Archive for June 29th, 2009


June 29, 2009


Paul Krugman in his editorial, “Betraying the Planet”, New York Times, June 29, 2009, observes: “Climate change poses a clear and present danger to our way of life. How can anyone justify failing to act?”
In truth, the facts related by Krugman show that planetary heating is a threat to survival, not just to a particular way (see further quoting of Krugman in the post scriptum).

As I explained on my site a while back, a glance at the elevation map of Antarctica, below the ice, shows that huge basins in Eastern Antarctica are way below sea level (minus 200 meters). Moreover their entry gates are above the polar circle (so in a relatively northern, warm area). The enormous amounts of ice in the basin could turn to water in a decade, if warm oceanic water slips below them, which it will do after melting the frozen margin. That would bring sea level up worldwide by 25 meters. That would follow the melting of the West Antarctica Ice Shield (WAIS) and the attached, warmer peninsula (only a 5 meter rise). A few years ago, in summer, only the fringe of Greenland melted on the surface. Now more than half does.

Frozen methane is all over the world oceans, and a lot of it in shallow waters in the Arctic. Those could erupt anytime, maybe within two months. Over five years, methane has 100 times the warming capability of CO2. A lot of permafrost, now melting, is dominated by methane ice.

What to say? The USA is culprit number one of the worldwide heating (a lot of the Chinese emissions are displaced USA industry). Would the USA be paupers if Americans cracked down on their pollution? No, quite the opposite: France emits less than a third of CO2 than the USA does, per unit of GDP. Everything indicates that, by now, the French, with their free health care, free schooling, much better social services and welfare, a lower unemployment rate, plus very low debt per person, and as good a family income, are richer than the Americans.

Why? Because the best path to riches is to learn to live within one’s means. If one does not live within one’s means, one ends up without means, as simple as that. Ravaging the planet is also very bad manners, and bad manners with others carry onto one’s own house. Time to do something before the ocean invades the Washington mall.

A worldwide carbon tax is a necessity, and, thanks logic and truth, it is coming, whether the USA likes it or not. (France plans to impose it unilaterally, and the EU will follow.) Too bad the USA will have to be dragged to decency and rationality, kicking and screaming, for its own good. How pathetic.

But there is no more time for niceties. Let’s be blunt. Plutocrats of the USA, to make a buck, and built their empire, did business with Hitler. Facing Hitler, the USA practiced selfishness, plutocratic profits, the “invisible hand” and “isolationism”. Result: 73 million dead, and a few problems besides. It was a total betrayal of democracy. Now, as Krugman points out correctly, we are facing a betrayal of the planet. meanwhile we had another betrayal of democracy by giving trillions to private individual called bankers who paid their politicians called leaders.

The betrayal of the planet is more of the same: it’s the usual obsession with the plutocratic profits of some, and their “invisible hand” (the self described American, Chicago school of ethics and way to business).  Now, not content with gouging people with banks and health care, the same sort of oligarchs advocate to keep doing business as usual with the heat of hell itself.

One can only expect a worse outcome.

Patrice Ayme


Note: Here is more from Krugman: “The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

Well the MIT researchers were very naïve.

Krugman, above, uses units straight out of the Middle Ages: the Fahrenheit scale: any units will do, as long as they are not used anywhere else in the world. Interestingly in some crucial polar regions, such as the Antarctica peninsula (next to the WAIS), the temperature has already risen 4 to 5 degrees CELSIUS (twice the Middle Age units).

What matters is the worst possible case: so far global temps have risen less than ONE degree Celsius. Still some of the polar regions went up 5 Celsius. Thus, if the global temp rise two degree Celsius (the minimum expected), one gets TEN degrees CELSIUS in the polar regions. This is all the more to be expected because it has happened before (they were dinosaurs in Alaska, and Antarctica). Ten degrees up there maybe only ten years away (worst possible case). The catastrophe would be beyond belief.

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee… Trillions of tons of frozen methane clathrate hydrates, more than all other fossil fuels put together, are waiting in the sea, peacefully bubbling… But it could change within weeks, or years, and it will…