Mass Extinction: Let’s Not

January 9, 2014

Thom Hartmann has produced a pretty scary, but rather accurate, piece here.

I’ve been thinking about the fine line between creating a sense of urgency vs a sense of hopelessness. There a natural urge among some folks to cut right to the “hopeless” phase, without actually wanting to do something about the problem.

There’s a lot of internet chatter about imminent doom for human civilization.  And yes, I’m talking about you, Guy MacPherson.
This is, first of all, incorrect. Secondly, not helpful.
Even the worst case scenarios in the fossil record played out over millennia, and  the experts I’ve talked to are pretty clear that no one, or at least very few, are expecting any kind of catastrophic single event in the coming few decades.
Important to remember that projected climate change impacts are a bell curve, as Stephen Schneider used to say, with “good for you” at one end, and “end of the world” on the other.  Both those extremes are the most unlikely scenarios – but there’s a whole lot of that curve on this side of “end of the world” that we would still very much not like to see happen.

Planet Earth is going to take a hit in the coming century. It falls mainly to the generation of human beings currently alive to decide if that’s going to be a 5 percent hit, a 50 percent hit, or a 90 percent hit.

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219 Responses to “Mass Extinction: Let’s Not”


  1. Any candidates for things we can do?

    I’ve got a small suggestion.  There is a lot of “stranded gas” in the Dakota oil patch getting flared because it costs too much to run pipelines to carry it to market.  The region is also consuming a lot of petroleum, especially diesel fuel.

    Solution:  “LNG-in-a-box” technology to purity and liquefy this gas, and another push for CNG/LNG vehicles to create a market for it.  The gas replaces petroleum, and emits less CO2 when burned.

    Yes, this is a very short-term measure; the lifespan of the oil patch won’t be more than another 10 years or so.  But cumulative emissions are the key, and there’s also an effect on people’s thinking:  they’ll see that things can be changed, and they still work after being changed.  If the LNG is cheaper than ULSD, they’ll see things can be BETTER after they change.

    Get that ball rolling.  Momentum for decarbonization.

    • jimbills Says:

      Massively reducing energy AND resource (including plant and animal life) use while replacing heavy polluters (like fossil fuels) with low polluters (like renewables, or fine, nuclear) on a concerted global scale (not just national) within 5-6 decades is the only possible means of avoiding or mitigating the environmental degradation trends we see unfolding. It’s that possible, and that difficult.

      I know you’re a fan of increasing energy use coupled with replacement by low-carbon sources – but that’s just a means of burning all the remaining fossil fuels while decarbonizing JUST the energy grid over several decades. Plus, the other sectors of pollution and resource use would just continue to expand in a growing system.

      Personally, I think it’s hopeless, largely because everyone out of hand (liberals as well as conservatives, Chinese as well as Americans) rejects the above scenario. But, I’ll decline Omno’s very kind suggestion.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        I think it’s probably hopeless too. The human species is following the same population dynamic as all other living things, and there is going to be a crash somewhere in the future. That’s “life”. And the fact that we are the slowly boiling human frogs that won’t jump out of the pot complicates things. We will burn fossil carbon and put GHG into the atmosphere until the tipping points have been exceeded, and then we will run around screaming about how the sky is falling (as earth “goes Venus” and all life vanishes).

        We all knew it wasn’t going to last forever, but it’s a shame we had to speed it up by our greed and shortsightedness to the point that there may be only a few centuries left..

        • omnologos Says:

          None of you is really hopeless, unless you’re commenting whilst awaiting a delivery of cyanide pills.

          I fully expect a few of your worries will be solved by “tombstone engineering” because that’s the human way.

          That’s a lot different from wishing a few hundred deaths to get things sorted. Or seven billion.

          • jimbills Says:

            “None of you is really hopeless, unless you’re commenting whilst awaiting a delivery of cyanide pills.”

            There’s a difference between personal hopelessness and hopelessness for humanity in general. I can be hopeless about our trajectory as a species and still enjoy a beer and the kiss of my wife.

            I don’t wish anyone ill, and frankly I find it foolish to believe some environmental cataclysm will suddenly wake everyone up. Rather, I put great store in the human ability to reject uncomfortable information until the bitter end. We see it everywhere in every way – fully illustrated in all its glory.

            The great mistake some have when considering these issues is that concern for the environment equates lack of concern for humans. But what I see now is that this current generation is pampering itself to the great detriment of future generations. I rather like humans, despite our amazing flaws, and I’d rather like to think those future generations won’t suffer because of us.

          • jimbills Says:

            Just to be clear, Omno, I don’t thumbs you down unless it’s something incredibly outrageous. Ha ha. Your above comment isn’t.


          • I hope you are right about the tombstone engineering, but I think that too is a common human trait, to assume we’ll fix things without actually having the solution in-hand. Like Rex Tillerson’s blithe statements about engineering our way out of the problem and moving the farms North. Sometimes individuals who find themselves in a pickle do manage to wiggle out, but often they do not, and they end up dead. Casual confidence about a mythical solution is an amazing risk to take considering the stakes.

            But on the point of wishing half of humanity dead to serve as a wake-up call, no, that’s not something anyone should want.

          • omnologos Says:

            thank you jimbills – I am not sure what to do of the three people who thumbed down my comment. I am constantly amazed by the fact that so many yell their concern about the world and humanity yet cannot go beyond their petty thoughts about clicking a silly thumb icon.

            It’s like if somebody concerned about icebergs in the path of the Titanic had kept quiet because there hadn’t been enough milk for his tea the afternoon before…

            climatelurker – the major downside of tombstone engineering is in the tombs. France and Germany finally resolved the 9AD destruction of Varus’ legions in 1945, or maybe in 1951 when the core of the EU was born, but not before an untold number of wars, atrocities and dead. Still, the issue has been solved for the foreseeable future.

            What I am saying is that any alternative solution solving the same issue may have likely prolonged it even longer. Call it the Tragedy (in the ancient Greek meaning) of Humanity: sometimes the solution is necessarily to be forced to stare in the abyss.


        • Does somebody have the script? I think there is some ad lib bing going on and the director is gonna get really mad……


      • Massively reducing energy AND resource (including plant and animal life) use while replacing heavy polluters (like fossil fuels) with low polluters (like renewables, or fine, nuclear) on a concerted global scale (not just national)

        I fear that reality works against the wishes for both/and.  The current push for low-energy biofuels in Europe is leading to renewed deforestation in Germany for fuelwood.  If it wasn’t for the GHG footprint, fossil fuels would have very little environmental downside.

        Let’s do a thought experiment about energy, to see if it is bad per se.  Suppose someone invented a cheap plastic quantum-dot PV panel at 60% efficiency and 40 year lifespan, and a similarly cheap and long-lasting battery suitable for storing energy on annual cycles.  This goes on roofs, awnings, sun-facing windows, etc. to the tune of about 90 square meters per capita.  At mid-Kansas insolation of 5.5 kWh/m^2/day, each square meter would produce about 3.3 kWh/day, roughly 1100 kWh/yr/m^2, about 99,000 kWh/yr/capita.  That’s about 11 kW/capita continuous, about 100 quadrillion BTU of energy per year over 300 million people—the net energy consumption of the USA, but delivered as electricity with no carbon and no conversion losses.

        Would that be bad?  First off, you’d eliminate all FF extraction, processing and shipping:  no mining or drilling wastes, emissions or leaks.  Second, you’d eliminate all the combustion products including SOx, NOx and the like.  Last, you’d have large excesses of electric power over current uses for tasks like re-melting glass bottles for recycling instead of synthesizing plastics.

        With enough energy, you could get your necessary organic materials from matter like grass clippings and corn stalks.  It wouldn’t need any more input than the sunlight that falls on roofs at home, at work, and at shopping.  Would that energy be bad?  I don’t see how.  If it is, can you explain what I missed?

        • jimbills Says:

          Well, you’re going all Star Trek for one thing. It’s like the “promise” of cold fusion. Sounds good. Where is it?

          You have a huge faith in technology, but what I see with technology is just greater and greater complexity to achieve the same thing – often times with just as large a footprint, if not larger, than the thing it replaces (like biofuels).

          With just replacing energy sources 1:1 (which in reality would have to be 2:1 and 4:1 as growth continues), our economic system roles on as ever before. While we’d be gradually replacing fossil fuel use in the energy sector in some nations, an enormously difficult task given growth, two things would happen: 1) remaining fossil fuels would drop in price due to greater supply, increasing the likelihood they’d be consumed elsewhere, and 2) we’d still be using fossil fuels in manufacturing, chemicals, agriculture, and these would only increase in time.

          We think we’re solving the problem, but the problem can only be solved by reducing energy usage greatly while replacing the dirtiest polluters (and not just in the energy sector) as soon as possible. What do we see? Alberta. Plus mini-nuclear reactors to assist in the extraction.

          The basic environmental problem we face is humans overshooting the environment’s ability to absorb pollutive effects and supply resources. Energy and technology (without agreed upon limits, which is a dirty word today) only EXTENDS the human ability to go further into overshoot. The only reason why we weren’t asking these questions in the 15th century, as opposed to now, is humans didn’t have the technology and access to energy that we do now. More technology and more energy doesn’t solve anything, really, without a more basic wisdom as to truly limiting its reach.

          But we can pretend energy will be virtually free and unceasingly abundant in the future. It certainly give us an excuse to continue doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.


          • Well, you’re going all Star Trek for one thing. It’s like the “promise” of cold fusion. Sounds good. Where is it?

            <sigh>  Let me repeat the relevant words:  “Let’s do a thought experiment about energy, to see if it is bad per se. Suppose someone invented…”

            When someone tells you at the outset that something is a thought experiment, and you interpret it as a statement of possibility or even fact, are they justified in judging you careless or mentally deficient?  Wait, that’s a hypothetical.  You just proved you’re not so good at those….

            Or is it an exercise in “crimestop”?  Have you adopted “Abundant Energy Is Harmful” as dogma, and cannot consider any alterative to it?  That would explain taking expressly-stated hypotheticals as something else, so you can avoid addressing the issue.

            Whatever your motivation, you are not acting as a good-faith participant in a rational discussion.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Ewwwwwwwwwwwww-Pot oh so condescendingly “sighs” and spins rapidly in front of his mirror admiring his self-proclaimed intellectual superiority, SBAN, E-Pot!

            Jimbills is right on target with what he says here and everything after it. I wish I had said it.

            “The basic environmental problem we face is humans overshooting the environment’s ability to absorb pollutive effects and supply resources. Energy and technology (without agreed upon limits, which is a dirty word today) only EXTENDS the human ability to go further into overshoot”.

            E-Pot blathers on about technologies while the mathematics of human population growth and human exploitaton of the environment continue their inexorable march towards our extinction. When?—- not tomorrow, next year, or next century perhaps, but WE have sent the Sixth Extinction on it s way, and we are NOT taking the steps necessary to rein it in.

            Jimbills knows that—E-Pot is too busy twirling in front of his mirror and patting himself on the back to recognize the truth of what jumbills says.


          • “alternative”.  I need to start using the spell-checker, because the typos just aren’t leaping out at me in the current format.

          • jimbills Says:

            You gave a hypothetical that is currently unrealistic, then I answered WHY more energy doesn’t solve the problem, anyway. Sorry that isn’t good enough.


          • You gave a hypothetical that is currently unrealistic

            Which is no excuse to dismiss it as a possibility or goal, and no reason to avoid any essential conclusions of the gedanken experiment.

            then I answered WHY more energy doesn’t solve the problem, anyway.

            Yes, you hand-waved quite vigorously to avoid Crimethink.  You stated “The basic environmental problem we face is humans overshooting the environment’s ability to absorb pollutive effects and supply resources” while carefully avoiding the facts that

            (a) Western populations are below replacement birthrates, and
            (b) decarbonizing energy supplies without adding e.g. new demands on Net Primary Productivity would immediately cut those effects and slash the overshoot, perhaps even eliminating it.

            It is Crimethink to believe that there might be solutions.  That is what bothers you about me.

            Be a Crimethinker.  Leave the Green ideological box.  It’s very liberating.


      • I know you’re a fan of increasing energy use coupled with replacement by low-carbon sources – but that’s just a means of burning all the remaining fossil fuels while decarbonizing JUST the energy grid over several decades.

        No, you have me wrong.  I’m a fan of increasing carbon-free electric generation, and using electricity to push out FF combustion anywhere it can.  Plug-in cars displace petroleum.  Heat pumps displace NG and propane.  We could use an order of magnitude more energy without being more than a rounding error in current climate models; the thing to attack isn’t energy, it’s carbon.  On the one hand, coal is the worst offender.  On the other hand, the USA needs energy security to be able to focus on climate issues, and petroleum imports are a vulnerability; this is why electricity and CNG/LNG should be targeted to eliminate oil imports, even though the direct impact on carbon isn’t quite as high as aiming it all at coal.

        I’m no fan of wind and solar until they are backed by batteries, because gas-fired backup conflicts with both of the other goals.  Does that make things a bit clearer?

        the other sectors of pollution and resource use would just continue to expand in a growing system.

        By the 1960’s, Americans got sick enough of dirty air and water to push growth in the direction of cleaning stuff up.  I think the record is much more encouraging on that point than you do.

        • MorinMoss Says:

          I would say that coal is more than the worst offender, it’s the great deceiver because burning it as we have for so long creates large amounts of a long-lived but weak-to-moderate GHG namely CO2 but also short-lived sulphate aerosols with a strong cooling effect.

          If China follow through on cleaning up all the smog-forming emissions from its coal plants, we’ll quickly all be breathing much warmer but cleaner air.

        • jimbills Says:

          Most this is answered in my response above. But:

          “By the 1960′s, Americans got sick enough of dirty air and water to push growth in the direction of cleaning stuff up. I think the record is much more encouraging on that point than you do.”

          There’s an exponential increase in difficulty and cost from adding SO2 scrubbers to coal plants to replacing those coal plants completely. Our record so far is less than impressive.

          Water quality? Sure, Lake Erie isn’t actually burning these days. This is what it looks like now:

          Oh wait, water is still on fire:


          • Most this is answered in my response above.

            Oblique snarks are not answers.  Taking hypotheticals as assertions is not answering, it’s straw-manning and evasion.

            Water quality? Sure, Lake Erie isn’t actually burning these days. This is what it looks like now:

            Thank you for the dishonesty.  The image you linked is from a page on “Pollution of Lakes and Streams”*, but its caption says “Confined disposal facilities, such as this one in Lake Erie, are areas where dredge spoil is disposed. Although the waste material is contained, contaminants still may seep into the receiving waterbody.”  Nothing whatsoever to do with energy production, typical water conditions in the lake, or anything else of relevance.

            There’s an exponential increase in difficulty and cost from adding SO2 scrubbers to coal plants to replacing those coal plants completely.

            On the contrary, it was proven going on 50 years ago that it is cheaper to replace coal plants than to feed them even without cleaning them up.  What costs exponentially more is exploding, overlapping and often conflicting “safety” regulations that nothing else has to meet.  Few are about safety; most are about protecting fossil fuels from competition.

            Whatever your motivation, you are not acting as a good-faith participant in a rational discussion.

            * Link omitted because of the filter, but the page is easy to find on the image site given its title.

          • jimbills Says:

            I could site hundreds of articles and sources about water quality in the United States. I just gave one photo as a visual for simplicity, but we need to nitpick it apparently.

            My basic points are these – 1) we can solve the problem by greatly lowering energy use and replacing dirty polluters with low polluters, and 2) simply plugging in cleaner energy (by itself) to the current economic system won’t have a significant enough effect on either lowering fossil fuel use this century (for simple economic reasons), and it won’t address all the many other environmental issues we face.

            ONLY imposed limits will work. Jimmy Carter was right all along with his sweaters. We have to ban those environmental practices that threaten ecological stability. No one really talks about this, though. We just pretend that adding tech here and there will magically solve it.

            You have an agenda to argue against this for your own reasons. I think my points are obvious, and time will tell if I’m right or if I’m wrong. If you’re right, or if Kingdube is right, for that matter – fine. We’ll see.

          • jimbills Says:

            “cite” hundreds of articles – der.

            Look, you see me as dogmatic, and that’s fine. I am. But I also see you as dogmatic. I’ve never seen you budge once in any way from your pro-nuclear fervor or any other assumption you have.

            You accuse of willful blindness, and hey, I’m human, maybe I am. But I don’t see where, and I haven’t seen a good case for how I’m wrong. I just don’t swallow the techno-utopia vision of our future and I don’t think that we’re sufficiently advanced in wisdom as a collective species to avoid the traps we’re setting for ourselves. I see a much bleaker future in store, and I like to think this is as objective a viewpoint in looking at the information as is possible.

            So what we have here is simply a case of two people seeing the world in very different ways. I think you’re wrong (not in technical terms as for current technology but in whether or not technology itself can be a real solution to our environmental problems), and I’m right (that technology can help, but that by itself it won’t solve our issues – that we need some deeper human behavioral and economic issues addressed at the same time) – and you think you’re right, and I’m wrong. You’re an engineer, and I’m really more a historian and sociologist – of course we’re likely to view reality from different perspectives.

            It’s all good. I’ve tried to articulate my position as best I can, and I assume you’ve done the same. Best wishes, from one brick wall to another.

  2. fortranprog Says:

    Well done Thom Hartmann, that is the most brilliant piece I’ve seen and says everything I have been thinking. I have shared it on FB and hope views of it multiply (but don’t hold my breath). Judging by the comments in various media in my neck of the woods, I am the only person concerned out of a population of 4.433 million (2012) – I’m sure there are more of us – they’re just too pissed at answering the denial camp too (a local wake up call – minor apocalyptic climate event would do the trick, but I don’t really want that to happen) . If scientists told us that there was a large asteroid on course to hit the Earth in a years time, people would believe that, instead of looking at their calculations and arguing the toss and bring f***king Mother Gaia into it.


  3. Although the point of no return’s parameters are uncertain, Francesco Lupica’s ominous soundtrack is appropriate.


  4. Thelma and Louise are the perfect analogy for our species. Just in case we have not already sealed our doom, we are so very intent on making sure.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Speaking of Thelma and Louise, rumor has it that they are returning in the form of “Palin-Bachmann in 2016”. Get your bumper stickers now.

  5. Alan Roth Says:

    I think this video was almost good, but missed the boat in a few key areas. Mainly it did not present information that we have available and paints a more precarious picture.

    Richard Alley’s book “The Two Mile Time Machine” provides frightening information. Ice core samples show that we have had abrupt global warming 23 times in the past 100,000 years. We don’t need to go back millions of years to see this. Each time, the rise in temperature was between 14 to 18 degrees F. Sediment core samples in other parts of the world showed major climate changes in parallel. Some of those times, the rise took ten to twenty years. Many of those times it took about 3 years! Alley compares those abrupt changes to a yoyo or bungee jumping they were so abrupt.

    We don’t have similar circumstances now and we don’t know what triggered those abrupt changes but we’ve learned that they can happen. We also know that we have circumstances now that threaten us. For some decades, the IPCC has equated the greenhouse strength of methane to CO2 using a 100-year potential. This is what climate scientists have been using to model future change. But methane has an atmospheric lifetime of only 12 years so its strength was prorated over 100 years. When methane first enters the atmosphere, its strength is well over 100 times that of CO2. This aspect of methane is still not actively used in modeling. Thank you IPCC.

    There are 1 trillion tons of carbon in the top 3 meters of the continuous permafrost according to Ted Schuur. Others have predicted that 90% of the continuous permafrost will thaw this century. Much of it will go up as methane since it is heavily ice laden. If just 1 billion tons of it goes up as methane and is 100 times more powerful than CO2, think of how powerful that really is!!

    Add to that the disappearance of Arctic sea ice with the thermal energy now rapidly building up in the Arctic Ocean. That thermal energy will move over the permafrost to thaw it more rapidly. That, together with the methane, can very likely cascade to give us an abrupt climate change that could hit the 6 degree C mark in a decade. We may not have a critical mass of methane yet emitted, but that could happen any year now. And I haven’t even mentioned the notorious methane hydrates!!!

    Methane hydrates are certainly there and certainly are very threatening but we still have a lot more to learn about them. Recent releases of methane have not been large enough as most of it has been dissolving in the water on the way to the surface. But with the rapid heating of the Arctic, one can expect more.

    So I leave you with those additional thoughts to add to the equation.

  6. ubrew12 Says:

    So our reactions to this range from ‘What, Me Worry?’ to ‘Permian Extinction Part Deux’. Once again I think its important to emphasize the Gorilla in the room: the ocean heat mass. Once we all, collectively, have our Mea Culpa moment on this issue, it’ll be 40 years before Nature hears it. Sure, human indifference is tragic in its way. But that’s NOT the indifference we will all care about, when push comes to shove. Whether you fall in the Alfred E Neuman camp, or the ImAGeddon (OuttaHere) camp ™, we can at least agree that something that took 150 years to set in motion can’t be stopped on a dime or even, in Science’s best estimate, in anything less than almost half a century. We need to understand that to focus our evaluation of risk.


  7. […] Planet Earth is going to take a hit in the coming century. It falls mainly to the generation of human beings currently alive to decide if that’s going to be a 5 percent hit, a 50 percent hit, or a 90 percent hit. URL […]


  8. You’re not talking about me, Peter. You’re thoroughly confused.

    I summarize and synthesize science from many sources. Here’s the latest, from Nature Bats Last:

    Ever late to the party, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits global warming is irreversible without geoengineering in a report released 27 September 2013. As pointed out in the 5 December 2013 issue of Earth System Dynamics, known strategies for geoengineering are unlikely to succeed (“climate geo-engineering cannot simply be used to undo global warming“). “Attempts to reverse the impacts of global warming by injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere could make matters worse,” according to research published in the 8 January 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters. Gradual change is not guaranteed, as pointed out by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in December 2013: “The history of climate on the planet — as read in archives such as tree rings, ocean sediments, and ice cores — is punctuated with large changes that occurred rapidly, over the course of decades to as little as a few years.”

    Malcolm Light concluded on 22 December 2013, “we have passed the methane hydrate tipping point and are now accelerating into extinction as the methane hydrate ‘Clathrate Gun’ has begun firing volleys of methane into the Arctic atmosphere.” According to Light’s latest analysis, the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere will resemble that of Venus before 2100. Two weeks later, in an essay stressing near-term human extinction, Light concluded: “The Gulf Stream transport rate started the methane hydrate (clathrate) gun firing in the Arctic in 2007 when its energy/year exceeded 10 million times the amount of energy/year necessary to dissociate subsea Arctic methane hydrates.”

  9. Alteredstory Says:

    http://oceanoxia.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/a-plea-a-reminder-a-call/

    I firmly believe that we can still rise above this. We can’t STOP it, at this point, but we can prevent it from reaching Permian Mass Extinction levels, and if we do it right, we have the wherewithal to create a civilization that’s far, far better than the one we currently have.


  10. Posting again, sans links (which are included at Nature Bats Last)

    You’re not talking about me, Peter. You’re thoroughly confused.

    I summarize and synthesize science from many sources. Here’s the latest, from Nature Bats Last:

    Ever late to the party, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits global warming is irreversible without geoengineering in a report released 27 September 2013. As pointed out in the 5 December 2013 issue of Earth System Dynamics, known strategies for geoengineering are unlikely to succeed (“climate geo-engineering cannot simply be used to undo global warming“). “Attempts to reverse the impacts of global warming by injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere could make matters worse,” according to research published in the 8 January 2014 issue of Environmental Research Letters. Gradual change is not guaranteed, as pointed out by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in December 2013: “The history of climate on the planet — as read in archives such as tree rings, ocean sediments, and ice cores — is punctuated with large changes that occurred rapidly, over the course of decades to as little as a few years.”

    Malcolm Light concluded on 22 December 2013, “we have passed the methane hydrate tipping point and are now accelerating into extinction as the methane hydrate ‘Clathrate Gun’ has begun firing volleys of methane into the Arctic atmosphere.” According to Light’s latest analysis, the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere will resemble that of Venus before 2100. Two weeks later, in an essay stressing near-term human extinction, Light concluded: “The Gulf Stream transport rate started the methane hydrate (clathrate) gun firing in the Arctic in 2007 when its energy/year exceeded 10 million times the amount of energy/year necessary to dissociate subsea Arctic methane hydrates.”

    • jimbills Says:

      Hi Guy,

      The top part is largely accepted science (before the ‘…’), but the bottom part is not. I’ve tried to find Malcolm Light’s credentials, but I’ve only found this on AMEG:
      “Malcolm Light, specialist in earth sciences, blogger at globalwarmingmlight.blogspot.com”

      That website looks like it’s been hijacked. It mentions ” Maximum Powerfull – Obat Kuat Sex”.

      Does Light have another bio or any peer-reviewed scientific studies? Are there any other peer-reviewed articles suggesting the Venus Effect before 2100?

      I’m familiar with the Natalia Shakhova study:
      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=more-arctic-methane-bubbles-into-atmosphere

      Which is definitely concerning, but it’s not a full-blown Venus Effect before 2100. Finally, would you address your thoughts on Gavin Schmidt’s and David Archer’s quotes here?
      http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/08/arctic-methane-hydrate-catastrophe

      Thanks for taking the time here.


      • Light is a retired earth-system scientist. He lives in Germany and teaching English as a second language.

        Of course this kind of material would never pass peer review, which is profoundly conservative. Thus, the potential peers are captives of industrial civilization. The same comment applies to Schmidt and Archer.

        A minor example comes from the February 2013 issue of Global Environmental Change: climate-change scientists routinely underestimate impacts “by erring on the side of least drama.”

        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378012001215


        • “Of course this kind of material would never pass peer review, which is profoundly conservative.”

          You seem to be implying a conspiracy?

          Because, at first blush, I would think that that “kind of materiel” would not pass peer review…..

          …(wait for it)….

          … because it hasn’t been submitted for peer review.

          Has it been submitted for peer review or not?


          • I have no idea if Light has attempted to publish his work. Does anybody here recognize the irony of denigrating non-peer-reviewed work in this space?

          • omnologos Says:

            I don’t know if there is a Chandrasekhar limit for irony mass but I’m sure we’re not far away from it if there is.

          • jimbills Says:

            I think Guy’s definitely right that many scientists will err on the conservative side. I think that’s integral to the scientific process, really. If a scientist doesn’t have 100% certainty in their evidence they risk exposure and ostracism from their peers.

            I also happen to share Guy’s deep skepticism of industrial civilization. Ha ha.

            He’s saying Light’s work isn’t peer-reviewed. As far as I’m aware, there is no peer-reviewed paper claiming a Venus Effect before 2100. Light teaches English in Germany – I’d guess he was an Earth Sciences teacher or something before that.

            Just on a personal stance, my hands are tied with this sort of thing. I’m not a scientist. I can follow concepts but into the details I am not trained to spot errors, and I’m just not willing to trust anyone at any time without sufficient reason. That seems the only reasonable method of avoiding the multiple pitfalls we see in today’s thinking – conspiracies, bogus science, hyper-optimist fantasies, and so on. If I’m to accept Light’s work, why wouldn’t I accept Willie Soon’s or Monckton’s stuff? That likely puts me on the wrong side of some things, but I think it keeps my batting average fairly high.

            I understand that science errs on the side of conservatism, but until I see strong evidence I won’t put faith in anything.

            Now, the focus on 2100 seems besides the point to me. We have a natural desire for drama within our own lifetime, but I think the worst stuff (climate change, ocean acidification, aquifer loss, resource issues, species loss, agricultural degradation, several unintended technological consequences, national border and security issues, nuclear proliferation, and I could go on) is going to play out in more significant ways the next 50-1000 years than the next 50. But that’s an armchair guess based on “conservative” science. Tipping points plus future human action (for instance, employing massive and ill-advised geoengineering) are the great unknown.

    • stephengn1 Says:

      I don’t understand the rational behind actively marketing “We’re all going to die”. It’s never helpful and is hardly ever true.

      The future can not be known in terms that even approach the absolute and humans are as adaptive as cockroaches. However, we do need to start now.

        • stephengn1 Says:

          Again, your reaction – found here:

          Is not helpful

        • stephengn1 Says:

          I’m also aware that like the denier industry, you encourage doing nothing. Thus it is not outside the realm of possibility that you too are on the payroll of the inaction agenda, but are coming at it from the opposite angle.

          • omnologos Says:

            a new episode of “where the climate eagles dare”


          • I see you’re a liar. I have never promoted doing nothing. I live on an off-grid homestead where I use PV solar for water and grow all my own food.

            What are you doing, besides lying about what I’m doing?

          • omnologos Says:

            he is a triple agent. or quadruple, I’ve lost count.

          • stephengn1 Says:

            What do you suggest we do on a SOCIETAL level, beyond your “hospice” society concept?

            The results of denial and the acceptance of our own extinction are largely the same – quiescence

            “What are YOU doing?” is a question simple minded deniers often ask. That said, living off grid and homesteading is admirable.

            No lie was intended. What I said was logical, but I should say that I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

          • omnologos Says:

            I disagree. If the world ends tomorrow I don’t hang around in my quiescence. I party on.

          • stephengn1 Says:

            …smoke coming out of your tailpipe, no doubt

          • jimbills Says:

            “you encourage doing nothing”

            That’s a gross misunderstanding. Guy has been a back-to-the-lander for several years. He’s almost certainly done way more personally than anyone here on this site. He’s said all along that the basic problem is industrial civilization itself. The way you get around environmental problems is to abandon industrial civilization. That’s his solution. Tell me how Exon is going to have someone like him on their payroll.

            Of course, most will laugh at his solution and dismiss it as nonsense while driving their SUV, sipping their latte, and wondering how they’ll be able to afford a couple of solar panels.

          • stephengn1 Says:

            If one accepts that extinction is inevitable, then one must NECESSARILY accept that ultimately nothing (of any real scale) is to be done – regardless of personal choices


          • Extinction has always been inevitable. Ditto for personal death. I suggest we pursue lives of excellence in our limited time on Earth.

          • omnologos Says:

            Great. I’ll get the whisky out. Anybody wishes to see how long it takes to burn a giant sequoia? As it’s going to die anyway, we might as well enjoy the last night together.

            McPh is not even sane enough to understand that he is encouraging destruction himself. Poor Earth with such “defenders”.

          • stephengn1 Says:

            Please insert the word IMMEDIATE behind extinction – which is not necessarily certain.

            I know we’ve trashed the place pretty good, but are you aware of material science research that creates fuel FROM carbon, effectively making carbon NEGATIVE energy – the way plants do?


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