The Roof is On Fire — Looks like February of 2016 Was 1.5 to 1.7 C Above 1880s Averages

Before we go on to explore this most recent and most extreme instance in a long string of record-shattering global temperatures, we should take a moment to credit our climate change denier ‘friends’ for what’s happening in the Earth System.

For decades now, a coalition of fossil fuel special interests, big money investors, related think tanks, and the vast majority of the republican party have fought stridently to prevent effective action to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. In their mad quest, they have attacked science, demonized leaders, gridlocked Congress, hobbled government, propped up failing fossil fuels, prevented or dismantled helpful regulation, turned the Supreme Court into a weapon against renewable energy solutions, and toppled industries that would have helped to reduce the damage.

Through these actions, they have been successful in preventing the necessary and rapid shift away from fossil fuel burning, halting a burgeoning American leadership in renewable energy, and in flooding the world with the low-cost coal, oil, and gas that is now so destructive to Earth System stability. Now, it appears that some of the more dangerous impacts of climate change are already locked in. So when history looks back and asks — why were we so stupid? We can honestly point our fingers to those ignoramuses and say ‘here were the infernal high priests who sacrificed a secure future and our children’s safety on the altar of their foolish pride.’

Worst Fears For Global Heating Realized

We knew there’d be trouble. We knew that human greenhouse gas emissions had loaded the world ocean up with heat. We knew that a record El Nino would blow a big chunk of that heat back into the atmosphere as it began to fade. And we knew that more global temperature records were on the way in late 2015 and early 2016. But I have to say that the early indications for February are just staggering.

Extreme Global Warming

(The GFS model shows temperatures averaged 1.01 C above the already significantly hotter than normal 1981-2010 baseline. Subsequent observations from separate sources have confirmed this dramatic February temperature spike. We await NASA, NOAA, and JMA observations for a final confirmation. But the trend in the data is amazingly clear. What we’re looking at is the hottest global temperatures since record keeping began by a long shot. Note that the highest temperature anomalies appear exactly where we don’t want them — the Arctic. Image source: GFS and M. J. Ventrice.)

Eric Holthaus and M. J. Ventrice on Monday were the first to give warning of an extreme spike in temperatures as recorded by the Global satellite record. A slew of media reports followed. But it wasn’t until today that we really began to get a clear look at the potential atmospheric damage.

Nick Stokes, a retired climate scientist and blogger over at Moyhu, published an analysis of the recently released preliminary data from NCAR and the indicator is just absolutely off the charts high. According to this analysis, February temperatures may have been as much as 1.44 C hotter than the 1951 to 1980 NASA baseline. Converting to departures from 1880s values, if these preliminary estimates prove correct, would put the GISS figure at an extreme 1.66 C hotter than 1880s levels for February. If GISS runs 0.1 C cooler than NCAR conversions, as it has over the past few months, then the 1880 to February 2016 temperature rise would be about 1.56 C. Both are insanely high jumps that hint 2016 could be quite a bit warmer than even 2015.

It’s worth noting that much of these record high global temperatures are centered on the Arctic — a region that is very sensitive to warming and one that has the potential to produce a number of dangerous amplifying feedbacks. So we could well characterize an impending record warm February as one in which much of the excess heat exploded into the Arctic. In other words — the global temperature anomaly graphs make it look like the world’s roof is on fire. That’s not literal. Much of the Arctic remains below freezing. But 10-12 C above average temperature anomalies for an entire month over large regions of the Arctic is a big deal. It means that large parts of the Arctic haven’t experienced anything approaching a real Arctic Winter this year.

Looks Like The 1.5 C Threshold Was Shattered in the Monthly Measure and We May Be Looking at 1.2 to 1.3 C+ Above 1880s For all of 2016

Putting these numbers into context, it looks like we may have already crossed the 1.5 C threshold above 1880s values in the monthly measure during February. This is entering a range of high risk for accelerating Arctic sea ice and snow melt, albedo loss, permafrost thaw and a number of other related amplifying feedbacks to a human-forced heating of our world. A set of changes that will likely add to the speed of an already rapid fossil fuel based warming. But we should be very clear that monthly departures are not annual departures and the yearly measure for 2016 is less likely to hit or exceed a 1.5 C departure. It’s fair to say, though, that 1.5 C annual departures are imminent and will likely appear within 5-20 years.

If we use the 1997-1998 El Nino year as a baseline, we find that global temperatures for that event peaked at around 1.1 C above 1880s averages during February. The year, however, came in at about 0.85 C above 1880s averages. Using a similar back of napkin analysis, and assuming 2016 will continue to see Equatorial sea surface temperatures continue to cool, we may be looking at a 1.2 to 1.3 C above 1880s average for this year.


(El Nino is cooling down. But will it continue to linger through 2016? Climate Prediction Center CFSv2 model ensembles seem to think so. The most recent run shows the current El Nino restrengthening through Fall of 2016. Such an event would tend to push global annual temperatures closer to the 1.5 C above 1880s threshold. It would also set in place the outside potential for another record warm year in 2017. It’s worth noting that the NOAA consensus is still for ENSO Neutral to weak La Nina conditions by Fall. Image source: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.)

NOAA is currently predicting that El Nino will transition to ENSO neutral or a weak la Nina by year end. However, some model runs show that El Nino never really ends for 2016. Instead, these models predict a weak to moderate El Nino come Fall. In 1998, a strong La Nina began to form — which would have helped to suppress atmospheric temperatures by year-end. The 2016 forecast, however, does not seem to indicate quite as much atmospheric cooling assistance coming from the world ocean system. So end 2016 annual averages may push closer to 1.3 C (or a bit higher) above 1880s levels.

We’ve Had This Warming in the System for a While, It was Just Hiding Out in the Oceans

One other bit of context we should be very clear on is that the Earth System has been living with the atmospheric heat we’re now seeing for a while. The oceans began a very rapid accumulation of heat due to greenhouse gas emissions forcing during the 2000s. A rate of heat accumulation in the world’s waters that has accelerated through to this year. This excess heat has already impacted the climate system by speeding the destabilization of glaciers in the basal zone in Greenland and Antarctica. And it has also contributed to new record global sea ice losses and is a likely source of reports from the world’s continental shelf zones that small but troubling clathrate instabilities have been observed.

Nature Global Ocean Heat Accumulation

(Global ocean heat accumulation has been on a high ramp since the late 1990s with 50 percent of the total heat accumulation occurring in the 18 years from 1997 though 2015. Since more than 90 percent of the greenhouse gas heat forcing ends up in the world ocean system, this particular measure is probably the most accurate picture of a rapidly warming world. Such a swift accumulation of heat in the world’s oceans guaranteed that the atmosphere would eventually respond. The real question now is — how fast and far? Image source: Nature.)

But pushing up atmospheric heating will have numerous additional impacts. It will put pressure on the surface regions of global glaciers — adding to the basal melt pressure jump we’ve already seen. It will further amplify the hydrological cycle — increasing the rates of evaporation and precipitation around the world and amplifying extreme droughts, wildfires and floods. It will increase peak global surface temperatures — thereby increasing the incidence of heatwave mass casualty events. It will provide more latent heat energy for storms — continuing to push up the threshold of peak intensity for these events. And it will help to accelerate the pace of regional changes to climate systems such as weather instability in the North Atlantic and increasing drought tendency in the US (especially the US Southwest).

Entering the Climate Change Danger Zone

The 1-2 C above 1880s temperatures range we are now entering is one in which dangerous climate changes will tend to grow more rapid and apparent. Such atmospheric heat has not been experienced on Earth in at least 150,000 years and the world then was a much different place than what human beings were used to in the 20th Century. However, the speed at which global temperatures are rising is much more rapid than anything seen during any interglacial period for the last 3 million years and is probably even more rapid than the warming seen during hothouse extinction events like the PETM and the Permian. This velocity of warming will almost certainly have added effects outside of the paleoclimate context.

Arctic Degree Days Below Zero Anomaly

(Anyone looking at the temperature anomaly graph on the top of this post can see that a disproportionate amount of the global temperature anomaly is showing up in the Arctic. But the region of the High North above the 80 degree Latitude line is among the regions experiencing global peak anomalies. There, degree days below freezing are at the lowest levels ever recorded — now hitting a -800 anomaly in the Arctic record. In plain terms — the less degree days below freezing the High Arctic experiences, the closer it is to melting. Image source: CIRES/NOAA.)

One final point to be clear on is then worth repeating. We, by listening to climate change deniers and letting them gum up the political and economic works, have probably already locked in some of the bad effects of climate change that could have been prevented. The time for pandering to these very foolish people is over. The time for foot-dragging and half-measures is now at an end. We need a very rapid response. A response that, at this point, is still being delayed by the fossil fuel industry and the climate change deniers who have abetted their belligerence.


The Old Normal is Now Gone


Hot, Hot, Hot

Michael J. Ventrice

No Winter for the Arctic in 2016

Big Jump in Surface and Satellite Temperature Measures

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center

Industrial Era Global Ocean Heat Uptake Doubles in Recent Decades


Republican Governors Sue to Stop Clean Power Plan


Leave a comment


  1. Tsar Nicholas

     /  March 3, 2016

    Scary stuff, Robert. Thanks for your work.

  2. Scientists just found a surprising factor that’s speeding Greenland’s melt

    A new scientific study released Thursday has delivered yet another burst of bad news about Greenland — the vast northern ice sheet that contains 20 feet of potential sea level rise. The ice sheet is “darkening,” or losing its ability to reflect both visible and invisible radiation, as it melts more and more, the research finds. That means it’s absorbing more of the sun’s energy — which then drives further melting.

    “I call it melting cannibalism. You have melting feeding on itself,” says Marco Tedesco, the lead author of the study and a researcher with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.

    • wili

       /  March 3, 2016

      Thanks, but this isn’t completely new news, right?

    • Thanks, TDG. Was actually just reading this. Tedesco does a great job laying this all out. Another tough discovery for Greenland. We’ll see how global warming impacts the AO cooling effect this summer. There’s been a lot of Arctic preconditioning this Winter. So kind of a big deal.

  3. wili

     /  March 3, 2016

    Yes, thanks…I guess. I am having a class read “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas so they can have some idea what is coming at them in the next few years and decades. I started by saying that the first degree was already in the can. But now I’m gonna have to tell them that we’re already half way through the second!

    • 20-30 percent through the second is more accurate. We’ll need an annual measure at 1.5 C to make that claim. But, yeah, things are looking pretty rough.

      • wili

         /  March 3, 2016

        Oh yeah, I’ll let them know the difference between a monthly and a yearly rate. Still, that we’re even touching on such territory already is unnerving, even though I haven’t exactly been expecting a slowdown in the rate of warming.

    • What kind of class are you teaching Willi? What do they make of Lynas’ book so far?

      • wili

         /  March 3, 2016

        Unfortunately, it only meets every other week, so I haven’t gotten a good read on them yet.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain

         /  March 5, 2016

        Mark Lynas sold out some time ago, and has even stooped to becoming a shill for GE crops and a vicious enemy of organic farming. A very typical career path.

    • Mblanc

       /  March 4, 2016

      I thought ‘6 degrees’ was a very good piece of work, given that Lynas doesn’t have a huge scientific background. It is an admirable book, which genuinely helped me understand the implications of climate feedbacks.

      Sadly, i don’t have much time for his subsequent positions in defence of nuclear, GMO’s and his latest wheeze, ‘Ecomodernism’.

      Imho he has jumped the shark, or ‘done a Curry’, depending on your cultural reference points.

      • wili

         /  March 4, 2016

        “Sadly, i don’t have much time for his subsequent positions in defence of nuclear, GMO’s and his latest wheeze, ‘Ecomodernism’.”

        Neither do I.

  4. dnem

     /  March 3, 2016

    I may have asked this here before, but I’ll try again. I’d like to translate the temperature anomalies the arctic is experiencing this winter to my local climatology (Baltimore, MD). I don’t think just tacking on a 12 C anomaly is the way to go. I’ve seen that crazy degree days graph referred to as deviating from the mean by more than 4 SDs. Anyone have any idea what a 4 SD deviation from, say, the mean January (42 deg F) or August (89 deg F) high temperature in Baltimore would be?

    • It would be the year without a Winter. The warmest February ever experienced by a long shot. Average temperatures for the entire month would be more like late April or early May. Periods of semi cold (40s and lower 50s) swinging to periods of summer like conditions in the 80s dominating for days at a time. One or two 90 degree days in the mix. That’s what it would look like.

      • Ryan in New England

         /  March 4, 2016

        Here in Ct it’s going to be 60 on Monday and 70 on Tuesday. We’ve just gone through a winter with the most (by far) days over 50, which if I recall correctly it was almost up to 40 days.

    • Dr G

       /  March 4, 2016

      Hi, long time lurker making first comment (so hopefully ends up in right place!). Firstly therefore, Robert (and all of you) thank you for a fantastic source of information and discussion…please keep up the good work but take it easy whenever you need to:)

      General comment regarding 4 standard deviation departure from average: for a normal distribution of data this will occur on about a 1 in 16,000 chance i.e. not very often! (reference: wikipedia)

      • Yeah. It’s a practical impossibility without something influencing the scale, right? In this case human greenhouse gas emissions.

        Thanks for the added context and for pointing out the absolutely crazy numbers in this particular event.

      • Dr G

         /  March 4, 2016

        Exactly😦 And on an instinctive / eyeballing basis that freezing degree day anomaly graph just screams onset of exponential change to me, more than anything else I’ve seen. Especially as its based on an average over 1980 to 2010 i.e. a warming period. Would therefore I assume look even more insane vs e.g. 1980’s temperature median😦 again.

      • Sea ice has some dubious prospects. I think it’s fair to say that Greenland is in the firing line. Hansen may well be right about mid-century melt.

      • What we’re looking for now is pulse intensity and collapse events.

    • Dnem — from a comment below… A 4 Standard deviation event has a probability of naturally occurring of 1 in 16,000. Let the deniers chew on that one.

  5. wili

     /  March 3, 2016

    And even one of the denialists last gw-has-paused straws has now fallen:

    Unfortunately, I find little comfort in the fact that we are getting so hot so fast that even people determined to ignore it are now coming up empty handed. Not to overplay the Titanic analogies, but it’s as if they have been fixed on the one sensor that showed that one compartment of the ship was not yet flooded, even as the whole vessel was turning in a more and more vertical direction. Now that even that ‘sensor’ is pointing toward doom, I expect the hand waving will become even more frantic and incoherent.

    • Mblanc

       /  March 4, 2016

      Thing about the Titanic is, they didn’t see the iceberg coming!

      • Mblanc

         /  March 4, 2016

        Doh, thing not things…

      • Mblanc

         /  March 4, 2016

        Omg, thing is not things…

        I’ll get my coat!

      • Everyone does typos these days. Especially on the Ipad. I’ve fixed this.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain

         /  March 5, 2016

        The analogy is truer if you have the Titanic’s crew denying there is any ice-berg, or anything called an ice-berg, and those who say that there are are ‘bergists’, engaged in a great big conspiracy.

  6. Jeremy

     /  March 3, 2016

    Now we’re talkin’ !

    “The U.S. Justice Department has forwarded a request from two congressmen seeking a federal probe of ExxonMobil to the FBI’s criminal division.

    U.S. Representatives Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier sought the probe last year to determine whether the oil giant violated federal laws by “failing to disclose truthful information” about climate change.”

    • Ted Lieu is great. He has been putting pressure on FAA to accelerate closing or at least scaling back business jets using Santa Monica Airport … with huge health and quality-of-life impacts against airport neighbors. The same inertia that gets Trudeau trying to increase Canadian pipeline infrastructure is at play with all U.S. airports, where FAA exists to sustain a status quo centered on maximized fuel consumption. This pattern has to break someday, before it creates something bigger to break our species (and most others).

  7. Colorado Bob

     /  March 3, 2016

    Is Asian dust boosting Arctic ice melt?

    When the wind whips up a dust storm in Asia, there is a reasonable chance that the sand will be blown to the Arctic. Now a study has shown the route that these Arctic-bound dust storms tend to travel. In recent years this weather pattern has become more common, and this constant sprinkling of Asian dust on Arctic ice could be one of the reasons the Arctic is warming so fast.

  8. Colorado Bob

     /  March 3, 2016

    Warming of Swiss permafrost continues unabated

    Unremittingly high temperatures are continuing to take their toll on Swiss permafrost and glaciers, according to the latest scientific research. The permanent ice covering on Swiss mountains is melting while rock glaciers are moving several metres a year.

    The latest findings from the Swiss Permafrost Monitoring Network (PERMOS) reveal that the warming trend of the last seven years continues unabated. This has been ascertained by measuring the temperatures of permafrost at 30 borehole sites.

    The speed of movement of rock glaciers increased 20% in 2014-2015 compared to the previous recordings. Such glaciers are now moving at a faster rate than at any time since recordings began in 2000.

    • Abel Adamski

       /  March 4, 2016

      A blast from the past in reference to the Alps

      With temperatures rising faster in the Alps than the rest of the world, alpine countries are working together to adapt to climate change and hope to set an example.

      A recent Austrian climate change report found that the country’s temperatures had risen twice as fast as the global average since 1880, with the number of sunshine hours in the Alps increasing by 20 per cent.

      While this may please holidaymakers or locals enjoying longer summers, it is also likely to cause more landslides and forest fires, affecting the agricultural sector and local economy, the Austrian Assessment Report found.

    • Abel Adamski

       /  March 4, 2016

      Still in Europe last year

      Opinion: Climate change has arrived in Central Europe

      In addition to complaining about the weather these days, Germans are seeking ways to cool down. Climate change is partly to blame for the heat wave. The time has come to fight that with resolve, DW’s Jens Thurau writes.
      Deutschland Hitzewelle Freibad

      It’s been hot in Germany, really hot. Newspapers are full of tips on how to endure temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius (105F): avoid strenuous physical activity, stay in the shade and drink lots of fluids. The dome of Berlin’s Reichstag building was closed several times last week to avoid exposing tourists to the melting heat in the glass construction. In the state of Baden-Württemberg, highway police have repeatedly asked motorists to adhere to the heat-related speed limit of 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph). Old highway lanes made of concrete can literally buckle to form ramps similar to jumps on a ski slope. In Potsdam’s Park Sanssouci, trees dating to the days of the 18th-century Prussian King Frederick the Great are endangered by the heat.

    • Abel Adamski

       /  March 4, 2016

      And from France last year, the shrinking of Mont Blanc Glacier and the melting of Glaciers and permafrost. It is not just in the Arctic areas

      It’s the most famous part of the Mont Blanc glacier, rising to 1,913m. It’s also the most visible symbol in France of climate change, which officials from almost 200 nations will discuss in Paris in December.

      French Prime Minister Manuel Valls visited on Friday to make that point, but he didn’t talk about what it was like in 1988. When we went there, it took just three stair-steps to get down to the ice and to a huge cave carved inside the glacier.

      When I went back earlier this month, the scenery had changed dramatically. The Mer de Glace has melted and shrunk so fast that visitors now have to go down 370 steep steps to get there.

      Living on a top-floor apartment with no elevator, I’m used to vertical walking. But this was a literally breath-taking experience: aching knees going down and 10 minutes of major cardio going up.

      The blue ice is lost under a thick layer of dust and rubble. It’s a sad sight, and a striking example of the reality of climate change and global warming.

      And some claim a pause

  9. Reblogged this on GarryRogers Nature Conservation and commented:
    Have all Republicans asked themselves if they really want global warming that destroys natural ecosystems and human civilization? Things you have to consider in this Robert Scribbler post.

  10. Kevin Jones

     /  March 3, 2016

    NWS forecasting hurricane force winds not far offshore Virginia. Extended forecast for NH indicates if we get any more snow this snow droughted season it will fall on leafed out trees. 50’s & 60’s F next week…

  11. Colorado Bob

     /  March 3, 2016

    Is Worry Worthwhile in Confronting Climate Change?
    By Andrew C. Revkin

    • Colorado Bob

       /  March 3, 2016

      Prize-Winning Environmentalist Murdered In Her Home In Honduras

      Berta Cáceres, a Honduran woman who organized the indigenous Lenca people in a successful grassroots battle against construction of the Agua Zarca Dam — and whose environmental activism made her the target of numerous death threats — was murdered in her home early Thursday morning.

      Cáceres, coordinator and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras, or COPIHN, was killed by unknown attackers who snuck into her home in the middle of the night after she had fallen asleep. She apparently was shot, according to news reports. Her brother also was injured.

      • Kevin Jones

         /  March 3, 2016

        Interesting juxtaposition, Colorado. Berta Caceres was everything Andrew C. Revkin will never be.

    • Hi Colorado Bob-
      Revkin’s model is a purely CO2 based model. I don’t see him mentioning methane at all

      If CO2 was all we had to worry about, he might be right, that excessive worry is not warranted.

      But because we may be facing another methane driven mass extinction, worry is definitely warranted. Panic is probably warranted. Certainly marching in the streets and progressive levels of protest until fundamental change is enacted are warranted.

      And if it turns out we have only a trillion ton of carbon as methane in the hydrates, instead of 20 trillion tons, the down side is we will live in a cleaner world powered by alternative energies, and we prudently over-reacted to a clear and present danger rather than under-reacting.

      Living in a cleaner world with a stable climate is a down side I can live with.

      • Re-reading the above, I can’t believe I implied that doing something about global warming is over-reacting. I don’t know what an over-reaction would be at this point, but we sure aren’t in any danger of that. We’re all acting mesmerized, like we’re brain dead.

      • Revkin’s ‘not worried’ message sounds more like shock to me than anything else. He compares it to a time he had a stroke and didn’t have time to worry, because he was forced to urgently act to save his health. Revkin’s implied message is that we’ve already experienced a trauma and that action is really the only rational course. That we don’t have time to sit and worry anymore.

      • I try to make it a point not to read Mr. Revkin or propagate his stuff. So reasonable–but as I told my wife several years ago, “What if balance [a balanced viewpoint] is not enough?” It wasn’t then, and it isn’t now–less now, of course.

      • Well, worry and action aren’t mutually exclusive, I think. Worry is a good first step, far better than denial or apathy. Fear of abrupt climate change is good, I think. Terror may even be appropriate. Fear motivates action. Let’s hear it for fear, terror, and worry.:)

        Maybe Revkin is just being too subtle for me, or maybe I was just too impatient to take the effort to understand his point. And anyway, who is he to tell me how I should feel? I’m frankly terrified for the biosphere and the fate of coming generations.

        But I’ve disagreed with him more than I’ve agreed with him, over the years, anyway, so I tend to tune him out.:)

      • Reminds me f this Norse proverb…

        “The unwise man is awake all night, and ponders everything over; when morning comes he is weary in mind, and all is a burden as ever.”

      • On the other hand, if we have 20 trillion tons of carbon as methane in the hydrates, human civilization as we know it is likely dead meat. Certainly, a plausible case can be made that we have had enough methane in the hydrates in the past to cause a series of mass extinction events. Sound scientific estimates working from carbon isotope ratios of how much carbon as methane has come out of the hydrates in the past range up to 12 trillion tons of carbon as methane making it past the barrier of the oceans and into the atmosphere during the End Triassic. So a plausible scientific case can be made that we had 20 trillion tons of carbon as methane in the hydrates or maybe more during the End Triassic mass extinction.

        Also, logically, there is no reason to expect that conditions have changed to decrease the amount of methane in the hydrates. We’re coming out of a series of ice ages, with cold water temperatures that increase the volume of the gas hydrate stability zone. Dickens says under realistic ocean warming scenarios we’re likely to reduce the volume of the gas hydrate stability zone by 50% in the coming decades or centuries. We also haven’t had a large warming event like the PETM in at least 50 million years, so our “methane capacitor” should be fully charged, and may be changed as never before. So however much methane we have in the hydrates, about half of it is coming out, although it might come out slowly.

        But, the sort of temperature maps we are seeing this year are the sort we were not expecting for decades. Nothing about this global warming is happening slowly. Can we really stake our entire future on an assumption that the hydrates will destabilize slowly and in an organized manner? We are still finding things out about the basic physics and chemistry of the hydrates, as Liu and Flemmings’ work on high salt methane hydrates and high salt methane hydrate chimneys has shown us.

        When science and logic say to worry, we should worry. The climate system speaks the language of billions of tons of carbon, and so far we have been telling it very strongly to destabilize, with our fossil fuel usage. When we stop speaking the language of destabilization to the climate system, then we should still worry, because the pulse of heat from our current warming will be working its way down into the hydrates, and could still destabilize them.

        Our suite of emotions is an evolved characteristic, and is functional and adaptive. We’re evolved to worry because worry is a functional emotion that motivates action, I think. We should worry, and experience anxiety, fear, and hopelessness because those are the appropriate emotions in our situation.

  12. Robert: Would it be alright with you if I cite this article for an article I am writing for Huffington Post about this very topic of this February’s heat?

  13. Griffin

     /  March 3, 2016

    As the temperatures that we have all been wary of for quite some time now steadily move from future speculation to current observation, I keep coming back to one, constantly recurring theme.
    “Faster than expected.”
    Thank you Robert for an informative but sobering report on the status of our shared disaster that we call home.

  14. climatehawk1

     /  March 4, 2016


  15. Ryan in New England

     /  March 4, 2016

    This is really sad, and an example of the kind of forces we are fighting, just to try and make a better world.

    • Ryan in New England

       /  March 4, 2016

      Sorry, I just realized Bob already posted this link. It’s ok I suppose, she deserves to be remembered and spoken of.

  16. The problem with the opening paragraphs, in my opinion – is where do you draw your lines? Suppose you pictured people as climbing a mountain of sorts (not my analogy exactly, but it fits here) – in the foothills, you have various shades of climate change deniers. There’s a pretty wide range of these people alone.

    Go a little higher up the mountain, and you have people who accept the problem and advocate various actions to remedy it, ranging from those who think energy efficient lightbulbs and carbon offsetting their flights is sufficient to those who would essentially abolish large swathes of modern society. I’d place this blog firmly in that general territory, perhaps at the more substantive end.

    A little further up again and you get into what I’m going to term the catastrophist territory, people who think we are going to fail to address the problem, and are presuming upon the collapse of the system (and most likely the ecosystem too). Exactly how people think this looks is hard to pin down as few people are in this territory (which will always necessarily be true, actually).

    You could argue the toss about whether you include defeatists in that same general area, or push them a bit further on the spectrum as they believe action of any type is impossible and pointless (which is a view I don’t subscribe to and a key difference – I believe the future of our species is still to play for even if there’s an excellent chance the existing population and system is largely doomed).

    Anyway my basic point is simply that you – and I – and everyone – their view is based on how far up the mountain they’ve climbed up to. So I see many people as being part of the problem even when they acknowledge the problem and admit to the need for action, because they insufficiently well understand the problem and are advocating course of action that still put us on a crash course, while arguing otherwise (it doesn’t matter how far you run after the train leaving the station, if you are always falling behind). I see those who are defeatist as unhelpful because they understand the problem and are failing to support progress forwards (just as the deniers at the base do as well).

    However, when it comes to criticising any group, where do we draw the lines? How do we draw them? The unfortunate reality is that we have to operate in the reality of the day, and blame cannot give us progress generally speaking (much as I’d personally like to see some accountability here myself). We’re all tending to climb this mountain as time passes, albeit some at a faster rate than others.

    Do I get to level the same criticisms as all those who failed to act in favour of contingency plans when/if collapse undisputably arrives? (one of the problems of contingency planning is that by the time you need it it’s too late to start it, and so a lot of possible energy that could have been put into it has already been squandered just as surely as we squandered our chances for a smooth sidestep of all this several decades ago now). The future of our species (or at least the quality of life for countless generations not yet born) may depend upon this principle.

    On the one hand, it’s a lot of typing for what’s basically a minor philosophical point, on another – I think it’s valid to raise questions about how we behave as the night falls – civilisation at the end of the day is in large part based on nothing more or less than our behaviour, at least in the simplest definition I could arrive at when I considered that question years ago when I started taking these things seriously.

    • Without these efforts by fossil fuel industry and their political backers, we wouldn’t be in this mess. For me, the moral ambiguity argument holds no water. If fact, if you can’t see that these people’s actions have had dire consequences, then I’d say you’re pretty blind.

      • My argument isn’t exactly that their actions didn’t have dire consequences, but that there are very many other people – even those who acknowledge the problem – whose actions have dire consequences too.

      • The new fossil fuel company apologists …

      • Who, me? I’m including the advocates of the 2C target in the same group…

        As early as 1990, 1C was identified as a more sensible limit than 2C – everyone who has bought into the 2C target and pushed for it is still committing us to dire consequences therefore.

        Anyway, that’s all from me.

      • Advocates of 2C — being policy makers. Being individuals who were reluctant to rapidly cut carbon emissions due to, primarily, connections with fossil fuel special interests peddling a fossil fuel centric worldview.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain

         /  March 5, 2016

        It’s exactly like arguing about the supposed ‘moral ambiguity’ of the Nazi extermination campaigns. I strongly suspect simple moral cowardice, and refusal to face reality.

    • I’d say the courts, when they function well, have a pretty good take on blame.

      If fossil fuel corporations knowingly damaged the rest of us by continuing to produce a product they knew was vastly harmful, I’d say that the rest of us are entitled to civil court climate damages.

      Since the total cumulative greenhouse heating side effects are on the order of 100,000 times as much heat as the useful heat of combustion of fossil fuels, I think a case can be made that these people were deliberately and knowingly poisoning our atmosphere.

      So, the fossil fuel corporations should be made to pay climate damages. Since the harm they have done is astronomically greater than their ability to pay, this would amount to nationalization of the fossil fuel corporations. The next step would be going after the major banks and super rich dynasties like the Rockefeller family that profited so much from fossil fuels, and getting climate damages from them too.

      What should we do with the climate damages?

      Use the money to help pay for a transition to clean energy.

      Oh, we ought to put a few of these guys in jail, too. People should know that attempted geocide is bad thing, and their ought to be laws against it and severe criminal penalties attached to it.

      • There not their, (last paragraph).

      • Abel Adamski

         /  March 4, 2016

        Retrospectively against all shareholders and office holders since the Official Warning was given to Lyndon Johnson

  17. Andy in SD

     /  March 4, 2016

    I’ve been watching the satellite dailies for the Arctic as usual.

    One of the items I’ve noticed is the seeming discrepancy between what one sees on the satellite images, and what one sees in the aggregate images we see pinned to the side of extent calculations (computer generated maps, derived from calc’s and those fed from data).

    For example on nsidc’s arctic extent there are areas which qualify as solid sea ice, which of course adds to the extent calculation. However, when zoomed into on the satellite images I see large sections of open water, and a fracturing mess of sea ice.

    I believe that the calculation for the extent does not go down to the resolution, or quantifies sea ice in a manner which errs on the side of caution (nothing wrong with that).

    Now we look at the past few days, we are seeing a graph bump.

    I suspect a portion (what percent, not sure) of this extent bump is nothing more that fractured ice spreading around into open water, thus fooling the calculations into scoring that area as sea ice.

    As the melt season begins, we may see corresponding drop “unbumps” as the ice chunks melt and allow the scoring of the calcs to trend towards open water.

    Just an observation.


    • Good points, and more likely correct than incorrect.

    • Abel Adamski

       /  March 4, 2016

      There was a big hype on WUWT and a discussion between Neven and Anthony over the Norwegians discontinuing their 30% ice graph in favour of the 15% one.
      IMO completely logical from the perspective of responsibility to shipping which is increasing, even Cruise liners etc with thousands of passengers. That 30% marker could conceal substantial floes or burgs that cause severe damage to normal shipping that was not hardened for the environment, far less likely with the 15% figure.

      I understand from the climate change perspective, especially those obsessed with it not happening the 30% in a larger grid is preferable

    • Abel Adamski

       /  March 4, 2016

      Dropping off again, from JAXA

  18. Since I wrote an article on Le Climatoblogue based on this news
    I gave it quite some thought.
    The only expressions that comes to mind and sums up the issue is “Crime Against Humanity”.
    Now, I’m starting to wander how we could bring this to the International Court of La Haye.
    At the alarming rate at which global warming is accelerating lately, and we know temps won’t go back down, mass extinction No6 is happening very fast, but it’s not only from global warming. Ocean acidification in itself is a major threat to Life on Earth and is also caused by CO2 emissions.
    But even if we bring them to Justice… will it change our future?


    • A big part of the problem now is pace of response which is being hampered by fossil fuel special interests. If these organizations are criminalized for their harmful and amoral activities, then a barrier to response is lifted. The question is — is it too late? I’d say that we are not too late to halt some of the worst impacts. But we are too late in preventing a slew of very harmful events. We’ve passed the first gate, as it were. Climate change and related geophysical changes will now be with us for millennia if we can’t do some very amazing things at this time. But the very worst events are still avoidable.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  March 5, 2016

      Meanwhile the denialists, the Murdoch cancer among the worst, still fanatically deny EVEYTHING, including oceanic acidification. Absolute denial, as the house burns down around our heads. Denial, or the MSM’s next favourite tactic-total news black-out.

  19. Yes, the roof is on fire. Meanwhile, American politicians are arguing about what color to paint the kitchen.

    • Yes, can you believe the complete and total crap the Republican candidates argued about in their debates? Oh, my God!

      The Republican debates were like a cross between a circus clown car and a cat fight – and the one thing they agree about is that reality isn’t real.

      • Abel Adamski

         /  March 4, 2016

        I was waiting for the Tin Man or the Queen, even the rabbit

      • It was raucous idiocy on public display, lent credibility by a media that should be apoplectic.

    • Abel Adamski

       /  March 4, 2016

      Blaming the smoke and smell on the immigrant neighbours cooking

  20. Jay M

     /  March 4, 2016

    I am in the area across from Portland, OR in WA. Rain event is predicted over the next week or so that may relieve CA drought. Will let you know how it looks.

    • Hi Jay M. I’m across the C. River and Vancouver — not far from St. Johns. PDX
      2200 UTC Geocolor satellite image w/storm force low W of Was coast & gale force low w/exposed LL center to its west.

  21. Jack Arnold

     /  March 4, 2016

    “Alter” should be altar.

  22. March 2, 2016: 406.46 ppm
    Will we ever get below 400 again? Just asking that question seems . . . other worldly . . . . which we now have: Earrth.
    Lots of bad news today.
    Robert—– hang in there, we need you! And all the intelligent, wise, kind people who comment here—thank you.

    • 50/50 shot for later this year edging below 400 ppm for a brief time. Afterward, no. Not for decades and decades even if we somehow get our act together.

  23. redskylite

     /  March 4, 2016

    Deutsche Welle’s ice blogger getting very pessimistic this week . . . . . . Do I detect a hint of desperation ?

    So what are we doing about it? In interviews with experts from NGOs including Earthwatch and Germanwatch recently, various experts have been confirming my own feeling that the Paris Climate Agreement may have been a milestone, but not necessarily a turning point – unless climate action is taken very quickly.

    I would like to be optimistic. But there is so much evidence suggesting that whatever we do, it is likely to come too late to save the Arctic as we know – knew – it for coming generations. Come on world, prove me wrong! Please!

    • COP 21 context… It was important in that it affirmed the urgency for rapid action. It laid a framework for a very real transition away from fossil fuels. Did it provide an enforcement mechanism? No. Did it set out specific policy measures? No. Did it set out to do things fast enough (given current INDCs) to meet the stated 2 C goal? No. Was it the most progress a climate conference ever made in dealing with the problem? Yes. Will it receive strident resistance from fossil fuel related powers around the world? Absolutely.

      • Nice summary. I’d only add, so, it doesn’t seem to me that there is any point in criticizing Paris–just plays into the fossil fuel/denier narrative. MHO.

  24. redskylite

     /  March 4, 2016

    The warm February has been even noticed in New Zealand where climate matters are not very often remarked on or given media space.

    “If global warming and climate change just meant nicer summer days around Oriental Bay – wouldn’t that be nice”

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  March 5, 2016

      The enemies of humanity are stupid beyond belief.

  25. – OT Petrochemical Houston, TX vulnerable — I’ve been focusing on this possibility as storms impact Gulf — Louisiana same same — and Alabama & MS.
    – Via climatehawk1:

    Hell and High Water (Full Text)

    Houston is the fourth-largest city in the country. It’s home to the nation’s largest refining and petrochemical complex, where billions of gallons of oil and dangerous chemicals are stored. And it’s a sitting duck for the next big hurricane. Why isn’t Texas ready?

    It is not if, but when Houston’s perfect storm will hit.

    They called Ike “the monster hurricane.”

    Hundreds of miles wide. Winds at more than 100 mph. And — deadliest of all — the power to push a massive wall of water into the upper Texas coast, killing thousands and shutting down a major international port and industrial hub.

    That was what scientists, public officials, economists and weather forecasters thought they were dealing with on Sept. 11, 2008, as Hurricane Ike barreled toward Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States and home to its largest refining and petrochemical complex. And so at 8:19 p.m., the National Weather Service issued an unusually dire warning.


  26. – For Bob (Your old turf, right) from High Country News

    Tiny houses won’t solve our affordable housing problem
    In Salida, Colorado, little homes come with a big price tag.

    My small rural Colorado town may soon sprout the country’s largest tiny home development: 200 micro-sized rental houses clustered on a 19-acre parcel on the banks of the Arkansas River two miles from downtown, a project that is supposed to relieve our growing housing crunch.

    There’s no doubt we need affordable housing. Mean house prices in Salida (population 5,400) have more than doubled in the past 15 years, from $124,600 in 2000 to $287,400 in 2015, while average household income has crept up just 25 percent, from $28,790 to $38,395.

  27. – One of a kind audio – especially C4 typhoon:

    Hear an earthquake from Mariana Trench in the ocean deep

    A NOAA-funded project lowered a hydrophone (a microphone designed for underwater use) and a sound recorder into Challenger Deep, the deepest trough in the Mariana Trench in July. A team retrieved the hydrophone in November, and NOAA shared some of the deep-sea recordings on Tuesday.
    Earthquake as heard in the Mariana Trench
    [Mp3 file 56 sec. mid page]
    The gadget filled up a flash drive over the course of 23 days. “The ambient sound field is dominated by the sound of earthquakes, both near and far, as well as distinct moans of baleen whales, and the clamor of a category 4 typhoon that just happened to pass overhead,” NOAA research oceanographer Robert Dziak said in a statement.

  28. Abel Adamski

     /  March 4, 2016

    Just a reminder of Humanity and it’s capacity to wear egg on the face with aplomb

    Projected cooling in the North Atlantic means that the so called pause in global warming will continue, predicts climate scientist Mojib Latif.

    Latif who, with others, predicted that ocean changes would offset global warming in a ground-breaking Nature paper published in 2008 has told that the pause, also called the hiatus or slowdown, in global warming is set to continue for many years.

    Latif of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, in Kiel, Germany, predicted that the North Atlantic was set to cool over the next ten years in a paper published this month. When asked by whether this meant that the pause in global temperatures, which on some measures has lasted for 18 years or more, could continue for the duration of the projected Atlantic cooling, Latif replied: “That’s correct, yes”.

    Latif also said that there are a number of scientific papers in the pipeline that suggest it is changes in the Atlantic Ocean, and not just changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean, that are contributing to the pause and that these would also imply that the observed slowdown in warming over recent years may continue for some time.

    • redskylite

       /  March 4, 2016

      Thanks for including that very interesting snippet from 2014. Variability happens and making predictions can sometimes make scientists look foolish in hindsight. Kevin Trenberth predicted it all very well. The main point is we know that GHG’s are changing our climate, variability does not make it a smooth linear process, but time does. We just need to adjust our expectations to the timescales that mother nature manages things on. It is not the same as man’s (especially politicians) perception of time, it can run faster or slower. But it is happening. We know what we have to do.

  29. – NOX Emissions Japan:
    (Forgive but I must cackle with dark laughter after being very wary of ‘testing as usual’. So much of the FF game is rigged…)

    “The report shows that the amount of emissions increased when the vehicles ran on pavement. But their emissions when checked in a test structure where the vehicles’ wheels spun in place met the standards.”

    Four Japanese diesel vehicles flunk road nitrogen oxide emissions tests

    A report by the land ministry showed Thursday that four diesel models of three domestic carmakers emitted two to 10 times more nitrogen oxide ( NOx) when they were running on roads than is allowed by the country’s emissions standards.

    The report is based on tests conducted on diesel sedans and cargo vehicles driving on streets and highways. The test followed last year’s global scandal by Volkswagen over cheating on emissions tests.

  30. – Arctic maneuvers USN

    US conducts submarine drill in Arctic

    The U.S. Navy’s submarine force is setting up a temporary command center on a sheet of Arctic ice, where U.S. underwater capabilities will be put to the test in the increasingly strategic High North.

    The five-week submarine drill coincides with separate war games in Norway called Cold Response involving 16,000 U.S. and NATO forces. Marines have been launching stinger missiles and maneuvering tanks, and the Air Force has dispatched three B-52 Stratofortress bombers.

    Together, the exercises underscore the emergence of the Arctic as an area of concern as melting ice caps raise the prospects for competition over vital undersea natural resources. The area could become a flash point between the U.S. and Russia.

  31. Colorado Bob

     /  March 4, 2016

    dtlange –
    Thanks for the Salida story , my first place in Smeltertown just outside of Salida, the rent was $5 a month –

  32. Olof R

     /  March 4, 2016

    In January Hadcrut4 kriging (Cowtan & Way) was 1.39 C above the 1850-1900 baseline. A further rise of +0.11 C in February is not unlikely…

  33. utoutback

     /  March 4, 2016

    Notes from the everyday:
    Until 10 months ago I lived in a remote rural community to which the people who moving were trying to figure out how to live a low tech, sustainable lifestyle. There was a general acknowledgement among the newcomers that climate change was happening and a general consensus that our present civilization was on a dead end track.

    I now live in a community with multiple commercial outlets, Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Fred Myer….. and the ability to shop is absurd. Go into any of these stores and you will begin to understand why people are disconnected from what is happening with the climate. Yes, “you know something is happening, but you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mister Jones?”

    Until items disappear from the shelves and NASCAR races are banned because of their environmental harm, will people actually take this crisis seriously? Certainly not, as long as they can see some well known political celebrity telling them not to worry.

    On this site we are knowledgeable and concerned. But, out in the world (so to speak) the climate stories are too often on the science page not the front page with the large caps.

    This story should be the lead! And until it is, we have a real problem.

    • “This story should be the lead! And until it is, we have a real problem.”
      You got that right.

  34. I’m not sure that I think COP21 was BS, I think there was significant progress made there. Yes it might be too little too late, and my PM’s insistence on pipelines is very disappointing. But world governance isn’t a top down dictatorship that we can force people to decarbonize. We have to bring them all around so we’re all working in the same direction, and I think COP21 is a big start in that direction.

    Here in Canada our Environment and Climate Change minister is saying all the right things, but PM is still trying to square the circle by insisting on pipelines. I’d like to think he’s trying to lull the pro-pipeline pro fossil fuel voting block to sleep (and that block is significant here because a lot of people across the country suddenly made way more money than they’d ever imagined they could) to buy time to get some renewable energy programs in place. That voting block is also propped up by the constant energy company advertising that’s all over our TV, magazines, facebook, etc.

    Historically, conservatives in western Canada have been using Trudeau’s father’s national energy program (which nationalized alberta’s oil industry) that was enacted in 1979 to hammer Liberals as Eastern elites who dictate disastrous policies to the western canadians. That’s been an effective hammer, whether true or not, so Trudeau the younger still has to navigate that political landscape. If he came out and just said they’re shutting down the tarsands, he’d probably lose the next election.

    Whether he actually is trying to punt the issue down the road or if he is actually going to promote pipelines is an unknown. We can keep trying to apply pressure to him though.

    • Cate

       /  March 4, 2016

      “Whether he is actually trying to punt the issue down the road or if it is actually going to promote pipelines….”, It’s pretty clear that PM Trudeau is doing exactly what Big Oil tells him to do.

    • I think it’s critical that we have pipeline boycott and coal mine boycott pressure on a global scale now. We need to be hitting this thing at every level. Trudeau is living in the toxic political environment fossil fuel dominance has created. He runs a country that’s suffering from the resource curse. It appears that big oil has made its threats and taken its captives and set up its lines of economic hostages and Trudeau has, sadly, blinked. For the people’s sake, that guy needs to get a backbone.

      Historically, the only way to break out of this type of situation is some kind of revolutionary change — top down, bottom up, middle out etc. But the pipeline protests and blockades are having an effect on the political process. It makes it harder for leaders to obviously make bad choices.

    • Cate

       /  March 4, 2016

      I agree that Trudeau does need to get—or at least start showing–a backbone. We are on the threshold of a major economic and environmental crisis here, and as a country with an Arctic coastline, Canada is right in the thick of the worst of the polar impacts. This is coming home to us, very fast, very hard and I don’t think many folk realise how fast and how hard it will come.

  35. wili

     /  March 4, 2016

    Sorry if this has been posted and I missed it: “Drought in eastern Mediterranean worst of past 900 years”

  36. wili

     /  March 4, 2016

    So we have a month that hit the 1.5 C benchmark, and now we have a daily reading that has hit the 2 C ‘guardrail’:

    “Our Hemisphere’s Temperature Just Reached a Terrifying Milestone”

    “Update, March 3, 2016: Since this post was originally published, the heat wave has continued. As of Thursday morning, it appears that average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere have breached the 2 degrees Celsius above “normal” mark for the first time in recorded history, and likely the first time since human civilization began thousands of years ago. That mark has long been held (somewhat arbitrarily) as the point above which climate change may begin to become “dangerous” to humanity. It’s now arrived—though very briefly—much more quickly than anticipated. This is a milestone moment for our species. Climate change deserves our greatest possible attention.”

    • wili

       /  March 4, 2016

      The question is, IS anyone much really paying any attention, besides on a few random blogs like this?

      I get zilch reaction to postings on facebook that we have just hit monthly and daily readings that the leaders from nearly all countries got together to pledge they were going to try to avoid, just a few months ago. Why aren’t these headlines everywhere?

      • Yes, Wili, I was just about to post an inquiry around this article update on slate….Robert – can you take a look at the citation Wili posted and the data base that is used for this 2C in the northern hemisphere claim?….I mean, wow, while it is only a single day and only in the North, still……2C……..those oceans sure were holding a lot of heat!!

      • It’s an NCEP/CFSv2 model summary of daily temperature anomalies based on numerous reporting stations. I suppose there could be a glitch in the model data. But considering we did have a Northern Hemisphere temperature spike in other models and reporting station data summaries recently, I think that would be a bit less likely. It’s possible that CFSv2 exaggerated the spike. But I don’t really see an indication of that at this time.

        We should view this as a preliminary indicator that the February heat spike continued strongly into early March. But we should also consider this to be just one reading and look for broader confirmation. It is noteworthy, though, and for that reason, reporting on the issue, in light of current warming issues and trends, is certainly worthwhile.

        One last comment on my part is that my experience with CFSv2 is that it’s been a pretty solid tool. Add in another indicator.

      • wili

         /  March 4, 2016

        Good to hear that someone else finds this as shocking as I did, David. I second your motion for rs and others more knowledgeable than I am to look into this.

        400 ppm, 1 C, 1.5C, now 2C…the milestones seem to be falling like dominoes.

      • Wili – if you look near the bottom of that slate article, you’ll see a video explaining different geo-engineering approaches, including solar radiation management; injecting aerosols into the upper atmosphere. HA!…coincidence? Probably, but there is very little doubt in my mind that this is the path we are treading. I mean we either 1) Radically and quickly re-configure human civilization or 2) Somewhere down the line, we employ a relative cheap and relatively quick (and bat-shit crazy dangerous) method of bringing temps down…..which option do you think we’ll end up going with???

      • Geoengineering is one of those things the public is, for good reason, concerned about. But it has generated a lot of interest from the big money types.

        Let’s be very clear on geo-engineering’s potential to deal with this problem. In particular, let’s be clear on solar radiation management.

        1. For many applications, the probability for even short term success is low to moderate.
        2. For all applications, the probability of large externalities is moderate-high to high.
        3. For all applications, the probability for middle to long term success is next to nil so long as fossil fuel emissions do not halt.
        4. Solar radiation management deals with the symptoms of global warming, but not the root cause.
        5. Solar radiation management does not solve biochemical issues related to climate change like ocean acidification.
        6. Solar radiation management would have to be persistent — requiring constant funding and application.
        7. As greenhouse gas levels increase, the already dubious potentials for short to middle term mitigation fall off.
        8. The primary externality is an increasing drought risk which scientific studies indicate is likely to negatively impact billions of people.
        9. There are unknown externalities that include the possible unpredictable shifting of storm patterns and location of storm generation.
        10. Many applications require either a vast scale (blowing foam bubbles into the sky from ships), constant application (adding sulfur dioxide to the upper atmosphere), or high cost (lofting sun shields between the Earth and the Sun).
        11. Many other applications are unproven or likely only to have marginal effect (blowing foam bubbles into the sky from ships, painting rooftops and roads white, blowing bubbles on the sea surface).
        12. There are a number of what I would call snake oil salesmen selling their own pet geo-engineering schemes. These include such plans as building giant tunnels to re-route ocean currents or other global heat trading schemes. Many of these schemes do not reduce net global heat — they put it in places that the authors have assumed won’t do any harm.
        13. Some forms of solar radiation management may buy us a little time, but at a likely high externality cost.
        14. Fossil fuel companies are likely to try to push geo-engineering as climate change impacts worsen in a final bid to remain viable. This will be just one more cynical attempt to retain market dominance as the terrible externalities of burning their products begins to become more and more apparent. They are already making statements to the effect of ‘climate change is a problem we can engineer our way out of. We need to educate the public.’ This coming from a set of organizations that intentionally dumbed-down public knowledge on climate change impacts and effects.
        15. AMEG is pushing geo-engineering while attacking global climate policy and courting fossil fuel special interests. If we do have a big response from Arctic carbon in the form of feedbacks, it is likely that these people will be trotted forward along with their preferred ‘solution.’ This will tend to distract from necessary actions regarding fossil fuel emissions reductions. It is one of the reasons why I am very concerned about them being the major mouthpiece for carbon feedback effects in the Arctic. In my view, it is very worthwhile to have other scientists — and especially those who have not been funded by fossil fuel interests — to be looking at this system in a non-biased fashion and making statements on the system’s health and stability. Otherwise, we have these wedge factors that confuse people on the necessary and effective responses to climate change.
        16. People tend to do dumb or irresponsible things when they panic. I’m concerned that this may end up becoming the case RE geo-engineering.
        17. We should be very clear that the only way to reliably and safely reduce the global warming strain on the planet over the long term is to cut carbon emissions to zero or net negative and to transition away from fossil fuel based energy sources. That’s the only cure to ramping global warming. So long as those gasses keep building up, blocking out sunlight does not address the root problem. And it is for this reason that we should be very clear that continued fossil fuel burning and dumping carbon into the atmosphere while applying geo-engineering is an ultimately non-viable approach to dealing with global warming. And, as noted above, the possibility for success with most of these measures is dubious even as the risk of harmful externalities is quite, quite high.

      • wili

         /  March 4, 2016

        Good catch. I hadn’t seen that. I usually try to steer clear of those folks.
        By the time we start using massive geo-engineering techniques, we are likely to already have gone so far down the rabbits hole that it will be hard to tell just how many of the inevitable negative consequences are from the engineering and how many are just from on-going climate chaos from the by-then runaway gw.

      • wili

         /  March 4, 2016

        Note, though, that the basic article is by Eric Holthaus, who seems to me to be a pretty solid bloke.

      • Wili, I find this shocking as well. And here I thought I was prepared because I stay abreast of all the latest research, news, etc.! But I still find myself shocked, saddened and angry (go through the grief stages on a regular basis!) which makes me question my own level of denial.

        In any case, here’s a piece from about a year ago that (sort of) answers your question regarding people paying attention (or not).

        I’ve seen/experienced people in every single category in article linked below.
        “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Where are the voices of “the good people”? Meaning by that, the people of any political stripe who go about their work with integrity, who raise children to have the virtues of honesty, hard work, responsibility, compassion. People who love their neighbors and volunteer in their communities. This would not be the first time in history that people have desecrated the earth, but this is the first time that a generation of people are holding the very fate of the earth in balance. So I ask again, why are not more people crying out?

      • wili

         /  March 4, 2016

        Wow, robert! That’s quite a 17-point take down of geo-engineering potential! Do you mind if I use it elsewhere?

      • Go for it.

      • wili

         /  March 4, 2016

        Thanks for that article, Caroline. What would you say are the best media for ‘crying out’ these days?

      • Hi Everyone-

        Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage is one potential benign solution, often grouped into geoengineering. By benign I mean probably messy but leaving us alive to be able to clean up the mess. We would be drawing down the levels of atmospheric CO2 while polluting the deep underground areas of the earth with hopefully more or less stable pools of supercritical CO2.

        If we could get in situ mineral carbonation of captured CO2 going, though, where the CO2 ends up as carbonate in basalt rocks that would be true long term carbon sequestration. And if we could keep the fossil fuel corporations from abusing it, we could potentially put carbon back underground and draw down CO2 levels to a safe level. But this solution is rate limited. We would have to immediately start planting massive biomass plantations, and immediately transform fossil fuel power plants into biomass power plants with carbon capture and storage. And the maximum we could put back underground in the U.S. would be on the order of a billion tons of carbon, per year, while avoiding a billion tons of carbon emissions per year. So a swing from baseline of maybe 2 billion tons of carbon per year in the United States is a very optimistic estimate. Applied worldwide, though this technology could start drawing down CO2 levels in the atmosphere – but it is rate limited, and biomass supply and transport limited.

        Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage (BECS):
        a Sequential Decision Approach to the threat of Abrupt Climate Change
        Peter Read and Jonathan Lermit

        Biomass supply could be addressed by planting massive biomass plantations along navigable rivers, higher in elevation than the converted fossil fuel power plants. The biomass or charcoal from the biomass could then be barged down the rivers to the converted BECCS power plants. When rivers are not available electric railways with regenerative braking could be substituted to haul the biomass downhill to the power plants with little or no energy lost in transport. When necessary charcoal could be brought in by ships from foreign countries.

        Of course, this would have to occur at the same time as a massive renewable energy construction program, and seizure and nationalization of the fossil fuel corporations.

        With an enraged and politically active population pushing a massive WWII scale effort, the problem could be handled, I think. But the missing link is the enraged and politically active population demanding change. We appear to be more concerned with the distractions of our corporate media than we are about global warming. That is changing, I think, but is it changing fast enough to avoid disaster?

      • From PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

        Carbon Dioxide Sequestration in Deep Sea Basalt

        “CO2 sequestration in established sediment-covered basalt aquifers on the Juan de Fuca plate offer promising locations to securely accommodate more than a century of future U.S. emissions…”

        So, they are talking sufficient in situ carbon storage capacity 2.7 km deep under the bottom of the oceans, in the floor of the Juan de Fuca plate to store at around 200 billion tons of carbon. Below about 2.7 km, supercritical CO2 (very compressible) becomes denser than water (almost incompressible). So at these depths CO2 plumes would tend to sink instead of rise, and gravitational trapping as well as stratigraphiic trapping would occur.

        From a different paper, an explanation of trapping mechanisms:

        “Physical trapping: Initially, the principal CO2 trapping mechanism
        is the presence of low-permeability cap rocks, such as
        shales and salt deposits. Stratigraphic traps are present where
        high porosity reservoir rocks are overlain by low-permeability
        cap rocks as a result of changes in the depositional environment
        during sedimentation. Structural traps include folds and faults.
        Folds may form closed domes or anticlines occupied by saline
        water, oil and gas, whereas faults can act either as a permeability
        barrier or as a preferential pathway for escape of fluid or gas.
        Residual saturation trapping: Some injected CO2 will be trapped
        by retention as a separate phase in pore space, sometimes forming
        isolated CO2 ‘bubbles’ within aqueous fluid49.
        Solubility trapping: Dissolution of CO2 into formation water5,6
        creates CO2-rich aqueous fluid that is slightly denser than
        CO2-free formation water. Thus, solubility trapping eliminates
        the buoyancy that drives free CO2 upwards with respect to
        aqueous fluid.
        Mineral trapping: Dissolving CO2 in water produces weak carbonic
        acid, which can react with carbonate or silicate minerals
        to form bicarbonate ions. Continued reaction combines bicarbonate
        ions with calcium, magnesium and iron dissolved from
        silicate minerals such as feldspars, olivine, pyroxenes or clays to
        form solid carbonates6,11.”

        If we nationalize the energy corporations and lead the fight to nationalize them worldwide, then get international cooperation to solve the global warming crisis, it becomes a manageable problem, I think. But relying on economic forces to force the fossil fuel corporations to do our bidding has not worked and likely will not work rapidly enough to save the world from climate destabilization.

      • Most people use Facebook to report on happenings in their personal lives. There appears to be sort of an unspoken agreement that it’s not to be used for activism. I have 750 friends or so, maybe half a dozen react to climate-related postings. On the other hand, there’s a rule of thumb that there are 10 lurkers for everyone who reveals themselves, so maybe the impact is more than it seems.

  37. Greg

     /  March 4, 2016

    Small steps, but significant. A district in California becomes first in United States to switch to all electric buses. Of note, it also has a city, Lancaster, which expects to become net zero carbon by 2020 with mandatory solar installations:

    • Oldhippie

       /  March 4, 2016

      In living memory (I am still alive) there were electric busses and streetcars and trolleys. In case you don’t remember General Motors and Firestone and others were convicted in federal court of conspiring to purge this country of electric busses.

      • Hi OldHippie-

        Yes, my mother told me she used to ride the Big Red Cars in Los Angeles . For a nickel, she said, you could ride all over the city. That’s equivalent to about 85 cents today, I guess.

        I also remember being told about the lawsuits against General Motors and Firestone. It was generally accepted knowledge that these major corporations conspired with each other to protect their profits

  38. JPL

     /  March 4, 2016

    Interesting visual:

  39. Petroleum, natural gas, and even coal consumption are at record levels as of the end of 2014 according to Tropical deforestation accelerated 62% in 2000-2010 from 1990-2000 according to University of Maryland’s Do-Hyung Kim, et al, in Geophysical Research Letters with a total loss of 400,000 square miles of forest by satellite data from 1990 to 2010. The UN FAO had reported a decrease in deforestation rates of 25% due to relying on national government reports of 34 nations. Of course the UK is chopping down U.S. forests to burn in their power plants, thereby claiming EU carbon credits. Australia is clearing forest rapidly as well.

    Great article. Very frightening. Climate Re-analyzer daily temps peaked at a record 1.04C anomaly over the 1980-2010 average on Feb 28th, but have continued to remain at incredibly high levels, i.e. 0.91C today. Temps shot up Feb 22nd. This has been by far the longest stretch of extremely high daily temps I have seen in the past two years. Using fossil fuels and eating beef and dairy are simply immoral. It is wrong to kill fellow humans and life on Earth.

  40. DOJ Sends Request For Exxon Probe To The FBI
    The FBI will “determine whether an investigation is warranted.”

    WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to evaluate whether ExxonMobil violated federal laws by publicly denying climate change for years.

    [Rep. Ted] Lieu said Thursday he considers even that to be a positive signal, since DOJ could have denied the request or simply acknowledged receipt of his letter without doing anything to follow up. “To me this is a good step forward, because they are sending it to the investigative arm to start looking into this matter,” Lieu told The Huffington Post.

    He said that he hopes an investigation would yield more information about what the top brass at Exxon knew about climate change, when they knew it, and what they did about it.

  41. Colorado Bob

     /  March 4, 2016

    As a system nears a tipping point it moves to the extremes. ->

    “Vietnam hit by worst drought in 90 years”

    The state of Maharashtra does not receive much rainfall from January to April. During the winter months of January and February, the weather systems do not penetrate as far as Central India.

    Rains are far and few in March and April as well. In fact, most of the stations have single digit monthly average rainfall figures and so does Aurangabad. The city normally records about 6.6 mm of rainfall in the month of March.

    Breaking all records, the city received 41 mm of rain in just 24 hours on Thursday. This is the all-time highest 24 hours rainfall after March 10 when the city had received 25.4 mm of rain.

  42. Colorado Bob

     /  March 4, 2016

    One more thing about Geoengineering , who runs it ?

    Given the lizard brained thinking loose in the world , ( see the chem trail lizards ) If one bad thing happens after it’s introduction, ( Like the Russian heatwave ) , the conspiracy mushrooms will be everywhere.

    • It’s basically weather manipulation on a large scale. Think of the geopolitical implications. If one country says to another — hey your geo-engineering set off a drought that cost us 100 billion dollars — then what happens? Looks like another warfare trigger that we really don’t need at this time.

      • wili

         /  March 4, 2016

        ” Looks like another warfare trigger” Indeed.

      • Right, the governance issue is death to geoengineering. In Kim Stanley Robinson’s global warming trilogy, there is at least one unilateral (rogue) effort–Russia releases a lichen that boosts the carbon absorption capability of forests. I’m guessing that at some point, we will see a bunch of these. Whether countries will react to them, hmm, open question. Right now, e.g., China is busy saber-rattling over artificial islands in the South China Sea; India is busy suppressing free speech; and so on. Who’s going to notice that trivial climate stuff?

      • Hi climatehawk1-

        Oh, that’s interesting, about the lichen – gotta read that trilogy.

        I’ve been speculating about the possibility of a genetically engineered bacterium, living in trees, that is modified to metabolize methane like a methanotrophic bacterium. So as trees absorb CO2 to produce biomass, they could absorb methane as well.

        All of these technological quick fixes would be nice, if they work, but they of course have “unintended consequences” written all over them.

    • I just want to add that this is a very salient point — accountability for externality. Of course, we don’t have any of that at this time when it comes to ghg. But it looks like that may be starting to change.

  43. Colorado Bob

     /  March 4, 2016

    Officials say at least eleven people have died as a result of this wild weather in Peru… and thousands more have been seriously affected. The heaviest rains and hottest temperatures in two decades have battered the country over the past week, with extreme flooding and landslides. El Nino is being blamed for the chaos. This woman says authorities should come and see, first hand, how they are affected. Vehicles remain stranded… many of them carrying goods bound for Lima… Several major rivers already carrying twice as much water as usual are threatening to wash over shantytowns along the coast. And Peru’s weather agency is warning that even more intense rain is on the way.

    • wili

       /  March 4, 2016

      Their blood is on all of our heads. It’s time to start saying that burning fossil fuels = killing people, mostly poor women and children. Burning ff for no good reason (most flying, meat eating…) is killing people just cause it seems fun.

      Of course, as always, the deepest genocidal criminals are not individuals using ff’s in their daily lives but the corporate and ideological forces that have continually lied about the situation and effectively gotten in the way of effective action.

      But few, especially of the global top 10% (probably including anyone reading this) are without some blood on our hands.

  44. Colorado Bob

     /  March 4, 2016

    Pakistan’s Big Threat Isn’t Terrorism—It’s Climate Change

    To Pakistan, terrorists seem a more formidable enemy than rising temperatures and sea levels. But what happens when climate change upends Karachi, the country’s economic backbone?


    • – Just read it:
      “Over the past several years, Pakistanis have witnessed, firsthand, the devastating effects of climate change. Catastrophic floods displaced millions, and severe droughts in Thar and Balochistan portend the damage global warming can cause. The frequency of those floods has increased over the last five years, due to melting glaciers and heavy rainfall. Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous metropolitan city, suffered a heat wave so severe it claimed the lives of almost 1,200 people. These recent disasters could account for the change in public opinion from the 2007-2008 Gallup poll to the situation in 2015, when Pakistan joined the list of 19 countries where the majority of the population now considers climate change a top global threat.”

  45. – Air pollution in the Local Atmosphere – Commerce – So Cal – Public Health Hammered by Republican and Business ruthless thuggery. A lesson in civics and Politics in USA. It is rampant – be sure.

    AIR POLLUTION: Head of AQMD fired by board (UPDATE)

    Longtime executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District faces job threat after Republican takeover of board

    The governing board of Southern California’s regional air quality agency voted 7-6 to fire its long-standing executive officer, amid concerns from the board’s new Republican majority that the agency needs to be more business friendly.

    He has a reputation for pushing ahead with air pollution regulations needed to meet federal health standards required by the federal Clean Air Act in a region with the worst smog problem in America.

    • [A sordid endangerment to the public.]

      The air district is governed by a 13-member panel that consists of elected officials and other appointees from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
      In November, elected officials from cities in Orange County unseated Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, a Democrat and clean-energy advocate. Dwight Robinson, a Republican councilman from Lake Forest who has been outspoken about the effects of air pollution regulations on businesses, took Pulido’s place.

      That gave Republicans a seven-member majority on the board, effective last month.

      In recent years, two Inland Republicans – San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford and Wildomar Councilman Ben Benoit – replaced Democrats on the air board, respectively, former Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge and San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales.
      The Republican takeover of the board was no accident.
      In December, California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte, a former Inland lawmaker, told the Sacramento Bee that the power shift was deliberate.
      “We’ve been focused on the South Coast Air Quality Management District for quite some time,” Brulte said to the newspaper. “We didn’t tell anyone about it. We just worked quietly with Republican officials.”

  46. – And — In Utah USA – Same same example of our tough fight to preserve our life supporting climate:

    Press Release: Air Board Votes to NOT Consider Tougher Industrial Clean Air Rules

    The Utah Air Quality Board voted Wednesday afternoon to reject even considering three proposed rules designed to strengthen oversight of the state’s biggest industrial polluters.

    Clean air advocates who proposed the rules expressed dismay that the appointed board chose to not even open the matter for public comment, discussion and debate…

    The three new rules… would have applied to some of Utah’s biggest air pollution sources (“point sources”) such as power plants, oil refineries and cement plants.

    The Board voted “No” at the urging of state regulators at the Division of Air Quality, arguing that to even consider the proposed rules would be “burdensome” and require “months” of work.

    • Griffin

       /  March 4, 2016

      I thought of you when I saw this today DT. Taken very likely over Utah, the picture made me catch my breath. Not for the F-16’s, but for the incredible air pollution visible in the photo.

      • – Exactly, Griffin!

        So much is visible to the eye if one only allows themselves to see.
        That IS one reason why we have eyes — to scan the horizon honestly and alert us to any visible danger.
        This is something that I have always done but especially over the past decade.

        In general but also very specific, if you can see the air around you — it is dirty. (Disregard natural dust, or smoke in the air.)
        If you are burning fossil fuels, the air is toxic — to you, your community, your climate, and your future. This has always been the case.

        To my mind, the disconnect between local air pollution and the higher in the atmosphere GHG from FF — has been a major contribution to our current plight.
        Must work to keep them connected.

  47. – West Coast — moisture coming ashore north of So Cal.

    NOAA Satellites ‏@NOAASatellites 1h1 hour ago

    NOAAView image of the “atmospheric river” that will bring much needed rain to CA today

    • – Santa Barbara may get some rain though:
      NWS SBA:

  48. – Weather visual E Coast Atlantic

  49. Colorado Bob

     /  March 4, 2016

    Climate Change Helped Trigger Ancient Angkor’s Fall

    ANGKOR, Cambodia—At its peak, the ancient city of Angkor —with its innumerable temples and its complex system of canals and fortifications—was the largest pre-industrial city in the world, centre of a vast empire and home to three-quarters of a million people.

    Then, over a period of just a few decades in the early 14th century, the site was abandoned, its temples left to be eaten up by the jungle, and its hundreds of kilometres of water channels blocked by tons of sand and earth.


  50. Ryan in New England

     /  March 4, 2016

    Another year with no snow for the Iditarod, so they have to ship it into town by train. This is becoming a common event for a race that is completely based on, and historically never had a problem with, snow. Feb 29th was also the first time ever that Anchorage had zero snow in the month of February.

  51. Cate

     /  March 5, 2016

    Storm heading our way Saturday, will dump 30 to 40 cm of snow. Pretty typical for March in Newfoundland.:)

  52. Ryan in New England

     /  March 5, 2016

    This article points out the dangers environmentalists face throughout the world, and has a good graphic that displays numbers of those killed in every country, and the factors contributing to it.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  March 5, 2016

      The Right love killing their betters, particularly if they get in the way of their greed. I suspect it has had a selective effect on the evolution of humanity, because there are an awful lots of evil, murderous, shits about.

  53. Colorado Bob

     /  March 5, 2016

    I always have a problem with this type of headline. Because it implies that 1900 was a warm year, and not that this is where the record begins.

    Winter in France was warmest since 1900

    Temperatures in France this winter were a full 2.6C above average meaning it was the warmest winter since 1900.

    Winter is over in France – although did it ever really arrive?

    Paris may have experienced a mini snow storm, but statistics released this week confirmed what most of us in France already knew.

    The winter of 2015/16 was incredibly mild, in fact temperatures were a full 2.6C above average for the season, which explains why it is the warmest winter on record since 1900.


  54. Mulga Mumblebrain

     /  March 5, 2016

    It’s good to see some straight talking about the denialist genocidists, but the logic of defending our species from being herded into a global gas-chamber by evil (not ‘foolish’) capitalists and Rightwing fanatics only leads to one destination, because they will NEVER change, no matter how politely they are asked. Indeed I’ve been long convinced that many know exactly that they are exterminating their own species and either do not care, or hate others so much that their actions are deliberate.

  55. You made another up-to-date and useful compilation of data on climate change. But please, we shall not compile, analyse and claim deficiencies until our homes are flooded, till ocean-life is dead and forests are completely cut down. Besides analysing we must act. As a normal citizen I am involved and suggest actions like:
    – Start in your own daily life: get rid of your car, use your legs, a bicycle or public transport
    – Consume less, be sceptical towards promises made by advetisments. Shopping does not make us happy. Enrich your social contacts, join group activities, get involved in arts, yoga, sport, excursions and others
    – Motivate your family, friends and colleagues to get involved in eco-friendly actions
    – Join petitions, demonstrations, other initiatives by environmental coalitions
    – Write letters or mails with your proposals to influencial persons like parlamentarians, politicians, business people, consultants
    – In case you have time and enough assertiveness join a constructive party and fight for your ideas
    – There are much more opportunities which you started already or consider.
    Thank you !

    • Absolutely.

      But also —

      – Adopt and support renewable energy
      – Vote climate change deniers out of office
      – Dump any and all fossil fuel investments
      – Support climate change resiliency efforts
      – Eat less meat or go vegan
      – Join an environmental organization like the Seirra Club, Earth Justice, or
      – Support Local farming, home gardens, organic farming, regenerative agriculture, indoor vertical farming, and any form of farming that does not use fossil fuel as a basis.
      – switch out old, low efficiency appliances
      – convert to all electric + renewables

  56. Reblogged this on Move for Change and the Brooklyn Culture Jam and commented:
    I hate to keep plagiarizing the work of Robert Scribbler, but he’s getting all this data correct that I can’t. There’s no getting around the fact that February blew past all previous records, and the prediction is that temperatures for the rest of the year will be 1.2 to 1.3 C above the baseline. This has all been ignored by the pundits concentrating on other measurements as part of the 2016 elections…

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