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Fierce love: Julia Butterfly Hill

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

“I was born dead,” remarks Julia Butterfly Hill, almost in passing.

“Literally?” I ask.

Yes — she in fact needed to be resuscitated upon birth. Perhaps that’s one key to understanding how she, at age 23, was able to find the clarity and courage to occupy a California Redwood named Luna for over two years.

It was that experience that raised her consciousness regarding her consumption habits. After all, as she says, the people bringing her supplies risked arrest and potential harm; she had to be mindful of every detail.

Now, Julia is a free ranging activist, tackling social justice and environmental issues, and traveling the world giving workshops and holding conversations.

I’m sitting with Julia in Indianapolis at a small gathering of environmental activists. The people around this table struggle daily with the conundrum of fighting for the environment in a world where it seems too few people care. And even if enough people did care and big change happened fast, isn’t it too late anyway?

Julia doesn’t obsess over these sorts of questions and so she’s a drink of cool clear water to an apocalyptic zealot like me.

“Doesn’t it just drive you crazy how people behave?” someone asks.

Julia laughs. It’s one of the first things you notice about this 34-year-old woman. Her laugh.

She responds that she doesn’t worry so much about the “unconscious people, it’s the supposedly conscious people who are full of contradictions” — like environmentalist gatherings that don’t have recyclables.

But don’t get started on the subject of recycling.

Recycling, she says, is just a way to “make us feel better” about consuming in the first place.

“We’re addicted to comfort,” she says. Few are willing to challenge their personal status quo – whether it’s to put themselves in danger of arrest or harm, or to cut back on their lifestyle, or to skip taking a vacation this year.

She doesn’t admonish the comfort-addicted among us, though. Instead, she laughs again, her brown hair falling into her eyes. My eyes move to her t-shirt, with words Mother Earth.

Not everybody “can be on the front lines,” she says. Not everyone can put their bodies on the line.

The key to activism?

Loving action = fierce love.

Julia doesn’t operate out of anger or fear, but out of love. She says she began her sit in Luna out of “grief for what was happening to the Redwoods.” But that grief morphed into love. Love for the earth. Love for humanity.

That love for humanity makes her a shifting target for both those in opposition to her as well as environmental groups who wish she was as angry as they.

She’s able to parry that opposition by transcending traditional dichotomies.

“But how do we get people to care about our issues?” someone asks.

Julia ponders a moment, then answers: “By finding out what they care about.”

The “good stories” are out there, she maintains. Stories where people get together and make their neighborhood a better place — for example, the City Repair Project that started in Portland, Oregon, and has spread across the country.

Late in the gathering she wonders aloud if the carbon imprint of flying to Indianapolis and driving to this event was worth it. “I might have done more good by staying away,” she says.

We don’t agree, of course, having drunk the cool clear water of Julia’s clarity. And heard her laugh, over and over.

But I get the point. The more conscious you are about your consumption habits, the more you start to question every single decision.

“I’m in service not because the world’s in peril,” she says in closing. “I’m in service because it’s what I want to do.” — Jim

Julia’s blog can be found at: http://juliabutterflyhill.wordpress.com/

On becoming an apocalyptic zealot.

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

I’m no fun at parties anymore.

I’m like that guy whose only conversational gambit is to talk about the Spassky-Fisher match of 1973. Or the geek who has discovered SecondLife or WorldOfWarcraft. Or the airhead, who only wants to talk about celebrities, and other virtual worlds.

Or more to the point, that guy who has recently converted, and sees everything through the lens of the revealed.

In my case, that lens is cascading, endless bad news about species collapse, environmental collapse, peak oil and gas and phosphorus, toxic breaches and endocrine disruptions, and climate warming leading to ocean acidification. It’s the human-made horrors of the last century.

Because of what Jim and I are doing here, we are required, by our self-stated commitment, to be The ApocoDocs. We have to filter the news about the five apocalyptic scenarios, as well as finding stories of Recovery.

Sure, we make fun of all the news items, and make silly quizzes — that’s the gimmick, to get readers to pay attention by being entertained — and it’s kind of a hoot to be snarky about stuff that scares the shit out of me.

To construct that “fun,” Jim and I spend an aggregate hour or so each day, selecting the news stories we want to showcase — because there’s far more out there than we could include. And to be true ApocoDocs, we also have to know the background, understand the context, and be able to make informed predictions and judgments.

Today I read, for “fun,” a few chapters from the gorgeous, astonishing publication called Sustaining Life, from Oxford Univ. Press, which includes gems like:

The herbacide atrazine, widely used in the United States (~75 million pounds are applied each year) but banned in seven European Union countries, has been shown to change the sex of Leopard Frogs (Rana pipiens) and to slow their gonadal development at levels of only 0.1 parts per billion, a concentration that is found in rainwater essentially everywhere in the United States.

This fragile, collapsing, feedback-looping, it’s-so-much-worse-than-we-thought world is the world as it is. I am looking at the world through the lens of the revealed.

I saw the Obama/Clinton rivalry only through this lens: who might have a chance in hell of enlisting the world in the struggle to save itself?

I see the “threat of terrorism” through this lens as a paltry, puny, gnat of a problem, in comparison with overfishing, ocean acidification, and environmental toxification.

I see the recession we’re in as only another goddamn barrier to recovery, since there’s less money to spend on what matters: halting the spread of mercury and other heavy metals far and wide, through coal mining and burning.

I see the continuing rise of gas prices only through this lens (even as it bites me in the wallet), because the only way we will reduce our CO2 emissions is if it’s too costly not to — and if economic depression means we get energy efficient, then it’s a step in the right direction.

I see every plastic bag, every disposable lighter, every discarded bit of diaphonous wrap through this lens: in the carcasses of albatross chicks, having had it disgorged into their gullets by their parents as “food.”

I see every container ship through this lens: the ballast water they bring and dump inevitably contains alien species, some of which become invasive, and kill off the native species — an endless, continuous stream of ecosystem damage from place to place.

I like to think that this newfound zealotry helps me understand the perspective of other zealots: Islamic fundamentalists, anti-abortion militants, rooters for Armageddon, neoconservatives, fascists, Earth Liberation Frontists, Ayn Randians, Scientologists, and all the other glazed-eyed true believers. When it all makes sense through the new lens, we then frame the rest of the world through those glasses.

And like any zealot, I’m of course convinced that my zealotry is more right than anyone else’s, because I have the facts of science on my side. I can say “my fifty years of rational, empirical, evidence-based thinking has led me to conclude….”

I can say “take a look at this, and this, and this, and this…”

But it doesn’t make me any more fun at parties.

O wretched lens, through which I must now see.

The true challenges for the next president

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Whether the next president is Obama or (cringe) McCain, quite apart from rebuilding the charred ethical wasteland of the Administrative branch of government, coping with the ruins of the housing market and its effects on the economy, and dealing with the aortic congestion caused by ever-increasing energy prices, he will be facing complex, system-wide, slow-motion apocalypses that will span his presidency.

Among them, collapsing ecosystems:


  • So what’s Plan Bee?
    [London Guardian, Sun, May 25, 2008]

  • Over 50 percent of oceanic shark species threatened with extinction
    [Aquatic Conservation, via EurekAlert, Fri, May 23, 2008]

  • Biodiversity Loss Puts People At Risk: World Wildlife Fund
    [World Wildlife Fund via ScienceDaily, Wed, May 21, 2008]

  • Climate ‘accelerating bird loss’
    [BBC, Tue, May 20, 2008]

  • UN Experts To Say 2010 Biodiversity Target Elusive
    [Planet Ark via Reuters, Mon, May 19, 2008]

  • ‘Frightening’ future must be avoided to retain the integrity of planet we share
    [The Scotsman, Sat, May 17, 2008]

  • Window Of Opportunity For Restoring Oaks Small, New Study Finds
    [USDA Forest Survey, via ScienceDaily, Fri, May 16, 2008] More information is available on the Species Collapse scenario
  • And, declining resources worldwide:


  • Get used to high food costs, water shortages
    [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Wed, May 28, 2008]

  • Oil crisis triggers fevered scramble for the world’s seabed
    [London Daily Telegraph, Tue, May 27, 2008]

  • Midwest’s message: Hands off our lakes
    [Chicago Tribune, Tue, May 27, 2008]

  • Poor soil lowers world’s production of food
    [Ventura County Star, Sun, May 25, 2008]

  • Drought turning futures to dust
    [Houston Chronicle, Sun, May 25, 2008]

  • Shell ’selling suicide’ by preferring tar sands to wind
    [Guardian (UK), Thu, May 22, 2008]

  • Famine Looms as Wars Rend Horn of Africa
    [New York Times, Sat, May 17, 2008]
  • More information is available on the Resource Depletion scenario

    And, Climate Chaos:


  • Large Methane Release Could Cause Abrupt Climate Change As Happened 635 Million Years Ago
    [University of California - Riverside via ScienceDaily, Fri, May 30, 2008]

  • White House issues climate report 4 years late
    [Associated Press, Thu, May 29, 2008]

  • Scientists warn of rising Pacific Coast acidity
    [The New York Times via Associated Press, Wed, May 28, 2008]

  • G8 meet sidesteps midterm gas cuts
    [The Japan Times, Mon, May 26, 2008]

  • Billions wasted on UN climate programme
    [London Guardian, Mon, May 26, 2008]

  • Tufts global warming study eyes cost of doing nothing
    [Houston Chronicle, Sun, May 25, 2008] More information is available on the Climate Chaos scenario
  • AND he will be dealing with the tremendous economic upheaval of these and other apocalyptic (yet realistic) scenarios of grinding, slow-motion, systemic collapses over the next decade.

    These realities need to be addressed by the candidates in the coming months — because these are the issues that will make a real difference to our children and grandchildren.

    There are also signs of hope, here and there:


  • Green Firms Rewarded By Financial Markets
    [Strategic Management Journal, Thu, May 29, 2008]
  • New study finds most North Pacific humpback whale populations rebounding [NOAA, via EurekAlert, Fri, May 23, 2008]

  • Oregano oil works as well as synthetic insecticides to tackle common beetle pest
    [Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Fri, May 23, 2008]

  • Simple, Low-cost Carbon Filter Removes 90 Percent Of Carbon Dioxide From Smokestack Gases
    [American Chemical Society via ScienceDaily, Wed, May 21, 2008]

  • US Changes Course, Bans Drilling In Arctic Wetland
    [Planet Ark via Reuters, Mon, May 19, 2008]

  • Recovery plan kills species’ foe, thins fire-prone forests
    [Redding News, Sat, May 17, 2008]

  • Prince Charles urges forest logging halt
    [The Post (Pakistan), Fri, May 16, 2008]More information is available on this Recovery scenario
  • We need to see thoughtful, reasoned, rational acknowledgement of the sacrifices required by these last few party generations, if we are to have any hope of ending the next decade with a world remotely recognizable as related to how we live today.

    Canadian schools sent brochures from climate change skeptics

    Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

    From National Post via CanWest News:
    “An American think tank [the Chicago-based Heartland Institute] has sent out more than 11,000 brochures and DVDs to Canadian schools urging them to teach their students that scientists are exaggerating how human activity is the driving force behind global warming.”

    Want to find out more about Heartland Institute? Here’s where I went:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heartland_Institute

    This is SourceWatch, “a free encyclopedia of people, issues, and groups shaping the public agenda that is being written collaboratively on this web site. It catalogues descriptions and details of PR firms, activist groups and government agencies as well as the criticisms that are made of these groups from different perspectives.”

    Call it the Wikipedia of the Wicked.

    It will tell you the who, what, why and where behind the scenes at major companies across the land.

    SourceWatch is part of Center for Media and Democracy

    http://www.prwatch.org/

    This is a Madison, Wisconsin-based public interest organization whose programs include: PR Watch, a quarterly investigative journal; six books by CMD staff; Spin of the Day; the Weekly Spin listserv; and Congresspedia.

    I’ve been a huge fan of this organization for years as they are fighting the good fight with information. Check out their books along with their internet resources: “Toxic Sludge is Good For You” and “Banana Republicans” — a couple of titles give you the flavor of what they’re up to.

    jim

    Green books for Earth Day week, 2008

    Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

    I’ve fallen in love with the story of Easter Island. You know, the story of this remote piece of land in the Pacific Ocean whose inhabitants willfully deforested their entire island. From a peak population of 7000, the population had deteriorated by the late 1800s — to the point where the island was taken over by Chile and turned into a giant sheep ranch.

    What were they using their trees for? Turns out, the timber was the only means of transporting the massive stone platforms, along with the statues of male heads and torsos, across the island to their sacred sites. Different clans on the island were competing for the biggest, most elaborate statues, and you can bet these works of stone, once sculpted, required ever more timber to roll to their destination.

    I love this story because this society destroyed itself trying to out-icon each other. They cut down all their trees for cultural frivolities. Sure, it felt important to them, but imagine the “d’oh!” coming from the dude who cut down the last tree. Especially as these stone heads didn’t provide any real – flesh and bone – sustenance.

    A fitting metaphor, especially here in the land of the Couch Potatoes.

    Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” was my first encounter with the Easter Island story (okay there was maybe something in high school, but I had forgotten)… A perfect companion for “Collapse” is Clive Ponting’s “A New Green History of the World” (Penguin; 2007). First published in 1991, Ponting has painstakingly gone over everything – only the Easter Island chapter is pretty much the same.

    This book is an ApocoDoc’s dream come true as it looks at the civilizations who have allowed themselves to be destroyed by their senseless environmental practices. Just the chapter entitled “The Rape of the World” is enough to make one weep.

    From extinction to invasive species to deforestation to desertification to overpopulation to pollution to pandemic disease, Ponting’s book is a chilling accounting of what horror humans can wreak.

    C.S. Goldsmith’s “Uninhabitable” (Goldstar Publications; 2007) doesn’t sugarcoat the problem, either, though there is friction between his Apocalyptic-looking book cover image – a red, dying sun hovering above a blighted cityscape – juxtaposed with his subtitle “A case for caution.” To me, one look at the cover, and I say the hell with caution, let’s party while we still have a few months left.

    The rest of the book is much the same: Chilling, terrifying facts are followed by a sentence such as “We simply don’t have a lot more time to waste.”

    Goldsmith’s big point here is the vast deposits of methane that will likely be unleashed by global warming, and these deposits are tantamount to every fart ever farted by every animal that ever existed multiplied by 1000 times. That’s my equation by the way, and I don’t claim it’s by any means scientific.

    Punctuation problems and snarled syntax mars this read, but you gotta love Goldsmith’s mettle. Here’s a guy who graduated from Harvard with a business degree, was a CEO for 32 years and then decided he had to do SOMETHING about this planet’s peril. So he wrote a book.

    I, along with Michael, created this web site. This is, I suppose the Age of DIY.

    Speaking of, one of the leaders of the DIY movement, Ed Begley, Jr., has a new book, “Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life” (Potter; $18; www.LivingLikeEd.com) . You can distract yourself from the doom/gloom and certain destruction of Ponting’s and Goldsmith’s books by DOING something, whether it’s changing a light bulb or buying an electric car.

    That’s right. Ed makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something good, which of course you are, when you decide to take your own canvas bags to the store (from $5) to installing your own solar panels (from $30,000). That’s right, Ed’s got all this money-coded, so you can figure out what you can afford vs. what you might be able to try later when you’ve saved a bunch of money being green in simpler ways.

    It’s got the feel of a book created by a man who’s been trying out the green life for 30 years. There are lots of homey looking photos of Ed doing this and that green thing in his house – and far too photos of his wife Rachel Carson-Begley who adds her own tips throughout the book.

    “Living Like Ed,” unlike the other two books mentioned here, is published on recycled paper, so that’s another plus in its column. At this point, Ed only takes on the projects he likes. Somebody out there want to pitch him a TLC or HGTV cable show, “This Green House”? Somebody’s gonna make a lot of green off that idea.

    Either that, or he can make “Easter Island,” the movie, complete with an all-star cast. Unless Mel Gibson would rather make it. Apocalypto-a-go-go.

    Happy Earth Day Week,

    Jim

    Pine beetle infestation impacting salmon runs

    Wednesday, March 26th, 2008


    From The Vancouver Sun:
    “VANCOUVER - If the heat of climate change weren’t enough of a danger to Pacific salmon, scientists are cataloging how the effects of the global-warming-aided mountain pine beetle infestation are adding to salmon’s woes. The grain-of-rice-sized beetles have chewed through interior pine forests covering an area four-times the size of Vancouver Island, a report released Tuesday by the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council notes. Some 60 per cent of the Fraser River watershed is affected, with loss of forest cover over salmon streams that has led to numerous impacts that “significantly alter the watershed’s ecology, threatening already stressed salmon runs.”

    So who are the real heroes here?

    Am I supposed to consider these beetles the antagonists in this scenario? Okay, so they’ve eaten a few trees — I scanned the article but I REALLY READ THE HEADLINE a couple of times — but if their activities are hurting salmon, why aren’t we cheering for them? Salmon are clearly responsible for the creation of salmonella bacteria, so I say go for it, pine beetle. Do your dirty work!

    Oh. Wait. I just thought of something. The headlines says “Pine beetle infestation impacting salmon runs.” Maybe that means these nasty pine beetles are giving the salmon diarrhea and it’s their, ahem, “runs” that produce salmonella. So the pine beetles should be stopped! So the salmon can defecate normally and not have the runs and maybe there will be less salmonella.

    I wish headlines were just a little clearer, even if they have to be a little longer.

    Jim

    Waking from Hibernation: or, Bats ‘R’ Us

    Friday, March 7th, 2008

    I have been obsessing about the bat problem — the un-hibernating bats in New York and Vermont, flying out of the caves to a wintry landscape because they’re starving to death, littering the snow around their hiberniums.

    And I think I realized today the reason for the obsession:

    Bats ‘R’ us.

    We’ve been sleepwalking through the last fifty years — mentally hibernating while the evidence piles up around us of what we’re doing to our world — and we’re just now waking up. We’re opening our eyes, and realizing that something’s wrong. We’re sick, we’re poisoned, we’re hungry, and the fat stores are about used up.

    Normally, we’d just go out and get some more land, conquer another civilization, pump another aquafir, find some more solutions — it’s worked every other time for humankind, right?

    We had a great autumn, eating twice our body weight of the world. We flew around with abandon, delighted in the evening sky.

    But now, we’re realizing that a lot of what we ate was toxic. That our resistances are down, and all isn’t quite how it should be. And we’re waking up from our hibernation, realizing that we may have screwed it all up over the last fifty years.

    And there’s not much but snow, out there.

    Climate Change Hitting the Sea’s Little Guys Too

    Saturday, March 1st, 2008

    From National Geographic News:
    “When it comes to climate change, polar bears and sharks may grab the bulk of the headlines—but it’s the threat to the sea’s tiniest creatures that has some marine scientists most concerned. Malformed seashells show that climate change is affecting even the most basic rungs of the marine food chain—a hint of looming disaster for all ocean creatures—experts say. Climate change could drastically reduce sea urchin populations in particular, according to Gretchen Hofmann, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.”

    What a strange lede for a story. No dis intended for the writer — it ain’t easy finding the right entry point into a story — but isn’t this hierarchical thinking that continues to contribute to this mess? I’m overwhelmed with the feeling of ‘duh’ and I figure you are too.

    Everything is equally important.

    Maybe that’s an over-simplification, but I’ll restate it for emphasis: Everything is equally important.

    We just found a story a week or so ago about the so-called “potato chip of the oceans” — the pteropod (endangered snail) whose loss would be devastating up the foodchain ladder.

    Maybe that’s the problem, we have two metaphors working against each other. The foodchain, which implies everything is connected in a horizontal manner, and the ladder, which implies a movement toward higher and higher (and thus more important) forms.

    This is just one more indication that humility is going to be essential to reshaping our relationship to the earth. The polar bear is not more important than the urchin. People are not more important than the polar bear.

    That gets us off on the right foot/paw/wing/tube feet/protoplasm.

    Jim

    Apocology Post: Responding to Transgression

    Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

    Here’s the problem: we have developed, over the last fifty years, a belief that we can transgress with impunity.

    We can transgress countries (viz. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and countless minor incursions in between). We can transgress economies (viz. the World Bank, the IMF, the overdevelopment industry [see Confessions of an Economic Hit Man], and countless economic incursions). We can transgress privacy (viz. the credit system, “homeland security,” and grocery-store cards that give us a discount so they can track our every purchase).

    We can transgress science (viz. the well-financed “oh gosh there’s doubt” about climate impacts of massive output of CO2, when there was little real doubt among real scientists). We can transgress representative government (viz. the bush administration’s executive hegemony, over the last six years).

    But worst of all is that for fifty years and more — one could argue that it’s built into our DNA — we have believed that we could transgress Nature with impunity.

    What I’ve been seeing, over the last few months of attending to the Apoc scenarios, to distill it for this site, has truly terrified me. We have imagined that we were kings of the world. We have imagined that we could do no wrong, that any business was good business, that the world would take whatever we could mete out.

    We were wrong. We should have known better, but of course we didn’t want to know.

    It’s been fun, these last decades. I’ve just turned 50, and have had five decades of relative opulance and luxury. We didn’t have to worry about carbon footprints, or climate collapse. We didn’t have to think about what we were doing to the rainforests by eating a Big Mac. We didn’t have to wonder if there’d be wildflowers, much less most grocery produce, in five years, if the bees die off.

    We didn’t worry about the pthalates in plastic. About dead zones. About ocean acidification. About mercury in what fish are left. About untethered genetic modification for profit.

    All we had to worry about was nuclear war, which was just a rumble in the distance.

    We are now facing facts that make it clear that, to have a viable civilization in fifteen years, we have to make radical change, faster than any of us want.

    We are stuck with this. We, my generation and all above and below it, must recognize that a dramatic restructuring of priorities, and of our willingness to transgress, is required. That’s a lot of what the PostApocology site is about — trying to make it clear how far we’ve transgressed, in so many ways.

    If we don’t make dramatic change, then we will be restructured anyway, just less orderly, and with more violence.

    Because the shit will hit the fan. Our transgressions have caught up with us. We have to start shifting today, if we are to have any hope of having a good tomorrow.

    Methane, permafrost, tundra, and the Wild Card.

    Monday, February 25th, 2008

    From Reuters: “More research [is] urgently needed into the possibility of a runaway release of methane, a powerful heat-trapping gas trapped in frozen soils in Siberia, Canada, Alaska and Nordic nations, it said in a 2008 yearbook issued at 154-nation talks in Monaco…. Vast amounts of methane entering the atmosphere “would lead to abrupt changes in the climate that would likely be irreversible,” UNEP said. “We must not cross that threshold.”

    This isn’t actually new news. Take a look at Scientists warn thawing Siberia may trigger global meltdown, from WikiNews, from 2005.

    We’ve known about this for two to three years and if we’d been paying attention, it would have been obvious: As frozen meat melts, it starts to rot. As frozen tundra melts, it starts to rot.

    Rotting stuff puts out smells. Those smells include about a third methane, a mildly-noxious aroma. When mixed with sulfur, it make our farts stink.

    But methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. So, as the formerly permanently-frozen top few feet of Siberia, Canada, Alaska, and Scandinavia begin to thaw, well, it’s going to rot. Meaning, it will put out methane. It will add a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. This will mean that the greenhouse effect will be increased.

    What does that mean? “The permafrost has been intact for 11,000 years and started melting 3 to 4 years ago, according to Kirpotin.” (from above WikiNews, in 2005).

    This is a long-term stability now disrupted, by climate warming.

    This means that the permafrost even farther north will keep on rotting and spewing a powerful greenhouse gas, warming us further and much faster than previously expected.

    One domino falls. No big deal. Bats collapsing. Bees collapsing. Amphibians collapsing.

    It’s only warming. What’s the big deal? I like my winters mild.

    Ian Sample “Warming hits ‘tipping point’“. The Guardian, Aug 11 2005

    Siberia’s rapid thaw causes alarm“. BBC News, Aug 11 2005

    2004: Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

    Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

    From Guardian (UK):
    “Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters…. A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world…. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism…

    I remember hearing a little something about this then, but you may remember February of 2004 the war in Iraq was beginning to be seen as a debacle.

    Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon’s dire warnings could no longer be ignored.

    ‘Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It’s going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush’s single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,’ added Watson.

    Seems clear who he listened to.

    One last depressing bit:

    So dramatic are the report’s scenarios, Watson said, that they may prove vital in the US elections. Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is known to accept climate change as a real problem. Scientists disillusioned with Bush’s stance are threatening to make sure Kerry uses the Pentagon report in his campaign.

    ah, if only.

    This is insane!

    Friday, February 22nd, 2008

    From United Press International:
    “A U.S. climatologist said there was no consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed for a new ice age. Thomas Peterson of the National Climatic Data Center said a survey of scientific journals of the era showed that only seven supported global cooling, 44 predicted warming and 20 others were neutral, USA Today reported Thursday… The study, which will be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, said a review of the literature suggests that greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists’ thinking.

    This is insane. It makes me wonder if even back in the 70s, certain industry magnates were manipulating science — and exaggerating the “purveyors of global cooling…” Anybody know anything about that? All conspiracy theories welcome here!

    Reading further, I was chilled

    Saturday, February 16th, 2008

    This, after following Jim’s link ( Scientists fear ‘tipping point’ in Pacific Ocean) , I was chilled, as I read further:

    “Only once during the past seven years did the strong northerly winds of spring and summer go away — and that time, in spring and early summer of 2005, the pendulum swung wildly the other way, with little wind at all until partway through summer.

    That set off a chain of events that scientists concluded were responsible for a startlingly widespread wave of seabird deaths — from the Farallon Islands off San Francisco to Vancouver Island.

    After that, researchers from Oregon State University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife looked intensely at waters off the Oregon coast for the research announced Thursday. And the same thing is happening off Washington’s coast.

    Mary Sue Brancato and her colleagues first noticed it on a visit to the coast in 2000 or 2001.

    We were out there for another (research) project and we were like, ‘What is it with these thousands of dead crabs?’ ” said Brancato, a marine biologist who works at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

    Those were Dungeness crabs. Later other species were affected, Brancato said, leading scientists to surmise it was some widespread cause. By 2004 they were taking measurements to document low levels of dissolved oxygen, the kind of oxygen sea creatures can use.

    Holy shit.