The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Quick Takes 5: The Year Climate Change Became Undeniable

Only someone ignorant, stupid or on the payroll could deny climate change before 2023, but this is the year where to remain in denial you have to be 5-sigma stupid or on the payroll.

So, boys and girls, let’s look at some of the highlights of what will be one of the coldest years of the rest of your life.

Let’s start with Antarctic sea ice extent. Remember, this is during WINTER.

For years I’ve said that marine inundation (sea level rises) would happen before most people expect it. And I’ll be right.

Next, we have more winter fun. 35 degrees celcius in Chile.

Well, that seems… bad.

Now for the lovely long-term view:

What’s super about the aboe graph, is that I’ll lay you 4:1 it is over-optimistic. By a lot.

There’s a vast amount of delusion about how bad global warming will be. People talk about 1.5 C, or 2 C, or 3 C.

How about +10C as the equilibrium? This is from a pre-print, but it’s not unreasonable:

Equilibrium global warming for today’s GHG level is 10°C for our central estimate

Now, the guys who made the above estimate are on the gloom side and as they themselves say, blackballed, but everyone who’s been paying attention knows that essentially everything has been coming in sooner and worse than expected. Are you going to bet on the consensus forecasts made for politicians that have consistently under-estimated climate change?


Next we have Farmer’s Insurance leaving Florida. The time when home owners insurance won’t be available anywhere unless the government underwrites it is withing sight.

Ocean water is warming up. In the more tropical areas it’s destroying coral, but it’s damn impressive in the north, too:

Spain, July 7th.

My guess is that most of the Mediterranean area will not be inhabitable during the summer in ten to twenty years. If you don’t have air conditioning, you will die.

Then there’s the whole “jellyfish future”:

Oxygen levels in the world’s oceans have already dropped more than 2 per cent between 1960 and 2010, and they are expected to decline up to seven per cent below the 1960 level over the next century. Some patches are worse than others — the top of the northeast Pacific has lost more than 15 per cent of its oxygen. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2019 special report on the oceans, from 1970 to 2010, the volume of “oxygen minimum zones” in the global oceans — where big fish can’t thrive but jellyfish can — increased by between three and eight per cent.

I for one welcome the ocean’s new Jellyfish overlords.

We’ll talk more about the implications of all this soon, including the implications for you personally.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 30, 2023


Preparing For Collapse During Collapse


  1. NR

    Ian, another example is what’s been happening in Arizona. The asphalt there is getting so hot during the day that people have passed out from the heat and gotten burned when they fell down on it. And I’m not talking about merely unpleasant or painful burns, they’ve gotten extremely serious, life-threatening third degree burns. From falling down on asphalt.

    I’d say that this might be the year that America wakes up to the reality of climate change, but unfortunately, “5-sigma stupid” describes a huge number of Americans.

  2. Willy

    Scientists are a cautious lot. They usually have both the temperament to wait for and then weigh out all the variables which present themselves, and they usually possess the basic hard-knocks common sense of somebody who dislikes being hammered by respectable peers.

    The methane release situation in the arctic is especially concerning. Yet even these scientists seem to still need time to be absolutely sure before offering opinions and projections. I sometimes wish they were as paranoid and alarmist as some deniers try to make them out to be.

    But try telling that to an emotional Dunning Kruger denier who “just knows everything”. “It’s snowing outside” means far more to them than credentialed people whose careers involve adding up yearly high and low temperatures and then comparing them with past years. And then it’s okay, so it must be some kind of mysterious sun cycle. Until it snows again.

  3. StewartM

    Meanwhile, to own the libs, the Heritage Foundation has just released Project 2025:

    Not only that, it will give the next President (they think it’s an R) sweeping new powers:

    If the next president is a Republican, it doesn’t matter whether that person is Donald Trump. Political infrastructure is being put in place, so any Republican administration will gut federal agencies from environmental protection to education to national security; obliterate the independence of the Justice Department and federal law enforcement agencies; and fire career civil servants and replace them with ideological apparatchiks hostile to the mission of the agencies that employ them.

    If conservatives get this wish list, the only constraint on presidential authority would be impeachment and the courts. But congressional Republicans, we know, would refuse to impeach, let alone convict, a GOP president even if he or she is blatantly guilty of extorting foreign leaders for personal gain and inciting a mob that endangered their lives. Because the Senate increasingly gives undue power to rural conservative states, Republicans have a hammerlock on the 34 senators needed for an acquittal.

    Makes sense. If you plan to cook the peons alive, you don’t want them being able to change things by democracy, do you?

  4. Trinity

    “everyone who’s been paying attention knows that essentially everything has been coming in sooner and worse than expected.” Yes. The IPCC said back in the late 2000s they were choosing the more “moderate” scenarios.

    Just want to also note this is an El Niño year, and it is still expected that (as of right now) the La Niña cycle will continue (will come back). There’s also wondering amongst the climate scientists if, when and how that cycle will change or end (a permanent El Niño?)

    The Northern Hemisphere Jet Stream globally is getting locked in place, and this is also “not usual” (Phoenix, San Antonio, etc.). CS’s are also wondering if its cyclical nature will lock down permanently instead of altering (daily) as it used to do in the past.

    So yup, Ian, you are right, I’m just adding a couple of footnotes. But the corals don’t necessarily die forever, they can in many cases come back. The expectation over time, however, is that they will eventually hit a point of “never to return”. In this they share commonalities with quite a few North American cities.

  5. different clue

    I would add ” evil” and “nihilistic” to your list of Sigma 5 Stupid or On The Payroll.

    Here is an example of evil at work . . .

    I remember reading about how at another time Pat Robertson said that Global Warming was real and was a sign of the Coming End Times and that anyone who worked against Global Warming was working against the Coming of the End Times and was doing the work of Satan by trying to prevent or reverse Global Warming.

    If he ever changed his mind and pronouncements about that, it would be good to know.

    And about nihilism, I suspect that millions of lower class people have given up on ever achieving any improvement in their condition and have decided to wish for the world to burn so badly that the flames reach all the way to the top of the Social Class Ladder.
    They have reached the state of Terminal Jokerism . . . . they just want to watch the world burn in hopes that they can see a burning world burn up all the rich people too.

    In the meantime, those who wish to “save something” might be advised to focus on “blue majority areas” and figure out how to get those areas to virtually stealth-seccede in place and create lower-energy survival lifeboat-fortress economies. And reduce to as near-zero as feasible their use of energy from the majority MAGApublican areas.

    Instead of Blue versus Red, they could introduce a new simple shorthand binary identification scheme . . . Green versus Coal Black. The Blue-Green zone versus the Coaly Roller zone.

    Now is the time to help all possible global warming realists move out of the “coming hot zones” and help all possible global warming denialists move into them . . . within the United States itself.

  6. Soredemos

    When it comes to issues of empire and class warfare, in other circumstances I’d actually be pretty optimistic. On a long enough timeline things would sooner or later get better, if probably never ideal. Peasant rebellions, etc.

    The problem now, unique in all human history it seems, is that we have no timeline left. It’s all going to fucking collapse.

  7. different clue

    The global warming denialists will keep denializing it louder than ever. They will call it “natural cycles” or “liberal fake data” or whatever they want to call it. Some will call it God’s Will and the Fulfillment of Prophecy.

    The only hope that global warming realists have for survival is to figure out how to get the denialists to self-sort themselves into particular regions of the country and out of realist-majority regions of the country. The realist majority in the Reality Zones can then try to create their own separate survival adaptationist lifeboat-fortress societies. Those zones will probably have to militarize and garrisonise themselves enough to be able to withstand eventual attacks and invasion attempts from the denialist zones.

    The only way for Canada to protect itself against floods of a hundred million or more climate refugees would be to invite a hundred million Chinese to settle along the the Canada side of the Canada-US border and agree to be a permanent living garrison community, holding the border and holding the line. Missiles have been suggested as a “deterrent” but I don’t think that missiles will deter a hundred million hungry thirsty refugees.

  8. Chipper

    Where does that 10C equilibrium come from? It’s not that I don’t believe it, but I do like to go to the sources when I can, and nothing amuses me more than reading about how everything is actually much worse than I already think it is.

    And finally a good use for Six Sigma: designating levels of stupidity.

  9. Ian Welsh

    Chipper, argh. Didn’t realize the link wasn’t there. My bad. Added to article and below.

  10. Chuck Mire

    Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

    (A long and extremely detailed article from 2017. What’s amazing is how spot-on the article is in 2023 now that several tipping points are rapidly approaching.)

  11. different clue

    Here’s a little cartoon from Tom Tomorrow illustrating what we can expect from the amateur global warming denialist layfolk in the field. The hotter it gets, the louder they will get and the harder they will troll. We can expect more of this –and then more and more– for years to come.

  12. capelin

    Ah, charts. So graphic, so contectual.

    Like the above “extremetemps” chart, conveniently starting a mere 20k years ago… as the last ice age fades and “Canada” emerges from under solid ice … and wow, look, temps climb! Water rises! Run for the hills!

    Let’s see that chart, but showing several ice-thaw cycles.

    Yes humans are accelerating things, and we should stop, but (in case it was missed) the whole thing is being spun up and weaponized by the very private-jet elites causing all our problems.

    Bio poisoning is a bigger-faster threat; and we don’t fix ANYTHING with our current Governance.

    Again: What’s the carbon footprint of the (climate accords exempt, like all military) Ukraine War?

    We are not serious about fixing things.

  13. Willy

    Think Putin will demand negotiations on behalf of the climate? As for those dangblasted NATO elites, maybe they just want the freedom to be elites? They’ll manage climate change even if they have to move their estates in Greenland. Elites of all stripes feel it less because it effects them less. Me, I just want my PNW forest sword ferns, western hemlocks, salal and rhodies back, since it’s most of what I’ve got. I could never have imagined them all fading away in just a couple short decades.

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