Climate change and socialism


Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 9.44.38 PM
The continuing pretense that the world governments will do anything about climate change was exposed once more at the latest round of climate negotiations held in Poland November 11-22. This was the 19th round of annual negotiations.

It is 21 years since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Emissions are 60-70% higher than they were then. Global warming has proceeded at an accelerating pace. As a great article by economic historian Richard Smith notes:

For all the climate summits, promises of “voluntary restraint,” carbon trading and carbon taxes, the growth of CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations have not just been unceasing, they have been accelerating in what scientists have dubbed the “Keeling Curve.” In the early 1960s, CO2 ppm concentrations in the atmosphere grew by 0.7ppm per year. In recent decades, especially as China has industrialized, the growth rate has tripled to 2.1 ppm per year. In just the first 17 weeks of 2013, CO2 levels jumped by 2.74 ppm compared to last year.

2013 is looking like it will be the seventh warmest since records began to be collected in 1850. The ten warmest have all occurred since 1998.

In September the latest report of the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report – the fifth since 1990. These must be adopted by consensus so conclusions tend to be moderated by that fact. This report is the most strongly worded yet and calls the evidence of climate change “unequivocal”. Among the effects if emissions aren’t curtailed are an irreversible rise in sea levels, mass species extinction, ocean acidification, more extreme weather events, and the list continues.

The IPCC report removes any ambiguity from which specific types of human activity lie at the root of these changes:

The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40 percent since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30 percent of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification.

The report recommends that a carbon budget for the earth be established to prevent going beyond the two degree Celsius rise in average temperatures that is the widely accepted “tipping point” for serious and prolonged damage to life on earth. It is also feared that beyond that point additional feed back mechanism’s kick in – melting of the subarctic tundra or thawing and releasing vast quantities of methane in the Arctic sea bottom – that will accelerate the warming process and put in question the survival of the human species.

The carbon consumption number that the IPCC report says can’t be exceeded is one trillion metric tonnes being burned and released into the atmosphere. But the New York Times reports that we have already burned half that amount since the beginning of the industrial revolution. At the current consumption rates, the one millionth tonne will be burned by 2040, according to one of the report’s authors.

Last year, fossil fuel corporations spent $674 billion scouring the earth for new deposits of coal, oil and gas. As the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2012 reported, “Despite the growth in low-carbon sources of energy, fossil fuels remain dominant in the global energy mix, supported by subsidies that amounted to $523 billion in 2011, up almost 30 percent on 2010 and six times more than subsidies to renewables”. This year 1200 coal burning power stations are under construction.

TDB Recommends

Other recent extreme weather events confirm the fact that many of the disasters that are happening now are related to climate change. Speaking to the Polish conference UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted:

“Warmer ocean surface temperatures and higher sea levels contributed to the strength of Typhoon Haiyan and the devastation it caused the Philippines. This disaster is more than a wake-up call. It is a very serious alarm. Typhoon Haiyan puts an anguished human face on our struggle to combat the extreme weather and other consequences of climate change.”

In late October researchers from the University of Colorado released a study that showed the warming of the Canadian Arctic in the last 100 years was without precedent in the past 44,000 years – and possibly 120,000 years. The main author Professor Gifford Miller said: “This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside of any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Not surprisingly many scientists are saying that it is already too late to prevent such temperature increases. Even the World Bank is predicting a four degree Celsius average temperature rise by 2060.

A pair of climate scientists in the UK were featured recently in an article by Naomi Klein headlined “How Science is Telling Us All to Revolt”. Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows-Larkin from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research argue that avoiding a two degree Celsius temperature rise will require a “revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony”. Because the existing system is actually already on course for a greater than two degree Celsius change this will need to involve “radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the US, EU and other wealthy nations”.

As Naomi Klein notes this is all fine but we live in a system of capitalism that “fetishises GDP growth above all else, regardless of the human or ecological consequences, and in which the neoliberal political class has utterly abdicated its responsibility to manage anything (since the market is the invisible genius to which everything must be entrusted). So what Anderson and Bows are really saying is that there is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which may be the best argument we have ever had for changing those rules.”

The article by Richard Smith that I quoted earlier gives a compelling description of why capitalism as a system is incompatible with the the planet. It is excerpted from a longer essay published in the Real-World Economic Review which I encourage those interested to study.

Why are we marching toward disaster, “sleepwalking to extinction” as the Guardian’s George Monbiot once put it? Why can’t we slam on the brakes before we ride off the cliff to collapse? I’m going to argue here that the problem is rooted in the requirement of capitalist production. Large corporations can’t help themselves; they can’t change or change very much. So long as we live under this corporate capitalist system we have little choice but to go along in this destruction, to keep pouring on the gas instead of slamming on the brakes, and that the only alternative — impossible as this may seem right now — is to overthrow this global economic system and all of the governments of the 1% that prop it up and replace them with a global economic democracy, a radical bottom-up political democracy, an eco-socialist civilization.

Although we are fast approaching the precipice of ecological collapse, the means to derail this train wreck are in the making as, around the world we are witnessing a near simultaneous global mass democratic “awakening” — as the Brazilians call it — from Tahir Square to Zucotti Park, from Athens to Istanbul to Beijing and beyond such as the world has never seen. To be sure, like Occupy Wall Street, these movements are still inchoate, are still mainly protesting what’s wrong rather than fighting for an alternative social order. Like Occupy, they have yet to clearly and robustly answer that crucial question: “Don’t like capitalism, what’s your alternative?” Yet they are working on it, and they are for the most part instinctively and radically democratic; in this lies our hope.

Why all this is important to the union movement is explained by Naomi Klein in a wonderful speech she gave on September 1 this year to the founding conference of UNIFOR, a new mega union created by the Canadian Autoworkers and the Canadian Energy and Paper Workers Union. In it she challenges the union movement to take up the issue of climate change because it poses the need to change the free-market capitalist system and workers have a stake in that struggle.

Naomi Klein points out that she has written a lot about what is wrong with the system today. In her most recent book, The Shock Doctrine, she “argues that over the past 35 years, corporate interests have systematically exploited various forms of mass crises – economic shocks, natural disasters, wars – in order to ram through policies that enrich a small elite, by shredding regulations, cutting social spending and forcing large-scale privatizations.”

She said all that remains true and is continuing in Canada and the rest of the capitalist world. However it is not enough to expose and denounce. It is not enough to protest. We need an alternative. “We can’t just reject the dominant story about how the world works. We need our own story about what it could be. We can’t just reject their lies. We need truths so powerful that their lies dissolve on contact with them. We can’t just reject their project. We need our own project.”

Climate change she says give us the arguments we need for that project:

So I want to offer you what I believe to be the most powerful counter-narrative to that brutal logic that we have ever had.

Here it is: our current economic model is not only waging war on workers, on communities, on public services and social safety nets. It’s waging war on the life support systems of the planet itself. The conditions for life on earth.

Climate change. It’s not an “issue” for you to add to the list of things to worry about it. It is a civilizational wake up call. A powerful message – spoken in the language of fires, floods, storms and droughts – telling us that we need an entirely new economic model, one based on justice and sustainability.

Taking up the climate fight doesn’t mean the unions should drop any of their existing concerns or struggles.

My argument is that the climate threat makes the need to fight austerity all the more pressing, since we need public services and public infrastructure to both bring down our emissions and prepare for the coming storms.

Far from trumping other issues, climate change vindicates much of what the left has been demanding for decades.

In fact, climate change turbo-charges our existing demands and gives them a basis in hard science. It calls on us to be bold, to get ambitious, to win this time because we really cannot afford any more losses. It enflames our vision of a better world with existential urgency.

What I’m going to show you is that confronting the climate crisis requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook – and that we do so with great urgency…..

It should be clear by now that I am not suggesting some half-assed token “green jobs” program. This is a green labour revolution I’m talking about. An epic vision of healing our country from the ravages of the last 30 years of neoliberalism and healing the planet in the process.

Environmentalists can’t lead that kind of revolution on their own. No political party is rising to the challenge. We need you to lead.

If UNIFOR as a union takes up that challenge, Naomi Klein believes it could become “the voice for a boldly different economic model, one that provides solutions to the attacks on working people, on poor people, and the attacks on the Earth itself, then you can stop worrying about your continued relevance. You will be on the front lines of the fight for the future, and everyone else – including the opposition parties – will have to follow or be left behind.”

Naomi had another useful piece of advice that we should heed in this country. She argued that a key to the shift needed by the unions in Canada was “deepening your alliance with First Nations, whose constitutionally guaranteed title to land and resources is the biggest legal barrier Harper faces to his vision of Canada as an extraction and export machine – a country-sized sacrifice zone. As my friend Clayton Thomas Mueller says, imagine if the workers and First Nations actually joined forces in a meaningful coalition – the rightful owners of the land, side by side with the people working the mines and pipelines, coming together to demand another economic model? People and the earth itself on one side, predatory capitalism on the other. The Harper Tories wouldn’t know what hit them.”

The final point I want to argue in this blog is that this merger of the workers movement, socialism and the Indigenous rising to protect Mother Earth is at the heart of the transformative struggles being waged today in Latin America. Those struggles, too, we need to study.

The governments of Bolivia and Venezuela in particular have given a lead to the left and progressive movement worldwide on why protecting the earth and protecting capitalism are incompatible objects. They have stood with the poor and oppressed of the world in resistance to demands they submit to the exploitation and destruction of their countries by wealthy imperialist countries and corporations. Just this week Venezuela lead a walkout of 133 developing nations out of the talks in Poland over the refusal by the rich nations to accept any historical responsibility for the climate changes that have occurred already.

The system running the planet is incompatible with long-term survival of our species. Capitalism as Marx explained long ago is a system of expanded reproduction. What many people don’t realise is that much of what Marx wrote in his famous work Capital was on why capitalism grew in the way that it did. He explained that capitalism could not exist except in a perpetual growth cycle. These cycles are punctuated by periodic recessions and depressions but growth is relentless and perpetual until the planet is destroyed or we destroy capitalism.

The industrialised consumer societies aren’t just over-consuming fossil fuels we’re over-consuming everything. As Richard Smith explains in his paper:

Between 1950 and 2000 the global human population more than doubled from 2.5 to 6 billion, but in these same decades consumption of major natural resources soared more than 6 fold on average, some much more. Natural gas consumption grew nearly 12 fold, bauxite (aluminum ore) 15 fold. And so on. At current rates, Harvard biologist E.O Wilson says that “half the world’s great forests have already been leveled and half the world’s plant and animal species may be gone by the end of this century.”

From fish to forests, minerals to metals, oil to fresh water, we’re consuming the planet like there’s no tomorrow. Ecological “footprint” scientists tell us that we in the industrialized nations are now consuming resources and sinks at the rate of 1.5 planets per year, that is, we’re using natural resources like fish, forests, water, farmland, and so on at half-again the rate that nature can replenish them.

But Richard Smith also notes there is a enormous class bias in this consumption.

According to the World Bank, the wealthiest 10% of the world’s people account for almost 60% of consumption expenditures and the top 20% account for more than 76% of global consumption whereas the bottom 40% of the world’s population account for just 5%. Even the bottom 70% of the world’s population account for barely 15.3% of global consumption expenditures. Needless to say, those 70% want and deserve a higher material standard of living. Yet if the whole world were to achieve this by consuming like Americans, we would need something like five more planets worth of natural resources and sinks for all of that. Think what this means.

There is no technical solution. There is no market solution. We have to rethink what and why we produce, where we produce, how we produce, how we transport things and people. We need a new system that is based of democratic decision making for these questions.

Major monopolies and sectors vital to the economy should be under public ownership and control. Workers and consumers must be involved in the boards making decisions on day-to day operations. Decisions need to be made to eliminate all destructive and wasteful production – including the military. Industries devoted to making us consume for consumption’s sake (advertising, most marketing) should simply be closed down. Public transport needs to replace cars for most trips. Production and consumption should be localised wherever possible. Housing should be well insulated and affordable. Food should be healthy and cheap. But it all requires a plan. And plans are best if they are democratically debated and decided.

By embracing the fight against climate change, we need to explain that this is a fight for a new world that restores the balance between Mother Earth and our needs as a species. Those needs will not be determined by the number of commodities we can consume but by the real needs we have for meaningful work, human relationships not based on exploitation and oppression, cooperation not competition, education for its own sake, creative labour and culture available to all to participate and create.

Marx called this a society of associated producers where “the free development of each was the condition for the free development of all” – a socialist society.

That is a world fighting for. And all around the globe millions of people are mobilising against what the current system is doing to us. People are saying another world is possible. We need to be looking for every opportunity to link hands in solidarity – in our local communities, in our workplaces and across the globe – with a vision of what that world could look like.


  1. Good one Mike.

    I particularly liked the quote, from Naomi Klein

    ‘You will be on the front lines of the fight for the future, and everyone else – including the opposition parties – will have to follow or be left behind.”

    We can see this process happening right now. The Authors at The Standard regularly post articles about climate change, detailing its affects and even its consequences. But what they will not allow is any comment that makes demands on the system to change. Specifically any demands on the Labour Party to do something about climate change is strictly forbidden.

    Karol one of the more Left authors at The Standard has argued in defence of The Standard’s editorial policy saying that climate change is just one of the many things the Left has to worry about, and that issues like jobs, wages, inequality unemployment are more pressing.

    But as Naomi Klein said:

    “Climate change. It’s not an “issue” for you to add to the list of things to worry about it.”

    Climate Change and your response, or lack of response to it, will become the defining fracture point for all political parties.

    It cannot be just willed away.

    As I told Lynn Prentice if the The Standard persist with their policy of refusing to allow comment putting demands on the politicians to act on climate change they will be left behind. Just as I predicted The Standard is now trailing the The Daily Blog as the premium left blog site. This decline can only continue if the The Standard continue to act as gate keepers on debate on how to tackle climate change.

    Of course censorship of comment around issues of climate change is not the only reason for the falling in the blog stats of The Standard. But it is symptomatic of the increasing conservativeness of this once leading Left blogsite.

  2. There was a certain irony in hosting the latest COP gabfest in Poland who have seen enough of regimes trying to impose various flavours of socialism on them in the last 100 years, and treated this latest attempt with appropriate disdain.

      • Jenny, “climate change” is 99% politics, 1% physics.

        Vaclav Klaus – Blue Planet in Green Shackles, sums up Eastern Europe’s views on this pretty well

        • This one man is talking for ALL Eastern Europe?
          “Klaus is a strong critic of the theories that any global warming is anthropogenic. He has also criticized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a group of politicized scientists with one-sided opinions and one-sided assignments. He has said that some other top-level politicians do not expose their doubts about global warming being anthropogenic because “a whip of political correctness strangles their voices.”[Wikipedia]

            • Naturally you are allowed to believe whatever you wish, even though approximately 98% of scientists disagree with you.
              I’m reminded of the Bertrand Russell quote …” nobody can prove that there is not between the Earth and Mars a china teapot revolving in an elliptical orbit, but nobody thinks this sufficiently likely to be taken into account in practice”…

              • I reserve words like “belief” to religions like Christianity and Climatology.
                The 97%/98% figure is irrelevant to the politicalisation of science, and is based on erroneous reasoning anyway.

                Even I would be part of that 98%

                • How are we meant to know you only believe in #3?
                  belief [bɪˈliːf]
                  1. a principle, proposition, idea, etc., accepted as true
                  2. opinion; conviction
                  3. religious faith
                  4. trust or confidence, as in a person or a person’s abilities, probity, etc

                  the science that studies climate or climatic conditions

            • “Klaus is a strong critic of the theories that any global warming is anthropogenic. He has also criticized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a group of politicized scientists with one-sided opinions and one-sided assignments”


              “That is an excellent summary of many people’s views of climate science, including mine


              So, Andy Lets getaway from the science for a moment, and discuss some real world events. How for instance, do you account for the worst heatwave in recorded Australian history. Or Typhoon Haiyan the most powerful storm in recorded global history?

              Andy, Would you change your view if both these extraordinary events were repeated? And then continued to be repeated?

              • What would change my mind would be a return to rapid warming, and it would have to be very rapid warming, that would make the climate models look plausible. At the moment they are on the cusp of being falsified.

                If we end up with another decade or two of little or no surface warming, or even perhaps cooling like a lot of scientists are suggesting, then the global warmists will be as relevant to science as alchemists and proponents of phlogiston.

                • As per your usual behaviour Andy you don’t provide any proof or give any link to your ridiculous assertion that, the climate is not warming and that, (according to you), “even perhaps cooling like a lot of scientists are suggesting”. Who are these “lot of scientists” who are suggesting that the world is cooling?

                  How about this for a challenge Andy. Produce just one scientist who claims the world is cooling.

                  While you are working on that consider this:

                  Another record breaking Australian heatwave and drought wouldn’t do it for you Andy. And neither would, God forbid, another Haiyan strength Hurricane.

                  Though Haiyan was certainly convincing enough for the Philippines government.

                  “It’s time to stop this madness” – Philippines plea at UN climate talks

                  It is true Andy that there has been a slow down in surface warming that wasn’t matched in the forecasts. Scientists have tracked this missing heat energy. It has been going into the oceans. The sea has been acting as a massive heat sink. Measurements have shown unprecedented warming of the oceans down to the benthic depths.

                  What does this mean?

                  The first thing it means, is that sea level rise due to melting glaciers etc will get a boost from thermal expansion of the oceans.

                  But the most immediate effect will be the increase in the power of hurricanes and typhoons. Such storms which form over the oceans, act as naturally occurring heat engines pumping heat from the sea into the atmosphere. Warmer seas mean more energy into these cyclonic weather systems, more powerful storms.

                  This we are seeing. So Andy we can expect to see many more devastating and unusually strong storms. Still not convinced?

                  They say there are no atheists in a life boat.

                  So I suppose for hardened deniers like yourself Andy, you will just have to wait until your own house or city is battered by a storm the like of which has not been seen in that area before. Believe me Andy when I say you won’t have to wait long.

                    • The graph you produced showed atmospheric temperatures, Jenny told you…”It is true Andy that there has been a slow down in surface warming that wasn’t matched in the forecasts. Scientists have tracked this missing heat energy. It has been going into the oceans. The sea has been acting as a massive heat sink. Measurements have shown unprecedented warming of the oceans down to the benthic depths.”

                    • Yogibare – yes I know that the graph shows atmospheric temperatures. That is also what the models are supposed to be predicting. In sceince, we create models of a measured phenomenon, and if they don’t match, then we refine or discard them

                      Of course, I understand that the missing heat has mysteriously transported itself to the deep oceans, without seemingly changing the waters down to 700m or the atmosphere. I am sure this is very plausible, despite any physical mechanism being explained, and despite any mechanism as to how this process will suddenly reverse and heat the atmosphere.

                      I look forward to reading how this all works and will also look forward to the predictions of ocean temps against CO2 that we can check in 10 years time.

                      If they don’t match, we’ll have to find yet another outlandish explanation for this all. Maybe phlogiston sounds plausible after all.

                    • “I understand that the missing heat has mysteriously transported itself to the deep oceans”


                      Nothing mysterious about it Andy. It is called the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

                      From Wikipedia:

                      “….over time, differences in temperature, pressure, and density tend to even out.

                      It is why I included a link to the principal of how a heat sink works.

                      Unfortunately for some reason I see the link doesn’t go through. For which I apologise.

                      Here is a naked link to another page about Heat Sinks and how they work:

                      “Simply put, a heat sink is an object that disperses heat from another object”

                    • Jenny, your link to the Second Law of Termodynamics may be of interest to school level physics students. I was looking for a little more detail.

                      i.e how can a small increase of downwelling IR radiation of around 1 W/m2 due to increased CO2, cause a measurable increase in water temperature below 700 metres, without affecting the top 700m or the atmosphere.

      • @ JENNY – spot on there. It seems the socialists have the intelligence to recognize and address the issues contributing to climate change. One of many being finding renewable alternatives to dirty technology.

        At the same time the other side, the climate change denying right are so locked into a primeval mindset state, they simply don’t want to know!

  3. By the way, communism (Marxism and its derivatives) killed around 100 million people over the course of the 20th Century. Do you imagine that your glorious vision will be any different?

    • don’t you mean 800 billion? Good thing capitalism has clean hands. what a funny coincidence that apparently the vast majority of the scientific community are apparently communists (at least according to your totally objective narrative)?

      • No but people on the left are using AGW to try and push for a Socialist alternative to Capitalism. Considering Socialism’s appalling record of environmental destruction this would normally be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous.

  4. And this attitude is why it is extremely difficult to make any meaningful movement on tackling climate change. People on the left are using it as a trojan horse to promote Socialism. They seem to forget that Socialism, (under the Soviet variety), had a rather bad record of managing the natural environment.

    • I agree that the U.S.S.R. “had a rather bad record of managing the natural environment,” however, I don’t understand the point you are trying to make. Perhaps it’s all pointless point scoring, in which case I’m now meant to hit you with the fact the capitalist U.S.A. has probably been the biggest polluter of all time. (You can now tell me that those Commie Chinese have now surpassed the U.S. in the pollution stakes).
      I would like to think the fate of our planet isn’t reduced to political ideology. The main point is that the science is telling us that we must reduce our CO2 emissions, be they caused by socialists or capitalists is irrelevant.
      [I was amused to see you have promoted socialism to the upper case while the poor, old trojan hoss only rates lower case.]

      • Why would you be amused by that?

        This whole argument has been reduced to a ideological debate by those blaming Capitalism for the ‘evils’ of Climate change.

        • Trojan refers to the city of Troy, and is therefore a proper noun, while socialism is only a common noun. My own syntax is worse than a tax on sin, so I shouldn’t really be nit picking, however, the elevation of socialism to a proper noun tickled me.( I’m guessing you and I have very different senses of humour)
          On a more serious note, “this whole argument” is about the future on the planet and should not be “reduced to a ideological debate”.

          • While I wouldn’t go so far as to claim tha the very future of the planet is at stake, (I am comfortable the planet will go on regardless of whether Humans have a negative impact on the environment), I do agree that the debate on tacking the negative impacts of AGW shouldn’t be reduced to an ideological debate. However that is what this article essentially did and what many other comments here also support. If you wish to make it about Capitalism then you will find it is a much harder case to win support for actions that can make a difference.

            • I cannot speak for mr. mike treen although I have heard he’s an active Unionist and, from the tone of this Article, suspect he’s also a Socialist and/or marxist. mr. treen’s main Argument appears to be that Capitalism is bad for the Planet and we should invent a new more Democratic Model to try and solve our Climate Change, and other Problems; I would agree with this View. I would be pleased to hear how Capitalism’s Economic Growth Model can continue to solve the Myriad of Problems we face.
              correction: I didn’t “claim tha the very future of the planet is at stake” I said the Argument “is about the future on the planet” – a subtle difference in inference.
              I’m profoundly unhappy with the Thought that “the planet will go on regardless of whether Humans have a negative impact on the environment” – in the words of e e cummings “Unbeing dead isn’t being alive”.

    • The greatest damage from the soviet society came from authoritarianism, not socialism. Socialism itself has often been used as a “Trojan Horse” for authoritarianism, as observed in most of the well-known “socialist” (and communist, which is quite different to socialism if you actually look into it) countries.

      True socialism is where society treats everybody equally and the people are in complete control over their collective future. Sadly, most of the historic examples of so-called “socialist” countries are really authoritarian ones, where a hierarchy is used to control society.

      Capitalism itself has a fair bit in common with authoritarianism, but instead of having a government hierarchy in control, there is a much more subtle corporate hierarchy where most people don’t even realise they’re being controlled by a small group of people.

  5. Thank you for writing this article; I wish more people were talking about this hot topic that may decide our planet’s future. It’s a disgrace that DemocracyNow! were the only TV media to cover the Poland COP (see DN site for interview with Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows-Larkin).

    I think people may confuse this scientific subject with politics because, if the science is right, it calls for overturning the capitalist system. In his books Derrick Jensen has plenty to say against scientists like Richard Dawkins, but he doesn’t doubt for a moment that our only hope is to slow the industrial complex.

  6. To fight climate change socialism is not necessary.

    The sort of command style economies turned too on both sides of the conflict in WWII would do it.

    Only the mass mobilisation of human and economic resources was up to the task of prosecuting the war.

    Was it Socialist, hardly.

    In the UK and the USA this change was spearheaded by capitalist politicians like Winston Spencer Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, both hereditary members of the privileged capitalist elite.

    Political leaders like Churchill and Roosevelt appealed to the population for self sacrifice for no personal reward. Working people gave up their jobs and families, (and for many their health and even their life). Wealthy citizens gave up a large amount of their personal fortunes. In New Zealand during the war the top tax rate was 90%.

    After the crisis passed all this was wound back pretty quickly.

    Fascism was called an existential threat.

    To have any chance of success, mobilisation to fight climate change will have to be on the same scale as the mobilisation to fight fascism.

    For humanity in all its schisms….

    There is no other workable solution.

    If we have to wait for socialism we will be extinct first.

    • You do realise that the command and control societies (with associated massive loss of personal liberties) that were followed by Western democracies during WWII were on TEMPORARY. They lasted from 4 to 16 years. Then the countries reverted back. I don’t see people like you claiming this is a temporary short term solution.

        • And that is why the arguments you are pushing are not gaining ground amongst key opinion makers and shapers. Even the worst case projections of the IPCC don’t claim that life on the planet is doomed to extinction anytime soon. Scaremongering is not usually a good motivator for good policy changes. However I note you do at least acknowledge that the issue with dealing with the effects of AGW is that the prescriptions you suggest are not temporary. Therefore it is unlikely you will get them implemented.

          • Entrepreneur, financier, philanthropist and motorcyclist Gareth Morgan New Zealand’s very own version of Billy Connolly, but without the humour, has written a book about climate change, Called, “Poles Apart: Who’s right about climate change?” Politically Right of Centre, Morgan starts his book with the question; What do the climate change deniers and the climate change alarmists agree on?

            According to Morgan whether they think it is happening or not, all agree that warming would be bad.

            Even those who don’t believe the climate is changing, still agreed that a world that was globally 2 degrees warmer on average, might not be a good thing, and that a world that was 4 degrees warmer would definitely not be a good thing.

            At 4 degrees C we start talking about superstorms every year, and massive flooding from both sea level rise and flash floods. Then there are the extreme droughts and heatwaves, desertification.

            At 4 degrees C agriculture as it has been practiced for millenia would become impossible. Mass famine, war, disease, infrastructure and civilsation collapse all this and more are real probabilities. At 6 degrees C mass human die back, even extinction is on the cards.

            According to the vast majority of climate scientiste the signs are, that without any change in direction the world is currently headed for 6 degrees C. (with feedbacks like methane clathrate thawing possibly even more)

            So you can see Gosman talking about human extinction in relation to climate change is as relevant as talking about human extinction due to the effects of global thermo nuclear war, and with more reason. If the summer ice cap disapears from the North Pole clathrates trapped beneath the ice cap will be released into the atmosphere, a past such methane outgassing event has been held responsible for the Permian/Triassic extinction event the greatest mass extinction the Earth has ever known, dwarfing even the Cetaceous/Tertiary mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. The Permian/Triassic extinction is the only known mass extinction of insects.

            If you have time, listen to this talk by Kevin Anderson

            Climate Change:
            going beyond dangerous

            “4 degree C should be avoided at all costs” @ 26:00 minutes

            “Don’t think because we are wealthy we are going to survive in a nice neat fashion.”

            “The future is impossible”

            To achieve a target of 2 degrees C… @ 36:00 minutes

            “You need about 10% reduction rates per annum that means about 40% reduction by 2015 70% by 2020 Full emissions gone by 2030 that’s the sort of numbers you are looking at to have an outside chance of avoiding extremely dangerous climate change. Now that,… everyone tells you is impossible. Everyone, “That’s impossible in the real world”

            “Well that’s fine. If what we are saying is living in a 4 degree C world is possible. But when you ask people, they say that is impossible as well.

  7. If you politicise climate change, then the bulk of the people don’t have to think about it – just trot out the current “party/ideology they follow”‘s dogma…”It’s a communist/socialist plot”……”it’s a a capitalist conspiracy”…etc etc.
    What it is, is the major occurrence of the coming century, and we ignore it at our peril, which most of those in charge seem quite willing to do. Quite frankly, I think anything we do do, will be to little, to late, not that that means we shouldn’t try.

    it’s going to be an “interesting” next 50-60 yrs, and all the political posturing in the world will merely show people up for what they are ……….to bad I won’t be around to see it.

    “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is. – W Churchill”

  8. I think the main point of the article is to show that capitalism has resulted in climate change. This I believe is true but it does not show that socialism as has been practised is the answer. The Labour Party who represents what in NZ is socialism emphasizes growth to fund socialism.

    The type of solutions being proposed in the article are worse than the current problems and as far as I can tell take people’s standard of living backwards. ‘Stop’ peoples current standard of living seems to be the main answer given. Way too totalitarian for my liking. Not going to fly. Particularly when you consider the consequences of our consumption are displaced in time (in the future) and space (happen somewhere else). It is a classic case of externalised costs. One does not experience the negative effects of consumption but enjoy the benefits. Why would one change? Socialism will need a better argument than that to win an election.

  9. It’s no longer just carbon dioxide. Basic thermodynamics is against us. Any energy we use to do anything productive produces the same amount of energy as waste heat. This has to be radiated off into space or we heat up. As I understand it, we’re pretty much at the limit and must cut back on energy use. It doesn’t matter much at all where that energy comes from – solar, wind, coal, or nuclear – the end effect is an overheating planet.

    We badly need a system of production that doesn’t worship growth. Capitalism and the socialisms we have seen in power do worship growth. They rely on it as the driver of everything. We need a solution which hasn’t been put in practice before, and I believe this will be a type of democratic socialism. I just hope we can do it in time.

  10. Capitalists will fight to the bitter end to protect what they see as their innate right to wring every cent out of the planet’s resources regardless of the consequences. Warnings that global warming will result in wars will only encourage those who see war as good for business. Continuation of the current economic system is not compatible with the survival of human civilisation. Shit we are in a mess. The 1% control the media and hide the truth from the 99%. Age of stupid.

  11. Mike Treen is “green”!

    That must be good news, and the more out there that can be converted, the more of a glimmer of hope there may be left for the human species.

    But as others know, those in control of the fossil fuel and other energy systems, and the corporations that depend so heavily on the petroleum and gas exploration and processing, they will never give away their power without a fight.

    They hold governments to ransom, and they try to hold us all to ransom. Also is there a widespread reluctance for change, as nobody will want to sacrifice “convenience” that has come with a highly wasteful society in developed and also many developing countries. The better off will not voluntarily sacrifice their material assets, gadgets and consumer products, including cars run on gas, they will rather turn away and let others die, so they can go on as usual.

    And it is not just “capitalism”, the former USSR, and past and present China, same as other “socialist” countries, also were – and are not – that “green” at all.

    This one major battlle for human survival – and a social and energy revolution – will not be won without a fight, I am sure, a real fight!

  12. Labour says views on mining close to Govt’s
    NZ Herald July 27, 2012

    Labour’s finance spokesman, David Parker, says his party’s policies on oil, gas and mineral extraction are close to those of the Government.

    “I don’t think we are much different from National,” Parker said. “They’ve continued on with the programme that we started in respect to oil and gas,”

    The job for Labour Party activists is to try and suppress all mention of climate change as an election issue to prevent their party’s position becoming exposed as being closer to the National Party position than the Green Party position.

    The job for Left activists is to do their best to raise climate change as an election issue in attempt to force Labour to move their position closer to the Green Party position and away from the National Party position.

    This will not earn you any friends in Labour who will feel discomfited by your efforts.

    “A new political dynamic is emerging. Climate change is a winner, not a loser”

    In late breaking news raising Climate Change is no longer “electoral Kryptonite” as New Zealand Labour Party activists (and some Greens), have long maintained.

    How did things go so wrong for a conservative Republican in the coal-rich state of Virginia?

    On October 7, in a comment I posted on The Standard in the Open Mike. I compared the arguments over the sharp differences opened up over coal, and Labour supporters reluctance to discuss this issue, to Democrat Terry McCauliffes reluctance to talk about coal.

    I wrote:

    “As sharp differences between the Greens and Labour open up over coal, some of the arguments raised here in this debate carry strange echoes of the US political debate over coal.”

    Open Mike comment Oct. 7 2013

    For making this helpful comparison, Lynn Prentice said I was banned from his site till the 1st of April 2014. One of the longest bans he has ever handed out to any commenter on his website.

    But what do you know?! Two months later to everyone’s surprise, probably none more than senator McAuliffe himself, who felt he had been dogged by a comment made four years ago condemning coal. And who had been reluctant to admit to his views on climate change. And who only admitted to it when “pressed by a reporter” and “pinned down on the issue”.

    This admission when it was eventually wrung out of him, has proven to be to his advantage after all!!

    Who knew?

    Certainly not Lynn Prentice.

    But the polls have been showing this for a long time.

    “People want more action on climate change”

    64.4 per cent wanting Parliament to do more
    60.6 per cent wanting the Prime Minister to do more and
    62.9 per cent saying government officials should do more.

    “The news isn’t good for Prime Minister John Key, with 15.4 per cent saying he’s doing the right amount, 26.1 per cent saying he should do more, and 34.5 per cent saying he should do much more. Just 2.7 per cent want him to do less.”

    Horizon August 10, 2012

    With Labour/Green coalition neck and neck with National David and with David Cunliffe needing a tie breaker, Climate Change is it.

    David Cunliffe needs to come out openly right now, and state clearly and without equivocation that new coal mining will not be allowed on the Denniston Plateau or anywhere else for that matter under a Labour Greens administration. And further that on taking office all deep sea oil drilling and fracking will be suspended.

    This will see David Cunliffe and the Labour Party garner the votes of the large majority who are in favour of government taking more action on climate change.

    Just Like Virginia if taken up this will be the game changer.

    • I would definitely support all that. If NZ commits economic suicide, as you suggest, it would set an example to the world on how to burn your country on the stake of ideology.

      Of course, Britain and Germany are leading the charge in this respect, so NZ has a bit of catching up to do.

      Thousands of extra winter deaths are occurring thanks to skyrocketing energy prices.
      Let’s bring that to NZ!

      Can we do it? Yes we can!

      • You said in an above post…”Of course, I understand that the missing heat has mysteriously transported itself to the deep oceans, without seemingly changing the waters down to 700m or the atmosphere. I am sure this is very plausible, despite any physical mechanism being explained, and despite any mechanism as to how this process will suddenly reverse and heat the atmosphere. I look forward to reading how this all works and will also look forward to the predictions of ocean temps against CO2 that we can check in 10 years time.”

        Although I have been a mariner for many years I don’t profess to being an expert on ocean currents and circulation, however, it seems to me that would explain how “the missing heat has mysteriously transported itself to the deep oceans”. The oceans are so vast that if you “look forward to the predictions of ocean temps against CO2 that we can check in 10 years time” it may well to too late, once all ocean levels have warmed enough to “heat the atmosphere” it will be game over.

    • The problem for the left is the easily spooked capital. If their policies create capital flight the NZ economy will take a hit which will hand the right a winning ticket to the election.
      Unfortunately the system is controlled by capital leaving politicians of all colours in the position of having to be beholding to the money bags.
      Not good, I think, but reality. Somehow that power must be got back from the money bags for the people who must think beyond what sort of new car, gadget or house they will buy next or who is going to win the next rugby test.

  13. Richard Turner at the the Herald: asks could a super storm strike New Zealand?

    The answer is yes.

    Superstorm Sandy, was the furtherest North of any recorded hurricane track wreaking havoc when it struck New York.

    Superstorm Bopha was the furtherest South of any northern hemisphere Hurricane and devastated the island of Mindanao which unlike more northerly regions of the Philippines had no experience of hurricanes making it particularly devastating.

    Sandy and Bopha which struck within a month of each other were both remarkable for being outside the normal traditional range of hurricanes.

    Hurricanes are naturally occurring heat engines they get their mechanical turning effect from the rotational motion of the earth. Known as the coriolus effect it is this cyclonic action that draws latent heat up from the ocean. Such storms lose their energy as soon as they pass over cooler waters or land. The defining feature of cyclones is their signature turning spiral shape which is imparted from the turning action of the Earth and their ability to draw energy out of the ocean. large areas of the world are generally spared hurricanes. the cariolus affect turns gives counter clockwise turning in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere. Nearer the equator this opposite effect is much weaker and cancels out. Further towards the poles cooler sea temperatures drain energy from cyclones. Typically Hurricanes and cyclones also rapidly lose energy when they leave the sea and cross land.

    Cyclone Bola, arguably New Zealands most damaging storm was a post tropical cyclone, weakened as it traveled away from the tropics by passing over the more temperate waters around New Zealalnd.

    Added energy changes everything.

    Cyclone Bola if it struck New Zealand today would be a Superstorm of the Sandy and Bopha type. Possibly due to the large areas of open ocean to the west of New Zealand such a cyclone could gather huge amounts of energy before hitting New Zealand. Being a relatively narrow landmass particularly in the North. The destruction and death toll from such a storm will be immense. Probably dwarfing the devastation of Tacloban, where hurricanes were not unknown. (Though Typhoon Haiyan was of the most powerful storm to ever strike land in recorded history).

    I think we can (un)-safely say, that this is what we can expect within a generation.

    New Zealand needs to act now to drastically draw down our CO2 emissions. For our current administrators and politicians to continue with business as usual, is to have the blood of their grandchildren on their hands.

    The worst thing is they know it.

    • Some of you will know that I am the proud father of two young sons.

      Since I became a father, everything I did before seems rather shallow and selfish.

      I feel incredibly lucky and grateful that I have the good fortune to live in one of the few remaining places on earth that has a stable democracy, food, education, healthcare and, above all, a healthy environment.

      How much longer will this paradise last? I’m not sure. I’m very sad to say there’s a very good chance that by the time my two young sons reach adulthood, the safe and healthy world that we all took for granted will be gone. Finished.

      When we look back on it, the worst crisis of the 21st century won’t be the ‘Great Recession’ since the global financial crash of 2008 – it will be the ‘Great Compression’ that is coming at us because of energy shocks, climate change, population growth and resource shortage.

      In a book called The Meaning of the 21st Century,[i] James Martin likened the first half of the century to a funnel that humankind will have to pass through to reach a more sustainable future, or any future at all.

      Sure, we will have to both protect dolphins and shorten dole queues, which is what you will be expecting from the title of this speech.

      But actually, the nature of this crisis is far deeper and more fundamental than the standard environment-economy trade-off thinking might suppose. The coming crisis threatens more than just marine biodiversity. The species we are trying to save could be our own.

      David Cunliffe
      From the famous ‘Dolphin and the Dole Queue’ speech. (Shortly after, David Cunliffe was dumped from the leadership of the Labour Party and exiled to the backbenchers)

      (my emphasis. Jenny)

      So will David Cunliffe live up to the principles he out lined in this speech, or will he succumb to the pressures of “realpolitik“?

      #1 Will Mr Cunliffe allow the biggest coal mine in New Zealand’s history to be dug on the Denniston Plateau?

      #2 As Premier will David Cunliffe put an end to deep sea oil drilling?

      #3 Will a Labour led government divert the $billions tagged for more motorways, into public transport instead?

      These three simple, principled real world steps, need to taken right now. Steps that if taken, for most people, would be wildly popular.

      But would be viciously opposed by the powerful and influential 1% who gain to make money from the despoilation of our natural environment.

    • Even if NZ shut down the entire economy, it would have no measurable effect on emissions or the climate. (NZ’s CO2 is 0.1% of the world’s emissions)

      Don’t let me stop you though. If we get a lab/green/Mana government, the dollar will take a nosedive, which will be very good news for me as I get paid in sterling.

      Bring it on!

      • “NZ’s CO2 is 0.1% of the world’s emissions”


        The figures I have show that New Zealand produces twice that amount. LOL


          “New Zealand is a small emitter by world standards – only emitting some 0.2% of global green house gases. So anything we do as a nation will have little impact on the climate – our impact will be symbolic, moral, and political”

          Sir Peter Gluckman Chief Science adviser to the Prime Minister.

          • I remember that statement by Gluckman,
            So destroying our economy and forcing people into poverty as a symbolic gesture is a “moral” position.

            Nice if you are “Sir” Peter Gluckman, I suppose

        • LOL indeed
          The 0.2% figure you provided includes the other gases from cattle etc (primarily methane) that apparently account for 50% of our “emissions”

          The fact that methane is in a closed loop with CO2 and there is no net stock increase seems to pass most people by.

          Nevertheless, given the rapid rise of Chinese and other large emitters, whether our emissions are 0.1 or 0.2% is largely irrelevant.

          As they say, LOL

          • “The 0.2% figure you provided includes the other gases from cattle etc (primarily methane) that apparently account for 50% of our “emissions”
            The fact that methane is in a closed loop with CO2 and there is no net stock increase seems to pass most people by.
            Nevertheless, given the rapid rise of Chinese and other large emitters, whether our emissions are 0.1 or 0.2% is largely irrelevant.”


            Irrelevant by any quantitative measure, yes of course.

            But what you are overlooking here Andy is the power of symbolism, leadership and example. And the real world connections between people, societies and nations. (much enhanced of late)

            It may seem counter intuitive but If you asked me what country could do most to combat the global menace of climate change I would say this one.

            New Zealand may be a vanishing small gross emitter, but small doesn’t mean irrelevant. I am reminded here of the fable about the loss of a nail that caused the loss of a kingdom.


            But is there a real world example of this medieval allegory?

            The most important speech of the war

            Not well known, never broadcast, and not even properly recorded. And said only before a handful of people.


            Churchill had just become Prime Minister. Lord Halifax with Neville Chamberlain’s support, were for talking terms with Hitler through the intermediary of Mussolini, (Italy at that time was still neutral).
            The situation was dire, British forces had been routed in Norway and Britain’s rearmament had not yet been completed. Churchill’s position was weak he was on the point of being replaced by a revolt in the cabinet if he openly stood up to Halifax. Lord Halifax had actually been Neville Chamberlain and the Conservative Party’s favoured candidate for PM. Churchill in fact was not the popular Conservative Party choice for PM, most of his support came from the government’s Labour and the Liberal Party coalition partners. If it had come down to an open power struggle between Halifax and Churchill, Churchill would have lost.

            It all hung on one speech given inside the claustrophobic confines of the war cabinet. Heads or tails, win or lose: Everything hung on this one speech, fight on or capitulate, surrender or victory.

            The only account of what Churchill said at this critical meeting comes from Hugh Dalton, a member of the Labour Party and the newly appointed Minister of Economic Warfare.

            Churchill began his remarks by emphasising the seriousness of the military situation, and went on to say;

            “I have thought carefully in these last days whether it was part of my duty to consider entering into negotiations with That Man [Hitler]. But it was idle to think that, if we tried to make peace now, we should get better terms than if we fought it out. The Germans would demand our…. “ that would be called disarmament ….“ our naval bases, and much else. We should become a slave state, though a British Government which would be Hitler’s puppet would be set up ….“ under Mosley or some such person. And where should we be at the end of all that? On the other side we have immense reserves and advantages. And I am convinced that every one of you would rise up and tear me down from my place if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.

            Churchill would later write of the response he received at the conclusion of his remarks. There occurred a demonstration which considered the character of the gathering “ twenty-five experienced politicians and Parliament men, who represented all the different points of view, whether right or wrong, before the war“ surprised me. Quite a number seemed to jump up from the table and come running to my chair, shouting and patting me on the back. There is no doubt that had I at this juncture faltered at all in the leading of the nation I should have been hurled out of office. I was sure that every Minister was ready to be killed quite soon, and have all his family and possessions destroyed, rather than give in.

            We can guess that it was the Labour and Liberal members of the coalition government rather than the Tory MPs that were slapping Churchill’s back. For three reasons; First the Tories wanted to make peace with Hitler. Second, the Left, Communist, Socialist and Labour Party volunteers were already mobilising to fight fascism in Spain, while a British Navy picket trying to stop them, was stationed blocking the sea route to Spain. Third, though this speech undoubtedly took place, it was not reported or written down by he Conservative Party members of the the coalition, the only account of this speech comes from a Labour MP and much later, in his memoirs, by Churchill himself.

            In New Zealand today, in a mobilisation not matched since the 1980s, thousands of Left activists are rallying around the country against deep sea oil drilling fracking and planned new coal mines. Many are motivated not just by fears of local pollution, but in the huge escalation of climate change represented by these new and/or risky unconventional fossil fuels projects.

            The New Labour Party spokesperson for Energy David Shearer has given a statement:

            Shearer is our modern day Lord Halifax, a bumbling compromising conservative politician who aspired to become Prime Minister and who would have been a disaster in the role.

            The effects of climate change are as devastating as any war. In Shearer, we have a Halifax. What the country need to know is, in Cunliffe do we have a Churchill, prepared to stand up and say without equivocation, “No Deep Sea Oil Drilling!”, “No Fracking!”, “No New Coal Mines!”.

            What if Churchill had not made his speech inside the cabinet calling on his colleagues of all parties to back his call to put up a fight? Quite likely he would have been rolled as Prime Minister and the UK would have made its peace with Germany. Just like the missing nail, without the British lead the US would most likely also remained out of the European theatre of war. With no second front Germany would have been free to concentrate all it’s power to the East. Would Germany still have won? Maybe not. But the result would have been irrelevant. If the USSR had defeated Germany then Soviet totalitarianism would have been free to over run the whole of Europe. Not too different a result for the subject peoples, than if Germany had won. The US would still most likely defeat Japan but not only take over the Japanese Empire but go on to take over the vacant French and British Empires as well. It would certainly be a very different world to the one we live in now.

            It took only one small island state to stand up, to change the whole course of history.

            • Correction:

              The incomplete paragraph.

              The New Labour Party spokesperson for Energy David Shearer has given a statement…..

              Should read:

              The New Labour Party spokesperson for Energy David Shearer has given a statement, that he supports Deep sea oil drilling as long as there are “robust safeguards” in place.

              I had continued writing meaning to put the link in later. Here it is now.

              “Blow-up over oil blowout study”
              New Zealand Herald October 23, 2013

              Labour’s energy and resources spokesperson, David Shearer, said his party did not rule out deep-sea drilling but expected that any companies making applications would have to be “world class” and demonstrate they had robust safeguards in place.

              Andarko are “world class” If by world class David Shearer meant found liable, alongside BP, in causing the World’s Worst oil spill disaster.

              But what David Shearer really avoided mentioning and also assiduously avoided mentioning in his time as Labour leader, was climate change.

              Deep sea oil drilling by definition cannot be made completely safe.

              The fact is, no matter how “robust” the safeguards are, we are still being asked to accept some element of risk with catastrophic consequences. What really tips the balance against deep sea drilling and makes the risk of a catastrophic deep sea oil spill unacceptable is climate change. In contrast Green Party MP Gareth Hughes at a public meeting last week in Auckland told his audience that deep sea oil drilling must be fought over climate change.

      • You asked…
        “how can a small increase of downwelling IR radiation of around 1 W/m2 due to increased CO2, cause a measurable increase in water temperature below 700 metres, without affecting the top 700m or the atmosphere.”
        NASA says…
        “The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.8”

          • The below correspondence may strengthen your anti ACC (anthropogenic climate change) views but better that than obscure a lack of evidence. How I wish a scientist had responded to your initial query.

            (From me)
            Hi Tim,
            Many thanks for your prompt response to my email, and please convey my appreciation to Alex for forwarded it on to you.
            Naturally I would have preferred a more definitive answer to my query but, in the interest of fairness, I will copy your reply to my doubting Thomas friend.

            From: Tim Radford
            Sent: Thursday, 5 December 2013 9:47 AM
            Subject: RE: Ocean Warming

            Dear XXXX,
            the question is a perfectly good one, whether from a hard core climate denier or not, and offhand I cannot offer an answer. Not suprising, I’m a reporter, not an oceanographer or climate scientist or atmospheric physicist. But I suspect it’s fairly simple: we just don’t know enough about the oceans. They cover 70% of the planet and by volume they make up 90% of the planet’s living space and we still have only marginal and sketchy knowledge of how the whole package works. I find it quite easy to imagine that ocean currents descend, carrying warmish water with them, to raise (ever so marginally) the temperatures at depth: the oceans are so huge that even a slight shift in benthic temperatures would account for colossal quantities of heat. But it’s one thing to imagine, another to demonstrate, Even the evidence of warming below 700 metres is confined to just one one study in one segment of ocean, so there’s a lot more work to be done, and ocean research (ships and all that) has always been expensive. But I’ll bet there is an answer, and several experiments which have only just commenced may deliver a working hypothesis in a year or three.
            Meanwhile, for spectacularly good reading, look out for Callum Robert’s Ocean of Life (Penguin)
            which doesn’t answer the question either, but is a real eye opener, jaw dropper and general all round instructive delight. We four of us started the Climate News Network because we thought the best response to those myopic or aphasic governments, a confused audience, the sensibly sceptic and the stubborn denialists was to simply keep reporting interesting, sometimes inconclusive, but always peer-reviewed research into climate change and see if we could make a difference just by keeping up the flow of evidence. Which, by the way, points in almost all cases in one direction only: anthropgenic climate change seems to be happening. But that won’t change the mind of someone whose mind is set on denial. He (or she) will just claim: they would say that, wouldn’t they?
            Uphill struggle, isn’t it? (Which bit of NZ? Sometimes I lie awake at night and daydream of Cheltenham, Narrow Neck and Takapuna beaches on Auckland’s North Shore and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Especially during cold wet wintry English nights)
            warmest wishes
            Tim Radford

            Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2013 19:35:53 +0000
            Subject: Fwd: Ocean Warming

            Tim, I hope the rest of your day was enjoyable and useful. I wonder whether you might feel like saying enything to this user? – Alex
            ——– Original Message ——–

            Ocean Warming

            2013-12-04 03:54


            (From me)

            I and another have tried answering the below question from a climate change denier with comments about ocean currents and circulation as well as the second law of thermodynamics and heat sinks, however, he remains unconvinced. I’m hoping you guys may give me a better scientific answer that will satisfy him… although I’m not holding my breath as he’s a hard core denier.

            “how can a small increase of downwelling IR radiation of around 1 W/m2 due to increased CO2, cause a measurable increase in water temperature below 700 metres, without affecting the top 700m or the atmosphere”.

            Looking forward to hearing from you.


            (I have only redacted my personal details and comments about NZ life)

            • It’s really great that you go to these efforts to correspond with scientists. However, when you refer to me as a “climate change denier” I am naturally tended to refer to you in less than flattering terms.

              I have 3 science degrees, I also read Karl Popper when I was at school , so please Foxtrot Oscar when referring to me as a Denier .

              Thanks for your kind consideration.

              • I apologise if you seriously took umbrage at my “climate change denier” comment, in view of your below comment, perhaps I should have preceded the phrase with “anthropogenic”, as I did in the latest email of the post I shared with you. Yogibare….
                “Klaus is a strong critic of the theories that any global warming is anthropogenic. He has also criticized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a group of politicized scientists with one-sided opinions and one-sided assignments”
                “That is an excellent summary of many people’s views of climate science, including mine

                (The exclusion of this word appeared to upset you so much that you were dancing around like a man overboard who was trying to communicate his disability. My tattered copy of “The International Code of Signals” tells me that the two flag signal, FO, means “I will stay close to you”, something I’m sure you won’t be doing.)
                May be I should have called you a “coolist” as opposed to the “warmists” you mention here…
                “If we end up with another decade or two of little or no surface warming, or even perhaps cooling like a lot of scientists are suggesting, then the global warmists will be as relevant to science as alchemists and proponents of phlogiston”.
                (Isaac Newton was an alchemist which goes to show even the greatest scientific minds may be wrong at times… perhaps even falsifiable you.)

  14. The Coriolis effect was named after Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis, which means you fallen into Gossman’s habit of mixing proper and common nouns!
    Thanks for the meteorology lesson for those who haven’t studied hurricanes/TRS/typhoons/tropical cyclones- call them what you will.
    (As I have a leaky sieve masquerading as a memory, I imagine an arrow on each end of the “S” and “N” to remember the direction of spin in each hemisphere.)
    It seems intuitive that warmer water would bred more storms but many scientists would argue that this is not the case, or at least not proven, so don’t be surprized if our friend Andy Pandy is on your case.

  15. Get ready for the worst.

    The Indian Ocean is the warmest ocean in the world.

    We have all heard of el nino and la nina. Get ready to hear of a new weather and climate phenomenom that will soon become just as widely known; ‘The Indian Ocean Dipole’. Expect to hear this climate phenomenon discussed more often in the media in relation to storms and drought.

  16. It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. -Thomas Paine, philosopher and writer (1737-1809)

  17. Hurricane-force winds have hit the UK in what meteorologists says could be one of the most powerful storms to strike in years.

    British authorities said the Thames Barrier, designed to protect London from flooding during exceptional tides, had been shut and warned of “the most serious coastal tidal surge for over 60 years in England”. Prime Minister David Cameron called a meeting to discuss strategy….

    Last updated 6:35am, Friday, December 6, 2013.

    A metaphor for how politicians and administrators approach Climate Change has been likened to the elephant in the room large and obvious, but passive, and predictable. Hard to ignore sure. But, doable if you have the will and a motive to do so.

    Another metaphor for Climate change is the turd in the punchbowl. Gut wrenchingly unpleasant and obvious but which nobody wants to mention. Condemning anyone at the party who dare point it out, or stridently demand it be dealt with.

    Climate change is set to become the 800 pound gorilla in the front room, dangerous and life threatening impossible to ignore as everyone scrambles for survival.

  18. United Nations World Health Organisation reports that at least 150,000 people die each year due to the direct effects of climate change

    “While the African Union concentrates on strategies to mitigate the devastating financial effects climate change is having on Africans, I worry instead about its impact on our bodies. As a doctor working in my native Ethiopia, I see the results of our warming planet, not just in the dry earth or the torrential skies, but in my patients every single day.”

    Dr. Kassahun Desalegn Northern Ethiopia

    “Recently, a school-aged girl with Leishmaniasis arrived at my clinic from the nearby highlands, where cases of the disease had previously been seen only rarely. Her 55-year old father, a farmer, gave me an alarming account of what he had been witnessing on his native land for the past five years. He said he had seen forests becoming more arid, soil eroding, the land becoming less productive, water becoming more scarce and new diseases occurring at alarming rates. Many children and adults in the neighborhood, he said, had the same condition as his daughter. Because the type of Leishmaniasis that his daughter had is resistant to all forms of available treatment, there was little I could do to help. This stigmatizing skin disease, which afflicts the infected person with sores and lesions that can cause permanent disfigurement, is becoming one of the main reasons for school drop-outs in Northern Ethiopia.”

    Dr. Kassahun Desalegn Northern Ethiopia

    Follow Dr Kassahum Desalegn on Twitter

  19. “There is still time”

    “Although there is merit in simply chronicling what is happening, there is still opportunity for humanity to exercise free will,”

    James Hansen

    The scientists case is that most political debate addresses the questions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but does not and perhaps cannot factor in the all potentially dangerous unknowns – the slow feedbacks that will follow the thawing of the Arctic, the release of frozen reserves of methane and carbon dioxide in the permafrost, and the melting of polar ice into the oceans. They point out that 170 nations have agreed on the need to limit fossil fuel emissions to avoid dangerous human-made climate change.

    “However the stark reality is that global emissions have accelerated, and new efforts are underway to massively expand fossil fuel extractions by drilling to increasing ocean depths and into the Arctic, squeezing oil from tar sands and tar shale, hydro-fracking to expand extraction of natural gas, developing exploitation of methane hydrates and mining of coal via mountain-top removal and mechanised long wall-mining.”

Comments are closed.