Exchange on climate change


My friend of fifteen years, Dr. John James , was in the fire zone of Australia. He wrote:

The first two months of this year has given us a taste of what is to come

From the Climate Science page “February 2020, on global average, was the second warmest February since the reliable measurements began in 1880, at 1.54⁰C relative to 1880-1920.”

1.54oC !!

Remember the Paris accord only 4 years ago that hoped we would be able to keep to 1.5C. We seem to be beyond that now.

The reason for the increased heat in February (a month AFTER the fires) is that Beijing now has clear skies – which means that the pollution has stopped, the aerosol blanket over the northern hemisphere is fading, and therefore its protection is evaporating. Called also global dimming. Result may be a very rapid increase in global temperature of up to 1.2C in addition to what we already have.  from 1.40 mins.

It looks like we will not only be dealing with the Plague, but with exceptional heating as well.  All the consequences of 2C have been well described in numerous reports. In the simplest terms it is all the disasters we can list multiplied in duration, frequency and intensity.

So our 400km of fires in January is now likely to be normal, and at any time of the year.

And we are so blessed with our leadership, everywhere.

I responded:

At the same time that various organizations involved with fossil fuels are competing to obtain profitably favorable arrangements for themselves and the respective countries to which they supply fuels, leading climate change scientist around the world are putting out an entirely contrary message. They are indicating that, very quickly, global fossil fuel dependence has to greatly shrink to avoid run-away climate change that would cause much of the world’s surface to be inhospitable to life. In other words, an almost complete cessation of its use must occur fairly soon despite ever increased worldwide demand.

For example, John Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the main environmental scientist for the German government, told officials from Barack Obama’s administration that U.S. carbon emissions must fall from its annual 20 tons per person to zero if there is going to be an even slight possibility for the climate to stabilize with a 2C increase.

As Stephen Leahy points out in “Four Degrees Of Devastation”, “Eighteen months ago, no one dared imagine humanity pushing the climate beyond an additional two degrees C of heating, but rising carbon emissions and inability to agree on cuts has meant science must now consider the previously unthinkable.”

He goes on to add:

“A four-degree C overall increase means a world where temperatures will be two degrees warmer in some places, 12 degrees and more in others, making them uninhabitable.

“It is a world with a one- to two-metre sea level rise by 2100, leaving hundreds of millions homeless. This will head to 12 metres in the coming centuries as the Greenland and Western Antarctic ice sheets melt, according to papers presented at the [UK international climate science] conference [recently held] in Oxford.

“Four degrees of warming would be hotter than any time in the last 30 million years, and it could happen as soon as 2060 to 2070.” [1]

As Clive Hamilton, Charles Sturt Professor of Public Ethics at the Australian National University, points out in “Is It Too Late to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change?”, “It is clear that limiting warming to 2ºC is beyond us; the question now is whether we can limit warming to 4ºC. The conclusion that, even if we act promptly and resolutely, the world is on a path to reach 650 ppm and associated warming of 4°C is almost too frightening to accept. Yet that is the reluctant conclusion of the world’s leading climate scientists. Even with the most optimistic set of assumptions — the ending of deforestation, a halving of emissions associated with food production, global emissions peaking in 2020 and then falling by 3 per cent a year for a few decades — we have no chance of preventing emissions rising well above a number of critical tipping points that will spark uncontrollable climate change.” [2]

At the same time, his views are echoed by Lord Stern, former World Bank chief economist, who stated, “A rise of 5C would be a temperature the world has not seen for 30 to 50 million years. We’ve been around only 100,000 years as human beings. We don’t know what that’s like. We haven’t seen 3C for a few million years, and we don’t know what that looks like either.”

“Do politicians understand just how difficult it could be, just how devastating rises of 4C, 5C or 6C could be? I think, not yet,” Lord Stern shared with a group of scientists gathered in Copenhagen after which he went on to warn that the risk associated with governments not adequately addressing climate change in time to avert the brunt of the disaster would lead to horrendous consequences. According to him, these involve risking at least a third of the world’s aggregate wealth, including a minimum of a thirty percent reduction in consumption per person worldwide or, put another way, global GDP would drop to at least 70 percent of current output. [3]

Meanwhile, the mainstream media (MSM) in the United States reveals little information about the degree that the public must radically change lifestyle habits and expectations for economic growth. Little is mentioned about the degree that climate change could have catastrophic impacts across the globe and no government or business leaders are suggesting that reduced consumption of material goods, delimitations in fossil fuel use and other major changes should be carried out very soon. Likewise, none are encouraging ecologically friendly, self-sustaining, financially vibrant communities to be strengthened, nor hinting that transnational patterns of commerce drain dollars out of the country.

In a similar vein, none indicate that these very same globalized patterns that enrich corporate tycoons exacerbate our reliance on fossil fuels due to long distance transportation of raw materials and finished products, as well as the extraordinary amounts of energy used in a massive production of lots of unnecessary merchandise. Obviously, their doing so would be run counter to their extraordinary financial gains at the expense of the poorly paid, everyday work force.

So instead, we have “a business as usual” mentality shoveled forth with bailouts for major commercial organizations, policies to purchase cars subsidized by the federal government, happy-go-lucky TV programs that focus on trivial topics and plenty of advertisements informing the populace that it ought to purchase this or that item to have the latest look in fall fashion, the best anti-aging formula or whatever else for which doing so will, obviously, raise one’s personal carbon and overall ecological footprints in most instances.

At the same time, one can assume that there are no immediate plans to direct society into a pattern of living that is regionally self-reliant (so as to avoid carbon footprints from imports derived from other areas) and restricted in terms of the types of goods available from distant locations. In light of the financial recession and the desire for ever more economic growth based on further globalization of transnational industry and fossil fuel use, quite the opposite pattern is emerging despite the disastrous implications in terms of our breaching climate change tipping points, and the fact that, at some point, fossil fuels, themselves, will no longer be available.

On account, a wise program would be to jumpstart an all out effort to put the means for alternative benign energy sources into place while using the larger portion of fossil fuels to build and install these alternatives across the landscape, as well as help communities to transition away from fossil fuel use altogether. Without a doubt, this would especially be positive in light of the fact that almost 71 percent of electricity in the U.S. is currently supplied by fossil fuels while modern agriculture, industry and transportation all have petroleum at their cores.

Meanwhile the largely consensual opinion reached at the annual conference of the U.S. contingent for the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO-USA) is that conventional crude peaked in 2005. Further, biofuels are not expected to be any sort of panacea to make up for pending large-scale oil deficits. [4]

Despite the increasing number of indicators that humanity needs to change course in its fossil fuel use, the policy makers sit in their safe government offices planning new dangerous military operations for others to conduct in resource rich regions abroad regardless of the fact that the death toll is rising in these invasions and it seems highly unlikely that the Taliban or any other groups defending their homelands will be easily defeated if at all despite that ever more Pentagon funding is provided toward that aim.

Added up, the expenses to contain Iran, strive to obtain Venezuelan and newly found Cuban oil, fight for arctic fossil fuels, carry out Afghanistan and Pakistan operations, and ramp up covert or military operations via AFRICOM in Africa all together create a recipe for extreme U.S. bankruptcy and assorted other disasters. At the same time, the U.S. undertaking such endeavors merely postpone the inevitable fossil fuel shortfall, anyway, while not ensuring that the country and its citizens are prepared for the huge transition away from fossil fuels. In addition, such ever enlarging, Pentagon run ventures entail an inordinate amount of national sacrifice as money that could be used to support programs at home drains into war costs and the military’s ramped up fossil fuel use.

[1] CLIMATE CHANGE: Four Degrees of Devastation – IPS

[2] Is It Too Late to Prevent Catastrophic Climate …

[3] Lord Stern on global warming: It’s even worse than I thought …
lord-stern-on-global-warming-its-even-worse- than-i-thought-1643957.html

[4] A review of the ASPO-USA conference from Chris Nelder: Oil and Gas Outlook (
A further assessment from Steve Connor about the views of Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA): Warning: Oil supplies are running out fast – … (

Sally Dugman lives in MA, USA.




Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News