Not the Monthly Post

Riding the Climate Toboggan

Every year or two on this blog I post an update on the global climate.  Now and then I wonder if this is a futile effort. Outside the four notional walls of this one little blog on the fringe, and a few other equally marginal venues, the rest of the world seems to be caught up in a debate about the climate that permits two and only two viewpoints. On the one side you have the people who insist that global climate change is an apocalyptic horror that will surely kill us all unless we kowtow to an increasingly baroque and intrusive set of rules that they themselves aren’t willing to follow. On the other side you have the people who insist that global climate change isn’t happening at all. They’re both wrong, but that hardly matters:  with every failed prediction—and both sides have made a good many of these—the shrieking from the true believers just gets louder, drowning out the few voices of moderation in between.

As the man said, you can fool all of the people some of the time…

Then the moment passes, and perspective returns. One of the great lessons of history is that there really are limits to how long you can talk people into disbelieving the evidence of their own senses. To cite only one example, all those supposedly authoritative claims that the vaccines would keep you from catching or transmitting the Covid virus didn’t keep people from noticing that the vaccines did neither of these things, which is one of several reasons why attempts to push yet another round of Covid vaccines on the public are doing so poorly.  In the same way, the rhetoric on both sides of the climate change issue is losing its appeal as people notice that the climate really is changing, but the predicted apocalypse keeps on pulling a no-show.

It’s crucial to remember that the future of global climate does not depend on what people say. (You’d think that the vast amounts of hot air vented by all sides in the dispute would have some effect on the climate, but apparently not.) The future of global climate also doesn’t depend on what the scientific consensus says it is; if the history of science teaches anything, it’s that when there’s a scientific consensus—which is by no means that common—it’s wrong at least as often as it’s right.  The future of global climate depends not on any of these things, but on an immensely complex network of feedback loops and planetary processes that are very poorly understood at present, and may be wholly beyond our ability to measure or calculate. There’s a useful source of data that can help us understand where the global climate might be headed, but—well, we’ll talk about that a little later in this post.

The steady northward creep is hard to miss.

Let’s start by setting aside the rhetoric from both sides and talking about what’s actually happening in the world. The most important change in global climate over the last few decades has been the gradual shifting of climate zones away from the equator. If you live in the US and notice the USDA climate zones, you already know all about this, because many localities here are a zone or two warmer than they were in the mid-twentieth century. Those zones aren’t arbitrary; they’re determined by hard quantitative measurements such as the number of days between the last frost in the spring and the first frost in the fall—and they’re on the march.

The eastern half or so of the United States is lucky, because the changes in climate it’s getting mostly mean less snow to shovel in the winter and a longer growing season in backyard gardens. Russia’s even luckier, because the changes in the length of the growing season there gave it the biggest wheat crop on record last year, and this year’s is shaping up to be even bigger. Other parts of the world are not so fortunate.  Large parts of southern Europe are seeing the same northward shift of climate belts, and what’s directly south of them is the Sahara Desert.  The same thing is happening in the western half of North America, where the Sonoran desert of northern Mexico is moving in. In all these cases, the shift is gradual, and it’s interrupted at times by turbulent weather—that’s why, as I write this, the people at Burning Man are squelching around in three inches of mud, courtesy of unseasonable rains—but the trend is there.

The red zones are unusually warm right now. Nobody knows why.

At the same time the oceans are behaving oddly. The corporate media spent some time fussing earlier this year when quite a bit of the North Atlantic was a degree or two warmer than usual. That’s a significant event, all the more so because scientists admitted that they had no idea what was causing it. (Of course it was attributed to climate change anyway.) If you were paying attention, you may have noticed something else odd about the summer just past:  the first half of the Atlantic hurricane season was a damp squib, with a flurry of short-lived tropical depressions and weak storms that went nowhere. Was some of the heat that usually feeds hurricanes in the central Atlantic finding its way to the poles instead?  It certainly looks that way.

With glaciers as with deficit spending, “bit by bit” adds up over time.

Meanwhile glaciers are melting over much of the world.  That’s not a new thing—glaciers are very rarely static, they’re usually either growing or shrinking depending on the balance between gains from each winter’s snowfall and losses from each summer’s melting—but the continental glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica, which contain most of the planet’s ice, are melting at a faster rate than usual. Right now that’s causing a few millimeters a year of sea level rise; the world’s oceans are vast enough that it takes an astounding amount of melting ice to raise their level noticeably.  If things follow their current trajectory, though, we could get a steady couple of inches a year by the end of the century:  enough, extended over decades, to flood low-lying districts and force the relocation of seaports at gargantuan cost.

All this is part of a broader picture.  In global terms, the summer just ending was the hottest ever recorded—that is to say, the hottest we’ve had since accurate thermometers were invented, which admittedly didn’t happen all that long ago.  As usual, most of the increase in temperature was near the poles.  There were some notable bursts of heat in the tropics as well, but around the Arctic Ocean is where the real action is happening, with unseasonably warm days occurring so often that the word “unseasonable” is going to have to be retired soon. Permafrost is melting and some amount of extra methane is bubbling up into the sky, where it will add a boost to warming for a while before it breaks down.  (Methane doesn’t last long in an oxygen-rich atmosphere.)

An awkward but useful reminder.

So the climate is changing, but the apocalyptic events predicted so loudly by the corporate media and privileged activists of the Greta Thunberg type are still hanging in the same limbo as the “winter of sickness and death” Joe Biden promised the unvaccinated a couple of years ago.  Those of my readers who’ve been following my blogs long enough will doubtless recall the comparable trajectory followed by peak oil a decade ago.  One group of people insisted at the top of their lungs that the world’s oil supply really was infinite, or that some other energy resource would surely step in just in time to pick up the slack, while another proclaimed just as loudly that the apocalypse was on us and someday very soon the few survivors would be creeping out of burnt-out basements to piece together a subsistence economy. It’s the same drivel eternally.

As we all know, what the peaking of conventional petroleum production in 2005 actually brought was a long slow struggle with rising prices and economic instability—a struggle that’s far from finished in 2023, and won’t be over yet when 2123 rolls around, either.  Compare the climate change rhetoric from both sides with what’s actually happening, and it’s pretty clear that a similar dynamic is playing out there. Slow, ragged changes spread out across centuries don’t play well in disaster movies, or in the kind of overheated activist rhetoric that makes Sharknado sound realistic. Nonetheless, that’s what’s happening, and it might be a good idea to set aside the sticky-fingered fantasies of apocalypse and pay attention to the facts on the ground.

This is what the north coast of Greenland looked like fifty million years ago — not that long in terms of the Earth’s history.

It’s at this point, too, that it makes sense to bring in the useful source of data I mentioned earlier: the evidence from climate change in prehistory. There’s a lot of that—paleoclimatology has been a lively field for many years now—and it has a lot to say to our current situation. Of course the moment I bring up evidence from the past, dear reader, you know just as well as I do that some earnest but inadequately educated activist or other is going to trot out the standard-issue thoughtstopper:  “But nothing like this has ever happened before!”

That’s a very fashionable claim. It’s also wrong, and not just a little bit wrong, either.  The people who make it are displaying an embarrassing ignorance about the most basic facts of prehistory. To begin with, the Earth’s climate is anything but stable. Twenty thousand years ago, an eyeblink in geological time, the Earth was much colder than she is today; that’s why the pleasant corner of Rhode Island where I live was under a mile of ice then. Go back another hundred thousand years, and the Earth was much warmer; at that time Rhode Island had roughly the same climate North Carolina has today.  Go back further, before the great cooling trend of the Neogene period, and the Earth was warmer still—think palm trees and crocodiles on Rhode Island’s shores.

This is what Rhode Island beaches looked like twenty thousand years ago.

Nor are sudden climate changes anything new. Some of them, in fact, were much more sudden and drastic than the one we’re currently in. The heat spike around 9600 BC is a good example, not least because it’s recent enough that there’s good ice core data, allowing the speed of the change to be measured much more closely than other forms of data will allow. At that time—my source here, in case you want to look it up for yourself, is Steven Mithen’s widely praised book on postglacial times, After the Ice—Earth’s average temperature jolted up 7° C in less than a decade. Nobody’s yet sure how that happened, though there are some plausible theories.  The point to notice is that not even the most extreme climate theories right now are predicting a 7° C increase in global temperature over the next decade. Difficult as the current situation promises to be, it’s well within the normal variability of Earth’s climate.

So climate change has happened before, and very fast climate change has also happened before. It’s when we go beyond this and talk in more detail about what a warmer world is like that things begin to get very, very strange. It so happens, to begin with, that the Earth is usually much warmer than she is today. Cold spells like the one that shapes our current biosphere happen at long intervals, but they’re the exception, not the rule. Under more usual conditions—well, here’s how a Harvard University website puts it: “the temperature was roughly equal everywhere in the world. In the past, this state existed because the poles were significantly warmer than they are currently, while the Tropics remained at roughly present day temperatures.”

When Earth is in her normal climate state, this could be almost any seacoast in the world.

The technical term for this is an equable climate. When the Earth has an equable climate, the equator to pole temperature difference (EPTD) is much lower than it is now, and the seasonality—the temperature variation from summer to winter—is also much lower.  Fifty million years ago, during a recent era of equable climate, sea surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean were in the subtropical range, between 64° and 77°F, and crocodiles sunned themselves on the beaches of northern Greenland:  yes, their fossils have been found. North Dakota in the winter never had freezing temperatures for as much as 24 hours at a stretch.  In Antarctica, palm trees grew and frost was a rare event. In effect, the tropics extended north and south from the equator much further than they do now, and subtropical conditions extended from there to the poles.

It was a very different world. The only glaciers were on high mountains close to the poles. The only deserts were in the rain shadows of tall mountain ranges. Snow was a rarity away from mountain summits.  The Sahara and the Arabian peninsula?  Green and fertile, watered with regular rains. The world was wrapped in a springtime that lasted for millions of years.

Earth’s current system of atmospheric circulation doesn’t get much heat to the poles. That could change.

There are good thermodynamic reasons why this should be the case, though the Harvard website linked above and the other literature on equable climates I’ve read don’t mention that. The Earth’s atmosphere, from a thermodynamic perspective, is a heat engine.  When you add more insulation to a heat engine, it runs more efficiently and does more work: that was James Watt’s great discovery, the insight that made steam engines economically viable and launched the industrial revolution. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere provide insulation—and one of the kinds of work the atmospheric heat engine does is pump heat from the equator to the poles. Right now the heat engine over our heads is running very inefficiently, which is why so little heat makes it all the way to the poles. When it’s running more smoothly, things are different.

The kind of permanent springtime we’ve just discussed isn’t a rarity; it’s Earth’s normal climate.   During the last hundred million years or so, the Earth has had an equable climate roughly two-thirds of the time. The global climate has only been like it is today, with high EPTD and high temperate and polar seasonality, for a very small portion of the remainder. All of this is very well discussed in the literature; if you go to the Harvard site linked above and click through to the page of references, you’ll find an ample supply of peer-reviewed articles from respected journals of paleontology and paleobotany documenting every claim I’ve made here. You might want to go download a copy of the references list soon, though, because it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the entire website gets taken down in a hurry once Harvard notices that somebody outside the scientific community has read it and drawn the logical conclusions.

I mean this quite literally. The entire debate on climate change has displayed a weird astigmatism of the imagination that can be seen in plenty of other debates. The notion seems to be that present conditions are the best of all possible worlds and any change must be a dreadful catastrophe. You can see the same thing in the political sphere, where all sides spend all their time talking about how the other guys are going to make things worse and nobody ever seems to think of suggesting ways to make things better. You see it in the bizarre rhetoric around “invasive species”—that is, living things that do what living things always do, and expand their range into ecosystems where they might thrive. Remarkably large numbers of people seem unable to respond to the presence of such newcomers—provided they’re not human, of course—except by declaring all-out war.

Mumble mumble King Canute mumble mumble…

It’s really strange. Our society worships the concept of progress, and insists loudly that change is good and newer must be better, even (or especially) when it’s not.  At the same time, the thought that the climate might change, or that the distribution of living things might change, or that some details of our political and economic arrangements might change in ways that are more than cosmetic—that calls up atavistic terrors, and drives frantic (if usually ineffective) action to ward off the threat that things might be different. For that matter, have you noticed how often the villains of our fantasy novels and superhero movies are out to change things, and how often the heroes have no other goal than making sure that everything stays the way it is?

Please note, however, that I’m not suggesting that we all run out and burn as much fossil fuels as we possibly can, in the hope of restoring the Earth to her normal temperature range. To begin with, nobody knows exactly why the Earth’s climate is usually equable, or what changed to plop us into our present cold snap. Granted, there was much more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during the last era of equable climate than there is now, but was that all there was to it?  Nobody knows.  The Earth’s atmosphere is far more complex than our current models can handle. Trying to tinker with it in our present state of very partial knowledge is akin to handing an energetic six-year-old a set of tools and having him get under the hood of your car.

An equable climate sounds great in the abstract, but there are downsides.

Second, an equable climate may sound great in the abstract, but getting there’s not going to be so fun. To begin with, melting the polar ice caps will raise sea levels three hundred feet. While it will take centuries for this process to complete, even the first steps along that route will play merry hob with the global economy, flooding most of the world’s large cities and a vast amount of other real estate, erasing entire nations from the map, forcing mass migrations, crippling ports and other trade facilities, and the list goes on. Meanwhile the weather isn’t simply going to pop right into an equable condition; to judge from what’s currently happening, the climate belts will keep on lurching unsteadily toward the poles a little at a time, causing droughts, floods, famines, and other entertainments. A thousand years from now things may be great, but that’ll be small consolation to you, or to the generations who have to deal with the rest of the change.

But  there’s another reason why we don’t need the kind of homegrown geoeingineering project described above:  it’s superfluous.  There’s no shortage of people already hard at work on it—and a remarkably large number of them insist that they care about the climate and are trying to fight climate change. Most people these days know all about the fleets of private jets that take the rich to and from the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos and similar venues for climate change pontification.  Quite a few people have witnessed the smaller-scale equivalent, the millions of earnest people in the comfortable classes who insist that they care about the fate of the Earth, but never take that to the point of cutting their own carbon footprint to any noticeable extent, and who typically use far more than their share of fossil fuels and their direct and indirect products.

Climate activism became a big public cause about halfway along this graph. Notice any effect?

Protest marches and virtue signaling do nothing to keep the resulting carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Nor do the wind farms, rooftop solar panels, and other pork barrel projects that have been marketed so heavily using climate change as a sales pitch  Nor, for that matter, do any of the other gimmicks that have been so heavily promoted and praised by corporate media.  If you doubt this, dear reader, take a good look at the chart of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and see if you can find any sign that any of these things have slowed the steady increase in carbon dioxide one iota. If the point of the last three decades of climate change activism was to slow the rate at which greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, the results are in and the activists have failed. Nor is there any reason to think that doing more of the same will yield anything else; what’s that saying about doing the same thing and expecting different results?

That being the case, barring a sudden change of heart among the comfortable classes that leads them to take their claimed beliefs seriously for a change, and cut their own carbon footprint, instead of hogging as much as they can and shrieking about how everyone else has to cut back, we’re on our way to wherever global climate change is taking us. Like so many other aspects of our present predicament, climate change is like a toboggan ride.  If you want to do something other than hurtle down the slope, you need to make changes as soon as possible; once you pick up speed, all you can do is hang on tight and see where you end up.

A good case can be made, I think, that we’re on the climate toboggan now. Where we’ll end up is a fascinating question, though it’s one that only our descendants will be able to answer. One way or another, though, I expect a bumpy ride.


  1. this link is a complete list of all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared across the Ecosophia community. A printable version of the entire prayer list current as of 9/5 may be downloaded here. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below.

    * * *

    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    Patricia Mathews’s friend, Thomas (Duke) McMullen, is in hospice care; may he be blessed with a good and peaceful transition. Duke is Ba’hai, so the deity to approach is Baha’u’llah.

    In the case of Princess Cutekitten and the large bank who is suing her, may justice be done, with harm to none.

    May Josh Schaad’s soul be blessed and eased in his soul’s transition into death, and may his wife Alyssa and sons Gavin and Caden be blessed and protected, and find what comfort they can during this very difficult time.

    Neptunesdolphin’s husband has just had his big toe partially amputated due to a staph infection, and his diabetes has worsened in connection. He and she and son all are struggling to cope with the difficult situation, made no easier by the fact that all three have different varieties of mental impairment. May Neptunesdolphin’s husband heal quickly and vigorously, and successfully manage his diabetes; and may her family all get through the situation successfully and with grace.

    Steve T’s brother Matt is currently in the hospital after a sudden violent seizure, and his daughter is having extreme panic attacks; they were both in a terrible car accident last fall. Steve asks for prayers for; Matt’s recovery of health; for the emotional and psychological well-being of the rest of the family, including his wife Megan, his daughter Diana, and his young son Jake; and for the lifting of any spiritual harmafflicting the family.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all. The reasonable possibility exists that this is an environmental disaster on par with the worst America has ever seen.

    * * *
    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are now to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ.

    If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  2. @JMG

    Thank you for this essay! I have a few comments as regards this piece:

    1) What do you think the climate of the Indian subcontinent is likely to turn into, as the Long Descent drags on? I’m talking about a time frame between, say, 2050-3000 CE. You have mentioned how the paleosciences offer more reliable guidance than current fashionable methods – could you suggest a good book on palaeoclimatology that touches upon South Asia? I’d appreciate any leads on the subject.

    2) As regards climate models getting things wrong, I do think there’s an explanation, and I’ll use my own field (human physiology) as an example:

    First, we need to define ‘nonlinearity’. Most people get the meaning wrong, because they intuitively associate it with some arbitrary definition that they think it ought to be; but nonlinearity is defined not by what it is, but by what it isn’t – i.e. any system that doesn’t obey the principle of linear superposition is nonlinear, full stop. The system in question could be modelled by differential equations with something as simple as a quadratic term (thus making it nonlinear), or something more complicated. What I’ve seen is that, in the modelling of the gastrointestinal tract, even the nonlinearities involved are fairly simple; but in my own experience, often the required nonlinearities tend to be much more complicated, involving even the use of logarithmic or hyperbolic functions, or even special functions like the Gamma function, and so on. There’s also the question of higher order effects – nonlinear problems have solutions that can be only approximately calculated, and the numerical algorithms that are used often don’t go beyond second-order terms, if not stopping at first-order terms. This isn’t because the people who design the algorithms are stupid or incompetent – rather, there’s a real risk of the numerical solution being unstable and impossible to analyse if third- or fourth-order effects are included.

    I’m dead sure that although I have an example from physiology, it is applicable to the earth sciences as well.

    3) Regarding sudden changes in climate, what’s your take on the ‘Snowball Earth’ phase of our geological history some 800 million years ago? What do you think could have been the reason for such a severe freeze?

  3. “Please note, however, that I’m not suggesting that we all run out and burn as much fossil fuels as we possibly can, in the hope of restoring the Earth to her normal temperature range.”

    You don’t have to. We will. But not out of hope. Because we can.

  4. I find your ability to stand back from the maelstrom and to put the situation we are in in a rational way very calming and informative. You did the same with your post a few years ago on on the Limits to Growth. Thank you, Bill

  5. …so the changes coming will be horrific, but will take longer than activists say?

    Well, here we are. It changes nothing. What are you going to do with the life gifted to you? This is still the question, the only question to ask yourselves. This is the answer to a predicament.

    I feel a warm breeze through the window, like the most wonderful caress. Gentle birdsong. A fleeting scent of flowers. Gaia loves us.

  6. I just read a book written by a French lady, an ecologist with a PhD in zooarchaeology. Her pen name if Fred Vargas, she makes a living writing detective novels. She has also written several books on ecology.

    In her latest book she writes that when we can’t have refrigerated trucks anymore, a few decades from now, only the residents of coastal regions will be able to eat fish. She seemingly doesn’t know that in the Middle Ages, when refrigerated trucks didn’t exist yet, the Parisians ate lots of fish… Dried, salted herring from the North Sea, which came in ox-driven carts from the Flanders region of Belgium, by a road which still exists and is now called “l’avenue de Flandre” in Paris, after been known as “la route de Flandre” for centuries.

    In the pre-industrial era people ate fish even if they lived far away from the sea, for they knew how to grow fish (especially carps) in basins. Fried carps were (and maybe still are) culinary specialties in Germany and Eastern Europe.

    I wouldn’t say that the book is entirely wrong, far from it (I agree with the author’s basic statement that our comfortable way of life and ability to feed billions of humans will be history when fossil fuels become scarce) and it is impressively documented, with fifteen pages of references, but some of the remedies she proposes remind me of the policies recently implemented with catastrophic results by the Sri-Lankan government.

  7. Thank you, JMG, for the sanity.
    As you know, the climate hysteria was never meant to reflect reality, it was always meant to justify preserving the techno-industrial economic platform at all costs. With the burning up of fossil fuels, another power source is needed to continue business as usual. Without alternative energy, the money engine will stop churning out fake dollars and the resulting public backlash could be formidable.
    An unruly society is harder to control and manipulate than an ‘orderly’ society, so the media, the law and the police exist to manufacture and enforce ‘consent’, while punishing dissent. To that end, the ruling elites don’t care about the commonweal so much as they care about how to continue powering the money train, which requires an equivalent techno-industrial platform to keep them at their current level of obscene wealth and privilege and power. But to sell the new and improved ‘green’ energy platform to the public, they have to paint the crisis with an apocalyptic brush (note how whatever threatens the elites is an apocalypse, while whatever threatens the public is another opportunity for exploitation).
    As an aside, military activity is a HUGE polluter and cause of atmospheric CO2 among the many culprits, but where are the anti-war protests among environmental activists? The U.S. military alone has a bigger carbon footprint than many entire industrialized nations like Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, et al. One can’t be an environmental activist and ignore the rampaging militarization of western culture and our forever wars without being intellectually dishonest — or just ignorant.

  8. The biodiversity crisis is a more serious concern, with extinction rates currently much higher than the “natural” background rate. Surely, it is amplified by climate change and industrial civilization, in general.

    When the pollinators are gone, how many more growing seasons will we have, even if the weather (and soil) is favorable in Siberia?

    I don’t see too many claims of imminent global apocalypse, but it’s clear to see that people experiencing (and being baked in their cars) wildfires or other disasters *are* living through an apocalypse. What activists are saying is that our actions today are locking in future disasters of all kinds. Most of the “bumpy ride” will be due to our response to the changing physical situation – famine, authoritarianism, genocide, accelerating ecological destruction.

  9. A bumpy ride, indeed. Personally, I think the whole “climate change” crisis has been hijacked by those parties interested in controlling and/or profiting from the changes proposed in energy use. The impact is resulting in blowback demonstrated by the rather self-centered “I gotta get mine first” attitude by the comfortable classes. It’s too bad we can’t as a species focus on mitigation of effects of climate change, and devote more resources to pollution reduction, understanding more about Solar cycles (the biggest factor in climate change), and studies related to localized food production in the future.

    But no, we gotta be humans.

    The bright side for me is that the negative aspects of the current climate change “actions” will be short-lived, as Overshoot and the Long Descent accelerate. We’ll have bigger fish to fry if wars (old-fashioned conventional, nuclear or now more likely biological) break out. With the economies of the world teetering on the brink as cheap energy gets further and further in the rear view mirror, climate change moves to the back burner as the Big Three Essentials (food, shelter, clothing) get much more difficult to obtain….

  10. All of Cincinnati was an ocean during the Ordovician period -some 443 million years ago, so a bit further back then when Crocs roamed the Greenland veldt. The Mill Creek (Maketewa) Valley where I live, is a remnant of the Deep Stage Ohio River from the days of the Last Glacial Maximum. Now there is just a muddy creek in the large swath that was once a riverbed.

    I’m not a member of AODA, but I looked at their curriculum a number of times and I really liked the part about reading books about the natural history of your region. Doing so has definitely given me a greater appreciation of the land I am on.

  11. Near where I live, in the Great Lakes region (at about 900 feet above sea level and about 400 feet above the lakes level) a large, I estimate 20-40 acre plot has been bulldozed. All the trees were stacked up in what I expected was going to be a giant burn pile, but instead it appears that they mulched all of it and trucked it away. The land is being cleared for a solar farm. I don’t know just what calculations made this seem like a good idea, but there it is.

    I read Kim Stanley Robinson’s recent novel on climate change, “The Ministry for the Future” when it first appeared. Fortunately I only borrowed it from the library, because I didn’t care much for it. The initial chapter is a gripping narrative of a climate disaster in India; very realistic. But after that it’s pretty much a screed about geo-engineering, a comical and improbable “intervention” at the WEF meeting, and so forth. Oh, and about 80 airliners being blown out of the sky in one day to discourage people from flying. Can’t forget that!

  12. This is solely an intuition-based evaluation, but I believe what is happening right now is a natural warming trend that has been pushed into high-gear by the prodigious amount of C02 we’re pumping into the atmosphere. So even if we could somehow just stop all fossil-fuel burning, what is happening now would still continue to happen, though perhaps a lot more gradually. (I say perhaps because we have added so much already that it’s possible that the end of all fossil-fuel burning might not even slacken the pace of the current change to any appreciable extent.)

  13. I don’t have my promised flying car yet. But I also don’t have my promised life among the fewer than a million surviving Californians, desperately picking through the post-apolyptic ruins. Or wandering the parched cracked remains of America’s former western breadbasket, the state’s central valley, now with not a single strawberry or lima bean to be found within a hundred miles.

    Nor do I have my travel brochure with an invitation to swim Maine’s warm oceans, then join Jessica Fletcher for a hike past the palm trees to the lush tropical rain forests of Cabot Cove.

    Often climate change is described as dangerous from the gradually rising temperature and sea level, but even more so from increasingly drastic storms and wild, erratic, wider swings between high and low temperatures. I’m surprised your essay only mentioned that in passing.

    A screenwriting theory says the protagonist wants to everyone to join them to consider the necessity of a change and take action, while the antagonist wants everyone to reconsider any change, and oppose or prevent it. From that point of view, many of the most memorable villians have seen themselves as the heroes for making necessary changes in the status quo. The Death Star was merely to restore the necessary order to the galaxy. And they would’ve got away with it, if not for those meddling kids!

    You have another jab about invasive species, but from living in the Midwest a while, I learned how seriously the Asian carp problem threatens heavy consequences for the Great Lakes. But that’s from careless travelers bringing along unwelcome aquatic pests, not from climate change.

    From living in Nevada a while, I thought that some of the extremely massive solar and wind ventures, as in the desert outside Vegas, provided a net profit of electricity, with next to no fossil fuel use once they were built.

    The Colorado River situation is clearly unsustainable. But that’s also not from climate change, it’s from a hundred years of treaties that assumed a record wet year was typical. Now, it would take a new international treaty to unravel that mess of contracts. Who wants to re-elect the politicians that cut the water supply in half, so it can be sustainable?

    (Your writing style is such a delight, by the way! Clear even for complex topics, with delightful laugh out loud moments, like today’s jab at hot air from the conference attending classes. Thank you so much for what you do.)

  14. Riding the Climate Toboggan brings to mind Calvin & Hobbes, although I think my favorite was the one where snow-Calvin and snow-Hobbes are discussing how the sled caught fire as they trudge up hill. (Fortunately the pond hadn’t frozen over yet.)

    Anyway, AC season is over for the year now, and this year I used the AC mode on the heat pump for part of 19 days.

    Starting from 2013 when I started tracking AC usage the numbers are 9, 10, 24, 11, 24, 22, 9, 11, 32, 16, and the 19 for this year. It is very rare to need AC at night here, this year it didn’t happen at all, last year (or maybe the year before) maybe for three days. Too much smoke can keep the heat trapped at night.

    Heating mode is measured in months, being on all day from the end of October to mid April and night time only from the end of September to the end of October and mid April to Mid May.

    Here at least the summer had very normal temperatures and was a bit wetter than normal though the rain came in a couple of big thunderstorms. Fewer fires than usual too, the two that did the most damage were by Medical Lake and the town of Elk north of Spokane.

    The climate apocalypse isn’t living up to its hype.

    Oh, bumper apple crop this year too.

  15. Since the end of the younger dryas period and the beginning of the Holocene around 12,000 years ago, earth has had an unusually stable climate. The beginning of this stable climate coincides roughly with the widespread adoption of agriculture.

    I think if the period of climate stability is ending, agriculture will become more difficult in some areas and nearly impossible in some places over the next few thousand years.

  16. It’s time for us to collectively accept the fact that, whatever the future holds, we will do *nothing* to change it. We can’t. I did some basic math (that may well be wrong) and, at current capacity, if we converted *all* auto manufacturing to electric today, (ignoring the supply chain issues) it would take roughly 30 years just to make enough vehicles to replace the ones on the road today, with no accounting for increased demand. Phoenix and Las Vegas are in immediate danger of literally running out of water in the next few years, and yet they wont stop laying water mains that they can’t keep full. Miami Beach suffers significant flooding several times a month and real estate values continue to rise. We are simply not prepared on any level for actual change.

    Nobody considers the vast social and psychological experience and significance of buying Fast Fashion. It’s far more complicated than “wear the clothes you have.” Like was, “everyone should stop eating meat.” The economic effects would be catastrophic, not to mention the impossible supply chain issues, and the mass psychological suffering. It’s like saying “just cut the tumor out,” without accounting for the fact a major organ will be lost in the process. The necessary change is like moving to a new country, learning a new language, learning cook an all new cuisine, changing your religion and, for some, starting a new career, simultaneously and as quickly as possible… without having any reason other than the vague existential assurance of some expert/activist that it is desperately necessary. People can’t, and they wont try.

    Scientist consistently say, “Within a hundred years,” because they hate to be wrong and they have no clue whats happening, but they figure it’s pretty certain the world will be vastly different in ten decades. A six, eight, ten foot sea level rise in a hundred years means *feet* of rise long before then. At the same time, literally every week they say, “Damn! We didn’t think that would happen this soon.” It’s time to stop focusing, at least only focusing, on futile efforts to stop it and start saying, Miami Beach will very likely be virtually uninhabitable in ten, maybe twenty years. Not underwater, just flooding so often nobody wants to live there, and without the beach that brought people there to begin with. There will be a major hurricane that destroys it before then. Does it really make sense to rebuild? The Colorado River could, to all practical purposes, dry up. Not completely, just to the point that life on it’s water is unsustainable. People are arguing about further dividing the water, instead of asking “What do we do in 10 (20?) years when there is NO water? The NAMC could fail (will fail?) at some point (5 year? 10? 50?) and when it does sea level in NYC will rise by feet, likely within a few years. That is not the time to ask “WT* do we do now?!”

    How to you decommission a city?! We are going to find out. Every single time, we will wait until the bitter end and scream, “The government needs to do something.”

  17. Climate Change is real because Climate no Change is impossible.
    Preparing to Adapt to Climate Change rather than futilily trying to keep Climate “The Same” whatever “The Same” is supposed to mean is a good idea.
    Excellent Article; I’ve presented at Climate Conferences on both the Alarmist and Denial perspective.
    You hit the Climate nail on the head. Excellent work!

  18. As much as I enjoy the kicking of the rich (who in fact, quite deserve the slapping around due to them), I think that, in terms of air travel, the hoi polloi and their slavish desire for a simulacrum of the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” might well be well be a bigger contributor to that part of the problem.

    The lower and middle class fill the too-small seats of the flying cattle cars that take off and land 45,000 times a day
    Over 5000 flights in the air at any time.

    Nope, there just really aren’t that many multimillionaires bopping about.

    While I think that the rich are a consummate bad example, it is the culture and the naked envy and sad attempts at emulation by the masses that are the problem. They aren’t trying to emulate the rich as much as they are trying to craft a life built around the incessant demands of the advertising industry.

    Even should the rich and “elite” decide to mend their wicked ways, the masses will still think that a trip to disneyworld from Idaho is a good idea, and there is a (insert preferred prefix here)ton of those folks out there, the air travel industry will get by nicely, thank you very much.

    I have a sneaking hunch that there will be a significant hiccup in the air travel industry should a serious economic/political event happen (a possibility that looks pretty strong at the current moment) the price and lack of money will perform its magic.

    I find blaming the rich/elite for their inability to walk the walk when they are talking the talk is somewhat facile. I am not disregarding it by any means, or even trying to argue that the effect isn’t there, but your theory relies too heavily on the idea that the hoi polloi are using the rich/elite as role models. This is a lemma of your theory that I feel could use some serious examination. It might be on point, but at this point, I am not super convinced and the current contempt for the rich/elite is growing every day.

  19. Dear Archdruid :

    Acording with temperarure data of meteorological stations in Spain, the promedium temperarure has not increased during the last 70 years.

  20. Thank you JMG! Sane, informative and balanced perspective. Very refreshing in our current “climate” 😉 of either/ or viewpoints.

  21. And in related news…. An actual climate scientist publishing an article confirming one of the many aspects of the climate science game you have described over the years.

    I Left Out the Full Truth to Get My Climate Change Paper Published
    I just got published in Nature because I stuck to a narrative I knew the editors would like. That’s not the way science should work.

  22. Quin, thanks for this as always.

    Viduraawakened, (1) I don’t happen to know any sources for south Asian paleoclimatology. The world’s a big place and I have my hands full keeping track of the country where I live. (2) That’s certainly one major issue with climate change models. Another is that there are literally tens of thousands of semi-independent, weakly interacting variables, and the best models in the world can’t begin to handle that level of complexity. (3) The Sun produced much less energy in those days. Stars increase their output steadily over the course of their time on the main sequence; 800 million years ago the Sun gave off considerably less heat than it does now, and so the Earth was an ice planet and Venus probably hadn’t had its runaway greenhouse effect yet.

    Wqjcv, whatever causes it, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that all the readily available fossil fuels will be extracted and burnt. After all, even the people who claim to be opposed to fossil fuel use cling to lifestyles that only fossil fuels make possible.

    Bill, you’re welcome and thank you!

    Benn, oh, it’s not the only question, but it’s the one that matters most.

    Horzabky, I’ve seen that sort of weird blind spot about premodern technology repeatedly. Nobody bothers to notice that people had long distance trade routes that shipped fish and a great many other things long before fossil fuels were anything but a curiosity.

    Fedora, I see it as a more complex matter than that, but yeah, the attempt to evade the consequences of peak oil and the rest of the planetary problematique by pushing green energy is an important part of what’s gotten us here. Unfortunately wind power and solar PV power are not much more economically viable than nuclear power — a point that some of us peakistas were making twenty years ago — and so now it’s devolved into “everyone else has to stop using fossil fuels so we don’t have to.” That’s not a strategy with a long shelf life.

    Dave, yes, I’m familiar with these claims too. I’m wondering if you’re even aware that grains, which provide the vast majority of human food directly and indirectly, are wind-pollinated rather than insect-pollinated. I’m also wondering if you’re aware that disasters comparable to the ones you’ve described happened just as often in earlier periods of non-anthropogenic climate change. That said, there’s a point to taking steps to preserve pollinators, but here again marching around waving signs clearly isn’t doing the job. Have you considered some more constructive approach?

    Drhooves, unfortunately, yeah, humans gotta human. Given that the climate is changing, and nobody’s willing to change the habits that are contributing to that, there are plenty of ways to assist the biosphere to cope with the changes, but nobody seems to be interested in those.

    Justin, nah, forget what I just said. I have a chainsaw I’d like to sell you. 😉

    Jeff, thanks for this! A useful reminder that these things happen.

    Justin, I put that into the AODA training program precisely because so many people who think they revere nature have next to no idea what nature actually amounts to; it’s an abstract label to them. Learning something about your local geology, paleontology, and ecology is a good cure for that.

    Phutatorius, Robinson really disappoints me these days. His earlier work was much better, largely because it was less thickly larded with the conventional wisdom.

    Mister N, that’s certainly a hypothesis worth considering.

    Christopher, good. You’ve noticed that the flying cars and the apocalyptic catastrophes are cut from the same cloth: if we do as we’re told, supposedly we’ll get the flying cars, and if we don’t, why, we get the catastrophes. Right? Except none of them are real.

    Siliconguy, I’m glad to hear about the apple harvest! Here in Rhode Island we had a very mild winter — I never had to shovel snow, which in a New England winter is kind of unusual — and though I don’t use air conditioning I noted that by and large it was a fairly mild summer.

    Enjoyer, that seems quite reasonable to me. There are areas of the world now where agriculture is only an option with huge inputs of fossil fuel energy, for that matter, and even aside from climate issues, that’s going away in the not too distant future.

    Bruce T., and of course the electric-car equation also doesn’t take into account the fact that the electricity to power the cars has to come from somewhere, and renewable sources are emphatically not cutting it. More generally, though, your point’s a good one.

    Michael, thank you.

    Degringolade, it’s not hoi polloi who are preening and posturing as Good People who are Saving the Earth, and since by and large they use much more carbon than anybody in the working classes, it seems to me that there’s a point to reminding them of their hypocrisy. I’m well aware that the masses also make a heroic contribution to the planetary mess, but it’s not as though they’re likely to listen to some blogger on the fringes, you know!

    Anselmo, that doesn’t surprise me. As I noted in the post, it’s at the poles that the temperature shift is really apparent.

    Jill, that’s a climate I’d love to see cool down a bit. 😉

    Bill, good gods. I hope he realizes he’s just destroyed his career. Once you admit that the current scientific process is a machine for regurgitating the conventional wisdom, not a method of determining facts…

    Justin, “Catawba” sounds to my ear like the name of a Great Old One…

  23. The toboggan metaphor is apt in another way: a slow, gradual start, a wild ride through the middle, followed by a slow, gradual return to rest. From what you’ve written here, that’s how I imagine the next few centuries of climate will feel.

  24. I wrote before the first batch of comments were up.

    Quin # 1, may healing, relief, comfort, and peace come to all who are in need of these blessings. How wonderful for the community of commenters to care about one another in this way.

    Viduraawakened # 2, I seldom see India discussed in climate change. I wonder what will come of its current wonderful climate diversity, from the planet’s highest glaciers through fertile valleys to tropical oceans.

    Paintings of scenes from Hindu and Buddhist scriptures seem to always depict a consistent warm and humid setting, throughout thousands of years. Is that accurate? Or perhaps I haven’t seen a wide enough sample of this religious art?

    A problem with understanding the science is a lack of math skill in the general public. I had two years of college algebra/trig and worked in software. The internal corporate-report stuff, without ever getting six figure salaries, or stock options to let me join the jet-setting class! Yet without having studied calculus or statistics beyond a very superficial introduction, I didn’t fully follow your remarks on nonlinearity.
    My only awareness of gamma functions is that they compress the extreme brightness range of images, with a linear encoding of midtones and a logarithmic encoding of extreme highlights and shadows. I don’t have any concept of how such a curve would apply to either digestion or climate.
    My life has shown that I’m above the overall average in math skill. Many people literally can’t follow along with the equations in the original papers, even if they knew where to look, had the time, and had patience to untangle the awful stilted, complex writing style of academia.
    Alan Kay invented the “dynabook” concept in the early 1970s, which was later built by Apple as the iPad hardware. They didn’t bother with his original software concept, which included that everyone could do their own modeling of pandemics, as well informed citizens.

    Horzabky # 6, Minnesotans with Scandinavian heritage wanted to introduce me to lutefisk. I left the midwest without ever having tried it. Another example of seafood preserved without ice, along with sailors’ stores of pickled or otherwise put-up seafood.

    Green Fedora # 7, agreed about the justifications of those in charge telling any story that will help them stay on top. I had an example of the big-boss-of-you-all mentality from software, but not directly related to climate change. I felt I needed to remove it, to honor the comment rules here about staying close to the topic.

    Phutatorius # 14, solar farms that far north seem at first glance to a layman that they’d be harder to justify economically, since total insolation is so much less than in, say, Nevada.

    Bruce T . # 18. “The necessary change is like moving to a new country, learning a new language, learning cook an all new cuisine, changing your religion and, for some, starting a new career, simultaneously and as quickly as possible… without having any reason other than the vague existential assurance of some expert/activist that it is desperately necessary.”

    I feel that same overwhelmed way about the alternative recommended here to “collapse now and avoid the rush.”
    Mostly from awful and really unavoidable circumstances, and partly from some poor decisions based on awful advice I took as well-intentioned and informed when it wasn’t ever both, I reached poor health, destitution, and social isolation. Now, I look for a way to restart from nearly nothing in midlife.

    Buying a house with a little garden, let alone finding an ecological, ecosophiacal, metaphysical farm community to relocate to and so forth, feels as out of reach and unlikely as winning a ticket to greenhouses on Mars.

    Where to even begin to begin seems all but incomprehensible, in a life already all but devoid of even some of life’s necessities, let alone luxuries. I mean things like finding a doctor for post-cancer follow-ups, somehow getting a good night’s sleep in a loud neighborhood, affording enough high-protein dollar store nutrition on food stamps. And replacing shoes worn out enough to hurt for a long crosstown walk, not Fast Fashion. My life is dirt cheap, but not sustainable to even sustain my life. Trying to even prioritize the urgent changes needed brings a sense of despair.

  25. Hi Quin,
    You suggested putting my sister Kameen Johnson on your prayer list for a month. I run a small farm and got too busy to reply just then. I would ask you to put Kameen up for a month of prayers for her comfort and wellbeing. Kameen died at the age of 18 mostly of neglect but also of taking an overdose of pills. Many thanks from Maxine Rogers

  26. All this and you forgot to mention James Lovelock and his concept of Gaia, the self-regulating Earth.

    But why do the gods allow climate changes that kill so many humans and animals? Is it their way of clearing the decks every so often?

  27. That sign with an invasive species alert is totally bizarre. It doesn’t warn us that the waters are infested; but that they are designated as infested. I think that one sign sums up the entire fallacy at work here, and probably totally by accident too.

  28. Thanks for the essay! I see you calibrate your metaphors especially towards readers who are sceptical about government action.

    As for local climate, I have only lived in Quebec for 7 years, but I can say that over this period, every single winter has been milder than the preceding one: less days below -20 C, less days that one can use ice rinks, less snow shovelling. On the other hand, May-August of this year have been rather milder than the other summers (right now, it is incredibly hot).

  29. Perhaps more thinking about what makes people able to change their minds, and subsequently their behavior, would be more useful than attempting to shame the feckless hypocritical rich? Though clearly deserved, such shaming is like gentle rain on their teflon coated backs; it just runs off unnoticed. I’m thinking that the only event likely to make any difference to our headlong rush to burn it all (fossil carbon) is a nice global economic depression. Falling human population might be our best hope for reducing the human impact on the rest of the biosphere, not because of mass abnegation but because flying to Disneyland from Idaho will no longer be economically possible. Crash the economy; save (some of) the environment?

  30. Thank you for the discussion. It’s good to be reminded of the “Middle Way” and find a blog written by someone who thinks critically before speaking / writing on any given subject. When scientific models are presented by people who are working with a mixture of assumptions and data–data that may/may not be correctly measured and/or interpreted, data that is out of date or poorly organized, data that is not clearly understood—I am reminded of the saying old-time engineers used so frequently. “The word ‘assume’ is a dangerous one: accepting assumptions without due diligence makes an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me.’ Remember that the assumptions upon which you’ve based your calculations are not factual. Calling assumptions ‘laws’ does not alter their unreliability.”

  31. Dylan, a good point.

    Zemi, I was writing an essay, not a book, so Lovelock’s hypothesis was one of many things that got left out. As for the gods, all those humans and animals are going to die someday, and if they die a little sooner than otherwise, why should that concern the gods?

    Anonymous, well, yes.

    Aldarion, thank you for the data point. As for the metaphors, why, yes. That’s most of who reads this blog, you know.

    Ken, I don’t happen to have the ability to crash the global economy; if you do, maybe you should try it. I do have the capacity to encourage people to disregard the blathering of the corporate media, and just maybe to convince a few people who are toddling on their merry way burning carbon to change their lives a little.

    Kate, thank you for this! A dose of old-fashioned engineering common sense would be helpful just now…

  32. The wonderful irony of history’s most invasive megafauna (Homo sapiens) freaking out about other invasive species has, for me at least, tended to mask the actual problem with “invasive species”: they force us to change. And we have built an incredibly complex and fragile edifice (industrial civilization) that only poorly adapts to changes.

    I am reminded of Butler’s first EARTHSEED verse in Parable of the Sower:

    All that you touch
    You Change.

    All that you Change
    Changes you.

    The only lasting truth
    Is Change.

    Is Change.

  33. Linear vs. cyclical climate change? We have Guy McPherson, who believes in abrupt irreversible climate change that will cause the Earth to become as hot as Venus.

    Ben Davidson believes that scientists have neglected the effect of solar particles, cosmic rays, the interplanetary magnetic field and Earth’s weakening magnetic field, to conclude wrongly that climate change is due to human activity. The weakening of the Earth’s magnetic field will mean that at some point in the 2030s, the electric grid will stop working, cars won’t start, and machines will become statues, so he believes. Not only that, but eventually the Earth’s mantle will loosen from the core and twist by up to 90 degrees. This kind of cataclysm occurs around every 12,000 years, he says. Who needs Viagra when Ben gives us disaster porn like that, eh?

    Ben thinks we’ll be hitting significantly cooler temperatures from around 2028, and crops may fail due to the cold weather. Piers Corbyn and a Professor Valentina Zharkova from Northumbria University (England) also believe in this coming climate change, though not the cataclysm thereafter that Ben Davidson foresees.

  34. As a chemist, I winced when I read your abbreviation of carbon dioxide as CO with a superscript 2. The correct abbreviation is CO with a subscript 2.

  35. Dear Mr. Archdruid

    What are your thoughts on Nate Hagen and his Reality Roundtable? I am finding these videos quite interesting and aligns quite nicely with your take. He seems to be a member of the Academy and I find his method of presentation interesting as it is geared to fellow members of the Academy. It is interesting that the people Mr. Hagens talks to are coming around to the “Alt” perspective found at places like this site.

    Concerning your second last paragraph, Naked Capitalism today had an interesting post about private jets. Of course one of the PMC boomers who frequent the comments came along with the argument about how flying private saves money when evil taxes are taken into account. Even though the article states “The range of prices initially quoted ranged from £4,208 to £91,148 (a typical return flight on a commercial airline is £100 to £250).” Boomers gonna boom I guess.

  36. @JMG
    “there are plenty of ways to assist the biosphere to cope with the changes, but nobody seems to be interested in those”

    If you wanted to do a post on things individuals and small groups could do along those lines, I’d be plenty interested in reading it – though I think you’ve written some on that topic back in your archdruid report days. Maybe it’s time to revisit the topic?

  37. @jmg — For me — Mr T Petty’s song says it all

    (the waiting is the hardest part).

    We all plug along — I myself starting raising chickens in the suburbs of Chicago this year. Got my 39th egg this AM (they started laying about 3 weeks ago).

    Now I gotta keep them alive thru winter — but with Global Warming that may get easier, ha ha ha.

    thx again for the thoughtful essay!

  38. @JMG, #25

    In your response to Bill (#23), you wrote:
    > good gods. I hope he realizes he’s just destroyed his career.

    Seems the author of the linked article walked in with his eyes open.

    “I left academia over a year ago, partially because I felt the pressures put on academic scientists caused too much of the research to be distorted. Now, as a member of a private nonprofit research center, The Breakthrough Institute, I feel much less pressure to mold my research to the preferences of prominent journal editors and the rest of the field.”

    So he had the good sense to jump ship, and only in his way out torch the powder magazine. He seems to have used a slow fuse, but I am less than sure we’d come out of the blast zone at the time of publishing this.

  39. @Bill and JMG,
    he apparently has left academia since writing the article for Nature due to being disillusioned with the way scientific publishing skews published articles towards narratives that the peer reviewers want to see. Prior to the nature article, he’d had articles rejected and published in less-good outlets because, he says, they didn’t follow the narrative, and that’s why he got desperate and did things the way they wanted in the Nature article. I get the impression he’s pretty unimpressed with the whole affair. He’s now working for a private nonprofit institute. That’s probably why he was willing to speak out.

  40. Enjoyed your post today. This particular horse appears to be a zombie: no matter how many times it is flogged, it just won’t stay down.

    The subject still needs talking about because the two main narratives just aren’t working.

  41. Bluescreen Bill wants to clear cut 70 million acres in North America and bury the trees in order to capture the carbon. And the lucrative credits of course. Remember the good old days when communism was mostly a threat for humans?

  42. Greetings, Any thoughts on how to adapt to climate change events in the next few decades?

    Joining a midsize city / large town, gardening and having useful skills in the community come to mind but there is lots of uncertainty about the weather and social shocks that will come ..

  43. Interesting post – thanks! But please would you use the correct nomenclature for carbon dioxide: CO₂ (not CO-squared)!

  44. I taught a course on this just a few months ago making similar points regarding paleoclimatology and uncertainty , but my emphasis was more Greta- like, so to speak, and you get at the reason towards the end — it is going to be a bumpy ride and while in the very long run it might be preferable to live on a warmer earth, the transition could cause enormous suffering and it is likely that some of the mass extinctions of the past were caused in part by climate change.

    I share your annoyance with activists who talk about the end of all life or other hyperbolic statements— earth history includes cataclysmic events far greater than anything we could do including nuclear war. With the Hadean eon you will find papers trying to calculate how large an asteroid would need to be to boil the oceans into steam. Events like that probably happened back then, though there may or may not have been any organisms to kill. During the Archean Eon there were bacteria and there were also impacts that were smaller than the possible ocean boilers of the Hadean, but still far bigger than the Chixculub impact.

    So yes, prehistoric events could be terrifying, far far worse than our current situation. But that doesn’t mean we can be complacent. Our civilization could collapse or at least go into a massive decline, even if there isn’t anything nearly as bad as one of the mass extinction events. If I understand your writings correctly, you think that is likely. Well, in practice that process probably means a great deal of suffering.

    The difficulty is in deciding what to do about it. I don’t know.

    I haven’t read the other comments. Someone else might have made similar points.

  45. This leaves me with a confirmed image of Bill Gates as the energetic six-year-old with a set of tools and him begging to be paid to get under the hood of your car.

  46. On a less whimsical note, does anyone know what the current science is around holes in the ozone layer and acid rain? Those are two I heard a lot about in previous decades, but not so much now.

  47. Everyone talks weather and climate, no one talks jet trails, atmospheric ionization, and high frequency active aural ionospheric heaters. If you haven’t noticed over twenty years of jet trails, you don’t look up. If you haven’t heard of the ionospheric heaters, you don’t read much.

  48. The problem I had with Kim Stanley Robinson’s original climate change trilogy (Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, Sixty Days and Counting) as well as The Ministry of the Future, is that in both cases a happy ending in which the world is saved seems forced, which reminds me of all the discussion of a eucatastrophe we had in previous posts.
    In contrast in his novel 2312, there are terraforming programs on Mars and Venus, whereas the climate on Earth is still mired in political wrangling. The procedure for Venus is to build a giant sunshade to put the planet in darkness, and freeze out the carbon dioxide and bury it underground, and hope it doesn’t escape again, I thought this was a bit of a sideswipe at the idea of carbon sequestration and storage.

  49. Degringolade; I worked with Billionaires. I’m poor but hard working. The ones I’ve seen are some of the hardest Working People. Workaholic is an understatement. 70 hour Weeks, intense Travel and Meeting Schedule. I never met any Idle Billionaires but some Millionaires can kick it back once in a while.
    I wouldn’t trade places with them.

  50. One of the reasons there is so much poison used in agriculture is the war against “invasive” bindweed. The kinds of herbicide used to “protect” hay from bindweed poison everything else too, but because those things don’t die immediately, the people doing the farming sign off on it. Bindweed grows vigorously in my yard. I don’t use anything against it except a shovel and my two hands. I noticed it HATES mint. I am currently growing a mint moat around my small house in order to deter termites and rodents. Bindweed likes to climb up anything that rises from the ground and throttle it. I noticed that it rarely climbs mint and when it does, its grasp is very weak unlike with other plants. If you want to control bindweed, plant mint. Both are considered invasive species to pearl-clutching eco-Karens. Oh well, too bad, so sad.

  51. Kittenville used to be zone 5. Now we’re zone 6; more realistically, zone 5 1/2. If the zone 6 plants are up against the side of a building and properly mulched, they’ll probably survive the winter. Out in the middle of a yard on the north side of a building, maybe not.

  52. In summary.

    We can’t do anything about it? And we don’t know exactly what is going to happen? Or when? Or that we’d see anything much more than what would look like random turbulence on our time scale?

    I guess the absolute certainty of the party line on the subject would be more comforting to some. I think I’ll just stop at “we can’t do much about it at this point” and move on.

  53. This makes me think of the possibility of ‘pre-historical’ human civilizations, i.e, human civilizations that existed in the distant past but were lost to time.

    Before the stable climate of the holocene, agricultural civilization may have been able to exist, but only in a few choice spots, like fertile valleys along the coasts. The ‘barbarians’ would live inland. Rising sea levels would submerge these old civilizations and we would never be able to find a trace of them, leaving only the barbarian sites available for archeologists. Sites like Gobekli Tepe show that humans had the capability to build sizeable structures at least by 95000 BC.

    Here’s an analogy. When scientists and artists first started reconstructing dinosaurs, they often made them ‘shrinkwrapped.’ They made them scrawny, featherless, featureless, mindless beasts. This is because scientists are very conservative, they try to stick to only the scant evidence they have for dinosaur appearance and behavior and eschew speculation. Because we have so little dinosaur remains, they ironically end up with an inaccurate picture of how dinosaurs looked and how they lived, even though they’re sticking to the evidence! They could have been more accurate from the beginning by doing some light speculation based on the behaviors and appearance of the living descendants of dinosaurs (birds). Today we know from new fossil evidence that dinosaurs were plumper, more feathered, and more interesting than the shrinkwrapped brutish depictions that science stuck to in the earlier years.

    Some paleoanthropologists are doing the same thing to humans, portraying them as simple, naked, and uncultured. Because we don’t have conclusive evidence of prehistoric civilizations, they don’t consider the possibility. So many illustrations of ancient humans don’t even include clothes because they don’t have conclusive evidence of clothes. (Of course they don’t, it would decay!) I’m sure a more realistic depiction of ancient humans could be made by lightly speculating based on what we know of the appearance, behavior, and nature of modern humans.

  54. “A thousand years from now things may be great, but that’ll be small consolation to you, or to the generations who have to deal with the rest of the change.”

    Actually, I take it as a fairly significant consolation. This would mean that when I’m in what will probably be my second incarnation after this one, I’ll be in a world whose climate is actually rather attractive to me. At least in this incarnation, I’ve found that I love hot, humid, tropical and sup-tropical environments. Maybe I’m odd in that way. And knowing that once the horrible troubles of the transition are past, I might live a few lifetimes or more in such a world doesn’t strike me as too bad.

    Though each incarnation will have its good and bad, I’ve found that reincarnation (at least meditating upon its implications) bring me a great deal of comfort and consolation. Not only will life and the world keep on going, so too will I.

  55. What’s your take on how long the equable climate will stick around. I’ve always assumed that due to the arrangement of the continents and orbital conditions that any equable climate won’t last long. Large scale sequestration will likely set in across the oceans sucking out a lot of excess CO2 over thousands and tens of thousands of years. But I could be wrong.

  56. This discussion of Earth at one time being more of a jungle world made me think of Madame Blavatsky. Specifically her claims about earlier cycles of humanity, including the idea that an earlier human civilization was based around the seas of a warm north pole. How on earth did the Theosophists know about paleoclimatology in the late 19th century?


  57. If they are right and it is all on us and our industrial and demographic footprint that is the sole cause *cough cough* of the climate weirding then the massive drop off in both population and industrial output over the coming long descent will ‘save’ us.

    If they are wrong and the planet is doing its thing blithly unaware of the motes running about on its surface then climate (insofar as it affects us negatively) is a predicament to process through rather than a problem to be solved as in any battle of man vs gaia it is planet that comes out on top.

    Interesting concept that ‘paradise’ is effectively an invasive species from the perspective of our current society and outlook!

  58. Kind Sir,

    I had this theory for quite a while that a rather strange species of hairless, bipedal and somewhat hyperactive ape is Gaia’s way of bringing CO2 levels back from the dangerously low values of the last few million years. and restoring the balance.

  59. Not only have we been planting new trees this year, we just took four young moringa trees to the local feed store to sell on consignment for store credit. Two new grapefruit trees for hubby, two new Olympia fig trees, and two pygmy date palms – which the goats gave the “scalp of approval” to let us know how much they love the flavor of those leaves. Since the goats refuse to stay in the pasture anymore, we have to cut them some green stuff: sometimes I cut them grass, sometimes we trim the wild beautyberry plants, and sometimes hubby takes a machete to the clumping bamboo that is thriving near the pigpen. On our list of trees we want to grow/plant: Barbados cherry (acerola), pindo palm (also called jelly palm), true date palms, and silver (Indian) date palms, also called sugar date palms.

    Oh, and hubby just started soaking another round of moringa seeds – we’re repotting about a dozen to keep and put around the goat pens. We already know the hens like how the leaves taste, because the seedlings started out in the chicken yard in an attempt to keep them away from the wild deer.

    This sounds impressive until I point out we had a small wildfire caused by a lightning strike in early July. Thankfully, a neighbor spotted it before it got very big, and called the county fire department who called in state forestry, who brought in three bulldozers to make a firebreak around wildfire. I must admit, I am very glad to live in a state that takes wildfires seriously (Florida), especially when I saw the photos of the aftermath of the wildfire in Lahaina, Hawai’i!

    All these climate “activists” ought to plant more trees. If nothing else, we need to keep up with the annual wildfire destruction.

  60. Hi JMG,

    You might be interested in the Ethical Skeptic’s take. He doesn’t dismiss anthropogenic global warming, but he offers evidence that something is happening in the earth’s core. This may also be the reason behind the shifting magnetic poles. I gained a lot of respect for the Ethical Skeptic with his writings on Covid.

    (A few years old, but updated recently.)

  61. John Michael: (I always smile when I call you that, it is what my mother always called me)

    I think that perhaps we both are right. I suppose that my repugnance of the rich is as bad as yours. While I posited the main problem of the climate issue as being the feckless hoi polloi, your response to Ken (#32) made me reconsider…perhaps it is the whorish nature of the news media in aggrandizing the Leonardo Di Caprio’s of the world that is the real problem.

    I am a adherent of the “eat the rich” school. But the news media is the only sector of the society that makes me want to place the rich in second place to make room for their sorry butts.

  62. Two observations: Everyone cares about carbon footprint until they buy a car or go on vacation.

    Also, isn’t it strange that in the midst of a heat dome summer, we still light fires in the basement to dry our clothes. Line dried clothes and sheets are a forgotten pleasure.

  63. Ken, thank you for this! But we’re not history’s most invasive species, not by a long shot. We’re just the Holocene epoch’s most invasive species of megafauna. Most of the world’s species — all those that didn’t evolve in their present eange — are invasive species, and microfauna and microflora make all us larger organisms look like pikers.

    Batstrel, for every hypothesis there’s an equal and opposite hypothesis. So? This is why it’s so important to notice (a) what’s actually happening and (b) what has happened earlier in Earth’s history.

    SLClaire, so noted and fixed.

    A1, I don’t watch videos so I have no idea what Nate’s up to these days. As for the jets, um, billionaires can afford to pay more for flights. If they actually care about saving the world, shouldn’t they be eager to cough up a little additional cash?

    Pygmycory, I’ll certainly consider that.

    Jerry, delighted to hear it. Give my best to your hens. 😉

    CR and Pygmycory, okay, that was smart of him.

    Aloysius, he really seems to be dead set on doing the worst possible things.

    Tony, you might find my books The Long Descent and Green Wizardry worth reading; I discussed all this in those and other volumes.

    Gary, so noted and fixed.

    Donald, our civilization is already in a state of accelerating decline, following the normal life cycle of civilizations. If it follows the usual pattern it’s going to take one to three centuries to come apart, followed by a dark age of five hundred years or so, and then by the rise of successor societies. This is normal. I’m well aware that the process is going to involve a lot of trauma for a lot of people — the usual rule of thumb is that population bottoms out at around 5% of peak levels, and of course that adds up in practice to a vast amount of human suffering — but very few people anywhere are doing any of the things that might mitigate that process, and after 17 years of blogging on these themes (and 11 published books on the topic) I don’t have a lot of hope left that governments and other interests with significant resources will do anything constructive. The problem isn’t even a matter of deciding what to do; it’s one of getting more than a very few people to notice the obvious and respond to it.

    Andy, it’s not an inaccurate image.

    Justin, that I know of, the ozone layer started healing after CFCs were banned and acid rain has become much less of a problem now that coal has largely been replaced by natural gas — but I’m quite prepared to be wrong.

    Cobo, sure, and there are thousands of other variables affecting the climate that aren’t being discussed either. So?

    Mawkernewek, he’s stuck in a Technology Will Fix Things!™ rut, and he’s somehow managed to fail to notice that every technology has its inevitable blowback — and the bigger the technological change, the bigger the blowback. Oh well.

    Kimberly, that’s fascinating about bindweed and mint. Thank you!

    Your Kittenship, thanks for the data point.

    Other Owen, oh, we can do quite a bit about it. It’s just that most of what we can do about it consists of mitigation, not making it stop, and the things that could at least slow it down are things that nobody in our ruling classes are willing to consider for a moment.

    Enjoyer, these are excellent points. If I ever get around to revising my book on the Atlantis legend I plan on getting deep into this sort of thing.

    Brenainn, so noted!

    Peter, in the prehistoric past it’s remained in place for tens of millions of years at a time; it’s apparently much more stable than the freeze-thaw cycles of glaciation. Since we don’t know what drives the changes, however, that’s a question that may not be answerable.

    John, good. I’ve been reflecting on this quite a bit, since I realized that her material on Lemuria makes quite a bit of sense in the light of what’s now known about the drowned subcontinent of Sundaland, of which the islands off southeast Asia were once the mountain chains. It really does look like she had a source of accurate information on paleoclimatology.

    Dreamer, hmm! Paradise as an invasive species — yeah, that works.

    DropBear, that’s occurred to me also. Our species may have come into being for the sole purpose of digging up some spare carbon and nudging the planet’s thermostat a little higher.

    Kmgunnart, delighted to hear this. It’s especially important to plant trees that are suited to warmer temperatures, so that they’ll be in place as the climate belts keep moving — certainly what you’re planting seems very suitable.

    Jon, I’ve seen that. It’s an intriguing argument, especially in terms of the changes in sea temperature, but I want to see more evidence.

  64. “Because we have so little dinosaur remains, they ironically end up with an inaccurate picture of how dinosaurs looked and how they lived, even though they’re sticking to the evidence! They could have been more accurate from the beginning by doing some light speculation based on the behaviors and appearance of the living descendants of dinosaurs (birds). ”

    They couldn’t speculate that what dinosaurs looked like based on birds because they didn’t make that connection until the late 1980’s. I was in undergraduate school at the time and the debate was quite heated as to whether birds were dinosaurs or from from some other lineage.

    Sometime soon after that the evidence did turn up that showed birds are dinosaurs. It might have been the fossils with feathers, or maybe the high resolution scans that showed that dinosaurs were warm blooded.

  65. cobo – So… I’ve read the Wikipedia article on HAARP, an ionospheric heater in Alaska, and I’m not alarmed. Should I be? The total amount of power that it consumes, when it’s in operation (which is rarely) can be provided by a half-dozen high-end but transportable diesel generators. (Just by coincidence, I heard it operating “Ghosts In The Airglow” a few weeks ago, on my ham radio receiver.)

  66. Greatest quote perhaps of my year: “it’s the same drivel, eternally.” Wow what a gob snacking of common sense and erudition and good education this piece serves up, sir. I wish I had written it. This clarifies a great deal and cements it. QED. I’m still ciphering on that Mississippi river divide. Hoping Arkansas gets grandfathered in as the last of the Appalachian rain chain. Plus I’m a sucker for lost causes.

  67. Oh, my God! How did I miss out on the entire Sharknado opus? As is your habit, John Michael, you have once again enriched my life and expanded my worldview to no end!

    Of course, you’re absolutely right that Sharknado can’t even begin to compete with the Brechtian absurdity of the Climapocalypse, which so reliably gets hyped at us every time that standbys like Coronapocalypse or Crimeapocalypse start losing their motivational appeal. But how could something as unmistakably plausible as Sharknado ever lose its hair-raising motivational appeal? Holy flying sharks, Batman, that shale is for real, for real!

    Now at last, I have one more breathlessly anticipated apocalypse to prep for — Yeehaw! Go long on chainsaws and helicopters, folks! They’re gonna be selling like hotcakes once the selachii start raining down from the heavens. We must have well and truly displeased a shark god to find ourselves threatened with such an unexpected divine retribution.

  68. The other great toboggan adventure that always makes me laugh;

    More on topic, I got in one argument about global warming with a guy who said we had to return to preindustrial conditions and I asked him which one. After giving him multiple options he came up with 1950 as the last perfect year. At least I got a number out of him. It doesn’t count as preindustrial though.

  69. @Green Fedora:
    YES! Exactly this. And it also works if it fails, because we can get people to do without modern comforts for the sake the climate catastrophe. Either way the elites get theirs.

    @Dave St.Germain:
    YES! Biodiversity is SO MUCH MORE important that atmospheric CO2. A healthy earth will help us mitigate excess atmospheric CO2 much more than man-made schemes. Prioritizing decline of atmospheric CO2 over protecting biodiversity (like burying trees) is a bit like killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Back in the 90s, environmentalism was all about “saving the whales”. I think we would do well to go back to that mindset. If we are wrong about anthropogenic CO2, protecting diversity will mean we’ve done a world of good anyway. If we are wrong about CO2 and we’ve spent our resources on abating atmospheric CO2, we’ve gotten nowhere and potentially made the situation worse.

  70. Siliconguy, thanks for this.

    Degringolade, I’m not arguing!

    John D, granted. Were you aware that many neighborhoods and some entire towns have laws against hanging out laundry to dry?

    Lathechuck, yes, I’ve seen this. It’s wrong about trees — trees are carbon neutral unless they’re buried, since the carbon they extract from the atmosphere gets returned to the atmosphere when they die and rot — but an uncomfortably good case can be made for the rest of it!

    Celadon, I didn’t coin that phrase — it’s a reference to a great line in the Illuminatus! trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. Thank you for the praise!

    Christophe, I’m delighted to have added some flying sharks to your life. 😉

    Siliconguy, you should have offered him his choice of tiers from Retrotopia!

  71. By the way, I’ve fielded a flurry of comments objecting to my references to the Covid vaccines, mostly by people who’ve never commented here before and mostly repeating what sounds very much like a set of prearranged talking points. Since paid troll farms are a common affliction of the internet these days, I’ve deleted them all, and will delete any further comment on that theme. Thank you all for your forbearance.

  72. The Victorian Department of Education provides the state’s schools with a list of approved – er, “suggested” – themes to cover each term across maths, english and so on. My children’s school invariably chooses “sustainability.” I consider this a worthy theme, if a bit overdone, and usually approached in a rather token manner.

    Recently the sustainability issue was discussed in class, and the invasive species issue you mentioned in passing came up. The teacher explained, “An invasive species is defined as one which disrupts the existing environment. By this definition, the First Fleet and British settlers from 1788 onwards count as an invasive species.”

    My son (12) put his hand up, and said, “Doesn’t that mean the aboriginal people were an invasive species, too? After they came they ate the megafauna into extinction, that’s pretty disruptive.”

    “That’s racist,” the teacher said. All invasive species are equal, but some are more invasive than others, perhaps?

    Still, this reinforces your point: the world’s environment has changed before, and in response to human activity, too (if not so global). That it happens a lot doesn’t mean it’s pleasant – once the aboriginal people ate the last diprotodon there will have been a very hungry dry season or two…

  73. Doesn’t the notion that we exist in order to raise the planet’s thermostat privilege the present in a teleological sense? If this is why human beings exist, then the present, or at least, the centuries around our, forms the pinnacle of our existence; everything we’ve ever been, ever done, has lead to our current society; and once we’re finished, our purpose for existing as a species is over.

    So, as much as I like the idea that Gaia made us in order to get Koch Industries and Enron, I’m dubious of the claim. That being said, I could easily see her deciding that she has a species which can produce such industries for her own purposes; but I’m dubious of the claim it’s why human beings evolved. It makes our present time too special for my tastes.

  74. It is interesting that the most recent USDA plant hardiness map, which you showed, is from 2012. I wish that the USDA would compile these more frequently. This is the kind of multi-factor analysis that is so hard to bias to fit a narrative. A 40 year span animated graphic would be most instructive.

  75. In the past year and a half I have moved my shop from North Portland ( whew, just in time) to an unincorporated part of Washington County ( western suburbs of Portland). Despite being incorporated ( not a town with a mayor and such) we do have a name Aloha.
    Surrounding me are working class suburbs with most 1 story 1960’s and 1970’s houses. But in some strange homage to the name of the place lots of people plant palm trees in their yard. When I first saw this I thought it was kind of absurd because we are on the 45th parallel and theoretically outside the climatic band where palm trees can survive. But as I look at them over time they seem to be thriving. Maybe I lucked out and stumbled in to a place that is climatically ahead of its time ( Aloha) and has the trees in place for the climate future.

  76. Hi JMG,

    the Antartic has had much less sea ice than previous years since February 2023. I heard that less light will be reflected there and this will contribute significantly to warming.

    How much warming can that be if there is little sea ice in the Antartic for a few months every year?

  77. Supposedly if best practices were utilized in the management of the biosphere – restoration of degraded ecosystems, protection of rain forests and other ecosystems, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, well managed grazing, agro forestry and so on – the biosphere could absorb and place the carbon produced yearly by fossil fuels into the soil and organisms annually. If this is true and it takes place (yes, I know, not likely) if fossil fuel use decreases we could run into a carbon dioxide deficit crisis and have to keep burning coal to keep up with a healthy biosphere”s demands for carbon. So the ancient life forms stored as fossil fuels rejoin us in new forms. I can’t decide if this comment is tongue-in-cheek or serious. I am not here undercover from the coal industry.

  78. EcosophyEnjoyer,
    “Sites like Gobekli Tepe show that humans had the capability to build sizeable structures at least by 95000 BC.”
    Probably a typo. The number I have read is 9500 BC.
    (John Michael Greer, if this has already been mentioned before this would go up, please just delete this comment. Thank you.)

  79. JMG
    It is quite sad to me: there are almost none of my friends that I could have this conversation with; I can really only think of a couple. All the rest are either apocalypse believers, or climate change deniers, or some point pretty near those extremes. Their views on climate change tend to line up with a whole list of other issues. From their view on climate change, one could probably make a fairly accurate guess on their views on 10 or 12 other issues.
    In the old days they said you could always talk about the weather to avoid contentious subjects. I guess that is off the list now.

  80. Just to add to my last comment: I had a friend, now deceased, who was quite involved in the climate movement and a bit of a celebrity in it.When I said to him that there wasn’t enough fossil fuel left to achieve their most dire scenarios, he looked at me and said ” I don’t care if you are right. I am still going to continue my presentations” He wasn’t making money out of it, but he was getting a lot of attention and praise which he didn’t want to give up.

  81. I always find it curious how often the star right next to Earth is never mentioned as having an effect on climate.
    Or even the effect of the even bigger galaxy we are in.
    And finally space itself.
    I feel perhaps they may play some small roll.
    On a smaller scale I remember Dmitry Orlov mentioning research by some Russian scientists finding that heat is coming from the ocean floor. From places where it should be much colder. Showing that, at least some, climate heating was coming from the bottom up.
    Thanks for this post. I love this subject!

  82. I don’t know what has happened in the last year, but the amount of division in rhetoric on all sides of almost all topics is getting extreme. I don’t really venture online much any more but when I do it is getting BAD!

    Climate folks on both sides is a great example. We are all going to die next week and every year is worse forever and ever OR nothing is happening at all you are brain washed. I remember being practically shouted down in 2019 when the Australian bush fires were happening because I said the unthinkable “Yes, this is more likely long term BUT it will not happen every year”. Looks like we weren’t over run by fire for the last 3 years…

    But at the same time when you see people who are experiencing direct blow back from the climate change and are basically just ignoring it, that isn’t helpful either.

    While I do agree a little that the speed of the change we are going to have is going to hit industrial society hard, it isn’t the end of everything, people will continue there are bigger issues with resources that we will face harder and faster. I like that many Military reports have called Climate Change a ‘threat multiplier’. It is very accurate in that it makes other already big issues worse.

    Jean Marc Jancovici summarized it the predicament of peak-oil and climate perfectly. It is like putting your finger in a pair of scissors and then arguing which one will cut first. They both cut at the same time, they are both parts of the same problem.

    But so many people just do not want to even engage with the thought of this. Just last week I was arguing with someone from an environmental group that “Holiday flights to Bail are a want, not a need” The push back was extreme! I don’t recall Bali holidays on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

    Another is seeing people get worked up about China/Russia/Whoever merely working around sanctions and doing things for themselves, many just cannot face up to the blowback from our governments actions.

    Unless it is onward and upward forever just for us, it is considered wrong! Ok back to my hermit cave for a while.

  83. I think the worst thing about climate change is that it will drastically increase the chances of nuclear war, which will be much worse than the climate change itself. Rising sea levels and desertification will cause political instability, which could easily result in a nuclear conflagration, because humans aren’t too smart.

  84. Kimberley,

    Grazon sprayed on hayfields has been one of the banes of my organic gardening efforts for years. You think you’re doing the right thing, adding composted horse manure to your soil, only to discover that no nightshades will grow there for the next 3 years…

    Talk about an own goal.

  85. Morning John,
    An excellent article, and a refreshing alternative take on the climate change situation. The aspect that particularly interests me is agriculture. A lot of agriculture today, mono cropping at scale, requires steady climatic conditions. And that’s the one thing we are not going to get. This suggests significant impacts on yields, large increases in prices, and starvation and famine for those with poor access to affordable food. To me this suggests a significant decrease in global population levels is going to start, at some point his century. Do you see it in the same way, or have a different take?
    Kind regards

  86. Long time lurker here, writing from the Southwestern European Imperial Satrapy formerly known as the Kingdom of Spain.
    Many thanks Mr Greer for this very relevant essay!

    Yes! Climate Change is real… Climate is always changing, in fact. This is my main argument against climate models. Because we do not have a scaled down Planet Earth B constrained in a laboratory, we do not have any baseline to compare our current climate against. An example: some people argue that the massive injection of water vapor into the upper atmosphere due to the Hunga Tonga underwater eruption ( ) is the cause of the hotter temperatures of the last 2 years. But… who knows???? as there is no Planet B that has not suffered a Hunga Tonga eruption to compare against, we cannot prove that this is the case!

    As you have mentioned southern Europe, I can provide some concrete details:

    1) According to satellite vegetation measurements, southern Europe´s vegetation is doing good, thanks. No wholesale deforestation going on. One paper studying the trend from 1981 to 2018:
    The main image of the study here:
    Even historically arid areas like southern Turkiye, coastal Syria or Algeria are doing good. Morocco, on the other hand, is not.

    2) The most extensive ecosystem in central – southern Spain is the oak savannah (Spanish: dehesa), that is extremely robust to climate variations. Mediterranean oaks are pretty tough, they do easily withstand several drought years in a row and can regrow even if the above earth part of the tree is completely burned down.

    3) The main issues here re. forest cover are fires, and these are not the product of hot, dry summers (which are the norm here!!), but the result of a very flawed, ideological, not fact based forest management policies.

    4) A couple years ago I made the the exercise of downloading the raw temperature data of the 2 weather stations closest to my home (almost 100 and 60 yrs of data, respectively) and found no significant long term trend there, even considering that the areas around these sites have suffered a significant increase in urban development.

    5) Same with sea level rise. I have lived over 40 yrs very close to the Med sea and there have been () until now at least) no significant issues here (no massive storm surges or damage of underground facilities like is happening in Florida). The problems here come usually from areas that have been newly developed in risky areas and that are sooner or later washed away by floods.


  87. Hi JMG,
    A wonderful blast from the past for a former Archdruid report reader like me, and it nicely complements your post about climate cells last year.
    I have some points and I apologise, because one of them is controversial.

    1. I would like to inform, that there is at the least one third option going on in the world. This past year I listened to a lecture on climate change at an Austrian university where they presented an approximation of temperatures rising 4,3 kelvin and they admitted, that they do not know how the precipitation situation is going to change. Later I was attending a training course where ecology was a big part and had 3 foresters explain how the forestry departments of 4 European nations are responding to this exact approximation by furthering planting of climate change appropriate tree species. „In 20 years there are not going to be any spruce trees below 1000 m sea level. They cannot handle the heat, that is why we have so much Forrest die off now.“

    2. recently I partook in a revived tradition. The youth of my village revived an old tradition that their grandfathers celebrated. (Akin to Krampus, just in spring) and as an ancore we took a bis trip to celebrate. Just so happens trough north Italy. Now 10 years ago the region was known for the abandoned villages. Well not any more. They are being repopulated. Where else are all those south Italians going to go. In those villages the rents and realestate prices are low.
    Now I saw potato fields worked by family groups of two to three families with children working in unison. Just like when I was 6. victory gardens, sheep. Community run buisinesses. And my group talked about the importance of neighbourly support local autonomy and resilience.
    So: – local 20 year old realise and re-implement local traditions (a 250 year old flag was being carried around)
    – back valley villagers are going local and to the roots. And building gardens.
    And there were some comments, that indicate, that at least 3 people had at least a passing reference to at least one of your articles or books.
    It is just, that „Mother Bella‘s gardening“, „uncle Giovani‘s guide to local history“ and „Herbert’s collection of local fears tales“ are more practical for most books. But for my part. If I take your material and loathe it in local expressions. My people there listen with fascination.
    Teacher, you matter! But even if implemented. As you say the population will gutter out at 5% so after the famine, ecological disasters and violence. Just every 20th village will stand. But that is a seed bearer. 🙂
    And if what I saw in this 250 km stretch of Europe is to go by, there could be many.

    Best regards,

  88. Good day, JMG and everyone.

    That’s a fairly good briefing of our current global situation. Now, the issue is guessing how we are going from today to the far future.

    Reporting from what I am seeing in our garden, This year the draught has stroke hard. It’s not that it hasn’t rained, it’s that it’s rained a little bit less than usual, but at the wrong time. That’s a kind of draught too, not raining when it used to rain. Crops grow too early or too late, fruit trees are not yielding fruit because the flooding rains ruined the flowers.
    Heat has also been a problem. Our summer is always very hard during the day, with high UV radiation killing tender plants, but nights usually were cool, giving some breath to the stressed plants. Now, last year and this one, summer nights have been hot too. The earth is drier than ever. Even draught resistant plants are in the brink of sun burning. No olives, no figs, no carobs from the young trees. Only the old carob has produced something, it may be reaching some very deep water.
    My local wheat flour provider hasn’t sent me anything this year, I suspect he is out of stock.
    So that’s what an unstable climate looks like: little or no food.

    There are some strategies that could be worked, like accepting that our climate is now desertic, doing some earthworks for capturing more water in these flooding events and planting species adapted to the new climate. Except that I’ve found out that touching anything closer than 100 m to a water stream is illegal here in Spain. And by illegal I mean heavily fined. The same as it is illegal to introduce exotic species to the wilderness.

    Another bit that could help is reforestation. I realised our dryland garden is not working as it should because the lack of forested areas nearby. We need more large forests, since that’s one of the causes for the wrong raining patterns. But all reforestation efforts (along with my money) are just wasted planting pine trees. They mostly fail because the weather is not like it used to be. But even when it succeeds, it’s just a couple of decades before wildfires torn it apart. Pine trees are a wildfire loving species, but also the ground doesn’t hold enough water for the growth.
    The reason pine trees are still the go to for reforestation is that it suits well the four year mandates, visible results before the next elections, no politician dares to do anything for the mid-term, least for the long-term.
    We need forests with plenty of succulents and cacti (this area is fire hazardous), we need to grow herbs and shrubs for several years before attempting to grow trees, and even then, the first trees need to be nitrogen fixers, not conifers.
    I think most foresters know this, but I don’t see that put into practice and I can only blame short sighting from our polititians.

    In other words, the world is changing, our government is failing to adapt to climate change and is also discouraging any private attempt at real measures for adapting, while at the same time is encouraging the installation of solar pv panels everywhere allegedly for climate change, a measure that will sure benefit a few companies that sell and install such equipments.

    I know I cannot swim against the stream, and the only agency I have is moving sideways. Aim for the underperforming and less than ideal solutions because that’s what I can achieve, instead of lamenting for what could have been. So this year we are installing a rainwater harvesting system, very insufficient, but maybe we can restart our nursery and see to more diversity in the garden.

  89. JMG, Earth survived the Permian-Triassic extinction event. Nothing mankind can throw at nature is remotely capable of doing more than a scratch at it, compared to that event. It’s not nature’s survival we should be worried about, but our civilization’s.
    You used to argue, at least a few years back, that had we continued the policies and projects of the seventies well into the eighties and nineties, we may have had the leverage to change our way of living and save civilization. We had more abundant resources back then. Do you still think that was the case? Could we have avoided decline and fall?

  90. JMG, and others, even in the distant past, when the Sun was less bright than today, the Earth seems to have been mostly warm. The Proterozoic eon is characterised by long warm periods, for which there are no traces of glaciations in the fossil record, especially the time from 2 billion to 1 billion years from now, interspersed with a few Snowball Earth events. The Snowball Earth event 2.5 billion years ago is hypothesized to have been triggered by the accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere, which destroyed an earlier greenhouse shield consistng of methane in the atmosphere. The difference between the Proterozoic and the Phanerozoic in this regard has to do with ice ages: in the Proterozoic, there were infrequent global glaciations, in the Phanerozoic there were somewhat more frequent glaciations, which only affected non-tropical latitides.

  91. I have forgotten to mention that the warm Proterozoic climate of Earth has given notion to the “faint young Sun paradox”, because the computer models used to simulate the Proterozoic climate of Earth have had difficulties to reproduce the equitable climate recorded in geological strata.

  92. Please, I am not here to troll, so if this is inappropriate, please Delete.

    3. this article got me thinking. What of this whole CO2 focus is wholly superfluous? I am not denying it’s influence in climate change, or that climate change is happening. Just that the climate will change and it will include more CO2 and that is no problem. The earth will adapt, and it is wholly capable of dealing with CO2. The trees love it. Plus after some adjustments by human societies we will adapt as well.
    I see more problems arising from misuse of CO2 producing technologies and societal changes; Open pit mines and societal problems of rampant industrialisation. But as a chemical I think we could be distracting ourselves. I can well imagine unsecured nuclear waste, red mud, heavy metals in the soil and the blackening compound on solar panels being more problematic then the CO2 levels in the sky, that are just accelerating plant growth.

    Could this be something to consider? How do we know CO2 levels are really something bad? Islam I missing something, or is it a distraction?

    Best regards,

  93. Hi John Michael,

    Always impressed when your writing attracts the troll farms. 😉 Tedious folks. Are they bored, or what? That’s what I’m always left wondering. Can you even imagine working in one of those places, or what a parent might say: Here’s little Johnny. He works in a troll farm. We’re just so proud of him! Far out, dude! Anyway, as an interesting side story, Little Johnny is a fictional small boy who naively poses questions, and makes statements that are very embarrassing to his grown-up listeners. Just the bloke you need, when the emperor is parading around butt naked!

    Yeah, when we were in a swish inner city locale, rather enviable real estate these days, but not always thus, we used to annoy the neighbours back in the day by placing the washing horses out in the hot afternoon sun so that the clothes could dry. Always fun. Look, on reflection, it was probably us, not them, who were out of step, but what do you do? Move perhaps… Still keeping on doing those hard yards, with the same washing horses.

    There was a civilisational notable record achievement earlier this year. 22,000 aircraft in the air at the same time. An impressive achievement. I don’t use aircraft, haven’t done so for many years, didn’t like them much when I did use them long ago, and barely travel far from home any more. It’s a complicated worldview to say that you care for the environment, whilst take a giant huge dump on it, all at the same time. Even thinking about that internal conflict gives me a serious headache, so it’s probably easier to just not do one, or the other, or let’s say, not even both of them. As you rightly said, a lot of hot air.

    Mate, I was well aware of Peak Oil, when it happened back in 2005. An undocumented side benefit of writing for the hippy press back in the day. I read books about it then and made up my own mind, and took action. Eighteen years later, and I tell ya man, as an interesting side note, what gets sold as fuel these days, is an odd concoction. But anyway, your writing has been more successful and had a significantly wider reach, and what I’ve taken away from the experience and reaction, is that sometimes the mass of little sparks travelling along the well trod path, need to learn the hard way. In many ways, that failure is a good thing because new paths then open up, and they’ll be on a more sustainable footing. This current ending sorry to say, was always baked into the cake.



  94. Thinking about long time scales stimulates my imagination. I wonder if anyone in the research field has tried to imagine what the tropical conditions at the poles were like 50M years ago, with regard to the extremes in light conditions across the year?

    I am trying to envision crocodiles living through a northern latitude winter, such as occurs in Scandinavia or Alaska. Imagine that sort of months-long darkness coupled with tropical heat, warm ocean breezes, and the all-night buzzing of birds and insects. It must’ve been quite a sight to view the northern lights over a tropical sea!

    I expect the light extremes at the poles would interact with a warm climate in other (probably unexpected) ways— for instance, how might the long periods of darkness affect the species we know today? Albino crocodiles, perhaps?

  95. “You see it in the bizarre rhetoric around “invasive species”—that is, living things that do what living things always do, and expand their range into ecosystems where they might thrive.”

    This is a matter of synchronicity, since, the fact that the UN has (reportedly) declared “invasive species” the number one environmental threat, has just this week become a national broadcast news story in Ireland.

    And, while, it goes without saying that invasive species can disrupt, it is also even more true to say they tend to follow in the wake of pre-existing disruption, and are a symptom more than a cause. (And of course some, including Stephen Harrod Buhner, sadly deceased, have even theorised that invasive species may have been answering a “call” to places where they can help heal the disruption they are following. But that is a whole different discussion).

    So… this broadcast, which seems to be designed to create awareness of a new threat and to be laying the groundwork for a new emergency footing made me ask “for what purposes”? And a plausible answer was not far to reach for. Once more we are being set upon a war footing – with “invasive species” our declared enemy. And with what firepower will we fight our enemy? Why, with all of the existing agricultural chemical weapons that are already on sale, and with lots of new ones about to be marketed? Maybe?

    Because, just now it is simply presented as a problem, with no sensible “ecosystem restoration” solutions anywhere in sight. Therefore, it is a marketing campaign, and we will soon hear what further techno-industrial weapon is being marketed.

  96. “have you noticed how often the villains of our fantasy novels and superhero movies are out to change things, and how often the heroes have no other goal than making sure that everything stays the way it is?”

    I guess this is another way of showing how politics is downstream from culture.

    I wonder how long it might take before those on the American continent get comfortable with the Changer archetype? It’s obviously time to get new plots and characters circulating…

    (Thanks btw for the ozone & acid rain updates!)

  97. There’s a theory that when the magnetic poles reverse, ocean currents are diverted. Being salt water they are conductors moving in a magnetic field and therefore experience a force by the same principle as an electric motor.

    The forces involved are tiny but they would affect the planet’s heat distribution on a scale of thousands of years.

  98. When I was a child my godfather gave me a copy of Ella Clark’s Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest for a birthday or Christmas. Like you, I was very taken with the stories of the Changer, the man who changes the world.

    Years ago, when I lived in California, I used to go on a morning run through a local woodland. It was a beautiful place, open fields with medicinal herbs, light and pleasant tree cover, trails for walkers and horses. It occurred to me one day that the dominant trees in this particular wood were Pacific Live Oak, Eucalyptus, and Canary Palm. One of these is a “native” California tree, the second is Australian, the third, African. According to current environmental dogmas, this was, therefore, no “natural” woodland but a contaminated zone infested with “invasive species.” This did not seem to bother the trees. It also did not bother the understory herbs, which were also a freewheeling mix of California “natives” with imports like fennel, mustard and milk thistle, or the many species of birds, insects and small mammals that also made their homes there.

    One day while running the stories of the Changer came forcefully into my mind, and I realized that this was his work. The trees, the plants and many of the animals had been brought here from “elsewhere”– as had many of the humans. And the result was a new world. This was a revelation to me, as I was still a radical environmentalist at the time, full of facile slogans like “The Earth isn’t dying, the Earth is being killed.” No, the Earth is not being killed– least of all by those who have no capacity to harm her. But she is being changed. And in a thousand years, no one will have any idea that oak trees are “from California” but eucalyptus “doesn’t belong here.” There will only be the woods, a place where you can gather acorns for bread, eucalyptus leaves for medicine, and palm syrup to make alcohol.

    And with the shifting of climate zones, those woods might be as far north as Oregon or Washington, rather than Santa Barbara.

  99. re: things to do to cope with the long descent, for the many people who can’t just up stakes and move to ecotopia.

    -learn to cook from scratch, and do it
    -garden in whatever space you have (pots on a balcony, planter on a patio, community garden plot, your landlady’s backyard if she’ll let you) and learn how to grow food
    -learn to mend your clothes when they’re damaged, and do it
    -turn down the thermostat a little and put on a sweater
    -learn to knit, weave, spin or crochet, sew
    -do weatherproofing if you own your home or your landlord will let you
    -learn to fix small appliances
    -learn to make your own entertainment that doesn’t depend on consistent access to electronics
    -make friends with your neighbors and take part in your local community
    -learn to ride a bicycle, and do it
    -learn to live on a budget
    -get out of debt, or at least start paying it down
    -if you aren’t in debt, scrape together some savings

    It is not neccessary to own your own home with a garden for most of these. I am doing most of them in my rented basement suite, and have been for over a decade. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. You may be doing some of these already, or have other things you are doing.

    If the list seems daunting, pick one you think you can do, and start with that. Then add something else.

    The smallest real action is more use than the grandest plans you never actually do.

  100. Similar to the idea that humans evolved to dig up ancient carbon to warm the planet, it could be hypothesized that humans evolved in order to transport other species all over the planet to ecosystems where they would thrive.

  101. Jessica,
    Yep, that was a typo. I meant 9500. Oops! Thanks for catching that. I wish I could go back and edit my comment but that’s not how it works.

  102. I notice that the USDA climate zone map from 2012 that you posted hasn’t been updated since then, and that update was based on weather data from 1975 to 2005. In other words, the winters of our youth are still averaged into the plant selection recommendations offered today, while the past seventeen years aren’t. It’s not unusual to see on gardening sites the suggestion that one can go up a zone or at least half a zone. Sites that sell plants still go by the current USDA map, though, which makes sense given that outlier events still happen, and such vendors need a bit of “CYA” if their products don’t thrive.

    While the USDA keeps track of present and anticipated future climate changes (such as here) with some care, I suppose actually updating the growing zone map that’s known to every gardener, farmer, and landscaper, and posted in every local garden center, isn’t something any office holder wants to be associated with in the current political “climate.” Though it will be necessary sooner or later.

  103. JMG, thank you for the updated essay about the earth’s climates. I would like to make one small point about invasive species. The sector most affected by invasives, and whose money is behind the clueless Kennys and Karens for whom invasives is the issue du jour that just might make them Important, is monoculture industrialized agriculture. The sort of mixed farming, which supplied regional markets a century ago, gave way to huge farms, so called. 1000 acres of just one crop makes a prime breeding ground for whatever insect or pathogen just loves that particular crop. The farmer owes money and can’t wait a decade or so for the predators that feed on that insect to show up in numbers large enough to control the invasive population. The gulls that saved Salt Lake City from locusts is a rare miracle. Ginning up protest against nasty invasives provides cover for chemical companies to roll out the next level of Bug Death.

  104. As I had mentioned before, I have learned at university in a side note about the climatic effect of land use changes. Seems to have been observed sufficiently that forests generate rain through evaporation, especially across large stretches. They retain moisture in the soil of course.

    If anyone has heard of the island Ascension Island, this is that mid pacific island, it harbors a british military base I think and seems to be important as a trans atlantic communications fibre cable node. A very small island, not many species of plants or animals have naturally found their way there, no trees.

    In mid nineteenth century it was Darwin himself among others, If I recall that right(you can look that up), ~120 species of trees were experimentally planted there on the rocky summit of a mountain in the middle.

    Today this has become a novel ecosystem, and as the originators intended, it seems to generate rains.

    Land use changes are no small thing.

    In Austria, a hydro dam project at the danube was once cancelled in the Wachau region. This is a small canyon around the danube, you could say. To the north, the Waldviertel/Muehlviertel highlands regions are beginning.

    That particular region is warm, known for wine and apricots. A dam, it was estimated, would have generated vortices of cold air, that would have destroyed the agricultural and touristic value there, so the project was cancelled.

    I think we all know about soil compaction as well, when building “development” compacts the soils below, making a structured soil vibrant with microbiomes into a soild rock sediment.

    Years ago Scientific American brought an article that stated research has shown microorganisms in the sea interact with the atmosphere in previously unknown ways. Who would have thought; I think the same is safe to say for terrestrial microbiomes.

    Agricultural harvester machines (those nightmares gripping spruces with their grappling arm and processing them on spot) weigh many tons, and they compact the soil where they a´go.

    A carpenter I know who also owns and works forest told me, you can see that decades after that machine has gone over, nothing grows there.

    The theory of climate change due to land use change does not contradict the theory of CO2 leading to greenhouse effect, but I think it certainly complements it.

    We actually DO hear something about that from our politics in Europe – it’s a reason given among others to disown family farms.

  105. The wildfires have been very bad in BC again. Another worst year on record. And Lytton was evacuated again, and some buildings have burned down nearby. This also happened in 2022. Lytton is the village where 90% of structures burned in 2021. If things are literally burning down every year for the past three years, is rebuilding going to be possible?

    It was founded during the gold rush in the 19th century, and there has been human habitation in the area for a very very long time. This is not a recently-built exurb.

    This looks to me like an early casualty of climate change.

    Yes, there’s other factors than climate change involved, notably including forest management practices, but when I was a kid I don’t ever remember forest fire smoke on the coast turning the sun red. I literally couldn’t figure out why the light was so weird and I felt sick for the first few hours of that first memorable time about 10-11 years ago. And now it happens more years than not.

  106. Steve T wrote: “It occurred to me one day that the dominant trees in this particular wood were Pacific Live Oak, Eucalyptus, and Canary Palm. One of these is a “native” California tree, the second is Australian, the third, African. According to current environmental dogmas, this was, therefore, no “natural” woodland but a contaminated zone infested with “invasive species.”

    I used to live in the Bay Area and I particularly remember the East Bay Hills Fire in the late 1980s. So I wonder if there’s a difference in fire resistance between the Native California trees and the invasive Eucalyptus in particular. The East Bay Hills were full of Eucalyptus; just head up the hill behind the UC Berkeley campus, where that conflagration started. Of course, there were probably plenty of other factors….

  107. @Horzabky: The only way I can make that statement make sense is if people nowadays in Europe, for some bizarre reason, don’t eat freshwater fish. That’s unlikely to be true historically, and it’s certainly never been true in the US. My great-grandfather ate bullheads fresh out of the creek on his South Dakota homestead; if he ever tasted salt-water fish in his life it would have been tuna or salmon out of a tin can shipped by rail to the prairie. And, as JMG and others have noted, there’s also salting, drying, pickling, and (Thorr defend us!) soaking in lye. A good example of rhetoric completely overtaking sense.

  108. Hackenschmidt, of course the teacher answered that way. Sheesh…

    Anonymous, that’s an interesting point, but not necessarily a conclusive one. For all we know Gaia may be turning out species all the time to tweak this or that ecological variable one way or the other.

    Dr. C, it’s simply the most recent one I was able to find.

    Clay, hmm! Now if they can bring in some other heat-tolerant plants…

    Tony, quite a bit. Ice reflects sunlight; sea water absorbs it. As ice is replaced by open water, the sea starts soaking up heat during the 24-hour daylight of the Antarctic summer, and so the ice cover during the next winter decreases; the result is a feedback loop that can amplify polar warming effects considerably.

    Moose, tongue in cheek or not, yes, that really is an issue.

    Stephen, I know. I’ve seen the same sort of mental lockjaw seize up any number of other issues, and in every case the two sides are generally equally far from where an unbiased view of the evidence would land them.

    Travis, I think a lot of the problem is that people who talk about solar variability usually act as though this means that CO2 can’t have any effect at all, while people who recognize that CO2 does have an effect usually act as though that’s the only thing that matters. In the real world, of course, the climate is being affected simultaneously by hundreds or thousands of different variables, of which solar variation and greenhouse gas concentration are two. (I’m not sure how you figure the galaxy or space can have an effect on global climate.) As for the sea floor heating hypothesis, as I noted earlier, it’s an intriguing idea but I really do want to see more evidence.

    Michael, I know the feeling. Dear gods, I know the feeling.

    Zachary, er, do you realize how much of a non sequitur this is? “Here is a crisis, therefore the nuclear powers will commit mutual suicide by mushroom cloud.” If people were as dumb as you claim, we would all have been nuked in the 1950s.

    Averagejoe, you might want to reread my post. I noted famines as one of the “entertainments” we can expect.

    Celtiberian, thanks for the data points. As I noted in my post, the bulk of climate change is happening at the poles, but some parts of southern Europe are apparently having problems; yours may not be among them.

    Marko, thanks for both of these. Planting heat-tolerant species of trees is a good thing — and people returning to villages and reviving old traditions is also a good thing. What was the flag, if I may ask?

    Abraham, thanks for the data points. I wonder how close you and Concerned Celtiberian live to each other.

    Bruno, of course Gaia will pull through just fine. This isn’t even a serious inconvenience to her. As for the road we didn’t take, I still think it could have bought industrial civilization a long afternoon of some centuries followed by a more gradual decline; no civilization lasts forever, but ours could have weathered the crises of the end of fossil fuels and, like Egypt or China, endured for a longer term. But of course that all went whistling down the wind a long time ago.

    Booklover, no surprises there — methane is a much more effective greenhouse gas than CO2.

    Marko, oh, Earth will be just fine. It’s industrial civilization that’s going to get clobbered by climate change and the rest of the cascade of changes now under way. As for CO2, it’s not “good” and it’s not “bad” — it’s simply one ingredient in the mix.

    Chris, I knew somebody years ago whose kid did in fact work in a troll farm — she was a paid internet shill for the second Obama campaign — and yes, they were very proud of her.

    Blue Sun, it’s a fascinating thing to think about!

    Scotlyn, oh, they’ve always got to have a crisis, which can be managed by hiring lots of university graduates and paying big corporations for this or that or the other thing. It’s a standard business model at this point.

    Justin, now you know one of the reasons I write fiction…

    Martin, and that’s also potentially one of the variables.

    Steve T, I adored that book when I was a kid. Your broader point is spot on, of course.

    Siliconguy, that may be one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen. Why not just check into a hotel on dry land? The experience won’t be that different.

    Pygmycory, many, many thanks for this.

    Clark, we’re quite the little Swiss Army knife in Gaia’s hands!

    Walt, good question. I don’t happen to know what the official excuse is.

    Mary, of course that’s a major point — and it’s also not irrelevant that the pesticide companies love to sell toxic chemicals to the crews tasked with getting rid of “invasive” species.

    Curt, Ascension Island is worth studying, especially by those who don’t realize just how resilient nature is. Your broader point is of course very relevant.

    Pygmycory, thanks for the data points.

    Sister Crow (if I may), I’ve eaten lutefisk — at the Sons of Norway hall in Ballard, WA, no less! It was actually pretty good.

  109. Here is my list of things to do to adapt to climate change ( within the a human lifetime)
    a) Move away from very fragile places or ecosystems that will be affected badly during the early stages of climate change. This would include the woodlands of Northern California, the Leeward sides of any of the Hawaiian Island, and the lowest parts of Florida or Louisiana.
    b) Move away from anywhere with a poor water supply or that depends on Desalination for a lot of its water supply ( like Tampa)
    c) Reduce your space conditioning energy footprint so unusual heat of cold won’t bankrupt you.
    d) Grow or adapt to a local food supply that is based on plants or animals not dependent on a current fragile climate band or unique endangered pollinators.
    The key is that most places will be livable for the next 40 years if you avoid the 10% or so that won’t.

  110. 1. It is a 5 foot pole with a cup totem on top, that has to contain fresh spruce branches. Adorned below with several ribbon-flags representing some important events. Carried on formal ceremonies or visits.

    2. it strikes me as a useful metric for explanation purposes, as above, but on consideration it plays no role in my life. The climate will change, I cannot help it, I can only adapt. The industrial civilisation will collapse, I cannot help it, I can only adapt. And the way I adapt is wholly dependant on my inner resources. I would rather use all the heavy machinery to build safe nuclear waste repository’s and shut down all the Nuklear Power plants. Then live in a world with slightly more co2 and no nuclear dead zones.


  111. Tony C #82 re Antarctic sea ice. Some years ago when there was a record amount of sea ice the anti-warmists claimed it must have gotten cooler and global warming was a myth. The warmist countered that sea ice forms from glacial melt water floating on top of denser sea water and therefore more sea ice proved it was getting warmer and melting ice faster.. The truth? Effed if I know.

    The illustration of the warm blob in the north Atlantic reminds me that one theory of how ice ages kick off is that warm water in the Arctic ocean leads to more evaporation which leads to more snow deposited on the surrounding land which leads to more heat reflected. But the process is not self-limiting because as the ocean evaporates more warm water feeds in and more snow deposits until it never melts in summer, it just accumulates, and then we’re in the freezing cycle again.

    No one has mentioned clouds, which are probably the biggest unknown. They reflect the sun’s heat in the day and prevent the earth’s heat radiating away in the night. Are they net heaters or coolers? Nobody really knows, and they can’t be accurately modeled with current software because their physics are not fully understood. They run the models backwards and adjust the cloud factor until the model matches the known climate, then run the models forwards for their predictions and hope for the best.

  112. Following our decade-long freak-out, which was useful and instructive in myriad ways in its own right, my wife and I decided that our overarching long-term strategy was simply to slash our dependence on complex systems beyond our control. Live in a region with a long history of biodiversity and species richness (check), well above sea level (check), with ample natural resources (check); develop a business that the future will actually need (check); pay off our debts (getting there); own outright a property or two within a long walk of each other that don’t require tons of fossil fuels to maintain, and that compliment each other resource/access-wise (ditto); and get to know our farmers/horticulturalists/ranchers (ditto).

    The fact that we moved to that place, with said useful business, just 3 years into our decade-long freak-out didn’t hurt. In fact, I heard recently that COVID boosters were difficult to come by around here due to lack of demand; what more could a natural immunity-leaning herbalist like me ask for? I’d like to believe that we were thinking clearly about the big picture all along, but sticking with our choice hasn’t always been a gimme. The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence…er, Mason-Dixon line…er, ocean…

    Anyway, thanks for this biannual(ish) reminder to stay calm and carry on. It’s remarkably helpful.

  113. Ok. I guess I was saying the effect “space” (the substrate that what we call galaxy, stars, and our climate are all subject to, I was being a bit cheeky I admit) obviously has an effect. And the actions of other galaxies, quasars, super novae, and various other forms of radiation, etc…

    Really I am more interested in how the sun plays a role, specifically, and without setting aside other factors effecting climate patterns, with regards to Earths climate.
    Does the sun have seasons?
    Do those seasons have large or small effects on Earths climate? How could they not?
    I wonder your insights in that arena. In particular with regards to “mini ice ages” seemingly set in motion by suns activity.

    Respectfully yours

  114. “extra methane is bubbling up into the sky, where it will add a boost to warming for a while before it breaks down. (Methane doesn’t last long in an oxygen-rich atmosphere.)”
    That is a very bad faith hand wave. It decays into water and carbon dioxide, two highly potent greenhouse gases.

  115. JMG,

    One adjustment I do expect to see in the near future is that certain outdoor work will shift to being seasonal because companies are spending a fortune putting people and equipment to work in the summer heat, it’s just not financially viable anymore.

    Heck work in buildings without AC (warehouses and the like) will be seasonal, people and electronics just fall apart in the heat.

  116. >Protest marches and virtue signaling do nothing to keep the resulting carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Nor do the wind farms, rooftop solar panels, and other pork barrel projects that have been marketed so heavily using climate change as a sales pitch Nor, for that matter, do any of the other gimmicks that have been so heavily promoted and praised by corporate media. If you doubt this, dear reader, take a good look at the chart of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and see if you can find any sign that any of these things have slowed the steady increase in carbon dioxide one iota.

    Ahem. I almost hesitate to bring it up. But your chart doesn’t go back far enough. There was something that did effectively reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. It happened during the 1940s. I suppose you could say it was a government-corporate partnership full of gimmicks? Although I don’t think they actually cared about carbon footprints or credits or any of those things back then during the 1940s. They had different priorities, I think.

  117. >But look, natural gas for fuel! It must be Green!

    I did notice very carefully, that those engines in that ship are multifuel and can also run on – petroleum distillates, which I’m guessing is their way of pussyfooting around the phrase “diesel fuel”. So, they took a diesel engine, gave its ECU a fuel sensor and a different fuel map and then rebranded it. See, it runs on clean natural gas!

    >Why not just check into a hotel on dry land? The experience won’t be that different.

    Oh, why would you not want the excitement of sailing the high seas?

    Arr, matey! Batten down the hatches! Sing some sea shanties!

  118. When I asked a sage about the melting ice caps he replied, ‘the sea king has defeated the ice king’. The implication was that these two are naturally opposed, and that what comes next are much more powerful and unruly seas.

  119. Lathechuck,

    Too late! Your link to what sounded like an interesting article has been “disappeared”…

  120. Maxine, that will be no problem at all. She’s going on to the list now. Hopefully she is not in need anymore, but even if not surely it will do some small measure of good.

    By the way, my understanding is that there are multiple “hot spots” in one’s astrological chart at which point one could potentially lose their life, though traditional astrology still settles on one as “the” moment of predicted death. I don’t know the fine details of the theory of the astral waiting zone for suicides, but it gives me some comfort to think that suicides may move on at the next hot spot, as opposed to one single point that a fate determined at the outset of one’s life.

    Christopher from California, thank you!

  121. @JMG
    Oh, I don’t know how far I may live from Concerned Celtiberian. I think there are at least another two spanish commenters here. You have been popularised by Antonio Turiel in the spanish peak oil tribe during your Archdruid Report blogging.
    My city is Malaga, and we’re just on the way of becoming a desertic zone, like Almeria. Models predicted it so, and measurements are in agreement.

    @Concerned Celtiberian
    We do seem to agree on the awful reforestation practices prone to fire, a.k.a, planting pines.
    While it is true that the amount of forestal mass has increased in the last years (Probably an effect of the abandonment of the rural), we are coming from a total deforestation in some areas. Especially in my province, the old forests were taken for the iron industry in the XIXc and we haven’t yet recovered. Most hills are still naked, with just some shrubs and the occasional small tree. It’s an appalling sight.
    Also, part of that regrowth has been orchards (irrigated olive trees and tropical fruits in Andalousia), but orchards do not have the same climate regulation effect as real forests.

  122. Hi John Michael,

    It’s been said elsewhere that pride is the devil. In some ways, despite all the hand wringing and social games going on with the climate change discussions, I get the sense that there is an underlying element of pride. Do you see that as well? The funny thing though, is that it’s all pretty stupid, and as you pointed out above, it needn’t have been this way. One of the great lost opportunities was that as a civilisation we didn’t use the energy so as to arrange our environment and activities to be beneficial once fossil fuels were no longer economically feasible to extract and refine. It’s the stuff you don’t think about that gets you unglued.

    Just for something different, it’s raining. One of the interesting side benefits of lots of rain with agricultural pursuits, is that the rain washes soil minerals away. Always exciting. I’m guessing that any reduction in the supply of fossil fuels for food production now, will cause famine. It might not be straight away, but from what I’m observing over the years is that loss of soil minerals is an ongoing process. For some reason, my mind always recalls the Edo era canny Japanese farmers competing with one another to provide the nicest public toilets for tourists. Yes, make the soil minerals come to you, not the other way around. The wildlife performs a similar job here as they amble through the orchard most nights. However, does the wallaby really have to break limbs off the mandarin tree? Mind you, tourists would probably do the same trick… 😉



  123. Dr. Coyote,

    This one isn’t animated, but it’s interesting:

    There are actually areas of the U.S. that got colder between 1990 and 2015, almost exclusively in the desert SW, which suggests to me that they’ve probably mostly gotten drier, moist air losing its latent heat more slowly and all that.

  124. Hi John Michael,

    One bizarre issue has come to light this past week down here. The media have been having what appears to be a tanty (tantrum), as an international airline was blocked from providing services to this country. Yes, from the same country which violated some of our citizens in a most horrendous way. Lovely people. The reason for the tanty? Well apparently the additional competition will bring down the costs of long haul flights. Like, say what? Weren’t these the same folks worried about climate change? Surely increased costs of flights, will reduce the number of them, that being good for both pollution and conservation of scarce energy resources? So many questions, and this one is so easy to shoot down that I’m amazed that nobody in either the media, or the authoritas, has done so. And what does that tell you? Crazy days, my friend, crazy days. It’s a complicated world-view!



  125. @ Steve, Phutatorius:

    The Australian eucalypts are well-known for making California’s wildfires worse, sorry to say. Back home these fire-loving plants have developed a reproductive strategy where their seeds are fireproof but their competitors’ aren’t, so the adult trees have developed oil-rich leaves to produce raging wildfires that will kill the competition’s offspring but not their own. Some species will only germinate after a wild fire of sufficient intensity – a ‘cool fire’ isn’t hot enough for some.

    Invasive plants? According to David Holmgren, some Australian Aboriginal people call species acclimatised if they’ve been here for 100 years.

  126. I always get a little giddy when I see the same very specific topic brought up in the comments at roughly the same time by different commenters (this time I’m looking at you, Justin Patrick Moore and Steve T! But I’ve been a party to it before as well.) What a wonder full world you’ve lead me into, dear Archdruid.

  127. Curt,

    Apologies for the pedantry, but Ascension Island is mid-Atlantic, not mid-Pacific – one of only a couple of waypoints to exercise wobbly sea legs en route from western Africa to eastern S. America (or vice versa) – as I’m sure you meant to say. Please carry on!

  128. Mary Bennett,

    When I clicked on your link to JHK’s Eyesore of the Month I saw the bubble pic of the waterslides and it registered in my brain as an enlarged photo of gut parasites. Took me a sec to realize that, no matter how accurate it was, a cruise ship wouldn’t necessarily be advertising that! Thanks for the laugh.

  129. It’s too bad. Instead of science as it’s generally understood among us – The Unwashed – as being about objective and dispassionate inquiry, it looks like political science, and all about money and power.

    You, or maybe some of your commenters, may have written about Mertonian norms: communalism, universalism, disinterestedness and organized skepticism. Maybe a reacquaintance by the so-called scientific community and especially those in climate science might help us bad people of exceedingly little faith believe once again.

    As it stands now climate science looks to me as just so much quackery. I read maybe fifteen years ago about the planet Mars heating up. But this might imply, heaven forfend, that solar cycles may play a part in climatic variation here on Earth. But what would that do to the good vs evil climate struggle as a cause to live for and perchance make a good living out of? Maybe someone can tell me, is this an avenue of research that only people with a professional death wish would pursue?

    So, after the ritual ‘debunking’ (a much used term among our intellectual betters) down the memory hole it went. Our minds were cleansed of unworthy thoughts.

    If it was just climate science but no. Money and power again: a year or two ago it seemed that if you wanted reasonable what-to-do with respect to a certain respiratory disease you were more likely to get it from the guy at the plumbing supply store. But here be thought crime. Transgress at your peril.

  130. Clay Denis # 81
    I lived in Aloha, Oregon a few decades ago. I was impressed by the many tall fir trees in small yards. Lovely area for a walk. Tanasbourne wasn’t fully built out yet, a maze of many half-empty big-box shopping streets that would have dismayed James Howard Kunstler.
    I don’t recall noticing any palm trees at the time, in my commute to a worker bee gig at Intel. This was only contracting for one of the divisions discarded by chipzilla through the years, as not central to their business.
    It was an ongoing joke with friends at the time, that despite the signs, driving over the “traffic calming humps” didn’t make anyone in the car feel soothed in their Buddha nature.

    Loved my creekside rental house with a back deck facing the woods. I couldn’t afford to buy, when the owners offered it for $180k at the time, three times what they had paid a decade earlier. Still the same owners now. I guess they must have settled in as landlords. They’d moved out but kept it as a rental, once they were empty nesters. They apologized they forgot to remove the glow in the dark stick-on stars & planet decals a kid put on a bedroom ceiling. I found them delightful! Online values in the neighborhood now show as around $600k.

    Perhaps all my accumulated good luck by that time slid down the backyard with poor feng shui. Losing that job, and moving out of Aloha because of insistent demands in what turned out to be an incompatible relationship that didn’t last, were substantial turning points for the worse for me. It was the peak earning year of my life, and the last time in my life I could afford a place to live where extensive gardening could be an option. I’d have done better to have dumped the relationship and got in a bunch of roommates, to keep the Aloha spirit!

    Ken # 32 A major economic collapse would hurt the poor more than the rich, I think, in the same way that bombing civilian centers personally harms the general population more than the generals or politicians. A billionaire losing 99% of their assets is still a multi-millionaire. My losing 99% of my remaining assets would literally leave me naked on the street, with a dollar’s worth of belongings, and a dime for the next month’s food and all expenses.
    Christophe # 73 If you liked the climate change docudrama Sharknado, it’s easy to see what it will really take to get people to give up on wasteful aviation. According to climate sociologist Samuel Jackson, that’s some more m’f snakes on some more m’f planes…

    Siliconguy # 74
    “It doesn’t count as preindustrial though.” Buckmininster Fuller defined industrial as anything that needs more than one person, starting alone and naked in the wilderness, to build. He said language was the first industrial tool. By that definition, Roman aquaducts are advanced industrial engineering. So are ships, and most agriculture. Could Thor Heyerdal’s Kon-Tiki boat have been built by one person?

    Anonymous # 79
    “the idea that Gaia made us in order to get Koch Industries and Enron” One of the original New Thought authors, I think it was Wallace Wattles, said to not be dismayed by the antics of billionaires; like dinosaurs, he explained, they are a transitional creature whose time will soon be over.

  131. Celtiberian,

    Take a look at the U.S. map I posted in my reply to DT. There’s a very obvious banded pattern to the changes over time – one latitude zone showing no change, the next showing +1 zone increase, repeat pattern north to south several times. Good chance you live in something like one of the cream colored zones in Spain. Lucky you!

  132. Clay, sensible enough, but all of this depends on acting now, not when there’s no other choice. I hope more people do this, but I don’t have high hopes…

    Grover, and then there’s someone like you, who collapsed ahead of the rush. Thank you.

    Travis, the Sun has complex cycles that nobody really understands yet. It’s not even certain that the Little Ice Age was caused by variations in solar output — that’s one hypothesis, but there are others. It certainly doesn’t justify the attempts by some people to insist that a new Little Ice Age will show up just in time to rescue us from the consequences of our bad habits!

    Userfriendlyyy, neither of them is anything like as effective at trapping heat as methane itself. Quite a few of the earlier global warming claims neglected that little detail.

    GlassHammer, it has occurred to me more than once that old mines and other underground installations, where the temperature is stable year round, would be a great place for some kinds of work.

    Other Owen, did it actually reduce CO2 in the atmosphere? There were a lot of engines roaring full throttle during those years, and very large amounts of petroleum got burnt. For that matter, I’m not sure anybody has calculated the CO2 output of burning Dresden, say, or Hiroshima…

    Tengu, I could see that — though it depends on the sea king’s mood, of course.

    Abraham, thanks for this. Concerned Celtiberian, where do you live?

    Chris, oh, good heavens, yes. I commented back in the waning days of peak oil that the climate change narrative is all about human pride and power — “Look at us, we’re so almighty we can destroy the earth!” Peak oil, by contrast, is about human limits — “Uh, the power we thought was ours was just stolen from some dead dinosaurs, and now it’s running out and we don’t know what to do.” That’s why climate change became a hot topic and peak oil got buried. As for the tanty, too funny. It really does show up just how much the whole climate change business actually matters to many of the people who are mouthing the slogans.

    Grover, you’re most welcome.

    Smith, unfortunately it’s far too late for that. The scientific community in general has cashed in its reputation for a sorry pottage of money and social influence. Climate science is far from the only field where that’s the case — medical and pharmaceutical science are even worse, and any place where science intersects with political issues or corporate profits is affected. I think at this point the only hope for science is to get it into the hands of ordinary people and let them start using it themselves, rather than waiting for some expert to do it for them.

  133. Celtiberian,

    I meant the link I posted to Dr. Coyote, not DT. That was to a cartoon. Sorry, brain fart.

  134. Siliconguy #16:

    Here in southern Vermont this summer wasn’t actually a summer. Normally we get a dozen or so days over 90º, although seldom back to back. This year? One day, July 6. Until this week, the first week in September, the summer has been cool, mostly in the 70ºsF and very, very wet. There was 15.06″ of rain in July and almost 5″ in August, both are wildly abnormal.

    We just got through a couple of days in the high 80ºs, the closest thing to summer we’ve had this year, and we’re heading into another week to ten days of rain. As a person who does not like hot weather, I can’t say I’m unhappy about the moderate temperatures, but my vegetable garden has been mighty unhappy about this turn of events. Our geese, on the other hand, are enjoying it an awful lot.

  135. @Phutatorius, sure, but my point wasn’t “Eucalyptus trees are an unqualified good from a human perspective,” but “Eucalyptus trees are now part of our world, and we can learn to work with them or we can complain about them.” I can think of several advantages to working with them– they provide habitat for monarch butterflies and excellent medicine for chest colds, to pick two examples. I can think of no benefits at all to complaining about them.

  136. I like this, JMG: “Chris, oh, good heavens, yes. I commented back in the waning days of peak oil that the climate change narrative is all about human pride and power — “Look at us, we’re so almighty we can destroy the earth!” Peak oil, by contrast, is about human limits — “Uh, the power we thought was ours was just stolen from some dead dinosaurs, and now it’s running out and we don’t know what to do.” That’s why climate change became a hot topic and peak oil got buried.”

    I would add to it that I think that the elites seized on the climate change narrative as a way to squash the development of masses of humanity and their demands for more “stuff” precisely because they themselves are well aware that peak oil is a reality and they know they have to do something to prevent the masses from consuming all of “their” resources. Rather than tell people the truth about resource limits, they use the climate story to deflect blame onto individual consumers and attempt to guilt trip us about our consumption so there will be more resources left for them. If the powers-that-be were to be honest about the resource predicament, then the public would demand real action to anticipate and prepare for resource depletion. But that would interfere with economic “growth” and expose the elites to revolution. What a great con game it has been for them!

    BTW, I do still think climate change is a real problem, but not as impactful to our current way of life as increasingly expensive and scarce oil and gas.

    I have been involved in the environmental movement for many decades, specifically the forest protection movement, and I was dismayed that in 2000 when there were big Earth Day celebrations, the founder of Earth Day, Denis Hayes, decided the theme would be energy rather than endangered species and biological diversity. Nobody was talking about energy in 2000 and we had built up a big grassroots national concern with biodiversity and forests. That was a tone-deaf squandering of grassroots momentum because nobody had done the ground work on the energy issue and no authority had recognized the reality of peak oil. The environmental movement then shifted to climate change and now we have nothing. I have tried to make the case for restoring functional ecosystems as the best way to drawdown carbon, but there is no money in that, so climate activists just want to push stupid electric cars and “smart” cities.

    I don’t have anything to do with the environmental movement anymore and my focus is all on regenerative agriculture now. Maybe we can at least leave some improved soils and small farm infrastructure for future generations.

  137. I guess I fall into the evil “denier” class, because I think the slight increase in temperature since the end of the Little Ice Age is simply a normal rebound…Especially since temperatures have been much hotter several times in the last 10,000 years…But I agree with JMG that the debate is mostly moot, except for the tax dollars funded to the usual suspects for Wind, Solar, and electric cars, all of which actually cause greater net emissions….China, India, and their friends are not going to wreck their economies to create a miniscule change in CO2 levels,…and as fossil fuels become less available, Nature will take over anyway…

  138. Thanks.
    Yeah I never really care anymore about those who use things that ARE to willfully be ignorant of the ARE’s IS. Those that erroneously (and often incuriously) make into this or that straw man argument to further their chosen ideology.
    In fact I wish we would all stop responding to such people at all as if they deserve a response. They do not help move the thought forward.
    This is planet Earth. Just like any other planet existence on is a sort of meat grinder. Even for the planet it’s self! So I am never looking for that non existent thing, that silver bullet, that many seem to look for with hopes of changing that this is a planetary existence, and that this is planet Earth.

  139. I find it strange that the people who are most worried about invasive species tend to be the types that oppose restrictions on human immigration. Personally, I tend to take more of a middle ground position on both. Dispersal of species and human populations are a normal, necessary part of how the world works, but too much too fast can be disruptive.

    I’m generally of the opinion that human transportation of species will end up increasing biodiversity over the long term. Island biogeography shows that islands close enough to mainlands to receive significant migration of species are more biodiverse than otherwise similar islands that are more remote. However, broad generalities being favorable for species migration don’t always apply to the specific situation. I’ve planted plenty of exotic as well as native plant species, but I also pull out young chinese privet when I see it. I’ve seen areas where it’s taken over the understory and isn’t allowing much of anything to grow through it. Eventually things are bound to balance out, something is going to adapt to feed on it enough to keep it in check, but who knows how long that will take. Being in a place where it’s just started to appear, it doesn’t take much time to occasionally pull the plants, and often they’ll pull out of the ground at larger sizes than you might think. It will eventually establish itself here, but I’m hoping that by delaying that a bit that nature will have checked its aggressiveness a bit by the time that happens.

    So much of invasive species control does look to mostly benefit financial interests such as herbicide and pesticide companies. If something is already endemic in a place then it makes the best sense to find ways of living with it. A much smaller amount of effort applied to places where the species is only just beginning to spread can make more of a difference temporarily, but the reality is that these new (to the area) species are not going away.

    Another thought on human dispersal of species is that I can imagine if humans die out and another species forms civilizations millions of years down the line and starts to investigate the geologic past as we’ve done, human dispersal of species might be some of the best evidence pointing to human civilization having existed. They would find a number of oddities in the strata of our era. Climate change has occurred plenty of other times for a lot of reasons, so it alone wouldn’t point to human civilization. Synthetic chemicals would show something more strange happened, but I could see other explanations being proposed for that. The sudden dispersal of many species all around the world, including species that had never made long journeys before, appearing in suitable climates in other parts of the world simultaneously (from a geologic standpoint) might just be the best evidence that convinces them it was an intelligent civilization that was responsible.

  140. I would be glad to be wrong about climate change-catalyzed nuclear conflagration. But the fact that is hasn’t happened in the past 75 years, which is an eye-blink historically speaking, is hardly a guarantee going forward. Especially if, as you yourself say, the coming era is one of drastically increased resource depletion and conflict.

    For example, I imagine flooding in Bangladesh causes mass migration into India, which destabilizes the country, causing war with Pakistan. Those two countries are itching to nuke each other.

  141. Seaweedy, oh, granted. I also consider climate change a serious issue — it’s just not the only issue, and as you’ve noted, a lot of other issues are being ignored so that climate change can be exploited in various ways. As for regenerative agriculture, the more of that you can get into practice, the better the future will be. Carry on!

    Pyrrhus, I think it’s more than a normal rebound, but I agree the temperature’s been much warmer in recent prehistory. The major issue as I see it is that industrial civilization is so brittle that changes the Earth can tolerate easily may well be too much for our societies.

    Travis, in occult philosophy the planetary spirit of the Earth is also growing, changing and learning through her interaction with the beings that live on her. I’m sure she has at least as many rough times as we do.

    Kashtan, I can all too easily see the scientists of some future species coming up with the same kind of dubious arguments our scientists use to brush aside inconvenient facts, and so insisting that no, some purely fortuitous event must have spread species around the world just then. It’s intriguing to me, for example, that so few people have considered the possibility that carbon spikes in the atmosphere in earlier geological periods might also have been caused by intelligent species doing things with carbon…

    Zachary, it’s always possible to come up with a scenario to suit any particular end of the world fantasy. Let me point out that if India and Pakistan really were itching to nuke each other, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to do so, what with the clashes in Kashmir and more than occasional bursts of cross-border terrorism. Mushroom clouds are still noticeable by their absence. Maybe that doesn’t suggest to you that there’s something wrong with your assumptions, but I assure you, it does suggest that to me.

  142. Jeff, thanks for that awesome article from Nemets. A real keeper and I learned a lot.

    I have a theory, based on JMG’s use of a “jokulhlaup” in his book “Voyage to Hyperborea”. A jokulhlaup, to review, is when the ice in the middle of a glacier melts first before the outside edges, resulting in a lake of icewater held in by ice walls… until they break. Then a big gout of icewater comes crashing out onto whoever and whatever is unfortunate enough to be in its way.

    Evidence suggests that the Earth had a massive icecap on its northern pole up to about 10,000 years ago. As JMG pointed out above, there was a massive worldwide temperature spike then, and in our current warming trend, the Arctic is warming more quickly than more southern latitudes.

    What if, 9,600 years ago, that warming spike caused the Arctic icecap to melt in its middle before the edges, until one or more edges suddenly gave way, unleashing a torrent of icewater onto the lands and into the oceans around the world? Even places that didn’t get tsunami’d would have seen sudden rises in sea level, and the cold water would have had a widespread impact on the weather, possibly triggering mass precipitation.

    In other words, the worldwide legends of a flood, including in some cases longlasting torrential rains, could be memories of a planetary-scale jokulhlaup at the end of the last glaciation.

    I hereby give permission to any authors present (including our gracious host) to use this concept in any fiction works they care to write. I’d like to see someone’s take on how this would play out.

  143. @Grover Tibbetts
    “Apologies for the pedantry, but Ascension Island is mid-Atlantic, not mid-Pacific ..”

    Absolutely, and thanks for the correction! I did have the atlantic in mind in my mental map, I have no idea why I wrote pacific instead – some kind of mistake writing in a rush.


  144. UK newspapers are today reporting that the latest call for bids to build offshore windfarms has produced none whatever. The Guardian states that building costs have risen 40% since the last round due to inflation in labour and materials costs. Renewables companies complained that the electricity price offered by the government was not high enough, so presumably the next Labour government will have to increase subsidies further. It very much supports your point that giant wind farms, especially tens of km offshore as many around Britain are, don’t make economic sense.
    In the UK within a very few years, I see an almighty collision between climate change policies and the realities of economics as the economy continues to decline.

  145. Hello JMG! I would like to add this to your answer to Smith: apart from being made available to the public, the sciences and (really valuable) academics should be drawn into the Monastery circle and, like the Dervish, should do their research in a self-sufficient system and not be involved in politics, as Herman Hesse said in his book The Glass Bead Game. He shouldn’t get involved… I mean, he should calmly move aside, that’s my opinion.

  146. Hey, Beekeeper,

    “As a person who does not like hot weather, I can’t say I’m unhappy about the moderate temperatures, but my vegetable garden has been mighty unhappy about this turn of events. Our geese, on the other hand, are enjoying it an awful lot.”

    Your “good for this, bad for that” reminds me of living at the mercy of solar power and rainwater collection. When the sun is shining you’re making power, and when it’s raining you’re collecting water. You don’t get both at the same time, but you’ve set yourself up to “enjoy life an awful lot” either way!


  147. Just so happens I’m in Munich and attended the IAA MOBILITY (auto) show. The entire convention space was dominated by EVs, hybrids and associated technology. Pretty fascinating innovation occurring — and there’s a helluvalotta non-Tesla options out there never seen in the states — but I can’t help but think that it all has a limited shelf-life.

    It’s definitely not sustainable (despite the everpresent exhortations) and the complexity level is absurd, surely a sign that we’re approach Tainter’s collapse.

  148. >Other Owen, did it actually reduce CO2 in the atmosphere?

    I remember long ago, there was a book I read where they went into CO2 and all its wigglings over the 20th c, and they pointed out, CO2 concentrations in the air went down. And it was due to WW2. I guess all those civilians make more of an impact than all that military hardware. I’ll see if I can’t find a chart, but I distinctly remember that dip in it during the 1940s.


    Well, it’s not much of a reduction, more of a flatline, but you can clearly see the 1940s in their graph. So, logically, if you really went to reduce the carbon footprint, we have a proven historical precedent on how to do it.

    So, who still wants to reduce their carbon footprint? Show of hands? And arms? And legs? Wanna buy some war bonds and plant a victory garden, anyone?

    Also that graph had it going down in the 1830s-1840s for some strange reason. That doesn’t correlate with anything I’m familiar with at all. There was a nasty depression and a bunch of wars but all that happened in the 1850s and 1860s. And further back from 1550-1600 it went down again. No idea why.

  150. Hi John,

    Someone asked me to comment on this essay, so I did:

    The source you cite that claims 7 degree of global warming over a decade during the termination of the Younger Dryas is almost certainly incorrect. I looked up the scientific data from other parts of the world.

    The termination of the Younger Dryas did involve around 7 degree of global warming In Greenland over a period of a few decades.

    However, the termination of the Younger Dryas involved less than 2 degree Celsius of global warming near the tropics and unfolded over multiple centuries. In other words, this is just not compatible with the idea of 7 degree of global warming in a decade.

    The author, an archaeologist, doesn’t seem to cite a source and has to be off by at least an order of magnitude. Hope you can inform your readers that the author you cited must have made an error.

    Kind regards,


  151. I’m afraid that his dismissal of the harms caused by invasive species is one thing I don’t buy in John’s analysis. On geological time, yes, things will get sorted out. But I’m more interested in the human scale. We’ve lost the chestnut trees, the elm trees, and we’re losing the ash trees at present. The sea lamprey did huge damage in the great lakes. Ditto for the zebra mussel. The list goes on. Whoever thought that bringing asian carp to North America to keep fish pens down south free of weeds was a good idea? Now that was a “what could possibly go wrong” situation. None of these examples were climate-related, as far as I know. All were due to intentional or negligent human actions. It’s the downside of globalization; one of the downsides, that is.

  152. “This is what the north coast of Greenland looked like fifty million years ago — not that long in terms of the Earth’s history.”

    Well, I didn’t expected crocodiles in Greenland 50 millions years ago…What a (prehistoric) surprise!

  153. As part of recent discussions of global climate change elsewhere, I’ve been attempting calculations regarding the actual environmental costs of various things on a per capita basis. Out of several surprising results, one stands out.

    Listening to any facet of climate change discussions, it might seem like CO2 emissions per capita worldwide must be some large factor (ten times, fifty times…) greater today than they were in 1850. But they’re actually just over 2.4 times greater. That’s with all the billionaires’ yachts and jet planes, and all the Chevy-Suburban-Americans, and the travel industry, and the fuel-hungry motorized modern military, and Las Vegas and theme parks and cruise ships and air conditioning and the Internet and plastic bottles and year-round strawberries and everything figured in. Take those things out of the picture (which is a far more difficult calculation I haven’t completed yet) and it appears likely that collectively we’re emitting about the same amount of CO2 per capita to provide the most basic necessities of life as we were at the dawn of the fossil fuel age 170 years ago, if not significantly less. And that’s still too much to preserve a stable climate.

    I have to re-check my data sources and calculations, because this seems so unexpected and contrary to so many narratives. For instance, it suggests that disruptive (to us) climate change isn’t our comeuppance for developing or using advanced technology. If it’s for anything, it’s for population (though compounded further by luxury and waste). Could this simple fact (if it holds up) help explain all the hypocrisy and misdirection about climate change? How convenient to pretend it’s all about wrong lifestyle choices or wrong policies (which is to say, “we can stop whenever we want to”).

  154. @ Seaweedy – “I have tried to make the case for restoring functional ecosystems as the best way to drawdown carbon, but there is no money in that, so climate activists just want to push stupid electric cars and “smart” cities.”

    I’ve started to ask people whether they think “green” means:

    1) More mines, less cows
    (the current corpotech “greenwash” plan)
    2) More small family farms, less stuff
    (my own idea of what might be more useful to ordinary folk, if less profitable higher up.
    3) More X, less Y
    (whatever you yourself think might be useful?)

    A couple of interesting conversations, so far… 🙂

  155. I was looking for what the Steven Mithen cited in JMG’s essay had written about abrupt climate changes around the Boreal stage. While I couldn’t read his book online, I found a case study of hunter-gatherers in modern Scotland and managed to download the full text (I can send it if anybody is interested). The authors basically count settlement activity over time, which is a very error-prone method, but they do dedicate three whole pages of the article just to discussing possible sources of bias in their data (e.g. changes in mobility, settlement sites being flooded etc.). Scotland was only colonized at all after the 9600 BCE heat spike JMG mentioned, so they cannot see its effect here. Assuming the settlement counts do reflect the population of hunter-gatherers in each period, they find that some later abrupt climate events had hardly any impact on population. They do suggest that the draining of Lake Agassiz and the Storegga tsunami impacted human groups on the North Sea coast, and a different event ~ 6200 BCE those on the Atlantic coast.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that these were hunter gatherers at extremely low population density – by analogy to Canadian Cree groups, they estimate 400-1400 humans spread across all of modern Scotland! They were nomadic anyway, and a slow rise of the sea level (centimetres per year) might bring upsides as well as downsides for them. Only when a really dramatic flooding event came on top of a long, slow rise did it sometimes impact them at all.

    As JMG never tires of saying: the Earth will be fine with climate change even more dramatic than what the IPCC is estimating. The human species will take it in stride, too. It’s just industrial civilization that may not survive the stress from climate change.

  156. A morning thought is that it is up to each person on this blog to reduce our co2 and methane emission to the degree we can, or not. There is only one person I have control over in this vast world. An exception would be for people in position of power in government or in corporations, and even then they are part of a big machinery with a will of its own. I think it’s just something to put on my to-do list. The rest of the outcome is up to the other 7,999,999,999 people.

  157. Part of my job in education is teaching about the human place in the biosphere. I say that humanity can be the positive worldwide keystone species. Examples of that are the beaver, sea otter, wolf, elephant in their respective environments. The presence of those species affects a positive integrating balancing influence – the ecosystem through the presence of the keystone species is in a better place than it would be without the keystone species. Humanity has pulled this off on a number of occasions. A good example is the way the indigenous people of California managed their environment – detailed in the book Tending the Wild. I see this as the proper fulfillment of the human dominion over nature described in Genesis. It says God placed humanity in the Garden to “dress and keep it”. The Hebrew for “dress and keep” could be translated “ to serve and observe closely” I say the problem is not too many people but not enough love and wisdom.

  158. I offer a poem for everyone’s delight … not by me but Wendell Berry. It is called Enriching the Earth .

    To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass
    to grow and die. I have plowed in the seeds
    of winter grains and of various legumes,
    their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth.
    I have stirred into the ground the offal
    and the decay of the growth of past seasons
    and so mended the earth and made its yield increase.
    All this serves the dark. I am slowly falling
    into the fund of things. And yet to serve the earth,
    not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness
    and a delight to the air, and my days
    do not wholly pass. It is the mind’s service,
    for when the will fails so do the hands
    and one lives at the expense of life.
    After death, willing or not, the body serves,
    entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
    and most mute is at last raised up into song.

  159. @Christopher from California #140,
    Sorry to hear that you had to lose the Aloha spirit and move away from your home on the creek. Its interesting that you mentioned the horrible big box shopping sprawl of Tanasbourne. In an ironic tie-in with the themes of this blog, Tanasbourne was not always that way. Back in the late 70’s, when it was first carved out of farm fields this same spot was envisioned as an example of a community and commercial center of the future in a sort of green wizardry way. There were several buildings, but the one I remember was the Tanasbourne town center. It was an earth sheltered building with large solar Trombe wall that housed a movie theatre, professional offices, a day car, a public library and several local merchants, and a weekly farmers market. A very modest, useful and energy efficient structure with a mix of useful activities.
    But alas, it was not large enough, glitzy enough and had too many low value tenants for the owners of the land. It was torn down and replaced in the early 90’s with an unholy sprawl of big box stores and other drek which you witnessed at the time.
    But as our host has said many times, there was a time when we had a more sensible version of the future, but we sold it out for temporary comfort ,convenience and the wonders of big box shopping.

  160. @ Kimberly #53, regarding limiting invasive species using other invasive species:

    In the quarter acre of estuarine wetland I “own” (due to an ancient quirk of Massachusetts state property law), there’s a perpetual multi-sided battle going on between bindweed, knotweed, common reed, and cattails. They’re all listed as invasive, except the cattails which (I finally established this past spring, requiring precise measurement of the spike heads at the right time) are a hybrid of a native and an invasive variety. Each of those species tends to grow in monoculture stands, crowding or shading out all other plants, but inevitably they meet at borders. The bindweed seems to be the latest arrival. The common reed controls large impenetrable acreage in the surrounding area, and has done so for decades. (It’s the tasseled tall reeds shown at the top of the Audubon Society’s “Invasive Plants in Massachusetts” page.) I’ve commented before about learning to understand the knotweed. I’m still partial to the cattails. So I sometimes intervene at the borders to shift the balance here and there. Often it doesn’t take much, because the plants are ready to exploit any advantage.

    I’ve learned in these few years so far that I raise no objections from the local nature spirits by removing plants from where I don’t want them, whether that’s because they’re “invasive” or any other reason, on a scale that I can do by hand. But as soon as I start thinking in terms of eradicating the bad species (even by hand), I start making mistakes that make things worse. It might be worth noting that the metaphorical lessons in Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth are also extremely valuable as literal lessons directly applicable to the management of semi-wild spaces.

  161. Invasive species are an excellent example of the tendency to stop certain kinds of Progress in its tracks without realizing that is what they are doing. E.C. Pielou pointed out that the biological diversity in the Columbia River was about one-third of the Mississippi River’s. The ice age and floods as it ended purged what had been there previously. The salmon were able to take over because they were out to sea much of the time.

    So now the Fish and Wildlife people are at war with the northern pike that they previously introduced because the pike eat small salmon. The salmon are the holy of holies and must be protected.

    Similarly, barred owls have migrated in from the east, and they eat spotted owls for lunch, literally. They are just a more efficient owl. So does Man kill the protected barred owls to save the protected spotted owl? Do we rig the fight for the underdog (underowl?) spotted owl or cheer on the barred owl as the winner in the evolutionary battle?

    Decisions, decisions.

  162. Grover (#141) note that the pink bands do not go all the way to the West Coast; this is a clue that they are an artifact of the discrete zones. A location that was at the southern edge of zone 7 may now be zone 8 while a location that was at the northern edge of zone 7 may now be in the southern part of zone 7 – so the latter won’t show up as having shifted a full zone yet. That doesn’t mean climate conditions were unchanged in the second location – they could even have changed more than in the location that switched zones.

    Whether the climate ends up equable or not is mostly a matter for people living after I am long gone, but if things head that direction then the changes in store for colder areas will be more severe than if every part of the earth warmed roughly the same amount. In which cases events like the Canadian fires currently making for bad air quality across much of North America may be something we have to endure for some time, since evergreens and tropical temperatures don’t mix.

    Climate chaos has definitely hit here in western MA. Early thaws followed by frosts basically destroyed the peach and cherry harvest this year, for the second time in 8 years (though my cherry trees in a slightly warmer microclimate did fine). Unseasonable torrential rainfall kept the flies from my pawpaws during their brief pollination window, so the harvest is reduced to those few fruit resulting from the bit of hand pollination I did. Schools started last week and struggled with 90+ temperatures they were never designed to handle.

  163. @Rintrah Radagast: Please note that the centuries-long transitions in the study you cite refer to “hydroclimate”, i.e. to rainfall changes. The temperature transition in the tropics (Cariaco, Venezuela) shown in that study is estimated at slightly less than 100 years, and the temperature change (looking at Fig. 2) is ~ 4 degrees (24 to 28 degrees). It then falls again, but that would not have decreased the pain.

    So we are looking at 7 degrees over 30 years (Greenland) or 4 degrees over 98 years (Venezuela). Even the Venezuelan data is as serious as the IPCC-4.5 estimate. We would have to discuss if the IPCC-8.5 degrees scenario is in the range of possible, which I think it isn’t due to fossil fuel exhaustion.

  164. Walt F – thank you for this lyrical comment, containing cattails. A delight. 🙂

    Since you have mentioned them, I will tell you that I have been watching the ground around my deceased brother-in-law’s caravan during the year since he died. He had used plenty of chemical treatments to keep it to a properly “clean” (in his view) state of washed pebbly look. Since these treatments have ceased, nature, as always, is creeping back. The hardiest pioneers onto his poisoned ground have turned out to be the horsetail (which is apparently of a very ancient lineage, so it must be doinng something right) and the cattail. As to the second, there are no other cattail stands that I know of within miles of this place. Somehow, these found their way here… to perform some useful service or other to bring the land (eventually) back to health? I do not know, but I marvel. And send them all appreciation.

    Be well.

  165. @Walt F #166 Very interesting, your CO2 calculations, so raw human population size may be too large unless we beef up the biospshere’s capacity to absorb CO2 via methods I mentioned in my #83 comment. Speaking of beef I took what are the current amounts of meat, milk, fish, eggs that are produced yearly according to Google, cut them in half and then divided per capita in an 8 billion population. Consumption per capita per week – 1 one 4 oz serving of fish, three-four 4 oz serving s of meat, 1 cup of milk per day, 2 eggs per week – plenty of animal protein for nutrition and a release of a lot of land for ecological purposes. Of course my rough and ready and quick calculations may be quite off and could be corrected.

  166. OT: but – I’m back on line at last. The Lake House A220 rerun of “When the Machine Stopped” finale. Will try to catch up on the post and comments.

  167. The hypocritical and disingenuous nature of the cry to “save life on earth” by promoting mining and general resource extraction to build a fancy techno-green future is made all the more apparent when food production is brought into the discussion alongside energy and transportation.

    This EPA report on CO2 sources and sinks (1990-2020) shows some interesting numbers relative to agriculture ( namely that tillage (“Agricultural Soil Management” is a huge source (271.7 MMT for 2020).* “Enteric fermentation” (cow gas) features there, too, mostly calculated from CAFO cattle production and not taking into account that pastured animals, when managed to regenerate soil rather than deplete it, are carbon sinks. So the whole “eat lab-meat and lettuce to stop climate change” push is also disingenuous and motivated by profit-mindedness [Likewise, let me direct you momentarily to the photo leading this article to understand why “plant-based” is a misnomer:

    My family and I have been working very concertedly toward the difficult task of uncoupling from global food production (and oh, we’re hardly there!), and I’ve brushed off my dusty permaculture training and am incorporating some of the regenerative techniques that have been gaining exposure in the last few years. Now, take it with a grain of salt that some of what I’m learning is being filtered through academic sources (it happens to be what’s available to me right now and is alerting me to some interesting primary sources and research, like that EPA report), but it’s been interesting to note the “hitch all carts to climate change horses” trend – one that’s infected portions of academia for a while – making its way toward the regenerative agriculture end of things.**

    There is apparently research money to be found that’s putting some life into the science end of research on regen practices BECAUSE of the tendency of diverse biotic communities to increase soil organic carbon (drawdown from atmospheric carbon stocks). Now I don’t think we should look a gift horse in the mouth – the more land that is treated better, the better! But there’s certainly an effort under way to make EVERY thing about climate change and that’s no good.

    Where’s the consternation in the US about Japan’s dumping of radioactive water into the Pacific? And about the long term effects of the East Palestine train derailment and detonation of its toxic stew? How about microplastics and petroleum residues in groundwater (and actually everywhere)? How about whatever ecological crisis is manifesting in small “non-newsworthy” locales? Instead, every burp in the weather is “climate change!” and every policy has to have some sort of climate rider, etc.

    But to suggest that we return to the past (oh, my fainting notion of progress!) – to revive the small family farm predicated on nutrient cycling and on-site energy not reliant on massive machinery and industrial processes is anathema to the corporate-profiteering model and the globalizing influence of elite-led ideas. Bah.

    I don’t have much of a thesis-conclusion here other than to say I’m cheering on biological resilience (including in the ways it manifests in all of us around the world who are working in the service of life) and have no doubt that the earth finds ways to flourish.

    *I find the information in table 1-4 very interesting – particularly when comparing the CO2 emitted from agriculture with “mobile combustion” for aviation and “other” and with coal and natural-gas combustion for electricity generation.

    ** It irks me that you can call a landscape like this ( regenerative because you’ve allowed sheep to graze between the crop (, but that’s exactly what they’re doing. Marketing.

  168. Before we begin, I fielded (and deleted, after a short delay) several attempted comments in this batch that were bringing up issues wholly unrelated to the theme of this week’s post. Please do read the text above the comment box! If you want to bring up something I haven’t talked about in the current post, the open post on the fourth Wednesday is the place to do it. Thank you!

    Cicada, that’s intriguing. I’d want to see some evidence, but it’s worth looking into.

    Robert, that doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s intriguing to see common sense sinking in

    Kurtyigit, that strikes me as a very good idea, but first we have to get the sciences out of the hands of the current institutions and rebuild trust in scientific practice.

    Benn, thanks for this.

    TJ, thanks for this. If you know of a good media story on that, I’d be interested in potentially citing it in an upcoming post.

    Other Owen, hmm! That’s intriguing. I wonder how much of it was the sharp decrease in global shipping, on the one hand, and the equally sharp contraction in functioning European infrastructure — bombed-out ruins don’t consume much fossil fuels. You’re right, though, that it’s an unsettling example.

    Rintrah, no, that won’t wash, will it? First, as the Harvard website I cited said in so many words, periods of global warming leave the temperature of the tropics largely unchanged; it’s the poles that get the vast majority of temperature shift, and the temperate regions are in the middle. Thus 2° C at the tropics is exactly in line with the general pattern and does nothing to disprove a more general increase in temperature, centered (as usual) at the poles. Second, the temperature measurement from the ice cores Mithen cites are oxygen isotope analyses, which are proxies for global temperature as a whole, not local measurements from Greenland specifically — they measure differential evaporation worldwide of water with varying oxygen isotopes; thus that 7° C rise included next to no change at the tropics, a significant shift in the temperate zones, and the severe heat spike at the poles that caused the catastrophic flooding and sea level rise so well documented in the geological record. Third, Mithen’s a convenient source because most people can find the book in their public libraries. If you take the time to look up more information on polar temperatures at the end of the Younger Dryas, you’ll find plenty of other proxy measures showing comparable changes. That being the case, you may want to rethink your rejection of this thesis.

    Phutatorius, yes, certain species are going extinct and others are moving into new ranges, and this is inconvenient for some human activities. I wonder if you read my more general discussion of this point, which talks about the zebra mussel in particular.

    Chuaquin,somehow I find myself imagining Monty Python: “No one expects the Greenland crocodiles!”

    Walt, that’s fascinating. Can you point me to some sources documenting CO2 emissions before the 20th century? I would like to include that in my analysis.

    Aldarion, hmm! Thank you for this.

    Tony, the point I’d add is that by demonstrating that you can cut your carbon footprint and still live a good life, you teach by example — and with energy prices where they are, and rising, that’s a lesson many people may be willing to learn.

    Moose, that’s an intriguing concept, and it fits closely with several of the other ideas I’ve been developing of late — admittedly without reference to your religion’s scripture. Thank you; I may cite you down the road.

    Larkrise, many thanks for this.

    Siliconguy, thanks for these classic examples.

    Patricia M, welcome back to the conversation.

    TemporaryReality, many thanks for this. Lots of data points there to process.

  169. Isaac,

    Point taken! And well spotted. I could still see that being fuel for the fire when folks say things haven’t changed where they live though. I know I rely on those maps when making my own points.

    A while back we were considering moving from N. Georgia to New England to “get ahead of global warming,” and did a bit of climate research in the process. Over the last century the area where we live has only warmed by 1.5 degrees F, but the part of New Hampshire we were looking at had experienced a 4.5 degree increase over the same interval! Wow. And that certainly supports JMG’s assertion that the big changes are happening toward the poles, and not toward the equator.

    That difference gave us pause, too, in our considerations. Would we rather abandon an area that is more climatically stable for one that is seeing fairly radical warming? After watching some pretty major flooding events in the area to the north of you this summer, those ideas got back-burnered.


  170. BTW, JMG and others in coastal New England, keep an eye on Hurricane Lee, the most southeasterly hurricane to reach category 5 ever recorded. Right now it looks like a real dynamo. It went from Cat 1 to Cat 5 in less than 24 hours, and appears to be tracking your way.

    Heads up!

  171. >Other Owen, hmm! That’s intriguing. I wonder how much of it was the sharp decrease in global shipping, on the one hand, and the equally sharp contraction in functioning European infrastructure

    Strictly speaking, we have a correlation, although for all practical purposes, it’s near good enough if you see A, then B shows up too. As to exactly how WW2 and the flatline of CO2 relate to each other? Yeah, I’m not all that sure myself either.

    If you noticed, the economic contraction of the 1930s, didn’t seem to matter much for CO2 levels at all, you wouldn’t have known that stocks were worthless, car factories were idle and that farmers were making desperate migrations to California in a last ditch effort to save themselves, from the rising CO2 levels throughout the 30s. The march of progress. Or something.

    Something about the mechanisms of WW2 drove CO2 levels down. It would be interesting to figure out the exact mechanisms and perhaps to those who are truly interested in reducing CO2, it might actually help you. Then again, maybe that crowd will get the bright idea to start WW3. Maybe they already have.

  172. >For instance, it suggests that disruptive (to us) climate change isn’t our comeuppance for developing or using advanced technology. If it’s for anything, it’s for population

    Well, if that Birthgap video has any validity, this is a problem that will solve itself this century, as the population collapses.

    Makes me think of that Doctor Who episode where the lion man keeps saying “Do Nothing!”.

  173. Hello JMG! Again, in my opinion, in order to bring back trust in Scientific Practice, we do not need to stand by and pretend that it is just Science; that it has a connection with culture and is MAN-MADE, that any arrogance is unnecessary and that the method of modern science only works on matter and energy, it is not outside of it and we need to save it from the TRAP OF REDUCTIONISM and that it is only: a human activity: it is nothing else and it never CAN BE. We have to somehow understand.

  174. @ A Nony Moose – “Speaking of beef I took what are the current amounts of meat, milk, fish, eggs that are produced yearly according to Google, cut them in half and then divided per capita in an 8 billion population. Consumption per capita per week – 1 one 4 oz serving of fish, three-four 4 oz serving s of meat, 1 cup of milk per day, 2 eggs per week – plenty of animal protein for nutrition and a release of a lot of land for ecological purposes.”

    May I ask why you measured only meat, milk, fish and eggs in this calculation? The reason I ask is that “releas[ing] a lot of land for ecological purposes” ONLY from the production of meat, milk and eggs (fish are a separate ecological matter, btw) would not accomplish what you might think, if it turns out that the raising of meat, milk and eggs is more friendly to ecological purposes than (say) the raising of monocultures of grain.

    Our farm (for example) would not be friendly to the raising of grain or vegetable foods – very hilly, and the soil quite acid and boggy, but the conditions our sheep are raised in are incredibly biodiverse, with increasing numbers of wildlife and bird sightings on our ground each year.

    I thank you, in advance, if you find yourself able to give some consideration to this question.

  175. I have noticed that things like the fact that even the Sun orbits the solar barycenter, and therefore moves closer or farther from Earth in cycles is never talked about by the carbon cultists. This is one of the effects of the other planets gravity affecting where the centre of the sun is, as well as the orbit of the Earth itself. When Jupiter, Saturn and Venus are all on the same side of the Sun as Earth, Earth will be closer the surface of the Sun. Unfortunately, this is too close to the idea that the Gods (Planets) decide the fate of humanity, not humanity itself.

  176. JMG – thank you for the reminder about the “conversation with nature post” – it was a lovely post, and 2019 now seems like it was decades ago! How and ever, thank you!

    Yes, nature adapts… nature participates… nature responds… nature surprises…

    All very useful reminders of the futility of hubris! 🙂

  177. JMG,
    “GlassHammer, it has occurred to me more than once that old mines and other underground installations, where the temperature is stable year round, would be a great place for some kinds of work.”
    I talked with someone who personally saw the earliest days of Intel. Before they had their own factories, they had some custom prototype chip assembly work done at a custom machine shop in a former salt mine, deep under Kansas City. The fixed temperature environment provided for very stable manufacturing setup.
    This was described to me by someone who was there and didn’t seek notoriety. I’ve never seen it described in a history of the chip maker. Apologies if this climate-no-change is too far off the topic.
    I apologize for not being familiar with your full range of books & articles. Do you have one or more, that provides overview or in depth discussion of just how one deals with a transition to a sustainable way of life?
    I enjoyed reading Retrotopia, but see little more I could do individually without an unlikely-seeming community agreement on rollback.
    As hinted at, my biggest life issue now is unraveling beliefs in misleading promises from past conditioning: “Do as commanded and you’re guaranteed success, don’t and THIS life will be hell.” These were about both spiritual and physical areas of life.
    Sometimes I feel I have to sort out my relationship with the unseen realm, before I have any basis for good decisions about this tangible life. This has been a life-long spiritual and philosophical quest, with few definite answers yet. Perhaps the karmic purpose of this life is to be confused, inactive, inert. Similar to a bulldozed, cleared trench that stops a wildfire I don’t get to know about in this life!
    As far as climate response goes, I’d like to see if there’s some kind of checklist type of approach I could use to appreciate the good I’m already doing, and prioritize next steps. Then I could use the blog comments for extremely specific questions.
    Or, perhaps I should make a Dreamwidth blog and drop a one-line invitation here for those who’d like in depth conversation on those specifics.
    I think that would be more productive than having people guess (without asking) about my individual situation, level of knowledge and attitude, what I’m already doing, and what’s feasible or even possible for me to do next.

    Numbers seem to change, I suppose as our host removes some comments. As of time of this posting:

    Travis # 149, I can’t tell which part of JMG’s or commenters’ positions cause you dismay, as being the worthless ranting of the incorrigibly corrupt.

    Cicada Grove # 153, I’ve seen claims that both the Mediterranean and the Mississippi had natural dams of either earth or ice. These held back enormous waters until they broke about 10,000 years ago. Thus, the origin of the biblical Flood story and similar legends. I read about this long enough ago to not remember now just what the sources were.

    kurtyigit56 # 156, I see government as a force like glaciers or hurricanes: something that affects my life, which I need to be aware of and respond to.
    But, being in a class way below Naomi Kline’s, I personally have no influence whatsoever on the direction and speed of glaciers, hurricanes, or governments.
    No amount of my expressing my desires, or shouting, or voting, or reporting on issues, will change what they do, for their own reasons.
    Referring to “us” for the activities of governments and societies, is as meaningless in my life as saying “those of you who all share personal accountability for commanding the hurricane to turn northwest.”

    Phutatorius # 163, the new motto for species importers: “Think globally, act stupidly.”

    Clay Denis # 171, thank you for your kind words!
    I saw one dome home somewhere in the west side, but I don’t recall now which town. Everything else was buildings plopped on top of the ground, typical suburban style. There were many split level homes with a daylight basement at the back of a sloping lot. They certainly weren’t ecology-minded earthships, as you describe in early Tanasbourne.
    I later discovered architect Christopher Alexander’s work. I’d be 90% thrilled to live in a world built according to his principles, with only a very few misgivings about some of his most specifically insistent construction techniques. In any event, his work seems to have not made any difference north of Eugene…

    Walt F # 165, I think I’ve never before seen anyone ask that question: per capita, what’s the difference in energy cost of a basic lifestyle? Interesting.
    # 172, I’m confused about what you say you “own,” in quotes. Do you have exclusive right to go and remove and move around plants in part of a wetland? Are you only allowed to petition the town council about the wetlands?

    Siliconguy # 173, any choice will seriously ruffle some feathers!

  178. @Scotlyn, I’m glad to hear the cattails are seeking new places. Mine are at sea level, so they’ll need to stay ahead of the ocean for the next few centuries. They’re well equipped for this. Each seed-head “tail” is made of a couple hundred thousand seeds. However, they usually grow in inundated or at least very wet ground. Your new ones might not thrive for long, unless your brother-in-law parked his Caravan in a swamp.

    Cattails get a lot of bad press. They’re invasive in some regions, and they’re considered a nuisance plant in most regions. They tend to overrun wetlands, and they’re part of the natural process of shallow pond edges turning gradually into dry land, which waterfront property owners don’t usually welcome. What’s less generally known about them is that they produce more edible starch per acre than any other plant (it’s in their roots), including potatoes, rice, or taro. They’re my secret emergency survival food stash. I don’t mind spilling the beans here, though, because it’s something every potential Green Wizard should learn about. You can find the details from many sources on foraging.

    @A Nony Moose, that’s the kind of calculation more people should be doing, to understand the real scope of the issues globally and their part in it. I’ve been working with this one: the average per capita share of all forms of power used worldwide is about two and a half kilowatts. That seems like a lot, 60 kWh/day, if you only think about your electric bill, but that share also has to include the energy used to manufacture and transport the products you own (amortized for the service life of the item where appropriate), the energy expended on your behalf by all levels of government, your food (20 kWh/day average for a 2000 Cal/day diet), the services you use, heating, cooling, and vehicle use. There are a few people here who appear to come in under that figure, but it’s not easy. And that’s just to be “no worse than the average present-day human” in contributing to climate change.

    Would you care to guess the reaction I get most often bringing these figures up in discussions? “I have solar panels” (or “My electric company uses renewables”) so none of it counts! Completely missing the point.

  179. @JMG regarding the Zebra Mussels: Yes, it’s well known that the Zebra Mussels do clarify the lake water, but the current health of Lake Erie is not so rosy. The Zebra Mussels are far from being the saviors of the Great Lakes. Not that I favor attempts to eradicate them now that they’re here: We’ll just have to live with ’em. I used to say that we should close the Welland Canal and the Chicago River link from Lake Michigan. Offloading cargoes at Niagra and Chicago would sure create lots of jobs!

    It was interesting to read the first 50 comments in response to your linked article, way back before COVID became the topic of the day. And I’ll reply to one of the commenters that my neighbors were carp hunting with bow and arrow back in the 1960s, way before the asian carp invasion; our home grown river carp were easy enough targets wallowing in the shallow river and their big brown bodies made great garden fertilizer — huge strawberries! But if Hell were filled with the smell of rotting carp, I’d clean up my act in a hurry!

  180. Grover, I check the storm news daily during hurricane season; Rhode Island doesn’t get many but they’re messy when they show up. Fortunately my apartment is well above storm surge range.

    Other Owen, oh, granted. It’s simply a matter of curiosity on my part.

    Kurtyigit, granted, but try getting the current institutional elite to admit that!

    Dennis, climate change activists may not talk about that, but the complex wobbles of the sun around the solar system’s barycenter are all over the textbooks. Given that the vast majority of the solar system’s mass is in the Sun, and that the gravitational effect of the planets decreases by the square of their distances, the wobble isn’t enough to move things very far, or to increase or decrease the earth’s insolation by much. That said, your comment about the planetary gods seems very sensible to me!

    Scotlyn, you’re most welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Christopher, Green Wizardry is the nearest to a one-volume guide I’ve written. It’s not a checklist, though, because circumstances differ from person to person.

    Phutatorius, the zebra mussels can’t do it all by themselves, granted, but compared to the state of Lake Erie before they arrived, they’ve worked miracles.

  181. “Can you point me to some sources documenting CO2 emissions before the 20th century? I would like to include that in my analysis.”

    I’ve been using Our World In Data (

    You’ve probably noticed that most sources graph historical CO2 emissions from fossil fuels specifically, which in 1850 was only (according to those sources) about 0.2 GT (billion tons). But OWID also includes charts for CO2 emissions from “land use changes” (such as in the second chart down, on <a href=""this page). I gather that mostly means clearing forests for agricultural use, roads, railroads, and settlements; slash and burn agriculture; and/or harvesting wood for fuel at rates faster than forests can recover. The chart devoted to that figure is here, with additional geographical detail and sources.

    Their figure for 1850 is 2.42 GT from land use, and thus 2.62 GT total. Population (also from OWID) for 1850 is 1.28 billion. That’s 2.05 tons per capita. For 2021 total CO2 emissions were 41.06 GT, population 7.91 billion, 5.37 tons per capita. The “then to now” factor works out to x2.53, a bit higher than I posted earlier (I rounded more crudely in that pass). Perhaps using the 2019 figures is more sound; those give a factor of x2.63. But the basic point is the same.

  182. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, it’s a pretty weird world-view to demand both outcomes all at the same time. It is worth noting that the media at this stage appears to be only ever presenting one side of any argument – usually that which is convenient to them – and dude, that’s activism. It ain’t reporting as we know it. I kind of feel sorry for them anyway, their revenue streams are so concentrated now that they’re probably directed by where the mad cash originated. Hey, the puppet masters probably tell them: Dance and sing for us! The problem is that feedback is good for the elites, because when they listen to themselves… 🙂

    Almost forgot to mention, there are winners and losers with this whole climate change business. When we had the last warm summer down here which lead to the awful Black Summer 2019/2020 of bushfires, we had the best harvest ever on the property. It was astounding, the extra energy from the climate just zinged up all of the plants, and they responded with produce. It’s kind of like the last couple of wet and cold summers have produced some astounding harvests about this country, and a lot of destruction elsewhere due to floods. A lot of my grains come from the state of South Australia, and the rains there have really bumped their crops along. Look, the reality is that smaller countries will be pounded by some shifts in the climate because there just is less land to cope with the variability, and probably too many people.

    I read years ago an account of interactions between the Aboriginals and the early settlers. The locals pointed out the risks involved with settling in one location and putting all your eggs in one basket as the saying goes. It’s an astute observation on western culture.



  183. @Scotlyn #186 Much of the animal protein we eat, especially pork, chicken, eggs is derived from the animals eating corn and soybeans and other field grown crops (not pasture grazing) Worldwide the percentage of crop land used to feed animals is 36%. In the USA it’s well over half. The majority of that land released with reduction in animal protein would not need to be switched over to feed humans as feeding the crops to animals first is inefficient in transfer of nutrients and energy from crop via animal to human.

    I agree that well managed grazing with cattle, sheep and goats is a big positive. Pigs and chickens aren’t as amenable to just switching over to grazing with perhaps some supplemental grains as a small component of the diet as goats, sheep, and cattle are. I am from a Midwest farm background and am familiar with what food the various farm animals can be raised on for production and even have an ag teaching credential.

    As regards fish and other forms of sea food there is intense pressure on fish stocks and not beneficial to the aquatic biome types of fish farming and sea food farming. Ecological restoration of the oceans would regenerate its “organs” that could absorb CO2 and add generally life and equally important – beauty.The earth is a being of life and we have not been wisely seeking to maximize that life and vitality and beauty. I am certainly not against eating animals and their products but it needs to happen with the result of greater life for all. If you need more clarification from me, let me know.

  184. Humans are not the first species to alter the atmosphere and change the climate:

    Could methane produced by sauropod dinosaurs have helped drive Mesozoic climate warmth?
    Here’s a Nature letters paper Persistent near-tropical warmth on the Antarctic continent during the early Eocene epoch which said that the coast of Antarctica during the Eocene period around 70°S had a climate with a coldest month mean temperature of 10°C or more, with vegetation similar to subtropical or tropical trees.

  185. My reaction when I hear about a lot of invasive fishes especially tends to be: are they edible? If so, then make it legal to catch them without a fishing license, or make the license free and no limit. I mean, if brook trout are invasive in your area… eat them! eat them! (Looks embarrassed at quoting Gollum) They’re very tasty. Green Iguanas are also edible. As are lionfish, grass carp, asian carp, tilapia, pacu, and pleco catfish. I wouldn’t be surprised if burmese pythons are too.

    I bet we’ll end up eating a lot of them, one way or another. I certainly eat a lot of himalayan blackberries! Though I’ll admit the bindweed and morning glory in my garden are a complete pain and I don’t know of any use for them, beyond the flowers being pretty. Though they do help keep the lawn from being completely brown all summer… they add a bit of green here and there, studded with white flowers.

  186. @Christopher from California, #189: In Massachusetts, property fronting on tidal bodies of water extends to the mean low tide mark. In all other U.S. states (if I recall correctly), it’s the mean high tide mark. So the tidal wetland is part of my deeded property, and that’s unusual. Due to environmental regulations, I’m not allowed to build anything in it (not that I would want to). I’m allowed to be there, give others permission to be there, and deny others permission to be there (unless they’re afloat/swimming, fishing, or legally hunting, but it’s not a very suitable place for any of those activities). As far as what I’m allowed or forbidden to do with the plants, it’s not even completely clear that I’m allowed to mow my lawn without a special permit (due to its proximity to the wetland). But I’m not going to get in any trouble for judiciously hand-cutting knotweed or phragmites or bindweed, which are all annuals listed as invasive. I put “own” in scare quotes in recognition of both the many legal restrictions, and my own bemusement at the absurdity of owning something I consider part of living beings quite capable of asserting their disregard for my ownership whenever they choose to. (And I’m hoping and requesting they doesn’t choose to, a week or so from now.)

  187. Grover (#128): Fear not. It appears that the site has just switched over from “http://” to “https://”. Edit the link, or search for “Carbonist Manifesto”.

  188. All – Re: Zebra mussels – Has anyone come up with a way of using them? I imagine setting up aquaculture racks surrounding the water-intakes of lake and river water users. The mussels provide the first level water cleaning, and when the racks start to fill up, they’re pulled up, cleaned, and the mussels used for fertilizer (if nothing else). Maybe they could be fed to pigs? Actually, a moment of searching reveals efforts in that direction, as compost and as chicken feed supplement. The shell calcium helps with chicken eggshells!

  189. Good morning, Folks,
    As a small add-on to Pygmycory #106, lately I have been mending bedsheets. I have been sides to middling them or patching some very small holes. Bet you don’t know anyone else who does any of this anymore. I don’t either. I have to be secretive about it because my friends think I am desperately poor and give me things I really don’t want. I don’t sew seriously or do craft but I have this small guilty secret. Does it make any difference to climate change? I shouldn’t think so, but it does remind me of the basic scarcity of materials, the fact that I do have a few simple skills, and that I can learn more as I need to.
    Scotlyn #101 Of course we need a war on invasive species. We are always having a war on something – drugs, Russia, cigarettes, racism, invasive species, youth crime. It is as if we have not moved on from 1945 (a good year as it is my birth year). Funny how nobody wants to WORK (sorry for using a four-letter word on this site) towards anything. They just want to send others off to fight for their good and just causes.

  190. A few anecdotes regarding climate change being more noticeable in polar regions. As a Canuck with both work experience in the Arctic and many contacts in the Arctic, I can personally attest to the following:

    In mid-May this year several residents of Iqaluit fell through the sea ice and perished. Until a few years ago the sea ice was safe until mid-June.

    A native of Banks Island told me in 2006 that since the year 2000 summer thunderstorms have been popping up – a phenomenon that was novel to the residents, including elders, and was causing muskox herds to run helter-skelter across the tundra because they don’t know what thunder is.

    Many communities in the central and northern regions of the Northwest Territories are accessible by land only via winter roads (also called ‘ice roads’) that run over frozen rivers and lakes and cut through the forest. This also applies to the diamond mines and other active mines in the territory. In recent years the open season for winter roads has been significantly truncated.

    Some years ago, a warm spell in mid-winter threatened the winter roads to the extent that a diamond mine had to lease Hercules aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force (at ridiculous cost) to transport diesel; otherwise it would have been ‘lights out’ for the mine and mining camp, since electricity is provided by diesel generator and winter is the only time of the year in which diesel is transported (for cost reasons).

    Many of the ‘winter road’ communities along the Mackenzie River rely on summer barge to receive bulk materials. This summer the barge shipments were delayed due to abnormally low water level (very dry spring/summer) and then stopped entirely in August because the shipping company was based in the community of Hay River which was abandoned due to forest fires (of questionable origin).

    Life is quickly becoming increasingly precarious for humans living on the edge of civilization in the high latitudes!

    Of course, wild swings in climate are common in the far north. In Canada there are dwarf trees growing north of the ‘tree line’ which started growing prior to the ‘little ice age’ and to this day no trees will germinate in the same locale. And the polar bear population is doing just fine (according to the hysteria of the ’90s, they were supposed to be extinct by now, if I am not mistaken), although I can’t say the same for the beleaguered barren land caribou herds (but that may have nothing to do with ‘climate change’).

  191. Walt, many thanks for this. That should be very useful.

    Chris, surprisingly enough, I know a little about the South Australia grain belt — it came into books I read about the last generation of windjammers, many of which paid their way by hauling grain from harbors on Spencer Gulf to European markets. If they’re getting more rain, that’s going to benefit a lot of people, and not just in Australia.

    Mawkernewek, hmm! Fascinating.

    Pygmycory, sounds like a good plan to me. I know that in the south, where nutria are a common invasive species, they end up in a lot of stew pots.

    Lathechuck, excellent.

    JillN, of course. We’re always fighting things, and never winning…

    Ron, many thanks for the data points.

  192. Thank you JMG. I’ll look to order that book.

    Thank you for explaining, Walt F. I’ve heard of (but never tried) the fuzzy stalk ends of cattails as food. Never knew they also had edible and highly nutritious roots.

    In California, it’s the high tide line. Below that the beaches are all public property and shared right-of-way for all.
    Not that this keeps some abusive rich jerks in Malibu from putting up total B.S. signs and illegal fences, hiring private goons who theaten and forcibly remove the public from public property, use bulldozers to unsustainably rearrange the dunes without permits (which would never be given if asked), and fight for decades a battle they always eventually lose to not give up a few feet at property edge as easement for a public path from road to beach. An aerial survey of the coast discovered someone had built an illegal personal golf course behind their high walls, explaining long mysterious pollution in the adjacent creek.
    I don’t begrudge the ultra-rich their enjoyment of a beachfront getaway. I do dislike abusively antisocial behavior, especially if reinforced by a surplus of money and hostility.

    Phutatorius # 191 and pygmycory # 197, when I was in Minnesota, news media frequently mentioned there is no way to incentivize enough fishing to get rid of the Asian carp. The aggressive and prolific nature of those nuisance fish is sure intimidating.
    All I’ve seen about that Chicago canal suggests it’s long overdue to close it. It seems that cost of moving cargo and hosed-down boats over a bit of land will always be far cheaper than killing the whole biology of the Great Lakes.

  193. Walt #199. Here all land between high tide and low tide belongs to the state. Which begs the question: what happens with sea level rise? Is the state going to take part of your seafront property? Lawyers, sharpen your briefs!

    I visited people in New Zealand whose land sloped down to the sea. After high tide there were always a few shrimp struggling on the lawn. Not enough for a shrimp barbie, unfortunately. Incidentally, that part of the world got two high tides and two low tides a day. It was quite confusing.

  194. Two things I’ve mentioned elsewhere (and generated some pushback but no good arguments against)…

    1. If anyone contends that fossil fuels are a primary source of unwanted climate change then peak oil solves that issue all by itself, doesn’t it? Executing the so-called “Green New Deal” would cause more environmental harm than anything done to date.

    2. Climate change is normal and inevitable. Instead of desperately trying to resist the inevitable perhaps our efforts should be wholly focused on adapting?

  195. Wer here
    Well this is the one post that I am suprised about (the entire planet at an temp equilibrium?)
    Seems so far fetched, I’ve heard that the sun is getting slowly brigther over the course of millions of years, if that is the truth wouldn’t ice ages happen only in the distatnt past? Even if the sun increses it’s output by a very small amount It could start an disaster.
    And talking about pour supposed “betters” in Poznań always I have in mind that distatsteful encounter with that purple haired “person” who loudly complained about us country folk polutiong with fertiliazer while complaining that his cousin can’t get him a lift in his new SUV (was forced to ride a train with me and the rest) so nope poor folks will not decrease their carbon usage, especialy when the people at top who demand from us eco viability fly to buy bread to an another country on a private jet.
    What did our local preacher and JMG said: you have to lead by example, never going to happen under thoose people siting in their condos on some fancy street in Poznań and elsewhere.
    In my area thing are not getting warmer just drier like Wielkopolska , Powiat Pilski is turning into a steppe,.

  196. Thank you for your perspective, as always, jmg. When I found peak oil ten years ago I discovered how vulnerable I was to apocalyptic predictions. Your historical perspective on turbulent times has helped me greatly to weather our timbers with something approximating grace.

  197. Looking through my archive of pdfs of papers etc. I also came across something about the history of trees in the British Isles, saying that the diversity of trees is lower because of the ice age, and that the geography of Europe means that the mountains of the Pyrennes, Alps and Carpathians has blocked recolonisation by some tree genera.
    There was a set of slides from a lecture by Dr Martin Ingrouille entitled “Roots and Branches, The Ancestry of British Woodlands”. I looked it up to find it again online, the original link seems to have succumbed to link rot, but it is available here:
    In it the author details some of the changes throughout the Cenozoic, and how different tree families have been present. In the London Clay for example, in the early Cenozoic, there are fossil plants similar to tropical SE Asia/Indonesia.

  198. Earlier this year, in response to Plymouth City Council clear-felling hundreds of trees to install cycle-lanes in the British city, I joked on my blog that PMC climate-activists would start calling for deforestation to prevent climate-change.

    I was unprepared for how accurate that would prove to be, as the New York Times recently ran an op-ed by David Wallace-Wells entitled “Forests Are No Longer Our Climate Friends”.

    My next prediction is that the Judge Dredd character Judge Death, an alien super-fiend who exterminated life on his home planet to prevent crime once and for all, will be called forth as a “climate-expert” by the MSM, to deliver his pronouncement that everything should be killed in order to save the planet:

    “THE CRIME ISS LIFE! THE SSENTENCE ISS DEATH!” – a radical new slogan for Extinction Rebellion, perhaps…

  199. @ A Nony Moose – Thank you for considering my question and thoughtfully replying.

    If I may:
    You have said you are an educator, and I wonder if I realise that there are several points in this “conventional wisdom” narrative (your first paragraph) that need to be carefully unpacked. If you don’t mind, I’d like to take your paragraph, as written, and unpack it a bit, hopefully with the result of encouraging critical thinking.

    “Much of the animal protein” Why are we measuring “protein” as such? Are we eaters of “protein”? or eaters of food? Does thinking of our food sources as quantifiable variables such as “protein” make it easier to exchange comparisons of quality with comparisons of quantity?

    “we eat, especially pork, chicken, eggs is derived from the animals eating corn and soybeans and other field grown crops (not pasture grazing) Worldwide the percentage of crop land used to feed animals is 36%. In the USA it’s well over half.”

    While this is probably true of commercial, industrial, crops – which do produce around 30% of the food people actually eat, using 75% of the land and producing more than 75% of the pollution – I very much doubt that it is true of the other 70% of human food grown on smallholdings and by peasants who still manage to produce around 70% of the food people eat using less than 25% of the land, and producing much less than 25% of the pollution. (my source –

    Also, it must be asked WHY is industrial farming organised in such a way as to take animals away from directly feeding themselves from the land, where they are healthiest, and trying to maintain them instead with the poorest feed of all, that which comes from grains? It seems that grains are a “hegemonic” crop – you find grains where you find empires, because grains are a crop that can be taxed at source, can be silo’d and re-distributed by governments, and (nowadays) are easier to take to the lab and divide and distil into 1000’s of different food additives and ingredients. (My source on this – Since grain is a hegemonic crop, and states must encourage the growing of grain, markets must be found for it willy nilly. If more grain is produced than people can make themselves eat, then animals must eat it, whether they thrive on it or not. Thus, it is the state subsidised growing of grain that has forced farmers to feed it to animals, and not demand from farmers that has “diverted” the grain crop to animal instead of human uses.

    “The majority of that land released with reduction in animal protein would not need to be switched over to feed humans as feeding the crops to animals first is inefficient in transfer of nutrients and energy from crop via animal to human.” This sounds like a direct quote from Francis Moore Lappe, who has a LOT to answer for (in my humble opinion) for that “inefficiency” meme! Again, if the majority of that land has been monocropped, and exhausted, to grow those grains (for any market that can be found to take them),the land itself will benefit hugely from going back to mixed uses, including a great deal of pasture grazing, which can help rebuild soils. Healthy soils NEED the presence of both plants and animals – whether wild or cultivated. It turns out that it is only if you think of grains as measures of “protein efficiency” that you can think of them as interchangeable with other foods. (or that you can think of grain growing as interchangeable with other land uses).

    While, for states, grains are hegemonically useful crops, for both people and animals, grains are mainly bulk supplies of carbohydrates, with little other nutrition in them, and both people and animals benefit from reducing their dependence on grains as foods. Ruminants (like our sheep) do not need them at all, nor do pigs or chickens if reared in the old family farm way (as users-up of all the kitchen and garden scraps). People can also do very well on diets entirely bereft of grains. It is only empires that seem to entirely depend on farmers raising grain, so as to produce surpluses enough to support everyone else. To them food quantity matters more than food quality.

    Anyway, thank you again. Fish is, of course, a whole nuther day’s work. 😉

    Be well, stay free!

  200. Walt F – yes, you are right, about the cattails liking their feet wet. The cattails I’ve seen do happen to be growing in the open drains around the sides of my brother-in-law’s old site. Of course, those drains got as much chemical treatment, in their day, as the flat.

    As to the nutritional value of the roots, I did not know that! (And I mean potatoes are pretty good on that score as it is). I wonder, though, about eating the roots of cattails that have been busy doing chemical cleanup in a site?

  201. In an ironic twist, it seems to me, that in choosing the best locations to survive the near term ( next 50 years) effects of climate change they are places that are the opposite of where the well-heeled and trendy tend to locate when given a choice. So as a quick rule of thumb go to places that are out of style if you can support yourself economically there. So its:

    Providence instead of Miami
    LaCrosse not Los Angeles
    Detroit not Boulder
    Syracuse not Austin
    Buffalo not San Francisco
    Hilo not Lahaina

    Places that are presently cold, wet, or out of style on average seem like they will have better prospects in the climate future.

  202. @Lathechuck #201: If the zebra mussels are filtering toxins from the water, where are those toxins accumulating? If we feed ’em to the pigs, assuming the pigs will eat them, then up the food chain those toxins will go, merrily, merrily.

  203. (JMG, with your permission.)

    Maxine, I just wanted to report something. I can’t make any assurance as to this being “definitely” anything other than the power of suggestion; but a divination afterward assured me that at the very least it is probably worth sharing. I prayed on behalf of Kameen this evening for the first time. A little while later, as I was practicing piano and zoning out, I had a flash image of a young woman with auburn hair in a white dress, standing in bright sunlight against the blue sky at the top of a lush green hill, who smiled and bowed slightly in my direction. She was standing next to a man; I didn’t really catch anything about him in that instant other than that he was slightly taller than she, and he was definitely walking together with her as a pair. I can’t say with certainty that this was anything more than a stray image. But if it was, in fact, more than that, it sure didn’t look like a lonely astral waiting room.

  204. pygmycory,

    I don’t usually admit this to a lot of people, but the groundhogs that live around us are pretty darn tasty…just something to keep in my back pocket. Guineas are also delish; all dark meat.
    A friend brought me one once that he shot for being annoying, only to discover that it had its own FB page and was a local mascot! (I obligingly got rid of the evidence for him.) I’ve also heard from an urban forager friend of mine in Atlanta that rat ain’t too bad either. But he laments the fact that they don’t have a local population of whistle pigs to grace the dinner table.


    Up to the point that it becomes futile due to a general paucity of fibers to connect to each other, my wife mends our bedsheets too. 😉

  205. Regarding my previous comment, I think it would be more accurate to say “up the food chain those toxins come,” sort of in the manner of karma.

  206. JMG, regarding the climate debate binary you describe in current mainstream culture. If it had not already caught your attention, in America the leading outsider presidential candidates of both major parties– both of whom I feel have a better than normal chance of rising much, much higher due to the current tenuous circumstances of both parties’ frontrunners– have strongly held policy positions on climate and energy that do not conform to the preferred narratives.

    When pushed on the subject of climate change, Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says that he recognizes global warming as a problem, but tellingly it’s not mentioned in any of his official materials; he is against traditional sops like carbon credits; and he sounds rather like you, JMG, when talking about nuclear, saying refreshingly that beyond being dangerous, it is completely uneconomic and he will only support it if it ever proves itself economically, an outcome he clearly doesn’t expect. On the other hand, he believes that alternative sources of energy can satisfy America’s energy needs completely if only America started an enormous public works program to build the infrastructure to do so. The probably over-charitable reading would be that he recognizes the limitations of alternative energy and that investing in sensible alternative energy won’t actually quench America’s enormous energy appetite, but it would be the best possible preparation for the the actual future that’s coming anyhow, and telling the complete truth about it would make him completely unelectable. I’m not sure I actually believe this is at all likely, but it at least seems plausible, given how outside the normal lines he already is on nuclear (not to mention vaccine safety).

    Meanwhile, Republican Vivek Ramaswamy (no, I’m not counting DeSantis here– Ramaswamy has the clear momentum and DeSantis is steadily nosediving with no signs yet of meaningful course correction) does the unthinkable here and actually concedes that man-made global warming is a real thing… but then goes on to argue that no reasonable case has been made that this will actually be harmful to humanity as a whole. I’m with him to there, as well as his incisive criticisms of carbon emissions caps (cappers just end up buying the products from other countries without such caps, enriching the other while burning carbon in an even less efficient manner at the end of the day), but then he goes on to say we should uplift our economy by going full tilt into nuclear, oil, coal, fracking, and anything and everything else we can as heavily as possible. Again, there is an over-charitable reading here, which is that if he might that if all that’s what we’re going to do anyhow, then we may as well do it all in one go and use the profits to build a less-energy infrastructure… okay, okay, that’s even more illucid pipe dreaming than my charitable reading of RFK Jr. had.

    Anyway, the point is that things are getting interesting. The Overton Window is getting pulled wide. I believe that both of these are signs of major shifts in the popular conversation about global warming in the near future. Where the next binary lands, who can say, but in such times there is more leeway to shift the new resulting shape of discourse. So by all means keep returning to these issues!

  207. @ Sister Crow # 115

    Europeans eat freshwater fish, too (at the moment, I can only think of trout), but most of us, like me and very likely Fred Vargas, don’t fish. We buy our fish in the supermarket. I live near the river Marne, which is a rather large French river, but I don’t know if the fish that are in it are edible, because of pollution issues. I have friends who fish in rivers as a hobby, but they all live in the countryside.

  208. JillN,
    I actually do know other people who do some of the things on that list in real life (who aren’t me.) Multiple people living without cars. Friends and relatives who grow some of their own food. One of them also bakes a lot of bread. Plenty who do at least some scratch cooking.

    At least a couple who mend clothes. One who makes and sells them. One enthusiastic bicyclist. Multiple who hang clothes to dry a significant amount of the time. One who fixes electronics and all sorts of things that go wrong with houses.

    I think a surprising number of people know how to do useful things like this, and do them at least sometimes. They may be quiet about it, and it probably depends on your social circle how common it is.

    Mending clothing actually does help a bit, environmentally. Clothing production does produce CO2 and other pollution, and uses water and other resources. If you wear stuff for longer, you use less clothing over time. So yes, it does make a difference, even if it isn’t ‘THE SOLUTION!!!’ that everyone wishes for.

    There’s a lot of small, helpful things out there that aren’t a magic bullet, but I think they’re still meaningful to do. And they add up, over time, when you do more than one, or when multiple people do them.

    A lot of them also save money, which also adds up over time. I like that feature!

  209. Eating invasives doesn’t generally extirpate them, but it can reduce the scale of the problem while producing food that then doesn’t have to be produced at an additional environmental cost. I don’t expect my eating blackberries to reduce the blackberry bushes hold on the land, but I love free tasty berries.

    The asian carp thing… I don’t fish (I live in a city, have no car, and the main fishes round here are trout and salmon that require fairly expensive licenses) but if I see asian carp for sale at a reasonable price I’d love to try it. I’ll have to keep my eyes out. It’s apparently called silverfin sometimes.

    Some of the local kids seem to have taken to chasing the invasive lizards. I don’t imagine they’re eating them, though.

  210. Phutatorius – Mussels filter nutrients from the water; that’s how they live. Those nutrients could nourish algae and/or bacteria, which can produce toxins. I don’t actually know whether mussels remove such toxins as metals (e.g. mercury) that would bioaccumulate if brought into our food supply. It’s a question to be considered.

    Another possible hazard related to exploitation of invasive species is that if a market develops, it’ll probably be more efficient to sell “farmed” products than “wild caught”, whether it’s nutria, zebra mussels, blue catfish, snakeheads, or whatever. Then escapes from the “farm” just make the invasive part even worse.

  211. TJ, good. I was pointing out back in the days of the peak oil movement that there aren’t enough fossil fuels on the planet to justify the extreme claims being made by climate activists. There may be enough to disrupt industrial civilization good and proper, but the fall of one fragile civilization is not the end of the world. I’ve also argued that since “resisting” climate change is basically playacting as long as the people who claim to resist aren’t willing to cut their own carbon footprints, yeah, adaptation is what we have left.

    Wer, no, because the sun isn’t the only variable in play — not by a long shot — and the increase in solar output is very slow and very gradual.

    James, glad to hear it.

    Mawkernewek, thanks for this. Most of the temperate zones have had what are known as “depauperate” ecosystems since the peak of the ice age: that is, there are a lot of ecological niches that were left empty due to sudden shifts in climate and the like, and not enough time for new species to evolve to fill them. North America has a very bad case of that when it comes to animals — even before white people with guns made the problem worse, there were huge numbers of unfilled niches all over the continent.

    Luke, of course! They are becoming everything they once claimed to hate.

    Clay, works for me. 😉

    Phutatorius (if I may), did you read the post of mine I linked? I addressed that point in so many words: “As filter feeders, zebra mussels strain organic material out of the water, eating what they can and packing the rest into biologically inert ‘pseudofeces’ which drop to the bottom and are entombed in the sediment.” That’s one of the most interesting things about zebra mussels — it’s as if they were bred to clean up toxic messes in polluted lakes in a relatively safe manner.

    Quin, it has indeed caught my attention, but thank you for this — it’s a fascinating bit of news and one that may turn out to be a significant marker of change.

    Pygmycory, maybe they should try the lizards! Lizard is tasty. (Yes, it tastes like chicken.) What kind of invasive lizards do you have up your way?

  212. @ Martin Back ” that part of the world got two high tides and two low tides a day.”

    Doesn’t every [sea-facing] part of the world get two high tides and two low tides a day?

  213. I posted the same comment as above (#175), at the same time, i.e. yesterday noon, on Rintrah’s own website. There, it still hasn’t been put through, while several others have. Quite a way to foment an honest discussion…

  214. Quin @ 219, Don’t count DeSantis out yet. Here are the results of two recent polls:

    IA GOP(Iowa St): Trump 51, DeSantis 14, Haley 10, Ramaswamy 9, Scott 6
    Nat’l GOP (Ras): Trump 45, DeSantis 9, Christie 9, Haley 7, Ramaswamy 5

    TV and You tube interviewers might be asking about climate issues, but those are not what Republican voters care about, or so it seems to me.

    About adapting, of course we need to adapt, but many of us do not appreciate being told we need to adapt so someone else can get or stay rich.

  215. Owen et all…

    In regards to CO2 levels, generally speaking before about 1850 it was created by volcanic activity and after that date is when human caused CO2 took over.

    Here’s an article talking about that:

    (Seems solid even after knowing you have to be careful with any articles from scientific journals. 😉)

    And the Iceland eruption of 1773-5 fits here as well. Of course the cooling effects of dust/particulates cool the earth more than the rise in CO2, at least for a few years. Maybe mother earth is building up an eruption sometime soon to cool us off?

    Also, it seems to me that those in charge have been trying desperately to impose rationing on everyone just like back in WW2….

  216. There is a perhaps a simpler way to grasp human effects on climate. When I was in my first year of engineering school I had to take a required course called Thermodynamics 105. We had a crusty old professor who walked his talk as he did not own a car because he viewed them as to thermodynamically in-efficient. Half way through the semester we found ourselves discussing the issues with nuclear fission, which was very relevant then, as we were less than a year out from Three Mile Island and only 30 miles away. One student chimed in, “as soon as we perfect fusion we can have limitless power .” Our professor gave him a bemused look and went to the chalkboard.
    Here is the curve for growth in the use of electrical power ( at the time it was growing very rapidly worldwide). If we extrapolate that out to the year 2030 and then apply the Black Body Radiation Equation you will see that it would raise the temperature of the earth by over 5 degrees ( or something like that ) if we had fusion and made all the energy we wanted.
    The point is that all energy generated on earth by any other means than collecting solar in the form of photovoltaics , wind, or plants turns in to heat that needs to be radiated back off the earth to maintain equilibrium. The more heat that needs to be radiated the higher the temperature that is needed to accomplish that. Of course there are many variables that we are familiar with from many climate discussions. But the bottom line is , ” If you make it, you gotta dump it.”
    Yes there were many points in the past where temps were higher with no industrial civilization , but on a human scale of time a good rule of thumb, that will cut through all the high minded talk of carbon capture and such is just use less energy and the climate will be better as well as many other things.

  217. Hi John Michael,

    Due to all sorts of reasons, but mostly poor overall soil fertility due to the sheer age and flatness of the continent, we’re not a huge contributor to the global food chain. Not to mention low levels of phosphates – everywhere. However, what food exports we do produce have to have some of the lowest inputs around, and certainly the least official economic support. And there is a lot of land, and the grain belt is massive (I live in what might best be described as the tuber belt – don’t mention the potatoes! Far out.) It’s a brutal industry farming, but if you can survive… What history suggests is that we were once a big offshore farm for our English overlords, and those windjammers were part of that story. I’d imagine that submarines would have a lot of difficulty hunting out those timber ships too. Hmm. Anyway, you might not be surprised to note that we recently signed a free trade agreement with the UK. What a surprise that they’re looking to their old friends in a time of crisis now that their more recent friends have proven to be a little feckless. A lot of people to feed there in that small country. It was also hard not to note that India has recently been eyeing off our rice exports, and we’ve been playing naval games with them, not to mention our Japanese friends who require a lot of our LNG for electricity generation, nuclear being so economic and problem free (sarcasm alert). Wind is changing, so why not windjammers again – they’re a proven technology.

    I’ll tell you a funny story about those ships. I don’t believe that a single convict ship was ever lost at sea whilst travelling from the UK to down under. They’d had fires on such decommissioned ships when they were used as prison hulks stored in UK rivers, but that’s a different thing. Not all of the convicts would have enjoyed the journey down under I can tell you. Still, that activity of transportation is probably more economic than nuclear power. 😉 Incidentally, serious people have been in the news spruiking that technology this past week. A lot of noise, and then nothing. Says everything you need to know.



  218. European wall lizards. They’re maybe a lightly-built 6-8 inches for a large adult, most of it tail. The babies are about 2 inches. I think they’re best left to the local cats, raccoons, and hawks. And it’s really nice to have lizards in town. We didn’t have that before. They might be causing more of an issue out of town in terms of competing with the northern alligator lizards, but I don’t think I’ve seen one of the latter on Vancouver Island even before the wall lizards spread into this area. It looks to me like they found an empty niche and filled it with great enthusiasm.

    There were eight adults sunning themselves on the garden wall today. Eight! Basking, and waving their arms at each other, and hunting for insects and spooking if one of the others did something offensive, or if I moved unexpectedly. I really like the lizards, actually. They and the himalayan blackberries are my favorite invasive species.

    Now the fruit fly maggots that arrived a few years ago and immediately started turning my raspberries to mush are another matter… though I have fed the maggots to tropical fish on occasion. They make tasty live food for small species, though you don’t tend to get many at a time and it works better to breed fruit flies if you need a reliable supply.

    Ivy is kind of a pain because it crawls all over the trees and forest floor in some of the local forests. It crowds out the wildflowers and other understory plants, and it looks pretty weird. I don’t really have a use for ivy.

  219. I’ve read some items over the years of the effect of volcanism on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and also CO2 coming from undersea volcanism, particularly from mid-oceanic ridges where tectonic plates are spreading.

    I looked it up because though the mid-oceanic ridges are really big and really long and could have a substantial impact, they are also way down deep and, you know, out of sight and out of mind.

    In one article from 2016 from Earth Magazine they looked at the relationship between sea level changes and mid-oceanic ridges’ emissions and climate cycles. They talk about the relationship between Earth’s orbital variations and insolation and glaciation and glacial recession. They said that it was still an unresolved question as to where carbon dioxide came from during eras of warmth and glacial recession and where the carbon dioxide went during eras of cooling and glacial advance.

    In the last paragraph they say that questions need to be studied before the relationship between undersea volcanism and climate cycles is understood. This sounds to me like honest science. But this also sounds to me perilously close to climate heresy because, according to the greatly enlightened, the science is settled and was certainly settled as of 2016.

    There are other articles which talk about catastrophic climate change at the same time as saying that various issues with respect to climate are under vigorous study. They admit on the one hand that much still needs to be learned and yet on the other hand are certain about the future course of events ie catastrophe. It sounds contradictory to me. It also sounds like dishonest science.

    It appears to my eyes that the bent outweigh the straight and maybe you’re right, no matter the penitence displayed by the penitents (as if), in the best case the way back to credibility will be a long and winding road, but in the most likely scenario, it’s too late.

  220. @Scotlyn #213, I’d avoid eating any plant grown in soil I suspected of being contaminated with persistent chemicals, especially metals. Due to where cattails grow, I’d also worry about ordinary harmful microbes, so unless I had ample supplies of guaranteed clean water for rinsing (which is unlikely in an emergency) I’d use cattail starch in cooked recipes.

    @pygmycory #221 and JillN, In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, circa 1843, a character risks the draconian legal penalties of the time to steal dead “future” Scrooge’s bedsheets and sell them to a fence. It’s difficult to even give away used bedding in the US today. (But think of how precious it would become if the giant industrial looms shut down.) To me, making, maintaining, and/or repairing useful things these days speaks of a needed kind of balance, maybe because it resolves the dysfunctional binary of being either obsessed with, or contemptuous of, material value.

    @JMG, I look forward to your coming treatise on the cultivation and benefits of Green Lizards.

  221. Phutatorius, look into it! Zebra mussels and their relatives, quagga mussels, are fascinating little critters and they have some very endearing habits. Mind you, I consider their habit of plugging industrial outflow pipes highly endearing…

    Take that, polluters!

    Aldarion, I wish I could say I was surprised. Oh well.

    Clay, there’s that! It’s been a while, but I recall a similar chart that showed that if global energy use increased at its then-current rate indefinitely, the Earth would be glowing a nice bright cherry red from sheer heat in a surprisingly short time…

    Chris, I thought it was rather sensible of the Australian government to start doing naval drills with India. They’ve got a blue water navy in the middle of a major expansion, and now that Britain is practically toothless and the US is declining fast, Australia needs a new imperial patron…

    Pygmycory, I envy you! Wall lizards are charming creatures.

    Smith, yes, that’s also a factor. As I noted earlier, there are several thousand independent variables shaping th climate, and whether or not vulcanism plays a role in climate change doesn’t determine whether or not anthropogenic greenhouse gases also play a role in climate change. If you shoot your Uncle Ernie in the head, the fact that he drinks a couple of fifths of cheap gin a day and probably would have died of liver cirrhosis sometime soon won’t keep the cops from charging you with murder…

    Walt, I’ll keep that in mind. 😉

  222. Hello. I apologize for the off topic comment. Earlier this evening I decided to re-read Retrotopia and went into my amazon content to pull it up and it is not there. When I went looking for it in the main amazon search the results only had a paper back copy for 47.50. Did you pull it? If so, will you be re-releasing it? Thank you.

  223. Thanks for asking! I had problems with the original publisher. All my novels with that publisher are being reprinted by Sphinx Books — the Weird of Hali sequence will be out this autumn, and the others, including Retrotopia, will be released next year.

  224. Hi Mary Bennet @ 228, I’m sorry if I was unclear. I wasn’t trying to make any arguments that one candidate or another ought to appeal to any particular party based on their climate and energy stance; just observing that the publicly stated policies of the insurgent candidates on both sides are no longer adhering to views on those topics which were once de rigeur.

    Re: DeSantis, I understand your point of view and I don’t discount him entirely. Nonetheless, those polls you cited don’t reveal the fact that over months, he’s done nothing but go lower and lower in the polls. Vivek is clearly the one who everyone is afraid of, the target of all recent attacks from both mainstream media and other Republicans, and most importantly the only candidate to savvily position himself as the logical choice for The Donald’s enormous MAGA base if he ends up out of the running. I don’t expect DeSantis to have a shot at all unless both Trump and Vivek are forced out somehow… but I also don’t rule that out as a possibility!

    The one thing I’m sure of: it’s already the craziest race in at least a half a century, and more twists are on the way.

  225. TJ, yep. Just wait until Iranian cars start showing up at European auto shows…

    Kurt, modern cosmology is looking more and more like late Ptolemaic cosmology, complete with its own equivalent of epicycles. It’s interesting, though, that this is starting to become public knowledge.

  226. Scotlyn #226: Oops, yes, you are quite correct: two high and two low tides a day is the norm. But there was something unusual about these tides. I dimly recall from my varsity days that tides are more correctly modeled as water sloshing around in a shallow basin, so you can get, er, resonance effects? Or something unexpected. Whatever. It was all so long ago. Please forget I ever mentioned tides.

  227. so I got a little box after I sent send on a comment, a minute ago ” nonce verification failed” no idea what that means or if my comment went thru. I didnt know I had a nonce that needed verifying. It had had a black box in the lower right of comment field as I was typing asking me if I would want to sign in with some other thing, wordpress or facebook maybe ? I dont know, I ignored it – probably not related ?

  228. “The mainstream media is beginning to admit that their cosmological narrative is coming apart:”

    New evidence from the James Webb Space Telescope is administering a sound thrashing to several old theories. This is Science is supposed to work. First they will try to patch the old theories to fit the new data, and if that doesn’t work they will have to come up with a new theory.

    Somewhere along the way burning textbooks will temporarily cause a small increase in global CO2 levels.

    The floundering about is fun to watch though.

  229. Grover Tibbetts–When I was a kid my grandmother had an old cookbook that contained recipes for goundhog and other small game. Wish I still had it–all kinds of old-time information such as how to estimate the temperature in a wood stove oven by how long you can hold your hand inside or by how quickly a piece of paper will brown, the stages of cooking down a sugar syrup mixture in by dropping a bit into cold water and seeing how hard it was.

    When I was a teen our neighbors boys got rheumatic fever and had to be confined to bed for several weeks. The mom was in despair when the sheets started wearing out. Mom passed on the tip of cutting the sheet down the center then sewing the outer edges together smoothly and hemming the former center. Since the edges of a sheet don’t get much wear the fabric there is still sturdy when the center has worn to tissue thin.

    As for lizards–I read an account by a young American who bummed his way around the world just before WW I. When he was in Siam (as it was then) he encountered and army patrol in the jungle. When they set up camp one filled a cooking pot with water to boil. Each soldier carried a bag of rice and salt, maybe some other staples. Another man slipped back into the jungle and returned with a large lizard which was killed and added to the stew. I think others gathered edible plants. I haven’t eaten lizard but have eaten alligator-tastes like slightly fishy chicken.


  230. >Also, it seems to me that those in charge have been trying desperately to impose rationing on everyone just like back in WW2

    If rationing worked, the 30s would’ve flatlined too. Economic contraction is a type of rationing. Disorderly and chaotic, but still. It’s some other mechanism that did it. I could hazard some guesses but I really don’t know what it was.

    All we have is WW2 CO2 flatine correlation on that graph and about 10 different ways to explain it.

  231. It is a wild ride, thanks for reminder that we are on it.

    Hard to make decisions in these times, even the little stuff. I have to replace a refrigerator, so then it is like, get a regular refrigerator that runs off inverter/batteries when we have power outages ( my strategy these last 26 years, and, my usual strategy would be to get the basic energy saver one on sale at home depot for under $700 labor day special for 2 more days) Pay more ( $2100, what other people around me pay for a “regular” with bells and whistles grid tied energy hog) and get an upright DC refrigerator that I can run a line straight to the batteries so it can work without going thru inverter ( so it will run for longer power outages or it can run off its own dedicated teeny solar panel and charge controller in potential even further power down circumstances. An RV type setup of 200watt panels with a charge controller, retails under 300 will run such refrigeration, can “daylight run” it, only power when the sun is out, otherwise keep the door closed which is why it is nice to have the 4 inches of insulation an off grid DC fridge has)

    Unlike Chris in Australia, I have had a straight forward easy time with my solar for 26 years, the thing is, it realy does wear out, so not for long term wont keep business as usual for our society— however, for short term at this California Location, with frequent power outages, the batteries even if there were no solar panels — keep the lights , communication and refrigeration going. I would recommend for anyone doing renovations to wire in some wires for future DC for a couple things. like a fridge or to run a small DC only setup for lights that can use the teeniest battery

    I also think I will be out of here in 5 years, most likely if able to, so then there is the whole what will “sell” to whomever buys

    I already am in progress to take the water system off grid, mostly done, so pump when the sun out (2 standalone used panels, no inverter, no batteries) and gravity feeds with low pressure.

    my priority choices are to power water pumping out of the ground, and refrigeration. There is a 3 year new super efficient wood stove here for house heat.

  232. ok, my lost comment, which I now think I mistyped my email address, basically said that a couple young folks I was talking to last week were amazed when I told them the gas mileage of the old toyota corollas, because they coudl then see that with all our hybrid this and thats we are dping worse not better ( 1984 toyota corolla got 51mpg highway)

    So then I told them that it was interesting to me that we mandate tailpipe pollution from cars as amount per gallon of gasoline used. Not per mile driven. And which did they think was the one that would be best ? Our mandate means that there are some cars that pollute less per mile driven because they are super efficient on their miles per gallon to drive that do not meet our mandate of pollution per gallon — these cannot be made or imported here.

  233. JMG, you never cease to amaze me. My mom hated lutefisk, so I never had it growing up–I did taste it once and wished I hadn’t. One time I was in the local Scandinavian gift shop/deli the day they were handing out lutefisk samples. I brought some home and gave it to the cats; one walked away in disgust, while the other licked all the butter off and batted the fish around the kitchen floor like a soccer ball until I took it away.

  234. Atmospheric River, I have no idea what a nonce verification might be either! Thanks for the data point.

    Rsj, thank you!

    Sister Crow, funny. I don’t know that I’d go out of my way to eat it, but I found it pleasant enough. I once had a competition with a Norwegian-American friend of mine about whose ancestors ate the grossest food. He brought lutefisk, I brought haggis — and yes, I was able to get fairly authentic haggis made of sheep innards. I won. (But then I also like haggis.)

  235. Nonce verification = The page has been updated. Refresh your browser before commenting.

    Rationing brings problems. During a period of sanctions here when oil was hard to obtain, petrol rationing was suggested. A family friend who lived through wartime Britain when petrol was rationed said we should do everything to avoid it. As he put it, the “wide boys” got control of the rationing system and basically turned everyone into criminals because you had to go to the black market if you wanted petrol.

  236. “nonce verification failed” is the message that you get if you try to comment without first refreshing the page. Apparently, if there have been comments added since you started scrolling, the page cannot accept your new comment.

    This has happened to me several times, and I believe has also happened to others. I eventually learned to copy my comment before hitting “post comment”, just in case, and also to go back and refresh the page one more time, just like my mother running back to the house one more time, to check the stove was turned off… 😉

    It can be disconcerting the first time it happens, especially if you’ve spent a wee while thinking and writing out your comment… I know that.

  237. @ Scotlyn 212

    Re. grain as a hegemonic crop – thanks for that! I had never thought about it, but what you say makes so much sense in the current “global warming/climate change/plants good, meat bad” context. Jacob and his amazing technicolour dream coat, eh?

  238. JMG, Atmospheric River – The “Nonce Verification” notice seems to appear when I’ve spent so much time drafting a comment that the comment log has been updated (maybe more than once) while I’m doing it. I guess it’s like saying that the page that I’m commenting on “doesn’t exist” anymore. It’s not that I spend a lot of time writing, but sometimes I sit down to write without refreshing the page first.

  239. Rita,

    I wish you still had that too! I’d love a copy.

    We have done some time cooking with a woodstove, and got a decent feel (so to speak) for oven temps. It’s tricky, definitely not a “pop it in and set the timer” sort of affair. Didn’t help that our 1880s cook stove – a wedding gift to my great great grandmother – wasn’t in top form either. Or maybe it was my flue geometry…

    Plenty of factors to fuss with for sure. But the taste of food cooked with wood, wow.

    Eat more whistle pig!

  240. At the risk of being OT, just wanted to chime in on the bedsheets topic. When our sheets get tired they go on the fur-niture for the dogs. When they get really sad, I cut them into strips that I use to tie up veggies. That includes LOTS of potato plants, except the early ones. I have found that it’s easier to weed potatoes when tied up. Also, a lot of my garden is narrow terraces that face north-otherwise I would let them flop over the walls. That uses up an entire retired bedsheet every year. I should also add that sheet strips don’t cut into the plants the way wire or rope would.

  241. Reading about Retrotopia in comment #236 made me curious so I checked Amazon. It’s going for $160.39!!! JMG, your books are worth more than gold!!! I promise to hang onto my copy though, no matter how tempting the offers might get 🙂

    Joy Marie

  242. In general, a nonce is something only done once. “I never do this kind of thing! And I definitely won’t ever do it again!” Or, “how do you like that word I just made up for this special occasion?”

    In computer security, it is a reference number randomly assigned to a single communications event, and never re-used.

    The Jetpack commenting software includes a nonce each time the comments page is displayed. The nonce is in a hidden field that is included when the form is submitted, along with whatever you typed in. (If you’re intensely curious, you can pick View Source in your browser, and search for jetpacks_comments_nonce. If you refresh the page, then do View Source on the refreshed page, there will be a different nonce.)

    When the comments form is submitted, the server software uses the nonce to know where to add your new comment, at the end of the list of comments. But if other comments were added before you click submit, the end of the list is somewhere else now. The old nonce refers to an end point that’s no longer valid.

    It’s theoretically possible, but more complicated, to have comments software use a nonce that’s now out of date to put your comment into a location somewhere before the end of the list. But as with any list, if you tuck something in other than at the end, there’s more work to do. This requires the software to cut the chain of comments, paste in your comment, then reattach the comments after yours. This would require some extra steps in the code, and make comment additions go a bit slower if several people are commenting at once. It would also use a bit more memory on the server, to keep track of muliple insertions and what additional comments should now be added to each person’s view of the page based on exactly when they first came in.

    This is the kind of complexity services like Facebook and ex-Twitter use to handle a high volume of simulataneous commenters, on their ad-supported platforms. Jetpack’s a lot more streamlined than all that. It’s quicker and simpler to just give you an error message, and make you hope that this time when you click submit, nobody else got their new comment in ahead of yours.

    It would be useful if the forum software had a more user-friendly error message, though. Perhaps: “Sorry, someone else added a comment while you were working on yours, so you’ll need to try again.”

    And there’s your geek minute for today, from a software guy.

  243. I would love to be in a modern-day Oneida Community. Not the part where the spiritual leader tells the individual men and women with whom they’ll next pair up to have a child. The part where all the many ventures are shared, as with a mutually supportive family, for the mutual success of all in the community.

    As usual for communes, the Oneida community didn’t survive, but the silver kitchen products company did. And they also had many other specialties. I wonder if some communal version of the Manor House will become widespread, in a future where government and outside distribution networks are less reliable.
    It seems compatible with any decade of Retrotopia technology.


    You might have seen the news tha Toyota had to shut down production briefly. A database server tracking parts from suppliers ran out of storage space. From a previous manufacturing job, I can explain something left out in most reports.

    The whole point of the Toyota Production System is to take all surplus and slack out of the process. Then when something breaks, you add just enough of a buffer so you don’t fail in that same way again. They knew from the start they couldn’t afford to build a lot of junk to scrap and rework, like post-WWII Detroit could get away with doing.

    The system’s inventor finally got to visit an American supermarket. He said, what if when you build a car, you could just pick up an engine and, like in the supermarket the empty spot on the shelf shows a need for replenishment, this would signal the need to build another engine? No wasteful stockpiling of engines you might or might not need, before you definitely need them.

    This way as much of the inputs as possible go directly to outputs, instead of piling up as work in process inventory that you can’t sell. In Toyota’s case, because it’s not part of a finished car yet. A favorite Toyota or “lean production” analogy is draining a river until your boat hits the rocks. Then you know for sure there’s no waste of surplus water sloshing around. In the factory, waste is things like building stuff nobody wants to buy, or moving materials back and forth in the factory, when no customer cares about paying you to do that.

    When a process not previously analyzed through Lean eyes is evaluated, it often winds up needing only half the space, time, and expense to make more consistently high quality results. This is useful for either making a profit, or doing more good with your nonprofit resources.

    The cart with the note “put an engine here, please, we’ll need it at final assembly” doesn’t actually wait until the assembly line stops for the want of an engine. The instruction card (kanban) to build the engine gets sent out the right number of steps before the vehicle that will need it arrives at the vehicle ready for an engine. Then the cart goes back to the engine building area.

    Like the want of a battle, rider, horseshoe, and nail, those assembling an engine in turn request the needed resources of crankshaft, flywheel, etc. from “upstream,” with their own “put it here, please” requests – empty bins, notes, kanban cards, database entries.

    They probably didn’t intend to treat parts database server space the same way, but they wound up accidentally doing exactly the same thing. And without trying to deny or BS anyone, they admitted it, figured it out, fixed it, and now they’ll be fine keeping up with it. Not perfect, but resilient, and ever-improving.

    The single biggest difference is that in the postwar world of Detroit, you’re the loser who’ll likely get fired if you dare to stop the line. How dare you not make perfect parts, after all management can’t be wrong! Mistakes? Quality Control will grab a big hammer and rework whatever we had to shove in to meet the quota.

    In Toyota, it’s your job to pull the cord to stop the line if you see a problem. The light comes on so everyone gathers around to say, how can we fix the system, so a sincere person like this one is always guided to make perfect parts as needed? Hmm, it was possible to hold these sideways by mistake? Maybe we can have some brackets so we’ll never accidentally put this thing in backwards again. I’m on my way to grab some tools and toss together a prototype!

    Actually, a lean production line hardly ever stops. The trouble light is flipped on a cycle before the problem would require a halt. That’s the right amount of surplus slack to keep things moving along.

    There might be a Jetpack subscription option to add a little more water to the river: some more server load to allow multiple comments to arrive at once. Might cost more, or might be a configuration setting that can be made for free.

    We don’t have a society run on Lean techniques. Quite the contrast between Toyota’s pragmatism and the shrill climate debate that we all, at our own expense, have to accept sacrifices as instructed, and invidually make it work.


    Walt F, Scrooge perhaps had only the finest of ultra luxurious, high thread count bedding.

    Sister Crow, the cat playing with the lutefisk sounds like a funny scene!

  244. “If we extrapolate that out to the year 2030 and then apply the Black Body Radiation Equation you will see that it would raise the temperature of the earth by over 5 degrees ( or something like that ) if we had fusion and made all the energy we wanted.”

    What if the elites have secretly had fusion power all along, but wanted to keep it their secret… and that’s the real reason for global warming!

  245. A friend was speaking to me hypothetically about a person he needed to consider for a role (he was one of a committee that would be making the decision) but was concerned about whether the way he was handling his separation would be a factor going forward. He was focussed on that element. I asked him a question. if the guy didn’t have the separation issues would you want him in the role. He thought for a few seconds and realised that no he didn’t and that was that.

    Relevance? Without disparaging the value of reducing/elimanating pollution, moving to a more local and organic food supply, changing to a more analogue lifestyle etc etc … hell even if we removed every single human from the planet … would the climate still be shifting, would the plant still be adjusting accordingly, would the sun still be cycling through its processes? Yes, yes, and yes! Insisting loudly that we are the Lords of Creation ™ while creation basically ignores us doesn’t make it so and unfortunately Canute is not here to help the advisors realise the fatal consequnces of the fallacious constructs.

    It is of course completely unrelated that the ‘solutions’ presented just happen to be in the best interest of the folks currently at the top of the pyramid but then again this isn’t a problem to solve but a predicament to work through and they don’t play well with purveyors of short term gain and 24 hours is a long time in politics. What was it Sir Humphrey said, “diplomacy is about surviving until the next century, politics is about surviving until Friday afternoon”

  246. JMG writes, “It’s been a while, but I recall a similar chart that showed that if global energy use increased at its then-current rate indefinitely, the Earth would be glowing a nice bright cherry red from sheer heat in a surprisingly short time…”

    That would be from this article:

    “Earth surface temperature given steady 2.3% energy growth, assuming some source other than sunlight is employed to provide our energy needs and that its use transpires on the surface of the planet. Even a dream source like fusion makes for unbearable conditions in a few hundred years if growth continues.”

    That’s simple waste heat coming into effect, the second law of thermodynamics. You can’t get away from physics.

    JMG continues, “I thought it was rather sensible of the Australian government to start doing naval drills with India. They’ve got a blue water navy in the middle of a major expansion, and now that Britain is practically toothless and the US is declining fast, Australia needs a new imperial patron…”

    As an Australian, I disagree. There are some countries which by reason of geography simply have to take sides. Places like Belgium and Poland are the highway between historically hostile countries. They can get overridden and squashed as neutrals, or be overridden and squashed as having taken sides – but at least have a fifty-fifty chance that after the war ends the victor will help rebuild them.

    But there are other countries which by reason of geography can be neutral. These are countries on the outskirts of empires like Sweden, or physically difficult to get to or through like Iceland, Switzerland – or Australia. We are a sparsely-populated island continent, and the parts physically closest to other countries are in the northwest; most of our population is in the southeast. So any invading enemy would have to have a stupidly long logistics train over the seas or deserts and savannah, and they’d be very susceptible to guerilla attacks. Any invading enemy would face similar problems to those posed to a US division in one of your books.

    Our seeking imperial masters is, I believe, less out of self-interest and more out of culture. Our WWII Prime Minister Curtin explicitly said something to the effect of, “We now look to the US, not the UK” – and later PMs continued this with “all the way with LBJ” and the like as mottos. We are used to looking to a greater country for our culture (used to be all British books and TV, now all US) and so on. We don’t have that fierce independence and self-determination culture of somewhere like Switzerland.

    But of course, culture can change due to circumstances. While Australia is rich in many resources, oil isn’t one of them. And we’re already a fairly hot country overall, prone to bushfires and heatwaves. So resource depletion and climate change may – over a generation or so – change things in ways none of us would expect.

  247. @JMG “Our species may have come into being for the sole purpose of digging up some spare carbon and nudging the planet’s thermostat a little higher.”

    It was George Carlin who said in his stand up, and not really as a joke, “The earth doesn’t share our prejudice toward plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children.Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?” ”

    It is something for many to consider. What may be seen as bad and chaotic on one scale could be an orderly plan on another scale.

  248. Mike, oxygen isotope readings are as a very good measure of global temperatures because they gauge the rate of evaporation from oceans worldwide, since water vapor is just as well mixed in the atmosphere as CO2. So in fact it’s highly representative of global temperature movements — demonstrating that the current period is much less exceptional that the conventional wisdom wants to insist.

    Roldy, thanks for this. The only thing surprising is that no one was expecting a surprise!

    Joy Marie, thanks for this — I just forwarded a link to my publisher, so they can gloat over potential sales. 😉

    Christopher, communes normally fail either because they can’t pay for themselves, or because their leadership structure can’t handle the pressures of collective life. A manor house works because there’s someone who has the final say — just as religious communes centered on a charismatic leader work as long as the leader’s still around.

    Dreamer, that’s why I tend to discourage daydreams about solar-powered communes and grand plans for reengineering society, and suggest “collapse now and avoid the rush” instead. That latter approach actually works on a day to day basis.

    Hackenschmidt, that’s the one! Thank you. As for Australia, you don’t have the population or the military potential to stand by yourself, not when East and South Asia are rising, the West is in rapid decline, and you sit in a strategically crucial position where the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean meet. China could, and cheerfully would, eat your country for lunch. Thus entering into India’s orbit is a very good idea.

    Michael, hmm! I missed that routine of his. Funny — but no, it may not be a joke.

  249. @mike robert #252: I found the Nature paper your link was actually referring to and managed to download it – I can send it if anybody wants it. This study is a simulation of global average temperatures based, of course, to some degree on actual measurements (they call that “data assimilation”). The funny thing is that their simulation deviates quite a bit from all studies based on actual measurements – for example, their simulation doesn’t show a mid-Holocene thermal “optimum”. They freely acknowledge that and trash the studies based on actual measurements.

    As you can imagine, this so-called “Holocene global temperature conundrum” generated quite a bit of discussion, and many newer papers tend to support the view based on actual measurements over that based on a simulation.

    I am not a climate researcher myself, but I don’t think it is valid to compare the sharpness of warming on an actual measurement curve like a Greenland 18O curve with that on an ensemble average of simulated curves – the ensemble averaging will make a curve look much less sharp based on uncertainty, and uncertainty is of course much bigger in the remoter past than in the current century.

    With regards to 18O being local Greenland measures or a global temperature, I suppose the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and the 18O Greenland measures are a weighted average, with the Northern hemisphere contributing more than the Souther hemisphere. See my reply to Rintrah above for a relatively sharp warming in tropical Venezuela.

  250. Speaking of climate toboggan, news services are reporting a powerful storm in Libya has triggered two dams to collapse, with possible casualties as much as 10000, though it’s still too soon to tell.

  251. Hi John Michael,

    Strategically for us down here, connecting up with the Indians and Japanese suggests to me that our leaders might be looking around at the situation with a bit of clear sight. It’s a bit odd that we can’t seem to have a national conversation about the way forward, but that might be expecting too much. Instead like the natural gas supply issues we get a lot of double speak and some groups taking credit for the bold move to restrict installation of natural gas appliances, where really it had nothing at all to do with them. As you rightly pointed out, those groups don’t quite get that the same fuel is used for electricity generation and fertiliser production and maybe those needs rate higher. An odd blind-spot that.

    I’m coming around to the idea that peoples anxiety in relation to climate change is the ‘officially sanctioned’ worry of the day. After all, there are plenty more fish in the sea when it comes to things that we should perhaps actually be worried about. 😉 Most people seem oblivious to the larger risks, but I dunno. Anyway, it’s a useful abstract fear with a suitably distant unknown outcome which you personally might survive (sorry about the neighbours), rather than a concrete fear, like say demand for natural gas in this state will exceed supply within the next year or so.

    My preference is to face these issues and deal with the consequences. I have to laugh though, people seem hell bent on sharing their worries about climate change and bushfires with me. It’s quite fashionable to do so. Apparently they keep getting bigger is what people tell me, except the facts suggest otherwise. The one in this state in 1851, a mere 17 years after settlement, burned about a quarter of the state – and the land mass is about the same as the UK. That’s as big as they’ve been in this corner of the continent. Can’t blame that one on climate change. To me it was suggestive of the poor forestry practices of the Europeans who settled here. And the same practices continue to this day, there’s just less to burn these days. Doesn’t mean the stuff won’t burn though. If I had to grade our civilisations efforts, I’d give ’em an F, with an attached note: Could do better!



  252. Hi Atmospheric,

    It becomes a question of scale with these systems. Working out how to handle current flows of 120A all day long whilst keeping all of the components of the system cool, is a real issue. Not for everyone. Electricity is a funny thing, at every point in the system there are losses, and those losses express themselves as heat (i.e. resistance). Yeah, complex. Remember to check your battery terminals for the correct torque, even small systems can produce resistance. 😉



  253. Christopher @ #262, it was darned funny, and I didn’t even mind having to mop the floor afterwards. Too bad it was before smartphones; I would love to have her on video playing with the lutefisk…

  254. I hope our host made it through Monday’s storm ok. I gather RI was not hit as bad as the Worcester, MA area (Leominster got about 9-10” of rain in one day, with major damage to infrastructure and buildings).

  255. “When the sun sets in the East”…. I kid you not. 7:37pm, out my east-facing window, a classic, spectacular wall-to-wall pink sunset with hints of darker clouds. And no mountains to reflect the rays the way they did in Albuquerque. Land flat as a pancake.
    I went to the lobby to look out the south-facing window – not a hint of it. Thrilling. If baffling.

  256. @Christopher #262 and JMG – If the Shakers were still taking converts, they’d pretty much fit your bill.

  257. Headline; “‘Once again, innovation and proliferation ended with catastrophe’: The environmental disaster of plants taking over the world.”

    Remember, plants and their nasty habit of belching out oxygen poisoned every ecosystem on the planet, sparing only the life around the deep sea vents where bacteria could consume sulfides and methane as nature intended. Gaia’s desperate attempt to soak up the poison with the dissolved iron in the oceans failed, only leaving huge banded iron formations as a grim reminder of the desperate battle for global dominance.

    The original invasive species, there was no stopping them. 😉

  258. Jeanne, yep. There are occasional hurricanes in the Mediterranean, and Libya got hit by one. I don’t have any stats on whether they’re becoming more frequent.

    Chris, the idea of climate change as the approved thing to worry about makes a lot of sense. I remember very clearly when the peak oil movement folded up — the people who were funding Post Carbon Institute and ASPO cut the support, and it was made very clear to everyone in the field that if they wanted to keep on riding the gravy train they had to start singing the approved tune on climate change. It was really something to watch.

    Isaac, we had a couple of inches of rain, and one of the main roads north from here to Pawtucket is flooded. It was nothing out of the ordinary.

    Patricia M, hmm!

    Siliconguy, every species is an invasive species!

  259. There’s no doubt that, if other things remain the same, more CO2 means a hotter Earth. The problem is those pesky feedback loops. What else will change as Earth warms, including stuff that’s independent of global warming like volcanoes and space weather?

    Someone said that burning oil for transport was like burning Picassos to keep warm, because it is such a useful chemical feedstock. It behooves us to use it sparingly whether it affects CO2 or not.

  260. Dear JMG,

    I’m a practitioner of the dark art of economics, with specialisms in the impact of climate change on agriculture and the economics of ecological restoration.

    I ended up buying several of your books following frustration at the contradictions of my field and at the practitioners of sustainability. I found much useful gryst for the mill, for which my thanks.

    I’d come to understand that sustainability – including a stable climate – was achievable only with widespread behavioral change, that behavioral change was achievable only with economic and political change, that economic and political change was achievable only with cultural change, and cultural change is achievable only with changes to the individual and collective psyche or consciousness.

    And that this is the realm of magic, which in your and Fortune’s definition is changes to consciousness at will.

    My somewhat “haunting” realization is that firstly sustainability and its achievement might lie beyond human control. You’ll appreciate there are several ways in which that can be interpreted.

    Secondly, I’ve come to wonder whether the idea of sustainability may itself be a false consciousness as such; a concept used to manipulate and beguile – constructed to maintain a status quo in the social and economic order rather than in recognition of the truer nature of reality and it’s perpetual and sometimes violent change.

    The constructed idea of sustainability finds fertile ground in a generalized existential angst, itself harnessed and fed by a media which sells stories into the malady.

    The question I have for you JMG is how I reconcile my love for the beauty of trees, streams and coastline, of critters and people – and an urge to protect them, with the dawning realization that the ideology of sustainability may be a false god?

    Thank you,

    PS I suspect your answer will be, meditate on it, but feel the need to ask anyway.

  261. I actually wrote an article on this -below. Increased CO2 levels are mostly beneficial. The jump in global annual temperatures this year may have been caused by last years Tongan eruption throwing masses of water vapour into the air ( the offsetting cooling sulphur doesn’t last as long apparently). And then there’s El Nino, which no-one ever seems to offer a convincing explanation for ( undersea volcanos perhaps?)

  262. At comment 281 above, I asked “how [do] I reconcile my love for the beauty of trees, streams and coastline, of critters and people – and an urge to protect them, with the dawning realization that the ideology of sustainability may be a false god”?

    I meditated on this point, with the output:

    Sustainability can be a false god, if used for malign purposes such as self-enrichment at the cost of others.

    But not always:

    If used as a motivational framework to enhance the beauty and majesty of nature, the sustainability concept is a force for good.

    My next meditation will be on “what is nature”? Promises to be a fun one.

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