nafeez Ahmed will publish an article along these lines shortly.

  5. Perhaps a collaboration is in order?

    Robert, I must confess to not knowing Nafeeza Ahmed—but, as I read your piece and marveled at its accurate comprehensiveness, the first thought that came to my mind was “he needs to pair up with someone with a broad(er) and loud(er) megaphone.”


  6. “Far above the wildfires raging in Washington’s forests, a less noticeable consequence of this dry year is taking place in mountain ponds. The minimal snowpack and long summer drought that have left the Pacific Northwest lowlands parched also affect the region’s amphibians due to loss of mountain pond habitat.

    “According to a new paper published Sept. 2 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, this summer’s severe conditions may be the new normal within just a few decades.

    “‘This year is an analog for the 2070s in terms of the conditions of the ponds in response to climate,’ said Se-Yeun Lee, research scientist at University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group and one of the lead authors of the study.

    “Current conditions provide a preview of how that will play out.

    “‘We’ve seen that the lack of winter snowpack and high summer temperatures have resulted in massive breeding failures and the death of some adult frogs,” said co-author Wendy Palen, an associate professor at Canada’s Simon Fraser University who has for many years studied mountain amphibians in the Pacific Northwest. “More years like 2015 do not bode well for the frogs.'”

  7. “Amid the choking and coughing, I hear a deafening silence from scientists who must know that many low-elevation forests burning in the Northern Rockies will never regenerate in habitats that have become too hot and too dry.

    “I hear silence from climate-change experts who also must know that smoke-filled intermountain valleys have become the new normal, our fate for at least as long as any of us will live. I hear forest managers discuss fire dangers but never mention the inevitable, large-scale habitat changes that they must know will result from global warming.”

    • Very important insights there, ch1. Thanks

    • Good comment. It must be amazingly stressful living in a fire zone that’s been burning for months on end… On a related topic we are now at 9 million acres nationally. 800,000 ahead of previous record for this time of year.

    • PlazaRed

       /  September 5, 2015

      Interesting about low altitude forests not regenerating.
      A big problem with this is that as the new growth starts, foraging animals eat them at an astonishing rate.
      I don’t know if there are many goats and sheep in these area but there surly will be all kinds of indigenous herbivores to eat up anything which grows.
      A few years ago I was talking with a water expert from the World Bank who told me, as we were watching a herd of goats creating a desert like area on a nearby hillside, that after humans, goats were the second biggest threat to the planet in terms of destruction.
      When they have eaten all the above ground shoots, they start and dig up the roots with their hooves and eat them as well.
      What was once forest in a lot of Europe is now thorny scrubland as that’s not a favoured food for most creatures.

  8. Not directly on topic, but here’s an interesting documentary: The Cross of The Moment

    “Fermi’s Paradox, climate change, capitalism, and collapse are among the subjects discussed in this feature length documentary on the environmental crisis. Interviewees include Bill McKibben, Gary Snyder, Derrick Jensen, Peter D. Ward, Jill Stein, Bill Patzert, Guy McPherson and other top academics, scientists and public intellectuals.”

    I honestly forget where I found this – my apologies if it was someone here who first posted the link a few articles ago.

    • No need to apologize. Peter Ward, I’d love to talk/listen to him.

      • Me too. I’ve been hoping he’d give a lecture locally (NYC) one of these days, but so far I don’t think it’s happened.

    • Well worth watching if you guys have the time.

      • rustj2015

         /  September 5, 2015

        Exactly, since the dinosaurs have howled since the ’80s about the ‘destruction of the economy’ — and McKibben refers to research by Nicholas Stern that out-of-control/beyond tipping point climate change will result in a combination of economic catastrophes ‘WWI, the Great Depression and WWII’ all at once.

  9. Had the Battle of Tours or the Ottoman campaign in Europe had different outcomes, the today’s refugees would have had a different reception.

  10. OT: for DT and skylite. Photography/Art.

    Mono Lake, CA—was treated to of the moon rising simultaneously with the sun setting behind me. Like you DT, I rarely manipulate my photos(beyond color correction, but I do crop)– this one screamed out to me to be be edited to reflect the feeling the sense we all had of being in sync, immersed and part of all creation. Peaceful Friday, all.

    • – Very nice, Maria. Tones and perspective ‘rock’. I like photos best when one element in the perspective leads the eye to another, and to another…

    • Thanks so much, DT. At one point she and her boyfriend silently parted ways– to the area that called them–to immerse. Poignant on many levels.

    • redskylite

       /  September 5, 2015

      Amazing image – sharpness of the reflection, with the subtle approaching figure – wonderful photography. Thanks for sharing.

  11. – Back to the newz of the day:
    I like it when some one looks at data, or whatever evidence with a “different abacus’ for aspect.

    ‘Wildfires likely torched more than 7 percent of Earth’s trees in the past decade’

    New research estimates that there are currently more than 3 trillion trees on Earth, but CNET’s Eric Mack ran the numbers and found a shocking number are going up in smoke.

    ‘My last memory of the Alaskan Bush, where I lived from 2002 until 2004, is of walking toward the village airstrip along the banks of the Yukon River one overcast day and feeling as though I was choking. My eyes watered and my throat burned from all the wildfire smoke in the air. As my plane to Fairbanks ascended, rising above the smoky haze hanging over the forest, I realized that it was actually a sunny, cloudless afternoon.

    That was September 2004 — the worst wildfire season on record in Alaska…

    My educated-but-not-fully-scientific guess is pretty shocking. When I ran the numbers, I found that over 248 billion trees have burned in the past decade — if we play it conservative and assume the 3.04 trillion tally doesn’t include these burned trees, that means at least 7.5 percent of the world’s trees have been burned in wildfires in the last decade.

    I say “at least” because I’m only working with wildfire data from three countries — the United States, Canada and conservative estimates of acres burned in Russia based on NASA satellite observations.

    It’s starting to get crowded up there — up north in the Arctic.
    Pick your dance partner…

    National Security
    Chinese naval ships came within 12 nautical miles of American soil

    A group of Chinese naval vessels transited U.S. territorial waters near Alaska this week, a Pentagon official said Friday, in an unusual maneuver that underscores the potential for increased U.S.-Chinese friction at sea.

    A U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the Chinese naval movements, said the group of five Chinese vessels had passed within about 12 nautical miles of the Aleutian Islands following a joint Russian-Chinese military exercise.

    • Not quite the Arctic tho still the prize.

    • rayduray

       /  September 5, 2015

      This sort of bully boy action is nothing new. Recall that the first U.S./China crisis of the Bush Administration in 2001 involved a Chinese fighter disabling a U.S. spy plane flying within Chinese territorial waters. The Hainan Island incident.

      • Abel Adamski

         /  September 5, 2015

        Then the recent surfacing of a Chinese sub in the centre of a surprised 7th fleet during exercises.- best subs in the world supposedly
        Russian fighter disabled and played with the latest and greatest USS Jefferson leaving it completely vulnerable
        Washabi Saudi Arabia is basically going broke , its cash reserves are enough for only a few more years whilst at war through proxies with Shiite Iran (funding terrorist shiite groups), who has just signed a deal with Russia for a RSS satellite.
        The Core of ISIS is the ex Iraqi Sunni senior and officer ranks and specialists military, Intelligence and Security trained by the US that the Shiite Government sacked and replaced with incompetent Shiite lackeys (why the Iraqi military have been ineffectual).

        We are reaping the consequences of colonisation and conflicts by the Colonial powers such as the brutal Italo-Ethopian conflict of the 30’s by Mussolini, France-Algeria, etc etc. Then within Europe there are simmering discontent such as Basques etc.

        With all the chickens coming home to roost we also have to try and get that CO2 and FF terminal problem fixed when the pressures will be on governments to focus on security and economic security in an increasingly unstable world.

        We have our work cut out for us

  13. 0902 Methane

    ‘Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) Deployed Two Observatories at Site of Methane Seeps in Arctic Ocean’

    Mysteries still abound about methane release from the ocean floor. Two state of the art observatories have been deployed offshore Svalbard this summer, to try and unveil the secrets of natural release of the climate gas.

    Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) recently deployed two observatories on the site of the methane seeps in the Arctic Ocean. Kongsberg Maritime built the observatories that are now comfortably placed on the ocean floor in two locations offshore Svalbard. These are the sites where flares of gas bubbles have been observed, indicating release of methane gas to the water column. The observatories are placed at the depth of 90 meters and 240 meters respectively.

  14. Arctic Researchers Seek Refuge In Russian Base After Being Surrounded By Hungry Polar Bears

    In their quest to gather scientific data, researchers sometimes face threats that could endanger their lives. Such appeared to be the case of a team of unarmed researchers in Russia who had an uneasy encounter with five hungry polar bears.

    The researchers were trapped in their Russian base after they were surrounded by the pack of aggressive animals with the scientists appealing for help after fights broke out among the animals as they hunted for food near the Fyodorov weather station on the Island of Vaygach in the Arctic Sea.

    • redskylite

       /  September 5, 2015

      That’s an interesting story in TechTimes about Arctic life and the need for scientists to protect themselves . . also of interest is a piece in The Conversation (U.K) today.

      “In the path of the polar bears: what it’s like to be an Arctic scientist”

      The case of Russian scientists trapped in their remote Arctic base by a group of inquisitive yet hungry polar bears does not come as a surprise. By late summer, Arctic sea ice is at a minimum and polar bears are effectively landlocked in coastal areas eagerly awaiting the return of ice during the autumn freeze and the chance to hunt seals again.

      The Arctic summer is also the time of year when scientific activities are at their maximum, with bases operating at capacity and fieldwork operations at full flow, particularly in tundra and coastal regions. Polar bears are hungriest when scientists are busiest – “encounters” are inevitable.

  15. – Related to ‘Shades of a Canfield Ocean — Hydrogen Sulfide…’ etc. post.
    – N is featured.
    – Ocean and atmospheric chemistry is getting rather worrisome.

    ‘Climate Change Could Irreversibly Alter Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria In The Ocean, Disrupt Food Chain’

    A latest study has revealed the potentially dangerous impact of climate change on the survival of the tiny bacterium called trichodesmium. According to the researchers, an irreversible damage to the bacterium could impact the entire marine food chain — from microscopic planktons to enormous whales.

    Trichodesmium is known to survive in the areas of an ocean that are deprived of essential nutrients. The bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen into a material, which is then used up by other marine organisms for their growth and survival.

    According to Eric Webb, the co-author of the study published in the journal Nature Communications, the property of nitrogen fixation makes the bacteria “the fertilizing agent of the open ocean.” The microorganism lives in the form of colonies, also known as the “sea sawdust,” that are visible from the naked eye.

      Human CO2 Emissions to Drive Key Ocean Bacteria Haywire, Generate Dead Zones, Wreck Nitrogen Web’
      I better take nap.:)

  16. A poem can say more than 65 million headlines:

    “HOME,” -by Somali poet Warsan Shire:

    no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark

    you only run for the border

    when you see the whole city running as well

    your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats

    the boy you went to school with

    who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body

    you only leave home

    when home won’t let you stay.

    no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under

    your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper

    made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

    you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land

    no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
    means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences

    no one wants to be beaten

    no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your

    body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire

    and one prison guard
in the night

    is better than a truckload

    of men who look like your father

    no one could take it
no one could stomach it

    no one skin would be tough enough


    go home blacks

    dirty immigrants

    asylum seekers
sucking our country dry

    niggers with their hands out

    they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs

    maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

    or the words are more tender

    than fourteen men between 
your legs
or the insults are easier 
to swallow
than rubble

    than bone

    than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,

    but home is the mouth of a shark

    home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home

    unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you 
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert

    wade through the oceans

be hunger

    forget pride

    your survival is more important
    no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear


    run away from me now

    i dont know what i’ve become

    but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.

  17. Andy in SD

     /  September 5, 2015

    Humanity will survive a +2C global change, our world will not.

    If we think a linear change in the human world, we are at +1C. As Robert has covered and more, we look at the change in human behavior and environment. Even at a linear change, another +1C makes for a bad picture. However I don’t believe it is a linear change. I suspect we will see an acceleration of change, as well as impact on civilization and human response.

    What we see in Europe is only the beginning. We will see the same in the Americas due to climate, rather than bad governance & opportunity soon enough.

    Sorry Donald, there is no wall you can build higher than human desperation.

  18. Andy in SD

     /  September 5, 2015

    Sao Paolo

    Down to ~15% in the Canterienra reservoirs. If someone knows Portuguese and can describe the difference between the “levels” that would help a lot.

    • Looks like they might barely squeak by this year. Your thoughts?

      • Andy in SD

         /  September 5, 2015

        They’ll make it barely, but post rainy season may leave them in a lurch for 2016.

    • DrFog

       /  September 5, 2015

      From what I could understand from the figure, the water reservoir (U cylinder shaped) has two distinct water level states defined by a threshold indicated by the thin horizontal blue line close to the bottom.

      The useful water level (“Volume util”) is above that threshold line and defines the water volume that can be used without the need of using pumps.

      The contingency water level (“Volume reserva tecnica”) is below that line, meaning the water in the reservoir can only be used if it is pumped (presumably using electric water pumps).

      “Volume armazenado” is the current reservoir water level, well below that threshold line. “Volume total” is the full reservoir capacity.

      • wake

         /  September 6, 2015

        If you look at prior year reports they just gave the percent of the volume above the technical reserve that was filled with water

        then as the drought progressed they strted including all the water, including below the “zero” lie of the reserve, and not all the space. They only included the space above the zero. So a mismatch.

        Then after some pressure they started reporting it all the ways

        Right now cantareira is at -14% on the original way of reporting. Last year it was at positive 10% at this time. Last year, well, this year, by February they were rumored to be within a month of cutting water off for the whole city 5 days a week.

        Since they they may ore may not have tapped a couple more sources, dirty, with new pipes, and I myself have no more knowledge or idea than that.

        Hope el niño brings rain

    • The “volume reserva técnica” is the dead pool. Water that once was left in the reservoirs for environmental purposes, and now is being retrieved with the use of pumps, as the normal reserves are all gone.

      Original numbers divulged in the past (at least 2 years ago) don’t include that volume, as that water shouldn’t be used (remember that image of “water that seems to have come from a cow’s behind”? That’s what the dead pool looks like).

      “Volume negativo” (negative pool) is what the level of water should be, if show correctly, using the figures of how much water “for humans” the reservoir contains. This index is only being show because SABESP was forced to it (judicial order). Currently, Cantareira is at -14,3% . Considering all sources of water in Cantareira (and completly drying up the reservoir lakes), it holds 11,6% of what the system could hold if full (index 2). The first index is a risible thing: it compares the water that is in the dead pool to the useful volume of the reservoir, ignoring the fact that the useful volume is all gone.

      Cantareira is not the only reservoir used for São Paulo (just the biggest), and there is a bit of water in other reservoirs (though Alto Tietê is almost as badly empty now). There are reserves of “not quite potable but usable” heavy-metals contamined water in the Billings system (which is the second biggest here) that may be used (mercury poisoning is subtler than thirsty). And spring rain has came early. I believe we’ll have water at least for another year (no official rationing, unnoficial “pressure-cuts” rationing continues), but can’t be sure of anything after that).

  19. Also consider that the carbon we’re adding to our atmosphere is causing our oceans to accumulate about four atom bomb’s of heat per second. If it weren’t for the hurricanes we’d be accumulating much more than that. So hurricanes are buying us more time to figure things out. In essence we’ve been on the losing end of a war with our star and it’s time to start collaborating with our star – like how life has done all along by creating a finely tuned atmosphere that yields the solar energy equilibrium necessary for life to thrive.

      • Anthony — we’ve always had hurricanes acting in this way. It’s not as if the hurricane/storm heat engine is a new thing. Every atmosphere on every world has a similar mechanism. Maybe not hurricanes, but a cyclonic heat transport engine. It’s a property of heat transport that’s basically universal. And, so, not new.

        Human forced 400 ppm CO2 and 480 ppm CO2e is new, however. Net warming long term if these levels are sustained is 2.5 to 3.8 C. There’s no getting around that. Hurricanes or no. The only way to rationally ‘cool’ the climate is to stop fossil fuel emissions and to somehow bring down CO2 and CO2e levels. That’s what we’re looking at. That’s the box we’re in.

    • Hurricanes are no mitigation… Net energy at the top of the atmosphere is drastically out of balance.

      • Is see, but point being is Hurricanes serve a cooling function, with out which the climate would be much cooler. My understanding is that most of heat from hurricane vapor condensation goes into lifting the water/air and as cold exhaust into the troposphere where it eventually leaves to outer-space as long-wave radiation. So i guess i might need to research how upper atmospheric heat effects temperatures and heat accumulation at lower elevations of the atmosphere.

      • correction – w/o hurricanes climate would be much “warmer”

  20. redskylite

     /  September 5, 2015

    Thank you for that masterfully written and portrayed piece Robert, not an easy subject to write about. I worked in the Middle East for over 15 years and several of my colleagues were Syrian, and they were splendid people (and I hope they are all safe). Looking at the video brings tears to my eyes and saddens me to the core.

    I also like the way you describe the unfortunates as refugees, unlike the B.B.C, who insist on calling them “migrants”, they are clearly seeking refuge and would return to their homeland if and when the violence ceases.

    I just hope that it affected the Bonn delegates and brought some thrust to the climate talks, preparing for Paris later this year.

    High hopes despite slow speed as Bonn climate talks wrap up

    • The people are being forcibly displaced by external circumstances outside their control. They are innocent victims of legacy and continued toxic carbon emissions. Refugee is the appropriate humanitarian term. The use of the word migrant implies they have a choice. It has also become a discriminatory term, connoting a kind of lesser status. It’s a part of dehumanizing victims, which those who are less compassionate seem to use as a way of erasing the story of their plight. In my view, given our circumstances, creating divisions of this kind will wreck us. We need to realize we are all in the same situation. Zero sum games with climate change and denial of aid to the growing tide of displaced persons results in a long string of conflicts and collapses. The resources diverted to keeping such people out and the internal damage it causes by creating closed, authoritarian societies is far greater. Than making every effort to help. At one point or another, we will all be in need of some assistance before this is done. So we’d better get used to the idea of being open and of helping one another.

      • – I sent this post to another KBOO public affairs programmer with a weekly show who has been talking about the severity of the refugees and their plight.
        – Climate change is, and has been, a strong force in these forced relocations.
        – These various aspects are be tied together — which RS, and crew, does so well.

  21. rayduray

     /  September 5, 2015

    There are currently about 4 million Syrian refugees in five surrounding countries plus the EU.

    In 1895 the population of Syria was under 0.9 Million.

    Certainly today’s headlines are dire and pull at our heartstrings. But it might behoove us as a species to note that we pretty much have created a planet-wide series of demographic time bombs which will be making lots of headlines into the future, without our responses making a lot of sense.

  22. redskylite

     /  September 5, 2015

    “But this time it’s not only birds, or polar bears, or fish, or walruses, or insects, or plants that are being forced to move by habitat and food loss, by toxified environments or by increasingly dangerous weather. It’s human beings too.”

    It’s getting increasingly grim for the Walrus too, and plenty of drama from their perspective .

    “About 35,000 walruses are crammed onto beaches in a tiny Alaska village”

    In mid-to-late August, local residents of Point Lay reported the presence of hundreds to thousands of walruses on a local beach, where past haul out events had occurred. Such events take place because of global warming-related sea ice loss, which deprives Pacific walruses of the ice cover they need for hunting, resting and mating.

    On August 30, after a major storm blew through the area, local residents took a boat out to the barrier island where the walruses had hauled out, and were shocked to see none were present.

    I can only hope those creatures are O.K , because it’s becoming harder and harder to survive as a species . .

  23. redskylite

     /  September 5, 2015

    I grew up in an industrial U.K midland city that was notable in the hosiery and shoe trades, mainly a working class city. In the year 1972, in Uganda (Africa), Idi Amin ordered 80,000 Asians to leave the country, and confiscated their property and businesses. Many of the refugees came to my city, because it had plenty of work and they had rights to live there (from the British Empire days).

    A lot of the locals were very intolerant of the newcomers and plenty of racist language and hatred was bandied about, but the Asians were hardy and hard working and last time I re-visited seemed to be much better integrated and accepted. Time is a great healer.

    I left the U.K in the 1980s, tired of seeing mass industry lay-offs and closures under Maggie Thatcher’s economical theories, I worked with many different races, including ex Uganda Asians. I realize despite religious and cultural differences we all have a lot in common, and the lack of understanding a foreign language has never been a barrier in my life.

    We are all in this together, I never was a great flag waver and today even less.

    What did make me happy to day was news (and pricing) of the new more modest Tesla . . . I admire Elon Musk and people like him …

    We’ve known for some time now that the Tesla Model 3 would be a more affordable, all-electric sedan for middle-America, but we’re no less excited that the countdown has officially begun.

    • Mblanc

       /  September 5, 2015

      You grew up in Leicester, and I claim my 5 pounds!

      As you have observed, Leicester is a far happier place than the late 70’s/ early 80’s. Despite the huge influx, which came just as almost all the big factories started to shut, the city has seen an amazing transformation.

      A huge rise in the student population, and the epic immigration levels from mainly India, Pakistan and more recently Eastern Europe, have given the city a youthful, dynamic and multi-cultural flavour, which has given Leicester a unique feel.

      A small minority of the locals are as bad as ever, but that is more notable out in the county now, as opposed to the city itself. And even then, the wealthy Asian families are starting to buy some of the most prestigious properties in the county, in places like Rothley, which shows they are increasingly confident of a decent welcome there.

      Leicester is now held up as a role model for other cities in the UK (not a thing which really seemed possible when I was young), and was recently named in the top ten cities to visit worldwide, in a Lonely Planet list. Things have changed a lot!

      Leicester is the first city in the Britain where people declaring them selves to be white British are in the minority, but the city is so dynamic, that attitudes of the locals are largely supportive.

    • Spike

       /  September 5, 2015

      I’m a Leicestershire lad also ! We could always see the way things were headed😉

      • Mblanc

         /  September 5, 2015

        Oo yeh beauteh, it’s like every day of the week in Skeggeh… we can all be frit together!

        It’s funny because I only moved back to Leicester about a year ago, fleeing house price armaggedon in the South, and the amazing thing is, despite the fact that it is far from perfect…

        My southern GF absolutely loves it! Her brother has moved up to Nottingham (Boo!), and feels much the same (except they have a rubbish footeh team, obviousleh).

        We now actually have a few tourists and everything, like a proppah citeh, and they even knocked down the dreadful Council Offices at the bottom of New Walk recently. Now that is a result.

        Sorry to everyone else, for being kinda OT, but strangely, places like Lestoh are the future.

      • redskylite

         /  September 6, 2015

        You got me homesick for Braggy Park, gooin up citai (Filbert Street), and Skeggy now

      • Mblanc

         /  September 7, 2015

        It’s the King Power now, a new stadium and 3rd in the Premier League (temporarily! Somewhat improbably, the club has Thai owners.

        Still does Pukka Pies though!

      • Y’all are so funny! Now, how would you say that in Leicester? 🙂

    • I realize despite religious and cultural differences we all have a lot in common, and the lack of understanding a foreign language has never been a barrier in my life.

      Spot on, skylite. I was raised in the 70s Bronx surrounded by, immersed in, with multiple cultures and colors of people. It was not until I went on to become a Pedi ICU nurse where I took care of again, myriad cultures/races, but also people of different class lines—parents concern and heartbreak and joy knew no arbitrary boundaries that we’ve evolved to designate. It was probably the first?/top? important insight of my young adulthood.

      • It was probably the first?/top? important insight of my young adulthood.

        That is, that as human beings we have central, fundamental things and needs in common.

  24. dnem

     /  September 5, 2015

    The Atlantic covered this issue after democratic candidate Martin O’Malley argued for a link between ISIS and climate change.

    “One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria and the rise of ISIS was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis that created the symptoms—or rather, the conditions—of extreme poverty that has led now to the rise of ISIL and this extreme violence,” the Democratic candidate told Bloomberg on Monday.

  25. Suzanne

     /  September 5, 2015

    Please forgive me if this was posted earlier and I missed it. There is so much great information on this site that it is easy to duplicate or miss previously printed links.
    This video by Jennifer Hynes, published September 4th, is long but worth checking out. She thanks Robert for all his fine work in her introduction.

    And again, sorry if this was already posted. I have been really busy this week and have not had the time to read all the great comments that get posted here. Cheers!

  26. Wake

     /  September 5, 2015

    Coincident with the drought was that Syria stopped being an oil exporter. Production peaked and fell a few years before and consumption rose

    No money therefore to buy bread

    Other countries where this happened towards the end of the 2000s were Yemen, Egypt, and Tunisia

    See any pattern?

    Other countries where this will happen in the next decade or two, probably not three, are the rest of the Middle East and another hundred or two million people

    They are not running out of oil, but they use more and pump less and run out of exports

    This is one of the two or three biggest problems the world faces on my opinion and I have never seen it discussed outside of a couple of boards where jefferey brown, who popularized or came up with the idea, posts

    • Aka, the resource curse. They became too dependent on a deleterious resource — oil. They failed to diversify their economies even as the fossil fuel focus wrecked significant portions of their sustainable resource base. When the oil was gone, it left the regions hollowed out in a kind of amplify economic loot and pillage. In essence, they were worse off in the end than if oil had never been discovered there at all. A lesson, really, to those who have mystified and idealized the crud for so long.

      • Wake

         /  September 5, 2015

        Well, there are more people at any rate which makes the average person worse off

      • Wake —

        I think there’s been a concerted effort to bury climate change under resource depletion and overpopulation issues. But what we need to consider here is boundary limits, carrying capacity, and sustainability. If, for example, world population is non meat eating, non fossil fuel using, renewable + efficiency dependent, vertical farming based agriculture (indoor and outdoor), nitrogen/phosporous reduced agriculture, atmospheric carbon draw-down, forest and ocean life regenerating, then the population boundary limit is much higher.

        In essence, dependence on the non-renewable fossil fuel energy base, current, meat heavy agriculture, and forms of farming that flush fertilizer down streams and into oceans destroys the broader resource base and brings the population boundary limit closer to crash levels.

        Of course, increasing population does provide stress, but how you sustain that population is also critical. Noneless, long term population restrain should remain a goal. But the more immediate problem right now is climate change and related fossil fuel dependence.

    • wili

       /  September 5, 2015

      Yes, this was known as the “Land Export Model” in the old TOD days, iirc, developed by a fellow who went by the handle ‘West Texas.’ Another connection mostly not made in the MSM. Egypt go hit by both the GW-triggered Russian wheat embargo and the point where their domestic oil use exceeded their total production–in the same year–2010. There were many other reasons for those folks to revolt of course, but that the revolt actually happened that same year just cannot be a coincidence–and keep in mind that for about half the people, half of their income goes to buy food, esp. bread. When bread prices double and the gov runs out of oil money to subsides it, things can get…out of hand.

      • Wharf Rat

         /  September 5, 2015

        West Texas, Jeffrey Brown, is now hanging out at Darwinian Ron’s blog
        The EIA Changes Data Collection Methods

      • Wake

         /  September 5, 2015

        It is really one of the most insightful models or frameworks I have seen, and it gets no attention. I did used to read the oil drum as well, has forgotten his other moniker though

        I think Rons blog is the best of them but of there is another spinoff that you like please post it

      • If we were interested in the sustainability in the Middle East, we’d be helping them transition to diversified, renewable based economies. We wouldn’t be playing dominance games over an increasingly globally harmful fossil fuel supply. And if we’re interested in global sustainability, we should be interested in Middle East sustainability. The collapse of Syria was partly a failure of our policy. A foreign policy still based largely on zero sum game thinking.

  27. Really fantastic post, Robert! I was just discussing this issue with a coworker yesterday, since the refugee crisis in Budapest has been making headlines in mainstream news. I explained how much of this is fueled and exacerbated by climate change. As soon as I saw this post I sent him a link to it…it’s exactly what I was discussing. Mainstream media reports on all of the problems that arise from climate change, but NEVER mention the underlying cause of all their top stories. You connect all of the dots that get reported as isolated incidents unrelated to other issues. Your reporting is needed now more than ever, Robert.

    • Cheers, Ryan and thanks so much for the kind words. I think that there’s very little work out there connecting these dots. A few do. But not the mainstream and nowhere near enough in my opinion.

  28. Leland Palmer

     /  September 5, 2015

    The misery index in some coastal areas of Mexico is projected to spike up to about 42.7 degrees C by Earth.nullschool next week. Misery indexes above about 34 degrees C can be deadly, I think.,32.42,1024

    Guaymas, population 134,000 is projected to have a misery index of 42.7 degrees C on September the 9th at about 2 PM local time, for example.

    It looks like the high humidity over the gulf of California is projected to be driven onshore at that time by a sea breeze, resulting in possibly lethal temperatures.

    I hope that Earth.nullschool is wrong about this, and that this is some sort of technical glitch or artifact of the projection.

    But, it doesn’t look like it.

    Ciudad Obregon, population 405,000 is projected to have a misery index of about 42.2 C at that time.

    Los Mochis, population 257,000 is projected to have a misery index of 40.7 at that time.

    And so on.

    • Leland Palmer

       /  September 5, 2015

      Hmmm…Earth.nullschool defines misery index as heat index x wind chill. Wind speed at those times is about 15 km/hr. So, that’s driving the misery index up, a little, I think. What we want, for people indoors without air conditioning, is heat index, I think.

    • Leland Palmer

       /  September 5, 2015

      Sorry, I was confusing misery index with heat index. According to the national weather service heat index charts, 100 degrees F with 43% relative humidity has a heat index of 112. So, it’s in the “danger” range, not the “extreme danger” range

      Sorry about the mix up. It’s still dangerous, but for people indoors it doesn’t look like a killer

    • Good points, Leland. SSTs off Mexico are all well in the 30 C + range. So danger certainly. But not as bad as it could be thank goodness.

  29. Colorado Bob

     /  September 5, 2015

    Is America Ready for Climate Change Refugees?

    Right after the government of Iceland announced to accept only 50 refugees in 2015, more than 10,000 Icelanders offered on Facebook to take them in their own houses this week. If Iceland would have as many inhabitants as the U.S. the number would be more than 1 million.

    The number of refugees coming to Europe this year is the highest on record. But Europeans just as Americans have to ask themselves: Will the number of refugees go up even more when climate change goes beyond 2 degrees? And are the American people ready for that?

    • Wharf Rat

       /  September 5, 2015

      “Is America Ready for Climate Change Refugees?”

      OK; I’ve had my rabies shot, so Rat will bite. I’m an overcrowded lifeboat liberal, not a bleeding heart. Should we take refugees from elsewhere, or at least the other hemisphere, Monroe having claimed this one for our exclusive exploitation? After all, how many European nations, plus Canada, said they would take the kids crossing our border last year?
      Are y’all ready to start with maybe 40M refugees from Cal, Ore, and Wa, if this year is a dry El Nino? Maybe even just one Rat? How about a home for people from Sao Paulo? How about the 180 M kids under the age of 18 from Latin America who didn’t try to cross the border last year?
      Lots of people are gonna die. It’s sad. One study says 150M refugees by 2050; another 20M by 2020. Don’t know if they are counting all the people within 2 meters of sea level.
      So how many can we take, and still stay afloat? I’m thinking not all that many.

      • Closed borders are far worse than open ones, Rat. Far, far worse. One of the best policies the US ever had was its open door immigration of the 19th Century. Closing of our society makes us less resilient, not moreso. We need to get ready to help these people. Allowing them here, providing supports for them as well as helping the people who are bound to be internally displaced is a huge part of the challenge of successfully dealing with climate change. If we draw the hard line. If we cut some people out, the desperation that breeds will topple civilizations very rapidly. We need a giant humanitarian and repatriation effort for refugees. Huge public works to facilitate.

    • As ever, Bob, you’re on top of this! 😉

  30. Colorado Bob

     /  September 5, 2015

    Aon Benfield Report: Global Drought Losses to Surpass $8B as El Niño Intensifies

    ………………………………. it is expected that global drought losses will surpass the current forecast of $8.0 billion in economic damage.

    Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team, released the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during August 2015.


    • Colorado Bob

       /  September 5, 2015

      1.6M Central American, Caribbean Campesinos Hit by Drought

      The region’s agricultural ministers met in El Salvador and declared an agricultural alert to deal with the crisis.

      Over 1.6 million Central American and Caribbean campesinos and their families have been seriously affected by a severe drought caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon, prompting officials of the region’s countries to declare an agricultural alert Thursday.

      In Guatemala alone, according to a recent report, some 1 million people are starving due to the drought and the crops it has destroyed. In Honduras, 10 municipalities are now officially experiencing famine. Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, hundreds of thousands of households in the capital San Juan and along the country’s north coast have had their water use restricted to two days a week.


    • Take a close look, folks. This is what monster El Nino looks like, and we’re only about halfway through this mess.

  31. The idea of mass migration due to climate change is getting some more press:

    “The European Migrant Crisis Is A Nightmare. The Climate Crisis Will Make It Worse.”

    “As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned at a recent State Department-led conference on climate change in the Arctic, the scenes of chaos and heartbreak in Europe will be repeated globally unless the world acts to mitigate climate change.”

    “Wait until you see what happens when there’s an absence of water, an absence of food, or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival,” Kerry said.

  32. rustj2015

     /  September 5, 2015

    From Greg Laden’s blog:
    “The recently produced Massive Open Online Course on climate science denial is chock full of great videos that should be at everyone’s fingertips. HERE is a list of the videos. Use it well and powerfully”

  33. As Barrow is under a siege of rising sea water, etc.

    NASA Earth Observatory:

    Alaska Charred
    September 4, 2015

    Wildfires have consumed more than 5.2 million acres (2.1 million hectares) in Alaska this year—an area nearly the size of New Jersey. That makes 2015 the second most severe wildfire season Alaska has experienced since 1950. The worst year on record—2004—saw 6.5 million acres burn, according to statistics cited by the state’s Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. During an average year, about 800,000 acres burn.

  34. NASA Earth Observatory:
    Burn Scars around Tanana, Alaska
    acquired July 24, 201

    As of July 30, 2015, the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center estimated the number of acres burned at 4,748,841 (nearly two million hectares)—enough to make 2015 fourth worst in area burned. In 2004—Alaska’s worst wildfire season on record—6,590,140 acres burned.

    Of the hundreds of fires that raged in Alaska in 2015, those near the town of Tanana were responsible for the largest portion of the damage. The Tanana fires charred about 496,000 acres, an area half the size of Rhode Island. With fires approaching from three sides, many of Tanana’s 300 residents evacuated in June. Some were forced to flee by boat because the airstrip was so blanketed with smoke, according to news reports.

  35. – Meanwhile… it looks like a bit of a cyclonic dust disturbance is at work.
    NASA Earth Observatory:

    Dust Marches Across Iraq and Iran
    September 5, 2015

    In early September 2015, a storm with characteristics of both the shamal and the haboob moved across Iraq, Iran, and the Persian Gulf region. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured these natural-color images of the dust storm on September 1 and September 3, 2015.

  36. – Glacier fields around Mt. Denali are visible in this shot.

    NASA Earth Observatory:
    acquired June 15, 2015

    Denali’s two major summits are visible in the images. The south peak is the higher of the two, and was the focus of the new survey supported by USGS, NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey, and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Surveyors flew from Talkeetna Airport, near the entrance of Denali National Park, onto the Kahiltna Glacier, visible just west of the peak in the bottom image. (Note that north is pointed down in both images.) From there, the team of GPS experts and mountaineers began their ascent; they reached the summit in on June 24, 2015, according to a USGS feature story.

    • Mblanc

       /  September 5, 2015

      When I first saw about the name change, I thought it said Mt Denial! 🙂

  37. – Something for Andy:

    NASA Earth Observatory:
    Perspective View: San Diego, California
    February 16, 2002

    The influence of topography on the growth of the city of San Diego is seen clearly in this computer-generated perspective viewed from the south. The Peninsular Ranges to the east of the city have channeled development of the cities of La Mesa and El Cajon, which can be seen just above the center of the image. San Diego itself clusters around the bay enclosed by Point Loma and Coronado Island. In the mountains to the right, Lower Otay Lake and Sweetwater Reservoir show up as dark patches

  38. Amid California’s historic drought, ancient sequoias show signs of stress

    California’s giant trees are showing unprecedented die-back, and land managers who are already battling drought, warming and fire are racing to save them

    “Last September, US Geological Survey ecologist Nate Stephenson hiked into Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest to look for dying seedlings. California was suffering through its third year of severe drought, and trees were dying in the park in greater numbers than usual. The roadside leading up to Giant Forest was pincushioned with trees faded brown – dead oaks, sugar pine, fir, incense cedar. But the forest’s namesake trees, which are among the world’s oldest and largest, were faring better. They’re tough – they have to be to live for thousands of years – and tend to grow in the wettest parts of the landscape.

    “Still, Stephenson thought the effects of the drought might have started to become visible on sequoia seedlings, which are typically more vulnerable to environmental fluctuations than mature trees. He searched the forest floor, but found nothing out of the ordinary. It was only when he looked up that he was startled: he saw a towering old sequoia loaded with tufts of evergreen foliage turned brown.

    “The tree wasn’t dead, but such foliage die-back is an uncommon sign of stress. ‘I’ve been studying sequoias for 35 years or so and had never seen anything like this,’ Stephenson says. He deployed a field crew to hike through Sequoia and its sister park, Kings Canyon, to document the die-back. About half of the more than 4,300 trees they surveyed had lost 10% to 50% of their foliage, while 1 in 100 had lost more than 50% … ”

    • – I saw no mention of phytotixic air pollution. California is polluted — all of it.

      “He searched the forest floor, but found nothing out of the ordinary. It was only when he looked up…”
      “Stressed trees are also more common near meadows… suffer from hotter temperatures because there’s less shade.”

      – The jet stream no longer keeps the many polluted aerosols in suspension as the ‘drought’ manifests itself — as the terra firma warms. Tree crowns and the exteriors of canopies and groves are most exposed to AP — and the intense radiant solar heat which ‘cooks’ pollutants and surely potentiates toxicity.

      – The contents of the atmosphere where trees, and all biota, has to factored in. It just has to.
      Trees, in general, have evolved through centuries of weather cycles. They have survived quite well. But in the past half dozen decades the toxicity of the atmosphere has increased dramatically.
      – What falls upon the trees also falls into the ocean — witness the toxicity of the ocean chemistry.
      Not to mention that which falls upon our children. !

      – Thanks for the link ch1

  39. NASA Earth Observatory:

    – Something from me to all that shows a large community on a narrow coastal strip that is vulnerable to many weather, wind, and anthropogenic influences. It is, in effect, walled in by the Santa Ynez Mountains, and the marine influence of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Brabara Channel.
    But it is also is part of the Central Valley and Los Angeles Basin air sheds and subject to atmospheric fallout (deposition) from these sources as well as it’s internally generated aerosol pollution.

    – The City of Santa Barbara, itself, SB Harbor and Pt. is about 3/5ths of the way along the coast (from the bottom). I lived there (15yrs) most recently and learned to sail there.
    – I stressed these points to all that would listen in the context of black soot and traffic dust, and the landscapes being covered by it. All the while ‘business’ was booming, the rents went up, and no one wanted to heat ‘bad news’ from me.

    – So I became refugee of sorts.

    NASA Earth Observatory:
    “Santa Barbara, California, is often called “America’s Riviera.” It enjoys a Mediterranean climate, a mountain backdrop, and a long and varied coastline.

    The view is toward the southeast, from the Goleta Valley in the foreground to a snow-capped Mount Abel (elevation 2526 m or 8286 feet) along the skyline. The coast here generally faces south. Consequently, Fall and Winter sunrises occur over the ocean, which is unusual for the U.S. west coast. The Santa Barbara “back country” is very rugged and largely remains as undeveloped wilderness and an important watershed for local communities.”

    • – Ps that point of land near the bottom is Coal Oil Point, and the Snowy Plover, and Least Tern nesting areas. Also a major whale monitoring station was at the tip – also good surfing and Boogie boarding.
      Most of the area below and inland was my ‘front yard’ for many years. Ellwood Mesa and environmentally sensitive habitats — Black Shouldered Kites, vernal pools, native bunch grass. and other biota and flora. Also a number of Monarch butterfly overwintering sites.
      I learned so much there. And I complained if something was wrong there. It taught me so much.

  40. Colorado Bob

     /  September 5, 2015

    Wharf Rat / September 5, 2015

    “Is America Ready for Climate Change Refugees?”

    Your points are well taken. And since we aren’t having this discussion at a national level, I was reminded of this wonderful old movie –

    Abandon Ship (1957)

  41. Colorado Bob

     /  September 5, 2015

    The resource curse –

    Obama’s trip to Alaska’s majestic mountains and stirring coastlines also brings fresh attention to deep divisions in the U.S. over balancing the nation’s energy and environmental needs.

    Heavily dependent on energy revenue, plunging oil prices are hitting Alaska hard. The blow is compounded by the high cost of energy in the state. Alaska leaders of all political stripes have implored Obama to open up more areas to drilling to alleviate a $3.5 billion budget deficit that has triggered steep cuts to state services that are critical for poor and rural Alaskans.


  42. Greg

     /  September 5, 2015

    Robert, you mentioned earlier that you will be headed down to the beach within the week. If you haven’t done so already, or recently, head down to the Brock Environmental Center. You can check in with Karen Forget the Executive Director who is well connected. Mention me as Larry’s son-in-law as the connection. She, and the center, will hopefully re-inspire or at least freshen you a bit.

    • Thanks, Greg. Where’s the Brock Environmental Center located?

      • Greg

         /  September 7, 2015

        Cheers RS. Pleasure House Point, where The Brock center is located, is on a peninsula on the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach off of Shore Drive near First Landing, specifically 3663 Marlin Bay Dr. It’s a gorgeous building, platinum LEED designed on more than 100 acres of wetlands.

        • I visited it last time I was there! Unfortunately, it was closed. My next trip is to Murrel’s Inlet. The very next VA Beach trip will include another stop there. Thanks for reminding me, Greg 🙂

  43. Colorado Bob

     /  September 5, 2015

    RS –
    This whole post ties into Trump. That is, ” if we just build a wall that tall enough, thick enough, and wide enough “, we’ll be OK.

    So, I think a bit of research is in order on everyone whoever built a wall. Because in the end every wall everywhere failed.

    The Call – The Walls Came Down

    • Colorado Bob

       /  September 5, 2015

      ” I don’t think there are any Russians, and there ain’t no Yanks. Just corporate criminals playing with tanks. “

  44. Colorado Bob

     /  September 5, 2015

    The oldest wall –
    Jericho , they blew horns as they wailed around it . It collapsed. after the right amount of loops.

    The Great Wall in China, in the end the gate keepers were just bribed.

    Hadrian’s Wall , in the end it so far from Rome , nobody cared when it fell.

    The Berlin Wall , people did not stop trying to cross it.

    Trump thinks a wall will stop people, the history of man proves other wise.

  45. Colorado Bob

     /  September 5, 2015

    The Call-Let The Day Begin

  46. Colorado Bob

     /  September 5, 2015

    The world needs bright people, To lay down now is a sin.

  47. – It’s been a day of discoveries, confirmations, and making connections re California’s air.

    – California’s ‘Food Basket’ toxic air basket-case is full of pollution on a regular basis.The San Joaquin Valley and Central Valley fills up with regional aerosol pollution. There is even a large wind farm just past the southern end of the valley with spinning turbines that mix air coming over the Tehachapi Mountains to add to the Los Angeles air basin.
    It’s one big air pollution circulation system.

    • “the MODIS RGB image … shows the haze late on Saturday morning. The actual PM2.5 readings below vary from 20 to over 50 µg m-3, with the highest concentrations on the southern end of the valley.”
      – Re Sequoia trees stressed — many grow/die on the northern/western rims and edges of the Central Valley, and are subject to most of the same aerosol pollutants.

    • -Also: “spinning turbines that mix air coming over the Tehachapi Mountains to add to…” the Santa Barbara Channel and coast — especially so since the jet stream and the historical NW winds diminished.

    • All caught up in that bowl… This will last for a bit longer yet.

  48. Colorado Bob

     /  September 6, 2015

    Here we go –

  49. Colorado Bob

     /  September 6, 2015

    “Noq efe rins das comw.”

  50. Colorado Bob

     /  September 6, 2015

    ” Now the time has come, ……}

  51. Colorado Bob

     /  September 6, 2015

    ” Now the time has come, ……, there are things to .” realize.

  52. redskylite

     /  September 6, 2015

    Please open your eyes,
    Try to realise.
    I found out today we’re going wrong,
    We’re going wrong.

    Please open your mind,
    See what you can find.
    I found out today we’re going wrong,
    We’re going wrong.

    We’re going wrong,
    We’re going wrong,
    We’re going wrong.

  53. Kevin Jones

     /  September 6, 2015

    Cryosphere Today showing a big drop for 9/5/15 for Arctic Sea Ice Area. 2nd lowest area may yet be possible…?

  54. dnem

     /  September 6, 2015

    Photo essay in the NYT today on Eritrean refugees making the crossing from Libya to Italy:

    As I often think when looking at the physical impacts the 1 deg C rise is causing already, 2 deg just seems unworkable. And obviously the human toll we are seeing on a daily basis in Europe (and elsewhere) is also just a small opening salvo in a terrible war that we must win, now.

  55. Wharf Rat

     /  September 6, 2015

    one of the guys on Ron Patterson’s peak oil site…

    09/04/2015 at 6:39 am

    “Riots would take place within hours if the internet would stop working. No washing machines for clothes, no clothes driers, the situation would begin to deteriorate quickly. The entire population of humans on the whole earth would be jonesin’ for electricity, it would be bad.”

    If you think being without electricity is bad… this morning here in Sao Paulo they shut off our water!
    On the upside for the ruling class, people without water, don’t riot for very long, then again the ruling class doesn’t rule for very long either.

    We do live in interesting times!

    If you are planning on anything, plan for collapse, chaos, and craziness.

    I’ve got front row seats!

  56. Brian#2

     /  September 6, 2015

    And on a completely unrelated note though perhaps a little apropos to people having their land and homes destroyed by the fossil fuel industry, Canada’s Mohawk nation may be the new face of resistance to pipelines from the Alberta oilsands…………

    “I think when push comes to shove, if the Mohawk nation comes together to fight this thing, you’re going to see a hell of a force in the path of that pipeline,” says Simon, grand chief of the Kanesatake Mohawk Council. “This land that we’re standing on, we never gave this land up and it’s our duty to protect it, not just for us but for everyone in this country. If you understand our creation myth, the land is the mother of all humanity. The earth is her body. Why would you want to violate that?”

    Even as oil prices continue their months-long slide, there are four major pipeline projects in the works across Canada — totalling more than $34 billion in investments — that would link the Alberta oilsands to markets across the globe. And while the projects inch forward, some legal experts say the country’s indigenous peoples represent the only real threat to their development.

    Through a series of hard-won court battles in the ’80s and ’90s, indigenous peoples have enshrined environmental protection into Canadian law. Under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, the federal government has an obligation to consult with and accommodate First Nations affected by pipelines that pass through or near their territory.”


  57. – Refugees/Syria — The Fossil Fuel Gulf States – but those Climate/Drought generated is not mentioned. As we know the climate/drought drove vulnerable multitudes to Assad’s city ghettos.

    ‘Syria crisis: Gulf States should open their doors to Syrian refugees’

    Syrians are caught between the brutal killing machine of Bashar Al Assad’s regime and the inhuman cruelty of a terrorist group that has raised the bar for evil and barbarism towards human beings and civilisation.

    As the situation deteriorated, tens of thousands of desperate Syrians began to embark on the dangerous journey to Europe by boat. Criticism grew of the Gulf States – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman – who until recently were the ‘elephants in the room’ when it came to their lack of support and resettlement for fleeing Syrian refugees.

    The Gulf States are not signatories to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention which both defines a refugee and governs their rights and responsibilities towards them.

    • Everyone should be doing what they can for these people. We feed the ‘evil’ if we don’t.

    • World’s most humble president. I love him……..Last year I read an extended piece on President José “Pepe” Mujica. Tremendous person.

      Today, while thinking about these things, one thought that came to mind is that the people in the top 1%?(rough calculation) of the countries that wrought these crises and financially benefited directly from FF/military complex profits, should be the first to open their homes to these people. In a truly just world that is how it would be, in my humble opinion.

  58. Brian#2

     /  September 6, 2015

    Gaza next or perhaps Yemen as the war there intensifies………

    Gaza Water Shortage Catastrophic

    “More than 90 percent of the Gaza Strip’s water is undrinkable. The rest is quickly running out. A combination of factors is rapidly depriving the population of this most basic of needs. RT investigated day-to-day life under these conditions.

    Just one fresh water source exists today, according to the locals – a coastal aquifer beneath the ground that is shared with Israel and Egypt. But Gaza is situated downstream from Israel, and Palestinians accuse the Jewish state of using the situation to its advantage, employing water deprivation as a tactic against the civilian population.

    The grim water statistics are part of a recent UN report on Gaza, which says the strip will become uninhabitable by 2020. A number of reasons compound the problems, according to the document by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).”

    The Middle East is literally drying up so to mismanagement, misuse and climate change

    • Another humanitarian crisis in the works. This one fueled by Israeli blindness. They need to seriously think about integration. Segregation and ghettoization of Palestinians is a very bad precedent that will pay back in spades.

  59. – The Power of Photography is expressed in this photo essay on air pollution (The low altitude variety.) in this World Press Photo contest.

    Development and Pollution (Commissioned by for Greenpeace International)
    By Lu Guang of China

    Most factories in Hainan Industrial Park of Wuhai City in Inner Mongolia are high-energy consuming and high-pollution producing. China is now the world’s second-largest economy. Its economic development has consumed lots of energy and generated plenty of pollution. A habit of directly discharging unprocessed industrial sewage, exhaust gas and waste material has led to pollution of farmlands, grasslands and drinking water as well as the ocean and the air.

    Grassland has been turned into desert. Fertile farmland has given way to barren mountains. Herdsmen no longer have grassland. Farmers have lost their farms, their own homelands destroyed, thus causing the villagers to become displaced. Winds carry the exposed coal dust and sand, causing smog. Smog, in turn, forces middle and primary schools to close.

    … The number of hospital patients with respiratory disease goes up. Food and drinking water is polluted, which leads to cancer, so common China has seen the emergence of ‘cancer villages’. China’s environmental pollution has already exerted great threats to the people’s life and security.

  60. – Insects; ta critical link in life’s food chain.

    LONE PINE, Calif. (AP) — The gas station’s ground was covered with the small winged bugs. Piles of carcasses, inches deep, sat swept to the sides.

    … black-and-red seed bug species Melacoryphus lateralis.

    Such outbreaks have happened in Arizona’s Sonoran desert near Tucson, but scientists say it’s the first one they have record of in California.

    The influx has been driven by a mild winter and monsoonal weather, which provided healthier vegetation for the nutrient-sucking bugs, said David Haviland, an entomologist with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Kern County.

    Such outbreaks have happened in Arizona’s Sonoran desert near Tucson, but scientists say it’s the first one they have record of in California.

    The influx has been driven by a mild winter and monsoonal weather, which provided healthier vegetation for the nutrient-sucking bugs, said David Haviland, an entomologist with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Kern County.

    … might be related to the drying up of native vegetation in the summer heat and the drought, said Nathan Reade, agricultural commissioner for Inyo and Mono counties.

  61. This is it..

    And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more.
    People talking without speaking,
    People hearing without listening,
    People writing songs that voices never share
    And no one dared
    Disturb the sound of silence.

    • Maria

       /  September 6, 2015

      Ps: skylite, thanks for your gracious, kind words re: my photo up thread. Much appreciated.

      Many excellent posts this w/e. Thanks all. Looking forward to giving them the attention they deserve.

  62. – A Tweet sent through ch1. THX.

  63. – 0906 I Tweeted this post “Everything I was Dreaming of is Gone” — How Climate Change is Spurring a Global Refugee Crisis to Rapidly Worsen” to Democracy Now.
    We’ll see if they get the importance of RS. …

  64. – SSS-Andy-iego:
    – Ps Andy, how do things look for your region of Mexico?

    ‘SDSU named a ‘drought endangered’ campus’

    San Diego State University one of the top “drought-endangered” campuses in the country based on its size and location by a lawn-care website urging water conservation.

    LawnStarter posted a list of 12 campuses and named SDSU 10th among schools that face the challenge of maintaining a large campus in an area facing a drought. The 419-acre UCLA campus topped the list. SDSU’s campus is 283 acres.

  65. – New Jersey is drying out.

    South Jersey inching toward drought

    Meteorologists describe South Jersey as “abnormally dry” but say we’re not in a drought. At least not quite yet.

    Last week, a drought was declared over parts of northeastern New Jersey, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Mitchell Gaines, who says “Seventeen percent of New Jersey is now in a moderate drought, and most of the rest of the state is abnormally dry, and growing drier.”

  66. Syd Bridges

     /  September 7, 2015

    Thanks for this post, Robert. As someone who is partially sighted, I well understand the old adage “None are so blind as those who will not see.” This disaster has been obvious for many years. The resource curse enables massive population growth and high expectations, before whipping everything away.

    But how long will it be before global warming causes climate refugees from southern Europe too? Or for that matter from the southern states of the USA? And where will they go? What with the storm gun of the backed up gulf stream and the Greenland ice sheet cold pool, northern Europe may be cold, wet and very inhospitable too. A growing population in a resource-depleted world, and climate refugees coming from many different areas at once with nowhere safe left to flee to. Happy 21st century!

    • If we keep burning, if we can’t restrain population, and if we can’t build publically supported renewable, sustainable, Earth-systems healing societies, then we’re all going to be refugees. We’ll all be roaming around fighting for resources. This is our shot. We do this together. We say no to the rich who just want to hold the resources needed for response to selfish ends or it’s done.

      Thanks for your thoughts, Syd. I just hope we listen to our better angels. If we don’t, it’s down a long dark hole with certain collapses and high risk of extinction at the end.

      • Syd Bridges

         /  September 8, 2015

        I read Joseph Tainter’s “The Collapse of Complex Civilisations” a few years ago and, from what I recall, he argued it was generally quite a slow process. He cited the slow debasement of the silver denarius from the reign of Vespasian on over the next two centuries. Germanic invasions of the Empire started with the Marcomannic Wars, which cost Rome heavily but were successfully pursued by Marcus Aurelius. The Emperor Decius was killed repelling the Goths in 251 AD, but not until 376 did they get a good hold on Roman territory. After the sack of Rome by Alaric in 410, things went rapidly downhill, until Odoacer finally set himself up in Rome in 476 AD as king of Italy.

        However, with rapid global warming and 7 billion people on the planet, we could collapse extremely fast. with 30 years rather than 300 years as the time frame. A vicious fight for diminishing fuel, fresh water, productive land, and livable conditions could lead to a collapse on a far greater scale than that of Rome. If it is accompanied by the Anthropocene Extinction-as seems plausible-recovery could take many thousands, or even millions, of years, with maybe very different life forms dominating the Earth.

  67. Some good news of justice served. Chevron has to pay Ecuador for the disaster several years ago.

    In a unanimous ruling hailed as “a major victory for human rights and corporate accountability,” the Canadian Supreme Court declared on Friday that a group of Ecuadorian villagers can pursue a multi-billion pollution lawsuit against oil giant Chevron in the province of Ontario.

    “The law has finally caught up with Chevron,” the nonprofit Amazon Watch said in a press statement.

    As a result of the ruling, the Ecuadorian villagers may now continue with a 2012 lawsuit they launched against Chevron’s Canadian subsidiary in Ontario. They claim Chevron’s activities have caused “horrific contamination”—and an Ecuadorian court agreed, ruling in 2011 that Chevron should pay $9.5 billion for the destruction it caused.

  68. OT re: Blood Falls in Antarctica. Interesting. I’d not heard of them.

    In 1911, a geologist on the ultimately doomed Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole discovered a five-story-tall, blood-red waterfall in the middle of the frozen Antarctic desert lands. The area, known as the McMurdo Dry Valleys, is the largest ice-free region on the continent, and one of the coldest, driest, most Mars-like places on Earth.

    The so-called Blood Falls ooze from a crack in Taylor Glacier onto the ice-covered Lake Bonney. Twice as salty as seawater, the red brine never freezes. But why is it so red? It’s because of the extremely rich presence of iron in the water, which oxidizes and turns crimson when exposed to air, as a research team led by microbiologist Jill Mikucki discovered in 2009. The team also identified 17 microorganisms in the surface brine. Before then, scientists thought a type of algae might be responsible for the red hue.

    h/t Scientific American who linked to this piece.

  69. Excellent reporting & compilation, Robert. Stay strong. This is so depressing.

  1. “Everything I was Dreaming of is Gone” — How Climate Change is Spurring a Global Refugee Crisis to Rapidly Worsen | GarryRogers Nature Conservation and Science Fiction (#EcoSciFi)
  2. West Coast Facing Severe Weather for Fall & Winter and What the New Normal Will Really Mean » Survival Acres Blog

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