ONLY a worldwide carbon tax CAN SAVE THE BIOSPHERE as we know it: tax all products according to how much producing them has brought up the carbon content of the atmosphere. Only this will stop the intolerable. With the present policies, we are sure that the devastating rise in CO2 will accelerate.
The tax ought to stop the burning of the 450 million years of FOSSIL fuels we are trying to carbonize the planet with at this point. (That does not mean we would have to go without fuel: algae fuel is carbon negative; that means it absorbs CO2; it requires only CO2 and sunlight; the U.S. Navy, among others, uses it. By contrast, oil from tar sands produces 3 times the CO2 of fossil oil!)
Only morons, masochists and sadists don’t fear this chart:
This represents 450,000 years of data. We are actually around 450 ppm, off the chart, when counting, as one should, ALL the human made, industrial greenhouse gases.
The carbon tax ought to be put progressively, with allowance for the construction of dams and elevated lagoons next to solar and wind farms (to use them as basal energy), electric trains, power lines, and other heavy machinery needed for a sustainable economy.
CARBONIZATION: WORST CRISIS IN 65 MILLION YEARS:
In his second inaugural address, President Obama proclaimed climate change a priority of his second term. Thanks partly to his self-obsessed inaction in his first term, it’s too late to avoid a state of the climate unknown in civilization, within a decade or so.
Except if drastic measures are taken, much worse is to come. In a weekend near you.
In about two cnturies, 7 out of the 9 driest Januaries in California have happened since 1976. In 2013, California suffered its third driest January ever. Why? Because the storm belt has moved too much north. The same phenomenon tied to warming brought 74 degrees Fahrenheit (24 Celsius) to Kansas in that same January (instead of the usual freezing temps).
The first measure to take is for the USA to implement carbon taxes similar to those in Europe.
Why the USA? Because the USA lead the plutocratic dance, and plutocrats rule. They persuaded the rest of the world that Europe was wrong about coal, oil, gas, tar, and that full carbon ahead was the way of the brave.
After Obama’s re-election, a bill glided through Congress with broad bipartisan support and won a quick signature from President Obama: the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011. Just as in most things, Obama talks one way, spectacularly, and acts the opposite, even more spectacularly. However, here it is not a question of naming Wall Street insiders to watch over Wall Street (as Obama did twice, for his new cabinet).
When Obama “prohibits” doing something about carbon emissions, he enables the destruction of the biosphere, one day to be viewed as the greatest crime ever.
Obama goes to Kailua, contemplates an immense magnificent white sand beach he has known since he was a boy. The Secret Services and hordes of black clad special forces hold back the rabble… 500 meters away. A magnificent beach, and soon to be under water, thanks to his good offices.
Why would one want to live on in infamy?
Yes, destroying the biosphere is not among the greatest crimes. But, clearly, the greatest ever. it’s worse than nuclear war, in the fullness of time. Holocausts are bad. Organizing a holocaust (whole-burning) of the whole biosphere, the worst.
Nobody he can talk about in public, forced Obama to sign the planet killing bill: he had won re-election. Casual remarks of his about Lincoln shows that he has no awareness proportionate to the gravity of the situation.
The pollution caused by planes is enormous. Supposing the most efficient plane flying today with a full passenger load (the A380 Superjumbo) three round trips Chicago-Frankfurt produce 11 tons of CO2, per passenger. When Obama translate his person to Hawai’i, it’s about dozens of times that, hundreds of tons. By comparison, the average USA house uses less than 7 tons, the average USA driving per year, 3.5 tons, commuting, less than 2 tons.
Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are on track to exceed the limits that scientists believe could prevent catastrophic warming. CO2 levels are higher than they have been in 15 million years. And CO2 is less than 8/9 of the story. Because there are other industrially generated greenhouse gases. And carbon soot contributes to warming, it turns out.
The Arctic, melting rapidly and probably irreversibly, has reached a state that the Vikings would not recognize. Yet, when the Vikings colonized Iceland, Greenland and Vinland (America), the climate was at the warmest since the heydays of Rome.
Right now forests are growing in Greenland, and wood has been harvested there, for the first time ever (the Vikings, having ravaged the forests of Iceland, imported their wood from America).
“We are poised right at the edge of some very major changes on Earth,” said Anthony Barnosky, a University of California Berkeley professor of biology studying the interaction of climate change with population growth and land use. “We really are a geological force that’s changing the planet.”
WHOLESALE SHIFT NEEDED
The Arctic melt is occurring as the planet is just 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) warmer than it was in preindustrial times.
One has to realize that, at the peak of the last major glaciation, when an ice shield united New York and Aquitaine, all across the Atlantic, the temperature of the North Atlantic was only five degrees Celsius lower.
At current trends, the Earth could warm by 4 degrees Celsius in 50 years, according to a November World Bank report. In truth, it could go much faster, because of a couple of NON LINEAR effects neglected in conventional analyses.
The coolest summer months would be much warmer than today’s hottest summer months, the World Bank report said. “The last time Earth was 4 degrees warmer than it is now was about 14 million years ago,” Barnosky said. However, in the past, changes of climate were slow enough for animal species to accompany them by quick evolutionary changes.
With a few exceptions. Notably the catastrophic extinctions of the past, when the climate changed brutally within a million years or so.
During the extinction of dinosaurs, pterosaurs and plesiosaurs, birds (flying dinosaurs), and mammals barely resisted whatever happened, and the subsequent cooling of the climate. However during the more severe Permian-Trias extinction, 252 million years ago, 96% of marine species got extinct. Major terrestrial megafauna was annihilated.
It is technically feasible to halt the incoming catastrophe by nearly ending the use of fossil fuels, RIGHT AWAY.
It would require a wholesale shift to renewable fuels that the United States, let alone China and other developing countries, appears unlikely to make, given that many Americans do not believe humans are changing the climate. It’s all about the citizens of the USA, because only them can stop the mad rush to disaster. The USA leads world public opinion more, than, say, the French Republic, or the disparate European Union.
Even the superstitious based is starting to realize that Earth has a problem. “Science is not opinion, it’s not what we want it to be,” said Ms Hayhoe, a loudly evangelical Christian and climatologist at Texas Tech University who was lead author of a draft report on U.S. climate change issued this month by the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee, which was created by the federal government.
“You can’t make a thermometer tell you it’s hotter than it is,” said Hayhoe (she and her husband, a linguist and West Texas pastor, have written a book on climate change addressed to evangelicals).
“And it’s not just about thermometers or satellite instruments,” she said. “It’s about looking in our own backyards, when the trees are flowering now compared to 30 years ago, what types of birds and butterflies and bugs that … used to be further south.”Robins are arriving two weeks early in Colorado. Frogs are calling sooner in Ithaca, N.Y. The Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting earlier. Cold snaps, still happen, but less often. The frost-free season has lengthened 21 days in California, nine days in Texas and 10 in Connecticut, according to the draft climate report.
Whereas North-west Europe’s winters may become more severe, if the Gulf Stream short-circuits from flooding of the ocean (!) by light cold waters from accelerated Greenland melting.
EXTREME WEATHER, EXTREME CHANGE:
Scientists are loath to pin specific events, such as SuperStorm-Hurricane Sandy, to global warming. Outliers events have always happened.
But “the risk of certain extreme events, such as the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Russian heat wave and fires, and the 2011 Texas heat wave and drought has … doubled or more,” said Michael Wehner, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and co-author of the climate report. “Some of the changes that have occurred are permanent on human time scales.”
It’s not just droughts. As temperature rises, the water content in the atmosphere augments, so flooding augments. And, and this is a clear statistic, extreme weather events, overall, are much more frequent.
Last year, the continental United States was the hottest it has ever been in the 118 years that records have been kept. Globally, each of the first 12 years of the 21st century were among the 14 warmest ever.
Connecticut was 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average. At current rates of CO2 emissions, scientists expect New England to have summers resembling the Deep South within decades.
The pine bark beetle, killed by winter freezes in the past, has become epidemic over millions of acres of forests from California to South Dakota. Mountainous forests die, and then burn, to be replaced by sagebrush, accentuating the drying of the South West USA. Similar insect invasions are happening throughout the giant forest of North-West America, all the way to Alaska.
Oceans, which absorb CO2, in a reaction that makes carbonic acid, have increased in acidity. The acid gnaws at the calcium based skeletons of the micro life in the oceans, damaging coral reefs, shellfish and organisms at the bottom of the food chain. Washington state shellfish growers have seen major failures in oyster hatcheries because the larvae don’t form shells.
A report this month by the National Research Council, a public policy branch of the National Academies, said such changes in ocean chemistry in the geologic past were accompanied by “mass extinctions of ocean or terrestrial life or both.”
No wonder: those tiny organisms fabricate roughly half of the oxygen of the atmosphere.
The clear and present key question is when greenhouse gas emissions reach a point where changes become so self-reinforcing, that they get completely out of human control.
Polar sea ice reflects the sun. As it melts, the dark ocean absorbs more solar heat, raising temperatures. Similarly, the Greenland ice sheet is melting rapidly, reducing reflectivity and heating the Earth faster, speeding up the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet (much of which will be replaced by very dark ocean, accelerating the warming further).
(Some of these effects can play, against each other, for a while: for example, it snows more on the Himalayas and East Antarctica, a desert; precisely because temperatures are rising, and moisture !)
The northern permafrost is thawing, with the potential to release massive quantities of CO2 and methane, CH4, a ten times more potent greenhouse gas, presently stored in frozen soils. Hundreds of billions of tons of vegetation frozen solid since dozens of thousands of years.
There is no faulty logic here: in the past there were episodes of warmer overall temperatures, due to the solar exposition of Arctic lands to strong sun in July-August. But the CO2 was MUCH lower (see graph above!). During those episodes, plants grew, on the surface, for millennia, above deep permafrost. Then the planet’s orbit changed, and plants froze again. Then the cycle repeated. In some places, the frozen vegetation is dozens of meter deep. And the present colossal greenhouse threatens to melt the whole thing, and the North will literally rot.
These non linear factors guarantee a sudden change, the timing of which is hard to predict.
“We could be at a tipping point where the climate just abruptly warms,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, director of Stanford University’s atmosphere/energy program. When Obama following Cousteau, warns of the children’s future problems, he follows Cousteau, who used to warn about the grandchildren’s fate. Well, all indication are that the catastrophe is already upon us.
CHANGES OVER TIME
UC Berkeley’s Barnosky says tipping points could come earlier than anticipated when factoring in population growth and land use. (Cautiously, as a good academic, he does not consider the real catastrophic potential tipping points, just those which are sure to impact.)
More than 40 percent of the Earth’s land surface has been covered by farms and cities. Much of the rest is cut by roads (which can destroy bird species, Hawaiian studies have shown). By 2025, that human footprint could reach 50 percent, a level that on smaller scales has led to ecological crashes, such as a fisheries collapse or an ocean dead zone.
“It’s just sort of simple math: The more people, the more footprint,” Barnosky said. “If we’re still on a fossil fuel economy in 50 years, there is no hope for doing anything about climate change. It will be here in such a dramatic way that we won’t recognize the planet we’re on.”
Not all climate scientists are so factual. Ashley Ballantyne, a bioclimatologist at the University of Montana who studies paleoclimate records, said the climate has always changed, with ice ages, warmings and mass extinctions. At current CO2 concentrations, the Arctic and Greenland are likely to become ice free, as they were 4 million years ago, he said nonchalantly, in his simplicity.
We know very well that the Antarctica ice shield appeared when CO2 went below 440 ppm. We are presently ABOVE 450 PPM in CO2 EQUIVALENT greenhouse gases (at the present rate, in CO2 alone we will reach 440 ppm within ten years). Moreover, it turns out that carbon soot is accelerating the warming further.
This means that the only reason there is ice in Antarctica is ice itself. It Antarctica were covered with forests, as it used to be, the forests would stay. Today. In other words, we are no more in a glaciated climate, we have ice, purely because the fridge is still cold. But the fridge is broken.
Thanks to USA policies, burning coal will be again the main source of energy produced, within 5 years: more soot, more CO2, more arsenic, more mercury. But all what fashionista ecologists can do is go nuclear about Fukushima (total number killed: zero), whereas in the meantime coal has killed millions (nearly all of them indirectly).
“Polar bears are poorly adapted to an ice free Arctic, Ballantyne said, “but it wasn’t bad for boreal trees. They were quite happy.” Right, Ballantyne. Military men should be very happy too, as tremendous wars will flare up all over.
An international political consensus set as a danger zone a global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), which is expected in 25 years based on current trends and when atmospheric concentration of CO2 reaches 450 parts per million (by then CO2 equivalent gases should be above 510 ppm).
CO2 is now almost 400 parts per million.
Two degrees Celsius is “an arbitrary number,” said Alan Robock, director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University. “On our current path, we will go zooming way past that.” Namely we will cross two degree Celsisus, while the temperature increase accelerate.
Climatologist James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and activist Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, believe the only way to preserve the Holocene climate humans are used to is to cut CO2 concentrations to 350 parts per million, last seen around 1988.
Ballantyne dismissed the 350 goal: “That’s like a 70-year-old alcoholic saying, ‘I’m going quit drinking when I’m 60 years old.’ “
McKibben and Hansen propose a tax on fossil fuels at their source, to be reimbursed to all U.S. residents, as Sen. Bernie Sanders, independent-Vt., plans to propose in a “fee and dividend” scheme modeled on Alaska’s oil royalty rebates to state residents.
THEIR NAMES WILL LIVE IN INFAMY, FOR MILLENNIA TO COME:
In November, having won re-election, Obama distinguished himself by signing on a Republican law that outlaws the European Carbon Tax on planes landing in Europe. Little does he visualize that this sort of biosphere-hating decision is sure to make the planet into a sort of hell. which sort exactly, we don’t know.
White House press secretary Jay Carney, asked Wednesday about the Sanders bill, said: “We have not proposed and have no intention of proposing a carbon tax.”
In other words, we are monsters, and we have no intention to not be monsters anymore.
The Carbon Tax would have to be a big tax, McKibben said, “that drives up the price quickly. Maybe you go to the pump someday and YOU’RE PAYING WHAT PEOPLE IN EUROPE PAY FOR GASOLINE, WHICH IS GOOD, because then it reminds you every time you go to the pump that you don’t really need a semi-military vehicle to go to the grocery store.”
Stanford’s Jacobson maintains that wind and solar could power the world many times over. He calculated that the world would need to install 1.7 billion solar rooftops and 4 million wind turbines.
A little detail that Jacobson overlooks, though, is that the only way to store that energy efficiently, barring spectacular progress in, say, fuel cells, is by BUILDING DAMS all over.
However, it can be done. There is a project in Belgium to build a multibillion dollar island-dam next to an offshore wind farm.
Jane Long, chair of the California Council on Science and Technology, said any such conversion would be costly and difficult at best. Still, she said, “one way to get out of the hole is to stop digging.”
WHEN LED BY PLUTOCRATS, HELL IS HOME:
Plutocracy is a world disease. It learned to make itself invisible in the 1920s and 1930s, when Mussolini, and then Hitler, claimed to be socialists, when, in truth, they were just in the service of their plutocratic masters.
Some will say that’s the past. But not at all. It’s worse than ever. Just better hidden. Berlusconi, a multi-billionaire, serial Prime Minister running for re-election, again, just claimed Mussolini was “good“, and Mussolini “just allied himself with Hitler because he thought it was the winning side“. Plutocracy is all about winning. Never mind the consequences, never mind that it is infantile. Never mind that Mussolini killed 6,000 Italian Jews to death (among many other problems, such as 455,000 Italians killed).
The new Chinese plutocrat in chief, a billionaire president, is putting pressure on Honk Kong supposedly free media to not inquire about plutocracy. Being led by plutocrats has known consequences.
Speaking of inquiries, on 10 June 1944, SS assassinated 642 civilians at Oradour, France, including 247 children burned alive. German prosecutors are visiting the site for the first time, as they study possible prosecution in 2013. Hey, I guess, better late than never. The judgment of history will be terrible. Always is.
That brings us back to the greatest crime ever. Murder of the biosphere. Obama and company cannot say that they did not know. They were told.
Now they can go with their little games of actors, self important toddlers with the wisdom of crabs. All about the pincers. History will judge them, and, before crushing their memories, will make them live in infamy.
If our great biosphere destroying leaders want to start to redeem themselves, two words: CARBON TAX. Very simple.