Long piece, excerpted here.
Doomism is Denial in drag.

Jonah Engel Bromwich in the New York Times:

Two years ago, an influential paper suggested that we were too late to save the world.

This paper helped rewrite the direction of British universities, played a major role in reshaping the missions of climate organizations and religious institutions, had a significant impact on British activism and has been translated into at least nine languages. It made its author into something of a climate change messiah.

The report’s prediction of an imminent and unavoidable “societal collapse” from climate change had a striking and immediate effect on many of its readers. Andrew Medhurst, a longtime banker, cited it as one of four factors that made him he leave his job in finance to become a radical climate activist. Joy Carter, the head of a British university, moved immediately to incorporate it into her curriculum.

Alison Green, then an academic, printed it out and passed it out at executive meetings at her university. Galen Hall, now a researcher in the climate and development lab at Brown University, said that it led him to question the value of the climate activism to which he had been committed.

The paper’s central thought is that we must accept that nothing can reverse humanity’s fate and we must adapt accordingly. And the paper’s bleak, vivid details — emphasizing that the end is truly nigh, and that it will be gruesome — clearly resonated.

“When I say starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war, I mean in your own life,” wrote the author, Jem Bendell. “With the power down, soon you wouldn’t have water coming out of your tap. You will depend on your neighbors for food and some warmth. You will become malnourished. You won’t know whether to stay or go. You will fear being violently killed before starving to death.”

Since publication, much of the way the science is summarized in the paper has been debunked by climatologists. But even if the math doesn’t add up, does that make the dark conclusion any less meaningful?

Mr. Bendell said that full apprehension of the extent of the climate crisis is naturally deeply shocking. That, he said, was why the forums needed to exist, as well as why he created the retreats he began hosting in 2019.

For the first retreat, a “safely held and gently facilitated space” to be held on Mount Pelion in Greece, Mr. Bendell emphasized that the focus would be on the inner lives of the participants.

“The focus is on inner adaptation rather than policies for reducing the harm from societal collapse,” he wrote.

The retreat cost 520 euros to 820 euros, depending on the participant’s choice of lodging. Mr. Bendell said he didn’t take any money from it personally because “I don’t need it. And it will complicate my tax affairs.”

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Tony Rice had style to burn.


David Anthony Rice (born June 8, 1951 – December 25, 2020) was an American guitarist and bluegrass musician. He was an influential acoustic guitar player in bluegrass, progressive bluegrass, newgrass and flattop acoustic jazz. He was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

Mysterious large die off of birds in the US Southwest this fall. Investigation continuing.

CBS News story above suggests, among other hypotheses, that smoke from fires could have affected birds lungs.
That has not been born out by subsequent examinations of carcasses, see Guardian story below. There does seem to be an association with extreme weather events. CBS piece does make the point about keeping your damn kitty cats inside.


The mass die-off of thousands of songbirds in south-western US was caused by long-term starvation, made worse by unseasonably cold weather probably linked to the climate crisis, scientists have said.

Flycatchers, swallows and warblers were among the migratory birds “falling out of the sky” in September, with carcasses found in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska. A USGS National Wildlife Health Center necropsy has found 80% of specimens showed typical signs of starvation.

Muscles controlling the birds’ wings were severely shrunken, blood was found in their intestinal tract and they had kidney failure as well as an overall loss of body fat. The remaining 20% were not in good enough condition to carry out proper tests. Nearly 10,000 dead birds were reported to the wildlife mortality database by citizens, and previous estimates suggest hundreds of thousands may have died.

“It looks like the immediate cause of death in these birds was emaciation as a result of starvation,” said Jonathan Sleeman, director of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, which received 170 bird carcasses and did necropsies on 40 of them. “It’s really hard to attribute direct causation, but given the close correlation of the weather event with the death of these birds, we think that either the weather event forced these birds to migrate prior to being ready, or maybe impacted their access to food sources during their migration.”

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Denial strikes deep.

The Guardian:

Cambridge, Massachusetts, has become the first US city to mandate the placing of stickers on fuel pumps to warn drivers of the resulting dangers posed by the climate crisis.

The final design of the bright yellow stickers, shared with the Guardian, includes text that warns drivers the burning of gasoline, diesel and ethanol has “major consequences on human health and the environment including contributing to climate change”.

The stickers will be placed on all fuel pumps in Cambridge, which is situated near Boston and is home to Harvard University, “fairly soon” once they are received from printers, a city spokesman confirmed.

“The city of Cambridge is working hard with our community to fight climate change,” the spokesman added. “The gas pump stickers will remind drivers to think about climate change and hopefully consider non-polluting options.”

One Earth:

While twentieth century sea-level rise was dominated by thermal expansion of ocean water, mass loss from glaciers and ice sheets is now a larger annual contributor. There is uncertainty on how ice sheets will respond to further warming, however, reducing confidence in twenty-first century sea-level projections. In 2019, to address the uncertainty, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that sea-level rise from the 1950s levels would likely be within 0.61–1.10 m if warming exceeds 4°C by 2100.

The IPCC acknowledged greater sea-level increases were possible through mechanisms not fully incorporated in models used in the assessment. In this perspective, we discuss challenges faced in projecting sea-level change and discuss why the IPCC’s sea-level range for 2100 under strong warming is focused at the low end of possible outcomes. We argue outcomes above this range are far more probable than below it and discuss how decision makers may benefit from reframing IPCC’s terminology to avoid unintentionally masking worst-case scenarios.

The phrase “Under strong warming” doing a lot of work here.
Let’s see what we can do to avoid that.

Below, Macarthur Genius Grant winner Andrea Dutton PhD on the deceptive nature of sea level rise..

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If you want to preserve farmland, preserve farmers.

What we’re seeing across the midwest, for both wind and solar energy, is that the additional income, predictable and drought proof, is helping keep farmers on the land. Above, CBS News report on cranberry growers in Massachusetts, who have added solar to their mix, and are able to grow berries between the panels – dual use.

Below, University of Michigan researcher Sara Mills discusses her research in Wind farm communities across Michigan. With wind turbines, farmers derive additional income from the wind, but also continue farming normally – a win-win.

Trailer: Death to 2020

December 25, 2020

Let’s make 2021 the year we get serious.

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Two takes from CNBC finance people.