Trudeau, Canadian Media Mum as Threat From Climate Change Induced Wildfires Grows

To say that this spring has produced an insane, unprecedented early start to wildfire season in Canada would be a monster understatement. In fact, the area of land burned over Canada is now 22 times greater than for the same period last year.

Nearly 2000 Square Miles Have Burned in Canada So Far — And It’s Not Even Summer Yet

By this time (May 16) last year (2015), during the start of what was then one of the worst fire seasons in Canadian history, a total of about 23,000 hectares of land had burned. This year (2016), a total of about 500,000 hectares (1930 square miles) had burned by the same day. That’s about 22 times more land burned than during the same period last year when fire season started abnormally early and ultimately burned much, much more than average.

wildfires burn across northwester Canada

(Wildfires burn across Central and Northwestern Canada on May 15 in this LANCE MODIS satellite shot. Hotspots , indicated by the red dots, in the image are visible in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Massive smoke plumes swirl over the region, drifting either north toward the thawing Arctic or south toward the United States. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 700 miles. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

And this year, for the first time in Canadian History, a monster wildfire has forced the emptying of a city of 90,000 people — destroying 2,400 structures, damaging another 500 more, and threatening the infrastructure of the tar sands mines. An unconventional fossil fuel facility that Dr. James Hansen has called ‘one of the largest carbon bombs on the planet.’ A hothouse carbon extraction zone the size of Florida that has greatly contributed to the force of the fires that are now threatening the lives and livelihoods of people across Canada.

The massive extent and city-engulfing nature of these fires is evidence-in-plain-sight that a human-forced warming of the planet is taking a ridiculous toll on the forests and infrastructure of Canada. And the threatening of the tar sands facilities themselves by the new, uncanny fires has been called a black irony by those of us who’ve fought so hard to prevent global climate disasters that are now flaring up with increasing frequency and force. For evidence of ‘the arsonists of Fort McMurray’ sprawls as a ruination of a once-beautiful forested region just north of the burned city itself. There, the very fossil fuel industry that lit the fires of climate change now raging across the North, has constructed a vast carbon extraction and burning effort. Stripping the Earth bare in a great wasteland that is clearly visible in even the low resolution shots captured by satellites passing far overhead.

Stripped and barren lands of Canada's Tar Sands

(The stripped and barren lands of Canada’s tar sands as seen from the LANCE MODIS satellite on May 15th with the Fort McMurray Fire continuing to encroach from the south. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 55 miles.)

The fact that Canada, under Steven Harper and related governments for the past two decades, has cast its lot with this destructive industry is plainly visible — not only in the wasted landscapes and dying and burning forests — but in that country’s stunned and inadequate responses to a disaster that it has largely contributed to. In light of this fact, one would be hard-pressed to find the words ‘climate change’ printed in the mainstream Canadian media. And any statements exploring what is now an obvious link between the tar sands industry and what is an ongoing and increasing fire emergency are also notably absent.

In contrast, much has been said about rebuilding. About getting the climate-destroying tar sands production back on line. And Justin Trudeau — who was elected on a public mandate to do something about the increasing harms caused by human forced warming — has basically betrayed the trust of this broad constituency by first attempting to shame those concerned about climate change into silence and then refusing to answer questions on the issue of climate change over the past few weeks.

Trudeau, and much of the Canadian media at large, seem to be treating this disaster in isolation. To be pretending that this disaster is a fluke. And to be blithely ignoring a trend of worsening fires due to warming that is as clear as the blazing hot skies over the Canadian Northwest. A behavior that runs directly in line with climate change denial. And a behavior that is putting a growing number of Canadian citizens directly into harm’s way.

Fort McMurray Fires Resurgent

While morally-compromised Canadian politicians rest on their laurels and fail to commit to an energy transition that is imperative to the safety of global civilization, the Fort McMurray Fire itself has once again grown to new intensity. Over the weekend, temperatures in Alberta again spiked to record warm ranges as dryness set in. These conditions, combined with moderate winds to stoke the fires which once more erupted — filling the skies of the tar sands production region with the smokes of Nature enraged.

Fort McMurray Fire May 15

(The Beast again grows larger in this May 15 LANCE MODIS satellite shot. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 65 miles.)

Fires again drifted northward — expanding around the southern flank of the tar sands production facilities. And an ominous cloud of a tell-tale steely gray hangs over the fossil fuel production zone itself. Meanwhile, to the south, a broad fire-front continued to run out and away from the Lake Gregoire region. Further to the east, fires are expanding toward the Alberta border with Saskatchewan as the closest hot spot has flared within 11 kilometers of the demarcation line. And once more, large pyrocumulus clouds appear to be billowing up into the baked Alberta air.

In total, this immense fire is now about 250,000 hectares in size (965 square miles). Having grown 90,000 hectares (350 square miles) since last weekend, the blaze, which many now call The Beast, has over the past seven days expanded by 60 percent. The fire now shows every sign of exploding once again despite an intense effort by more than 1,000 firefighters.

Over the coming week, high temperatures in Alberta are expected range from the upper 60s to middle 80s. Meanwhile, extreme heat is predicted to expand over most of Northwestern Canada with 70 degree readings reaching the Arctic Ocean’s shores.

North America weather forecast

(Heat builds as fire danger for Canada again spikes during the week of May 16 to May 22. Readings in the 70s and 80s are expected to cover a broad swath of Central, Western, and Northern Canada with 70 degree readings stretching all the way to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

There has been practically zero coverage in the broader Canadian Media — over the past two days — about what in the satellite analysis and in the coming forecast appears to be a fire situation that is again worsening and growing more dangerous. The Canadian Fire Agency and the weather forecasters have duly reported the risks. But the media response has been ominously and irresponsibly silent. In contrast, most sources continue to report as if the crisis is over and winding down. As if there aren’t still four months of fire season ahead. And as if human-forced climate change isn’t turning the boreal forests and permafrost zones of our world into a very dangerous fire-trap. Meanwhile, 2016 fire dangers are on the rise, not only for Alberta and Fort McMurray, but for almost all of Central and Northwestern Canada.

UPDATE 10:30 PM, May 16: As of Monday evening, news reports from Bloomberg indicated that the Fort McMurray Fire had again grown — this time swelling to 1,100 square miles (285,000 hectares) or about the size of Rhode Island. Winds from the south up to 25 miles per hour and abnormally hot temperatures caused fires to swell as they moved northward. By afternoon, one blaze had approached to within a kilometer of an Enbridge transportation hub, forcing the evacuation of another 4,000 workers from that tar sands facility. Firefighters worked to widen fire breaks protecting the terminal as emergency personnel considered spraying down equipment to keep the wildfire from spreading into it.

Fort McMurray Fires Monday

(Fort McMurray Fire expanding as it spread northward toward tar sands facilities on Monday, May 16. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

Updated reports also indicate that nearly 2,000 personnel are now involved in combating Alberta wildfires. Heavy smoke emitting from the flames contributed to terrible air quality conditions (nearly four times worse than levels considered harmful) leading to recommendations from officials that people avoid the Fort McMurray and the surrounding area.

Links:

LANCE MODIS

Canada Interagency Fire Center

Climate Reanalyzer

NASA’s Hansen Explains Decision to Join Keystone XL Protests

The Arsonists of Fort McMurray Have a Name

Fort McMurray and the Fires of Climate Change

Can Justin Trudeau See the Forest Fire for the Trees?

Besieged by the Fires of Denial

Fort McMurray Fire Nears Enbridge Terminal Near Tar Sands Facilities

Hat tip to Cate

Hat tip to Andy in San Diego

Hat tip to DT Lange

Leave a comment

96 Comments

  1. Cate

     /  May 16, 2016

    Is it biased of me to say this is your best piece so far?🙂

    Everything you say here has to be said, over and over again, and said clearly, in no uncertain terms, until people get it through their thick heads. I can report from here on the ground that the Fort Mac fire has pretty much vanished into the thin air of the virtual back pages, as the usual non-news resumes to fill the vapid screens of MSM in this country.

    Trudeau is this country in microcosm: his schizo attitude towards climate change is the Canadian attitude in one crazy nutshell. We cannot have it both ways, yet we have leaders who insist on the insanity of paying for renewables with pipelines. Our media, meanwhile, happily look the other way. So much easier to trot out wire stories about Trump and You-Tube news. Besides, who’s paid to do investigative journalism anymore? .

    Canada is habitually in denial when it comes to the uncomfortable truths about itself. We’re great at spinning out the great national adventure stories about our big wild country and our unique (ie, non-American) identity. Canada is not so good at confronting the ugly realities about itself, whether that be the tarsands as the dirtiest extraction on the planet, or the treatment of our First Nations as our national disgrace.

    Thank you again, Robert, and thanks for the hat tip. I will be sharing this post everywhere. .

    Reply
    • Cheers, Cate. I had you, and our prior conversations, in mind while scribbling this one out. I think it’s worth saying that we all have a lot of work to do — I don’t think any country yet has an appropriate response or sense of urgency. But after two weeks, now, the Canadian media and the Prime Minster are still not confronting this problem honestly.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  May 16, 2016

        As if right on cue (make a liar of ya, as we say), the CBC posts the 7-monthly temp record as their lead story on the “World” section of its news website at noon today.

        Five hours later there are 1000+ comments, many from the usual trolls, scoffers, and amateur logicians who reason that climate change must be a hoax because it’s snowing in Winnipeg.

        http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/temperature-monthly-records-1.3584249

        Reply
        • Yeah. I get those too. I just delete them. Only quality comments from real people.

          Glad to see CBC is reporting on global climate change. Now how about climate change in their backyard?

    • LucidCurmudgeon

       /  May 16, 2016

      As a fellow Canadian, I commend your comment. Couldn’t have stated it more forcefully myself. And I came to this coverage to get a cognitive breath of fresh air amongst the opaque smog of mainstream public discourse and consequent public cluelessness here in my home country.

      Reply
  2. Hi Robert,

    You may call the Ft McMurray wild fire the Beast, but I call it just one jinn, that is, fiery manifestation, of the Fossil Fuels Derivatives Beast.

    Reply
  3. climatehawk1

     /  May 16, 2016

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  4. Unmentioned anywhere in the media is the pine bark beetle’s impact on the boreal forest. The sub-zero winter temperatures required to kill the mature beetle no longer occur, so adults live season to season and breed in multiple cycles; the acceleration of collapsing forest ecosystems over the past 15 years has altered the western biosphere. The standing dead forests are as dry as kiln-dried lumber. Explosive unstoppable fires that create their own weather, as this fire has been, are far different from a fire moving though a healthy forest.

    Reply
    • The northward progress of the tree-killing pine beetle is related to climate change. And you’re right to point out that this particular trend is one of many related to both climate change and fossil fuel burning that’s putting stress on the boreal forest.

      Reply
      • terrasapien

         /  May 17, 2016

        Pine beetles are attacking forests weakened by yet another product of the fossil fuel industry — myriad chemical compounds derived from petrochemicals, processed by energy from burning oil and coal. We’ve done (and continue to do) more than just burn the oil we’ve pulled up.

        Trees evolved for many millions of years, with large surfaces areas in the atmosphere of a cleaner planet, before VOCs, PHAs, nitrogen compounds, pesticides and fertilizers, not to mention forests cleared by gas powered tractors, and mono-crops planted and sustained by diesel burning tractors.

        Beetles are just doing what they’ve always done in the forest, clear out weak and dying trees. Of course their numbers increase when there is more food for them, and warmer winters lacking the duration and depth of cold temperatures, are exasperating the beetle infestations, allowing many to survive to pick up in the spring, where they left off in the fall.

        Reply
  5. – Good update on a worsening situation, Robert.
    I sent it by Twitter to ‘Arsonist’ author Martin Lukacs.
    OUT

    Reply
  6. Reply
  7. – Ontario, Canada – via climatehwk1:

    Ontario to spend $7-billion on sweeping climate change plan

    The Ontario government will spend more than $7-billion over four years on a sweeping climate change plan that will affect every aspect of life – from what people drive to how they heat their homes and workplaces – in a bid to slash the province’s carbon footprint.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-to-spend-7-billion-in-sweeping-climate-change-plan/article30029081/

    Reply
    • Thank goodness. At least these guys are stepping up.

      Reply
    • yeah, I’m glad to have voted for them for this very reason, even if they have a lot of other issues that make me feel like they should be thrown out of office for a term. Hopefully we don’t get a provincial conservative govt next time, but the Libs have been in power for long enough that the election cycle might just overpower whatever other dynamics are going on.

      Reply
    • Cate

       /  May 17, 2016

      Well done, Ontario! and kudos to Premier Wynne for the courage this plan displays in the current Canadian context. Any transition to electric heat and vehicles is going to be a huge uphill battle in this energy-guzzling country.

      Reply
  8. – USA – Southwest/Cal diminishing snowpack and warm weather.

    Zack Labe ‏@ZLabe 3h3 hours ago

    Snow water equivalent (SWE) in #CAwx has now dropped to only 36% of normal as a result of recent warm/dry weather

    Reply
  9. Ryan in New England

     /  May 16, 2016

    Robert, thank you for doing what the mainstream media routinely fails to do, report on the ever growing influence of climate change on all aspects of our weather. You’ve been staying on top of many different unfolding events, and if I may say so, your writing has been even more powerful lately. I feel like I can sense your frustration and anger at those who have deliberately obfuscated and delayed/prevented action. Your courage to not shy away from calling out those who are preventing us from taking this emergency seriously is refreshing. Just wanted to let you know your style of writing is greatly appreciated by me (an others I’m sure).

    Reply
    • Thanks, Ryan. Yeah. Hate to say it, but the kind of dissembling and double-talk coming out of Canada these path two weeks on what is problably the worst climate related disaster in their history has definitely gotten my blood up. That said, the oncoming summer has put a pretty keen edge on things as well.

      Reply
  10. Griffin

     /  May 16, 2016

    I am with Ryan! Your post on this topic was much needed Robert. When I mention that the fire is still burning, folks look at me like I am nuts at work.
    Kudos to you for staying out in front of all of the crazy, terrible events that are unfolding this year.

    Reply
  11. Ryan in New England

     /  May 16, 2016

    For all those that only think in terms of monetary value, and who think it costs too much to decrease emissions, (those types aren’t Scribblers) the World Bank just released a report saying that $158 trillion (yes, trillion) is at risk from climate change by 2050.

    Urging better planning of cities before it was too late, a report published on Monday from a Bank-run body that focuses on disaster mitigation, said assets worth $158tn – double the total annual output of the global economy – would be in jeopardy by 2050 without preventative action.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/16/climate-change-puts-13bn-people-and-158tn-at-risk-says-world-bank

    Reply
  12. – For a long time, I’ve figured that air pollution would do more damage quicker, and earlier than GW, or SLR — mainly because there is so much of it. And because so many of us have accepted its continuance in spite of its known lethality.
    Clean air is critical to our being. Also, it was the first element to be severely degraded from our fossil fuel use.

    – On a Scale of 1 to 10, the Air Pollution in Fort McMurray is a 38

    It’s been almost two weeks since a monster fire took a nasty turn in Fort McMurray Alberta, and the air quality is so bad that it will likely delay the return of residents.

    At a press conference on Monday, Alberta premier Rachel Notley said that on a scale of one to 10 that the province usually uses to measure the quality of air — 10 being the worst — Fort Mac read 38 that morning.

    The index measures contaminants, smoke, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide.

    “It is clear that this is something that could potentially delay recovery work and a return to the community,” Notley said at a news conference.

    The reading means that officials are limiting the working hours of their staff in the city, and making use of proper face masks.
    https://news.vice.com/article/on-a-scale-of-one-to-ten-the-air-pollution-in-fort-mcmurray-is-38

    Reply
    • labmonkey2

       /  May 16, 2016

      Also visible on Nullschool in CHEM mode on all 3 surface overlays for CO, CO2 and SO2.
      Quite a sight.
      http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/overlay=cosc/orthographic=-109.99,41.39,948

      Reply
    • – I think our morality was the first human trait to go by the wayside.
      The following London air pollution ‘coverup’ piece is one recent example.

      Reply
      • Mulga Mumblebrain

         /  May 17, 2016

        Mine’s OK, dt, and I suspect yours is, too. But the creatures empowered by Free Market capitalism? Not a chance!

        Reply
      • Cate

         /  May 17, 2016

        MM, absolutely. I came of age in the 1970s, which seemed a darker time to me then than the dynamic 60s of my early teens, but looking back, it seems to me now that the 1970s were all about the Big Choice facing humanity—all that labour unrest, the oil crisis, pollution, the movements around back to the land, small planet, self-reliance, Limits to Growth, and so on.

        We still had a choice in the 1970s–the 1960s promise persisted. It felt like there was still room to manoeuvre and to pick our way forward in a way that might lead us to greater harmony, among ourselves and with the planet. Everybody get together, try and love one another right now. And all that—we still believed it. But here in the West, in the US, the UK, Oz, Canada, we suddenly had to choose between two ways forward: a communal collective co-operative way, or a capitalist, corporatist, competitive way.

        Reagan, Thatcher & Co, Inc brought us Darwinian economics: bring the law of the jungle to the economies of the world. Make it global.

        We were not aware, most of us, how historic that decision was, and that generations to come would eventually be forced to live with the consequences of that choice.

        Reply
  13. – UK – London – Air pollution – Coverup?

    Boris Johnson accused of burying study linking pollution and deprived schools

    Unpublished report found four-fifths of the 433 London primary schools in areas breaching EU limits for NO2 were deprived

    An air quality report that was not published by Boris Johnson while he was mayor of London demonstrates that 433 schools in the capital are located in areas that exceed EU limits for nitrogen dioxide pollution – and that four-fifths of those are in deprived areas.

    The report, Analysing Air Pollution Exposure in London, said that in 2010, 433 of the city’s 1,777 primary schools were in areas where pollution breached the EU limits for NO2. Of those, 83% were considered deprived schools, with more than 40% of pupils on free school meals.

    A spokeswoman for Johnson’s successor, Sadiq Khan, said the new mayor could not understand why the research had not been published when it was completed more than two-and-a-half years ago.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/16/boris-johnson-accused-of-burying-study-linking-pollution-and-deprived-schools

    Reply
    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  May 17, 2016

      But those schools are ‘deprived’ for a reason. It’s 37 years since Thatcher ascended from out of The Pit, so do you think it might be time to finally admit that the Right hate others, even children, and work actively to harm them wherever they can, and that anthropogenic climate destabilisation denial is their ‘legacy’ program to harm humanity even after they are, thankfully, gone? We will only survive if we recognise the ideological and pathopsychological forces at work in the world, among humanity, today.

      Reply
  14. The fires to the west of Fort Mac, in northeastern BC, get much less media attention, but look at their CO2 footprint:

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/overlay=co2sc/orthographic=-114.33,54.07,3000/loc=-121.272,56.144

    The highest readings earlier today were actually along the Peace River where Site C dam is being built, to provide electricity to the gas fracking industry so the premier can make good on her promise of LNG exports. Is this from all the slash-burning after stripping the forest in the floodzone away?

    Reply
    • Cate

       /  May 17, 2016

      As Susanna Moodie wrote in “Roughing It In The Bush”, her extended advertisement for emigration to Canada in the mid-1800s,

      “A Canadian settler abhors a tree.”

      She was observing the settler’s penchant for felling everything.

      We still do this. We—people, and especially companies—-still look at our country in this way. We are still treating it like forest primeval–it’s in our bones, in our genes, to do this, to civilise this harsh wild land, to extract a living from it, to master it. This is the narrative Canadians grow up with and it will not change until the people in our boardrooms in particular internalise a new narrative, and the only one that can save us: the narrative of our First Nations, who see themselves as living in harmony on and with the land.

      Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  May 16, 2016

    Thousands evacuated from work camps north of Fort McMurray in face of ‘expanding and growing’ firestorm

    About 4,000 workers spread between 12 work camps near Fort McMurray have been told to evacuate as the wildfire moves rapidly north.

    According to Alberta Emergency Alert, the wildfire is “expanding and growing in size” and all camps located up to and including Ruth Lake Lodge, about 30 kilometres north of the city, as well as those camps and production facilities on Aostra Road, are being told to leave.

    The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo says the fire is gobbling 30 to 40 metres of forest per minute and is now only six kilometres from Tower Road, a dirt road where several residential trailers are located.

    Link

    Reply
  16. redskylite

     /  May 16, 2016

    Thanks for crafting out a thorough appraisal of the recent wildfires and the subdued and suppressed responses from government and media still reluctant to accept the truth. This month the BBC seems to be in an informative and open mood, first time I’ve seen them report NASA’s stats (as a Science and Environment headline) and quote from Christiana Figueres. . .has a revolution taken place within aunties walls I wonder ? – or just a one off.

    Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  May 16, 2016

    During a news conference on Monday, Premier Rachel Notley urged those not already in the Fort McMurray area to stay away, due to air quality so toxic it surpasses provincial measurements.

    Alberta uses a scale of one to 10 to measure air quality, with 10 considered to be the highest risk.

    Air quality in the Fort McMurray area on Monday morning was 38.

    Link

    Reply
  18. Siberia is also having really huge fires:

    http://go.nasa.gov/23VBL47

    That’s an area about 500 miles across.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 17, 2016

      LP –
      I like that page with the time line slider .
      My sense of dread grows daily over what’s coming this summer.

      Reply
  19. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    Alaska temperature records fall during statewide weekend heat wave

    In Fairbanks on Saturday a high of 82 shattered a century-old record of 80 degrees set in 1915. By Sunday, Anchorage was reporting a record 72 degrees — 7 degrees above the previous high of 65 degrees, set in 2014 — and Juneau International Airport hit 75 degrees, beating the date’s previous 1993 high by 2 degrees.

    Bethel recorded 73 degrees Monday, edging out its 1996 high of 72 degrees. Even Barrow got in on the action Friday, with high and low temperatures of 42 and 32 degrees breaking records of 38 and 30 degrees set in 1928 and 1996, respectively.

    https://www.adn.com/article/20160516/alaska-temperature-records-fall-during-statewide-weekend-heat-wave

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 17, 2016

      Risk Of Alaskan Wildfires To Quadruple
      “We looked at the location of wildfires across Alaska during the past 60 years and, not surprisingly, found that they were most common in regions with warm, dry summers,” Young said. “The more interesting result of our work is the emergence of a distinct temperature threshold that separates areas that have and have not burned in recent decades. Above this threshold, we see a sharp increase in the likelihood that a fire will occur in a region.”

      http://www.reportingclimatescience.com/2016/05/10/alaskan-wildfires/

      Reply
  20. Politicians especially don’t want to talk about climate change. No one does whose job, income, and lifestyle will have to be altered by admitting it. That would bring discussion of one of the dirtiest words in any human’s vocabulary–sacrifice.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 17, 2016

      That would bring discussion of one of the dirtiest words in any human’s vocabulary–>b>sacrifice.

      As a herd, Absolutely . But in small numbers we do it everyday.
      We’re a bit like the wildebeest crossing the croc infested river. Everyone for them self. But. we fight like hell when lion comes after our baby.

      ahimsaforever
      I have been a Cynic about the human condition from the age of 11.
      Don’t make me play George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue again.

      Reply
    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  May 17, 2016

      Actually ‘sacrifice’ is quite welcome in the Right’s lexicon, so long as their Eternal Enemy, other people, are making the sacrifices, or, even better, are the sacrificial victims themselves.

      Reply
  21. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    The paper that came out of Montana this week about Alaskan fires bares close reading. Not the point about them doing this :
    Risk Of Alaskan Wildfires To Quadruple

    But this passage in their work –
    “This highlights regions that are now kind of off the fire radar — the tundra and forest-tundra border — will be increasingly on the radar,” Higuera said. “There’s a threshold of 13 degrees C (55.4 degrees F) for July average temperatures, where above that temperature a place has a much higher probability of burning than areas below that temperature. There are a lot of areas in the northern high latitudes that sit right below that threshold. Climate projections for the mid- and end of this century show those areas are bumped above that threshold.”

    Across the state’s North Slope, above the Arctic Circle, the shift is “far outside the range of natural variability we’ve seen in the last 6,000 to 32,000 years,” Higuera said. …………………..

    If this isn’t a classic “tipping point”, then the term is meaningless.

    I keep hearing that old disco song’s chorus :

    “Burn Baby Burn”.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 17, 2016

      How crazy are we ?

      The Trammps – Disco Inferno

      Reply
      • So much complexity, so many accomplishments in so many fields are under threat. It’s really heartbreaking to think that a race capable of so much artistic accomplishment can also destabilize its home. All of the bright young people, so full of promise, all threatened with disruption of their lives, poverty, and even possibly extinction. What a waste.

        Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 17, 2016

        LP-
        Well said, I’m glad you caught my irony. For me it is Beach Boys , a much older myth.
        Once up on a time I really thought I could be having fun all summer long. Then the world caught on fire. And I was dragged back to being a Cynic once again.

        Then I found Frank Zappa …………….

        Frank Zappa – Trouble Every Day

        I played this in my homeroom in Lubbock, Texas in the spring of 1967.

        His point has never failed.

        Reply
    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  May 17, 2016

      Leland, if the Right succeed in destroying humanity through their greed and egomania, they won’t just kill the living, and the yet unborn, but will kill a second time, and forever, all the previous generations who worked so very hard to craft a ‘civilization’, such as it is. Bach, Beethoven, Shakespeare et al, may as well have never existed at all.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 17, 2016

        You are correct, but human beings have never lied down and given up.

        Reply
      • Hi Mulga-

        Yes. It’s a huge loss of complexity and information if we go extinct. I think that some of our elites might have a fantasy of being able to survive the coming time of troubles. The rich are mobile, and their wealth gives them access to resources that can keep them insulated from the climate changes our fossil fuel use is creating. So, there is a Social Darwinist aspect to the intransigence of our ruling elites when it comes to effective action to slow global warming, I think.

        But, waking the methane monster is madness, I think.

        Methane hydrates are a form of water ice, and ice melts. Gerald Dickens says that the hydrate stability zone will be reduced in volume by about 50% under a few degrees of global heating. So, however much methane hydrate we have in the global inventory, about half of it is coming out in the coming years, or decades, or centuries, unless we radically change our course now, I think.

        Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    The Guardian thread about April’s numbers is now at ………….. comments (3574) ……………13 hours ago

    The discussion this rising. I have never seen anything like this. About any climate report., any where.

    Reply
    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  May 17, 2016

      Bob, I’ve been wondering for a while what is getting at the Right. Here in Australia, they should be happy. They control ALL the MSM, and denialism is all the rage, still. They control politics, and all their pet ambitions, to attack renewable energy, mine coal ‘for generations’, export gas, drive down wages, give tax cuts to the wealthy, destroy legal aid, slash arts funding save for the big institutions who charge $200 a ticket to see Madame Butterfly, AGAIN, destroy early intervention programs for youth mental illness etc, are forging ahead, full steam. Yet they grow ever more hysterical and histrionic, as if, not really dissatisfied, but actually worried. And I find that mentioning the future possibility (a moral imperative in my opinion)of trials for crimes against humanity through destruction of the living Earth, really gets them leaping, hissing and spitting (figuratively) in response. In the Comments, of course, although such opinions as mine are almost always censored, so sturdy is Freedom of Opinion in this outpost of the Free World. I think that the appalling increase in the pace of climate destabilisation, and the first signs that the public are waking from their brainwashing, has them really worried, and, alas, that is not a good development.

      Reply
  23. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    Then I found Frank Zappa …………….

    Frank invented Rap. in 1966.

    Reply
  24. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    Then he did “Billy The Mountain” this is most amazing live set anyone has ever done.
    With Flow and Eddie, from the ” Turtles “.

    “Happy Together” ?

    Frank Zappa – Billy The Mountain
    From the album “Just Another Band From LA”
    This this thing is 24:47 mini. long.
    It is one of the great songs in American history. And one the greatest live events ever captured.

    Reply
  25. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    Frank saw the future , the folly.

    Reply
  26. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    The Mothers of Invention – Freak Out! (Full Album)

    Reply
  27. Mark from OZ

     /  May 17, 2016

    On top of the 90,000 ‘city’ folk displaced by this massive fire, the native people ( the Cree) have been fighting the oil industry and CA gov’t around the interpretation of the 1876 Treaty which defines rights, responsibilities and benefits in a lawsuit filed in 2008.

    Living in an area the size of Switzerland, much of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation ‘land’ has been swept with fire, too. They are ‘self-funded’ and RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs) exists to help in cases like these and can also receive donations if one is so inclined.
    http://raventrust.com/tar-sands-trial/

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 17, 2016

      Good find . If you have some thing the rich want They will kill you in a heart beat.

      Listen to the Zappa songs up thread.

      Reply
      • Mark from OZ

         /  May 17, 2016

        Thanks CB! Love FZ- Always have. All part of memory lane- pulling off CO 550 in a DOT Orange ’74 F-100 somewhere near Ouray, near the Uncompahgre peak. This too on a dusty, skippin’ Maxell cassette. That oughtta take ya back, hombre!

        Reply
  28. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    The Mothers of Invention – Motherly Love

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 17, 2016

      I played the entire album . In my homeroom. This was 10 months before I heard East West.

      Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND changed my live. I was sitting on a pile of rail road ties. In Clovis, New Mexico. When I made it home, Joe Ely picked me up in his mother’s faded VW.

    I was covered with soot. He, and my mother did not see me.

    That was a long trip. I had no money , and no water.

    MY bones to be here.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 17, 2016

      That trip, I was sitting on some luggage. The train was going like 70 mph. Lighting bolts were hitting all around me.

      Reply
  30. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2016

    Mark ftom Oz –
    Never heard that. thanks for putting me in my place

    Reply
  31. Thank you for your work. I’ve read due to thermal inertia of ocean, climate change has approx 40 year delay of warming effect produced by emissions. An argument has been made that current warming is result of pre-tar sands industrial activity, therefore no direct cause/effect relation between current tar sands production and wildfires. Of course if this is correct it merely implies ominous decades ahead. I’m wondering if the 40 year delay is diminishing as oceans warm or if you believe tipping points have been breached and this thermal inertia delay is no longer a strong factor?

    Reply
    • A good rough rule of thumb is:

      1. About 33 percent of the warming now
      2. About 33 percent more in the next 100-150 years or so
      3. About 33 percent more over the next few hundred to few thousand years

      There’s short term and long term inertia and feedbacks baked into the system. Ice sheet feedbacks make it all more complex — giving you an atmospheric warming lag as ocean warming speeds up.

      Reply
      • With about 1.3 F over preindustrial now eventually we’ll have 3.9 C of warming by 3,000 AD. The storms of Hansen’s Grandchildren and wicked sea-level rise will show up in 2050 or earlier. And how is humanity going to survive this???

        This is going to require taking CO2 OUT of the atmosphere, and damn quick, too to keep this from happening.

        Reply
      • That’s 1.3 C, not F. Oooooppppssss…😦

        Reply
      • Hi Ed-M-

        Well, it is possible using Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) to draw down CO2 in the atmosphere and generate electricity at the same time, displacing still more fossil fuel use. If we’re going to turn the corner on this thing, we need BECCS, I think. But we should have done BECCS 20 years ago – it is rate limited. The most carbon we could put back underground in the U.S. would be on the order of maybe a billion tons per year, with a maximum effort. But that would also displace roughly a billion tons per year of fossil fuel use, and generate useful electricity that could displace maybe 500 million tons of carbon in petroleum products used for transportation, if we electrify transportation. So call it a swing of 2.5 billion tons of carbon per year in the U.S. out of worldwide carbon emissions of maybe 10 billion tons of carbon per year. So, to be effective at more than slowing global warming, we would need help from the rest of the world, and continued help from natural carbon sinks. If we take the lead, the rest of the world might follow.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bio-energy_with_carbon_capture_and_storage

        Unfortunately, under the current capitalist system, corporations would misuse carbon capture and storage for things like secondary oil recovery, and use it to allow continued burning of fossil fuels.

        We need some socialist form of government, I think, a heavily managed and regulated capitalism. We need to break the power of our current financial elites, first, and then implement BECCS, to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere and put it back underground.

        Will we do that? We might.

        And we might do it, but too late.

        Reply
        • But to break the global financial elites’ hold on power essentially entails breaking the debt finance capitalist system — which the elites are about to do anyway with the excessive debt load (that can never be repaid) and its derivatives (which become ‘The Derivatives Beast’ if both sides can’t cover their derivatives) –, yielding a twenty to thirty global secular crisis. Which means we’ll be starting on scaling this up after the crisis.

          Yeah, you’re right. Probably too late.😦

        • You just need regulation for that. It’s a political sea change we need. Debt in itself is not bad — just who it serves and how it is used. A basic understanding of history is helpful when looking at this. The assumption of ‘all debt is bad’ is pretty simplistic and nonsensical. You can’t run a large economic system on pure barter and zero debt. Things calcify and come crashing to a halt. Wealth concentrates and remains in one place. You end up with epic deflation.

        • Which is exactly what The Automatic Earth is predicting! I yi yi!

        • Malinvestment, unequal pay, and loss of access to money by a majority of people produces the same effect —

          Boom and bust cycles resulting in deflationary spirals.

        • And when you print up a freight train’s worth of money and helicopter-dump it into the general economy, instead of just on The Rich, you can get hyperinflation! Probably depends on the timing. Russia got it after Soviet Union collapsed, Weimar Germany caught it when the Frogs occupied The Ruhr, and Zimbabwe had it for quite a few years until it revoked its own currency!

        • Yes. That’s a bad idea as well.

          It’s generally not a good idea to stick your head in the oven or dip your hand in liquid nitroglycerin either.

          Not doing those kinds of things is the financial equivalent of basic common sense.

        • But the world is not having a problem with inflation at this time. It’s deflation that’s the problem. So providing more money to the people in the form of wages or more taxes at the top of the economic spectrum combined with a better regulation of banks and the flow of money is really what’s called for.

        • To do that we’d have to take back the country from the elites and the political classes that they own. And right now and the near and mid-term future I don’t see tat happening due to the extremely high cost of running for office globally, and especially in the United States.

          What’s worse, if we try to take back the country by playing their game, they’ll bankrupt us, or co-opt “our” politicians, like they did with Bill Clinton and Obama. And we know Hillary is backed by fossil fuels interests.

      • Here’s a good paper on using BECCS to draw down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

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

        http://www.iea-etsap.org/web/Workshop/worksh_6_2003/2003P_read.pdf

        It seems like a good plan. Some refinements:

        Plant the biomass plantations at higher elevations than the converted coal fired power plants. Use electrically powered harvesting machinery, or hydrogen powered, or powered by methanol or ethanol. Move the biomass always downhill, following the slope of the watersheds. Use cableways to move the biomass downhill, and actually generate electricity from the flow of biomass downhill.

        Alternately, use electric railways with regenerative braking on the wheels, and generate electricity from the flow of mass downhill..

        Move the biomass first to smaller distributed pyrolysis plants to pyrolyze the biomass into charcoal.. This is an exothermic process – burn the resulting gases and liquids using oxyfuel combustion and generate more electricity from the distributed biomass plants, collecting the CO2. The remainder from the pyrolysis process will be about 20% of the mass as charcoal.

        Turning the biomass into charcoal should reduce the mass by about 80%, reducing transport costs. Transport the charcoal always downhill, on barges on navigable rivers or electric railways to the converted coal fired power plants.

        Use oxyfuel combustion to burn the biomass or charcoal in oxygen. This will produce a reasonably pure stream of CO2 and water vapor, requiring only dewatering and neutralization of the CO2 using a base like ammonia or sodium hydroxide. Compress the CO2 for deep injection. Production of oxygen and compressing the CO2 will take energy – produce the energy required by adding a topping cycle to the process to produce a modern combined cycle power plant.

        Inject the resulting CO2 into basalt formations for in situ mineral carbonation. Heat the CO2 to increase the rate of the carbonation and get the mass of rock “cooking”. Inject the CO2 very deep – below 2.3 kilometers supercritical CO2 becomes denser than water, and would tend to sink instead of rise.

        If U.S. sources of biomass are not sufficient, plant plantations of fast growing canes or grasses, fast growing small trees or bushes. Get carbonaceous garbage from trash, urban and forest waste, and stop putting most waste in landfills – pyrolyze it into charcoal instead. If necessary, import tankers of charcoal slurry or charcoal from other countries, or via charcoal slurry or charcoal log pipelines, using coal slurry or coal log pipeline technology.

        Reply
  32. Dan Taylor

     /  May 17, 2016

    A close relation worked for the Globe and Mail. The writers were told not to print stories on climate change.

    Reply
    • Thanks for this Spike. Just saw this in my daily search. Working on an update now. Fire size has again doubled since last week.

      Reply
  33. Spike

     /  May 17, 2016

    still out of control, with an estimated 284,214 hectares burning. Five new fires have started in the region over the past 24 hours.

    http://globalnews.ca/news/2706137/in-photos-fort-mcmurray-wildfires-continue-to-be-seen-from-space/

    Reply

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