None so blind …

…. as those who choose not to see!

Note: This is a long and pretty depressing post yet one that contains a critically vital message. Just wanted to flag that up.

This is not the first time I have used this expression as a header to a blogpost. The first time was back in August 2013 when I introduced the TomDispatch essay: Rebecca Solnit, The Age of Inhuman Scale.

I am using it again to introduce another TomDispatch essay. Like the Solnit essay a further reflection on the incredible madness of these present global times.

But before getting to that essay let me refer to a recent Patrice Ayme post. It is called: New Climate Lie: Magical CO2 Stop Possible.

Patrice included this graph:

To Stay Below 2C, CO2 Emissions Have To Stop Now. We Are On The Red Trajectory: Total Disaster
To Stay Below 2C, CO2 Emissions Have To Stop Now. We Are On The Red Trajectory: Total Disaster


Tempo depended upon the CO2 concentration, pitch upon the Earth global temperature, distortion upon the energy balance on land in watts per square meter. The numbers used were past and anticipated. After 2015, the graphs became two: one was red, the bad case scenario, the other was blue, and represented the good scenario.

As I looked at the blue graphs, the optimistic graphs, I got displeased: the blue CO2 emissions, the blue temperature, and the blue power imbalance, had a very sharp angle, just in 2016. First a sharp angle is mathematically impossible: as it is now, the curves of CO2, and temperature are smooth curves going up (on the appropriate time scale). It would require infinite acceleration, infinite force. Even if one stopped magically any human generated greenhouse gases emissions next week, the CO2 concentration would still be above 400 ppm (it is 404 ppm now). And it would stay this way for centuries. So temperature would still rise.

The composer, who was on stage, had been advised by a senior climate scientist, a respectable gentleman with white hair, surrounded by a court, who got really shocked when I came boldly to him, and told him his blue graph was mathematically impossible.

I told him that one cannot fit a rising, smooth exponential with a sharp angle bending down and a line. Just fitting the curves in the most natural, smooth and optimistic way gives a minimum temperature rise of four degrees Celsius. (There is a standard mathematical way to do this, dating back to Newton.)

Read Patrice’s essay in full here.

However, I find the malaise gripping us in these times to be infinitely more difficult to understand than what is or is not mathematically possible. I just can’t get my mind around the possibility that we are in an era where greed, inequality and the pursuit of power and money will take the whole of humanity over the edge.

Why, for goodness sake, is the U.S., my adopted home country, pursuing gas exports? As I read here: United States On Path to Becoming Major Exporter of Natural Gas Despite Climate Impacts
Here’s a taste of this report from Julie Dermansky of Desmogblog:

A flare at Cheniere Energy Sabine Pass LNG facility. ©2016 Julie Dermansky
A flare at Cheniere Energy Sabine Pass LNG facility. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

But rather than acknowledging the climate risk posed by further expansion of LNG export infrastructure, the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration are moving in the opposite direction.

The natural gas export industry may grow even more rapidly if the first new bipartisan energy legislation drafted since 2007 passes. The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, known as S. 2012, would expedite permitting for LNG export terminals.

The bill’s passage was considered imminent until it derailed with the introduction of an amendment that would provide emergency aid towards solving the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Now the passage of the bill hinges on whether the Senate will come to terms on aid to Flint.

Lobbying for the bill has been heavy. As DeSmog’s Steve Horn reported: “The list of lobbyists for S.2012 is a who’s who of major fossil fuel corporations and their trade associations: BP, ExxonMobil, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, American Petroleum Institute, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Southern Company, Duke Energy and many other prominent LNG export companies.”

I highlighted the name ExxonMobil in that extract because that company is the subject of Tom Engelhardt’s essay from Bill McKibben. Republished here with Tom’s kind permission.


Tomgram: Bill McKibben, It’s Not Just What Exxon Did, It’s What It’s Doing

14 thoughts on “None so blind …

  1. Truly, it infuriates me that there are climate (science) deniers across the US. Yes, let’s be frank, this madness is located predominantly in the US, and it is focused in the right-wing evangelical population… and these people influence the politicians. Wayne Swan, former Finance Minister and Deputy PM of Australia put it perfectly when he said:

    “Let’s be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world’s biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over the Republican Party.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Paul: Thanks for republishing me.
    Bill should use the term “iceshields”, not just “icesheets”. “Shields” means: THICK. The Greenland iceshield is more than two miles thick over large areas. The Antartic iceshield is around FOUR (4) kilometers thick.

    As I have detailed, an area of Antarctica larger than Western Europe is more than a mile, kilometers, below sea level. Similarly, for the center of Greenland… Those areas are protected by THRESHOLDS presently water-tight. However, at least in one well documented case (in December 2015, in SCIENCE magazine), the threshold of one of the two major glaciers draining Northwest Greenland gave way, and the glacier disintegrated gigantically in a few months on a depth of half a mile, and by dozens of miles. The threshold had been exposed to an ocean current warmer by ONE degree Centigrade above the long term average. It’s that sensitive.

    The WAIS, Wilkes and Aurora basins of Antarctica will disintegrate, and they could do so in a few years, not millennia. I will put a link to my essays (made before the case of waning threshold I alluded to above)


    1. No, you are quite right. Indeed, thanks to many bloggers, especially including your goodself, general awareness of the urgent need for change is rapidly increasing.


      1. Yes, Paul, yes. And thanks. I wish we would have more readers, but, well, we fight the good fight. After my friend Obama became president, he was swallowed by the Pluto blob and I got very depressed. But we can do all we can do, and no more. Being most moral means not doing less. Others, like my good friend Obama, will have to live with consequences of them coming short.

        The popularity of the likes of Sanders and Trump, strongly pushing against the established plutocracy, would never have happened without people like us fighting.


  3. I love McKibben and Solnit, both. Also Gretel Ehrlich (a personal friend, but great author who has long written about climate change), Terry Tempest Williams, tireless Al Gore of course and so many more. Many voices with great words of wisdom fall upon the deaf ears of the Idiocracy. Unfortunately. And yet unsurprisingly. What I and those closest to me (either geographically or ideologically) continue to do is to advocate where we can make a difference and fully embrace this miraculous life we have been given. And we breathe. While we still can. Aloha, Paul.


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