Author Archives: Lucky Jim

Is it to be an Early Exit for Homo Sapiens?

World leaders fiddling while Rome burns

The eight leaders of the most powerful countries are, like Emperor Nero, ignoring the flaming crisis engulfing the world around them. Stunts organised by Oxfam and its partner UCODEP, July 6, 2009 (Photo: Nicola Sacco)

Legend has it that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and although it probably isn’t true, it does make a rather nice story and we Homo sapiens all seem to have a substantial slice of the Nero complex hard wired into our genetic make-up. How else can you explain our indifference and our complete failure to face up to and do something about the record breaking levels of CO2 and global temperature rise that we’re now seeing on an almost daily basis. With CO2 levels and global temperatures both rising now at an alarming rate, Planet Earth is certainly burning, and if you haven’t noticed that then you’ve not been paying attention.

We simply must get off this idiotic policy where we believe that we can have infinite growth on our finite planet. Just let me just remind you of something I said in a recent blog post:

“More growth needs more energy, and more energy needs more fossil fuels, and more fossil fuels produce more CO2, and more CO2 makes for even more Global Warming. Look at the figures. It’s just simple arithmetic.”

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February, a month of records

Straight from the horse’s mouth, and it’s now official. At 404.16 ppm, February 2016 produced the highest monthly average CO2 level since Keeling records began back in 1958, and at 3.85 ppm the gap between the February 2016 level and the February 2015 level was also the highest on record.

Just to rub salt in to the poor old planet’s wounds, on 8 February the daily average CO2 level was 406.27 ppm which was the highest one-day level ever recorded up to that date, and just to keep these records rolling along nicely, on 2 March 2016, a new daily average record was set at 406.46 ppm, which includes the 18 march reaching a new record at 407.12 ppm.

(Image: CO2.Earth)

(Image: CO2.Earth)

If you still have the stomach for a few more records, let’s have a look at the global temperature increases from the year 1880, which is the year when global temperatures were first recorded and analysed. For the next 96 years from 1880, with a few ups and downs (more downs than ups), by 1976 the annual global average temperature was in fact 0.01°C cooler than in 1880. But then came 1977 and things changed. From that year on we had no more downs, only ups, and year by year Planet Earth got just that little bit warmer. Records were now falling thick and fast, and at 0.74°C, 2014 set a new record, quickly followed by 2015 with average global temperatures for that year now at 0.81°C above the 1880 figure.

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The myth of Davos 2016: Fourth Industrial Revolution

Having spent many hours following Davos live, followed by a further bunch of hours ploughing through the opinions and comments from people who were there (a rum bunch indeed!), I’ve decided to pass on my own thoughts and opinion of the Forum, and particularly its showpiece, the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Klaus Schwab

“I was never good at “sums”, and 50% of 7.4 bn is 3,700,000,000 people. My mistake!” — Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, seated on his ivory throne at the annual meeting 2016 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.                                      (Image: Remy Steinegger/Flickr: Creative Commons)

The first and only Industrial Revolution I’m aware of, began at around 1760, when the CO2 in the atmosphere was at a nice comfortable 280 ppm having fluctuated between 180/280 ppm every hundred thousand years or so for at least the previous million years. It did indeed harness steam power which enabled us to replace muscles with machines, and it also kick started the changes that have brought great social and economic benefits to those of us who were lucky enough to have been born in the western world. But there was a high price to pay for these benefits which we are still paying and which our grandchildren will have to pay for the rest of their lives. Back in 1760 was the time when we let the genie out of the bottle, Coal become King, and we all started off down the Road to Armageddon. Through the second half of the 1800s all that Mr Klaus Schwab’s (originator of the ghastly Davos Jamboree) so-called Second and Third Revolutions did was feed and fatten up the Genie, and that’s exactly what the proposed Fourth Revolution will do if it ever comes to pass. The industrial machines will just spin a bit faster and global growth will climb a bit further up the exponential curve. As around 90% of Global Primary Energy is provided by fossil fuels, and as the burning of fossil fuels produce CO2, any further economic growth must result in more energy being used and more CO2 being produced.

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Mind the Gap

Mind the gap

(Image: Arz/Wiki Commons)

Most of us I’m sure must have often heard the voice on the London Underground warning us to “mind the gap” as we get off and on the train. As far as I’m aware nobody has ever been killed or badly injured by not minding these gaps but as I watched the videos of the interviews with scientists who were present at COP 21, I became aware of the much more dangerous gap that we had on our hands as we struggle with the CO2 problem. As always, the scientists were a bit cautious, but their message was very clear, about 98% of the scientists who are directly involved in climate research agree that if we carry on as we are doing, this century could well be our last one. On the flip side, we have the ordinary citizens, and there we have about 98% of them who are either outright deniers or who just couldn’t care less.

If we are to win this battle (fight for life?) before it’s too late, we have to start closing this enormous gap by harnessing the power of the media and getting more and more ordinary people knowledgeable and involved. Quite rightly the media has frequently highlighted the dangers to our children’s health from the amount of sugar in fizzy drinks and confectionary. All very important, but let me put it to all these nice responsible Mums and Dads who believe and act on these warnings. The danger to your children’s health from too much sugar is minimal compared to the dangers to their health and life if we don’t get the CO2 levels down and get the earth’s energy balance back under control.

Too much CO2 and too much sugar can both damage our health and both can kill us, the first from over-production and the second from over-consumption.

As the production of CO2 is by far the most dangerous of the two, I recalled an article written by the Guardian in early 2015 with the heading:

Climate change: why the Guardian is putting threat to Earth front and centre

First let me tell the Guardian of another milestone that we have just passed as we all Sleepwalk down the Road to Armageddon. December 2015 was the first month since records began (March 1958) that the average December CO2 level in that year went up by 3 ppm more than the December figure for the previous year 2014. This is not a criticism of the Guardian’s extensive and excellent reporting of the sugar problem, but if we get our priorities right, then the reporting of the recent milestone, which I believe falls in the category “Threat to Earth” should get the front and centre’ page treatment which the Guardian said it would get. As a bonus, the newspaper could also display on the front page the little Atmospheric CO2 widget shown on this blog, accurately calculated by and updated every month.

One final bit of information and comment. In December 1958 the CO2 level was 314.67 ppm and in December 1959 it was 315.58 ppm, an annual increase of only 0.91 ppm. Over the next 56 years the annual difference has increased exponentially to the present day 3 ppm and is still increasing in the same way.

If we continue in this same business as usual way for the rest of the present century, please believe me when I say that eating too much sugar will certainly be the least of our grandchildren and future generations problems.

By way of explanation in case you think that Hawaii is just a place you go to top up your tan, let me tell you, the Island has a mountain called Mauna Loa which is more than 4,000 m high. At about the 3,300 m level there is an observatory which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-Earth System Research laboratory (ESRL)-Global Monitoring Division-(GMD).

Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO) is a premier atmospheric research facility that has been continuously monitoring and collecting data related to atmospheric change since the 1950’s. The undisturbed air, remote location, and minimal influences of vegetation and human activity at MLO are ideal for monitoring constituents in the atmosphere that can cause climate change. [1]

Mauna LoaCO2 Dec15

(Image: Co2.Earth)

[1] The observatory is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) – Global Monitoring Division (GMD)