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Arctic Permafrost Defrosting and the Age of War and Revolution

2017 March 10
by Ian Welsh

Globe on FireFor well over a decade, I have written that we are past the point of no return on climate change. My reasoning was that hothouse gasses already in the atmosphere, or which were for sure going to enter the atmosphere given our lack of action, were enough to trigger massive carbon and methane releases.

Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon…

We’ve seen that methane, which accounts for only 14 percent of emissions worldwide, traps up to 100 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a five-year period. This means that even though carbon dioxide molecules outnumber methane 5 to 1, this comparatively smaller amount of methane is still 19 times greater a problem for climate change over a five year period, and four times greater over a 100 year period.

It is even more potent in the short run. Meanwhile, the arctic circle was about 30 degrees warmer this year than normal, and permafrost is un-perma-ing.

Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers. A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth—an expanse the size of Alabama…

…Similar large-scale landscape changes are evident across the Arctic including in Alaska, Siberia, and Scandinavia

There is no way we are avoiding near-worst case scenarios for climate change without aggressive geo-engineering (completly unproven, and requires political willpower). We will see temperature increases in some parts of the world which are currently highly populated. These increases will make those places uninhabitable outside of air conditioning. Changes in rainfall patterns will large current agricultural powerhouses to fail; an effect which will be compounded by the fact that we have vastly drained and polluted our groundwater in prime agricultural areas.

Later on, we will see vast rises in the ocean level. Virtually every city sitting on a seashore today will be gone in a hundred years, some of them a lot sooner.

This stuff is baked into the cake. It is essentially unavoidable. It has been effectively and politically unavoidable for quite some time now.

Do not expect the political, economic, and social arrangements you favor to survive this. The waves of refugees will be magnitudes larger than those currently shaking the Middle East and Europe. There will be water wars; people will not sit still while they are dying, they will fight. Some of those wars will involve, at the least, the use of tactical nukes.

Capitalism, Democracy, the Chinese Communist Party, etc…any system and group of people who can reasonably be blamed for this, will likely be on the block. When hundreds of millions to billions start dying, they will not go gently into that long dark night. No, they and those they leave behind will look for people, ideologies, and organizations to blame, and they will plenty of them, because everyone and everything who had any power has failed to prevent an entirely forseen and largely preventable disaster.

Our failure will not be considered acceptable to those who pay the bill, and our “capitalism” and “democracy” and “corporations” and “free trade” and everything else you can think of will be on the block, liable for destruction.

This is coming on faster than many expected. Added to ecosphere collapse, the current cyclical capitalist sclerosis, and vast arsenals, it is going to be immensely damaging.

If you aren’t old, or sick, you’re going to suffer some of this. If you’re young, you’re going to suffer a lot of this, assuming you aren’t an early casualty.

So it is. So it shall be. We were warned, we chose not to act, because corporations needed profits or something.

So be it.

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122 Responses
  1. March 13, 2017

    Attacking global warming requires collective action by governments and regulations and not consumerist-oriented individual sacrifice gestures. The latter is nothing more than “virtue signalling” and hair-shirt wearing for which environmentalists have only ever earned public pillory, the former is the real thing.

    If you believe that the risks of world government to the things you value is higher than the risk of climate change being real, then rejecting action on climate change is the right choice. Take BOO: he values the sovereignty of the racial nation-state so highly, the immense cost of the climate change risk coming true is something he is willing to accept. That is certainly a consistent position.

  2. Anti Schmoo permalink
    March 13, 2017

    Everything you know is shit.
    Everything you think is shit.
    Everything you have been taught is shit.
    Everything you say is shit.
    And everything you believe is shit…
    Thayer Dowd

  3. Peter permalink
    March 13, 2017


    I’m glad to see you have remained skeptical of the less than ethical Warmer agenda and now that they have been defeated politically more people will be exposed to fact based denials of the lies, propaganda and conditioning about AGW.

    As we have seen some true believers will never be capable of shedding their almost religious special knowledge and facing the fact they have been conned but then many of them still mistake weather for climate.

  4. March 13, 2017


    “With recordkeeping beginning in 1880, 16 of the 17 warmest years have occurred since 2000. 1998 is the lone outlier. 2016, 2015, and 2014 were the hottest years on record, and in that order.”

    Tony Heller claims there’s been little or no warming since the 1940’s. If you take a look at US temperature “adjustments” to some NASA data, which just so happens to be what is necessary to make net temperature track CO2 increases, it SHOULD give you pause.

    Heller was a “true believer” in global warming from 1980 – 2003. After examining, in detail, how the climate catastrophism sausage is made, he swung over to the other side. Another lecture of his, but with integrated graphics, is here:

  5. March 13, 2017

    “I’m glad to see you have remained skeptical of the less than ethical Warmer agenda and now that they have been defeated politically more people will be exposed to fact based denials of the lies, propaganda and conditioning about AGW.”

    Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Robert David Steele has described Trump as “an accidental President”, as “very smart” bookeepers had put his chances at 1/20, Hillary hadn’t followed the script, resulting in voting machines being secured, etc., etc.. I couldn’t help but notice, during the campaign, that Trump’s “movement” was basically a word he applied to his followers. Trump may be, in many ways, a populist, but he’s a “top down” populist, who shows little tendency to follow Steele’s advice to expand his base. (Unfortunately, as I think Steele’s suggestions are just what the doctor ordered, if not brilliant.)

    We can see that the healthcare proposal he’s pushing, put together by Paul Ryan (freezing out conservatives, not to mention single payer memes), is hardly revolutionary. Not surprising, as re-election of incumbents was over 90%.

    The potential for regressive carbon taxes seems too tempting for Establishment Republicans to deep six by bringing things to a head. Whether the Trump Administration could (or would) do it, basically by themselves, remains to be seen. Just defunding EPA, and the like, isn’t going to make the fraud go away, though it may mute it, somewhat, until the next administration gets installed.

    If the Trump Administration seriously wanted to destroy CO2 catatstrophism, and weren’t politically clueless, I suppose they’d
    1) prosecute data fudgers
    2) launch RICO suits against scientific societies that basically published propaganda letters, pretending to speak for their members (as per Lindzen, they used similar language which didn’t echo what the IPCC reports actually said, but rather what propagandists said that the IPCC reports said)
    3) give educational speeches on climate science, using the bully pulpit of the Presidency
    4) go after scientific fraud, in general, which is certainly NOT confined to climate science

    Activists shouldn’t wait around to see what Republicans will do. I have, e.g., advocated shareholder lawsuits against Exxon Mobil management, ostensibly for their lack of a savvy, clearly defined strategy for dealing with “global warming”, but which has the essential goal, of learning through legal discovery, what Exxon Mobil REALLY knew.

    I’m sure their scientists collectively knew at least as much as I know, and if their management somehow didn’t, all the more reason for shareholders to sue them.

  6. wendy davis permalink
    March 13, 2017

    while musing about ‘racism’ and population control, the images i had concerning the western european imperial projects seemed to have their loci in religious rulers twined w/ kings, emperors, and other rulers depending on the locals one considers. using the crusades as one example, then pope urban wanted the holy land for the church, and i reckon he and his armies actually believed that their god commanded them to set up christian cities and rule them, much in the way that the imperial project on turtle island was an expression of god’s ‘manifest destiny’, and after all, the papal doctrine of discovery gave them the holy right to either convert or kill any ‘non-christian’ pagans who interfered w/ their claims of ‘settling’ the continent. how easy it must have been to see the them pesky redskins as less than human, or: the other. and the doctrine still stands today.

    and oh, my, were the original inhabitants either ‘civilized and converted’, sent to catholic and later mormon, boarding schools, enslaved at catholic missions, or just plain massacred.

    i’m not sure how large a part christianity per se played in the european conquests of the global south, but bye, bye, indigenous again. perhaps it was mainly riches and lands that were the draw; others may know better than i. but i’ve read that in mexico, maximilian by way of napoleon, was greeted as emperor even by some who opposed benito juarez. there are always compradors available, no? look at obama, most recently. but sure, most neo-colonial projects have the similar themes: ‘the others’ are either expendable, or used in rentier finance projects and schemes, and it’s certainly as much a class construct as racial/ethnic, isn’t it?

    in africa, christian missionaries were some of the first europeans to arrive post- stanley and livingstone, as i remember it. their hubris and superiority helped lead to the breakup of sustainable villages with the ‘aid’ of capitalists who always knew what they needed: ‘sorry this road has to go right through your village!’ or ‘dayum, this river should be diverted for more and better crops!’ and so on. but western paternalism and arrogance has always been a feature, not a bug, no? who knows what africa would have been like w/o Imperial help? if bill gates happens to make a shitload of money in his ‘humantarian efforts’, it’s just gravy. “oops, sorry that vaccine killed so many indian kids; we meant well”. today’s iteration of the crusades includes killing mass numbers of muslims who are just in the way of Capitalistic resource theft, but w/ a twist: the empire is wedded to saudi wahhabism, as well, hence: the many proxy wars v. shi’ites.

    if there’s an over-arching global theme for those who’re angling for revolution in aid of an egalitarian and just world for all, anti-capitalist self-determination seems to be key.

  7. Mike permalink
    March 13, 2017

    You lot are all pretty hilarious. Don’t you all see that is is instinctual human behaviour to grow, to expand. And that any non-immediate threats to that instinct will be filtered out and ignored or at best, paid lip service to. Hence, no one actually DOES anything about climate change, because it isn’t going to threaten us in the next 30 seconds. We are doomed by our very own subconscious nature. And meanwhile you just go on calling each other names.

  8. Hugh permalink
    March 13, 2017

    Tony Heller by the way is a blogger who wrote under the name Steven Goddard and has a website called Real Science. He has a BS in geology and an MS in electrical engineering. He is a well known climate change denying quack.

  9. Peter permalink
    March 13, 2017


    It’s not easy to draw accurate conclusions when many of the Warmers are fanatics who fabricate a story line and some of the Deniers seem to be nuts. What I have noticed is that the Deniers have been asking the right questions and uncovering the methods used to sculpt the data to fit the Warmer agenda. Even somewhat crazy people can do good work when they concentrate on reality.

    The Warmers are taking another simpler path of just circling the wagons, spouting more propaganda and accusations of victimhood. They’ve shown themselves to be untrustworthy and unable to defend or correct their errors so more people refuse to believe them.

    The Warmer’s first, and hopefully last, attempt to impose world government type mandates in the US failed when the Obama/EPA Clean Power Plan was blocked by the Supreme Court and then rejected by the Trump administration. This along with the destruction of the Warmer power bases in the EPA and elsewhere may allow other more mainstream researchers to speak out about the corruption in this agenda without fear of defunding or harassment from the Warmer establishment.

  10. March 13, 2017


    A “quack”, eh? Do tell us, won’t you, why Heller qualifies as a “quack”? He’s mostly about data and historical records, so the quack charge doesn’t make much sense. If he made up data, or if his newspaper clippings were fabricated, that would be one thing (though better described as fraud, IMO). AFAIK, nobody has ever caught him fabricating ANYTHING.

    It seems to me that calling a Heller a “quack” is just an easy way to avoid dealing with the treasure trove of information he’s revealed, which calls into question the integrity of the “climate science” establishment. There’s an implicit appeal to authority and a facile ad hominem, not to mention a complete avoidance of serious arguments against his findings.

    Surely you can do better than that – if you’re serious.

  11. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    March 13, 2017

    Guys like Hugh are a puzzle. They can see the self-serving fraud of the managerial class, the lies, spin and faked data — but somehow when it comes to Climate, Inc. they’re perfectly credulous. Everyone has rabbit-holes they don’t want to pursue, but the put-on certainty is a bit – dare I say it – authoritarian.

  12. Hugh permalink
    March 13, 2017

    Please keep talking. You discredit yourselves better than I ever could.

  13. March 14, 2017

    Sure thing.

    For anyone else reading this thread, who wants to know yet more about why taking climate science as free from scandals that plague other areas of science is a laughable proposition, they can read Dr. Tim Ball’s book “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science”.(His lectures are on youtube, also.) For good information on how the framing of IPCC report and process is grossly misleading, they can watch Donna LaFramboise’s interview: . For a scientist who has worked in the climate field, who is not afraid to use the “F” word – FRAUD – see another 50 to 1 interview:

    For perspective on dysfunctional scientific ‘culture’ (anthropology, sociology), they can read the books “The Trouble with Physics” and “Not Even Wrong”. (mostly, but not totally, about the particle physics community). Dr. Denis Rancourt, an idealistic lefty physicist, has a couple of relevant websites. Especially articles dealing with the peer review process, by David Noble. See and

    Dr. Patrick Michaels covers “positive results corruption”, which afflicts science, generally, in

    Dr. Happer and Dr. Lindzen have both worked on climate models, and are so-called “climate change deniers”. Neither actually denies that climate changes, nor that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and the work of both actually make quantitative predictions about the warming effect of CO2.

    And both report that framing grant proposals in a way claims some relationship to CO2 catastrophism can make all the difference in getting $funded$.

    Yours truly used to play basketball with a guy at the Princeton YMCA, who has come across 6 scientists in his career, that claimed a CO2 catastrophism angle that didn’t actually exist. His job involved interviewing scientists for jobs.

    At least when he asked them, regarding things on their resumes “What does this have to do with climate science?”, he got honest answers. (“Nothing”) Unfortunately, most American taxpayers don’t have such opportunities, and probably would be clueless if they were just lied to, anyway.

    As Denis Rancourt writes in “Beware Anti-“Pseudo-Science” Agitation” @

    “Realistically, virtually all citizens are entirely unable to critically evaluate what we take as being scientific truth, regarding public policy and regulatory questions. Thus, “public education” means state propaganda. We are reduced to “scientists have concluded” or “there is a scientific consensus that” and so on.”

    I have, in years past when I payed much more attention to climate science, argued that retired climate scientists be polled about their quantitative and statistical convictions regarding the climate models. “Retired” being a key word, as they are no longer economically motivated to distort their answers, no longer have to worry about making tenure, no longer have graduate scientists to support, etc. This proposal was generally met with crickets (not even a pretense of enthusiastic agreement!).

    I’m left with the impressions that many proponents of CO2 catastrophism actually feel they’re on shaky ground, even if they can’t process, with any certainty, why that would be so…. or admit it, publicly….

  14. BlizzardOfOzzz permalink
    March 14, 2017

    Bruce Charlton is insightful on the subject of the corruption of science generally.

  15. March 14, 2017


    There were some nuggets in there that resonated with what the string theory critics and/or the climate scientists have complained about or called for. E.g., Lindzen has called for climate science to be cut by 80 – 90% “until the field cleans up”.

    Unfortunately, the funniest + saddest resonance is with the following: “(The primary and fundamental act of scientific dishonesty is: denial of the pervasive reality of scientific dishonesty.)”

    After reading about 1/4, I started skimming. There were few real life details, no statistical evidence for his claims – this is a very personal account, more a reflection on science, with no evidential references, and quotes that were mostly either of philosophers, or sort of “wise man pronouncements” by scientists or philosophers (even a novelist), which spoke to his still-present youthful idealism.

    Ah, near the end of his article he gets on about evidence.

    “The fact that I have not referenced the text of this book comes partly from idleness, partly from the desire to make the reading experience more enjoyable; but mostly from my intention – or at least hope – of opening eyes to the obvious, of clarifying the already-known – rather than persuading by weight of (supposed) facts.
    (If you need persuading, then you cannot be persuaded.)
    Evidence of the corruption of science, its endemic dishonesty, is all around us and everywhere we look – we need merely to allow the scales to fall from our eyes, need merely to remove our blinkers.
    To pick-up and examine specific items of dishonesty is merely to diminish the impact of the overwhelming whole by arbitrary, piecemeal and detached consideration.
    Nonetheless in the past I have tried to do exactly this – to document the corruptions of modern ‘science’ with referenced papers.
    So, for those who want ‘evidence’, here is a list of my previous publications on themes covered by this book, some of them statistical and historical, replete with a wide range of references to further literature.”

    Well, his statement “If you need persuading, then you cannot be persuaded” is ridiculous. Both the author of “Not Even Wrong” and “The Trouble with Physics” reported that their books did not have the impact they’d hoped for, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. IMNSHO, Bruce Charlton should have tried harder to write a more evidence based summary, if he’s serious about reforming the system. Perhaps he mostly wanted to righteously rant.

    As I recall, not long after Wrong and Trouble, new hires for particle theory positions stopped going exclusively to string theorists. Charlton may want to try again….

  16. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    March 14, 2017

    metamars, I’m working through the links you posted. That 50 to 1 interview with David Evans is very good.

    What you say about Charlton is true of his style in general. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but his writing has deeply influenced my worldview.

    The whole global warming thing has long fascinated me, not as a science as such, but as its operation as a pseudo-religion (or more exactly, as it seems to me now, as a millennial strain of the pseudo-religion of progressivism). I recently started reading De Jouvenel’s “On Power, Its History and the Nature of its Growth”. De Jouvenel locates the origins of power in magic, specifically in rites controlled by the elders that were meant to appease nature. He gives an astonishing example which you might suffer me to quote:

    In the Bismarck Archipelago, apparitions of the divine monster, called the Dukduk, awaken at intervals the state of religious panic which holds society together. Before any trace of the new moon’s crescent can be seen, the women hide themselves, for they know that it is death to see the god. The men of the tribe gather on the shore; there to the beating of drums they raise their voices in song — as much to conceal their own fears as to do honour to the Dukduks. When dawn comes there are seen on the water five or six canoes, tied together to support a platform: upon the platform flutter two ten-foot-high beings. At the moment of this contraption coming to shore, the Dukduks jump forth onto the beach, whereat those present scatter in terror: woe to the impious man who should touch these monsters—death by the tomahawk would be his fate. The Dukduks revolve around each other in a dance which they accompany with shrill cries. Thereafter they disappear into the undergrowth, where a house, crammed with presents, has been made ready for them. When evening comes they reappear, the one armed with staves and the other with a club: the men, drawn up in line, let themselves be beaten by them till blood is drawn and faintness supervenes—sometimes even to the death.

    De Jouvenel goes on to comment:

    Are the two Elders who are dressed up as Dukduks aware that it is all an imposture? Do they do it for the sake of the natural advantages which thereby come to them, and to secure their rule over the society’s life? Or do they really believe in the existence of the occult powers to which this play-acting of theirs gives sensible form? Who can tell? Do they know themselves? Whatever may be the answer, we have here a Power, religious, social, and political, other than which these tribes have none: it is centred in these play-actors.

    It will probably seem like a reach to find in warmism a deep connection to this kind of ancient ritual — the high priests securing power as appeasers of monsters, even though the monsters are given physical form by the play-acting of the priests themselves. But one of De Jouvenel’s themes is that each growth and iteration of power inherits in a sense the more primitive form.

  17. March 14, 2017

    Well, I figured out around the age of 7 that human beings were fundamentally irrational. If you read the chapter on Religion, in E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology, you can appreciate this as an evolutionary feature, not a bug. It’s become more of a bug nowadays, as humans have a great deal of power (nuclear weapons, genetic engineering, etc.), quite unlike the environment where tribalism and even irrationality had great survival value.

    The similarities between CO2 catastrophism and religion have been remarked on, by others. I don’t doubt, at all, that for many CO2 catastrophists, genes for religion are playing a role. I tend to ascribe this phenomenon more towards laymen, who don’t have favorable backgrounds to know when they’re being fooled with science-y sounding and looking stuff. Also, activists who also don’t have favorable backgrounds.

    Having said that, I’m sure there are scientists who are true believers. E.g., Dr. Alan Robock was interviewed for, and he seems to really believe in the world view he’s propounding.

    At the end of the day, though, human inventions like logic and serious debates should help us overcome SOME of our irrational tendencies. Motivation for using these tools should also flow from scientific ethics, another human invention. It’s not for nothing that Lee Smolin addressed scientific ethics in “The Trouble with Physics”.

    Thus, the scarcity of qualified debaters who are willing to take on the most qualified scientific skeptics for something that they SAY is an existential crisis doesn’t shine a positive light on their scientific integrity. But like the elders dressed up as Dukduks, who really knows what goes on in their heads? If their dominant behavioral mode is religious, they may ‘honestly’ view supporting what the Climategate perps called “the Cause” to be far more important than less-than-sacred ethics. If they emote and act towards the skeptics like they’re “evil spirits”, scientific ethics will have to take a back seat….

  18. Peter permalink
    March 15, 2017

    I don’t think that religion is the best way to describe this Warmer phenomenon although it does display some behaviors we view as religious. First there is no supernatural element involved and the people the most likely to reject this belief are the more religious conservatives.

    To me this disease seems to be a post modern cult of liberalism built and fed by powerful technocratic manipulators with economic and political agendas. The rubes who blindly follow these Al Gores are useful tools who have been conditioned to wallow in victimhood and erupt in outrage when anyone challenges the technocrat’s agendas.

    With so many people indoctrinated into this Warmer cult it won’t be easy to deprogram but the destruction of their power bases in government is a good start. This group and the snowflakes seem to be mostly the same people so their political banishment with no sign of resurgence is another positive development.

    Possibly the last large scale Warmer related PR campaign is over with oil soon to flow through the Dakota pipeline. I supported the tribes for reasons other than stopping the pipeline but the aftermath of the camps and demonstrations leaves little hope that they or their supporters can represent environmentalism. The camp cleanup cost over a million dollars with over 600 dumpsters needed to remove the rubbish that was threatening to pollute the lake they were supposed to be protecting.

  19. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    March 15, 2017

    I watched the Tony Heller video you linked. Now that was an eye-opener. Wow. So the chart that SterwartM linked, showing temperatures rising over the past century, is not based on raw measurements, but “corrected” ones.

    As you say, no doubt many are true believers. But clearly this is not “science” as we understand it, but rather power politics. I’d argue that we just saw something of the same provenance in the Trump/Russia narrative. The progressive hive mind seizes on some meme — its truth or falsity doesn’t matter, so long as it’s meretricious, and capable of whipping up the faction into a righteous fury. If they succeed in a putsch, its mythology would become official history, and anyone who questioned it would be a “conspiracy theorist” or an “extremist”, etc.

    I remember reading that Lee Smolin book years ago, and I followed Peter Woit’s blog for a while. The collapse of physics over the past century is a real catastrophe, and it’s only part of the broader decline of elite culture and institutions. Bruce Charlton has evidence that even average intelligence has been in steady decline since the Victorian era. Of course our elites will not touch any of these questions, except on the fringe and in a jokey way (as in “Idiocracy”). In a way we’re in the position of the fabled Irish monks from the middle ages — all we can do is try to absorb the best knowledge and wisdom from the past, and pass it forward to future generations who might be able to re-build.

  20. March 17, 2017

    “no longer have graduate scientists to support”

    should have been

    “no longer have graduate students to support”

  21. jump permalink
    March 17, 2017

    Totally agree Ian. We have cooked ourselves slowly like those frogs in a pot. Add mass migration, famine and water wars and the only option I see is ‘war of all against all’. It will not be pretty.
    I have resigned myself to this outcome. Saddened but not surprised. I do what I can in my corner of the world to further the experiment of mankind in the best way possible. We are our brother’s keepers. We cannot be happy while there is someone who is not. But strive we must and our evolution will continue–although with much fewer people and a drastically altered world.

    The modern world is fine.
    Humanity is fine.
    Economy is not fine, and all us depend on it.

    Is the world and humanity fine if we cannot recognize our own souls and therefore the souls of others? Agreed on the economy.

    Your server is still a bit wonky Ian. It can take a week before I see new posts on the site.

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