Glacial Pace, Cool Lies, Melting Leadership

Obama went to Alaska and named Denali (the tall one in the local language) Denali. Denali, the tallest mountain that far north on Earth, is endowed with the tallest glaciated face anywhere on Earth, its north face being around 5,000 meters high (it had been named for a USA president who was killed by an anarchist, in those times when hatred for the mighty ran rampant).

Naming Denali by its name needed to be done, and, in Obama was up to the task. Obama is best at demolishing open doors, when not pursuing the world terror assassination campaign by drones which does not just dishonor the West, but saps its foundations. (I am not saying I am hysterically against assassinations, torture, and that every assassination ordered by Obama is unwise. But the question of due process, excellent information, and perfect targeting is crucial; moreover, having a plan beyond imposing terror is paramount; not the case here).

Obama Approaching A Glacier Which May Be Gone In 5 Years Thanks To His Affirmative Inaction

Obama Approaching A Glacier Which May Be Gone In 5 Years Thanks To His Affirmative Inaction

I personally have seen enormous glaciers which are now gone, both in Alaska, and in the Alps.

Obama uttered many truths in Alaska. We know this method: drowning reality under a torrent of little truths, and common place truisms. Obama seems to have realized that he was the did-nothing prez. This is better than Clinton, who, having deregulated the banks, was the did-terrible prez, or Bush II, viewed by a sizable part of the world as a war criminal, for his invasion and destabilization of Mesopotamia. Yet, even Bush did something good, and durable: Medicare Part D. One can forget a bad man who did a big, good thing. Obama just put a band aid on the gangrene of USA health care, and did preciously nothing about anthropogenic climate change.

At the Exit glacier, the president walked past signs that mark the year the glacier reached at that point. The glacier has receded two kilometers (1.25 mile) in the past 200 years. It is now the only glacier accessible by car and foot in the Kenai peninsula (which contains the largest icecap in the USA).

Pointing to the signs, the president considered the speed at which glacier retreats is accelerating. “It is spectacular, though,” glancing back at the view. “We want to make sure our grandkids can see it.”

This is slick disinformation. Grandkids? Are you kidding me? In truth, it’s absolutely certain that the grandkids will NOT see that glacier, except if the Obama daughters rush through the reproductive process. As I related in a preceding essay, a few years ago, I went back to Alaska, to show to my own toddler a giant glacier I remembered to be easily accessible by car and a little flat walk. I could not recognize the landscape: the glacier was completely gone, and had been replaced by tall trees. It was astounding. I was contemplating the same transformation of ice into trees this summer in the Alps. Going through a forest I had known as a formidable glacier.

Obama is a Harvard lawyer. People around him are politicians (often also with a legal background), financial types, more lawyers, banksters (real or potential), conspiracy consultants, managers, celebrities, etc. So it is with most politicians around the world. Those people have little education in physics. One does not even know if they understand the basics involved in pushing a car. Apparently, they don’t. Push hard on a car without the hand brake, and it will not move much, if at all.

Once I was in the Sierra Nevada, on a small road at 10,000 feet. California route 108, to be specific. Said road can get extremely windy and steep as it reaches Sonora Pass. It’s a trap: in the lower reaches route 108 is wide enough to accommodate the largest imaginable trucks. A truck driver armed with GPS had got his truck, a tractor-trailer, high enough to be unable to go back. Still hoping for the best, he forged ahead, until its giant vehicle was unable to take a hairpin, and, still hoping that brute force would solve everything, the driver succeeded to get completely across the road in two places, with many of its enormous wheels secured among very large boulders, both for the cab and the trailer. A large traffic jam ensued. As the closest imaginable rescue laid dozens of miles away, and going around, supposing one could back up, would require a detour of 200 kilometers (in the mountains!), it was time  to think creatively.

While dozens of people were milling around, I noticed an imaginable path, by displacing boulders, and filling some gaps with stones. It helped that we were close to timberline, and trees were few. Getting to work with my spouse, we soon cleared and engineered enough of the land to pass through. Other vehicles followed.

This little incident has nagged me for years: why did not the other drivers think about it? OK, my spouse and I have a maximal background in physics, but still, one is talking about basic common sense here. Why did no one else think of making a different road?

Obama’s road, and that of the other politicians, from Cameron to Hollande, let alone Putin, or Xi, is to say what sounds good (Merkel may be an exception; but then she is a physics PhD too). It sounds good to speak about the “grandkids”: Commandant Cousteau started that one: save the planet for the grandkids.

The ideas there are that the world ecology decays slowly under our assaults, and that it may be in our selfish interest to let it be, but nefarious within two generations. In other words: the future is slow.

Our great leaders, the supremacists of self-endowed selfishness, just don’t have enough of a feeling for physics to understand climate change (once again with the possible exception of physicist Merkel, who has engaged Germany on a one-way trip to renewable energy… in a cloud of coal dust).

INERTIA and MOMENTUM were discovered by Buridan a Fourteenth Century Parisian mathematician-physicist-philosopher-politician-academic (although the discovery is erroneously attributed to Newton, who blossomed 350 years later). Buridan had a gigantic following of students, including Albert of Saxony, Oresme, the Oxford Calculators. Those students used graphs (a world’s first), and demonstrated non-trivial theorems of calculus.

Somehow, Aristotelian physics was as wrong as possible about dynamics. Aristotle and his clownish parrots believed that one needed a force to persist with motion, completely ignoring air resistance. Aristotle should have ridden a horse at a full gallop, and discover air resistance. If one believes in Aristotelian physics, there is no problem with the climate: just reduce the CO2, and the climate changes comes to a halt. Apparently our great leaders are at this level of education.

Buridan gave the formula for momentum (which he called impetus): (MASS) X (VELOCITY). Given a constant force, impetus would augment proportionally to speed. This is what came to be called “Newton’s Second Law.

At this point human modification of the atmosphere, from stuffing it with CO2 and other gases, has made the lower atmosphere into a thicker blanket, imprisoning heat close to the ground. This is applying a constant heating force (aka thermal forcing) to the ground and the ocean, both of which are heating at increasing depth.

The climate is the largest object, so far, on which humanity has applied force. The force applied is immense, the greatest force which humanity has ever exerted. Yet, because the climate is so massive, it takes much time to accelerate: the variation of climate change is low.

Pushing the climate hard is similar, but much worse, than pushing an enormous object, say a truck: initially, it does not move. But when it does, it’s suicidal to try to stop it by standing in front.

Can we stop applying the force? No. Not within existing technology. We cannot extract the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Making plants grow to absorb the CO2 cannot work. First, recent studies on the Amazon show that present vegetation is not adapted to the present density of CO2. It grows faster, but then dies faster. Second, and most importantly, the mathematics don’t work.

1ppm ~ 2 Gt. 3 ppm: 6 Gt. Total CO2 atmosphere: 750 Gt. So CO2 augments by roughly 1% a year. Yet, total anthropogenic emissions are at least 35 Gt, and perhaps as much as 50Gt (a number I consider correct). So most of the CO2 from burning fossils disappears (probably in the ocean, where the reserves are of the order of 40,000 Gt; thus we are augmenting total carbon storage there by 1% in ten years; not dramatic, but the CO2 converts in carbonic acid, and the acidity is going up).

In any case the excess carbon we send in the atmosphere is of the order of 7% of the total carbon in the atmosphere. We cannot neutralize this by growing plants: that would require to grow the biomass by 50Gt a year, 50 billion tons a year, year after year. A grotesque proposal.

Do the math, ignorant leaders! Shoot, I forgot you had no math at school, beyond the basics, except for Merkel; the total annual primary production of biomass is just over 100 billion tonnes Carbon per year. However, because the biosphere was balanced until the massive extraction and burning of fossils, in the last 150 years, as much was being destroyed (through burial). Now we are talking about creating 50 billion tons of biomass a year. Where are we going to put them? On brand new, specially built mountains sized skyscrapers? (Don’t laugh, it’s the future.)

Even then, supposing we could miraculously stop the augmentation of concentration of CO2, under the present anthropogenic gazes concentration (around 450 ppm), we are well above the stage where all ice melts from the Arctic. So that is going to happen. In turn it will release further presently still frozen carbon storage, making it a increasingly non-linear augmentation (of the catastrophe).

There is exactly one method that will stop the greenhouse madness, and it’s the simplest. Talking to no end about complicated schemes is diabolical, as even the Pope pointed out.

Our present leaders will be judged severely by history. Not only they are dinosaurs, but they make sure that we are going back to the Jurassic all too soon.

Patrice Ayme’

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20 Responses to “Glacial Pace, Cool Lies, Melting Leadership”

  1. Paul Handover Says:

    “There is exactly one method ….” Would you care to elucidate? Fascinating essay, by the way.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Paul, glad to see you here, and thanks for the appreciation.
      I am inclined to change my style a bit these days, expand my register of behaviors and patterns, in the hope of being better appreciated and, or, understood.
      So here is the cliffhanger method, or, sort of final exam. I do believe our great leaders are disingenuous, much of the time, and especially about the climate. There is no need to talk much. Just one method will work, and it has two aspects. Both extremely simple, both compatible with economics, international law, WTO, common sense, socialism, communism, capitalism, liberalism, etc. The fact that method and those two aspects are not evoked more often, shows that we are manipulated with a succession of red herrings (the carbon voucher pollution market one of them).

      BTW, feel free to reproduce (part of, or the whole thing) the article…


  2. Kevin Berger Says:

    En même temps, bof… Que faire, à part éviter de tomber dans le “despair porn” qui fait le “model business” de nombre de sites US. Il n’y a pas de solution(s) dans le cadre actuel, le système que vous décrivez et décriez. De quoi la conférence sur le climat accouchera-t-elle? De cautères sur une jambe de bois? En tous cas, probablement rien qui aille à l’encontre des intérêts de ce système. “TINA”, effectivement.
    Et sinon, habitant un coin que vous connaissez peut-être/sans doute, Chamonix, pour le pas le nommer, et bien qu’étant une masse de merde obèse aussi éloignée du monde de la montagne que si j’habitais à Lille… je ne peux qu’abonder dans vôtre sens, question expérience personnelle sur le recul des glaces, étonnant, au cours d’une seule existence.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The coming Paris 21th climate conference is an anesthesia, a claim to being doing something, whereas nothing is being done. If Obama, Hollande, Merkel, Cameron, were sincere about the climate, they could sit in a cottage, and hammer a solution in two hours. And then, that’s the beauty of it, impose it on the rest of the world (I think China would cooperate, they have too much carbon pollution not to)


  3. Kevin Berger Says:

    And yeah, what is your silver bullet (no irony)? Some kind of real-world terraforming, or just plain old population decrease?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      None of those two. “Terraforming” belongs to Sci Fi books. To remove CO2 fast from the atmosphere, as fast as we produce it now, one would need to use giant thermonuclear reactors (and yes, those don’t exist yet).
      Population decrease will happen, the hard way. Question: how much? In any case not enough to make a dent in the greenhouse gas problem..


  4. gmax Says:

    Is not your mystery solution to simply put a price on carbon, and cut fossil fuel subsidies, as you proposed a zillion times before? 🙂


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Smart girl. Just checking if our children are learning… 😉


      • Kevin Berger Says:

        I’m unable to learn. So, it would amount to uprooting the plutocratic hydra, to mix metaphors. Since, right now, and as you demonstrate, the political power is nothing but middle management for the Big Money Elites, I don’t see that happening until the people (supposedly) in charge really have the proverbial knife to their collective throat – figuratively or not. Isn’t this a case of ‘it won’t get any better, before it gets worse’?


      • Woody Miller Says:

        I don’t think Bernie will ever compromise his “management” of climate change or the BME!


        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Hello Woody, and welcome! Yes, hopefully Bernie is no Obambi. I campaigned hard and exclusively (putting the rest of my life in hibernation) for Obama in 2007/2008. Ever since I have eaten crow (literally). Hopefully Senator Sanders’ convictions are real, and he is way too old to want to cash on it (as others have done).


  5. indravaruna Says:

    About Buridan coming before Newton, how about Einstein ideas were stolen from Poincare and others?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      You are right. Long story, I have mentioned it many times, in great details. It was sheer racism. Poincare’ even introduced the semantics (Principe de Relativite’, 1904, in the… USA). Poincare’ demonstrated E = mcc in…1900. It was published in the leading Dutch physics journal (because Lorentz was Dutch; Poincare’ insisted that Lorentz get the Nobel for the Lorentz transformation of Relativity).

      Newton was still nursing that his first and second law were common knowledge among physicists. Hooke even apparently demonstrated the inverse square law, from Kepler’s laws (Kepler really invented Kepler’s laws, BTW). A French priest provided and discovered the inverse square law, as Newton himself said, in his fight with Hooke about who discovered what.


  6. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to New Yorker, Sept 9, 2015.]

    All what the article mentions is certainly true. If one wanted to be even sunnier, one could mention that there will be nothing wrong with a temperate Arctic (see “Camels In the Highest Arctic Again, Soon”, by Patrice Ayme). Or beech forests in Antarctica.

    However, a peaceful resolution depends upon:

    a) stopping the forcing due to high CO2 density before global tipping points are reached, and the global warming becomes self-feeding. We are actually, on the scale of a century, well above this limit already.

    (If one includes other anthropogenic greenhouse gases, we are well above 450 ppm.)

    b) thus finding an economic and fast way to actively remove the CO2, and bury it again. This will require energy.

    So the news are good, but they are also too little, too late.

    Instead of consensus, the best way to proceed now is for the world’s most powerful economy, that of the European Union, to push for a unilateral carbon tax (the WTO has already found this would not violate its rules). Then the 5,500 billion dollars of carbon burning subsidies could be removed.

    The Paris conference is thus pretty useless: the remedy is known, talk is cheap, and misleading. Action means a carbon tax. One can only infers that the Paris conference is planned as much smoke and mirrors.

    By the way, the Versailles Conference of 1919 did not cause Nazism, contrarily to the legend the Nazis, and their fellow travelers, spewed.


  7. Collin Jones Says:


    @PatriceAyme “b) thus finding an economic and fast way to actively remove the CO2, and bury it again. This will require energy.”

    Soil carbon sequestration could be immensely effective in this regard. Proper soil management techniques in the agricultural sector could capture carbon from the atmosphere while producing food, fiber, and fuels. The U.S. government ought to subsidize agricultural practices that sequester carbon.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      @collin.jones @PatriceAyme Yes, indeed. It is known that geology can absorb carbon big time. It’s probably our best shot, with existing tech. However, I doubt it can go fast enough. As I have explained, most CO2 cycles very fast from atmosphere to ocean already (and that can go both ways!)


  8. Lystrosuarian Says:

    @PatriceAyme: Sorry. Tipping points already passed.


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