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…


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  1. Charles Jordan Says:

    Dear Patrice,
    I know it’s difficult to follow the calculations necessary to understand the uncertainties in the minimum and maximum temperature changes from a particular model, but there are more than 100 different models which differ by factors of 10 or more. The actual experienced change is very small and the models disagree radically even in the sign of the effect. Many say that models which give only one number are significantly misleading. Certainly the temperature changes in the Arctic do not scale with the temperature changes in the US for example. The unfortunate truth is that meteorology or climate change is a non-linear science and cannot be modeled, not even approximately. You cannot trust any calculation of climate change 100 years in the future so you can only look at the record. There is no indication in the physical record of any long term problem from carbon dioxide. During the last great Ice Age the estimated CO2 level was 10x what it is today. Please don’t give up thinking. CO2 is not a villain. Remember – you can’t be green without CO2.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Charles;
      Good point about no CO2, no green! That puts things in perspective. I also do agree that my wild scaling of the temperature increases is pretty wild. But it may well turn out correct. Why not? There is no why not, besides inconvenience to conventional wisdom, which is no argumant for so grave a subject. Next there are two very good reasons to suppose it occurs.

      First, because it has, so far. Second because we do know that, when the planet is in its hot mode, the poles are nearly as warm as the tropics (proof: crocodiles in northern Greenland, long ago). So, in any case, although of course the scaling cannot be exactly proportional forever, we everything indicates we are in the time slice where it is.
      I never heard that the CO2 level was 10 times more in the “last great ice age”. So it was during the pre Cambrian though, or when the giant coal beds came to be, more than 300 million years ago. A lot of the planet was then a shallow sea.
      Another point: if my life seems in danger, I am going to focus on the factors that may lead to its termination. In aviation, and generally the modern world, immense attention is paid to forecast and avoid lethal hapenings. It should be, a fortiori, the same on planetary scale. People who do not believe that GLOBAL HEATING is a clear and immediate danger ought to explain why we should not do the RATHER MODEST EFFORTS to avoid it to the best of our ability.

      In particular, a CARBON TAX would save millions of industrial jobs in the USA and the EU. How bad could that be?


  2. dobermanmacleod Says:

    A severe carbon diet is unfeasible
    “Processes that would normally regulate climate are being driven to amplify warming. Such feedbacks, as well as the inertia of the Earth system — and that of our response — make it doubtful that any of the well-intentioned technical or social schemes for carbon dieting will (work). What is needed is a fundamental cure.” –Dr James Lovelock

    Any carbon diet strategy would be dependent upon clean coal:

    “The vast majority of new power stations in China and India will be coal-fired; not “may be coal-fired”; will be. So developing carbon capture and storage technology is not optional, it is literally of the essence.” –“Breaking the Climate Deadlock,” Tony Blair, June 26, 2008

    But, Vaclav Smil, an energy expert at the University of Manitoba, has estimated that capturing and burying just 10 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted over a year from coal-fire plants at current rates would require moving volumes of compressed carbon d ioxide greater than the total annual flow of oil worldwide — a massive undertaking requiring decades and trillions of dollars. “Beware of the scale,” he stressed.”

    “The alternative (to geoengineering) is the acceptance of a massive natural cull of humanity and a return to an Earth that freely regulates itself but in the hot state.” –Dr James Lovelock, August 2008

    by dobermanmacleod


  3. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Dear dobermanmacleod: it sometimes help to know (0+ / 0-)
    where people’s emotional background, driving their logic as it does, come from.
    Lovelock is of course very prestigious, and was very right. But he is very pessimistic at this stage in his life. I do agree that his worst case scenario is an increasing likelihood, but I do not have to surrender yet. After all, when I started to support Obama way back, I knew no one who thought he would ever make it to the presidency.

    Blair is totally deconsidered. Who can take him seriously? He talks very well, but all now know his soul, which is totally corrupt, and his primitivism (he made a big deal to switch from one Abrahamic cult to another!) and all know that he has no intellectual depth, to the point of being dysfunctional in the tasks he has the impudence to claim to being able to handle (after ravaging Iraq, he is going to save the Middle East, as usual…).
    So now Blair is paid by the coal people. His soul is black: it is a good choice. Another part of Blair’s journey in grabbing as much power and income as he can. Carbon capture is feasible, because it’s done. It is just not economical (except in the few cases where it’s already done; there will be more, but they won’t make much of a dent).

    Smil is pointing that fact out, as I already have. Except he is off by a factor of maybe up to ten, as I can show in thirty seconds.

    Enormous progress in solar are already here and ongoing progress in conservation (high speed trains, leds, etc.) maybe a solution, with an increase effort in other renewables and nuclear (advanced fission and fusion), will probably be enough, as long as they are pushed NOW.
    That is why the carbon tax is crucial. NOW.


  4. phrogge prince Says:

    You mean this is not just about cow farts?

    Seriously, you’re scaring the hell out of me.

    by phrogge prince on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 04:15:53 PM PDT


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Trillions of tons of 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…

      Patrice Ayme Tyranosopher


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