Category: Politics

Runaway Antarctica

Do you hear the turnstile about to click!

Not so long ago I wrote a series of three posts under the titles of Interconnections One, Interconnections Two and, yes you guessed it😉 , Interconnections Three. They were about the consequences of rising sea levels.

Now one might argue that this has nothing whatsoever to do with Learning from Dogs but I would disagree. For as I declare in The Vision of this blog:

It seems to me that a Vision statement should encapsulate just why the owners of the enterprise are committed to that venture.  The author of Learning from Dogs is committed to this project; here is the Vision.

Our children require a world that understands the importance of faith, integrity and honesty

Learning from Dogs will serve as a reminder of the values of life and the power of unconditional love – as so many, many dogs prove each and every day

Constantly trying to get to the truth …

The power of greater self-awareness and faith; faith that the only way forward for us is through the truth …

For in a very real and devastating way even a small rise in global sea level is going to cause tens of thousands of dogs, and their loving owners, to become homeless. We are long overdue a commitment from our global leaders and power-brokers to that, “.. faith, integrity and honesty.”

However, championing that greater self-awareness is what blogger Patrice Ayme does almost all of the time. With his kind permission, I republish his latest post on the state of the Antarctic Ice.

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Runaway Antarctica

I have written for years that a runaway Antarctica was certain, with half the icy continent melting rather spectacularly on an horizon of two centuries at most, and probably much less than that. This rested on the fact that half of Antarctica rests on nothing but bedrock at the bottom of the sea. At the bottom of what should naturally be the sea, in the present circumstances of significant greenhouse gas concentrations.

Visualize this: until sometimes in the Nineteenth Century, GreenHouse Gas (GHG) concentration was 280 ppm (280 parts per million), including the man-made sort. Now we are close to 500 ppm, using a variety of exotic gases we produce industrially, among them, CO2. In CO2 alone we are at:  Week beginning on March 20, 2016: 405.62 ppm. Weekly value from 1 year ago: 401.43 ppm. Weekly value from 10 years ago: 382.76 ppm. So the CO2 alone is augmenting at a bit more than 1% a year. Thus we will be at an equivalent of 550 ppm in ten years (including the full panoply of all the other man-made greenhouse gases, not just CO2). There is evidence that, with just 400 ppm, disaster is guaranteed.

Now visualize this:

antarctica-truth-revealed-nyt-2016-450
How Antarctica would appear if its ice melted: it’s half under the sea.

Why so watery? Because the enormous glaciers, up to nearly 5,000 meter thick, press down on the continent with their enormous weight. Since the end of the last glaciation, 10,000 years ago, Scandinavia has been rising, and is still rising (I long used a picture with a similar information about Antarctica’s bedrock.)

A paper published on line in Nature on March 30, 2016, that is, two days ago, “Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise” opines that:

Polar temperatures over the last several million years have, at times, been slightly warmer than today, yet global mean sea level has been 6–9 metres higher as recently as the Last Interglacial (130,000 to 115,000 years ago) and possibly higher during the Pliocene epoch (about three million years ago). In both cases the Antarctic ice sheet has been implicated as the primary contributor, hinting at its future vulnerability. Here we use a model coupling ice sheet and climate dynamics—including previously underappreciated processes linking atmospheric warming with hydrofracturing of buttressing ice shelves and structural collapse of marine-terminating ice cliffs—that is calibrated against Pliocene and Last Interglacial sea-level estimates and applied to future greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500, if emissions continue unabated. In this case atmospheric warming will soon become the dominant driver of ice loss, but prolonged ocean warming will delay its recovery for thousands of years.

Notice that the scenario evoked in the last sentence is different from my  very old scenario, which is similar to the one advanced in November 2015 by the famous Hansen and Al. (I raised the alarm before Hansen, at least seven years ago). In my scenario, and Hansen’s the ice sheets melt from below, due to warm sea water intrusion.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is larger than Mexico.

Here is a taste of the paper (I have a Nature subscription):

“Reconstructions of the global mean sea level (GMSL) during past warm climate intervals including the Pliocene (about three million years ago)1 and late Pleistocene interglacials2, 3, 4, 5 imply that the Antarctic ice sheet has considerable sensitivity. Pliocene atmospheric CO2 concentrations were comparable to today’s (~400 parts per million by volume, p.p.m.v.)6, but some sea-level reconstructions are 10–30 m higher1, 7. In addition to the loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS)2, these high sea levels require the partial retreat of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS), which is further supported by sedimentary evidence from the Antarctic margin8. During the more recent Last Interglacial (LIG, 130,000 to 115,000 years ago), GMSL was 6–9.3 m higher than it is today2, 3, 4, at a time when atmospheric CO2 concentrations were below 280 p.p.m.v. (ref. 9) and global mean temperatures were only about 0–2 °C warmer10. This requires a substantial sea-level contribution from Antarctica of 3.6–7.4 m in addition to an estimated 1.5–2 m from Greenland11, 12 and around 0.4 m from ocean steric effects10.”

So notice: when CO2 ppm per volume was at 280 130,000 to 115,000 years ago, sea level was up to ten meter higher than now. And now we are at 500 ppmv…

And notice again: When CO2 ppmv was at 400, sea level was up to 30 meters (100 feet) higher than today. And now we are at 500 ppm, and, in a blink, in ten years, at 550 ppm.

Here is another example from the paper. I said all of this before, but to have scientists paid to do research in this area write it black on white in the world’s most prestigious scientific magazine, will no doubt endow me with greater, and much desired, gravitas. So let me indulge, not so much for my greater glory, but because it should help taking what I have long said more seriously.

“Much of the WAIS sits on bedrock hundreds to thousands of metres below sea level (Fig. 1a)13. Today, extensive floating ice shelves in the Ross and Weddell Seas, and smaller ice shelves and ice tongues in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas (Fig. 1b) provide buttressing that impedes the seaward flow of ice and stabilizes marine grounding zones (Fig. 2a). Despite their thickness (typically about 1 km near the grounding line to a few hundred metres at the calving front), a warming ocean has the potential to quickly erode ice shelves from below, at rates exceeding 10 m yr−1 °C−1 (ref. 14). Ice-shelf thinning and reduced backstress enhance seaward ice flow, grounding-zone thinning, and retreat (Fig. 2b). Because the flux of ice across the grounding line increases strongly as a function of its thickness15, initial retreat onto a reverse-sloping bed (where the bed deepens and the ice thickens upstream) can trigger a runaway Marine Ice Sheet Instability (MISI; Fig. 2c)15, 16, 17. Many WAIS grounding zones sit precariously on the edge of such reverse-sloped beds, but the EAIS also contains deep subglacial basins with reverse-sloping, marine-terminating outlet troughs up to 1,500 m deep (Fig. 1). The ice above floatation in these East Antarctic basins is much thicker than in West Antarctica, with the potential to raise GMSL by around 20 m if the ice in those basins is lost13. Importantly, previous ice-sheet simulations accounting for migrating grounding lines and MISI dynamics have shown the potential for repeated WAIS retreats and readvances over the past few million years18, but could only account for GMSL rises of about 1 m during the LIG and 7 m in the warm Pliocene, which are substantially smaller than geological estimates.”

I said it before. Including the details. So the evidence was clear, and out there. The optimism (it will take 5 centuries for 50 feet of sea level rise) is not supported by evidence. Actually collapsing channels coming from inverted rivers running up on the bellies of ice sheets are now obvious on satellite pictures and collapse of major ice shelves is going to be a matter of years, not centuries.

But science is made by tribes and these tribes honor the gods (of plutocracy) who finance them, and their whims. So they don’t want to make their sponsors feel bad. So they say unsupported, optimistic stuff, contradicted by a first order analysis.

Science is good, metascience, better. Metascience includes the sociological reasons which explain why some scientists will take some “facts” for obvious (although, coming from another sociology, they are not).

Deep in the Nature paper, in the quote above, or in four drawings and graphs of future sea level rise, one can find projections according to what various models “predict”… 130,000 years ago (!) The “Old Physics” model predicts one meter rise of the sea (this is the official UN maximal prediction for 2100). The new model, again starting with the present conditions, predict more than a six meter rise (!) This is a case of metascience playing with sea level.

This way, the authors of the paper will be able to say, one day: we told you so. While at the same time not irritating their sponsors now (because to understand what they are really saying takes quite a while, and has to be understood as tongue in cheek, when they pretend to apply the analysis to 130,000 years ago… What they really mean is six meters now, not just one meter… Bye bye Wall Street. Punished by its own instruments…)

The question is not whether we will be able to avoid a twenty meter sea level rise: that’s, unbelievably, a given (barring unforeseeable, yet imaginable technological advances to extract quickly a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere). The question is whether we will avoid a 60 meter rise.

Patrice Ayme’

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Let me add a footnote.

Namely, that on Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog on Saturday was an item under the heading of A Wake-Up Call on Climate Change and Clean Energy.

By Eric Beinhocker, Executive Director, INET Oxford. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

A stark warning from Institute researchers on the probability that ‘2°C capital stock’ will be reached in 2017

A new study from the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School and the Smith School for Enterprise and Environment, University of Oxford, shows that we are uncomfortably close to the point where the world’s energy system commits the planet to exceeding 2°C.

In the paper, to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Applied Energy, the authors calculate the Two degree capital stock – the global stock of electricity infrastructure from which future emissions have a 50% probability of staying within 2°C of warming. The researchers estimate that the world will reach Two degree capital stock next year, in 2017.

Read the full item here.

It’s enough to make us all feel angry and hopeless. That would be understandable but wrong.

Go and read my Inconnections Three for within that post is this:

Want to fight climate change? Here are the 7 critical life changes you should make.

For the sake of millions of us and our wonderful pets stay with it and demand change from our politicians and leaders in every way that you can.

Mature, healthy trees.

Continuing the metaphor that our trees offer us.

In yesterday’s post I offered up the idea that:

The analogy with planting trees is very apt. For any clown can plant the tree but parenting that young tree into a mature forty-foot high beauty takes professional management.

That post had been inspired by a recent essay over at Patrice Ayme’s Thoughts regarding the observation by Andy Grove, the founder of Intel, that promoting start-ups without the commensurate focus on growing those start-ups into viable commercial concerns was strategically and politically incorrect. Back to that essay for a further extract:

However, American-based manufacturing is not on the agenda of Silicon Valley or the political agenda of the United States. Venture capitalists actually told me it was obsolete (before stepping in their private jets). That omission, according to Mr. Grove, is a result of anotherunquestioned truism”: “that the free market is the best of all economic systems — the freer the better.” To Mr. Grove, or Mr. Trump, or yours truly, that belief is flawed.

Andy Grove: “Scaling used to work well in Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs came up with an invention. Investors gave them money to build their business. If the founders and their investors were lucky, the company grew and had an initial public offering, which brought in money that financed further growth.” 

The triumph of free-market principles over planned economies in the 20th century, Mr. Grove said, did not make those principles infallible or immutable. There was room for improvement, he argued, for what he called “job-centric” economics and politics. In a job-centric system, job creation would be the nation’s No. 1 objective, with the government setting priorities and arraying the forces necessary to achieve the goal, and with businesses operating not only in their immediate profit interest but also in the interests of “employees, and employees yet to be hired.”

As even the New York Times now admits, the situation has degenerated since 2010. Although the employment rate halved, in a slave state, everybody is employed. But neither the economy, nor the society, let alone progress and civilization are doing better.

“Insecure, low-paying, part-time and dead-end jobs are prevalent. On the campaign trail, large groups of Americans are motivated and manipulated on the basis of real and perceived social and economic inequities.

Conditions have worsened in other ways. In 2010, one of the arguments against Mr. Grove’s critique was that exporting jobs did not matter as long as much of the corporate profits stayed in the United States. But just as American companies have bolstered their profits by exporting jobs, many now do so by shifting profits overseas through tax-avoidance maneuvers.

The result is a high-profit, low-prosperity nation. “All of us in business,” Mr. Grove wrote, “have a responsibility to maintain the industrial base on which we depend and the society whose adaptability — and stability — we may have taken for granted.” Silicon Valley and much of corporate America have yet to live up to that principle.”

If we return to that analogy of the tree, think how long and how much attention must be put into the conditions that will promote not only sustained growth of that young tree but growth to the point where it can propogate its own saplings.

As it is for young companies. The skills that company managers require to nurture that company to the point of self-sustaining maturity are many and varied. But they are underpinned by the need to be truthful and trustworthy, to be devoted to the employees of the company and to instill in all who work, and finance, that company to “love the customer”. Not just those customers that are the big spenders but also, and especially so, the many, many smaller clients that can make or break a company’s reputation.

So with that in mind let’s take a peek at USA LLC and UK Ltd.

Here are the closing paragraphs from Patrice’s essay:

Our corruption is not just an economic and social problem, a political problem, and a civilizational problem, as it was under Aristotle.  It is a problem for the entire planet.

We empowered a demagogue“, laments Mr. Kristof. His true calling, and that of the Main Stream Media, was to empower plutocrats, and their obsequious servants. How sad they are.

Patrice Ayme’

Then there is Richard Murphy in the UK who writes the blog Tax Research UK. In a recent post, entitled The Party Political Problem he opened, thus:

I like being outside the fray of party politics. I wasn’t born with a sufficient capacity for compromise to believe that any political party has all the answers to all questions. And yet, equally, I can admire those who can make the sacrifice to take part in this process. It is, for better or worse, at the heart of democratic politics.

That demands that it be done well. This requirement is predicated on three things. The first is a willingness to pretend you have the answer to all things. The second is a leadership that knows this is not true and which as a result respects its opponents. The third is an acute appreciation of the fact that compromise in pursuit of a higher goal, whilst saving face, is the ultimate political aim: nothing really happens without the accommodation of others.

He then closes his post:

Passion, dogma and steadfastness, come what may, are not what makes party politics.

Conviction based on wisdom, understanding and compassion does.

But these qualities remain in far too short supply, even if they’re not quite out of stock, yet.

And that’s the party political problem.

Many people both ‘sides of the pond’ would nod heads in agreement with that.

My final peek is into an essay that was recently published by the quarterly journal The Baffler. The essay was from David Graeber under the heading of Despair Fatigue. Opening:

Is it possible to become bored with hopelessness?

There is reason to believe something like that is beginning to happen in Great Britain. Call it despair fatigue.

For nearly half a century, British culture, particularly on the left, has made an art out of despair. This is the land where “No Future for You” became the motto of a generation, and then another generation, and then another. From the crumbling of its empire, to the crumbling of its industrial cities, to the current crumbling of its welfare state, the country seemed to be exploring every possible permutation of despair: despair as rage, despair as resignation, despair as humor, despair as pride or secret pleasure. It’s almost as if it’s finally run out.

and closing, thus:

Twenty-first century problems are likely to be entirely different: How, in a world of potentially skyrocketing productivity and decreasing demand for labor, will it be possible to maintain equitable distribution without at the same time destroying the earth? Might the United Kingdom become a pioneer for such a new economic dispensation? The new Labour leadership is making the initial moves: calling for new economic models (“socialism with an iPad”) and seeking potential allies in high-tech industry. If we really are moving toward a future of decentralized, small, high-tech, robotized production, it’s quite possible that the United Kingdom’s peculiar traditions of small-scale enterprise and amateur science—which never made it particularly amenable to the giant bureaucratized conglomerates that did so well in the United States and Germany, in either their capitalist or socialist manifestations—might prove unusually apt. It’s all a colossal gamble. But then, that’s what historical change is like.

In other words, it’s this!

One of the age-old maxims from professional company managers is:

It’s always a case of putting people before profits!

Putting people before profits should be in the front of the minds of all our leaders and masters; both sides of the ‘pond’.

Or in tree language investing in this:

Clown work! (This is a Red Maple, by the way!)
An American Red Maple sapling.

to achieve this:

A mature American Red Maple tree.
A mature American Red Maple tree.

Come on good people, we really do need healthy, mature trees in our 21st C. societies.

New growth required!

New trees offer a good metaphor!

As regular followers of this place know (and a huge thank-you to you all) much of last Friday was spent planting trees in a grassy meadow just to the East of our house.

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A part view of the area where the trees were planted: Kentucky Coffeetrees; Northern Catalpas; a Red Maple, Eastern Redcedars.

An hour before I sat down to write this post (now 13:30 PST yesterday) I didn’t have a clue as to what to write. Then I read Patrice Ayme’s latest essay and, wow, it punched me in the face. For it resonated so strongly with a few other recent readings.

Patrice’s essay was called Trump A Demagogue? So What? and it opened thus:

“We empowered a demagogue” laments the New York Times ostensibly bleeding heart liberal, the kind Mr. Kristof, in his false “Mea Culpa” editorial, “My Shared Shame: How The Media Made Trump”. By this, Mr. Kristof means that Mr. Trump is a bad person. However, Mr. Kristof’s choice of the word “demagogue” is revealing. (Actually it’s not really his choice: “demagogue” is not Mr. Kristof’s invention: he just repeats like a parrot the most prominent slogan of the worldwide campaign of insults against Trump).

Trump a demagogue? Is Mr. Sanders a “demagogue”, too? (As much of the financial and right-wing press has it: for The Economist and the Financial Times, Trump and Sanders are both “demagogues” and that’s their main flaw.)

To understand fully the word “demagogue” one has to understand a bit of Greek, and a bigger bit of Greek history.

Then later on in that essay, Patrice goes on to quote Andy Grove:

A hard day may be coming for global plutocrats ruling as they do thanks to their globalization tricks. And I am not exactly naive. Andy Grove, founder of Intel, shared the general opinion that much of globalization was just theft & destitution fostering an ominous future (the Hungarian immigrant to the USA who was one of the founders of Intel). He pointed out, an essay he wrote in 2010 that Silicon Valley was squandering its competitive edge in innovation by neglecting strong job growth in the United States.

Mr. Grove observed that: …”it was cheaper and thus more profitable for companies to hire workers and build factories in Asia than in the United States. But… lower Asian costs masked the high price of offshoring as measured by lost jobs and lost expertise. Silicon Valley misjudged the severity of those losses, he wrote, because of a “misplaced faith in the power of start-ups to create U.S. jobs.”

Silicon Valley makes its money from start-ups. However, that phase of a business is different from the scale-up phase, when technology goes from prototypes to mass production. Both phases are important. Only scale-up is an engine for mass job growth — and scale-up is vanishing in the United States (especially with jobs connected to Silicon Valley). “Without scaling,” Mr. Grove wrote, “we don’t just lose jobs — we lose our hold on new technologies” and “ultimately damage our capacity to innovate…

The underlying problem isn’t simply lower Asian costs. It’s our own misplaced faith in the power of startups to create U.S. jobs. Americans love the idea of the guys in the garage inventing something that changes the world. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently encapsulated this view in a piece called “Start-Ups, Not Bailouts.” His argument: Let tired old companies that do commodity manufacturing die if they have to. If Washington really wants to create jobs, he wrote, it should back startups.

Friedman is wrong. Startups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment.”

Spot on! For in my previous life I was the founder of two businesses. First up was Dataview Ltd, based in Colchester, that was formed in the late 1970s and soon became the global distributor of the word processing software Wordcraft, written by Englishman Pete Dowson. Dataview also initiated the ‘dongle’, a software/hardware security device to protect Wordcraft.

The Wordcraft dongle.
The Wordcraft dongle.

The second company founded by me was Aviation Briefing Ltd ‘AvBrief’ that is still going today, albeit with me no longer involved!

So I can reinforce, with hundreds of hours of lost sleep and tears, that growing a company and increasing employment, especially the employment of great technical people, is a very different matter to the start-up phase.

Frankly, regarding Dataview, it was only the luck of meeting Sid Newman that saved my bacon. For within 12 months of starting trading I was already sinking under the load of trying to be the number one salesman (that I was good at) and being the company general manager (that I was total crap at). Sid had years of experience at general management and very quickly let me get on with what I really loved – opening up Wordcraft distributorships all over the world.

The analogy with planting trees is very apt. For any clown can plant the tree but parenting that young tree into a mature forty-foot high beauty takes professional management.

Clown work! (This is a Red Maple, by the way!)
Clown work! (This is a Red Maple, by the way!)

Tomorrow I will return and offer a viewpoint as to how we, as in society, are currently bereft of professional managers.

Where to for democracy?

Good people must resist what is going on!

My sub-heading was prompted by that very well-known saying, “All that evil requires to succeed is for good people to do nothing.”

That saying came to me when I was reading a recent essay published by Professor Richard Murphy over in the UK. I am referring to his article entitled: Nature reckons science is watching as democracy rides over a cliff.

Here’s the extent of Richard’s short post:

This comes from Colin Macilwain in the latest edition of the massively influential journal ‘Nature’, and I quote in the public interest and as it reinforces the arguments I have made today:

But at the top [of science] there is paralysis: leading scientific organizations do little except chase money and reinforce the ruling nexus of politics and finance — even since the financial crisis of 2008, which discredited the free-market philosophy that underpins that nexus. I argued years ago (see Nature479, 447; 2011) that scientific leaders had failed to respond in any meaningful way to that collapse, and I’m still waiting.

The political structure of the West is in deep trouble, and should it fall apart, there will be plenty of blame to go around. Most will go to political and financial elites, or to rowdy mobs. But some will belong to people in the middle who have taken public funds, defended elites and then stood back and watched as democracy got ridden over a cliff.

I think that fair comment and recommend the rest.

If one now goes across to that post from Colin here’s what one would read in the opening paragraphs:

The elephant in the room we can’t ignore

16 March 2016

The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington DC last month was one of the best I’ve witnessed in more than 20 years of regular attendance. The policy sessions were packed and genuinely stimulating. I met tons of smart, influential people I hadn’t seen for ages, and we all enjoyed a good chinwag about how better to engage with the public — the meeting’s theme for 2016.

The only trouble was what was going on outside the hotel — in the United States and the world at large.

Colin then makes the point that is neatly articulated in the extract that was published by Professor Murphy and is republished above.

I don’t have any answers other than wanting to share this with you, dear reader. For decent, ordinary folk must be aware of the multiple threats to our Western democracy that are taking place.

Just as I want to share with you an example of what a good honest person and his adorable Labrador get up to. An example from my old country (and Richard Murphy’s home country).

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Dog Refuses to Leave the Side of Near-Death Man Trapped in Mud

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When one false step left Martin Kay literally drowning in ice-cold mud in the English countryside, he quickly found out who his two best friends are. Turns out one of them is a dog.

Holly Blue is a typical Labrador who has never met a tree trunk or a blade of grass that doesn’t smell good. So when Martin took out her leash one recent afternoon, his dog was over-the-moon with expectation of the crisp afternoon air and a landscape of wintery fields. Neither of them had any inkling that this simple walk would soon turn catastrophic.

This day, the two set out along a different route through England’s historic Thornham Parva village. Though it was a very cold day, the skies were clear and there was no reason for concern, or so it seemed.

“I hadn’t walked that route for about two years,” Martin said. “When I came across the mud, I tested the ground at the side and it felt firm, but as I walked into the middle the ground began to sink. I called for help but nobody heard me.”

Minutes turned into hours and Martin simply couldn’t extricate himself from the mud. Holly Blue circled anxiously, but there was nothing the dog could do except to stand guard beside her friend. She never left his side.

“I eventually drifted off,” Martin said. “I wasn’t optimistic about being found, but I wasn’t panicking – it was too cold for that!”

Fortunately, Martin’s good friend was scheduled to pick him up that day and when Martin didn’t return home, his friend grew concerned enough to call the police. Martin was reported missing to the police at 7:30 in the evening. Other friends and neighbors had already begun searching for Martin themselves, but they were all focused on his usual route, not realizing that he’d gone in a different direction.

Police used a thermal imaging camera during helicopter sweeps from above. After some time they came across a heat signature that appeared to be the warm body of dog curled up at the edge of the bog. According to police, indeed Holly Blue was found first, and sighting her led them to Martin. Watch a portion of the rescue below.

Police Constables Luke Allard and Clare Wayman were the first on the ground.

“The field was in the middle of nowhere and we were relying on the light from the helicopter and torch light,” Allard said. “When I got to Mr Kay I took hold of his hand and he wouldn’t let go – I told him he would have to let go or I wouldn’t be able to help him.”

Unfortunately Allard and Wayman began getting stuck themselves while trying to extricate Martin, so they covered him with their own jackets to keep him warm while waiting for reinforcements.

Martin was in and out of consciousness as he was taken to West Suffolk Hospital. When he awoke, he was told how Holly Blue had helped save his life.

“It was the first and the last time she had been called into action,” Martin said in an interview with Global News. “She’s a very loyal dog.”

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Now compare the behaviourial values of Martin Kay, Holly Blue and everyone else who ensured this had a happy ending with those being demonstrated in the first part of this post!

It’s no sinecure to say, once again, how urgent it is for humankind to learn from our fabulous dogs!

The arrow of time.

Everything, eventually, falls into decay.

What is deeply fascinating, at a number of levels, is how time only goes one way. At every single level of our experience, from the scale of the universe down to the tiniest particle known to science, it all flows forward. The arrow of time!

I was reminded of this interesting question of time in a book that has been published by a local Oregon author, John Taylor Our Curious UNIVERSE (the book is not available online otherwise I would have linked to it.)

It got me thinking of age. How we are all aging. How there is nothing that we can do to stop it. How the only thing we can do is to change our relationship with age. That then reminded me of an item that was published on The Conversation site a week ago that I wanted to share with you – share within the terms provided by The Conversation. The article was called It’s time to measure 21st century aging with 21st century tools.

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It’s time to measure 21st century aging with 21st century tools

March 4, 2016

Disclosure statement

The research was conducted in the framework of the European Research Council ERC-2012-AdG 323947-Re-Ageing

Sergei Scherbov receives funding from the European Research Council ERC-2012-AdG 323947-Re-Ageing

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The populations of most countries of the world are aging, prompting a deluge of news stories about slower economic growth, reduced labor force participation, looming pension crises, exploding health care costs and the reduced productivity and cognitive functioning of the elderly.

These stories are dire, in part because the most widely used measure of aging – the old-age dependency ratio, which measures the number of older dependents relative to working-age people – was developed a century ago and implies the consequences of aging will be much worse than they are likely to be. On top of that, this ratio is used in political and economic discussions of topics such as health care costs and the pension burden – things it was not designed to address.

Turning 65 in 2016 doesn’t mean the same thing as hitting 65 in 1916. So instead of relying on the old-age dependency ratio to figure out the impact of aging, we propose using a series of new measures that take changes in life expectancy, labor participation and health spending into account. When you take these new realities into account, the picture looks a lot brighter.

 How facts from the census questionnaire were tabulated into statistics in 1950. The U.S. National Archives/Flickr
How facts from the census questionnaire were tabulated into statistics in 1950. The U.S. National Archives/Flickr

Our tools to measure aging have aged

The most commonly used measure of population aging is the “old-age dependency ratio,” which is the ratio of the number of people 65 years or older to those 20 to 64.

But, since the old-age dependency ratio was introduced in the early 1900s, most countries have experienced a century of rising life expectancy, and further increases are anticipated.

For instance, in 1914, life expectancy at birth in Sweden was 58.2 years (average for both sexes). By 2014, it had risen to 82.2 years. In 1935, when the U.S Social Security Act was signed into law, 65-year-olds were expected to live 12.7 more years, on average. In 2013, 65 year-olds may expect to live 19.5 years more.

But these changes aren’t reflected in the conventional statistics on aging. Nor is the fact that many people don’t just stop working when they turn 65, and that people are staying healthier for longer.

To get a better sense of what population aging really means today, we decided to develop a new set of measures that take these new realities into account to replace the old-age dependency ratio. And instead of one ratio, we created several ratios to evaluate health care costs, labor force participation and pensions.

Who retires at 65 anymore?

One of these new realities is that the number of people working into their late 60’s and beyond is going up. In 1994, 26.8 percent of American men aged 65-69 participated in the labor force. That figure climbed to 36.1 percent in 2014 and is forecast to reach 40 percent by 2024. And the trend is similar for even older men, with 17 percent of those aged 75-79 expected to still be working in a decade, up from just 10 percent in 1994.

Clearly, these older people did not get the message that they were supposed to become old-age dependents when they turned 65.

Depot Supervisor Eric Headley, 74, takes a call on his mobile phone while at work for Pimlico Plumbers in London July 29, 2010. Britain announced plans to scrap the fixed retirement age next year, saying it wanted to give people the chance to work beyond 65, but business leaders warned the move would create serious problems. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) - RTR2GUL1
Depot Supervisor Eric Headley, 74, takes a call on his mobile phone while at work for Pimlico Plumbers in London July 29, 2010. Britain announced plans to scrap the fixed retirement age next year, saying it wanted to give people the chance to work beyond 65, but business leaders warned the move would create serious problems. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett.

This isn’t unique to the U.S. Rates like these in many countries have been rising. In the U.K., for instance, the labor force participation rate of 65- to 69-year-old men was 24.2 percent in 2014, and in Israel it was 50.2 percent, up from 14.8 percent and 27.4 percent, respectively, in 2000. In part this is because older people now often have better cognitive functioning than their counterparts who were born a decade earlier.

So, instead of assuming that people work only from ages 20 to 64 and become old-age dependents when they hit 65, we have computed “economic dependency ratios” that take into account observations and forecasts of labor force participation rates. This tells us how many adults not in the labor force there are for every adult in the labor force, giving us a more accurate picture than using 65 as a cutoff point. We used forecasts produced by the International Labour Organization to figure this out.

The old-age dependency ratio in the U.S. is forecast to increase by 61 percent from 2013 to 2030. But using our economic dependency ratio, the ratio of adults in the labor force to adults not in the labor force increases by just 3 percent over that period.

Clearly, doom and gloom stories about U.S. workers having to support so many more nonworkers in the future may need to be reconsidered.

Is the health care burden going to be so high?

Another reality is that while health care costs will go up with an older population, they won’t rise as much as traditional forecasts estimate.

Instead of assuming that health care costs rise dramatically on people’s 65th birthdays, as the old-age dependency ratio implicitly does, we have produced an indicator that takes into account the fact that most of the health care costs of the elderly are incurred in their last few years of life. Increasing life expectancy means those final few years happen at ever later ages.

In Japan, for example, when the burden of the health care costs of people aged 65 and up on those 20-64 years old is assessed using only the conventional old-age dependency ratio, that burden is forecast to increase 32 percent from 2013 to 2030. When we compute health care costs based on whether people are in the last few years of their lives, the burden increases only 14 percent.

Pension ages are going up

The last reality we considered concerns pensions.

In most OECD countries, the age at which someone can begin collecting a full public pension is rising. In a number of countries, such as Sweden, Norway and Italy, pension payouts are now explicitly linked to life expectancy.

In Germany, the full pension age will rise from 65 to 67 in 2029. In the U.S., it used to be 65, is now 66 and will soon rise to 67.

Instead of assuming that everyone receives a full public pension at age 65, which is what the old-age dependency ratio implicitly does, we have computed a more realistic ratio, called the pension cost dependency ratio, that incorporates a general relationship between increases in life expectancy and the pension age. The pension cost dependency ratio shows how fast the burden of paying public pensions is likely to grow.

For instance, in Germany, the old-age dependency ratio is forecast to rise by 49 percent from 2013 to 2030, but 65-year-old Germans will not be eligible for a full pension in 2030. Our pension cost dependency ratio increases by 26 percent over the same period. Instead of indicating that younger Germans will have to pay 49 percent more to support pensioners in 2030 compared to what they paid in 2013, taking planned increases in the full pension age into account, we see that the increase is 26 percent.

Pranom Chartyothin, a 72-year-old bus conductor, sells and collects bus tickets in downtown Bangkok, Thailand, February 3, 2016. Such scenes will only become more common in Thailand as its population rapidly ages, unlike its neighbours with more youthful populations. The World Bank estimates the working-age population will shrink by 11 percent by 2040, the fastest contraction among Southeast Asia's developing countries. Thailand's stage of economic development, the rising cost of living and education, and a population waiting longer to get married are among the reasons it is ageing more quickly than its neighbours. An effective contraception programme in the 1970s also played a part, said Sutayut Osornprasop, a human development specialist at the World Bank in Thailand. Picture taken February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX269SM
Pranom Chartyothin, a 72-year-old bus conductor, sells and collects bus tickets in downtown Bangkok, Thailand, February 3, 2016. Such scenes will only become more common in Thailand as its population rapidly ages, unlike its neighbours with more youthful populations. The World Bank estimates the working-age population will shrink by 11 percent by 2040, the fastest contraction among Southeast Asia’s developing countries. Thailand’s stage of economic development, the rising cost of living and education, and a population waiting longer to get married are among the reasons it is ageing more quickly than its neighbours. An effective contraception programme in the 1970s also played a part, said Sutayut Osornprasop, a human development specialist at the World Bank in Thailand. Picture taken February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva.

Sixty-five just isn’t that old anymore

In addition to this suite of measures focused on particular aspects of population aging, it is also useful to have a general measure of population aging. We call our general measure of population aging the prospective old-age dependency ratio.

People do not suddenly become old-age dependents on their 65th birthdays. From a population perspective, it makes more sense to classify people as being old when they are getting near the end of their lives. Failing to adjust who is categorized as old based on the changing characteristics of people and their longevity can make aging seem faster than it will be.

In our prospective old-age dependency ratio, we define people as old when they are in age groups where the remaining life expectancy is 15 years or less. As life expectancy increases, this threshold of old age increases.

In the U.K., for instance, the conventional old-age dependency ratio is forecast to increase by 33 percent by 2030. But when we allow the old-age threshold to change with increasing life expectancy, the resulting ratio increases by just 13 percent.

Populations are aging in many countries, but the conventional old-age dependency ratio makes the impact seem worse than it will be. Fortunately, better measures that do not exaggerate the effects of aging are now just a click away.

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Yes, we live in interesting times!

Anger alert!

This report from my old country is despicable!

Before leaving England in 2008 to be with my Jeannie, I lived in South Devon. Lived in the small village of Harberton, just a few miles west of Totnes. But never had cause to form an opinion, good or bad, of my local police force: The Devon and Cornwall Police. Until now!

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Why Did Police Keep a Dog Locked in a Cage for 2 Years?

3169853.largeBy: Laura Goldman, March 6, 2016

Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

Stella has spent the last two years locked in a 3-by-9 foot cage in a kennel in Devon, England. She has never been let out to exercise or play.

In 2014, Stella was taken away by police from her owner, Antony Hastie, because she was “potentially dangerous.” Did she bite or attack someone? No. Under the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, Stella is illegal and considered a threat to public safety – but only because of her breed. Stella is a pit bull mix.

Stella was taken to a private kennel owned by Devon and Cornwall Police. She was put in a cage that she has only been allowed to leave twice in the past two years, and only for behavior assessments.

“We were always told not to exercise or go into a kennel with any dogs, regardless of character, that had been brought in under the Dangerous Dogs Act,” Laura Khanlarian, who worked at the kennel, told BBC News.

“We were under no circumstances allowed to touch any of those dogs — which was hard,” Khanlarian said. “Animal welfare comes before anything, and that was my job. I don’t believe I would be doing it properly if I would sit back and think that’s okay. It wasn’t okay — it’s not okay.”

The dogs that were “so kind and needed us the most for reassurance – we were never able to give that to them,” she told SWNS TV.

Khanlarian lost her job when she breached her employment contract by interacting with the seized dogs.

Contrary to Khanlarian’s eyewitness account, Devon and Cornwall Police issued a statement claiming that of the hundred or so dogs they’ve seized over the past two years, Stella was the only one deemed too dangerous to be exercised by kennel staff.

Apparently Devon and Cornwall Police haven’t read “The Welfare of Dogs Seized in Kennels: A Guide to Good Practice,” created for police departments by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in collaboration with animal welfare officers, local authority dog wardens and police dog legislation officers.

All dogs “must have daily access to outdoor safe and secure areas, away from the kennel area and this should be at least 30 minutes per day,” the guide states (yes, “must” is emphasized in bold).

The Dangerous Dogs Act is breed-specific legislation (BSL), laws that apply only to certain breeds (usually pit bulls). BSL is opposed in the United States by virtually every major animal welfare organization because it punishes well-behaved dogs and responsible owners. Besides, it’s expensive to enforce and has not proven to increase public safety anywhere that it’s been enacted.

“It’s terrible. It’s unjustified. It’s wasting huge amounts of money and it’s not doing a single thing to prevent dog bites,” Kendal Shepherd, a veterinarian and animal behavior expert with 30 years of experience working with dogs, told BBC News. “It’s cruel. But it’s what our system forces us to do.”

Stella’s owner has gone to court 11 times over the past two years, trying in vain to get his beloved dog back. She had never showed any signs of aggression before she was seized, he said.

But Cornwall and Devon Police said — in the same statement in which they claimed Stella was the only dog in their kennel not let out of her cage – that Stella had “threatened and shown aggressive behavior toward two Police Community Support Officers,” had shown “aggressive behavior prior to being seized” and “attempted to bite a court appointed independent expert during the dog’s assessment.”

Last month, Torquay Magistrates’ Court ordered Stella to be destroyed.

Stella’s heartbreaking situation is similar to that of Lennox, a therapy dog from Northern Ireland that was seized because he was perceived to be a pit bull mix. Despite an international outcry and pleas for his life from dog experts like Victoria Stilwell, Lennox was euthanized in 2012.

Several rescue organizations in the United States had offered to take in Lennox, to no avail.

Perhaps Animals R Family will have better luck with Stella. The nonprofit rescue has offered to fly her to its headquarters in Connecticut, where BSL is banned.

“Breed specific legislation is wrong and ineffective. In the US, pit bulls are one of the most popular dogs for family pets,” the rescue wrote on its Facebook page.

Please sign and share the petition asking for Stella to be released.

Photo credit: YouTube

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Inevitably, this was signed by Jean and me seconds after it was read. Please do everything in your power to support this petition and stand behind Sharon, the originator of the Care2 Petition.

Thank you from all of my being. This is wrong on just so many levels it makes me ashamed to be a human or English. You can not torture and destroy animals because of outdated laws. Henry VIII killed people for not being Christian, where would we be if that was still lawful????? Animals only EVER ask for love. I have been around more animals than I have had hot dinners in my life and I’m 50 now. Someone please help me make this a happy ending.

Sincerely,
sharon smart

Please also send a message of support to AnimalsRFamily because it might just make a difference. Their contact page is here.

The behaviour of dogs is always a product of the humans who are around them, it is never a function of the dog alone! (And please see my post tomorrow about our own Pit Bull mix.)

Interconnections Three

Is there a case for optimism? You bet there is!

To be honest, at a personal level I just don’t know the answer to that question. It seems to depend on the mood that Jean and I are in at any particular time. All I can fall back on is that well-used saying from me: “Never underestimate the power of unintended consequences”.

In other words, we shouldn’t underestimate the strength of millions of good people when their demands start reaching out to those in power. (And whatever your reaction to this post, please don’t miss watching the inspirational Al Gore speech towards the end of this post.)

Recently over on the Grist site there was an article about the critical changes that each and every one of us should be making. I want to share it with you in full.

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Want to fight climate change? Here are the 7 critical life changes you should make

Interconnections Two

Continuing the stark assessment of where we are today.

In yesterday’s post I covered the first five of the eleven facts about sea-level rise. Here are the rest of those facts.

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11 alarming facts about sea-level rise

Russell McLendon, February 26, 2016.

6. Sea levels could rise another 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) in the next 80 years.

sea-level rise mapThis map shows areas that would flood (marked in red) due to 1-meter sea-level rise. (Photo: NASA)

In another study published this month, scientists report that global sea levels will likely rise 0.5 to 1.3 meters (1.6 to 4.3 feet) by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t rapidly reduced. Even if last year’s Paris Agreement does spur ambitious climate policy, sea levels are still projected to rise 20 to 60 cm (7.8 to 23.6 inches) by 2100. Taken with the longer-term effects from melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, that means any strategy to endure sea-level rise must involve adaptation plans as well as efforts to slow the trend.

7. Up to 216 million people currently live on land that will be below sea level or regular flood levels by 2100.

coastal flooding in Typhoon FitowHigher sea levels can exacerbate storm surges, like this 2013 flood in Wenzhou, China. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Of the estimated 147 million to 216 million people in harm’s way, between 41 million and 63 million live in China. Twelve nations have more than 10 million people living on land at risk from sea-level rise, including China as well as India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan. Bangladesh is especially vulnerable, identified by the U.N. as the country most in danger from rising seas. Once the ocean rises by 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) next century, it will affect 16 percent of Bangladesh’s land area and 15 percent of its population — that’s 22,000 km2 (8,500 mi2) and 17 million people.

The situation is also urgent for low-lying island nations like Kiribati, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands, where land is already so close to sea level that a few inches make a world of difference. Some are even mulling mass relocations — the government of Kiribati, for one, has a web page outlining its strategy for “migration with dignity.” A town on Taro Island, the capital of Choiseul Province in the Solomon Islands, is also planning to move its entire population in response to rising seas. The small community of Newtok, Alaska, has already begun the difficult process of transplanting itself away from the encroaching coast.

8. Sea-level rise can contaminate water used for drinking and irrigation.

saltwater intrusionSea-level rise can aid saltwater intrusion of freshwater aquifers, as seen in this schematic illustration. (Image: NRC.gov)

In addition to surface flooding, sea-level rise can both push up the freshwater table and contaminate it with seawater, a phenomenon known as saltwater intrusion. Many coastal areas rely on aquifers for drinking water and irrigation, and once they’re tainted by saltwater they may be unsafe for humans as well as crops.

It is possible to remove salt from water, but the process is complex and costly. San Diego County recently opened the Western Hemisphere’s largest desalination plant, for example, and several other sites are proposed in the state. Yet that may not be practical for many coastal communities, especially in less wealthy nations.

9. It can also threaten coastal plant and animal life.

loggerhead sea turtle hatchlingFloods fueled by rising seas may harm baby sea turtles, like these South African loggerheads. (Photo: Jeroen Looyé/Flickr)

Humans aren’t the only ones who’ll suffer as sea levels rise. Any coastal plants or animals that can’t quickly move to new, less flood-prone habitats could face dire consequences. As one 2015 study noted, sea turtles have a long-established habit of laying eggs on beaches, which need to stay relatively dry for their babies to hatch.

Inundation for one to three hours reduced egg viability by less than 10 percent, the study’s authors found, but six hours underwater cut viability by about 30 percent. “All embryonic developmental stages were vulnerable to mortality from saltwater inundation,” the researchers write. Even for hatchlings that do survive, being starved of oxygen in the egg could lead to developmental problems later in life, they add.

Other beach life may also be at risk, including plants. A recent study found that some salt marshes can adapt, both by growing vertically and by moving inland, but not all flora will be so fortunate. “Trees have to work harder to pull water out of salty soil; as a result, their growth can be stunted — and if the soil is salty enough, they will die, a common sign of sea-level rise,” Climate Central explains. “Even trees that are especially suited to salty soil can’t survive repeated flooding by seawater.”

10. Global flood damage for large coastal cities could cost $1 trillion a year if cities don’t take steps to adapt.

sea-level rise in TokyoThis Google Earth simulation shows a Tokyo neighborhood with 1.3-meter sea-level rise. (Image: Google Earth)

The average global losses from flooding in 2005 were about $6 billion, but the World Bank estimates they’ll rise to $52 billion per year by 2050 based on socioeconomic changes alone. (That means things like increasing coastal populations and property value). If you add the effects of sea-level rise and sinking land — which is happening even faster in some places — the cost could surge to $1 trillion per year.

11. It’s too late to stop sea-level rise — but not too late to save lives from it.

iceberg off GreenlandA full moon shines over an iceberg that broke off Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier. If the entire Greenland ice sheet melted, sea levels would rise about 6 meters, or 20 feet. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, CO2 emissions linger in the atmosphere for centuries, and today’s CO2 levels have already committed Earth to dangerous sea-level rise. About 99 percent of all freshwater ice resides in two ice sheets: one in Antarctica and one in Greenland. Both are expected to melt if humanity’s CO2 output isn’t curbed quickly, but the question is when — and how much damage we still have time to prevent.

The Greenland ice sheet is smaller and melting more quickly. If it completely melted, sea levels would rise by about 6 meters (20 feet). The Antarctic ice sheet has been more buffered from warming so far, but it’s hardly immune, and would raise the ocean by 60 meters (200 feet) if it melted. (Estimates vary widely on how long these ice sheets might survive — while most expect they’ll take centuries or millennia to melt, a controversial 2015 paper suggested it could happen much more quickly.)

Sea levels have naturally risen and receded for billions of years, but they’ve never risen this quickly in modern history — and they’ve never had so much human help. It’s unclear what effect they’ll have on our species, but what is clear is that our descendants will still be dealing with this problem long after we’re all gone. Giving them a head start on a solution is the least we can do.

“With all the greenhouse gases we already emitted, we cannot stop the seas from rising altogether, but we can substantially limit the rate of the rise by ending the use of fossil fuels,” says Anders Levermann, a climate scientist at Columbia University and co-author of the new study on future sea-level rise. “We try to give coastal planners what they need for adaptation planning, be it building dikes, designing insurance schemes for flooding or mapping long-term settlement retreat.”

As another recent study pointed out, any policy decisions made in the next few years and decades “will have profound impacts on global climate, ecosystems and human societies — not just for this century, but for the next ten millennia and beyond.”

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Tomorrow, in the final part of this three-part posting I will look at some positive things that we can all be doing now.

But let me leave you with a rather beautiful consequence of these changing times. As seen over on Grist:

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Incredible glacier art pays homage to our disappearing ice

Interconnections One.

The beat of a butterfly’s wings.

From Wikipedia:

The Butterfly Effect is a concept that small causes can have large effects. Initially, it was used with weather prediction but later the term became a metaphor used in and out of science.[1]

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name, coined by Edward Lorenz for the effect which had been known long before, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Lorenz discovered the effect when he observed that runs of his weather model with initial condition data that was rounded in a seemingly inconsequential manner would fail to reproduce the results of runs with the unrounded initial condition data. A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.

We all live in an interconnected world. Frankly, it’s such an obvious statement that one presumes that very few would not agree with the sentiment expressed within it.

But (and you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you!) very few of us (and I include Jean and me to a very great extent) really understand, “A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.”

Take these few items; more or less randomly read over the last few days.

Such as this post over on Patrice Ayme’s blog.

Biblical Flood Starting Anew

Abstract: update on Sea Level Rise. The meat of the essay is at the end, in the section “THE SITUATION IS ACTUALLY CATACLYSMIC“.

Heard of The Flood? As in the Bible? Sea level rose 120 meters (400 feet), in the period centered around 10,000 years ago. The cause? More than half of Earth’s ice melted in a few millennia,  During the rest of the early Holocene, the rate of rise of the world’s ocean reached peaks as high as 60  millimeters (2.5 inches) per year. The melting of the ice happened because Earth’s positional and orbital parameters had made northern hemisphere’s summers too warm (most of the ice shields rested on the large continents of the north). Nowadays only two enormous ice shields are left: Greenland and Antarctica.

Those who enjoy catastrophes will love it: we have 75 meters of further sea rise to enjoy pretty soon, on our way to a Jurassic climate (the Jurassic was characterized by gigantic warm shallow seas on top of the continents). Here was the situation in the Miocene, when CO2 was at 500 ppm (where we will be at in ten years, see conclusion below).

Patrice said that the essence, the meat, of his essay was at the end. Here are his closing words:

Three scientific papers published in the last two months support my, admittedly drastic, point of view. One observed the collapse of a colossal glacier in northwest Greenland, eaten by a current at one degree C. It was a miniature reproduction of what to expect for entire ice shields. Two others observed the past, and that Antarctica was unstable at 500 ppm CO2. What they did not say is how dramatic the situation was. Indeed, sounding moderate is how they get funded by a benevolent, plutocratically ruled government (and by government, I also mean the corrupt Supreme Court, not just the latest elected buffoons). The scientists who evoked the 500 ppm of CO2 omitted two significant details, where the devil lurks. They claimed that it would take 30 years to get there. That’s not correct; at the present rate, we will add 100 ppm of CO2 within 25 years. But not just that: there are other man-made GreenHouse Gases (GHG): CH4, NOx, Fluorocarbons, etc. All these gases warm up the lower atmosphere much more than CO2. So the correct measurement is not CO2 ppm, but CO2 EQUIVALENT ppm.

We are right now ABOVE 450 ppm in EQUIVALENT CO2, and will be at 500 ppm within ten years. Let’s hope there will be more boats than on the Titanic.

Patrice Ayme’

P/S: If anything, the preceding is a conservative estimate. Indeed very serious scientists evaluated already the man-made greenhouse gases at 478 ppm in 2013. This means we will be above 500 ppm in CO2 equivalent within six years, in line with my previous analyses, such as “Ten Years To Catastrophe“. See:

http://oceans.mit.edu/news/featured-stories/5-questions-mits-ron-prinn-400-ppm-threshold

Now it’s not all ‘doom and gloom’ and there is much that each and every one of us can do. More of that in Interconnections Three on Thursday.

But to continue with this ‘wake up call’ I’m going to republish in full an item that was recently published over on Mother Nature Network: 11 alarming facts about sea-level rise. To stop today’s post being excessively long, I’m going to split that MNN article over today and tomorrow. Here are the first 5 alarming facts. (Don’t read them just before turning the light out when going to bed tonight!)

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11 alarming facts about sea-level rise

Russell McLendon,  February 26, 2016.
 Up to 216 million people currently live on land that will be below sea level or regular flood levels by 2100. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Up to 216 million people currently live on land that will be below sea level or regular flood levels by 2100. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The ocean is coming for us. Global sea levels are now rising by 3.4 millimeters per year, up from an average rate of 1.4 mm per year last century. In just 80 years, the ocean could be a full 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) taller than it is today.

That kind of planetary sea change can be hard to fathom — unless you live in a low-lying place like Miami, the Maldives or the Marshall Islands, where the effects of sea-level rise are already apparent. But within just a few decades, the problem will become unavoidable in major coastal cities around the world, from New Orleans, New York and Amsterdam to Calcutta, Bangkok and Tokyo.

We all know why this is happening. Rising seas are one of the most salient effects of man-made climate change, triggered by thermal expansion of seawater as well as the influx of melting glaciers. Yet many people still see it as a distant risk, failing to grasp how (relatively) quickly the sea is swallowing shores worldwide. And since half of all humans now live within 60 kilometers (37 miles) of a coast, this isn’t a niche issue.

To help put things in perspective, here’s a deeper look at the problem:

1. Global sea levels have already risen by 8 inches (200 mm) since 1880.

sea-level-rise-1880-2014

The chart above was produced by NASA’s Earth Observatory, based on data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). Most of those historical data come from tide-gauge measurements, which are now complemented by satellite observations.

2. Not only are sea levels rising; the rate of their rise is rising.

Average global sea-level rise is now 3.41 mm per year, but the rate varies widely by location. (Image: NASA GSFC)
Average global sea-level rise is now 3.41 mm per year, but the rate varies widely by location. (Image: NASA GSFC)

On average, sea levels rose by 1.4 mm from 1900 to 2000. The yearly pace had surpassed 3 mm by 2010, and now it’s up to 3.4 mm per year.

3. That’s the fastest sea-level rise Earth has experienced in 3,000 years.

Cb5MxZ4WIAAAW06If not for surging carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, sea levels should have only risen about an inch or two last century, and might have even fallen. Instead, thanks to the highest CO2 levels at any point in human history, global sea levels rose by 5.5 inches (14 cm) between 1900 and 2000. That’s the fastest oceanic advance in 27 centuries, according to a study published Feb. 22, and it’s still speeding up.

“The 20th century rise was extraordinary in the context of the last three millennia — and the rise over the last two decades has been even faster,” says lead author Robert Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University, in a statement.

“Scenarios of future rise depend upon our understanding of the response of sea level to climate changes,” adds co-author Benjamin Horton. “Accurate estimates of sea-level variability during the past 3,000 years provide a context for such projections.”

4. Every vertical inch of sea-level rise moves the ocean 50 to 100 inches inland.

Miami coastal flooding
Rising seas worsen regular flooding — like this 2015 high tide in Miami Beach — for many coastal cities. Miami is in the midst of a five-year, $400 million effort to upgrade its stormwater pump program. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

5. That’s already causing flood problems in many big coastal cities.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE EFFECT ON BIG COASTAL CITIES

As the ocean invades coastal cities, the first signs of trouble are often urban saltwater floods. These can also happen naturally, though, so to determine the influence of rising seas, a new report by Climate Central models “alternative histories simulating the absence of anthropogenic climate change” at 27 U.S. tide gauges.

Out of 8,726 days since 1950 when unaltered water levels exceeded the National Weather Service thresholds for local “nuisance” floods, 5,809 didn’t exceed those thresholds in the alternative histories. “In other words,” the report explains, “human-caused global sea level rise effectively tipped the balance, pushing high-water events over the threshold, for about two-thirds of the observed flood days.”

Coastal flooding days have more than doubled in the U.S. since the 1980s, according to the report, in places ranging from Miami, Virginia Beach and New York to San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu. According to a 2014 report, at least 180 floods will strike Annapolis, Maryland, during high tides every year by 2030 — sometimes twice a day. The same will be true for about a dozen other U.S. cities by 2045, not to mention many other low-lying urban areas around the world.

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To be continued tomorrow.

One way to fix America!

Albeit, a slightly tongue-in-cheek fix from this ex-Brit.

I thought after yesterday’s pretty grim and turgid post that today’s offering should be connected but not in nearly such a dark manner.

The following came to me having done quite a few rounds so it’s not clear whom I should thank. But it’s an interesting proposition; nonetheless.

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A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:

In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

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  1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’ Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).

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  1. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

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  1. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

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  1. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

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  1. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

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  1. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

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  1. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

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  1. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

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  1. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

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  1. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.

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  1. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

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  1. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

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13.. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

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  1. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

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  1. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

ooOOoo

Can’t beat that for advice!

Preliminaries taking place!
Preliminaries taking place in a very genteel (British) fashion!