Obsession: Climate Change Russian Roulette


Obsession: Climate Change Russian Roulette

“Vaisala, an environmental monitoring company that tracks lightning around the world, reported 7,278 lightning strokes occurred last year north of 80 degrees latitude, nearly twice as many as the previous nine years combined. Arctic lightning is rare — even more so at such far northern latitudes — and scientists use it as a key indicator of the climate crisis, since the phenomena signals warming temperatures in the predominantly frozen region. Lightning occurs in energetic storms associated with an unstable atmosphere, requiring relatively warm and moist air, which is why they primarily occur in tropical latitudes and elsewhere during summer months.” [1]

Global Warming creates more humidity in the air to form droplets and ice crystals, and with more heat in the oceans and in the air there are more and stronger updrafts — forming clouds, being storms — to loft and freeze that humidity. The rapidity of that process (thunderclouds) is the source of the charge separation that results in lightning: static electricity created by friction and held by ice crystals high and low.

How about geo-engineering to reflect sunlight back into space, and cool the Earth? A friend asked: Is Dr. Ye Tao’s mirrors-on-the-ocean-surface scheme to reduce solar influx and thus reduce global warming reasonable? [2]

My initial reaction: It’s like wearing a thicker helmet so you can keep playing Russian Roulette.

My pal reacts: Indeed, but it appears to buy time. Would you agree with that?

My testy reply (and, he is a good guy) is based on my entrenched anti-geo-engineering bias (if you want to call it a bias), and my pessimistic assessment about “us” really ever responding to global warming climate change (GWCC):

I have no doubt that every technological scheme possible will be tried, and that no reason will ever be found for curbing CO2 emissions or ever ending our fossil fuel extraction (a.k.a. “business as usual”). In fact, those technological ideas will be used as justifications for continuing to emit CO2 (and greenhouse gases) at current and even higher levels.

As long as CO2 is in the atmosphere, it will act as an absorber of infrared radiation (IR, heat energy) radiated upward from the Earth’s surface — land and water — day and night.

Water vapor and organic vapors also capture IR, and there are increasing concentrations of these with continuing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and consequently increasingly higher biosphere temperatures: regional, planetary average, and very (very) long-term.

Reducing sunlight shining down to the ocean means reducing light energy used by plankton for photosynthesis, and they are the largest generator — larger than land-based plants — of oxygen (O2) for our atmosphere, and our breathing:

“Scientists estimate that 50-80% of the oxygen production on Earth comes from the ocean. The majority of this production is from oceanic plankton — drifting plants, algae, and some bacteria that can photosynthesize.” [3]

Also, plankton is the base of the food chain in the oceans, and all higher forms of life depend on them for survival (even us, for seafood). Baleen whales, rays and whale-sharks scoop up plankton directly, and are thus huge repositories of captured carbon, whose bodies after death sink to the ocean bottom and slowly become part of the chalky seabed rocks (“sequestration” done automatically by Nature). Since oceans are about 3/4 of the Earth’s surface, if we kill them we die quickly (geologically speaking). Life on land will not survive with dead, acidified oceans.

As I said, I do not see “us” ever cutting back on our CO2 emissions (so, keep shooting ourselves in the head), but I do see “us” using every conceivable scheme — especially if it can be patented and someone can make big money on it, like with COVID vaccines — to “mitigate” (thicken up our Russian Roulette protective helmets) so we can keep on burning up the fossil fuels, making the big bucks, having the profitable wars, and having an exponentially growing capitalist “good life.” Until it isn’t.

So, yeah, “it buys us time.” It’s so hard not to keep shooting ourselves in the head, isn’t it?


[1] Another sign things are getting weird: Lightning around the North Pole increased dramatically in 2021.
Rachel Ramirez, 5 January 2022

[2] Mirrors for Earth’s Energy Rebalancing (MEER:refEction) | Dr. Ye Tao | 2019NSSUS.
Dr. Ye Tao, 2019

[3] How much oxygen comes from the ocean?
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Nate Hagens, on Earth and Humanity

Watch the video presentation “Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality,” (2:52:15) by Nate Hagens, linked below. Hagens presents an analysis and grand synthesis of the multi-entwined crises of unsustainable human society living in the rapidly degrading world climate of an increasingly resource-depleted and increasingly inhospitable Planet Earth.

I guarantee that you will find many of your own views on this topic reaffirmed by Hagens, and also that he will challenge at least one of your cherished beliefs about it. This is good for serious people, it prompts them to think anew, and to rethink their assumptions.

What impresses me about Hagens’ analysis is that it is based on a wealth of data — the lifeblood of any real scientific or economic analysis — and that it is a multidimensional systems analysis, and not merely a “one note Johnny” narrow expertise (just finance, or just physics), single “smoking gun” caused problem (as the “overpopulation” reductionists claim) or a promotion of a single route to salvation solution (as the “nuclear power” reductionists claim). Hagens’s is an integrated description of the dysfunctional global system, which Nature plus Humanity has become, rather than merely being an uncoordinated list of a myriad of disconnected disasters, pathologies, ruins and wrecks.

Hagens does make specific recommendations near the end of his video, aimed at getting us (particularly in the U.S.A.) to begin dealing with our ongoing global systems failure in a substantive manner. After that he adds a few seconds of wordless video that will delight all lovers of wildlife.

Any abstraction of Hagens’ presentation to a single phrase would wash away all its insights and nuance, and would be unjust to the cause of transmitting understanding to the public. But, if you want an indicative soundbite, here is my maximally reductionist summary: humanity needs to scale back its use of energy very very significantly, and permanently, and now — an energy diet — just like a forever-maintained eat-less food-calorie diet needed to break an individual free from obesity.

Hagens’ video will make any serious person think (and we all better get serious), and that is the first essential step for us ever having a chance to get out of the mess we’re in.

Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality
16 May 2021 (Nate Hagens)

The following two paragraphs are my abstraction and consolidation of internet descriptions of Nate Hagens, with much of this information drawn from The Post Carbon Institute (https://www.postcarbon.org/our-people/nate-hagens/).

Nate Hagens has a Masters Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He is a former editor of The Oil Drum and worked on Wall Street for a decade before “seeing the light.” Since 2003 Nate has shifted his focus to understanding the interrelationships between energy, environment, and finance and the implication this synthesis has for human futures. Previously, Nate was President of Sanctuary Asset Management and a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers. Currently, he teaches a systems synthesis Honors seminar at the University of Minnesota ‘Reality 101 – A Survey of the Human Predicament.’

Nate focuses on the interrelationship between debt-based financial markets and natural resources, particularly energy, and the unplanned for risks from the coming ‘Great Simplification.’ He also addresses the evolutionarily-derived underpinnings to status, addiction, and our aversion to acting about the future and offers suggestions on how individuals and society might better adapt to the coming decades.

Jeff Gibbs 2019 video “Planet of the Humans,” released publicly on Earth Day 2020, was the most important presentation on the realities of our global “climate change” crisis to be made available in many years (https://planetofthehumans.com/). Nate Hagens’ new video “Earth and Humanity: Myths and Reality” is of much grander scope and at least of equal importance. See it and don’t get defensive, then refine your own stance from your points of disagreement with Hagens, and/or improve his systemic analysis, which is the type of thing needed to converge politically on what in all honesty would have to be called a World Plan for guiding human civilization through a transition — the Great Simplification — to a post carbon future, without suffering a catastrophic and life-ending collapse.

As a 20th century mechanical engineer who focused himself on the 19th century science of thermodynamics (and got away with a career in experimental nuclear explosions), I’ve said all what little I was competent to say about the physics and economics of “climate change.” So at this point all I can offer on the topic is bad poetry, and I’ll spare you that. But I can also recognize the value of new presentations like those of Gibbs and Hagens, and urge others to see them, study them, and act on them.

I am mindful of the urgent and totally justified demand posed by the next generation onto us world-controlling and world-destroying adults, through the voice of Greta Thunberg, for “action!” Nate Hagens’ systemic analysis is a very important step toward answering the questions of “what actions?” and “how do we implement them?”, and of actually working on Greta’s demand.

[Thanks to Isabel Ebert for pointing me to Nate Hagens’ video.]



Richard Heinberg both appears in “Planet of the Humans,” and leads the Post Carbon Institute.

The Most Colossal Planning Failure in Human History
May 2021
Richard Heinberg