Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Arctic Crisis Worsens

Remember when I told you that We've Crossed a Threshold...? Well, have you been paying attention? I strongly suggest you visit The Cryosphere Today and read the entries for August 9, 2007 then the entry for August 28, 2007. I'll wait while you go do that.

Ok, read those entries? Has it sunk in yet? Sea ice reached a record low on August 9 of 3.98 million square kilometers. That is an all-time record with 6 weeks roughly left to go in the melt season. Now please pay attention. The sea ice minimum in the 1970s was 5.5 million square kilometers. Then in the 1980s it was 5.0 million square kilometers. Then in the 1990s it reached 4.5 million square kilometers. Then by 2005 we touched 4.01 million square kilometers as the prior record.

Then comes 2007. Oh my, does 2007 come roaring by! On August 9, 2007 we set a new record low of 3.98 million square kilometers! But just 19 days later we set a new minimum of 2.99 million square kilometers.

Did you get that yet? We lost one million square kilometers of sea ice in 19 days. People told me in email that I was nuts for projecting a sea ice free arctic by 2010 but guess who is laughing now? The jackasses out there still refuse to acknowledge that we are in a positive feedback loop. The change in sea ice level is definitely not linear yet the IPCC still refuses to model it any way except linear! And all of that open water is dark color and absorbs yet more heat rather than white and reflecting it away. What is this doing to the Greenland ice sheet? Anyone care to speculate? It sure is not going to make that ice sheet colder or more stable!

And yet the world continues to plod along, sleepwalking straight into the jaws of hell, throwing away all we have accomplished by being faithful to myths, superstitions, and lies. Our culture is showing that it is more important to continue the illusion of "business as usual" than to react to the multiple crises around us. Our culture is demonstrating its collective insanity.

I want to urge each of you to read Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. You need to understand that when there is harsh environmental mismanagement that any society's response to the damage it has inflicted becomes the ultimate arbiter of that society's ability to succeed. You need to understand that we are literally destroying our environment around us on a scale and with speed never before experienced in human history. You need to understand that "destruction of natural habitats (mainly through deforestation); reduction of wild foods; loss of biodiversity; erosion of soil; depletion of natural resources; pollution of freshwater; maximizing of natural photosynthetic resources; introduction by humans of toxins and alien species; artificially induced climate change; and, finally, overpopulation and its impact" are a combination of problems that no human civilization has faced all at once ever before. You need to realize that we are doing this on a global scale. And finally, you need to realize that you are destroying yourself as well as any future descendants.

Of course, no one will react to this. Some of you will read it and shrug. A few will read it and feel "concern" but actually change your lifestyle? Not a bloody chance. No, this is Chaco Canyon on a global scale and you are all going to be the players in this horror story. And when it comes to you eating your neighbor and whining about it, will any of you think that you could have done something to avoid that fate?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The mind simply boggles at the ignorance

Reading TOD these days has become an exercise in self-discipline, enforcing a "do not reply" zone around the idiots, morons, and scientific illiterates that populate the place. So there I am reading a comment in Drumbeats and the responses just get me laughing til I cannot stop. One each theantidoomer is raving like a lunatic about electric charging stations and how "easy" it will be to put these everywhere. Then Twilight dutifully takes him to task, walking him through the insane math of the situation, showing why such charging stations simply cannot exist, at least not easily nor quickly. And then the ignorant replies begin, starting with theantidoomer himself who simply dismisses the physics of the problems with a wave of his hand and then asks why not (on charging stations)?

Is it any wonder why these morons who believe in magical technology are considered scientifically illiterate dreamers? Replies like this just leave you shaking your head. Of course we might be able to build the recharging stations to do this but as Twilight points out, it is one massive hellacious engineering problem! It is non-trivial in the extreme and it shows why we need to move to electrified mass transit rather than more cars. Yet there are the defenders of the suburban craziness inventing even more nonsense out of thin air to defend their non-sustainable way of life.

Meanwhile, right there on TOD, Rembrandt has published Oil Watch Monthly - August 2007 and the data sits there, ignored by the cornucopians. Global exports are down by nearly 5% year over year. That's 5% in the second year post-peak if May 2005 was the actual peak. This is when all the happy faced people insisted that decline would be so small as to not be noticeable yet we have 1.6% decline in actual C&C production and over 5% decline in exports. It sure looks like Jeffrey Brown's "Export Land Model" (ELM) is kicking in to me!

And then the massive ignorance of the financial system that surrounds us and controls us! Capital is just not written off to the tune of tens of trillions of dollars. It cannot be. It has been invested and the world is relying on those investments producing more real products that can then be reinvested downstream. If those products never come forth there can never be a conversion to alternatives. If we cannot amortize the costs already invested, we cannot get our money out to reinvest! This means we go broke and have no capital with which to invest. But hey, the techno-geeks just gloss over this too and assume that where there is a will there must be a way. Yet if a doomer decries the capitalist system, these same people who shrug off the limits of that system arise immediately to defend it. It's absurd comedy. You couldn't make this stuff up and our survivors descended from us won't even be able to understand the depths of this insanity.

At the end of it all you don't know whether to laugh or to cry, the replies become so absurd, like Roger Connor building straw men to knock down to dismiss the doomers. Hey Roger! Have a clue - it does not matter how many straw men you knock down! When mother nature comes to call for you, she is still going to haul away your ass to the fertilizer pile somewhere. Be afraid, Roger. Be very afraid, because the future is looking to feed on people just like you.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

We've crossed a threshold...

This is important, really important. In the summer of 2007 we have crossed some threshold, what others have called a tipping point. Something dramatic has occurred in the Arctic.

If you watch the following animation (credit to BostonGeologist at TOD) it shows the extent of melting for August 7, 2006 versus August 7, 2007. The melt rate has been increasing at a constant rate since 2000 when then last change occurred. But this change is even larger than the last change. There is a good chance that the old minimum ice extent may be broken by 25% or more before the melt season is done. The rate of ice melt has turned up sharply. This has implications for both the Arctic ice sheet and the Greenland ice mass as well. Further, this has implications for the thermohaline circulation.

What is now occurring may have crossed the line into the unstoppable. Dr. James Hansen's belief that we had 10 more years to stop global warming may be 10 years too wrong. And Hansen is derided as an extremist! People need to look around at what is occurring!

Very clearly we have crossed a threshold where the positive feedback forces are growing stronger at an exponential rate. The summer Arctic ice sheet may have less than five years left at this rate, maybe as little as three years. And the Greenland ice sheet just became a terrible unknown, whose melt rate has always exceeded prediction after prediction and now it may jump upward yet again.

There are two possibilities for the future here. The first, and most likely insofar as our limited understanding can discern, is runaway warming resulting in a much hotter planet, rapid desertification, loss of agricultural land, loss of fresh water supplies, and destruction of civilization. The less likely is just as bad with the climate being pushed into a warming event that ends the current warm period and thrusts us into another ice age. Both of these consequences can occur suddenly. Climate shifts have been recorded that happened in as little as five years and the typical climate shift is a few decades max.

And note that our civilization collectively refuses to do anything about climate change. We won't act until it is too late. I am now officially expecting something dramatic on the climate front this fall. I hope I am wrong but let's see what we get. It's almost too late now to prepare if you haven't been preparing already but you still have a tiny window. Remember, you were warned. Don't cry to me about your situation if your world suddenly changes for the worse.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Ace's Updated Forecasts

Ace updated his bottom-up analysis over at The Oil Drum recently. The were only two pieces of good news in there. The first was that there should be a roughly 1.5 million barrel per day increase in the production of NGLs beginning in the middle of next year and peaking by the fall. Unfortunately, that NGL peak tails off as soon as it is reached, basically sitting on a very slowly declining plateau thereafter. The second was that we should see global growth in ethanol by another 1.5mbpd but again, it hits a plateau and stops. And worse, ethanol takes from 2007 to 2012 to gain that 1.5 mbpd while C&C declines by 9mbpd over the same period.

Unfortunately global C&C production has already declined by 1% from last year. That 1% decline more than offset any other gains so far and with another 1% decline next year, this will mean that the NGLs and initial ethanol coming onstream will barely replace the prior two years of decline in production. After that it is all downhill, and rapidly, with decline rates forecast for about 4% annually. And this is a 4% decline with the ethanol and NGLs factored in which leaves us dropping from 86 mbpd to about 76 mbpd by late 2012. If we assume anything remotely approaching a similar economic response to the last time such a large drop in production occurred, then oil should triple to quadruple in price. That's right - we're talking about $200 per barrel oil by 2012.

The economic impact of this will be unlike anything most people living today can possibly understand. What's happening now in the credit markets is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the baby boomers were either in college or young adults or older teens at the time the last such decline occurred and it happened quickly, was over quickly, and was only 5% of production. This time it is forever, with production falling endlessly until we approach bottom. I am going to recommend something that most of you will not do but I'll recommend it anyway. Go visit Survival Acres and order 6 months of stored food. Yeah, I know you don't really believe this is happening or that the government will take care of you. Too bad. I even recommend this for people living on farms and such, unless they already have 6 months or more of food stored anyway.

For those of you expecting an intelligent response to the looming energy crisis, I suggest reading Robert Rapier's Pure Venom article. Robert has a track record of telling it as he sees it, regardless of whether it's good or bad for his industry. I've disagreed with Robert in the past but I respect his positions because they are well-researched and intelligently thought out just about every time. You might also consider the words of Professor Ken Deffeyes about the recent National Petroleum Council report. (Note: I will try to update that to a more permanent link once he puts it in his archives.)

None of the babble coming from the vast majority of politicians these days looks very realistic. Most of it is noise wrapped around vote buying bills that assume that these converging crises are not real and will pass away so that the good times can roll again. Too bad that Ponzi schemes have to always come to an end, eh?