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CLIMATE  CHANGE  COMPLEXITIES

Melting  ice  in  Greenland

 

CONTENTS  KEY

1.       Negotiating  Sceptical  Distractions

2.       Climate  Scientist  James  Hansen

3.       Ocean  Acidification  and  Carbon  Dioxide

4.       Greenland  Temperatures  Rise

5.       Antarctica  as  a  Key  Factor

6.       Ice  Melt  on  the  Arctic  Ocean

7.       Russian  Events

8.       Sceptic  Bjorn  Lomborg

9.       Sceptic  Nigel  Lawson

10.     Persecution  of  Climate  Scientists

11.     Independent  Ecologist  James  Lovelock

12.     Climate  Change  in  the  Himalayas

13.     Carbon  Soot   Problem

14.     Crisis  on  the Tibetan  Plateau

15.     The  Chinese  Industrial  Revolution

16.     Copenhagen  Diagnosis

17.     NASA  Decodes  the  Weather

18.     Climate  Scientist  Stefan  Rahmstorf

19.     Global  Prospects  of  Flooding  and  Drought

 

1.   Negotiating  Sceptical  Distractions

Global warming was being discussed by scientists (including the Club of Rome) during the 1960s and 1970s. The phenomenon was then predicted to accelerate substantially by 2000. In America, the political mood delayed public assimilation of ecological occurrences. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 was ignored by politicians and oil economists in a country then creating the strongest degree of climate pollution in the world. The cost of regulating "greenhouse gases" was the major stumbling block. Many years passed before the American media gave a changing view, reflecting an improved information; however, the popular distortions have frequently obscured scientific concensus. In 2006, California became the first state in America to introduce regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Opposition to the theme of man-made global warming remains strong.

Anthropogenic global warming, or climate change, is the rationale favoured by a very substantial number of scientists working in universities and research centres. They comprise the 97 percent climate consensus who have been catastrophically overshadowed by a minority of denialists, who seek to influence public opinion by casting doubt on climate change. Denialists do not wish to take the blame for human error. A decade ago, Cardiff University observed: "Europe debates the appropriate responses while the United States debates whether climate change is happening" (Global Warming, accessed 31/08/2010).

Commercial companies have funded spokesmen who disagree with the scientific consensus. An influential denial of man-made (anthropogenic) climate change reads: "Global warming is simply the result of a normal climatic swing in the direction of increased temperature." Sceptics or "denialists" gained a staggering degree of influence in America, creating the current situation in which only about 15 per cent of the population are said to be aware that concensus amongst climate scientists is almost total. In this respect, America is substantially illiterate.

Republicans have misleadingly asserted that climate scientists are still debating whether humans are responsible for climate change. The facts are lost in a duplicit world ruled by false economics. A NASA scientist recently commented: "We [scientists] are more sure that greenhouse gas is causing climate change than we are that smoking causes cancer" (quoted in Climate Consensus 97 percent). The climate science denial machine is now described as an extension of the public confusion tactic promoted by tobacco firms in the 1960s.

For criticism of denialists, see RealClimate and skepticalscience. See also Dana Nuccitelli, Climatology versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Sceptics (2015). The denialists are regarded in terms of pseudoscience by the 97 percent consensus. The public should follow on, and not be deceived by pseudoscience.

An earlier analysis of relevance was Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (2010). Historians of science are able to chart the drawback and confusion provided by commercial and ideological biases. A British reviewer of the American book interpreted the contents in such terms as:

"The far right in America, in its quest to ensure the perpetuation of the free market, is now hell-bent on destroying the cause of environmentalism.... Real science is dismissed as 'junk' while misrepresentations are offered in its place.... Thus the tactics - the spreading of doubt and confusion - of a small group of cold war ideologues have worked their way across America and have now crossed the Atlantic so that the public in both the US and the UK are more confused than ever about the truth on a series of key scientific issues, in particular global warming, even though scientists have become more certain about the accuracy of their [scientific] efforts." (Robin McKie, review of Merchants of Doubt, August 2010).

Naomi  Oreskes

Earlier, Professor Naomi Oreskes contributed a now well known assessment appearing in Science (Dec. 2004) and entitled The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. She observed how politicians and the media frequently asserted that climate science is very uncertain, despite the fact that climate scientists had repeatedly made clear the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming.

Some corporations whose revenues might be adversely affected by controls on carbon dioxide emissions have also alleged major uncertainties in the science. Such statements suggest that there might be substantive disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This is not the case. The scientific consensus is clearly expressed in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).... IPCC is not alone in its conclusions. In recent years, all scientific bodies in the United States whose members' expertise bears directly on the matter have issued similar statements. For example, the National Academy of Sciences report Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions [2001], begins: 'Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.' The report explicitly asks whether the IPCC assessment is a fair summary of professional scientific thinking, and answers yes.... The American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science all have issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling.

In support of the scientific consensus, the commentator was able to mention a survey of 928 papers relating to climate change that were published in scientific journals between 1993 and 2003. Seventy five per cent of those papers explicitly or implicitly accepted the consensus view, while "none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position" (Scientific Consensus).

In 2007, the Union of Concerned Scientists reported that ExxonMobil "has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005" to a network of 43 denialist groups, the intention being to oppose the data on global warming provided by climate science. ExxonMobil is the world's largest oil company, and has a record of financial influence in political sectors. In 2009, this company is reported to have spent over 27 million dollars in lobbying against global warming. The Exxon scenario is now very evocative in terms of comeback legal proceedings.

A major player in denialist tactic is Koch Industries, an extensive private oil company in America that is described as "a financial kingpin of climate science denial" via secret funding activities. This corporation is recorded to have backed 84 denialist groups, with at least 100 million dollars, since 1997. The scale of pseudoscience is staggering, America being the victim of hoax by elitist entrepreneurs. Koch Industries is accused of being a major polluter and violator of environmental laws.

A Greenpeace contribution in 2010 informed that most Americans had never heard of Koch Industries, the reason being that this company has no Koch-branded consumer products and related identity. Koch intentionally remains outside the public eye, a factor assisting secret funding. By 2010, Koch Industries was viewed as a partner to ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and other wealthy donors of denialism. Moreover, Koch had actually surged past ExxonMobil by making more funding than the latter to denialism. This is less surprising in that the multi-billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, are ranked as two of the top ten richest people in America.

In 2018, Greenpeace reports that more than half of Congress is still denying climate change as being real and man-made. The oil and gas industries have been pushing large sums of money into the elections, amounting to over 31 million dollars in 2016. The consequence is that of a Congress representing fossil fuel industrialism over and above public interests and public health. The time of reckoning will be severe for both the hoaxers and the victims.

Going back into the archives, a scientific article, with strong credentials, addressed the confusing situation in which "the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC [anthropogenic climate change]." An extensive database encompassing 1,372 climate researchers was here employed to show that 97-98% of those researchers are in support of anthropogenic climate change as outlined by the IPCC. Furthermore, "the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers." (Stephen H. Schneider et al, Expert credibility in climate change, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2010).

Stephen  Schneider

Stephen H. Schneider (1945-2010) was a climate scientist at Stanford University, emerging during the 1980s as a leading American spokesman in the cause of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. He also became noted for his dispute with the prominent sceptic Richard S. Lindzen, a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Schneider recounted details about the conflict with denialists (or contrarians) in his book Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate (2009). The "battle" gained strong dimensions of intellectual and media conflict. Schneider was a contributor to the IPCC reports from an early date; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published a series of relevant assessments. See also Schneider et al, eds., Climate Change Science and Policy (2010).

The message of a major American denialist was reported in 2007 as: "Relax, the planet is fine." That same year, Lindzen controversially described a Royal Society communication as a "disgrace." The reference here is to a letter of protest sent by the venerable British scientific organisation in 2006 to ExxonMobil, concerning the notorious funding of misleading information by the American industry giant.

The truth is confirmed by private documents of Exxon and Shell dating to the late 1970s and 1980s. These oil giants then undertook internal assessments of carbon dioxide (CO2) released by fossil fuels. Their discoveries predicted the global damage that would be caused by their products. The research was not divulged. Many years later, the Exxon material was leaked in 2015. Some readers were stupefied at Exxon's concealment of data, but others were not surprised. The coverage by Shell was not disclosed until 2018. These companies had no conscience about their findings, which they kept a close secret. They subsequently lied about climate change and prevented clean energy policies. The extent of deception is criminal.

Scientists working for Exxon have published research about anthropogenic global warming in scientific journals. The private discoveries of Exxon and Shell, during the 1980s, did not dispute the close causal link between their products and global warming. Exxon research even predicted a devastating rise in sea level. Yet in 1988, Exxon commenced an anonymous and relentless campaign of misinformation, agitating against the newly formed IPCC which represented scientific consensus. They influenced many millions of people.

Favoured denialist themes are that sea level is falling, that warming is caused by the sun, that the climate is cooling. Such errors have been extensively repudiated. A salient critic of denialism is climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor of Physics of the Oceans at the Potsdam Institute in Germany (section 18 below). Circa 2004, Rahmstorf commented that the various denialist factions had been observed to quarrel in internet forums. Some sceptics did not deny warming, but were opponents of anthropogenic data, arguing that CO2 emissions had originated from the oceans, and that increases of the controversial gas do not result in warming. Professor Rahmstorf and others countered these fallacies, observing that the oceans had absorbed CO2 from fossil fuels, a problem leading to an acidification of sea water, causing considerable damage to coral reefs and other marine organisms.

More recently, in 2017, Rahmstorf cancelled his subscription to The New York Times because of denialist views expressed in that media, which was harbouring falsehoods spread by various so-called "think tanks" funded by the fossil fuel industry.

Some sceptics conceded that human activity has affected the climate, and that dangerous carbon dioxide levels are increasing. However, they opined that the climate has not warmed sufficiently to spell any great danger during the next century. They even conjectured that the sea level could lower slightly, if a warming effect becomes operative. These superficial views are dismissed by climate science experts. Sea level is already rising as a consequence of warming, and the dangers are acute.

Greenland

Greenland and Antarctica are crucial subjects for assessment. The current flow of glaciers into the sea is a contributor to the rise of sea level. The pace of glacier-melt is far more pressing than the political and commercial agendas which seek to explain away complexities in climate change.

By 2007, important discoveries revealed that summer ice on the Arctic Ocean was shrinking too quickly, and exposing seas formerly anticipated to remain ice-bound for further decades. Satellite monitoring has dramatically confirmed global warming.

Climate scientists refer to ocean phenomena that are influenced by global warming. The thermal expansion of sea water is a big potential problem, sufficient to create up to two feet of increased sea level, quite enough to disrupt and deluge low-lying deltas in Asia and Africa by the year 2100. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) initially underestimated the potential rise in sea level, failing to take into sufficient account the factor of additional water created by melting sources of ice. The data has been continually supplemented and updated by climate scientists affiliated to the IPCC. The Greenland ice sheet could create enough water to raise global ocean levels by seven metres (23 feet). The accompanying factor of melting Antarctic ice sheets does accentuate the potential drama very substantially.

The German climatologist Stefan Rahmstorf observed that the 2007 report of the IPCC refers to an unspecified amount of sea level rise deriving from changes in the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. The IPCC then tended to assume a near-zero net contribution from those regions. "Observations show, however, that both ice sheets have been losing mass at an accelerating rate over the last two decades." Rahmstorf implies that the melt increase could be drastic, even if the calculation is minimal. "The big ice sheets would then need to contribute only about 50 cm - corresponding to less than 1% of their mass - to bring sea level rise up to 114 cm." (Quotes from Rahmstorf, A new view on sea level rise, 2010). See also sections 8 and 18 below.

In Britain, the Royal Society (founded 1660) produced a document confirming and supplementing the IPCC report of 2007. See Climate Change: A Summary of the Science (September 2010). "There is strong evidence that the warming of the Earth over the last half-century has been caused largely by human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, including agriculture and deforestation" (Summary, paragraph 2).

The same report defines an increase in global warming during the period 1975-2000. "Each decade since the 1970s has been clearly warmer than the one immediately preceding" (paragraph 22). In due relation, "the decade 2000-9 was, globally, around 0.15 degrees Celsius warmer than the decade 1990-1999" (paragraph 22).

"The two gases making the largest contribution to the greenhouse effect are water vapour followed by carbon dioxide. There are smaller contributions from many other gases" (Summary, paragraph 6).

The factor of polling statistics is sometimes considered a significant indicator of public opinion, even though only a marginal sample of the population is generally represented. Polling at an international level has been cited. The following is a version found, in 2010, at The Public and Climate Change:

"Educated people in most developing nations expressed more concern about climate change than their counterparts in the industrialised world, and more commitment to action. The United States still lagged behind most of the world, with fewer than a fifth of its citizens expressing strong concern, only slightly more than a decade before.... Around the world polls found resentment against the United States, which had put much more CO2 [carbon dioxide] into the atmosphere than any other nation yet refused to take responsibility for it.... In all countries, even though majorities claimed to worry about global warming, most people still saw the problem as distant and abstract. Climate change felt remote not only in years but in geographical and emotional distance. To people in the developed world, global warming was not so much a problem for folks like themselves as for Pacific island natives and polar bears."

2.  Climate  Scientist  James  Hansen

James  Hansen

Dr. James E. Hansen, the head of NASA Goddard Institute in New York, was a pioneer in climate change assessment during the 1980s. In 1988, he gave a significant testimony to global warming in an address to a Congress committee. Hansen thereafter emphasised the difficulty of convincing politicians and the American public to take due heed. He was opposed by the oil giants and their legion of denialists whose funding is very much in query.

The climate predictions of Hansen in 1988 were very accurate. They were nevertheless misrepresented by the Cato Institute, from the year 1998, via the assertions of Patrick Michaels, "who has admitted that something like 40% of his salary comes from the fossil fuel industry" (Deniers are still Lying).

In 2007, Hansen published a paper relating to the potential danger of fast-feedback effects in the disintegration of polar ice sheets, saying the geological record indicates that polar melting does not occur gradually. Ice can achieve a speedy response to temperature changes. Huge amounts of ice in West Antarctica are now crashing into the ocean. Hansen reflected:

The primary issue is whether global warming will reach a level such that ice sheets begin to disintegrate in a rapid, non-linear fashion on West Antarctica, Greenland, or both. Once well underway, such a collapse might be impossible to stop, because there are multiple positive feedbacks. In that event, a sea level rise of several metres at least would be expected. (Huge sea level rises are coming)

Dr. Hansen continued to oppose the denialist campaign, which has included the scandal of politicians accepting money from the fossil fuel industry to describe global warming as a hoax. In some interviews of 2008, Hansen advocated that executives of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal should be placed on trial for "high crimes against humanity and nature," meaning the campaign of misinformation about global warming. Hansen has also pressed for abolition of the notorious decapitation of mountaintops in America by the coal mining industry. One of his books is Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity (2009).

The objector to denialism faced censorship from the Bush administration. He compared coal trains to "death trains," meaning that coal is the largest source of anthropogenic carbon dioxide afflicting the atmosphere. Hansen urged that America should relinquish coal power completely by 2030. That still leaves the drawbacks of oil and natural gas, which likewise trap heat in the atmosphere, thus contributing to the "greenhouse" effect.

The denialist Wall Street Journal has recently mediated more distortions of Hansen, via the Cato Institute. This organisation is substantially controlled by the billionaire Koch brothers, oil industrialists who have donated 30 million dollars to the Cato Institute. Koch Industries signify death to all hope of planetary resurrection from carbon catastrophe. The Koch brothers (Charles Koch and David Koch) are both reported to have a personal fortune exceeding 50 billion. They are known to have funded denialist groups with over a hundred million dollars, in the cause of impeding climate science and lining their own pockets.

A denialist network of "think tanks" and agitation groups has been dubbed the Kochtopus media. Charles Koch is a Republican activist revealed as a major player in a plan of the super-rich that does not win universal admiration. See further Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America (2017). The subversion of democracy is an industrialist feat of retrograde significance.

In July 2016, nineteen American senators delivered speeches denouncing climate change denial on the part of 32 organisations with links to fossil fuel interests. The Cato Institute was included. The "deep-pocketed Koch brothers" were here named as polluters of American discourse.

In 2018, Hansen accused Britain of ignoring science and joining the fossil fuel cause of Donald Trump. He warned that, if fracking was pursued, young people could inherit an environment out of their control. The British plan to develop gas fields "will lock in the methane problem for decades" (James Hansen attacks UK fracking plans).

A theme strongly associated with Dr. Hansen is that of determining national responsibility for climate change via the effect of greenhouse gas emissions. In this context, Britain is the ultimate cause of climate change, starting with the Industrial Revolution over two centuries ago. However, the biggest emitter of atmospheric pollutants is currently China, a position formerly occupied by America, now in second place.

3.  Ocean  Acidification  and  Carbon  Dioxide

Concerns about ocean acidification are substantial. The subject is still not so well known as global warming. Both of these related problems are caused by carbon dioxide emissions created by human activity. The afflicting acidification is tragically affecting marine life in different oceans, including both the Arctic and Antarctic.

The rapid acidification is caused by the massive amounts of carbon dioxide belched from chimneys and exhausts that dissolve in the ocean. The chemical change is placing 'unprecedented' pressure on marine life such as shellfish and lobsters and could cause widespread extinctions. (David Adam, Carbon emissions creating acidic oceans, 2009)

Scientists at Bristol University were here predicting dangerous levels of acidification, and strongly implying deep water species. The Guardian article featured a shock photograph of a gray whale surfacing in a condition of distress at the Baja California peninsula. There was also the statement that:

"Human pollution is turning the seas into acid so quickly that the coming decades will recreate conditions not seen on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs" (ibid).

Ken  Caldeira

A pressing message was given via the International Climate Congress at Copenhagen by Ken Caldeira, an expert on ocean acidification at the Carnegie Institution (California). He is reported to have said (March 2009):

If we do not cut carbon dioxide emissions deeply and soon, the consequences of ocean acidification will stand out against the broad reaches of geologic time; those consequences will remain embedded in the geologic record as testimony from a civilisation that had the wisdom to develop high technology, but did not develop the wisdom to use it wisely. (Carbon emissions)

Sourcewatch refers to misrepresentation of Caldeira on the subject of geoengineering, which he regarded only as an emergency measure, recognising the drawbacks. Geoengineering is a controversial subject described in terms of "the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change." The Royal Society study (2009) adds that geoengineering techniques "remain unproven and potentially dangerous." The same elite study emphasises that "man-made climate change is happening and its impacts and costs will be large, serious and unevenly spread."

Katherine  Richardson

The Climate Congress (or International Scientific Congress on Climate Change), held at Copenhagen in March 2009, was organised by Katherine Richardson, Professor of Biological Oceanography at the University of Copenhagen. The situation was one in which many climate scientists were alarmed that politicians had not assimilated the gravity of facts discovered. The Congress anticipated the subsequent summit meeting of world politicians at Copenhagen later that year. Prospective negotiations were to be based on the IPCC report of 2007, which was now outdated by four years of further research. The 2007 report did not include results published later than 2005. The standards set by the IPCC required consensus over published data; unpublished data did not feature, and nor recent published data.

Professor Richardson gained a strong response from the scientific community, chairing a Climate Congress presented with over 1,600 abstracts from over 70 countries. A wide range of subject material was encompassed. She emphasised that reducing CO2 emissions twenty percent by 2020, in the EU, was not enough. The atmospheric CO2 concentrations would be rising steadily. As events transpired, climate scientists emphasised that a 40 per cent reduction in emissions was required by 2020. The necessary political contract remained elusive.

See also Katherine Richardson and Stefan Rahmstorf, Our Threatened Oceans (2009). The political and commercial obstructions to relevant action do not denote a scientific civilisation, nor a society inspired by science, whatever the general sentiments attaching to scientific discovery in the contemporary era.

4.  Greenland  Temperatures  Rise

In January 2007, the New York Times featured an article describing the changing conditions in Greenland that are causing islands to appear as melting ice sheets recede. "All over Greenland and the Arctic, rising temperatures are not simply melting ice; they are changing the very geography of coastlines." The sudden appearance of islands had now become a "common phenomenon." Greenland has for long gained a reputation for being difficult to map, with over 27,000 miles of coastline and thousands of fjords, inlets, bays, and straits. Yet recently, the "geography is becoming obsolete almost as soon as new maps are created" (Rudolf, The Warming of Greenland, 2007).

An island scene in eastern Greenland (and 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle) was here described in terms of a contradiction to maps that showed only ice. "The water was littered with dozens of icebergs, some as large as half an acre; every hour or so, several more tons of ice fractured off the [retreating ice] shelf with a thunderous crack and an earth-shaking rumble" (Rudolf 2007).

A Professor of snow-and-ice physics at the University of Svalbard estimated that Greenland "could be losing more than 80 cubic miles of ice per year." That quantity amounts to three times the total ice volume of Alpine glaciers. These details are juxtaposed with the information that "Greenland is covered by 630,000 cubic miles of ice, enough water to raise global sea levels by 23 feet" (Rudolf 2007). Only a small proportion of the substantial increase would be needed to cause serious global problems.

Many parties were not able to keep up with diverse sources of information confirming that Greenland is melting faster than was generally assumed. In particular, the subject of icequakes was too often treated with incredulity. Glacial earthquakes (icequakes) started on Greenland in 1993. The number of icequakes increased more than twofold between 2002 and 2005. Seismologists at Harvard and Columbia Universities supplied an initial description of the glacial quakes in 2003. Even that very professional report did not grasp the increasing frequency of the phenomenon.

Greenland

The icequake events in Greenland follow a different pattern to seismic activity existing elsewhere. About a third of the former are stated to occur in July and August. A Harvard scientist divulged: "Some of Greenland's glaciers, as large as Manhattan and as tall as the Empire State Building, can move 10 meters in less than a minute, a jolt that is sufficient to generate moderate seismic waves."

Major outlet glaciers, melting from Greenland valleys into the surrounding seas, can respond to changes in climate conditions very quickly. Scientists expressed particular concern about a region of northwest Greenland. Only one seismic event was observed here during the period 1993-1999; in contrast, more than two dozen glacial quakes occurred here during the ensuing period 2000-2005. The icequakes are caused by gigantic blocks of ice breaking away from the glaciers, a stunning sight when viewed at close range. These dramatic occurrences can register about magnitude 5 on the Richter scale. During the breaking (or calving) process, the glacier moves rapidly backward and downwards.

In 2009, Science reported the findings of a team from Utrecht University, who employed ground observations and satellite gravity measurements. They estimated that approximately 1,500 cubic km of ice had been lost in Greenland during the period 2000-2008, equivalent to about 0.46 mm of global sea level rise. Moreover, melting rates accelerated since 2006, with mass ice loss reaching a total of 273 gigatons of mass per year, equivalent to 0.75 mm of sea level rise.

The annual number of Greenland glacial earthquakes increased from about ten to forty. Nearly 150 of these phenomena, at marine-terminating glaciers, occurred during the years 2011-2013. The glacial retreat at Greenland is multi-faceted.

In April 2016, the glacial island experienced "abnormally high temperatures," and the earliest ever "melt event" day in the year. In Greenland, and much of the Arctic, the permafrost layer is thawing. This organic layer has been frozen for thousands of years, and can reach a depth of 100 metres. Continued thawing will release substantial amounts of carbon and methane into the atmosphere. Moreover, as Greenland permafrost becomes increasingly "degraded and dry, there is the potential for even bigger wildfires which would release vast stores of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere" (Kathryn Adamson, Greenland: How Rapid Climate Change on World's Largest Island will affect us all, 2017).

5.   Antarctica  as  a  Key  Factor

Scientific investigations conducted by both American and British teams have profiled the ecological importance of Antarctica. In January 2009, Reuters reported on American scientists reviewing satellite and weather records for that continent, which is bigger than the United States. The results showed that freezing temperatures had risen by about 0.5 Celsius since the 1950s. This study disproved the popular denialist idea that Antarctica is cooling.

The "cooling" myth has been a favourite with sceptics of man-made global warming. They have employed this distraction as evidence for their position. Their story has blocked due recognition of the fact that Antarctica is home to ninety percent of the ice on this planet. An intensive thawing action would be devastating, and quite beyond human ability to control.

The average temperature in Antarctica was now scientifically declared to be comparable to the global average. The area of warming is not limited to the Antarctic Peninsula, but extends across the south of West Antarctica. Cooling at places such as the South Pole, together with an expansion of winter sea ice around the continent, had formerly obscured the overall warming effect. Scientists had formerly believed that warming was restricted to the Antarctic Peninsula, where the Rothera Research Station (of the British Antarctic Survey) is situated.

Many glaciers are retreating in West Antarctica. A 3 degree Celsius rise in temperature could precipitate a much more extensive melt. Greenland is also very vulnerable. West Antarctica, combined with Greenland, hold enough potential ice-melt to raise sea levels by 14 metres. "Even losing a fraction of both [ice masses] would cause a few metres [of increased sea level] this century, with disastrous consequences" said a director of climate change research at the University of Adelaide (Australia).

Substantial Antarctic ice-melt would be sufficient to threaten coastal cities from Beijing to London, not to mention Pacific islands. The situation is already grave. During twenty years until 2009, ten ice sheets on the Antarctic Peninsula receded or collapsed. In 2009, the Wilkins ice-sheet was also on the verge of collapse, "held in place by a sliver of ice 500 metres wide compared to 100 km in the 1950s." A further consideration is that the total ice mass of Antarctica contains sufficient frozen water to raise world sea levels by 57 metres (187 feet) or more, in the event of an extensive melt.

Antarctica

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) contributed to an extensive report on global warming, published in 2009. BAS member Professor John Turner divulged that scientists were now "very confident" in their comprehensive assessment of a discrepancy which had been causing confusion. While rapid ice loss had been occurring on the Peninsula, other areas of Antarctica had been cooling, with a 10% increase of ice in the surrounding seas. This contradiction had been used by denialists as evidence against global warming. However, the putative "evidence" was eliminated by more comprehensive interpretation from another angle.

Briefly, the huge ozone hole over Antarctica had been shielding that continent from the worst effects of global warming. The apparent anomaly is caused by the ozone hole, the ultra-violet radiation having changed atmospheric factors, increasing the winds in the Southern Ocean region and keeping the temperature down compared with the Western sector. The ozone hole was caused by man-made CFC gases, which have since been banned; scientists expect the hole to repair within the next fifty years. By that time, the cooling effect will have ceased, and the Antarctic will experience the full effects of global warming.

The danger from warming seas is already underway, with melting Antarctic ice sheets being estimated to have produced about 10% of a general rise in global sea-level during recent decades. See Antarctica may heat up dramatically. Important data was published by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), featuring BAS and international experts. See Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (Cambridge, 2009). SCAR is closely linked to the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge (England). The lengthy SCAR report confirmed the conclusions of climate scientist Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, working at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany). The average global rise in sea-level, by the end of the century, was here proposed at approximately 1.4 metres, exceeding the IPCC prediction of 2007, based on more limited data.

These scientific findings and estimates were greeted with jeers by myopic denialists. Ten years further on, the scientific data is even more formidable, with increased latitude for sea level rise. Discoveries in the East Antarctic have revealed the massive Totten glacier to be a potential threat, contrary to former scientific beliefs. A large area of West Antarctica is well below sea level, meaning a strong vulnerability to the warming ocean. The Totten glacier holds a comparable amount of ice to West Antarctica. Totten has been thinning for decades. In more general terms, the East Antarctic ice sheet is over ten times bigger than the Western counterpart. The East ice zone is up to 5 kilometres thick in places, with a capacity for sea level rise that would soon cause panic. The catchment drained by the Totten glacier alone has the potential to raise sea level by over eleven feet (3.5 metres).

In 2013, a climate research team discovered that six East Antarctic ice shelves, including Totten, were melting from below at rates much higher then they anticipated. Some of the statistics were comparable to those of rapidly retreating glaciers in West Antarctica. The giant Totten glacier had already retreated inland by up to three kilometres. Totten is part of Wilkes Land, a region larger than Greenland, and where three quarters of the glaciers were retreating from the year 2000. Moreover, a fifth of the Totten glacier catchment is more than a kilometre below sea level, meaning an area a hundred times larger than previous estimates. The danger of warming waters achieving further penetration is acute. Much will depend upon the increased temperature of global warming (Jane Qiu, Antarctica's Sleeping Ice Giant Could Wake Soon, 2017).

6.   Ice  Melt  on  the  Arctic  Ocean

The floating ice on the Arctic Ocean contracted to a record minimum area in the summer of 2007. A close sequel occurred in 2008, and 2010 saw the third summer minimum since satellite records began in 1979. The 2010 season was described as short melt; the ice melted unusually rapidly because the layer was so thin. An American spokesman from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, said that the 2010 figures supported the conclusion about a gradual decline in summer Arctic ice cover. There is nothing to disprove anticipations of a disappearance of that cover by 2040/2050 (BBC News, September 2010).

Arctic  Ocean

The need was recognised for scientific expeditions to the Arctic Ocean. Too little was known of the complex natural processes involved in the ecological drama. The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) launched an expedition in a specially designed ship operated by the British Antarctic Survey. Another team led by Professor Ronnie Glud (from Copenhagen) also had the auspices of SAMS, and made an important discovery. The sea ice was perceived to act as a giant gas pump, achieving a large scale pumping of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the ocean. This conclusion initially met with resistance, subsequent to gaining a wide degree of acceptance amongst scientists. An implication is that "as the ice cover recedes, this pump will shut down and with it an important mechanism for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere" (BBC News, July 2010).

The Arctic Resilience Report (Stockholm 2016) relayed that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far distant as the Indian Ocean. The stark warning was here conveyed that changes in the Arctic weather are sufficient to cause uncontrollable climate change at global level.

In 2018, the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic has started to break up, opening waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen even in summer. This event is unprecedented. The ice in that Arctic zone was formerly over four metres thick, and liable to form into ridges twenty metres or more in depth (Arctic Sea Ice Breaks Up).

7.    Russian  Events

In August 2010, dramatic events in Russia gained the spotlight. A weather adviser at the Kremlin, namely Dr. Alexander Bedritsky, was alarmed at the national heatwave, unprecedented in the records for 130 years. The heatwave created hundreds of wildfires that destroyed many homes. Numerous fires appeared near Moscow, creating an acrid smog that blanketed the city. The wildfires and drought reduced the national wheat crop by a third (involving millions of hectares), causing the Russian government to impose prohibitions on wheat exports. This move sent world grain prices soaring.

Alexander  Bedritsky

The Russian economy depends substantially on exports of coal and gas. For this reason, government officials were resistant to climate change themes. Dr. Bedritsky (President of the World Meteorological Association) broke the taboo by voicing his conclusion that recent dramatic events were an indication of global warming. At a news conference, he referred to other signs of warming also, including the worst floods afflicting Pakistan in recorded history, and the 2003 heatwave in France which killed 15,000 people.

The customary denials appeared on the deceptive internet. A conservative American interpretation (associated with the NOAA) stated that the principal cause of the Russian heatwave was the natural process of atmospheric blocking, not man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Sceptical bloggers and illiterate emailers dogmatically asserted that facts were ignored by the groundless theory that man is to blame for global warming. The human perfection league were typically complacent. They will not enjoy the downside of human error.

Major  obstructions  to  countering  climate  change

Russia is rated as the fifth (or fourth) largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. However, the Russian plan to reduce emissions, submitted under the Paris Agreement in 2015, "is one of the weakest of any government and actually permits Russia to increase carbon pollution over time" (Neela Banerjee, Russia and the U.S., 2017). Russia has been called a petro-state, a major exporter of oil and natural gas, contributing about 7.5 percent of global emissions.

"Russia has only recently begun to accept the scientific consensus that fossil fuel use is driving climate change" (Banerjee 2017). Supporters of climate action in that country face resistance from coal, oil, steel, and gas corporations. In 2011, Russia and ExxonMobil signed a 500 billion dollar deal to develop oil and gas in the Russian Arctic. This project threatens to release a huge amount of greenhouse gases into the already overloaded atmosphere.

In 2015, Climate Action Tracker (a group of four global climate research organisations) assessed Russia's commitment as deficient, worse than the "medium" rating they applied to other major polluters such as China, America, and the EU (European Union). Putin's top adviser on global warming dismissed the criticism. This was Alexander Bedritsky, who now endorsed the conservative plan to increase energy efficiency, while considering the Action Tracker demotion to be unfair and lacking objectivity. Greenpeace spokesman Vladimir Chuprov described the official plan as a catastrophe, not least because 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Russia come from the energy industry. The state-owned Gazprom is the world's leading corporate emitter of greenhouse gases. Only about 1 percent of Russian energy consumption appeared to derive from renewable sources. Gazprom is closely associated with the Russian project known as Nord Stream 2, described in terms of "a sad tale of hypocrisy and double standards."

Russia is warming at twice the rate of other countries. In 2017, President Vladimir Putin opted to interpret this drawback as advantageous. He has denied anthropogenic global warming. Moreover, the political encounter between Trump and Putin has been interpreted in terms of two petro-states who function as the world's largest non-OPEC oil producers, extracting almost as much oil as the entire group of OPEC countries combined. This pair own a greater share of the global natural gas market, producing six times more natural gas than the rest of the world. Trump's strategy to commence offshore drilling in the Arctic will complement the Russian exploitation of an increasingly ice-free region (Eric Holthaus, Trump and Putin are clearly in cahoots, 2018). To those two reckless countries, the melting Arctic is merely an invite for further exploitation and global damage. Many other countries are liable to suffer a heavy kick in the face from increasing climate change propelled by major predatory nations.

The Moscow Times has disclosed a report from Russia's environmental ministry. This document emphasises the acute dangers of climate change, the consequences for Russia involving drought, mass flooding, epidemics, and hunger. The list of problems is commendably honest and revealing. Deaths from environmental disasters in Russia have increased elevenfold between 2016 and 2017. Moscow and other major cities are at risk of increasing pollution; some regions may become hotbeds of disease caused by contaminated drinking water and insects. South Russia is at risk of more accidents caused by damage to railways in extremely high temperatures. Melting permafrost in the Russian Arctic could lead to "dangerous chemical, biological, and radioactive substances entering the human habitat." Forest fires in Siberia could become a much more common occurrence, causing additional carbon emissions.

The same Russian ministry report refers to a 95 percent certainty that human activity contributed to global warming since the mid-twentieth century (Russian Ministry Warns of Coming Environmental Apocalypse, 2018).

8.   Sceptic  Bjorn  Lomborg 

The Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg is strongly associated with the Copenhagen Business School. He gained repute as an extreme denialist with the publication of his well known book The Skeptical Environmentalist (2001). Lomborg became notorious for attacking climate scientists, citizen campaigners, and the media, alleging that global warming was an exaggerated issue, and that funding was best diverted elsewhere. His book aroused much controversy and rebuttal, nevertheless proving disastrously influential, misleading the public in various countries.

Lomborg's book was published by Cambridge University Press (CUP). This move was catastrophic, investing Lomborg mythology with the seal of perfection. The high status imprimatur was a basic reason why so many confused persons subsequently followed Lomborg's faulty reasoning. Lomborg created a fashionable belief that Greenpeace and other enviornmentalist groups were exaggerating global warming. Lomborg believed himself to be the real expert, costs and benefits being the priority of economist reductionism.

A further book by the controversial statistician was Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming (2007). This was not published by CUP, but by Knopf. There was ongoing resistance from close analysts. Lomborg pretentiously argued that climate scientists had exaggerated such matters as sea level rise. He urged that scientists had over-emphasised the link between global warming and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, heatwaves, and drought. He rashly maintained that the world had sufficient water, thus contradicting the IPCC data of 2007. Lomborg gave authority to his belief that sea level rise would only achieve a mere one foot (or 30 cms) by 2100.

In an August 2010 interview with The Guardian, Lomborg appeared to reverse his position, saying that he now advocated heavy expenditure to combat climate change. See 100 billion dollars a year needed to fight climate change. He edited another book entitled Smart Solutions to Climate Change (2010), likewise in dispute.

Some analysts responded that Lomborg's apparent about-turn should be welcomed as a support for climate science. However, others took the view that ten years of confusion caused by "sceptical environmentalism" is a long term liability. The confusion is still widespread in 2018.

l to r: Bjorn  Lomborg, Stefan  Rahmstorf

Lomborg was strongly criticised for his denial of data revealing that sea levels are rising faster than formerly expected. In March 2009, climate scientist (and oceanographer) Stefan Rahmstorf opposed Lomborg on this issue, stating that the latter misrepresented what he (Rahmstorf) and others wrote in the IPCC report of 2007. The IPCC coverage did not conclude that sea level will stay within the bounds of 18-59 cm by 2100; instead, the effects of sliding ice are an extra factor of unknown extent. The IPCC report had found that during the period 1961-2003, sea level rose 50% faster than projected. A separate study by the same scientists, featuring observed data up until 2008, confirms that "sea level continues to rise faster than expected with no sign of slowing down."

Professor Rahmstorf was here contesting the misleading conclusion of Lomborg that a slow-down of sea level rise was occurring. The former comments: "This is another well-worn debating trick: confuse the public about the underlying trend by focusing on short-term fluctuations. It's like claiming spring won't come if there is a brief cold snap in April." The claim of Lomborg that the globe is cooling caused widespread confusions.

Lomborg was also countermanded for asserting that the Copenhagen Climate Congress in March 2009 (see section 3 above) was "an effort by a group of scientists and activists to cast aside the concensus view of thousands of scientists from the IPCC." Professor Rahmstorf corrected this careless error, pointing out that the Congress was organised by a global alliance of universities, including Copenhagen, Yale, Berkeley, Cambridge, Oxford, Tokyo, and Beijing. There were three years of new results to discuss, including fresh measurements on ice flow and sea level. "Over 1,600 research papers and posters will be presented by scientists including leading IPCC authors from over 70 countries."

The facts here are proof of the distortions occurring in denialist sectors. See Rahmstorf, Climate Sceptics Confuse the Public (March 2009).

A notable book is entitled The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight about Global Warming (2010), written by the independent scholar Howard Friel and published by Yale University Press. Yale effectively had to undo the misrepresentation achieved by Cambridge. The Friel critique was repudiated by Lomborg on his website, but is nevertheless primary reading in the subject. Friel complained that Lomborg misrepresented scientific research, misquoted data, and relied on citation of sources that do not seem to exist. Lomborg's supposedly impeccable notes are here revealed as being extremely misleading.

Subsequently, Friel observed that, in both of his books, Lomborg briefly conceded the fact of anthropogenic warming. Lomborg nevertheless wrote hundreds of pages in an attempt to discredit climate science, employing "grossly misleading claims" about no catastrophe being in prospect. This meant, in Lomborgian theory, that there was no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to any substantial extent.

Friel notes that, in the book Smart Solutions edited by Lomborg, the latter states that "the risks of unchecked global warming are now widely acknowledged." Nevertheless, Lomborg still employs the argument: "cost-benefit economics analysis shows that it is prohibitively expensive for the world to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the extent required by the scientific evidence." Friel accordingly concludes that the purported "smart solutions to climate change" amount to insanity, failing to address the basic problem of increasing atmospheric pollution (Friel, Bjorn Lomborg's missing questions, Aug. 2010).

Howard Friel's book reveals a widespread readership situation in which Lomborg's themes were uncritically accepted as deriving from an expert source (i.e., Lomborg). The two coolist volumes of the statistician contain many references, giving the impression to partisans of denialism that the arguments are impeccably sound. However, Friel proffers a meticulous analysis of Lomborg's Cool It endnotes, finding these to be erratic and misleading, to the extent that Friel describes Lomborg as "a performance artist disguised as an academic." The coolist strategy of claiming accuracy, while insinuating that scientists and environmentalists are in error, is a very objectionable economist indulgence. The coolist "baroque documentation system" lacks scientific validation. See also the Lomborg Errors website.

Bjorn Lomborg continues to be regarded as a distraction by climate scientists. His diversions have included writing a column for the denialist Wall Street Journal, here proposing that climate change was not an urgent problem as many thought. He gained much funding for such opinions from denialist ranks.

A brief chapter on polar bears, in Cool It, is notorious for faulty argument, proffered as part of the "proof" that climate scientists are exaggerating. Lomborg here urges that only a minority of polar bears are suffering a decline in population, a misfortune not here viewed as a result of global warming in the Arctic. Lomborg even suggests that warming will benefit the bears, and argues that polar bear populations in warming regions are rising.

In 2007, scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey predicted that two-thirds of the world's polar bears may disappear by 2050. See Polar bear. In 2008, the American government listed polar bears as an endangered species, less than a year after publication of the Lomborg coolist myth about increasing numbers and warming benefits.

Lomborg did not assimilate the most authoritative version of polar bear populations. At that period, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) stated that bear populations are declining in the warming Arctic regions due to reduction in ice. Furthermore, an expert on polar bears, Dr. Ian Stirling, is on record for stating that Lomborg used "inaccurate and utterly inadequate arguments" in his theory about warming as the creator of a basically positive effect on the existence of polar bears.

Ian  Stirling

One of the authorities attaching to Polar Bears International is Dr. Ian Stirling, a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service and adjunct professor at the University of Alberta. He has been studying polar bears since the 1970s, and emphasises the dangers of global warming for polar bear survival. He is closely associated with the monitoring conclusion that the polar bear population, of Western Hudson Bay, decreased by more than 20% since the 1980s.

In 2005, Nature reported the World Wildlife Fund assessment that "the trend of melting Arctic ice, which is the main habitat for polar bears, presents real problems for the species; the ice sheet is shrinking at a rate of about 10% per decade.... about 1.3 million square kilometres, an area equivalent to three times that of California, have been lost over the past four years" (Drowning polar bears, 2005). The habitat of the polar bear is disappearing due to rising temperatures in the Canadian Arctic and other Arctic regions. Reports of tragic bear deaths, and loss of weight, accompanied a population decline charted in the Western Hudson Bay area. Early ice break in spring means less food, creating hunger that can kill cubs and old bears, as Dr. Stirling reported in 2007 (Polar bears dying in years of early ice melt, 2007).

Scientific polar bear data became the target of denialist attack on the web. Many bloggers were doubtless influenced by Lomborg. Bear experts complained at the misleading denialist articles in the popular press:

Such articles generally exhibit a poor understanding of polar bear ecology and selectively use information out of context, which results in public confusion about the real threat to polar bears due to loss of sea ice. (I. Stirling and A. E. Derocher, Melting Under Pressure, 2007)

9.    Sceptic  Nigel  Lawson

Another book celebrated by denialists is An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming (2008) by Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer for the British Conservative Party. Lawson became a Lord in 1992. The confused British ecologist James Lovelock stated on the media that Lawson's book is not a diatribe or polemic, and that "he tries to reason his case." There is nevertheless prodigious scope for improved reason.

Other assessments by climatologists have been less flattering. Lord Lawson's short book follows a conservative economist orientation. He does not deny that global warming has been occurring, but thinks that the impact will be minimal. Climate change scientists are here viewed as alarmists for predicting catastrophe in the absence of due rectifications.

Lawson relied upon the mistaken deduction that global temperature had not increased during the past decade since 1998. His book insinuates that the term climate change is a cover-up, instead favouring the suggestion that global warming has almost stopped. Lord Lawson's appeal to reason is a contradiction, and very misleading. It is not alarmist for scientists to reasonably emphasise, for example, that sea level is rising due to increasing ice melt and related factors. Lawson implies a "new age of unreason." The extent of denialist unreason is staggering.

Nigel  Lawson

Some press reviewers welcomed Lord Lawson's book as a relief from being worried by "speculations" and dramatic newspaper headlines. These timid commentators took comfort from the politician's pronouncement that it is "inherently absurd" to credit accuracy in predicting what might happen in fifty or a hundred years time. They were oblivious to the present. Lawson's ideas about global food production being on the increase, in a warming phase, are very deceptive.

The curtailment of carbon emissions is considered by Lawson too high a price to pay, in view of the supposed affluence of future generations. India and China are celebrated by Lawson for the performance of economic miracles, the new wealth being closely related to a high carbon footprint. Future "uncertainties" are here considered a distraction to current benefits. The climate change problems faced by India and China are severe, comprising a mystery to denialists.

Lord Lawson contributed to The Great Global Warming Swindle (2007), a disastrous and deceitful programme shown on Channel 4 of British television. This retrogression featured politicians, economists, scientists, and others; the basic intention was to depict man-made global warming as a fiction and scam. The documentary was strongly criticised by scientists and environmentalists who "argued that it had misused and fabricated data, relied on out-of-date research, employed misleading arguments, and misrepresented the position of the IPCC" (quote from Wikipedia, accessed 15/11/2018).

A formal 176-page complaint to Ofcom resulted, involving more than twenty scientists and other academics. Channel 4 responded with lengthy misinformation, attempting to dismiss the complaint. Ofcom upheld the complaint, but limited the judgment, revealing the huge deficit in media events. Channel 4 gained a bad reputation amongst informed circles. "Channel 4 abdicated their journalistic responsibility.... They presented a completely false picture of a community of climate scientists actively engaged in duping the rest of the world" (Ofcom Swindle Complaint).

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) made a statement (March 2007) about the extreme confusion caused by the Channel 4 programme, which "claimed to demonstrate that climatic change is driven by solar influences and that the recent warming is not related to human greenhouse gas emissions." BAS clarified that "the evidence for an unusual recent global warming is unequivocal, and it is very likely that this is due to human activity." BAS were categorical in observing that "recent changes in solar activity bear no resemblance to temperature changes." The due accusation was also made that "Channel 4 used seriously flawed data on which to base their programme." The deficiency may be gauged from the relatively simple detail that much of the programme was based around a diagram labelled "NASA," showing a curve extending to the year 2003. "The curve was produced by NASA nearly twenty years ago; although it showed data only until 1987, it had been stretched and relabelled to suggest it showed the temperature record to 2003." BAS duly stated:

"The resulting distortion excludes the significant warming that has occurred since 1987; other figures similarly misrepresented the current state of knowledge.... Any scientist found to have falsified data in the manner of the Channel 4 programme would be guilty of serious professional misconduct."

Some celebrity sceptics argued that global warming can facilitate an increased productivity in agriculture. However, scientific research was simultaneously informing that "global warming is set to cut rice yields in Asia." American scientists studied records from over 200 fully-irrigated rice farms in six countries, including India, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. The conclusion was that, since the 1980s, the rate of growth in yields had fallen by 10-20%. Despite the growth in yields caused by improved farming methods, increased nocturnal temperatures have curbed the rate of growth. If temperatures continue to rise, the yields will be tangibly reduced. Much depends upon the daytime heat threshold that can impair growth; studies of American crops, particularly corn, have revealed a substantial drop-off when the threshold is crossed. Strong temperature increases are anticipated to impair crops in all regions.

A study published in 2009 concluded that half of the world population "could face a climate-induced food crisis by 2100, with the most extreme summers of the last century becoming routine towards the end of this century" (BBC News, 2010). This is now considered by many scientists to be an understatement. In 2018, there are so many proofs of climate change dangers that the denialist position is abundantly revealed as anti-scientific misinformation deceiving the public. Many aspects of that position amount to commerce versus science, and to misleading economist theory contradicted by reality.

Lord Lawson created the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which gained a number of other Lords as supporters. This body has been described as a lobby group for denialism. In 2011, the GWPF website created a feature with the headline 900+ Peer-reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism of 'Man-Made' Global Warming Alarm. This feature referenced a blog linking to the diverse papers. The GWPF here stated that global warming "was usually exaggerated as catastrophic."  A critical analysis by Carbon Brief discovered that nine of the ten most represented authors in the "anti-alarm" corpus had links to denialist organisations funded by ExxonMobil. The tenth writer had co-authored several papers with Exxon-funded contributors. This denialist "top ten" had written over 20 percent of the 900+ papers. The GWPF here revealed their affinity with a major commercial agent of environmental damage. Economist theories are bankrupt in the denialist farce.

The GWPF standpoint has no relevance to reality. ExxonMobil were guilty of keeping their own 1980s forecast of catastrophe a furtive secret. The documentation only came to light in 2015, after extensive environmental disaster had occurred, involving the loss of many human and animal lives. ExxonMobil squashed their internal assessment of damage in the pursuit of vast profits, accompanied by a protracted denial of the consequences their own scientists had charted. The hypocrisy and greed is sickening. Far more can be said. The intensive crime against humanity and nature still awaits maximal judgment.

The GWPF "think tank" supported many other familiar denialist names in the favoured list of 900+ papers. Carbon Brief analysis revealed that many of those papers actually supported the scientific consensus. The confused sector of Popular Technology acquired the "peer-reviewed" cliche on the basis of "a minor journal which appears to have a political agenda to promote climate skepticism." Some genuine scientists, haplessly featured on the Popular list, complained that their studies had been misrepresented by denialists to bolster the pretence of challenging scientific consensus. The GWPF website deleted the vaunted list in a facesaving gesture.

Three years later, in 2014, the GWPF criticised the scientific consensus on planetary sensitivity to CO2. This new blunder was contributed by a former financier and a freelance science writer who were critics of the IPCC, a significant UN body whom they considered to overestimate global warming. The real scientists were quick to respond in a duly critical manner, as reported in Carbon Brief coverage. The insensitivity of denialists has played a substantial part in assisting (through neglect) worldwide devastation, ocean acidification, and drought.

In August 2017, BBC Radio Four provided Lord Lawson with an interview, during which he claimed that global temperatures had not risen in the past decade. Lawson even invoked the IPCC as support for his mistaken assertion. He implied that the average world temperature had slightly declined. The BBC was afterwards obliged to apologise for a breach of editorial standards. The episode demonstrates the pronounced degree of confusion amongst climate sceptics, whose effective illiteracy is a major hindrance to the public.

10.   Persecution  of  Climate  Scientists

In the 1980s, James Hansen became noted for his outspoken recognition of climate change. In 2006, he made headlines when complaining against “attempts by the US administration to gag climate scientists.” The Bush administration imposed their scepticism of global warming upon scientists and the nation.

The campaign of American senator James Inhofe gained notoriety. Inhofe was a major opponent of climate science in the US Congress. In early 2010, this senator invoked a "criminal investigation" of the subject he hated. His campaign was called a McCarthyite witch-hunt, and accused of creating hatemail. Inhofe engineered a situation in which scientists were "subjected to inquisitions coming from Congress."

One of the seventeen targets was Dr. Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. His well known comments included: "The idea very clearly [of Inhofe] is to let it be known that should you be a scientist who speaks out in public then you will be intimidated, you will be harassed, and you will be threatened.... That kind of intimidation is very reminiscent of other periods in US history where people abused their position."

No less than 255 members of the (American) National Academy of Sciences (NAS) endorsed a collective letter calling for a termination to the "threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them." The significant 700-word statement from NAS was rejected for inclusion by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. However, the disconcerting lethargy was redressed by Science journal (May 7, 2010).

l to r: Michael  Mann, Rick  Piltz

One hundred and fifty American climatologists were subject to political interference by 2007. Rick Piltz (1943-2014) was a senior associate in the US Climate Change Science Program. He resigned because of interference in the reports of that Program. Piltz told the watchdog group UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) that the White House official Phil Cooney “took an active role in casting doubt on the consequences of climate change.” Cooney was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute before becoming leader of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Cooney edited government documents of which he disapproved, thereby conveying a sense of scientific uncertainty about global warming. His action was exposed by the New York Times soon afterwards.

Both Piltz and Cooney resigned their posts in 2005, but took very different directions. Piltz resigned because of interference and became a whistleblower for climate change, while Cooney became a representative of the oil company ExxonMobil. That oil giant was soon accused of spending 16 million dollars in support of climate change denialists. See Climate Scientists Pressured on Climate Change.

By now, Rick Piltz was placing online the series Global Warming Denial Machine. The University of Virginia soon petitioned a state court to set aside the investigative demand of right wing Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who wanted that university to turn over materials relating to climate scientist Michael E. Mann, a Professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, and co-author of Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming (2008). See also Mann, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (2012); Mann, The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet (2016).

Oklahoma City was deluged in a record rainfall (June 2010), only days after Republican Senator Inhofe (of Oklahoma) had derided all conclusions of the IPCC, claiming these had been refuted. In 2007, the IPCC had stated: "the frequency of heavy precipitation [rainfall] events has increased over most land areas, consistent with warming and observed increase of atmospheric water vapour."

A significant report was issued, by Pennsylvania State University, concerning the allegations of misconduct aimed at Professor Michael Mann by sceptics of climate change. This report concluded that the allegations lacked all substance; the victim was now completely cleared of any error. Mann was interviewed by Rick Piltz in 2010. Mann commented:

I think there's a concerted, well-organised, and very well-funded campaign to attack climate scientists.... This campaign has been funded by industry special interests who don't want to see action taken to combat the problem of climate change. They've sought to discredit the science by attacking it with misleading and specious claims.... I think that what this indicates is that those who continue to deny that climate change is a problem do not have science on their side.... So instead they've turned to smear campaigns. They've turned to character assassination.... It's intellectually dishonest and uses whatever means available to try to discredit the science behind the basic facts that climate change is a reality. (Interview with Michael Mann, July 1st 2010)

Despite the innocence of Professor Mann and others, damage had been done by the sceptics, as evidenced by the hate mail targeting some American scientists. The Piltz website ClimateScienceWatch informed:

U.S. authorities appear to be doing little about it [the hatemail], in part because the hate speech put out by popular right-wing commentators, and the bizarre and sometimes vicious e-mail they seem to inspire among some of their followers, is protected under US law. (Barrage of right-wing lunatic hate mail, July 5, 2010)

In August 2010, the U. S. Chamber of Commerce filed a petition for a judicial review challenging the legality of an EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) decision not to reconsider a verdict that "greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health and welfare and are to be regulated under the Clean Air Act." The Chamber has a history of questioning climate science to fight off regulation; this body even asserted that warming of 3 degrees Celsius over the next century would be "beneficial to humans." Corrupt commerce can deceive at all levels.

In October 2010, the resumption of Republican hostilities against climate scientists further astounded an international audience. Cuccinelli's renewed demand in court against Michael Mann aroused strong critique in America. Moreover, the closely associated situation of corporate influences and funding was emphasised. Rick Piltz explained the corporate denialist tactic in terms of being "in a position to fund, at whatever level they deem necessary, the careers of whatever political candidates appear most combative and effective in advancing their agenda." The corrupt free market means an intention "to derail the process in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving toward regulation of greenhouse gas emissions."

The situation is surely memorable. "Behind the denialist attack on the so-called 'climategate' stolen emails and the campaign to undermine the credibility of the IPCC - of which the Cuccinelli witch hunt is a direct extension - is the politics of .... protecting corporate interests from regulation." Piltz further describes the problem in terms of:

With climate change legislation dead at the hands of a coalition of Republicans and conservative corporate-oriented Democrats, their next move is to block regulatory action at EPA. (Denialist witch-hunt is about political ambition, Oct. 2010)

In 2013, an attack on climate scientists was posted on an American right wing gun promotion website. This revealing hate message stated: “It’s time to demote our climate masters to our humble servants. We won’t kill them. But we should sentence them to prison – or Siberia, where they’ll wish the climate was warming” (Michael Mann, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, Columbia University Press 2012, new edition 2014, page 262).

Corporate interests were revealed in more detail when ExxonMobil archives emerged from oblivion. The American public had formerly been in complete ignorance of what had occurred decades before. The hypocrisy involved in global damage has recently incited legal procedures against the predators, who are supported at every turn by the Trump administration. In the new wave of accountability, several American cities are mounting lawsuits against fossil fuel companies. Exxon long ago privately predicted the disastrous consequences of the oil industry, afterwards spending millions of dollars to blind customers with misinformation that still confuses vast numbers of people.

11.    Independent  Ecologist  James  Lovelock

In addition to academic mainstream climate science, there is the independent British version associated with James Lovelock, a veteran ecologist of renown. Dr. Lovelock is controversial. See Club of Rome theme and James Lovelock. In 2010, he appeared to conflate scientists with politicians, and veered towards sympathy with denialist sceptics and the lack of public trust in climate science. See Fudging Data (2010). Lovelock was evidently influenced by the denialists. In his confusion, he ended up promoting the dead end science fiction scenario of robots.

The sad misconceptions of Lovelock occurred in the wake of distortions perpetrated by denialists about the Copenhagen political conference and related matters. Many people in Britain were confused by the adverse publicity about "hacked University of East Anglia (UEA) emails and IPCC errors." This deceptive theme was furthered by tunnel vision. The ongoing persecution of climate scientist Michael Mann, by the Republican inquisition, was an inverted consequence of the "hacked emails" episode, dubbed Climategate by the media. See section 10 above. The lack of public trust in climate science was basically caused by defective media, influenced to varying degrees by the pervasive campaign of big business. The American scene of oppressive denialism is covered in Mann, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (2012).

The UEA or "climategate" emails were lamented by the liberal Guardian journalist George Monbiot, who even called for the resignation of Professor Phil Jones. Monbiot subsequently annulled that complaint, providing a fresh analysis which included the statement: "Almost all the claims made about these messages [emails] are false. Their contents have been wildly and wilfully misinterpreted, their authors demonised, their implications inflated." Monbiot is here referring to the situation in which, e. g., academic deliberation about the selection of papers for an IPCC report gained the repute of a conspiracy. This journalist concluded that "the science is sound; the IPCC has not been compromised."

Another development was the significant Open Letter from US Scientists, dated 10/03/2010, signed by over 250 members of the US Academy of Sciences. This document was quickly despatched to federal agencies. The Open Letter duly clarified misleading media contentions about the IPCC. The statement was included:

There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

James  Lovelock

While hazardously condoning sceptics of climate science, Lovelock commented that "some of the mad ones I think have not done anyone any favours; some of them, of course, are corrupted and employed by oil companies and things like that. Some even work for governments." Quote from Lovelock on the value of sceptics (2010).

Lovelock also says "I think the sceptic bloggers should worry; it's almost certain that you can't put a trillion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere without something nasty happening." A related issue is what will convince the public that decisive action is required to tackle global warming. Lovelock comments:

"There has been a lot of speculation that a very large glacier [Pine Island glacier] in Antarctica is unstable. If there's much more melting, it may break off and slip into the ocean. It would be enough to produce an immediate sea-level rise of two metres, something huge, and tsunamis. I would say the scientists are not worried about it, but they are keeping a close watch on it. That would be the sort of event that would change public opinion. Or a return of the Dust Bowl in the mid-west." (Value of Sceptics)

A Nasa scientist was reported by The Guardian to have stated that "no one expects full collapse of the system [Pine Island glacier] as quickly as 100 years." The pace of ice melt is generally underestimated. Meanwhile, "the Germans and the Danes are making a fortune out of renewable energy" (Value of Sceptics). Lovelock is controversially in favour of nuclear power for Britain, on the basis that this resort is "cheap, effective and exceedingly safe" (Value of Sceptics).

Safety is a deceptive word today. Complaints can go unheeded by official negligence. Ecological themes have certainly proved commercial in some sectors, including the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. Complaints to UNITAR about CIFAL Findhorn received no answer in 2006. The UNITAR bureaucracy clearly favoured the commercial eco-houses and alternative therapy workshops (plus four wind turbines) to complaints about economic irregularities, suppression of dissidents, and other matters. See my CIFAL Findhorn: A Critical Statement and Findhorn Foundation: Problems.

12.  Climate  Change  in  the  Himalayas

The reduction of Himalayan ice is illustrated by developments on the Imja glacier, six kilometres from Mount Everest. In the 1950s, a deep layer of ice covered that glacier. Subsequently, small ponds of meltwater continued to grow, merging to form the Imja lake by the mid-1970s. By 2007, that lake had increased in size to the length of about one kilometre; the American mountaineer Dr. Alton Byers recorded his updated discovery on photographs of 2007. A substantial portion of the glacier had by then melted.

Above: Imja glacier in 1956. Below: Imja glacier and lake in 2007 as photographed by Alton Byers

A number of mountaineers have reported ice reductions. Alton Byers is an authority on the worldwide decline of glaciers, being noted for his explorations and photography in Nepal and Peru. He reports that local people in both Nepal and Peru are very worried about the climate change and recent extreme weather trends. He is familiar with the Cordillera Blanca range in Peru, where a significant retreat of glaciers is evident.

Alton  Byers  in  Peru

In relation to the Himalayas, a decade ago Byers informed: "Many small glaciers at low altitude have disappeared entirely and many larger ones have lost around half of their volume; some have formed huge glacial lakes at the foot of the glacier, threatening downstream communities in case of an outburst."

The Himalayas have dramatically demonstrated the effects of climate change. That range of mountains is identified with the "third pole," a description applied because of the highest volume of frozen water in evidence after the north and south poles. Along with the Tibetan Plateau, this Asian region is crucial in the study of ecology and global warming.

The Imja glacier has the fastest recession rate of all Himalayan glaciers, losing a very substantial number of metres per year. Yet Imja is only one of 27 glacial lakes in Nepal which have been classified as potentially dangerous. If any breach occurs in the moraines damming the lake, thousands of lives in the heavily populated Sherpa valley will be at risk from flooding and landslides.

Since 1975, the average temperature of Nepal has increased by 1.5 Celsius, according to some professional reports. Himalayan glaciers converge into major Asian rivers, including the Ganges, Indus, Mekong, and Yangtze. "If glacial meltwaters turn to a trickle, widespread droughts will threaten the 1.3 billion people that depend on water flowing in those rivers" (50 years of climate change in the Himalayas, 2009).

More recently, Byers has informed: "Hundreds of new and potentially dangerous glacial lakes continue to form in high mountains worldwide." In other words, glacial floods threaten mountain communities. Over fifteen thousand glaciers exist in the Himalayan region; these are forecast to subtantially reduce in volume, meaning 70 percent or more by 2100.

Lonnie  Thompson

In 2006, veteran glaciologist Lonnie Thompson (of Ohio State University) travelled with a team of researchers to study the Naimona'nyi glacier in the central Himalayas. They were stunned at the findings. Glaciers are usually dated by locating two pulses of radioactivity in the ice, meaning residues of American and Russian atomic bomb testing in 1951-2 and 1962-3. Yet there was no sign of those residues in the Naimona'nyi investigation. In over twenty years of taking samples from glaciers, for the first time Professor Thompson found that the well known markers were missing. "The glacier had melted so much that the exposed surface of the glacier dated to 1944."

Commencing in 1974, Thompson has led more than fifty expeditions, to both polar and tropical regions in fifteen countries. The ice man, as he became known, retrieved samples of endangered ice, now comprising an important record of climatic and geological changes. Thompson is one of the most prominent scientists to have confirmed global warming. His ice cores proved that the recent sudden and coordinated melting of ice caps in distant regions had no parallel in the last several thousand years.

His observations of widespread glacier retreat over decades "provide clear evidence that the warming of the last fifty years is now outside the range of climate variability for several millenia, if not longer" (Ohio State University). Climate variability is a denialist argument, shot to bits by field discoveries outside the commercial and economist sphere.

The ice man Thompson is an instance of investigating climate change the hard way; armchair denialist convenience is left far behind. Many statements of Professor Thompson have to be seriously reckoned with. In relation to the Himalayas, he has commented:

At the highest elevations, we're seeing something like an average of 0.3 degrees Centigrade warming per decade. The IPCC projects 3 degrees of warming by 2100. But that's at the surface; up at the elevations where those glaciers are, there could be almost twice as much, almost 6 degrees. (Himalaya glaciers melting much faster, 2008)

The message here is that water stored by Himalayan glaciers is melting fast, with dire implications for hundreds of millions of people who depend on those waters. "Some glaciers are just being decapitated" commented Shawn Marshall, a glaciologist at the University of Calgary (Canada), observing that glaciers near the equator are far more at risk than those in Canada.

13.  Carbon  Soot  Problem

The  Himalayas  under  threat

In 2009, the daunting phenomenon of carbon soot (black carbon) gained focus. Scientists in India and China were now concerned at the growing clouds of soot created by diesel engines, coal burning, and wood fires (also fires using crop waste or cow dung). Tiny particles of carbon were assembling in a new onslaught upon the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, where glaciers feed the rivers passing through large populations. Those glaciers were now melting faster because of the ominous clouds of black carbon.

The soot, created by developing countries, had formerly passed largely undiscerned as a cause of rising temperatures. Unlike carbon dioxide, soot lingers in the atmosphere for only a few weeks. When the soot falls on glaciers, it absorbs sunlight which the snow would otherwise deflect. A process of melting results. The phenomenon is a striking confirmation of man-made global warming.

The Energy and Resources Institute in Delhi was a relevant source of information. Professor Syed Hasnain stated that "we are finding concentrations of black carbon in the Himalayas in what are supposed to be pristine, untouched environments" (Soot clouds pose threat to Himalayan glaciers, 2009).

India and China were producing a substantial proportion of the black carbon output, and yet both countries were slow to take due action. Hasnain explained that India was the worst culprit, China having made an effort to assess the problem with sensors, unlike the Indian government. That same year in China, the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research referred to an anticipated 43% decrease in glacial area by 2070 due to the carbon soot problem.

The IPCC now requested cuts in black carbon output. New data implied that 50% of the emissions causing climate change are from pollutants other than carbon dioxide. Some scientists have urged that black carbon may be the largest contributor to global warming after CO2. The very damaging effect of carbon soot upon the Arctic is now a major issue. Much of the Arctic soot has been traced to South Asia. India and China may account for a third of global soot emissions. A large amount also comes from Latin America and Africa. North America apparently contributes about 8 percent of the total.

American research urged that a reduction in soot output would quickly slow the pace of global warming (Cutting Black Carbon Soot Could Save Arctic sea ice, 2010). Black carbon has been described as a killer. Over one and a half million people are reported to die every year from breathing air polluted by the soot, while millions more are the victim of soot-induced respiratory diseases. Soot causes many health problems in humans and animals. The damaging effects should not be underestimated.

14.  Crisis  on  the Tibetan  Plateau

The recent process of desertification on the Tibetan Plateau is accompanied by atmospheric water vapour feedback in surrounding mountain ranges (Kunlun, Himalayan, and Karakorum). Water vapour is an abundant and heat-trapping greenhouse gas, increasing humidity. NASA-funded research confirmed that water vapour feedback is powerful, and can double the warming created by carbon dioxide.

Nomads  on  the Tibetan  Plateau

Ecology on the Tibetan Plateau is inseparable from the subject of nomadic inhabitants. The Tibetan nomads comprise a substantial sector of the Tibetan population; they were frequently semi-nomadic, raising yaks and other livestock. The invading Chinese controversially resettled the nomads in urban situations; the unconvincing explanation for this innovation was nomadic overgrazing on the Plateau. Many of the nomads are unhappy in their new environments, where they are prone to disease, while their yaks lose weight. Some unemployed rural Tibetans were filmed by the Guardian while foraging for caterpillar fungus, a commodity which is sold via dealers to wealthy urban Chinese who believe in the curative qualities celebrated by the lore of traditional medicine.

One source of information is SaveTibet. Another website, reflecting the official Chinese outlook in 2003, states:

The Chinese government attaches great importance to ecological improvement and environmental protection in Tibet.... The Tibet Autonomous Region [on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau] is 1.22 million sq km in area, with an average altitude of well over 4000 m above sea level. It boasts a unique natural ecology and geographical environment.... Ecologically, the changes are manifested in belts from forest, bush, meadow and steppe to desert. The complex and varied terrains and landforms, as well as the unique type of ecological system, have created a natural paradise for biodiversity.... As the whole global ecosystem is deteriorating, the fragile ecology in Tibet is particularly affected. Mud-rock flows, landslides, soil erosion, snowstorms and other natural calamities occur frequently in Tibet and desertification is threatening the region's eco-environment, compounded by man-made damage to the ecological environment as Tibet's economy develops. (Ecological Improvement and Environmental Protection in Tibet, 2003)

The Tibetan Plateau comprises an area about a third of the size of the United States. The Guardian reported the statement of a Chinese explorer and environmental activist:

People have not paid enough attention to the Tibetan plateau. They call it the Third Pole but actually it is more important than the Arctic or Antarctic because it is closer to human communities. This area needs a great deal more research.... The desertification of the grasslands is a very evident phenomenon on the plateau. It's a reaction by a sensitive ecosystem that will precede similar reactions elsewhere. (Tibetan nomads struggle as grasslands disappear, Yang Yong reported by Jonathan Watts, September 2010)

Desertification of the Tibetan Plateau grasslands is accelerating climate change. Without the grass, the Tibetan "roof of the world" has an impaired ability to absorb moisture. The adjacent mountain ranges are reported to have "warmed two to three times faster than the global average; the permafrost and glaciers of the 'Third Pole' are melting."

To make matters worse, the towering Kunlun, Himalayan and Karakorum ranges that surround the plateau act as a chimney for water vapour - which has a stronger greenhouse gas effect than carbon dioxide - to be convected high into the stratosphere. Mixed with pollution, dust and black carbon (soot) from India and elsewhere, this spreads a brown cloud across swathes of the Eurasian landmass. When permafrost melts it can also release methane, another powerful greenhouse gas. Xiao Ziniu, the director general of the Beijing climate centre, says Tibet's climate is the most sensitive in Asia and influences the globe. (Jonathan Watts, Guardian article linked above)

The journalist was reporting from Maduo, a town in Qinghai province, formerly prosperous but now suffering from acute decline and ruined grasslands. The green prairie has become a brown desert. Even long grass, formerly scythed by nomads, is now moss stubble where found. Conditions are said to be the same across much of the Plateau.

Tibetan  nomad  in  the  vanishing  grasslands

Many local people in Qinghai are former herders now living in resettlement centres. In 2003, the Chinese government in Beijing commenced the rehabilitation scheme, "relocating between 50% and 80% of the 2.25 million nomads on the Tibetan Plateau." According to exiled Tibetans, the relocation scheme "does little for the environment and is aimed at clearing the land for mineral extraction and moving potential supporters of the Dalai Lama into urban areas where they can be more easily controlled" (article linked above). The Tibetan nomads are subscribers to Mahayana Buddhism.

The effectiveness of the relocation programme has been questioned by ecologists in Tibet and China. Nomadic overgrazing was officially regarded by the Chinese government as a probable cause of the grassland deterioration. Some observers have strongly disagreed. In 2009-10, three prominent Tibetan environmental activists were arrested by the Chinese authorities. Two of them "sought to expose local officials who hunted endangered animals." Paradoxically, "the central government has encouraged green NGOs to expose local authorities and factories that break environmental regulations" (Chinese government urged to release Tibetan environmental activists, June 2010).

A growing number of rodents on the Tibetan Plateau is a complicating factor; the increase is feasibly explained by the fact that hawks, eagles, and leopards have been hunted almost to extinction. In just ten years (by 2010), the fragile ecosystem on the Plateau drastically deteriorated due to human interference.

Tibetan  nomads

Non-Chinese sources have provided a grim picture of the nomad fate. When the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950, their outlook was strongly marxist and unfamiliar with pastureland complexities. "Productivism was the new ideology, to intensify meat production for China, especially for the influx of Chinese migrants building new towns, oil wells and mines in Tibet." This led to an ecological catastrophe, accompanied by oppressive tactics of the invaders.

The nomads were herded into communes, stripped of all possessions, reshaped into production brigades, and given their orders. No production meant no rations. Starvation, especially in 1959, 1960 and 1961, was common. From the outset, the new class of [Chinese] cadres in command saw the nomads not as stewards and curators of the landscape, but as ignorant, backward and irrational.... Twenty years later, in the late 1970s, the communes collapsed.... In the early 1980s nomads were given their animals back, but not their land.... Meat, wool and dairy products met the subsistence need of the nomads, and their neighbours, the farmers of Tibet; but nomads failed to commercialise slaughter rates; little meat was available for monetisation.... It is only in the 21st century that Chinese and global science have caught up with what the nomads have always known. (Nomads facing Climate Change and Dispossession, 2009)

During the 1980s and 1990s, widespread problems on the Plateau grasslands became alarmingly evident. The turf was eroding, extensive rodent populations appeared, toxic weeds multiplied. While the Chinese turned to an intensive form of capitalist industry, the nomads did not commercialise, did not pursue wealth.

Tibetan nomad, 1950

Chinese administrators misleadingly blamed the nomads for overstocking herds of sheep, goats, and yaks. "The compulsory overstocking of the revolutionary years could not be discussed." While a construction boom occurred in urban Tibet, the rural Tibet of the nomads remained poor. In the 1990s, "the nomads were at last given certificated guarantees of long term leasehold to their land, long after China's farmers had been given such guarantees" (article linked above). However, the drawbacks were pronounced:

At the same time, other policies, driven by China's long standing disdain for mobile people, were also implemented. Sedentarisation, fencing, limits on family size and herd size were gradually made compulsory.... No longer were nomads free to nomadise. Gone was the annual cycle of overwintering in lower plateau pastures and herding up into the alpine meadows in summer. Forced to live in rudimentary, unsanitary, almost windowless houses, their herds behind fences, the lives of both herds and herders, and the quality of land, all deteriorated. Countless reports by international and Chinese scientists now reveal the cost of concentrating animals and people behind fixed fences. Inevitably the land eroded.... None of these increasingly restrictive policies achieved the goal of intensifying meat production.... A new source of worry was emerging for China: water security. The Yellow River, drained for irrigation and industry as well as urban populations along its length, ran dry in winter, for the first time in history.... The new [Chinese] policy.... assumes the only way to conserve China's upper watersheds is to remove animals and nomads. Yet China's own scientists have now learned, through patient observation, that the grasslands of Tibet, when grazed moderately and intermittently, moving herds on well before the short summer growing season ends, actually maintains a higher biodiversity than on ungrazed pastures, where toxic weeds invade and biodiversity declines. (Nomads facing facing Climate Change)

The pro-nomad argument is basically saying that for nine thousand years, the nomads and their herds maintained the Tibetan Plateau successfully, until the Chinese urban colonisation wrecked the environment in just a few decades. Comparisons are made with the fate of the American Indians who were forced onto reservations, and with the Australian aborigines who were relegated to mission stations. "Colonisers justify colonialism as a mission to civilise the backward" (ibid).

Nomadic mobility emerges as a crucial factor for biodiversity on the Plateau, undermined by the urban preccupation with industry and meat production.

Nomadic knowledge of how, when and where to graze, and the nomadic willingness to live in portable woven yak hair tents, summer and winter, with their animals, kept the pasture free of invasive toxic weeds, erosion, shrub invasion, and infestations of pests. (Nomads facing Climate Change)

A complaint is also found that climate change has been used as a facesaver on the part of oppressive Chinese administrators. Climate change really is occurring rapidly on the Tibetan Plateau. The blame for any problem should not be placed on the nomads or climate change, but on the invading predators.

UPDATE 2018

The Chinese communist army invaded Tibet in 1950. The Tibetans were subsequently in revolt. In 1959, thousands of Tibetans were placed in prisons and labour camps. The monasteries were closed. About 100,000 Tibetans fled from their homeland.

Tibetans continue to be suppressed by Chinese intimidation, violence, torture, and imprisonment. Since 2009, many Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese oppression and indoctrination (or "re-education"), which devalues their religion. Over 150 Tibetans have self-immolated, this form of protest being treated as a crime by the Chinese, whose response was to intensify military presence in Tibet. A well known episode concerns the 37 year old monk Yonten Gyatso, who was arrested in 2011 for telephoning the UN Human Rights Council about protests occurring inside Tibet since 2008. Gyatso was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for emailing information about Tenzin Wangmo, a Tibetan nun who set herself on fire near her monastery in October 2011. Wangmo was in protest at Chinese nationalist affliction.

l to r: Yonten Gyatso imprisoned; Norpa Yonten, shot dead by Chinese soldiers in 2012

Gyatso was taken away from Ngaba by the Chinese gestapo. Nobody else knew where he was for over six months. He was "brutally tortured and kept in a dark room." In more detail, "at a detention centre in Bhugang town in Chengdu, Gyatso was beaten and tortured by officers of the local State Secrets Bureau. The beatings and torture he suffered were so severe that he contemplated taking his own life a number of times to escape from the hellish experience" (Monk tortured and sentenced). He was sent to a jail at Mianyang in the Sichuan province of China.

Gyatso was a member of the Democratic Management Committee at Khashi monastery, near the town of Ngaba in East Tibet. He was a leading educator in the Ngaba region. He taught in Tibetan, wishing to preserve Tibetan Buddhism, culture, and language after sixty years of oppression from the military monster imposed by Beijing. In Tibet, the native language is a crime when used for education. Instead, Chinese is relentlessly imposed as the language of education.

In January 2012, a Tibetan monastery at Drango (in Sichuan province) was a scene of drama. The Chinese police and military typically responded to unarmed protesters with live ammunition, wounding over thirty people and killing Norpa Yonten, a 49 year old herdsman who was shot in the head.

Tsering Tsomo

A few years earlier, in 2008, the Chinese "security forces" were known to openly beat protesting nuns. The 27 year old nun Tsering Tsomo, of SamtenLing monastery, undertook a peaceful solo protest in Drango County. Surrounded by hostile Chinese soldiers, she "was severely beaten and tortured by pounding her with iron rods." To kick and punch women is not enough for the vicious Chinese aggressors, who maintain a policy of torture they inherit from the nineteenth century Imperialist era (visible in many hideous paintings of that period, still fashionable amongst the Chinese urban rich). Woman-beaters are never admirable. The official Chinese spokesmen continually camouflage the damages and abuses, pretending (for huge economic convenience) that Tibetans are in an ideal communist situation.

In June 2008, Tsering Tsomo was arrested and taken "for further questioning" to a detention centre by local Chinese officials. More than two hundred nuns of SamtenLing nunnery then staged a peaceful protest. The Chinese "security forces" stopped them from going to "Drango County headquarters," and diverted them to a detention centre, taking them away in military trucks. These savages used brute force on women, including kicks and punches. This mistreatment extended to the use of "electric [cattle] prod and iron rod." Scores of those nuns were injured by the male aggressors. Ten serious cases of damage were taken to a nearby hospital. However, scores of nuns were detained by the aggressors. Relatives were prevented from seeing the victims, many of whom were beaten. Detention centres gained a horrific reputation for intimidation and torture.

Tsering Tsomo was sentenced to two years imprisonment on unknown charges. Many Tibetans disappeared in the subsequent paramilitary attack. Numerous monks and nuns, along with lay people, were mistreated and detained by the neo-imperialist torturing oppressors. The victims were taken to unknown locations with acute risk to personal safety. Their fate should cause nausea to anyone with conscience. This situation is part of the so-called People's Republic (decoding to oppression of the Tibetan people, accompanied by lies on the part of Chinese politicians). The People's Republic of China had no scruple about the fate of injured protesters taken to some of the worst places on the globe. Everything was covered up by deceitful lies of the Beijing super-rich, whose indifference to human rights is atrocious. The nationalist profiteers do not care in the least about abuses. They now use Chinese occupied Tibet as a tourist centre for affluent Chinese, to obtain even more money, using the monasteries for Chinese propaganda, inducing fear in monks and nuns by their torture tactic.

"China has repeatedly violated UN conventions through extensive use of torture against Tibetan political prisoners." Human rights are rejected by the Chinese colonialists. The mentality of violence and torture is a manifestation of industrial greed. The Chinese government effectively criminalised any transmission of information to the outside world. Their crimes have not gone off the record. The prisoner file, and related documents, will not be forgotten. This inventory includes the report of how monks from Labrang monastery protested in front of foreign journalists in April 2008. They were beaten with police batons and had their legs broken, Some suffered "electric batons on their heads and in their mouths - the electric baton affected their brains and some have become disabled." The electric baton is only one of the torture tools devised by one of the most sadistic capitalist elites on earth.

The Gutsa detention centre at Lhasa is notorious. "Reports from former prisoners held there include torture with electric batons, sometimes almost to death, attacks by dogs, and beating and shock treatment while the prisoner is suspended naked from a ceiling." This disgraceful abuse merits the strongest censure. "China seeks to hide the existence of such extensive prison facilities in a city at the forefront of a push to attract tourists to Tibet" (China's Control State in Lhasa).

Torture is an everyday reality in Tibet. "Prisoners continue to be killed from torture and convicted as a result of confessions obtained by torture." Access to doctors and lawyers is regularly denied by the inquisitors. One survivor informed: "They [the Chinese torturers] said that however many people like me they killed, nobody would ever find out." This scenario merits due critique in any civilised country. Victims are sometimes known as political prisoners.

The known data about Chinese detention centres is appalling. Monks and laymen were beaten up in those cruel places. A number were beaten to death. Cases of a broken spine are known. Men and women were put in dark filthy cells during a solitary sojourn in hell. Death in detention is an unpleasant subject. Torture-related death is a very nasty phenomenon. During 2012-2013, one profiled victim was "severely tortured for months in incommunicado detention." The location was Machu County, in the Tibetan province of Amdo. Shonu Palden was one of those victims deceptively released, his case "typical of Chinese government practise of releasing prisoners early so that prison officials can avoid responsibility for killing prisoners." Palden needed major surgery, but his serious health complications caused by torture did not improve. He died in 2018. His family were subjected to continuous harassment by local Chinese authorities, whose sole concern was that news about mistreatment might spread.

Chinese law permits the secret detention of people for up to six months. Neither relatives nor lawyers are allowed to know where the victim is detained. With no check in process, victims are beaten, shackled in stress positions, and electrocuted. That is a minimal statement of horrors (which include pain-inducing injections). The subsequent perfunctory trial frequently transfers the detainee to prison. Interrogation is there less frequent, but the victims are still beaten and subjected to starvation diets, freezing cells, and the denial of medical care. Tibetans who die in detention sometimes have their bodies cremated before relatives can see the damage. Relatives are threatened if they publicly disclose information about how the victim died. Murdering Chinese officials "are protected by [government] efforts to conceal the cause and number of deaths in detention." The exact number of fatal cases will never be known.

Paltsal Kyab died in 2008 after one month in detention. His relatives were told that he died of natural causes. His family found his corpse "completely covered in bruises and burn marks." The Tibetan family of Ngawang Jamyang, in a similar instance, were threatened with execution if they informed anyone outside Tibet. Tenzin Choedak died two days after he was released on "medical parole" (a cunning ruse to offset blame by murderers). His family found that he had a brain injury, his jaw was dislocated. all the bones in his feet were broken.

The sadistic Chinese aggressors are savage to the point where normal descriptions no longer apply. Their conduct and mentality is in direct lineage from the imperialist disdain for victims of earlier centuries. The word evil is too tame, just a good name for something far worse, and ultimately indescribable.

The People's Republic of China has "tortured prisoners by denying them necessary medical care" (Standards for Treatment of Prisoners, linked above). In August 2014, the pitiless Chinese gunmen again fired into a peaceful protest. Three protesters who suffered gunshot wounds were denied medical care in detention. They were dead within a week.

The Chinese "security forces" initially used machine guns to quell peaceful protests in 2008. When Tibetans informed other countries of human rights violations, they were detained and imprisoned on charges of violating "state secrets" of the People's Republic. The Chinese block on communications conceals a very sinister agenda. A secret government document was eventually smuggled out of Tibet, the content contradicting official Chinese propaganda. The information relates to events in 2008, including such details as: the body of one young Tibetan woman at Lhasa was riddled with fifteen bullet holes. Her colleague, likewise encountering paramilitary automatic weapons, was shot seventeen times. To complain about such matters is a crime to pathological authorities, who secretively prescribe torture and death.

The leaked Lhasa security report reveals that the Chinese government "deployed battle strength firepower to wipe out civil protests while hiding their actions from the rest of the world." The paramilitary killed more than 100 protesters in Lhasa, and arrested 5,000 Tibetan Buddhists. "Torture pervades China's web of prisons across Tibet... security agents who cause the death of Tibetans, ranging from Buddhist scholars to young lamas, are never punished." The aggressors resorted to a ruse of "war on terror." The real terror is easily identified in the graphic reports available.

The Chinese exploitation of natural resources in Tibet (and other countries) has increased. The Chinese ecology programme is riddled with discrepancies. The Chinese strategy has been to make Tibet an industrial zone for urban exploitation. The minority phrase "raiding Tibet's resources" is not rhetorical. The programme of moving Tibetan nomads to urban settlements was accomplished for the purpose of opening their land to industrial extraction of resources. The Chinese invaders built the Qinghai railway to that end. By 2016, there were almost 100 Chinese mining sites in Tibet. Coal mines have even been constructed in nature reserves, a factor indicating the mentality of exploitation at work. The large number of alien coal mines in Tibet consume vast quantities of water, while the waste created at these sites renders the water in nearby Tibetan communities undrinkable.

China's "Great Tibet Robbery" is a fact, the thieves having become millionaires and super rich billionaires. Tibetans have protested against gold extraction, leading to arrests and violence by the robbers. The nature of the predatory investment is all too obvious. Extensive uranium deposits in Tibet feed the expanding nuclear programmme in China.

Chinese "ecology" has an ambivalent reputation. The invaders appropriated Tibetan natural resources to fuel the industrial expansion in China. This tactic created devastation of Tibetan pasturelands, whose rightful owners were shut into urban constriction. The Chinese exploitation causes pollution and environmental destruction in the victimised country. Chinese alterations to the Tibetan landscape create landslides, flooding, and earthquakes. Tibetan communities are being stripped of their water supply, diverted to China via the master plan of hydroelectric dams. Chinese politicians gloss their criminal strategies as remarkable achievements. They have introduced large numbers of Chinese workers into Tibet, indifferent to the indigenous people, who were never guilty of industrial overkill. When the Tibetan minority protest against mining, damming, and other resource extraction, they are treated to hideous violence and repression by the callous colonial predators.

Chinese ecoreverse in Tibet; Tibetans an endangered species

In East Tibet, Larung Gar Buddhist Institute was the largest site of Tibetan Buddhism. In June 2016, government officials in Beijing decreed removal of many residents and demolition of properties. About 5,000 people were initially evicted, and 5,000 buildings were destroyed at Larung Gar. Victims found their homes and possessions padlocked. Three anguished nuns committed suicide. One of these women, Rinzin Dolma, left a note informing that she could "not bear the pain of the endless Chinese harassment of innocent Buddhists who quietly studied at the Institute."

Monks and nuns were afterwards "subjected to humiliating patriotic re-education sessions, in which they are required to sing Chinese propaganda songs and denounce their own Tibetan culture and religion." Followers of a religion, many centuries old, are now coerced to become clones of Chinese nationalism. The invading industrialists exert an agenda of Buddhist cultural extinction. The Beijing capitalists are not the best model of civilisation to follow, however much demolition, violence, and torture are clandestinely regarded as proof of their presumed superiority.

The Chinese government has created extensive propaganda to justify oppression of Tibet. The demolition zone should be Beijing propaganda, not the persons and homes and heritage of the dispossessed.

China has repeatedly flouted UN conventions. Critics have described the offences in terms of an anti-rights model. The ongoing travesty is clearly visible. In August 2018, Geneva hosted the United Nations Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination. "The Chinese government flatly denied its human rights violations in Tibet and other areas of the People's Republic of China, instead painting a rosy picture of personal freedoms that left the body of independent human rights experts in disbelief."

The UN Chinese delegation claimed to have "taken good care of Tibetan culture and religion." The delegation "gave many false and misleading answers to pressing questions about the situation of Tibetans and Uyghurs" (another persecuted community in China). "Legitimate grievances [of the victims] were flatly labelled as criminal, separatist, or even terrorist."

UN experts and others are "systematically denied access to Tibet and other restricted areas, except on strictly controlled propaganda tours led by the Chinese Communist Party" (Denials, Smokescreens and Misleading Information).

15.  The  Chinese  Industrial  Revolution

The informed Guardian journalist, Jonathan Watts, authored When a Billion Chinese Jump (2010). The underlying theme refers to the population of 1.4 billion people who have accelerated their material lifestyle as prosperous consumers. The Chinese industrial revolution proved intensive, using coal in quantity, and producing a factory system described as the ultimate in unsustainable development.

Chinese  factories

The factories of eastern China, staffed by women working for a low wage, produced affordable goods for export. This development triggered the nationwide boom in commerce and pollution. Rivers turned black, the air became clogged with fumes, the land was poisoned, agricultural produce was impaired. Cancer and other diseases increased dramatically; death rates amongst Chinese farmers escalated to four times that of the global average. The cost of "growth" was high.

A new middle class was created in the wealthy cities of eastern China. They eventually recognised that harmful factories needed to be closed down or renovated. However, less prosperous industrialists overlooked the problems. Everyone wanted to be rich. According to Watts, the pollution transmitted by Chinese rivers has poisoned the sea from the Gulf of Bohai to the Pacific. In the air, the extensive brown cloud of smog spreads over a large area of Asia (with India being another major contributor). Various other environmental ailments are visible, such as desertification and chronic water shortages.

China has become committed to a low carbon economy and a new sustainable development. The obstructing problems are prodigious. One governmental resort has been to encourage migration from overpopulated urban areas into the mountainous territories of the Uighurs and Tibetans. Such zones have been able to support small populations, but the ecosystems cannot accomodate a large influx. The province of Yunnan, rich in biodiversity, has been described in terms of the last remaining natural paradise in China. Watts reveals that the life expectancy will be drastically reduced.

The ecological drive "requires a profound cultural shift away from the entrenched idea that nature exists to be exploited and plundered, and that any environmental problem can be fixed by engineering" (quote from review of Watts by Isabel Hilton, A stark warning of the dangers of pollution, July 2010).

In recent decades, northern areas of China have been prone to increased drought, while southern territories have been subject to increased flooding caused by heavy summer rainfall. The NASA Goddard Institute is associated with research indicating that the extensive output of black carbon increases convection and rainfall, producing a surface cooling (or temperature decrease) which masks the heat in the air.

UPDATE 2018

The environmental crisis of China is substantial. In 2007, China overtook America as the largest global emitter of greenhouse gases. In 2014, China was responsible for 27 percent of global emissions. The energy consumption caused acute pollution. In 2013, Beijing suffered a prolonged smog; the concentration of hazardous particles was now forty times over the safety limit specified by the World Health Organisation. In December 2015, Beijing issued red alerts for severe pollution.

China is the world's largest coal producer. Coal is largely to blame for the urban pollution. The government emphasis on urbanisation is anomalous. The plan is to have 60 percent of the population living in cities by 2020. Rural emphases would surely be more appropriate. Emissions from urban Chinese export industries are exerting a worsening effect upon air pollution as far as America. Chinese acid rain and smog affect neighbours like Japan.

A major drawback is that more than a quarter of the key rivers in China are "unfit for human contact." Water is going to be a big problem. Approximately two thirds of the 660 cities in China already suffer from water shortage. Over one million square miles of the Chinese landmass is undergoing desertification.

Environmental protests in rural and urban areas are increasing in China. In 2013, thousands of floating dead pigs were discovered in the Huangpu River at Shanghai; the unwelcome news spread rapidly online. Two years later, a documentary on air pollution was blocked by internet censors.

The Chinese environment ministry has informed that the number of pollution sources has increased by more than half in less than a decade. The major problem is factories flouting emissions standards. Over 80,000 Chinese factories accordingly received fines and notice of criminal offences. About 750,000 people in China die annually from pollution-related ailments. The pollution has been blamed for the increase in deformed children.

The excessive emphasis upon urbanisation has led to the "cancer villages" suffering from industrialism. The notorious state-owned Daboshan mine, in Guangdong province, dumps large amounts of cadmium, lead, zinc, and other metals into water supplies. High levels of cadmium and zinc contaminate drinking water and rice at the afflicted Shangba village. A well known Chinese river has turned red due to the influx of chemicals.

The Chinese international logging industry will assist to make other countries more prone to drought in the process of deforestation. The extensive overseas mercantile activity of China is often overlooked. The miseries attendant upon Chinese urbanisation are now strongly associated with Chinese trading activity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More than sixty percent of the world's cobalt comes from the Congo, where 35,000 children (as young as six) have a presence in the mines. Chinese companies run many of the industrial mines in the south-east of the Congo. The Guardian also refers to many buying houses operated by the Chinese, or frequented by Chinese traders.

A journalist describes a 15 year old girl orphaned by cobalt mines that killed both her parents. She spends all day digging, with a small shovel, to gather enough cobalt stones to fill a sack. Chinese traders will pay her the equivalent of fifty British pence, a very trifling amount. This is the only way she and her baby can survive. From the sacks filled by labourers, Chinese processors produce crude cobalt hydroxide which is taken to ports like Durban for export to China. After refining by Chinese big business, the cobalt is sold to major component manufacturers and electronic companies around the world.

Such companies trade for huge sums of money. Big business often stinks. In 2017, Amnesty International reported that none of these enterprises "are making sufficient efforts to ensure that their riches are not being built on the backs of the oppressed women, men and children of the Congo who toil in putrid conditions, endure pitiful wages, grave injury and risk death to mine their cobalt" (Smartphones and Congo Misery). The mineral dust is potentially lethal. The earth, water, and air in these mines is polluted. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and electric vehicles are products of the arch-capitalist cobalt circuit. Rechargeable lithium batteries are all-important to commerce, and cobalt is essential to these fittings. However, the cobalt is effectively "smeared in misery and blood." This disclosure requires assimilation in many countries.

"In mine after mine, I witnessed heartrending suffering at the bottom of global cobalt supply chains." The Guardian reporter found that an entire neighbourhood of the Congo cobalt mines, situated near many Chinese buying houses, had been walled off "in an effort to keep people from documenting the perilous conditions." This is reminiscent to some degree of conditions in Tibet, where close secrecy attends the Chinese torture of Tibetan Buddhists in savage detention centres. The non-transparent capitalist communism does not convince everyone that utopia has arrived.

China and other major energy exporters are now revealed in terms of "doing almost nothing to limit carbon dioxide emissions." China is here bracketed with Russia, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, and Canada (a country drawing immense quantities of dirty oil from tar sands). "Fossil fuel lobbies in these countries are so powerful that government climate pledges are very weak, setting the world on course for more than 5C of heating by the end of the century" (Policies of China, Russia and Canada). Other countries may not feel especially grateful to the giant profile emitters. One should remember that America and Australia are not far behind the big killers, having cultivated a 4C+ rating for global warming of a devastating and searing intensity.

16.  Copenhagen  Diagnosis

The Copenhagen political summit conference, in December 2009, was accompanied by a report from 26 international climate scientists, entitled The Copenhagen Diagnosis. One verdict was that by 2020, the industrial nations must reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by around 40% below 1990 levels to achieve any realistic chance of avoiding dangerous repercussions. In the absence of sufficient mitigation, the high danger warming threshold of 2 degrees Celsius could be crossed as early as 2040. Much of this necessity was ignored by the delaying tactics of politicians and denialists, whose legacy for the future is hell, and who will be remembered as horrendous plague by future generations.

The Diagnosis emphasised that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an increasing rate, and already contributing to the rise of sea level. Arctic sea ice is also melting much faster than formerly assessed. Without a substantial reduction in greenhouse gases, global warming could contribute as high as 7 Celsius by 2100. Sea level had risen more than 5 centimetres over the past 15 years, about 80% higher than the tentative IPCC predictions from 2001. Furthermore, if the climate is to be stabilised, global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases need to rapidly decline. In defiance of this necessity, emissions are still increasing in many territories.

Some Diagnosis scientists stressed that the human contribution to climate change is not in doubt. The recent warming does not accord with natural climate variability over the last two thousand years. Science versus denialism basically decodes to science versus big business excuses.

The summit conference itself revolved around politicians, not scientists. The event was attended by conflicting arguments, doubts, divisive undercurrents, and diverse media reports including distortions. No effective progress was made.

Hans  Joachim  Schellnhuber

Prior to the conference, a prominent German climate scientist, Professor Hans Joachim (John) Schellnhuber, stated that America was "climate illiterate." The implication here was that attendant public ignorance comprised a potentially serious risk of failure at the Copenhagen conference. Schellnhuber (founding director of the Potsdam Institute in Germany) referred to polls indicating that there were more people in Brazil and China who were aware of climate problems, and who believed that deep cuts in emissions were necessary. He commented that "the political chances seem very slim that something [positive] will happen in Copenhagen and even in the years after."

Schellnhuber complained that "many in the Republican party and the wider US population still did not understand the need to act." His comments were made on the occasion of an Oxford University climate science seminar. A climatologist at the Met Office Hadley Centre presented a study indicating that the world could undergo a 4 degree Celsius increase in temperature as early as 2060-2070. Further, a climate scientist from the University of Reading stated that a temperature rise on this scale would "bring about colossal changes in weather conditions," and that "some 15% of land worldwide that is currently suitable for agriculture would become useless" (quotes from US inertia could scupper world climate deal in Copenhagen, September 2009).

The subsequent complication in political resolution at the summit conference was tragic, major polluters avoiding the mandate supplied by the Diagnosis. The ongoing friction between China and America was evidenced by the UN climate change talks at Tianjin in 2010 (Jonathan Watts, China and US clash at climate talks and China and US blamed as climate talks stall). Forty-eight Republican contenders for Senate elections demonstrated a major defect. Only one of these contenders accepted that anthropogenic climate change is occurring. The exception was very quickly ousted by another denialist candidate. Many nations, including Britain, "have produced what appear to be robust national plans for cutting greenhouse gases; with one exception (the Maldives), their targets fall far short of the reductions needed to prevent more than two degrees of global warming" (George Monbiot, The Process is Dead, Sept. 2010).

Political conveniences and denialism need not stop citizens from knowing the facts. In 2010, websites like the Met Office Hadley Centre were noted for conveying details such as "the ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1995," and "one third of the earth's land surface is now desert." Perhaps even more pointed is the assessment that "five billion people will be living in water-stressed areas by 2050" (accessed 1/10/2010). The sufferers can blame politicians for their affliction. Those politicians earn massive salaries, a benefit which is clearly their major preoccupation and incentive.

UPDATE: In 2018, some critics are predicting that policies of the Trump administration will become widely recognised as a major retrogression of the twenty-first century. Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, has earlier made a pointed reflection. "If Donald Trump wins the election and carries through on his campaign promises... the effects on the global climate will persist not only for the four or eight years of his presidency, but for generations" (Trump and climate tipping points).

17.  NASA  Decodes  the  Weather

What is currently the condition of the globe in the face of technology, worldwide capitalism, and political obstructions? The reality is avoided by too many entrenched interests. However, climate scientists have made the problem intelligible. One of the major centres for climate analysis has been the NASA Goddard Institude for Space Studies, led for many years by Dr. James Hansen (section 2 above).

In the Hansen article Global Surface Temperature Change (2010), various complexities are explained, including the low temperatures of 2009 that were wrongly interpreted by denialists, to the further confusion of the public in different countries. The cool summer of 2009 in North America, and the cold winter of 2009/10 in the northern hemisphere, were part of a scientifically accepted variability in weather patterns attaching to global warming. The abstract states: "Global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade, despite large year to year fluctuations associated with the El-Nino-La-Nina cycle of tropical ocean temperature."

In the US, 16 of the past 20 winters and 15 of the past 20 summers were warmer than the 1951-1980 climatology, a frequency consistent with the expected 'loading of the climate dice' due to global warming. (Global Surface Temperature Change, 2010)

A chart of warming in subsequent years tends very much to accentuate the increasing heat (NASA Temperature Analysis). The ongoing trend of global warming is quite clear, and scientificially attested. This trend is largely driven by increased CO2 and other man-made emissions. The acute international heatwaves of 2018 further contradict the peculiar and deviant beliefs about "cooling" preferred by denialists of concrete realities.

18.  Climate Scientist  Stefan  Rahmstorf

Stefan  Rahmstorf

A leading climate scientist, Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, offered relevant conclusions about the hot summer of 2010:

While it cannot be scientifically proven (or disproven, for that matter) that global warming caused any particular extreme event, we can say that global warming very likely makes many kinds of extreme weather both more frequent and more severe. For weeks, central Russia has been in the grips of its worst-ever heat wave, which has caused probably thousands of fatalities.... Meanwhile, Pakistan is struggling with unprecedented flooding that has killed more than a thousand people and affected millions more. In China, flash floods have so far killed more than a thousand people and destroyed more than a million homes. On a smaller scale, European countries like Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic have also suffered serious flooding.

Meanwhile, global temperatures in recent months have been at their highest levels in records that go back 130 years. Arctic sea-ice cover reached its lowest recorded average level for the month of June ever. In Greenland two huge chunks of ice broke off in July and August.... This is far more likely to be the result of a warming climate - a consequence of this decade being, worldwide, the hottest for a thousand years.... Owing to fossil fuel emissions, there is now one-third more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than at any time in at least a million years, as the latest ice drilling in Antarctica has revealed. The changes in the planet's energy budget caused by solar variations are at least ten times smaller in comparison.... With weak action, like that promised by governments in Copenhagen last December, we will be on course for 3-4 degrees Celsius of global warming. This is bound to outstrip the ability of many societies and ecosystems to adapt. (Stefan Rahmstorf, Our Summer of Extremes, August 2010)

The same climate scientist (and oceanographer) of Germany states that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration "is entirely caused by humans and is primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels, with a smaller contribution due to deforestation" (Rahmstorf, Climate Change Fact Sheet, 2010). See also Rahmstorf and Katherine Richardson, Our Threatened Oceans (2009); David Archer and Stefan Rahmstorf, The Climate Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

The same fact sheet informs that "life in the oceans is not only threatened by climate change but by the equally serious problem of the ongoing global ocean acidification, which is a direct chemical result of our CO2 emissions."

The Rahmstorf fact sheet also states: "Droughts and forest fires are likely to increase in some regions, as is currently occurring in the Mediterranean region, Southern Africa and California. Hurricanes are expected to become more destructive."

In 2017, the same scientist stated: "Two centuries of climate science have established beyond reasonable doubt that human activities are causing a global warming that is about to catapult us well out of the stable Holocene climate of the past 10,000 years, the period during which human civilisation thrived" (Rahmstorf receives 2017 climate communication prize).

19.  Global  Prospects  of  Flooding  and  Drought

A relatively minimal rise in sea levels can drastically affect small island nations, a factor highlighted by concerns in the Maldives. Barbados and the Philippines are two of the other sectors at risk. Water level has been rising in the Philippines, flooding rice fields and other areas of agricultural importance. In mainland areas, Bangladesh faces prospective fatality. The Nile delta is also at risk, that territory comprising the prime agricultural land in Egypt. The relocation of inhabitants on Pacific islands is already becoming a problem.

Lost islands in the Pacific mean nothing to denialists. The sceptical community will be more disadvantaged by loss of some internet facilities. A substantial proportion of American internet infrastructure "sits squarely in the path of rising seas." An unwelcome message is emerging: "Within fifteen years, thousands of miles of fiber optic cable - and hundreds of pieces of other key infrastructure - are likely to be swamped by the encroaching ocean." Much of that package was not designed for submergence, despite being recklessly located near the coast. This massive error occurred about twenty years ago, when warnings about sea level rise were completely ignored. A dramatic update states: "Cities like New York, Miami, and Seattle are likely to see up to 12 inches of extra water by 2030" (Underwater in 15 Years). This prospect would be sufficient to place underwater about 20 percent of America's key internet infrastructure.

In 2010, the large and relatively stable island of Britain was revealed as being prone to more warming risk than generally assumed. Governmental advisers on climate change warned that urgent action was necessary to safeguard homes, power stations, roads, and water supplies. The problems stipulated were flooding, heat waves, and drought.

The first national assessment of the country's readiness for the impacts of global warming has found the UK was very poorly prepared for the changes, with fewer than one in 15 companies, local authorities and other public bodies taking action to tackle the issue. (UK poorly prepared for impact of global warming, September 2010)

The first report on adaptation from the (British) Committee on Climate Change, dating to 2010, stated that climate change was already having an impact upon Britain, with average annual temperatures 1 degree Celsius higher than in the 1970s, and seasons arriving on average eleven days earlier. This warming was considered likely to increase, bringing extremes in the form of storms, floods, heatwaves, and droughts.

Another British report relevant to 2010 was cited by the Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Between half and three-quarters of companies, and all local authorities, were aware of the need for adaptation. However, "only 6% of the 633 organisations questioned had gone further than discussing or considering the problem."

Eight years later, in 2018, nothing effective had been done by the British government to protect the public from heatwave. This negligence was discovered after a severe summer heatwave in which lives were lost. All warnings had gone nowhere in the face of affluent complacency and soporific denialism.

Pakistan  floods, 2010

In 2010, the flooding in Pakistan gained extensive attention. The Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani visited America in September, where he conferred with climate scientists about global warming and the connection with extreme weather events. Haqqani boldly stated:

While the debate about climate change continues, Pakistan is living through the changes... Pakistan is bearing the burden of profligate natural resource consumption by others. (Pakistani Ambassador, 2010)

The ambassador referred to the disastrous fact that 17 out of 43 million acres of arable land in Pakistan had been flooded. Two million homes, together with eight thousand schools, had been damaged or destroyed. At least 2,000 people had died.

By 2017, "more than ninety coastal communities in the United States are battling chronic flooding." Despite substantial national incomprehension, "that number [of 90] is expected to roughly double to more than 170 communities in less than 20 years" (Sea Level Rise Will Flood Hundreds of Cities). Matters will not stop there, but get worse.

A major international concern is aridity and drought. A serious problem for America became discussed in terms of the energy-water "choke points." The global freshwater crisis is not imaginary, except in the opinion of denialists. An increasing water scarcity is feared in America, due to the increase in energy production. Electric generation capacity is stated to require an increase of 40% by 2050, a factor considered an affliction by some analysts. Further, only two of the new alternative energy sources (wind and solar) use less water than fossil fuels. References were made to a suppressed/delayed report on the energy-water problem, a document whose "conclusions are inconvenient for both political and industry interests, as all of the big energy production and large water use sectors are implicated" (US faces collision between energy demands and water scarcity, 2010). Climate change was strongly implicated as a constricting influence on the water system in America, thus affecting future energy production. The Trump administration ignored climate change, in preference for denialist myths and conveniences.

The Colorado River is beginning to run dry in places. Some claim that Lake Mead in Arizona may be dry by 2021; this lake certainly supplies water to over 20 million people. Three American cities are already affected by climate change. In 2014, Los Angeles suffered from high temperatures and reduced rainfall, creating a limitation on water usage by 25 percent in 2015. Three years later, snowpacks in the northern part of California have been described as "frighteningly low"; this precarious source represents a substantial supply of water. In distant Miami, rising sea levels are a serious problem, because the salty seawater is contaminating freshwater supplies at unprecedented rates. As a consequence, neighbouring cities in Florida are struggling to find drinkable water.

A severe drought afflicted Cape Town during the early months of 2018. Fortunately, rainfall eventually prevented catastrophe, assisted by strong local efforts to conserve water. Meanwhile, the panic caused South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to state: "If people around the world ever thought climate change is just a fable, we in South Africa are now seeing the real effects of climate change. We are facing a real, total disaster in Cape Town, which is going to affect more than four million people." (Profile South Africa)

There is no certainty about sufficient rainfall occurring in many countries. The World Wildlife Fund reports that rivers and lakes throughout the world are drying up or becoming too polluted to use. "More than half of the world's wetlands have disappeared. Agriculture consumes more water than any other source and wastes much of that through inefficiencies. Climate change is.... causing shortages and droughts in some areas and floods in others. At the current consumption rate, this situation will only get worse. By 2025, two-thirds of the world's population may face water shortages."

See also Living Planet Report 2018.

Kevin  R. D. Shepherd

October 2010 - November 2018