Fragile Earth Syndrome

Abstract: The Earth is already all too close from being getting all too hot, from its astronomical position at the interior edge of the Sun’s Habitable Zone.

The Greeks viewed Gaia, the Earth, as the Mother Goddess from whom all other gods sprang. Yet, discoveries they made later showed that this metaphysics was misleading. In truth, habitable planets, far from being all powerful, are confined to narrow zones around their stars (and these zones move, and are under continual threat, as I describe below):

Sun Like Stars Are Most Hospitable.

Vertically the masses, going up, the unit being the mass of the sun; as stars gets bigger, they get hotter, thus they change color, covering the entire black-body spectrum, from brown dwarves to blinding ultra violet hot “Blue Stragglers”.

Horizontally, the distance from the star; the graph gives only a rough idea of the notion of Habitable Zone; in truth the whole point of this essay is that Earth is at the edge of Sol’s Habitable Zone, within 1% of boiling; Habitable Zones narrow as the stars get smaller, and get much larger, far out, around bigger stars.

The life of Earth on the edge has got more dicey in the last 400 million years. Thus the risk of hyper warming is greater than in the Carboniferous Era. By pumping into the atmosphere the equivalent of 100 million tons of CO2, every single day, we are, literally, playing with fire. (A first counter-measure would be to outlaw, through regulations, those gases that warm up the air a lot, and are not indispensable; for example leaks in the pipelines of the USA allow 4% of the CH4 to escape!)

The two close calls by large space rocks were a reminder that this is a serious, not particularly friendly universe. Something to meditate carefully.

Those who play apprentice sorcerers with the climate and planetary ecology should pay attention.

For reasons having to do with the periodic table, the frequency of elements and the chemical characteristics of carbon, namely its ability to form many liaisons, it seems likely that life in the universe will have to resemble life on Earth. That is being water, carbon and oxygen based. (Believing that life does not have to be carbon-centric may sound cute, but it’s unreal.)

Thus the habitable zone is the zone around a star where it is neither to hot, nor too cold, and a planet can support water.

Not all stars can have an habitable zone: the greater the mass of a star, the more fiercely it burns. A star with five times the mass of the sun will typically have 625 times the luminosity of the sun.

Why? In small stars, the part of the core hot and dense enough to sustain thermonuclear fusion is relatively small. In large stars, it becomes enormous, and embraces much more of the thermonuclear fuel tank.

For Stars, Mass Is Everything.

For Stars, Mass Is Everything.

Thus, the larger the mass, the shorter the lifespan of the entire system orbiting the star. A star with 60 solar masses will shine only 3 million years before running out of hydrogen. At that point it will run hotter and hotter as it burns heavier elements until it explodes as a super nova. A star of five solar masses will live longer, but still only 100 million years or so. Long enough to make it a tourist destination, not long enough to evolve life (all the more as the habitable zone will migrate out fast, as the stellar furnace gets hotter, fast).

Even a star with only 50% larger mass than the Sun will live only three billion years. On Earth, after that duration, the first oxygen making organisms were appearing, and the atmosphere was going to change completely, from reducing to oxidizing. That would bring the “Snowball Earth” episodes, 600 million years ago, or so, when most of the planet froze, before enough CO2 could be generated to reach the appropriate greenhouse effect.

Clearly, for evolving advanced life, more than a billion years is needed. Thus planets with indigenous life will be restricted to red and yellow dwarves (the sun is one of the latter, with an estimated lifespan of ten billion years before turning ephemerally into a red giant).

The 2012 sci-fi (silly) movie “Battleship” has it right on that point: most of the habitability is found cuddling next to red dwarf stars, so that aliens would be blinded by our sunlight is likely. This also means that life out there has a good probability to have evolved in what, for us, would be rather dim circumstances. Indeed most stars are red dwarves and those are the longest living stars, easily going on for 15 billion years (they use their thermonuclear fuel conservatively).

Some red dwarves could have evolved life, in our Milky Way galaxy, when our sun, a mighty yellow dwarf, did not exist yet. Such stars, with their habitable planets, could still be around.

Being in the habitable zone is necessary for life, but it’s not sufficient.

For example, any planet orbiting too close to its star will lock its orbital rotation and its diurnal rotation (as the Moon has with the Earth). Thus the planet will have one side too hot for life, and the other too cold.

That means that when red dwarves become too small, their habitable zones, get too close, and would-be habitable planet lock down. (Venus, although 100 million kilometers from the Sun is nearly locked: it rotate on itself slower than it does around the Sun.)

The Earth is totally exceptional. She is endowed with a huge satellite that stabilizes her inclination on the orbital plane (Mars’ inclination on the elliptic varies wildly, causing wildly fluctuating super-seasons). This resulting, constant and mild inclination allows the poles to not get too cold, and the tropics, not too warm: it spreads the goodness of sunlight around.

Earth is also a mighty nuclear reactor, providing with the shield of a powerful magnetosphere (Venus does not have any, so its upper atmosphere is scorched by the solar wind), and plate tectonic (allowing for a complex recycling mechanism involving CO2 and long term climate stability).

The present, sort of official, habitability zone theory is 20 years old. It showed that Earth was within 5% of receiving too much warmth from her star. What has been found by the latest study is even more disturbing: Earth is within 1%, 1.5 million kilometers of inhabitability (5 times the Earth-Moon distance).

Earth is, astronomically, at risk of getting too hot, and of suffering a run-away greenhouse, as Venus did.

Long ago, Venus may have been in the habitable zone. However, general main sequence star theory, and observation, show that the Sun has warmed up. Its power output has increased by at least 25% since it got started. So the habitable zone in the Solar System has been slowly moving outward.

Why did the Earth cool over the last 100 million years, if the sun is slowly warming up? It probably has to do with non linear effects related to the geometry of the continents: the continents migrated north, and shallow tropical seas disappeared. The migration of land towards the north augmented the albedo of the Earth (as land stays frozen in summer more easily than sea, ice and snow keep reflecting more sunlight back to space, even then; that’s the core of the two centuries old glaciation theory).

So, as Earth should have warmed up, by a miracle, a sun shade, the glaciated North, was put in place, just in time!

Not all the coolness is due to ice and snow. Earth, before very recent human interference, had long been endowed with a cool climate. It seems that clouds make the difference (the effects clouds bring are too complex to be taken into account in computer programs of habitability at this point).
It’s a double edged sword. Water vapor may bring more clouds, but it is also a mighty greenhouse gas.

Still the point remains that all the objective data show that, our planet is not far, astronomically speaking, from a runaway greenhouse. By keeping on pumping a witches’ brew of greenhouse warming gases in the atmosphere, we are, literally playing with fire. Every day we add nearly 100 million tons, in CO2 alone, in our apparent urge to mimic Venus.

Pumping 450 million years of carbon into the air all of a sudden is not smart: Earth has had plate tectonics from the start, so much of this carbon was sequestered. Now we are freeing huge quantities of it… and in a geological, and biological, snap.

All other things being equal, the Earth is closer to inhabitability through warming than it was 400 million years ago (when the CO2 was very high). Having the same CO2 in the air as in the Carboniferous Era would result in a warmer planet.
To make things worse, there are no plausible technological fixes to too much CO2 in the atmosphere (with existing science and technology; and contrarily to disinformation from the fossil carbon burning fanatics).

In between the high- and low-mass stars lie stars similar to our own Sun. They make up about 15% percent of the stars in the galaxy. Such stars have reasonably-broad Habitable Zones, do not suffer from hard UV irradiation, have lifetimes of the order of 10 billion years. They are the best candidates for harboring planets with indigenous life.

Intriguingly, the three stars of the Alpha Centauri system may harbor life. The system is made of two main yellow dwarves, one slightly bigger, one slightly smaller than the sun. They come as close to each other as Saturn is from the Sun (not close enough to affect each other Habitable Zones directly).

A planet was just detected, grazing the .9 solar mass Alpha Centauri B. (We have the means to find out if the system supports life, but NASA and the Congress of the USA, shut down the projects, in an apparent fit of obscurantist anti-science rage; one of them called the Terrestrial Planet Finder; Alpha Centauri would be reachable with nuclear propulsion.)

The stability of orbits (hence of the Habitable Zones) in the Alpha Centauri system has been debated. Many a stellar system has been found where giant planets have progressively swept the entire system. And we are always one giant comet away from extinction. That could happen in 6 months. And we don’t know, because we are apparently not interested to find out. (Although the mightiest nuke could solve that problem, that would require some preparations.)

Life exists in the cosmos, everywhere, but it’s fragile. Everywhere. Including on so far invincible fortress Earth. Invincible, but still so fragile.

3,000 years after the Greeks elaborated their mythology, we find out that, contrarily to what they guessed, Earth is far from the mother of all what is divine. There are greater powers out there… The worst of them being, potentially, ourselves.

As a star goes up the main sequence, its Habitability Zone moves out. So we should be careful to think we can reconstitute the conditions of the Carboniferous Era, by pumping as much CO2 in the air as there was then, and prosper.

Everything indicates that we will punch straight trough.
Patrice Ayme

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36 Responses to “Fragile Earth Syndrome”

  1. EugenR Says:

    Dear Patrice,
    I find our subject of inquiry are same issues but from different angles. Let me send you passage from my book still in form of draft;

    ………….Can we imagine an economic system that would make long-term global environmental sustainability a major goal? What kind of economic and political system would such a goal require? Most probably today’s system of sovereign countries, each of them acting egoistically, is not very helpful when it comes to solving the problem of world environmental sustainability.
    If a government made world environmental sustainability its major goal, what economic and political steps would it have to take?
    The first issue is the need to change the financial-economic system which depends for its operation on continuous economic growth.
    The second issue is to support new technologies that do not demand additional economic resources, or even better reduce the need for such resources. There must be no more energy-consuming Products, such as additional cars running on the world’s roads, but more clean energy-producing technologies, more industries supplementing the existing raw materials, and more technologies supporting lifestyles with less demanding transportation systems.
    Even in food production, the emphasis should be on food produced in biological processes with a positive ecological footprint. A good example is support of food production from vegetation consuming CO2 out of the atmosphere, and not from livestock with its huge negative impact on the world environment. This goal can be relatively easily achieved by taxing the wasteful Products.
    Is every kind of economic growth ecologically damaging? Definitely not! Growth that does not demand world resources, energy and raw materials is not damaging in this way. Examples include the business of recycling or producing alternatives to basic raw materials like carbon- and silicon-based nanotechnology materials that can substitute for metal materials, biotechnological processing that are alternative to conventional agriculture productions, alternative energies that do not have ecological footprints like wind energy, solar energy, fusion atomic energies, geothermal energies, etc. Most of these new technologies are not yet available, and so the economic growth should be a matter of investing in the development of these technologies but definitively not of subsidising 80% of the consumer prices as happened with solar energy panel development in Europe. Economically and also ecologically these products were counter-productive, and did not fulfil expectations while scientists working on laboratory prototypes with as yet uncertain feasibility outcomes cannot raise funding for the further development of their ideas.
    Agriculture is one of the ecologically most devastating of human economic activities. It occupies most cultivable land, leaving only marginal land (mountains, uninhabitable regions) to the natural world, and also widely uses pesticides and fertilisers causing ecological disruption. The practices of mono-culture production, whether of cereals, maize, soya, rapeseed and so on, prevents the creation of natural ecosystems. Industries producing alternative food resources should be introduced and changes of dietary habits should be encouraged. Many see agrarian activity as part of the cultural heritage of their countries, and even the agrarian fields as the countryside’s natural state, yet if agrarian land could be released from its agricultural usage, something more like a genuine natural state would return.
    The third issue is that world income and wealth has to be more evenly distributed. Here the challenge is mainly for the rich highly developed countries to give up some of their wealth in a smart way, so it will increase wealth distribution all around the world. They would not be doing it out of altruism but to safeguard their own existence. The economic policy of environmental sustainability is a luxury that only rich people can afford. One of the main reasons for the continuous trend of world ecological devastation is global population growth. It is evident that the population growth is occurring mainly in poor countries without a general education system, and often with cultures denying education to women. Increased income and modern education would seem to be precondition for the reduction of birthrates. No environmental consciousness will develop in societies in which too many people are hungry and struggling for their very survival, and without environmental consciousness it will be impossible to halt the trend of ecological devastation.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Eugen: Yes I think we approach the same problems in different manners. The way I look at the economy is neurological, and physical. Physically, I see the need for power. Nietzsche looks like overcooked pasta in comparison. But I also see the need for effectivenes. Hence my notion of AWE (which is sneaking in the general consciousness as end-use energy).

      Neurologically, depending upon greed alone as e-motion is a testimony to the shrunk minds of Reagan or Friedman, and other greatly honored actors. But it’s also an insult to the human spirit, and a near total annihilation of human intelligence!


  2. EugenR Says:

    Another citation;

    The human being is a socio-economic creature, with several contradictory attributes ;; Greed against Altruism, Competition against Cooperation, Individualism against Solidarity, Antagonism against Alliance, Heroism against Gutlessness, Resistance against Submissiveness.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Yes, Eugen, it’s like an orchestra: one needs all the instruments, but they can’t all work together, any kinds of ways, at all and any time. So the fascist instinct, for example, orders the whole mess to insure survival. At least that was the idea before the Neolithic… Now it has been perverted. Often. Not always.

      The problem with “deed is greed” is that it reduces the economy to one of its sub-components. Like saying all a plane needs are engines’ combustion chambers.


  3. Martin Lack Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, Patrice. You have done a great job in weaving various scientific threads together: Subjects I have tackled separately on various posts on my blog in the past. However, I have a few questions:
    1. Your second illustration appears to show that main sequence stars (like our Sun) get colder over their lifetime and turn into red dwarfs. If so, why is it often said that the Sun will eventually turn into a Red Giant (like Betelgeuse) and why is it getting brighter not dimmer?
    2. Why do planets (and satellites) get locked into rotating on their axes at the same speed as their orbit – is it simply that gravity acts as a brake to prevent any supefluous spinning motion?
    3. What is your opinion of the feasibility of the Earth’s oceans boiling dry within 500 years once a runaway greenhouse effect takes hold of it (i.e. as per the final chapter of James Hansen’s book, Storms of my Grandchildren)?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks a lot Martin, for the appreciation and the comment! As you are going to see, it got me thinking!

      As I explained sort of (rather less than more) in the essay, as stars exhaust hydrogen, their initial fuel, they lose heat, hence heft, in their cores. They can compensate by imploding a bit, and that warm them up (converting potential gravitational energy into heat), enough to get heavier elements to fuse too. So new cycles of ever heavier fusion roll in, as the star heats up.

      So stars actually go UP the diagram, not down! Up and left! And it gets more complicated. At some point the heat gets so bad, the outer layers of the star swell up, while cooling down, far out. So the star leaves the so called “main sequence”, more or less horizontally, and becomes a red giant. When that will happen, Sol, as a red giant, will engulf the Earth (we will have blown her up well before that, hahaha).

      What happens next depends upon the mass of the star. In any case, the star explodes. In the case of the sun, what’s left is a white dwarf. For higher masses, a black hole, whatever thant means, happens.

      For 2) above, planets (Satellite) are never perfectly round, and the hump tries to get closer to the star (planet), so gravitation locks them in that way. That’s what is going on with Luna.

      3) I had no idea Hansen went that far! WOW! Thank you for telling me that! I had evoked the possibility several Years ago on my site. But I am not paid by NASA, as he is (although my not insignificant other did work doing very advanced research for NCAR and NASA for many years).

      Anyway, yes, I did argue, long ago, that we were risking a RUN-AWAY GREENHOUSE. I tried to re-argue this in the very latest essay by incorporating the latest about the limit of the Habitable Zone, and the fact it was migrating out. I left out some back of the enveloppe computations I made. The results were so troubling, I could not write them down. :-(!


      • Martin Lack Says:

        Thanks for this reply, Patrice. If stars go up and left in your diagram, why do the green lifetime numbers get smaller (rather than bigger)? Is it that they are labels attached to specific stars?

        At the end of his factual book, Hansen has appended a science fiction-fantasy chapter: In this, he envisions a distant civilisation on a resource-depleted planet setting-off for Earth in a spaceship in suspended animation; woken-up on arrival to find the blue planet they spotted 500 years earlier now waterless and uninhabitable.

        Given the 10 positive feedback mechanisms identified by Guy McPherson, there seems little doubt that we have now set in motion a runaway greenhouse effect. However, I would still like to see some computer modelling to demonstrate that exponentially-accelerating processes could achieve what Hansen says they could achieve in 500 years.


  4. old geezer pilot Says:

    There was recently a program on BBC with Melvyn Bragg and some noted climate scientists. A few observations:

    1. In its 4.5 billion year history, 85% of it was without ice caps at the poles. This situation is knows as “greenhouse earth.” Typical CO2 levels (from rock analysis) were 1600 ppm.

    2. Of the 15% known as “ice-house earth”, there have been many ice ages. We are presently nearing the end of a 100,000 year glacial period. We have done very very well in the 20,000 year “warm period”, expanding our number from perhaps under 100,000 people to 6.5 billion. CO2 levels averaged 280 ppm during these ages.

    3. CO2 concentration had an extremely high correlation with planet temperature for the past 800,000 years. This has been verified by several different measurement techniques.

    4. There is virtually no chance we are going to bring the CO2 level (now nearing 400 ppm) down below 350 ppm before irreversible warming occurs.

    5. We are an adaptive species. We are going to have to adapt, and fast. Also, we are a thinking species, and there are a lot of ways to control the incident solar radiation as well as acidity of the oceans. If we used this “geo-engineering”, we could stop the melting of the ice sheets, stabilize the temperature, halt the acid build-up in the oceans. While we have the technology to power the planet with renewable energy and will do so when the fossil products run out, IT IS TOO LATE TO REVERSE THE CO2 EFFECT.

    Do we have the (global) will to do it?

    It was a very interesting (although somewhat disheartening) show.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear OGP: Here are my own observations:
      I view very old estimates of CO2 levels as speculative. I may be wrong. I don’t know what they use, I did not look into it. What I know is that I have seen various levels, from 4,000 ppm (!!!!!!) at top of carboniferous, to lower levels.

      What we have in the last 800,000 years are ice core analysis. Those are generally under 300 ppm. Indeed, high temps correspond to higher CO2, I put the graph in an earlier essay.

      We also have SHELLS. Shells are sensitive to carbonic acid (coming from too much CO2). Those go just over 20 million years at this point and show also pretty low CO2.

      It seems Antarctica froze around 425 ppm. Right now we are ABOVE 450 in CO2 EQUIVALENCE. The much quoted 395.5 ppm is only about CO2. I am urging Obama to outlaw the rest. Including 5% methane leaks from pipelines.

      I have heard of that Bragg show, I guess I should listen to it… One thing I know is that we have NO plausible CO2 lowering technique at this point. And lots of people do NOT mind at all that the CO2 keeps on increasing… we also have NO plausible significantly cooling technique. OK roads could be made white (?)…

      Once we have giant, safe and efficient thermonuclear reactors, we will be able to geoengineer for real… By then Antarctica and Greenland will be free of ice…


    • Martin Lack Says:

      Dear OGP, Patrice is much more patient than I am. I have the time but not the inclination to listen to programmes like this and, judging by Patrice’s comments, I made the right decision not to listen to this one. For whatever reason, the programme was clearly very misleading.


      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Well, Martin, I actually trusted the BBC, sort of, until I listened to this highly manipulative interview (complete with a maneuver where they announce the truth, off stage, sort of). The reason of the misleadership is very clear, and often found in geophysics. Top French geophysicist (Allegre and the other one, both having been heads of the Institut de Geophysique), genuine great discoverers, were bought by Big Oil.


  5. Patrice Ayme Says:

    OK, I listened to the show, and found it very stimulating. Thanks, Paul. However, the way it was edited (at least) was hard to accept. 70 meters + flooding was not mentioned, in particular. The colossal certainty of the honorable (?) experts oozing about with authority grated on my nerves. Because I am afraid that I know better.


    To Old Geezer Pilot, Paul Handover, and others who have mentioned the BBC show of Melvyn Bragg with some noted (English) climate scientists:

    I listened to the show, and I came out of it, shaking my head. OK, lots of the details are correct, indeed. The problem is the big picture attached to the little details. It’s full of pernicious oversimplifications, and semantic drift. And it all points out one way: OK, it’s going to be a big change, but we have seen worse before, especially when there was not enough CO2.

    I wonder who pays them. Not.

    Several remarks: First I do not like their certainty, especially about CO2 levels. When I hear: the CO2 used to be 12 times more, I am not persuaded. They can keep on repeating it, I am skeptical.

    They forget to mention those sky high multiples are hotly contested. And not just by me. That’s dishonest.

    Ah yes, as my essay pointed out, the Habitable Zone drifted OUT CONSIDERABLY. Those (official) experts are blissfully UNAWARE of this crucial fact. OK, I am the first (to my knowledge) to point to that evidence. Crucial evidence.

    One thing I don’t like at all is the semantics they kept insisting on. Same story, in depth. It’s misleading to oppose “ICEHOUSE” with “greenhouse” Earth. We are always in a greenhouse world. The Earth would freeze solid without CO2 greenhouse.

    Then they tell us the Earth froze over 800 million years ago. That too is controversial, even superficially, although I mentioned it many times myself. Yet, when those scientists claim with authority that the Earth became like Europa, they are JUST LYING. That’s TOTALLY excluded. are they paid to be absurd? What else?

    Indeed Earth has always very active volcanoes, they belch out CO2. If Earth was really a SNOWBALL (“Snowball Earth Theory”), the CO2 would be unable to captured and stored, by the soil, so it would build up very quickly, and a massive greenhouse would lead to high temps and melting of the presumed iceshield. INSTANTANEOUSLY.

    There was extensive glaciation during Snowball Earth… I do believe that. But Earth did not really become simply a Snowball, and certainly NOT like Europa…. This is a totally grotesque misunderstanding of planetary climatology.

    Europa is covered by a solid iceshield, kilometers thick. Maybe 50 kilometers thick. Earth was NEVER like that. Also, they are dishonest when not mentioning that “Snowball Earth” has been contested. Recently. Some scientists think it did not really happen at all.

    So sorry, these people are lying on the big message, the emotional one… What they say is: don’t worry, be happy, the glaciers will be gone, but we can take high CO2. What about the 80 meter dams to protect Cambridge USA, and Cambridge, UK? Who is going to pay for that? Shell? Exxon? Chavez? Putin? King Saudi?

    They forgot to mention dragonflies were 2 feet across in the Carboniferous Era, and scorpions three feet long. Life was very different…

    Long is the arm of the carbon burning industry, subtle its mind, great its wealth…


    • Martin Lack Says:

      I admire your tenacity, Patrice. However, in getting side-tracked by this BBC nonsense, you may have overlooked my second attempt to get you to answer the question about the feasibility of the Earth’s oceans boiling dry in 500 years. Yours hopefully, Martin.


      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Martin: I did overlook, and will try to remedy this, although I have to emmit lots of CO2 in the next three hours, an activity hostile to life and thought… Ooppss, second observation, I ignored so little that I had commented on it.
        For years I have said, and it has been obvious, that the IPCC was under-critical (ha ha ha). As proven by the fact it refused obstinately to include in possible predictions, well, the melting of the ice shields… That being not a detail, but the whole point, in my not so humblke opinion…


  6. JeffMcG Says:

    Interesting essay. Life on Earth exists only because of many fortunate coincidences and slowly decaying systems which have not yet run out of their normal trajectories. But don’t hold your breath until the weekend. Berlusconi may be re-elected and the cosmos irreversibly distorted by the fluttering wings of a butterfly in some far off place… On second thought maybe God has a sense of humor and Berlusconi his Court Jester.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Yes, Jeff, we were very fortunate, and we did not even realize it! In other news, Berlusconi has the mind of a butterfly, but stupidity wins, as his mind looms much larger than the ones of those who vote for him! Some think all he did was doing the Mafia’s laundry…


  7. Patrice Ayme Says:

    “Experts” often behave like pigeons anxious for crumbs, cooing to please those who feed them.

    Hiding big lies behind small truths.


  8. John Michael Gartland Says:

    Patrice you are the Rochefoucauld with a poet’s touch.


  9. Silvia Gally Says:

    As Gilliéron said (géolinguist of the 19th century) I think that “an expert/a specialist knows almost everything about almost anything/nothing”. 🙂


  10. Pe Romaneste Says:

    The plutocrats got cornered and their ideology exposed for all to see. What do they do? They never learn, adjust, correct. They ‘innovate’, enemies, ‘solutions’ that keep the status qvo. In other words, more of the same.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Pe: Many times in the past, on many continents, the plutocrats were exposed. And they kept on rolling. They don’t have to learn, adjust, correct anymore than a comet has to learn, adjust, correct. They are all about Pluto. They welcome the horror. All they want is for us to share it. Spread the malignancy. Advertizing it, can be their friend. In this light France before 1789 was illuminative, enlightning: even the king, and a terrible debt crisis could not bend the plutocrats. So were the USA after 1776: however hard Lafayette insisted, President George Washington changed the conversation about slavery. In both cases, serious large scale butcheries, Pluto against Pluto, were necessary to progress. But this is typical. In the case of Late Rome, the whole thing had to collapse, and be replaced by the Franks, before mitigation could be initiated.


  11. Martin Lack, lackofenvironment.wordpress Says:

    Nice one (now 75% negative feedback).


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Martin! I am surprised they let it go through, because I accused the “experts” to be liars and on the take from the carbon burning mafia. That violated the BBC “house rules”… yet, of course, these were not insults, because I fully exposed the lies.

      The “experts” of “Ice Ages” insulted us all first, with their outrageous, malicious and malignant pontification with distilled venom.

      If Earth had been like Europa for even a day, most of billions of years of biological evolution would have been eradicated irreversibly…

      I think there is a desperate need for more of this confrontational mood, as you did with Lindzen. Those big time professors telling lies even larger than the big “institutions” they come from are indispensable enablers of the inchoating catastrophe at hand. Although they are a very small minority, their nefarious role is crucial for the satanic goal of broiling us all.


      • Martin Lack Says:

        You may have got lucky as a result of not actually naming anyone. Being justifiably angry is not against any house rules!


        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Martin: Justified anger is a most precious thing. Apparently so. I am impressed! I called the dishonorable Oxford professor and his colleagues liars… On the take…The New York Times used to censor me with magnificent obstinacy, just if I mentioned USA debt was 110% (they want it to be around 70%, by writing off… Social Security…)


  12. old geezer pilot Says:

    I don’t know if I am being repetitive here, but…

    Whether you accept or reject the specific theories about the CO2 levels, temperatures, ice/green houses, sea levels, etc etc – the fact remains that CO2 is passing 390 ppm and are going to have to deal with it.

    On another (dreaded, subsidized by big oil???) BBC show last year, some remedies WERE in fact presented, to wit:

    1. Wind powered sailing ships have been designed (but not built) to sail the tropical seas, spraying seawater into the air. This would induce the formation of clouds to increase the reflectivity where it would do the most good.

    2. The acidification of the oceans can be resolved by dumping iron filings into it. This will increase the growth of phytoplankten which will eat up CO2.

    And of course there could be stratospheric injection of dust particles (a la mt pinatubo in 1992) to drop the temperature.

    We are all stuck here. We do not have to leave our futures to chance. We have the opportunity to move the thermostat.

    Will we take it?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear OGP: Two French sail boats with just one guy on board went around the world, with just wind power in 78 days…. (The slowest soloist of that competition went around in 104 days, and was feted today!) Germans are testing a kite on a cargo ship. This stays all ridiculous. Let’s just slap a carbon tax. The fuel used in ships, “bunker oil”, is most polluting. It’s full of heavy metals, it’s the gunk left… Total ship pollution is super gigantic.

      With a worldwide carbon tax, windpower would be back in a hurry on ships. Oh, Bama, tax!

      BTW the very latest windmills make cheaper electricity in Australia than coal, even before the Australian carbon tax is slapped on. Then again, it would cost a bit more with the dams one should adjoin them…

      All these evoked remedies are a joke. They are just propaganda. Dumping iron and playing volcano have grave consequences. Making clouds could work… As long as we have thermonuclear reactors to make the steam and inject it at very high altitude to freeze… Otherwise it would backfire (steam is a greenhouse gas…) But then of course, when we have domesticated fusion, we will be able to extract CO2 directly.

      Violet has been added as a color in Australia for official temperature maps. That’s above 50 C. The old record was just above that.. Now they have a 54 Celsius record…

      Full steam ahead!


  13. old geezer pilot Says:

    Too late for a tax.

    If the world stopped using fossil fuels entirely tomorrow, by the time the existing CO2 got back to normal the planet would be many degrees hotter with all the associated effects.

    We have to step in and cool it down, or learn to live with the consequences.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear OGP:
      1) Not too late for a carbon tax. After a small start in Sweden, two decades ago, now even Australia has a carbon tax. BTW high taxes on fossil fuels, as in Europe ARE part of a carbon tax. Basically ONLY the USA has gone the wrong way. OK, Venezuela too…

      2) Carbon tax would just allow to reflect real cost. In any case, it’s now perfectly clear we have passed CHEAP PEAK OIL. As I insisted long ago. The price of oil keeps climbing up, when the entire developed world is slipping back in recession. Testimony to the fact it’s getting ever more expensive to extract.

      3) The inertia of CO2, so to speak, it’s lifetime is in the millennia. It’s not like CH4, which recombines within centuries (after a huge bang). Right now what Obama should do is regulate, outlaw the 5% CH4 leaks, and shut down the 50 ppm of CO2 equivalence we get from other gases than CO2. (so we are at 450+ppm, not 400 ppm!)

      4) The worldwide CO2 tax could strike flying and shipping, and thus favor local work, thus employment. It’s only a positive. It’s used internally in Europe already.

      Historically energy spending has augmented 2-3% a year. Because energy is getting more expensive quickly, and growth is too oriented to raw energy spending instead of AWE, Absolute Worth Energy, the recessions will keep on rolling, in this Greater Depression… Until we start to replace the growth of energy spending by the growth of AWE.


  14. Dominique Deux Says:

    Fascinating post and comments, and being a layman I won’t get any of those details. Earth is bound for some interesting times.

    Thank you for debunking the Gaia mythology which permeates so much of the so-called Green rhetoric and thus neuters ecological awareness by turning it into another religious tomfoolery. Is Big Oil behind that, too? Who knows?

    The discussion about extraterrestrial life is always a heated one, because man as a species is very much afraid of being alone and keeps populating unexplored spaces with undiscovered fellow sentient creatures, including deities and their minions.

    An early scission among Trotskyites came when a guy called Posadas explained that the existence of extraterrestrial sentient species was a statistical certainty, and so was the existence, among them, of vastly more evolved civilizations than Earth’s. Being that evolved, they were of course Communist and Trotskyite, embracing the need to spread the right politics to all other sentient species, and they had the necessary technology; thus it was only a matter of time before the Red Star battleships came to bring the dictature of the proletariat, and the one rational thing to do for Earth Trotskyites was to wait for them and get ready to collaborate. Strangely, he was expelled from the Party with his followers…

    As for man’s adaptability, I would not be too sanguine about it. Man as a species did colonize some extreme environments, ranging from the Arctic to the Australian desert. But such offshoots led very disciplined lives, with ferocious birth control, and exposure to modern life has removed those assets. “Modern” man by contrast is both prolific and extremely vulnerable to minor environmental changes. Mass extinction, spread over a few generations, is by no means an impossibility.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Dominique: The details have to be mastered, as they are where Pluto dwells. The ways of Big Carbon are indeed mysterious, and sometimes subtle. Their two latest axes of propaganda are that climate susceptibility has been overestimated, and that CO2, several times more of it, is entirely normal, thus good for us.

      The susceptibility thing I adressed years ago:

      What the sun giveth, the sun taketh?

      The extravagantly high CO2 readings, I just don’t believe, and, as the preceding essay claimed, even if true, are not reassuring, as the Habitable Zone has moved out in the meantime.

      That there is extraterrestrial life out there, in the Galactic Arm we inhabit, is beyond doubt. But genuine animals with spines took nearly 4 billion years to appear. 4 billion years of continuous inhabitability without the slighest incident is hard to imagine. Although our system is pretty sedate, in view of what’s going on in the average system.

      Amusing the waiting for the battleships, although it’s pretty much what they did: Stalin cooperated with Hitler, and not just in 1939-1941… Nazi generals were thoroughly familiar with Soviet territory, because they had trained there… For years.

      What happened to Europe after 1300 CE is a clear warning to the contemporary world. It could be worse. Scenarios with 6 billion killed are easily made, as the present world is technologically stretched in many dimensions, and snapping one could snap the others…


  15. old geezer pilot Says:

    I have hope for the survival of the Human Species, but not all 9.5 Billion of us.

    There was the Lake Toba eruption 70,000 years ago that produced a global winter for some 6 to 10 years and reduced the human population to some 15,000 pairs.

    Yet we are here today.

    This is not the end of the world. It is rather the beginning of the end of the easy, temperate world.

    But our best chances will be if we act NOW. If we wait until the great chaos, it may be too late, and we may be too few.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Yes OGP! The leaders we have now, or, at least, those who are in position to act, and refuse to do so, are becoming enablers of the potentiality for the greatest holocaust imaginable. And more, as they could dismantle the civilizational adventure… for ever. Call that the Einstein Syndrome (“I don’t know what the weapons will be used in the third world war, but I do for the fourth world war; sticks and stones…” paraphrased…)

      What we see now, in the guise of austerity is savage cuts in science in Euro-America. But, to protect bankers against big bad science, that’s the essence of plutocracy!


  16. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Fundamental to poetry, mind, inspiration… And even cold computations about our odds.

    Let me add [June 10, 2013] this, that I forgot to mention in the essay above:

    The French COROT satellite (Corot was a creative French astronomer) found something unexpected, but that did not surprise me. It’s more important than anything the Hubble or Kepler probes found. COROT stands (in part) for CORonal Oscillation. COROT found most stars are more variable than the sun.

    That puts into question all and any habitable zones. For the latter, and related concepts see:


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