Science: Doing it Wrong

How Guy McPherson gets it wrong

Recently, a few Ars Technica commenters have been posting references to the work of Guy McPherson on climate articles. McPherson is a retired professor of ecology at the University of Arizona, and he runs a blog called Nature Bats Last. In recent years, he has turned his energies to dire warnings of impending climate catastrophe. Those warnings go far beyond what you’ll find anywhere else: McPherson believes humans will go extinct in as little as two decades.

Now, lots of people run blogs that make wild claims, so why am I spending time on this one? McPherson claims to simply be passing along scientific data to the public— data that most scientists are unwilling to talk about and governments are trying to keep secret. As a result, his followers (I mean to use that term more in the Twitter sense than a religious one) seem confident that they have the weight of science behind them. It takes careful examination of McPherson’s references, and a familiarity with the present state of climate science, to uncover that his claims aren’t scientific at all. I also get the feeling that his internet following might not be insignificant (as noted by climate scientist Michael Tobis) and could be growing, yet I couldn’t find any direct challenges with a web search. This makes one.

Bizarro denial

First, I want to go over general problems with McPherson’s claims and talk about what climate science is really telling us. For those wanting specifics, I’ll post a list of point-by-point corrections of McPherson’s main “Climate Change Summary and Update” post in the third section.

In many ways, McPherson is a photo-negative of the self-proclaimed “climate skeptics” who reject the conclusions of climate science. He may be advocating the opposite conclusion, but he argues his case in the same way. The skeptics often quote snippets of science that, on full examination, doesn’t actually support their claims, and this is McPherson’s modus operandi. The skeptics dismiss science they don’t like by saying that climate researchers lie to keep the grant money coming; McPherson dismisses inconvenient science by claiming that scientists are downplaying risks because they’re too cowardly to speak the truth and flout our corporate overlords. Both malign the IPCC as “political” and therefore not objective. And both will cite nearly any claim that supports their views, regardless of source— putting evidence-free opinions on par with scientific research. (In one example I can’t help but highlight, McPherson cites a survivalist blog warning that Earth’s atmosphere is running out of oxygen.)

McPherson bills himself as a scientist simply passing along the science (even as he dismisses climate scientists and their work), but he cites nearly as many blog posts and newspaper columns as published studies. When he does cite a study, it’s often clear that he hasn’t taken the time to actually read it, depending instead on a news story about it. He frequently gets the information from the study completely wrong, which is a difficult thing for most readers to check given that most papers are behind paywalls (not to mention that scientific papers aren’t easy to understand).

McPherson leans heavily on claims from people associated with the “Arctic News” blog about a catastrophic, runaway release of methane that supposedly is already underway in the Arctic. Unfortunately (or, rather, fortunately), the data don’t match their assertions. The latest IPCC and NAS assessment reports, in fact, deemed such a release “very unlikely” this century. One reason for that is that the Arctic has been this warm or warmer a couple times in the last 200,000 years, yet that methane stayed in the ground. Another reason is that scientists actually bother to study and model the processes involved. One thing McPherson and others like to point to is the recent work by Natalia Shakhova’s group observing bubbling plumes of methane coming up from the seafloor on the Siberian Shelf. Since we’ve only been sampling these plumes for a few years, we have no idea whether that release of methane is increasing or if these are long-term features. Similar plumes off Svalbard, for example, appear to be thousands of years old. (More to put this methane in context here.)

That’s exactly the kind of detail and  nuance that’s absent from McPherson’s claims. Instead, he’s content to link to YouTube videos or blog posts (some ludicrously unscientific— see below) and run with the idea that catastrophic warming is guaranteed as a result. He just latches onto anything that sounds scary. McPherson is especially fast and loose with timeframes. He likes to point to the magnitude of past climate changes (which took thousands of years or more) as proof that we are about to undergo similar changes in the next couple decades. That’s quite clearly a fallacious argument, but McPherson never concerns himself with the details. All the casual reader learns it that there was a huge change in the past analogous to the present that shows just how screwed we really are.

And that’s McPherson’s thing— despair. We’re absolutely doomed, he tells us, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Everything is lost. He derides any sort of optimism or action as “hopium”. He notes in one recent post that “With an eye to improving my ‘bedside manner’ when I deliver presentations, I’ve recently become a certified grief-recovery counselor.” With such an extraordinary view, you would expect him to make the scientific case for extinction very clearly. But he does not. His argument fundamentally reduces to “positive feedbacks exist, ergo extinction”. That is, he lists examples of positive feedbacks (things that amplify change, like the added sunlight absorption of ocean water that has lost its sea ice cover) for a while, intending to overwhelm you with the number of processes that could add to global warming. And that’s it. There are no numbers explaining how big an effect each could have, no analysis of likely warming impacts, nothing. The fact is that climate scientists know about all these processes. But instead of throwing their hands up and saying “Oh, shit”, they actually do science.

Again, specific examples of these things are given in the last section of this post. If you take a look at some of his mistakes and demonstrably false claims, you’ll have a hard time thinking of him as a credible source of information.

[Update 3-13-14: Michael Tobis has covered some of the points I skipped over—namely, McPherson’s discussion of feedbacks— in a new post.]

Just the facts

So let’s briefly lay out the central claims of McPherson’s position, and review what the science really says. I think those are 1) positive feedbacks imply runaway global warming, 2) we will experience at least 3 to 4 degrees C warming in the next couple decades, and 3) on a 4C warmer planet, humans are dead.

Numero uno. While the concept of a positive feedback (a little change triggers an addition that makes the change bigger, triggering another addition that…) sounds like snowballing without end, that’s not actually the case here. These positive climate feedbacks (and there are negative feedbacks, by the way) amplify warming, but only to a certain extent. After all, these same processes were in play when the Earth warmed out of the last glaciation (over the last ~18,000 years), which obviously didn’t scorch the planet. Without any of these feedbacks, the glacial/interglacial differences would be much smaller, but they do not cause runaway warming.

There is such a thing as a runaway greenhouse effect– just ask the planet Venus. However, a recent study looking at what it would take to trigger such an event on Earth ballparked the requirements at around 75 times the amount of CO2 currently in the atmosphere, 5.5 times the methane, and some other greenhouse gases. The “business-as-usual” scenario in the latest IPCC report, where we do nothing to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, ends the century at about 2.3 times today’s CO2 and 2 times the methane. We have a lot of things to worry about, but a runaway greenhouse isn’t one of them. (McPherson, by the way, cites this same paper as if it shows that we’re about to trigger a runaway greenhouse.)

So what are we facing if Arctic methane releases increase? Climate scientist David Archer shows some back-of-the-envelope math here. If the release increased by a factor of 100 and lasted for a century, it would be the equivalent of increasing today’s CO2 by 25-90%. Bad? Yes. Extinction? No.

Nummer zwei. The latest IPCC report projects roughly 0.3 to 0.7C of warming by 2035. (The exact numbers are a little complicated, but I explained it here.) Farther into the future, the different emissions scenarios diverge. The “business-as-usual” scenario results in about 2.6 to 4.8C warming by 2100. Rosier scenarios involving moderate efforts to stabilize greenhouse gases yield warming of about 1.1 to 3.1C by 2100. There are precisely zero scientific studies projecting several degrees of warming by 2035, as McPherson predicts. (In fact, he cites one blogger’s childish prediction of a whopping 20C increase by 2050.)

Numéro trois. So what are the impacts of 4C warming? Here’s a handy summary of the many impacts described in the 2007 IPCC report (this section of the newest report isn’t out yet). They include increased droughts, more extreme rainfall, rising sea levels, serious problems for many ocean organisms, real problems for many terrestrial species, lowered agricultural yields… It’s not pretty, and we very much want to avoid it, but it’s not human extinction.

If you think the IPCC reports are lying about the state of the science, feel free to do a Google Scholar search for “climate change projections” in published studies.

[Note 4-7-14: A comment from Paul Beckwith has revealed that I incorrectly attributed some statements and materials to the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, either due to Guy McPherson’s attribution or misunderstandings of my own. I considered preserving these statements for transparency, but don’t want to make the post too hard to read, so I will simply make the appropriate edits. I am grateful to Paul for bringing it to my attention.]


Okay. These corrections and notes apply to this post on McPherson’s blog, which I took to be the most complete explication of his views available for fact-checking. The point of this tedious list is to back up the points I raised above and illustrate the untrustworthy and unscientific nature of McPherson’s claims.

As his post appears to be updated over time, I’ll note that I accessed it on 2-13-2014. I’ll just go top to bottom.

–Guy McPherson (I’ll abbreviate as “GM”) cites the Brysse et al “side of least drama” paper to support his claim that climate scientists are simply unwilling to speak out about the imminent and existential threat of climate change. The paper absolutely does state that “scientists are biased not toward alarmism but rather the reverse: toward cautious estimates”. However, it’s more than a stretch to extend this to the idea that civilization is collapsing and we’re going extinct but climate scientists are saying everything is fine.

–GM writes, “Ever late to the party, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits global warming is irreversible without geoengineering in a report released 27 September 2013.” This can only be seen as a new “admission” if you know nothing about the carbon cycle. Warming is irreversible because CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries to millennia— this has always been known. Irreversible does not mean unstoppable, however, as GM seems to be implying. Reducing emissions stabilizes greenhouse gas concentrations, limiting warming. In order to lower temperatures, CO2 will have to be removed from the atmosphere— geoengineering. Old news.

–Now we get to “On a planet 4 C hotter than baseline, all we can prepare for is human extinction.” The reference for this pretty important statement? An opinion piece in the Guardian.

–GM references the paper I mentioned above about a runaway greenhouse effect on Earth being easier to trigger than previously thought. Of course, we saw that it requires far, far more warming than any realistic scenario of anthropogenic climate change— a point that is explicitly made in that paper.

–GM notes the discovery of a recent greenhouse gas (perfluorotributylamine) that is 7,100 more potent than CO2, molecule-for-molecule. This seems to be included only for the scary number. How much of it is in the atmosphere? At about 0.18 parts per trillion (in Toronto), it’s completely irrelevant to questions about the climate change we’re currently undergoing.

–GM cites a Geological Society of London release about climate sensitivity— the amount of warming we get from a given increase in CO2. GM describes it by saying that “Earth’s climate could be twice as sensitive  to atmospheric carbon as previously believed.” But that’s not what the release says. The climate sensitivity values that are usually discussed (around 3C for a doubling of CO2) are specific measures over specific timeframes, developed to create a standardized comparison between models. The release describes an analysis of longer-term change, as the climate system comes into equilibrium over millennia. It’s that long-term change that the release says could be double the shorter-term sensitivity . If we’re discussing what we’re facing over the next few decades, that is completely irrelevant.

–Here’s where the Arctic methane stuff gets hot and heavy, as one person is quoted as saying, “The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040.” There’s simply no evidence for this. You won’t find any published studies to support it. GM goes a step further, citing an “analysis” on the “Arctic News” blog, predicting a 20C warming by 2050. What is this prediction based on? Curves drawn on a chart. If you fit the right polynomial (a dangerous activity) to the Arctic temperature data that shows roughly 2C warming from 1980 to 2010, you can get it to skyrocket to 20C by 2050. (Well, actually you can’t quite, so a steeper line is simply drawn on.) No climate model. No physics. Just a line. This isn’t science. This is the kind of thing that lazy climate “skeptics” do (the smarter ones won’t).

–GM includes a graph from the same “Arctic News” blog showing methane data. First, it claims that methane is 1,000 times more potent than CO2 (it isn’t) and thus responsible for the vast majority of global warming (it isn’t). Beyond that, it plots a single measurement of atmospheric methane from a single spot in the Arctic (>2,600 parts per billion) on a chart of global average atmospheric methane (currently about 1,800 ppb).  This sudden “increase” is assumed to represent a catastrophic release. Unfortunately, this is simply ignorant. Methane concentration varies quite a bit around the world— highest in the Arctic, lowest in the Antarctic. Absolutely no effort was made to create an apples-to-apples comparison like, at the very least, calculating an average concentration for the Arctic for that week.

–GM reports that the US Navy “predicts an ice-free Arctic by summer 2016”. What does the linked post actually say? The lower bound of the predicted decline in a sea ice model run by Navy researchers was 2016. The researcher calls this “an aggressive interpretation”. What was the central date in the projection? Or the upper bound? We aren’t told. How does this sea ice model compare to others? GM isn’t interested in helping us find out. I would guess this means he hasn’t looked.

–GM quotes climate scientist Jason Box from a newspaper story, saying, “In 2012 Greenland crossed a threshold where for the first time we saw complete surface melting at the highest elevations in what we used to call the dry snow zone.” He uses this to support his contention that the climate system reached a tipping point— a threshold to runaway change—  in 2007. But what Box was actually talking about was a freak event several days long in which melting conditions existed across the entire ice sheet. This was viewed as a weather event, not a significant climate event.

–In a note dismissing biofuels, GM describes them as “the nonsensical notion that industrial civilization can be used to overcome a predicament created by industrial civilization”. This is obviously an axiomatic assertion that makes you worry about GM’s objectivity.

–GM provides a timeline of climate “predictions”, ostensibly showing that they have become more and more alarming over the past few years. (We’ll leave aside, for the moment, that he doesn’t seem to understand the difference between projections— predictions contingent on scenarios of future emissions— and actual predictions.) An updated version of this list can be found here. [Update: I’ve been told that version is actually not the most recent.] The list is flat-out wrong. I dug up the actual numbers on several of them for an Ars commenter. GM claims the IPCC predict 1C of warming by 2100 in their 2007 report. It actually projected roughly 1.8 to 4C, depending on the emissions scenario. These numbers were equivalent to the projections from the previous report in 2001. Next, GM claims the Hadley Centre predicted 2C by 2100 in 2008. The document he links to provides no projections of global temperature of any kind. At the other end of the list, GM claims that the International Energy Agency predicted 3.5C warming by 2035 in 2013. The link goes to a poorly re-written press story from 2010. What did the IEA really say? Their 2010 report described a scenario in which the trajectory of growing emissions by 2035 was such that we would eventually hit 3.5C warming before greenhouse gases were stabilized. [Update: GM had already removed the IEA “prediction” from his post.] So does this list show climate projections becoming rapidly more dire? That’s a big, fat no.

–GM writes, “These assessments fail to account for significant self-reinforcing feedback loops (i.e., positive feedbacks, the term that implies the opposite of its meaning). The IPCC’s vaunted Fifth Assessment will continue the trend as it, too, ignores important feedbacks.” It’s not true that these assessments ignore positive feedbacks. It is true that not all processes are included in climate models, which continue to be developed. The link GM provides is to a story relates to the fact that the generation of models used for the latest IPCC report do not simulate thawing permafrost. For reference, one model that does simulate this process now projects that it would add an additional 0.1 to 0.7C warming by 2100 due to a release of CO2 that would raise the global concentration by 40 to 100 ppm. My guess is that those numbers aren’t scary enough for GM to want to mention them. (To be fair, that’s probably a conservative estimate, but it’s nowhere near the kind of thing GM is talking about.)

–GM cites a paper showing that Earth may have lost its moderate climate to a runaway greenhouse if it were more than 1% closer to the Sun (though it also notes that their analysis doesn’t account for clouds, which might broaden the range). He believes this supports a claim that “A minor change in Earth’s atmosphere removes human habitat. Unfortunately, we’ve invoked major changes.” How does one square this with warmer climates in Earth’s history, none of which triggered that runaway greenhouse? The Cretaceous period, notably, was far warmer than the present day. It wasn’t until an asteroid impact wreaked havoc on the climate system that a mass extinction took place. GM’s definitions of “minor change” and “major change” are fuzzy.

–GM brings up a temperature record from Concord, Massachusetts, in a very interesting parallel to climate “skeptics”. Individual records that show cooling over some period are often cited as proof that all this global warming stuff is hooey. Or the accuracy of a particular record is called into question in some way, as if climate science is a house of cards that can be brought down by the exposure of a single flaw. In this case, GM claims that while the instrumental temperature record indicates about 1C warming there since 1840, an analysis of the flowering dates from Henry David Thoreau’s journals indicates a warming of 2.4C. First off, it’s interesting to note GM implying that instrumental records are woefully inaccurate, when it’s this very information that helped climate science work out the anthropogenic nature of climate change. Second, if GM had bothered to read the paper, he would have discovered that the 2.4C number comes from the local instrumental record, not the flowering dates. The instrumental record was used to study how the flowering dates changed with temperature. I have no idea where he got the 1C number from.

–GM claims that the Next Generation Science Standards (for public schools) “buries the relationship between combustion of fossil fuels and planetary warming”. “The misadventures of the corporate government continue”, he complains. In a post about evolution and climate change in those science standards by the National Center for Science Education, they quote from the standards: “Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming).” Why did GM make this up?

–GM cites a briefing from the UN talks in Copenhagen saying that the past shows sea level should be 23 meters higher at today’s CO2 concentration. What does this briefing, from a Jamaican reef biochemist, note about this? “IPCC projections are based on modes for a time period of 20, 50, or 100 years, when the response of the climate system to increased CO2 takes thousands of years, so models miss more than 90% of the long term response…” Again, we’re up against timeframe details. GM equates long-term equilibrium changes with short term, decadal ones. Here’s a study looking at the same thing: they estimate the long term sea level rise at today’s CO2 at 9-31 meters, noting that would take 500 to 2,500 years. The reason for this is that these studies are based on estimating past sea levels and CO2 concentrations (which is complicated). These records are necessarily at long term equilibrium, because that’s what the geologic record preserves for us that far back in time.

–I don’t think I need to comment on this claim: “In other words, near-term extinction of humans was already guaranteed, to the knowledge of Obama and his administration  (i.e., the Central Intelligence Agency, which runs the United States and controls presidential power). Even before the dire feedbacks were reported by the scientific community, the administration abandoned climate change as a significant issue because it knew we were done as early as 2009. Rather than shoulder the unenviable task of truth-teller, Obama did as his imperial higher-ups demanded: He lied about collapse, and he lied about climate change. And he still does.”

–“Arctic News” returns, along with a YouTube video, to claim that “Arctic methane release and rapid global temperature rise are interlinked — including a temperature rise up to about 1 C per year over a decade,according to data from ice cores“. The “analysis” is someone looking at data from a Greenland ice core, deciding that methane looks more important than CO2 (physics need not apply), and noting the abrupt warming at the end of the Younger Dryas, an interesting period about 12,000 years ago and is thought to have been brought about by a disruption of ocean circulation. (Questions remain.) First, temperatures calculated from Greenland ice cores are local temperatures, not the global average, and the change during the remarkable event was less elsewhere. Second, the methane increase in the ice cores they point to as the cause of the warming is from about 450 to 750 ppb— a difference of 300 ppb. Remember that the global average today is about 1,800 ppb. Methane has increased about 150 ppb since 1985. Has that had a similar effect to what they’re proposing? The first link in GM’s statement contains this ludicrous extrapolation: “The atmospheric temperature increase in Australia this year (0.22C) indicates that in 10 years it will exceed 2.2C and in 30 to 40 years, 6.6C to 8.8C.” I’m not sure you can get more unscientific than that. Australia, by the way, has warmed about 1C since 1950.

–For the sake of my sanity, I’m going to skip over the list of positive feedbacks. Suffice to say, some of them are just more “Arctic News” claims and several others are mis-reported. Others are fine. [Michael Tobis took a look at this list in this post.]

–GM finally comes right out and says “the scientists writing official reports on climate change are lying”.

–GM writes “And never mind that warming in the interior of large continents in the northern hemisphere has outstripped model predictions in racing to 6-7 C already, according to a paper that tallies temperature rise in China’s interior in the 15 May 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” What does that study really say? “Here, we show central China is a region that experienced a much larger temperature change since the Last Glacial Maximum than typically simulated by climate models… We find a summertime temperature change of 6–7 °C that is reproduced by climate model simulations presented here.” The Last Glacial Maximum, remember, is the peak of the last “ice age” around 20,000 years ago. Why is GM pretending that parts of China have experienced 6-7C of anthropogenic warming, and that this shows projections of future warming to be too conservative?

–GM writes “Through late March 2013, global oceans have risen approximately ten millimeters per year during the last two years. This rate of rise is over three times the rate of sea level rise during the time of satellite-based observations from 1993 to the present.” Sounds like it’s accelerating rapidly, doesn’t it? Even his link is to a post showing why this is not a sign of acceleration. The tremendous La Nina of 2011 dumped tons of rain on Australia and the Amazon, adding so much water to continental storage that sea level fell over 5 mm. As that water drained back to the oceans, sea level rise increased. You can see the most up-to-date data here. This is cherry picking. This is what climate “skeptics” do.

–GM writes “On a particularly dire note for humanity, climate change causes early death of five million people peach year.” This links to a story about an NGO report. The summary from the actual report states, “This report estimates that climate change causes 400,000 deaths on average each year today, mainly due to hunger and communicable diseases that affect above all children in developing countries. Our present carbon-intensive energy system and related activities cause an estimated 4.5 million deaths each year linked to air pollution, hazardous occupations and cancer.”

–GM writes, “The Guardian‘s headline from 13 November 2013 announces, ‘Global warming since 1997 more than twice as fast as previously estimated, new study shows.'” Sounds like global warming is accelerating beyond scientist’s projections! The story refers to a study (which I covered here) showing that one particular global temperature dataset (there are several) was underestimating recent temperatures, primarily due to a lack of measurements in the Arctic. That bias (by which I mean measurement bias, not bias in the political sense) made the recent slowdown in atmospheric warming (related to some action in the Pacific) seem a little larger than it really was. Other datasets had less of this bias. Accounting for this still leaves the last decade of atmospheric warming slower than the previous one. (Again, this is natural variability— warming of the ocean hasn’t slowed.)

–GM writes, “Global loss of sea ice matches the trend in the Arctic. It’s down, down, and down some more, with the five lowest values on record all happening in the last seven years (through 2012).” This may seem like a nit-pick, but this is a pointless statement. The global sea ice trend depends on two places- Antarctica and the Arctic. In Antarctica, there’s been a slight increase recently, while the Arctic has seen a large decrease. Therefore, the reason that global sea ice is down is that Arctic sea ice is down.

–GM writes, “[T]he 13 September 2013 issue of Science contains another surprise for mainstream scientists : The Pine Island Glacier is melting from below as a result of warming seawater.” It’s well known (and bloody obvious) that warming seawater melts marine-terminating glaciers. Calling this “another surprise for mainstream scientists” is just a mindless pot-shot.

–GM writes, “The climate situation is much worse than I’ve led you to believe, and is accelerating far more rapidly than accounted for by models.” The link goes to a YouTube video from David Wasdell of the “Apollo-Gaia Project” telling a parable. He’s not a scientist, but his videos are used as evidence several other times, as well.

–GM cites a Peter Wadhams prediction of ice-free Arctic summers by 2015 or 2016 (more than once, I think). Apart from Wieslaw Maslowski, you won’t find other sea ice researchers making such a dire prediction. As you can see, it would take a truly incredible change in the next couple years for this prediction to come true.

–Back to the pointless pejoratives, we get “In a turn surprising only to mainstream climate scientists, Greenland ice is melting rapidly.” First, this link just refers to the freak surface melting weather from July 2012 I mentioned above. Second, the rate that Greenland ice is melting is no surprise to climate scientists, who have been the ones documenting it year in and year out. GM uses the phrase “mainstream climate scientists” like Sarah Palin says “lamestream media”.

–Here’s a hum-dinger I mentioned way up above. “As one little-discussed example, atmospheric oxygen levels are dropping to levels considered dangerous for humans, particularly in cities.” Yes, that link goes to a survivalist blog. No, we’re not going to suffocate because burning fossil fuels is using up all the oxygen in the atmosphere. It’s true that fossil fuel combustion has sightly lowered the concentration— this is one way we know humans are responsible for rising CO2— but it’s not even remotely close to a significant decrease. Between 1990 and 2005, the proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere decreased about 0.02%.

–GM writes, “An increasing number of scientists agree that warming of 4 to 6 C causes a dead planet. And, they go on to say, we’ll be there by 2060.” The link goes to a blog post by writer David Spratt, who was used as a reference before. Spratt gets the 4-6C comment from a reference to warming in 2100. He invents the “as early as 2060” himself. The “dead planet” part of the statement refers to this World Bank release about the dangerous impacts of 4C warming. Spratt describes this as ending “the world as we know it”, which GM flips into “a dead planet”. You won’t find any such description from World Bank.

–GM cites a video of a PhD student talking about the possibility of 6C warming in a decade and uses this graph to support it, presumably because the spike at the end looks scary. Apart from the fact that the graph doesn’t actually come from the paper he cites, but rather data from two papers (one of which he cites) combined with a business-as-usual projection for the next century (which he does not explain), the scary spike at the end is just the same ~3C warming by 2100 IPCC projection he was discounting earlier. To tidy up the math here, 3C/90yrs =/= 6C/10yrs.

–The end of the post claims that the Pentagon is surveilling us online in case finding out that we’re going extinct turns us into ecoterrorists. Just sayin’…

–Lastly a quote from another post of GM’s, which he explains why he thinks the collapse of human civilization can’t get here quickly enough. “Yet, seemingly contrary to these simple, easy-to-reach conclusions, I work toward collapse. Largely unafflicted by the arrogance of humanism, I work on behalf of non-human species. Industrial civilization is destroying every aspect of the living planet, and I know virtually nobody who wants to stop the runaway train. Yes, collapse will kill us. But our deaths are guaranteed regardless, unless I missed a memo.”

Update: I’ve discovered some interesting comments on GM’s post. A poster named Eric took issue with some of GM’s claims, and pointed out a few of the same errors I’ve outlined above (like reports not saying what GM claims they say). To make sure his criticism came across correctly, Eric noted, “I’m not saying climate change is a non issue- In fact I happen to think that it is humanities BIGGEST issue. However hyperbole and exaggerated threats serve no purpose but too slow down the response and make people lose hope. I appreciate your time and I hope I have contributed to the discussion in a meaningful way.”

After another poster asked if GM was going to respond, he wrote, “I will not take time to deal with Eric the denier. No amount of evidence will convince deniers of anything, so I’ll not waste my time. If you’re interested in evidence, there’s plenty in this post to support all I’ve written and said.” This appears to be a representative exchange.


2,638 thoughts on “How Guy McPherson gets it wrong

  1. @ mikeroberts2013, in response to your recent questions:

    A person who thinks in Cartesian/Newtonian terms might reasonably ask, “How can you predict near term human extinction or near extinction based on scientific evidence while emphasizing the weaknesses of science in making climate change and related predictions? How and why, do you consider NTHE predictable based on science?” A way too short, way too simple answer to this question (per Einstein’s “not too simple” test) looks something like this:

    When trying to understand high speed processes viewed from a Cartesian/Newtonian perspective unresolvable paradoxes occur, which Einstein’s relativity theory resolves. Similarly, viewing the global warming, ecological and nuclear collapse self-annihilation trap through the Cartesian/Newtonian lens produces the paradox inherent in the questions above related to prediction. Just as Relativity Theory resolves many Cartesian/Newtonian paradoxes, so also, it seems to me, complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics resolve the Cartesian/Newtonian science prediction paradox while also pointing to the near certainty of a fatal outcome for us soon.

    As I describe more fully in my forthcoming essay for publication at NBL on around the 23rd of July titled “What ‘purpose’ do I have?”, life takes maximum advantage of the energy that gets dissipated in all energy conversion processes (entropy). On the other hand, civilization—especially fossil fuel-based, capitalist industrial civilization—violates this most fundamental life principle, instead maximizing wasted energy for an immediate gratification “payoff” by taking the shortest routes to gradient reduction. Just as evolution made the emergence of multi-drug-resistant (MDR) bacteria inevitable, so also civilization’s anti-life agenda, paired with complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics, makes global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse with human extinction or near extinction coming soon an extremely high probability. As complexity theory makes clear, unpredictable and irreversible tipping points, accompanied by very rapid change, occur in complex systems.

    In order to understand this in any depth, one really needs to have some background knowledge of complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics as they relate to life. Meanwhile, most commenters here at FP seem strongly resistant to learning about these things, much less discussing their relevance to this conversation. This makes about as much sense to me as a person’s avoiding relativity theory and quantum mechanics because they feel more comfortable with, and prefer, the world as interpreted by Descartes and Newton.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. In fewer words: The prediction paradox occurs because of the limited nature of the Cartesian/Newtonian science concepts. Just as Einstein’s relativity theory explained many weaknesses inherent in Cartesian/Newtonian science, so also considering complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics resolves the prediction paradox. Of course, if you wish to insist that Cartesian/Newtonian science does not contain many weaknesses, you remain entitled to that erroneous belief.


      2. Indeed. I would have put it less stridently, though. Bud is saying that he can’t give a rational argument for why he thinks NTHE is a near certainty despite throwing science into question, just that one has to learn all about the branches of science that he seems to think give a clear guide. GM, as far as I’m aware, doesn’t rely on such obscure logic, but keeps claiming that NTHE is a rational conclusion of the scientific evidence. So Bud seems to have taken a more obscure route to conclude similar things.


    1. Youtube is EXPLODING with Armageddon/Extinction documentaries and also AGW videos in general. In part 3 of this 3-part documentary, Lorentz and chaos theory are mentioned in the context of abrupt change; The Younger Dryas is given as an example. Pretty well done and enjoyable series.
      Earth The Climate Wars – Episode 1

      There’s so many videos now, it’s hard to recommend one over the other, but this is another one I watched and enjoyed — about the Permian extinction:
      The Siberian Traps and the Volcanic Mass Extinction Theory (Full Documentary)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Lorentz mention starts at about 24:40. (Part 3 of the Climate Wars series). It’s introduced as part of a discussion of climate modeling.


      2. How do you know that there haven’t already been many apocalypse videos before you started noticing them? I believe that apocalyptic thinking and dreaming has been a huge part of the Western religious background for more than a thousand years due in part to Biblical misinterpretation (i.e. “end of times” vs. “end of era”). Possibly, I guess, climate change might be accelerating an already present trend.


      3. Just an eyeball estimate. A glance at the suggestion list compared to what used to be there. A look at the dates of upload. Most seem to be within the last 8 or 9 months or so. Haven’t tried to quantify.


      1. Hi-
        It seems like this is directed at me?
        If so, then yep, I’ve seen it- it’s very interesting!
        But no, it’s more curiosity than Harbinger of Imminent Doom.


      2. I don’t think it can be merely thought of as a curiousity, as yet. As far as I know, there is very little data or research on the holes (including whether they’ve happened in the past and, if so, under what conditions). The Arctic seems to surprise us quite often now and is warming much faster than the rest of the planet.


  2. I’ve been trying to find the video for this for months – James Hansen at MIT this past April.

    He discusses hydrates at around the 1:28:40 mark. On that point if nothing else, he doesn’t seem too worried, for all the reasons Scott has already elaborated on.


    1. Orbital vs CO2 induced warming. We’ve been over it. No refutation yet offered for the Beckwith analysis.

      The Permian methane runaway occurred at +5C. That’s the best paleo argument against large near-term methane release. But I believe Wadhams has stated the geology in the arctic is different from what existed 250 million years ago.

      The issue now is up to the science of sea and seabed mechanics (Wadhams, Shakhova, Semiletov), not climate science (Hansen).

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Since you brought it up twice now – if you’re referring to Beckwith’s response to SkS, Scott did respond to the quotes you posted, back on Page 2.

        And if you’re going to argue that specialization trumps general climate science, why ignore all the methane people (Archer, Carolyn Ruppert) who’ve come to the same sorts of conclusions that Hansen mentions in the video (and many many others have elsewhere)?


      2. Will wrote:
        “Since you brought it up twice now – if you’re referring to Beckwith’s response to SkS, Scott did respond to the quotes you posted, back on Page 2.”

        There hasn’t been a refutation offered by anybody, anywhere, that I’m aware of. If you have something to offer, please provide the specific quote.


        One of the primary reasons we don’t think there’s as much methane sensitivity to warming as has been proposed by Shakhova, and argued for in the Whiteman Nature article, is because there’s no evidence for it in the paleoclimate record. This has been a point made by Gavin Schmidt on Twitter (a compilation of his many tweets on the topic here) but the objections to the Nature assumptions have been further echoed in recent days by other scientists working on the Arctic methane issue (e.g., here, here).

        One can argue from a process-based and observations-based approach that we don’t understand everything about Arctic methane feedback dynamics, which is fair. Nonetheless, the methane changes on the scale being argued by Whiteman et al. should have been seen in the early Holocene (when Summer Northern Hemispheric solar radiation was about 40 W/m2 higher than today at 60 degrees North, 7000-9000 years ago). (Paul Beckwith: Earth tilt was larger, so Winter Northern Hemispheric solar radiation was about 40 W/m2 lower than today at 60 degrees North. Thus, the ice formed much more quickly and much thicker in the winter back then. Also, at night much more heat was radiated out to space in the lower GHG world then as compared to our 400 ppm levels today). Even larger anomalies occurred during the Last Interglacial period between 130,000 to 120,000 years ago, though with complicated regional evolution (Bakker et al., 2013).

        Both of these times were marked by warmer Arctic regions in summer without a methane spike. It’s also known pretty well (see here) that summertime Arctic sea ice was probably reduced in extent or seasonally free compared to the modern during the early Holocene, offering a suitable test case for the hypothesis of rapid, looming methane release. (Paul Beckwith: Incorrect, the summertime Arctic is not believed to be seasonally ice free during these periods. The last time this happened was likely 2 or 3 million years ago.)

        It should be noted that Peter Wadhams did offer a response recently to the criticisms of the Whitehead Nature piece (Wadham is a co-author) but did not address why this idea has not been borne out paleoclimatically.

        Yesterday, an objection to the paleoclimate comparison cropped up in the Guardian suggesting that the early Holocene or Last Interglacial analogs are not suitable pieces of evidence against rapid methane release. They aren’t perfect analogs, but the argument does not seem compelling. (Paul Beckwith: Colder winters in the early Holocene and Last Interglacial and much colder nights (in summers and winters then) meant much thicker and extensive ice formation in winters, and slower melting at night, respectively. Compelling arguments.) The Northeast Siberian shelf regions have been exposed many times to the atmosphere during the Pleistocene when sea levels were lower (and not covered by an ice sheet since at least the Late Saalian, before 130,000 years ago, e.g., here). As mentioned before, when areas such as the Laptev shelf and adjacent lowlands were exposed, ice-rich permafrost sediments were deposited. The deposits become degraded after they are submerged (when sea levels increase again), resulting in local flooding and seabed temperature changes an order of magnitude greater than what is currently happening. Moreover, the permafrost responses have a lag time and are still responding to early Holocene forcing (some overviews in e.g., Romanovskii and Hubberten, 2001; Romanovskii et al., 2004; Nicolsky et al., 2012). A book chapter by Overduin et al., 2007 overviews the history of this region since the Last Glacial Maximum. These texts also suggest that large amounts of submarine permafrost may have existed going back at least 400,000 years. It therefore does not seem likely that the seafloor deposits will be exposed to anything in the coming decades that they haven’t seen before. (Paul Beckwith: What is unique now is the extremely high concentration levels of CO2 (400ppm) and CH4 (>1900ppb). These high concentrations trap the heat in the troposphere 24/7. Thus, at night heat loss is limited by the GHG blanket. At all previous times the GHG blanket was much weaker, with CO2 ranging from 180 to 280 ppm and CH4 ranging from 350 to 700 ppb, or so. This makes an enormous difference.)

        wordpress is not allowing the link, so google any unique portion of the above excerpted text.

        Will wrote:
        “And if you’re going to argue that specialization trumps general climate science, why ignore all the methane people (Archer, Carolyn Ruppert) who’ve come to the same sorts of conclusions that Hansen mentions in the video (and many many others have elsewhere)?”

        I’m going to argue that Hansen demonstrated his ignorance of the known facts in this special area of climate science or related science, and therefore a recognized authority isn’t always right outside his specialized field. The ultimate authority is facts and logic, not who brings them to bear.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Not interested in re-hashing, but this caught my eye: “Paul Beckwith: Incorrect, the summertime Arctic is not believed to be seasonally ice free during these periods. The last time this happened was likely 2 or 3 million years ago.”

        Will recently posted some stuff about reduced sea ice extent during the early Holocene, and there’s also some evidence that extent was low (possibly seasonally ice-free) during MIS 11 (the interglacial ~400,000 years ago).

        “I’m going to argue that Hansen demonstrated his ignorance of the known facts in this special area of climate science or related science, and therefore a recognized authority isn’t always right outside his specialized field.”

        This is some dangerous territory you’re putting yourself in. Weren’t you the one gushing that Hansen was the “father of climate sensitivity”, or something like that? Now that you see he’s not on board with the pet theory you picked up from a single researcher (right?), you’ve decided that he’s ignorant. Methane hydrates are definitely not within Wadhams’ “specialized field”, but that didn’t give you pause before. You’re setting yourself up to have an untouchable opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. SJ wrote:
        “You’re setting yourself up to have an untouchable opinion.”

        That squares well (NOT) with the very last words I wrote:
        “The ultimate authority is facts and logic, not who brings them to bear.”

        You and Will have done everything except directly engage Beckwith’s argument.


      5. I think S&S are experts in seabed mechanics with respect to methane while the others might not have as much of the former, but good point nonetheless.



    2. Shockley22,

      Chomsky is a rigorous academic and would have, I believe after having read him for 20+ years, zero tolerance for GMs errors. However, one does not need GM to realize the strong gravity of out self-induced predicament, and presently the facts are speaking for themselves. Melting of arctic sea ice, full initial melt if entire Greenland peninsula, ever increasing temps and CO2 emissions, etc.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Balan, Chomsky is able to find empathy for the North Korean government. He stood firmly in defense of a famous Holocaust denier’s right to speech. Is this not what we are arguing here — right to speech? Desitinies intertwine in strange ways. If he hadn’t spoke, I would be less informed and far less entertained. I think he harms the truth less than some may imagine.

        “Opinions are questions, anyway”
        (Rough paraphrase)
        – JW von Goethe


      2. I wonder if von Goethe would wish to take back some of the quotes attributed to him.

        “Is this not what we are arguing here — right to speech?”

        No, it isn’t. Here’s a familiar and very appropriate quote:

        “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but no-one is entitled to their own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan


      3. Of course Chomsky would defend GM’s and MPR Light’s right to express their views, however, it’s seriously doubtful in the extreme that he would share them. I support GM and MPR Light’s right to express their views, too. However…I think some serious fact-checking is in order, don’t you?


      4. Balan wrote:
        “Of course Chomsky would defend GM’s and MPR Light’s right to express their views, however, it’s seriously doubtful in the extreme that he would share them. I support GM and MPR Light’s right to express their views, too. However…I think some serious fact-checking is in order, don’t you? ”

        On the surface, it appears that is all that is needed (systematic fact checking), but as I think you have demonstrated, that is not in the cards. That card is not in the deck. His style of scattershot posting is half the message. Take it or leave it. Personally, I am glad he was there. I absorbed it and moved on. The opposing view (Landbeyond) is that tender eyes/minds should not be exposed to his message. The deceit is too powerful. But the number one law of the intellect, of ingestion, is PROVE IT. Swallow nothing without biting it first, tasting it. That is the logic that underlies Goethe’s “No one is deceived”. Gullibility is the fault of the host not the foreign agent. A free society promotes and nurtures the intellectual immune system by challenging it. Kids that grow up in a sterile environment have unhealthy vulnerabilities. They are “poisoned with protection” to steal a line from Neil Young.

        I also think he makes some useful points — points that have stuck with me. The primariness of the methane question. The imminent, looming challenge to the food supply. The danger posed by nuclear reactors in the event of deep economic collapse.

        I’ve seen where Chomsky has praised one aspect of a writer’s work while expressing exasperation for another aspect. Does the verdict have to be all or none?


      5. “Personally, I am glad he was there. I absorbed it and moved on.”

        It’s good that you derived some personal benefit.

        “The opposing view (Landbeyond) is that tender eyes/minds should not be exposed to his message.”

        Perhaps these tender eyes/minds are in the same general category as the “totally enfeebled mind” you referred to earlier. That your superior intellect can cope with GM’s nonsense does not help what appears to be the increasing number of ordinary people who assume that GM is both informed and sincere. Those people are absorbing and spreading the concept of NTHE, with its corollary that efforts to avoid it are pointless. Perhaps that situation is okay with you.

        “Gullibility is the fault of the host not the foreign agent.”

        A perspective that exonerates all con men and liars.


      6. The clathrate gun hypothesis dominates his AGW view. By its extreme implications. It is not an implausible hypothesis as it is considered a real near-term threat by several highly regarded, conservative scientists, Peter Wadhams among them.

        GM postulating that it has already fired can be seen as a thought experiment he is practicing on others. A not terribly moral way of doing things. An act with its own singular Karmic fingerprint. Condemn or rejoice.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’ll let a lot of things go, but calling Wadhams “conservative” sticks in my gears. I doubt you can find a climate scientist farther out on the limb than he is. Why would you even reach for that adjective in your bag of words?


      8. SJ wrote:
        “I’ll let a lot of things go, but calling Wadhams “conservative” sticks in my gears. I doubt you can find a climate scientist farther out on the limb than he is. Why would you even reach for that adjective in your bag of words?”

        It is inherently non-conservative to make predictions, but sometimes the Precautionary Principle demands it (see Hansen’s 1980’s testimony to Congress).

        From an earlier post:

        Wadhams is conservative and very careful.

        Looking through older articles I see it was not Wadhams, but Maslowski who originated the up tempo thesis for Arctic sea ice collapse.

        From 2007:
        “A few years ago, even I was thinking 2050, 2070, out beyond the year 2100, because that’s what our models were telling us. But as we’ve seen, the models aren’t fast enough right now; we are losing ice at a much more rapid rate.

        My thinking on this is that 2030 is not an unreasonable date to be thinking of.

        I think Wieslaw is probably a little aggressive in his projections, simply because the luck of the draw means natural variability can kick in to give you a few years in which the ice loss is a little less than you’ve had in previous years. But Wieslaw is a smart guy and it would not surprise me if his projections came out.”

        From 2011:
        While the IPCC suggests the ice will remain in place until the 2030s, Dr Maslowski’s study also takes into account the rate at which it is thinning and calculates that it will vanish much more quickly.
        Dr Maslowski’s model, along with his claim that the Arctic sea ice is in a “death spiral”, were controversial but Prof Wadhams, a leading authority on the polar regions, said the calculations had him “pretty much persuaded.”
        Prof Wadhams said: “His [model] is the most extreme but he is also the best modeller around.
        “It is really showing the fall-off in ice volume is so fast that it is going to bring us to zero very quickly. 2015 is a very serious prediction and I think I am pretty much persuaded that that’s when it will happen.”

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Yes, yes, there’s the one other fellow who has presented a model along the lines of Wadhams’ summer sea ice claim. How do you get from there to claiming that Wadhams is “conservative”?


      10. I thought the logic was clear but I’ll explain. Wadhams was content with the IPCC models (pre-2007) until they started markedly lagging reality. He moved up his estimate. Then in 2011, after IPCC followed him, moving up their own estimate, he again went with the data and moved up his estimate again. I don’t consider “conservative” synonymous with “consensus”. Someone has to be first. “Conservative” in scientific terms is antithetical to “conservative” in precautionary terms. This should not have to be explained.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is a coherent post. (I’ll hold my tongue on “the IPCC models”– which means all the models— and “after IPCC followed him”…)

        “Conservative” in scientific terms means being exceedingly hesitant to jump to a conclusion until it is abundantly warranted. Someone who is described as “conservative” is not someone who takes up a position more extreme than most of his or her colleagues. The “conservative” folks will be the ones trailing behind, even if some evidence starts to come in supporting the position, holding out for better confirmation.

        Apart from Maslowski’s model, Wadhams’ sea ice prediction is the most aggressive thing out there. Wadhams’ further claims about methane hydrates are not supported by the community. Even if he should prove to be right on these points, he wouldn’t be “conservative”.


      12. SJ wrote:
        “I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is a coherent post…”

        I feel I’ve been adequately clear. I would only be repeating myself to respond.

        Liked by 2 people

      13. “GM postulating that it has already fired can be seen as a thought experiment he is practicing on others. A not terribly moral way of doing things. An act with its own singular Karmic fingerprint. Condemn or rejoice.”

        Now you are just being silly.


      14. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet.
        This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering;
        it has not yet reached the ears of men.
        Lightning and thunder require time;
        the light of the stars requires time;
        deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard.
        This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars –
        and yet they have done it themselves.


      15. Stock praise handed to writers:
        “He knows how to ask the question”.

        Common praise for musicians:
        “He cuts through the noise and gets heard. “

        Liked by 1 person

      16. SJ wrote:
        “Is there a point to these quote drops?”

        It’s allusive. It invites association but doesn’t demand it.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. All of them, SJ. All of them concern me – I get several of the AGU journals every week, and I read them.

        But, for me personally, perhaps the most important paper was a simple report I did as an upperclassman at Cornell on Canadian permafrost soils back in the very early 1980s. It was for a soil taxonomy class. That memory allows me to gage the changes. I used one of my father’s books titled the Canadian Arctic by Air (or something to that effect) which I still have – I Xeroxed a couple of photos to include in the paper. All the photos were taken during the summer flying seasons shortly after WW2. though about 1951 or so A simple look on google earth shows how things have dramatically changed up north. So has the weather here in the more southern latitudes. Other feedbacks are obvious too, if you have some age under your belt that is. Extreme natural disasters used to be uncommon. Now it’s every week, and sometimes every day.

        There is no doubt that you too will see great changes, and faster than what I have seen. I have a good understanding of the inertia of the climate system and I’m sure you do too. Society has only accelerated emissions year after year. Therefore the worst is yet to come. And, we are woefully underprepared. Denial of reality has impeded any mitigation or adaptation measures.

        That is why Guy should be taken seriously. Far, far worse is yet to come. That much is guaranteed. And, climate change can not be reversed. Perhaps that is the second most important paper that I’m aware of – it was published about 6 or 7 years ago in PNAS.

        Thanks for your question though.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Does it bother you that climate scientists, and the literature, don’t support the imminent-climate-catastrophe claims that McPherson is making? And that he writes this is because they are cowards and liars beholden to corporate powers?

        Or that he misrepresents or misunderstands a number of the sources he cites?


      3. Did that 6-7 year-old paper say anything other than that the change is irreversible because CO2 takes a long time to leave the atmosphere? Because that wouldn’t be a breakthrough.


  3. SJ – I couldn’t find a reply button above, but I did want to respond to your questions and observations.

    Scientists are discussing possible extinction of humans. Two young scientists in the environmental field have told me of the “30 Years Too Late” lecture, and they went to different grad schools. oddly enough. Another stated “We’re f***ed” and walked away when we were discussing catastrophic impacts. I’ve seen countless presentations from scientists that appear more like a scene from a science fiction movie rather than a climate science presentation. I even recall Dr. Shakhova, Dr. Lovejoy and Dr. Jeremy Jackson close to tears during their presentations. And Dr. Thompson from OSU didn’t look too happy either when describing near term future events if I recall.

    Perhaps this abstract will help you to understand the nature of human bias against addressing catastrophic events including human extinction. And since so many models have under predicted the nature and timing of climate change impacts, I assume that this bias is found in climate models too. I believe shrinks also call it survivor bias.

    “We describe a significant practical consequence of taking anthropic biases into account in deriving predictions for rare stochastic catastrophic events. The risks associated with catastrophes such as asteroidal/cometary impacts, supervolcanic episodes, and explosions of supernovae/gamma-ray bursts are based on their observed frequencies. As a result, the frequencies of catastrophes that destroy or are otherwise incompatible with the existence of observers are systematically underestimated. We describe the consequences of this anthropic bias for estimation of catastrophic risks, and suggest some directions for future work.”

    And as to scientists being beholden to corporate powers?? Well, you’re bought the minute you accept a paycheck regardless of what your profession is. You’re paid to represent the employer, much like a lawyer who is paid to represent their client. I’ve met many scientists that won’t question what their employer espouses, regardless of how strong the contrary evidence is. Some call it “professionalism”. I even met a scientist who declined to read Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” when I asked if he wanted to borrow it – the title spooked him too much. As far as I can see, “Collapse” is required reading in many college anthropology and sustainability courses. I thought it was interesting, and since he was a bright fellow and we often swapped books, I was very much surprised at his reaction. It spooked him and he shut down.

    Perhaps you look inward to determine why you have such resistance to Dr. McPherson’s message. The best scientists in history have shown open-mindedness to new ideas, but most are just the product of their society, complete with all the trappings. Regardless of our debate here, we can now only wait and see since most of the cards have already been dealt. And to me, it looks like the hand is a looser.

    Nice chatting with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What Scott is pointing out here (and what Tobis was pointing out in his blog) is not that Guy gets everything wrong or that his analysis shouldn’t be considered, it is that much of the science he uses to put his case appears to have been misinterpreted or simply hasn’t been fully understood (witness the two supposed feedbacks he added and then removed when someone pointed out that they weren’t feedbacks of the climate system, plus other examples). Guy’s message of imminent (which is what near term is) extinction of most species isn’t a messages that stands up to scrutiny, so to just dismiss criticisms as a resistance to his message is too simplistic. The message, as Guy puts it, doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. This doesn’t mean that collapse won’t happen or that very difficult times are ahead; it just means that near term human extinction (and the extinction of most other species) doesn’t yet have evidential backing or not enough for Guy to engage seriously with his critics. It seems to be akin to a religious message. Believe him if you want but I’d prefer to check out whether what he says is backed by the science he references.


      1. I have to ask a question in reference to this:

        “The message, as Guy puts it, doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.”

        Don’t we have to determine the validity of the scrutiny as well? Because the “survivor bias” argument explained in the comment above yours is fairly convincing.

        If the “scrutiny” you mention comes from any bias towards the survival of the human race … then that bias has to be eliminated before the scrutiny would be valid, correct?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Joseph, it’s up to you whether you consider the scrutiny to be factually based or opinion based. Of course, facts can be accumulated to only show one point of view (GM is good at that), but when GM’s references to science are shown to be somewhat wide of the mark, we can be sure that at least those references don’t support his argument. This doesn’t mean he’s wrong but as he’s never really shown his workings, then we can only judge his musings from afar (through our own research and that of others).

        Liked by 2 people

    2. “Scientists are discussing possible extinction of humans.”

      That’s fine. Scientists can and should discuss all sorts of things. They should not, however, make stuff up. Dr. Shakhova, for instance, despite not looking too happy when describing possible near-term future events, reiterated that much more research needs to be done to establish whether her concerns regarding the “clathrate gun” (so beloved of McPherson) are justified. I fancy she would be horrified to know how McPherson is misusing her work.

      “Perhaps you [should] look inward to determine why you have such resistance to Dr. McPherson’s message.”

      Perhaps you should look inward to determine why you are so eager to accept a message based on false premises for which there is no scientific evidence.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Evidence abounds, such as observed and measured thawing permafrost and the loss of Arctic ice. The lid is now off, and you do not seem to understand the implications. Shakhova is aware – that’s why further study is warranted. If there was no cause for concern, there would be no cause to study it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Here are two statements:
        1) There is cause for concern that a “clathrate gun” may exist and that it may fire.
        2) There is a clathrate gun and it has been firing for the last seven years.

        Consider carefully whether you can perceive the difference. If you can you may wish to amend your last comment. If you can’t there is little point in your participating in this forum.


      3. SJ – the Arctic ice is in such a poor state that venting is occurring and the surface is subjected to additional wind mixing to the now exposed water. These events have been well documented, but perhaps you didn’t understand the comment “the lid is now off”. That ice used to keep things in, and out.


      4. SJ wrote:
        “Arctic sea ice extent has obviously declined, but there’s no evidence that this has had an impact on atmospheric methane…”

        Nafeez Ahmed citing Yurganov:

        Indeed, Dr Leonid Yurganov, Senior Research Scientist at the NASA/UMBC Joint Centre for Earth Systems Technology, and his co-scientists from NOAA and Harvard (Shawn Xiong and Steven Wofsy) disagree with Dlugokencky. In a paper for the American Geophysical Union last December they charted a worrying “global increase of methane” since 2007-8, with particular spikes in 2009 and 2011-12 in the northern hemisphere, with maximum methane concentrations in the Arctic:

        “IASI data for the autumn months (October-November) clearly indicate Eurasian shelf areas of the Arctic Ocean as a significant methane emitter. The maximal methane concentrations were found over Kara and Laptev Seas. According to IASI data, during the last three years in autumn time, methane over Eurasian shelf has been increased by 25 ppb, over the N. American shelf, by 23 ppb, and over the land between 50 N and 70 N for both Eastern and Western hemispheres, by 20 ppb.”

        Yurganov et. al point out that between January 2009 and 2013, Arctic methane levels ramped steadily higher by about 10-20 ppb on average each year. They also note that maximum Arctic methane emissions occur annually between September and October – coinciding with the Arctic sea ice minimum.

        I haven’t read Yurganov’s paper — maybe there is relevant commentary. But since methane travels and spreads, the increased observable methane in the arctic must point to a larger increase in production.

        The other mystery is why methane measurements peak in January while release peaks in November. This is further reason to believe actual emmissions may be different — possibly larger — than what is measured. One theory I’ve come across is that more methane is oxidized by the air in the Fall than in the Winter because there is more sunlight which is part of the oxidizing reaction.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. His admission that he assumed press releases were reliable is kind of surprising, and that he thought published papers can’t be wrong. That’s science journalism 101.


      6. Will wrote:

        What you never mention every time you bring up that blog post is that Ahmed, after dialogue with Michael Tobis and critique from Tobis, Gavin Schmidt, and Chris Colose, backed down.

        Thanks for making me aware of Ahmed’s contrition in that comment to a blog I’ve never bothered to follow or even been aware of.

        Planet3.0 Beyond Sustainability

        Honest, wide-ranging, scientifically informed conversation about sustainable technologies and cultures, toward a thriving future

        (The need to describe yourself as honest invites suspicion)

        You begin by suggesting that I’ve referenced the 7-points post by Ahmed several times (“everytime”, you say), whereas, to my knowledge, this is my first time. Would you care to correct me with direct links?

        It would be good of you to note that Ahmed’s 7-points post dealt with several different aspects of the methane issue, and it happens that Yurganov’s discussion of the satellite methane emissions data has nothing to do with Ahmed’s “contrition”.

        I’d be happy to discuss the issues and how they may have changed if you would start by framing the discussion more accurately and with less distracting rhetoric. For instance, what is the core issue? Shakhova is being accused of framing something as fact when, they claim, she should frame it as speculative. I wasn’t able to penetrate to what that “something” was. Too much preamble and rhetoric by Tobis.


      7. Opps! The “7 facts” post by Ahmed is the one where he quotes Beckwith. My mistake — I have indeed quoted that article several times.

        I also note that Ahmed’s humble contrition was followed by more reflection and checking, and then this post:

        in which he reasserts his original position and, effectively, retracts his contrition.

        “In particular, his claim that there is a scientific consensus demonstrating near impossibility of a risk of a catastrophic methane event strikes me as unsupportable. Disagreement among scientists over the Arctic methane question is real, and it seems clear that Arctic specialists – Shakhova included – largely agree that while catastrophe is possible, more research is needed to discern how likely or unlikely it might be.

        While other scientists, many reputable, argue importantly that such scenarios are beyond the pale, to my mind Tobis’ egregious ad hominems against Arctic scientists whom he disagrees with have no place in scientific debate.”


      8. I shouldn’t have assumed that you’d seen Tobis’s site, but frankly, I’m surprised that you weren’t at least aware of it – it’s cited more than once in the original post here and has been brought up throughout.

        I had not seem that piece by Ahmed. His write-up on that “collapse of civilization” study was what led me to this blog, but the more of his stuff I read, the less impressed I am. Note that Gavin Schmidt stopped by the comments of that piece to offer further rebuttal, and several rebuttals to the Whiteman et al paper – which is the source here, Ahmed is just defending it – were posted.


      9. So there have been rebuttals. Have there been any salient points? What is your opinion on the matter?


      10. My opinion – a layman’s – is worth jack shit. But yes, I think that salient points have been made against the near-term methane catastrophe hypothesis, by many many people with different specializations (including the scientist you e-mailed), but notably several hydrate experts, to the point where my irrational middle-of-the-night impulse to dwell on scary things may still think about it, but my intellectual side is pretty much convinced that Tobis had it right when he called it “implausible in the extreme” (or something to that effect).


  4. GM posted July 15th, 2014 under Self-reinforcing Feedback Loop #1, methane (see ** marks):

    The importance of methane cannot be overstated. Increasingly, evidence points to a methane burst underlying the Great Dying associated with the end-Permian extinction event, as pointed out in the 31 March 2014 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ** As Malcolm Light reported on 14 July 2014: “There are such massive reserves of methane in the subsea Arctic methane hydrates, that if only a few percent of them are released, they will lead to a jump in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere of 10 degrees C and produce a ‘Permian’ style major extinction event which will kill us all.” **



    Liked by 1 person

    1. @ALL

      Well, now. This looks like the motherlode for fact-checking, yes? Let’s all dig in, boys and girls. Fact-checking team unite!

      Two important facts to consider before even reading:

      1) It’s not a peer-reviewed article in a respected peer-review journal, but self-published on Arctic News.
      2) When doing a Google Scholar search for MPR Light (aka Malcolm P.R. Light), I found 18 authored peer-reviewed papers, and just 24 citations. Apparently, he seems to be a geologist, with his last publication in 2005, and citation in 2006. Peer-reviewed journals his paper were accepted in were as follows: The Journal of Petroleum Geology; The Geological Society; Applied Organometallic Chemistry; and EGS XXVII General Assembly (related to Harvard and The Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System). Thus, MPR Light is not just some dude with a pen writing about climate change; rather, he’s a serious geologist that might have some serious karma to atone for having written for The Journal of Petroleum Geology.

      Note: I’m working on a really long piece to fact-check this article by MPR Light. I invite everyone on this blog to help in that time consuming task.


      1. I haven’t a clue how he made it through his career and ended up writing complete nonsense like “It is perfectly clear from the graphs that the methane build up in the Arctic is mainly a result of increasing earthquake activity along the Gakkel Ridge caused by global warming induced worldwide expansion of the Earth’s crust due to the carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere which is enhanced by the heating up of the Arctic ocean due to the high global warming potential of the methane.”


      2. Actually – putting aside how wild their claims are, I am curious about that geoengineering scheme that Carana/Light always advertise (LUCY, I belive it’s called), where radio waves are used to break down methane into diamonds and hydrogen. With no engineering background at all, I’m talking completely out of my ass here, but that plan doesn’t seem like it would require any major revolutions or breakthroughs in technology, and with methane behind 18% of forcing (going off memory for that figure, correct me if I’m wrong), this sounds to me like it would be a decent candidate for buying some time on emissions cuts, if nothing else. Am I missing any big flaw (besides cost) that would prevent this from being a reasonable geoengineering plan when uncoupled from the antics of two of its cheerleaders?


      3. I can’t say that I’ve seen the relevant physics laid out (I was only introduced to this “plan” earlier today), but I’m pretty sure that it’s simply nonsensical. Even if it was technically possible, I’m not at all confident that the energy required to power the process wouldn’t have a larger greenhouse footprint than the methane broken down. (I find that, as a rule, whenever someone starts mentioning HAARP, it’s best to slowly back away…)


      4. Well, part of the reason I asked is that, because of one link that I read months ago and then misremembered, I thought that LUCY was something developed at an Iowa university that the AMEG people later adopted. I went back to find that link, and it looks like Carana/Light came up with it themselves; had I known, I might not have asked.,d.cGE

        This seems to have the physics, which are of course way over my head.

        Apparently, they have a second plan, involving microbes:

        Re. HAARP; I’m sure I’ve heard of them before today, but I had to look them up. I definitely hadn’t heard of any conspiracy theories before today.


      5. Scott asked, “What essay?”

        Sorry, blog post by MPR Light posted by GM yesterday, not the one posted on another blog in 2012.


      6. Balan, I wouldn’t waste your time. It barely qualifies as an article. It’s garbage even by Light’s standard. The YouTube still stuck in the middle of it is from 2008 and has no connection with methane.

        It’s only significance is that it illustrates the standard of “evidence” that GM now thinks acceptable.

        I could have told you that Light is a retired petroleum geologist. It would be interesting if you could find another picture of him, different from the one of him looking down among “Contributors”.

        If you want a real challenge, find out who/what “Sam Carana” is. Someone on a forum claimed that: “Sam Carana is a friend of mine who prefers that his ID remain as anonymous as possible because of threats made by the oil & gas industry among others. He has been employed at the University of Illinois in the past.” Follow-up questions went unanswered.


      7. LandBeyond,

        Yeah, thanks for your suggestions.

        Yeah, I wondered about that youtube video, too. Even the image for this video does not address CH4, but CO2. Hmmm. The YouTube video for me possibly shows the implications of US CO2 emissions on Greenland ice melt and Atlantic freshwater causing gulf stream to alter.

        Yeah, we need a better pic of MPR Light!

        I agree, it’s true about Sam Carana being a mystery. That’s suspect. If you can’t be honest and stand for your research, then what is it worth? Look at Michael Mann enduring being sued, etc, and even GM being attacked which I respect them taking the hits, and Carana hiding behind anonymity. I do understand, at the same time, why he’d want to do so looking at Mann and McPherson examples, though. Needless to say, I would like to know more about who he is.

        However, both you and Scott are missing a lot of what he cites in his byline under his image of Global inventory of methane hydrates in marine sediments. Why he would post most of his sources here is beyond me, frankly.


      8. “However, both you and Scott are missing a lot of what he cites in his byline under his image of Global inventory of methane hydrates in marine sediments. Why he would post most of his sources here is beyond me, frankly.”

        I don’t know what this refers to.


      9. Balan, yes, fact-checking is an arduous, time-consuming task. I think Guy must assume that not many people will do it, which is a shame. To be honest, given Malcolm Light’s last blunder, I’m not inclined to go through any “paper” on climate change authored by him and Sam Carana (who seems not to exist outside of his blog). But you should try a few critical questions on that blog and see where you get. Don’t expect the kind of serious debate that you get here.


      10. Ok, here come paragraphs 4-6 of MPR Light’s latest post on Arctic News:

        P4 ML states…

        “Unfortunately for us, global warming has heated up the oceanic currents fed by the Gulf Stream flowing into the Arctic, causing massive destabilization of the subsea methane hydrates and fault seals and releasing increasing volumes of methane directly into the atmosphere.”

        Stop. There is no citation for this declaration, nor links to observable information. Perhaps it will follow later in blog post, or is referenced to his earlier hyperlink on mantle methane. Anyone out there have anything that could corroborate this observation? Does S&S or Wadham say anything about this? I’m suspecting that observable data is inconclusive as of yet, as more research is needed, and fast.

        i1 (image #1) ML states:

        “US CO2 emissions covering the North Atlantic. Created by Sam Carana for with screenshot from Purdue University’s Vulcan animation at” …

        Byline states, “Screenshot from Perdue University’s Vulcan animation, which shows pollution from North America spreading over the North Atlantic, from Warming of the Arctic Fueling Extreme Weather.” Links to June 11th, 2014, Sam Carana post here on Arctic News here:

        It seems that Light and Carana work closely together, as they seem to frequently cite each other’s work (i.e. non-peer-reviewed posts citing other non-peer-reviewed posts). Question: why does ML show an image of CO2 in USA, when they are discussing CH4? Is this to presumably show that CO2 from the USA is causing extreme weather changes in the NE thereby effecting The Gulf Stream and Greenland? I’m guessing so.

        P5 ML states…

        “The volume transport of the Gulf Stream has increased by three times since the 1940s due to the rising atmospheric pressure difference set up between the polluted, greenhouse gas rich air above North America and the marine Atlantic air.”

        Is ML saying that the atmospheric differences between GHG rich air in North America mixing with marine Atlantic air has caused the flow of The Gulf Stream to have tripled since the 1940s? If so, is this true? I have no idea. Any papers to corroborate?

        P6 ML states…

        “The increasingly heated Gulf Stream, with its associated high winds and energy rich weather systems, flows NE to Europe where it recently pummelled [sic] Great Britain with catastrophic storms. Other branches of the Gulf Stream then enter the Arctic and heat up the Arctic methane hydrate seals on subsea and deep high – pressure mantle methane reservoirs below the Eurasian Basin- Laptev Sea transition.”

        Stop. Do we know for sure if the rain storms in the UK can be attributed to changes in The Gulf Stream (I imagine it’s reasonable to believe so…)? Hyperlink offered links to another Sam Carana post February 15, 2014 here:

        Second, do we know for certain, or a statistical probability, that The Gulf Stream’s subsea temperatures are sufficient to enter the arctic thereby heating up hydrates below the Eurasian Basin-Laptev Sea transition? Please note that there was no citation offered to any research done.


    2. If I were a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and studying Abrupt Climate Change, at the beginning of the semester I’d give my students a paper by Michael Mann and MPR Light and ask students to fact-check them. In doing so they will learn a hell of a lot about climate, regardless of the outcomes. I find this totally fun while simultaneously it requiring of so much of my time! Woohoo! Though, I must admit, the tension is incredible and exhausting.


    3. Ok, here is my commentary on MPR Light’s first three paragraphs as I methodically go through each one. In coming posts, I’ll take three paragraphs at a time daily until complete to give us time to really check each one for those interested. Here we go…

      P1 (Paragraph #1): Malcolm Light (aka ML) states…

      “Methane formed by organisms in the water becomes trapped in the fabric of water ice crystals when it freezes and is stable below about 300 metres [sic] depth in the Arctic Ocean.”

      This seems correct.

      P2 ML states…

      “There are such massive methane reserves below the Arctic Ocean floor that they represent around 100 times the amount that is required to cause a Permian style major extinction event, should the methane be released into the atmosphere.”

      This seems correct… not to quibble with the precise number, in general, there is a lot of methane there, but just how much of it that could actually be released is only that hydrate near the surface of the water because by the time is reaches the surface it has dissolved into the seawater (Wadhams interview). Though a tad misleading, here ML does not include permafrost. Ok.

      P3 ML states…

      “There are also giant reservoirs of mantle methane, originally sealed in by shallow methane hydrate plugs in fractures cutting the Arctic seafloor.”

      Really? This goes back to the exchange that SJ and shockley22 had in ML’s last discussion on this blog post. Question: are there really giant reservoirs of “mantle methane,” and are they originally sealed in by shallow methane hydrate plugs in fractures cutting the Arctic seaflorr?! Hmm. SJ?


      1. SJ said, “Nope!”

        I’m assuming this is in reference to those interested… and you are not interested in “wasting your time” as LandBeyond suggested.


      2. I was specifically responding to your question about methane reservoirs in the mantle. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.


      3. SJ, got it. “Nope” was referencing, from your research, that mantle methane does not exist. Could you say a few sentences about this core issue? Thanks.

        Here is this summary of an article in Science, Sep 17, 2004, stating that mantle methane is speculative:

        “[t]he results, published…in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, point to the possibility of a huge reservoir of methane in the mantle.” [italics mine]


      4. Yep, that’s the one study that Light and Carana base the whole idea on. No one has ever seen huge pockets of gas that deep in seismic studies or the like. The supposition that there are open cracks down into the mantle corked only by permafrost or something is similarly nonsensical. Long before you reach the mantle, deformation changes from brittle (faults) to ductile (squishing) because the pressure is so high. There are shear zones down there, but that’s more like smeared out putty than a big pipe connected to some giant gas cavern.


      5. @ALL

        Included here is the link to a Mother Jones article I found incredibly easy reading to support those who are not up on the science to get up on it, titled How Much Should You Worry About an Arctic Methane Bomb?: Recent warnings that this greenhouse gas could cost us $60 trillion have received widespread publicity. But many scientists are skeptical.

        Please note that Mother Jones is a very left-wing progressive publication and would likely, if it believed there was a story here, printed that we should be very worried indeed, but it did not.


      6. In reference to P1 of MPR Light’s latest post on methane, in the research I’ve been doing, stability of CH4 hydrates is at 200-250 meters depth. I noticed in the Mother Jones article…

        … I posted on earlier has this stunning assertion by Ruppel that says there are no CH4 hydrates unless you go below 220 meters. Archer says similarly below 200 meters. Ruppel, “It’s against the laws of Physics.” So, are S&S crazy to be talking about hydrates at 50 meters and above, which Peter Wadhams called “ice age relics”. Are they just imagining all this somehow? I seriously doubt it, eh? It seems to me that either S&S and Wadhams are wackos, or Ruppel and Archer don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to hydrates in the Eastern Siberian Sea.

        Who’s correct? I have no idea…


      7. I don’t know why you have to assume that Shakhova et. al. and Wadhams have to be “wackos” for their concerns about methane to be excessive. What public comments that Wadhams has made that I’ve read seem needlessly accusing toward his fellow scientists at times, but he certainly doesn’t seem crazy. As for Shakhova – in several different posts on Planet 3.0, Michael Tobis has expressed disdain for her team’s work (he called it “implausible in the extreme” and said that he was proud to have contributed to limiting its impact), but him aside, most scientists don’t seem to have any disdain for the team as scientists – they just disagree with their conclusions, based on what is known about hydrates and on the paleoclimate data.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Dear SJ and Will:

        Yeah, “metastable” hydrates it is. So this is what we are zeroing in on here. Thanks for clearing that up.

        Will, I used the term “wackos” to add some drama and color to my blog post – I certainly don’t think of S&S and Wadhams as “wackos”. In fact, I think they probably know more than anyone else on planet Earth about metastable hydrates in the East Siberian Sea. I don’t like Tobias’ approach to their work, either. It makes Tobias look bad, as if he’s not attacking their conclusions, but the researchers themselves. That’s a red flag for me and Tobias.


      9. Well, nobody can know “more than anyone else” about shallow hydrates on the ESAS until someone actually FINDS shallow hydrates on the ESAS.


      10. What’s the difference between a hydrate and a metastable hydrate? How deep theoretically does the permafrost have to be? By my very rough calculations, you can’t have hydrates in less than 200 meters of water at 8C but don ‘t quote me.


      11. “The scariest parts of the Siberian margin are the shallow parts, because this is where methane bubbles from the sea floor might reach the surface, and this is where the warming trend is observed most strongly. But methane hydrate can only form hundreds of meters below the sea floor in that setting”

        Seems like it wouldn’t have to be that deep since rock is denser than water, so you’d need less than 200M of sediment depth (“At 0 degrees C, you need a pressure equivalent to ~250 meters of water depth to get enough dissolved methane for hydrate to form”). This is not related to the “metastable” issue.

        How hard is it to go more than 50M into the sediment?

        I think a good question for Shakhova would be why she thinks it would take less than 5C above pre-industrial when that’s what it took in the Permian to destabilize the planet’s methane.


      12. Sediment density might not actually matter. In an unconfined aquifer (one not capped by an impermeable layer), water pressure is hydrostatic, not “lithostatic”. However, once you start putting a lid on the system, water pressure can increase for other reasons. Presumably the permafrost layer means that the area in question is at least partially confined, but I’m not sure to what extent…

        Not sure how much difficult it would be for them to go deeper. (And I just checked- it was a 57 meter core.) Unfortunately, they don’t say much about it in the paper… My usual assumption would be that they went as deep as they could with what they had, but I don’t know what the limiting factor was.


    4. @ALL

      Despite Popular Science being a fantasy technology magazine, which I read for years as a kid, here are some interesting reads under mantle regarding our topic…


      …which has several articles discussing…

      1) Ambitious $1 Billion Project Aims To Drill A Hole All The Way To Earth’s Mantle: In three possible ocean locations, the planet’s crust may be thin enough for a drill to penetrate all the way through.

      Note: operative word in title above is “may”.

      2) Hydrocarbons Could Form Deep In the Earth From Methane, Not Animal Remains: Study lends credence to abiogenic petroleum theory, which means there may be more oil in our future than we thought

      Note: operative word in title above is “could”.

      3) New Technology Could Drill Deeper Into the Earth Than Ever Before:
      An adaptation of oil drills for deep water could bring scientists closer to the goal of drilling all the way through the earth’s crust to the wonders beneath

      Note: operative word in title above, again, is “could”.

      End Note: It’s always nice to know about technologies that could possibly lead to NTHE!


  5. Just speculation… is it only me who wonders if some very wealthy entities anticipate a payoff when panic has been ginned up sufficiently to create a semi-hysterical (albeit misguided) demand for the ‘only possible solution’, i.e., very expensive ‘geoengineering follies’ ? Mr. Light worked for big petroleum? Hmmm…..

    Don’t misunderstand, I think industrial civilization is unsustainable because of fantasy economics, resource depletion, and continued climate chaos. But someone wise once advised, “Follow the money,” in order to see what is really happening in the big picture… and “Cui bono?”.


    1. I’m not sure it’s fair to say Light “worked for big petroleum”. From what I can tell, it looks like he did some research on hydrocarbon geology while associated with academic institutions or consulting firms (which might have done work contracted by oil companies- that’s true). I really don’t think oil companies are angling (or in any way prepared)to be a part of potential geoengineering work, either.

      Generally, I think people try to put just a bit too much evil on the oil companies. Yes, many of them have done some typically disgusting lobbying, etc. fighting against political action on climate change. But mainly, they’re just out there trying to get oil and gas (and coal, to broaden the point) because we all want to buy it from them. We don’t get off the hook just because they are wildly profitable.


      1. Scott said,

        “…[the fossil fuel companies are] just out there trying to get oil and gas (and coal, to broaden the point) because we all want to buy it from them. We don’t get off the hook just because they are wildly profitable.”

        I agree with Scott totally that we are not off the hook! In fact, that’s one of the things that motivates me on this blog – I’m on the hook everyday I buy or consume things from fossil fuel companies. Every time I take a flight, ride a bus or car, live in a house with oil or gas heating my water or air, buy a product using fossil fuels to make it, etc, ad infinitum. We are all in this together. I liken it to giving empathy to fossil fuel company CEOs for their children’s future, as well as empathy to myself for my own. I want the same future for their kids as for my own. Don’t the CEOs of Exxon, et al., value their kids the same way I do? I’m betting on it. At the same time, it’s so hard to stop using fossil fuels cold-turkey. Virtually everything I touch is tainted by them, including this computer I’m typing on, the coffee and soy milk I just drank, and the toast I just put peanut butter and jelly on to. Damn.



      2. Balen, you’re not to blame – the system was already set up when we arrived. Nor can we do much to affect the outcome. Even when we vote to affect change, we get officials that break their promises and delivered even more fossil fuels through fracking. I personally don’t give a hoot about his kids or the kids of Exxon’s CEO. Obviously they don’t, so why should I? Or you for that matter. I care more for the kids that were born with nothing rather than the kids of the rich and powerful.


    2. Elizabeth wrote:

       "Just speculation… is it only me who wonders if some very wealthy   
       entities anticipate a payoff when panic has been ginned up 
       sufficiently to create a semi-hysterical (albeit misguided) demand for 
       the ‘only possible solution’, i.e., very expensive ‘geoengineering 
       follies’ ? Mr. Light worked for big petroleum? Hmmm….."

      Yes, many of the biggest players in finance, not big oil, anticipate huge profit opportunities as climate change advances. The problem with making a profit in big oil is that the investments necessary to get ever more scarce oil goes up with the price, thus eliminating the profit, or curtailing it. However, big oil and finance have always been joined at the hip, and thus, there are myriad of ways for JP Morgan, Goldman, et al., to use arbitrage, derivative contracts and other complex methods to manipulate markets in a desired direction, such as the last $150/barrell oil price some years ago. They have such huge financial power that they can capture commodity markets, “regulate” derivatives markets (80% of global assets), buy off the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and much more. Of course, they will stand to gain handsomely in the short-term. But remember, even Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, has a daughter. And their gains are all short-term, and long-term in this case could mean for his daughter an early scary death. What a bedtime story that makes, eh?

       "Don’t misunderstand, I think industrial civilization is unsustainable     
       because of fantasy economics, resource depletion, and continued 
       climate chaos. But someone wise once advised, “Follow the money,” 
       in order to see what is really happening in the big picture… and “Cui 

      Yes, exactly. Follow the money. All good investigative journalists I know of do this. I believe we should too. Having said this, I’m seriously doubtful that MPR Light has anything financial to gain from his blog posts on Arctic News – whatsoever. If anything, he has the disdain and ridicule of the vast majority of the global scientific community for publishing what appears to be highly suspect papers without any peer-review. If he was really serious, he’d submit them to serious journals for review, yes? Why he does not, to me, speaks volumes.


      1. To add, publishing does cost money, and peer-review is very slooooow… Ultimately, I believe we would be wise to consider what he says and not his credentials.


      2. “there are myriad of ways for JP Morgan, Goldman, et al., to use arbitrage, derivative contracts and other complex methods to manipulate markets in a desired direction, such as the last $150/barrell (sic) oil price some years ago.”

        I wouldn’t be too quick to rule out supply and demand as the cause of that price spike. The world had just passed peak conventional oil, and though the price crashed with the economy, it soon rose again to a level supporting the extraction of unconventional oil of various kinds.


      3. Don’t tell me you don’t know anything about peak oil. Or the role of supply and demand in enabling prices to be pushed up beyond what regular speculation/manipulation can achieve.

        And please don’t think a handful of links proves anything. I don’t have all day to “review” all those. If you have a point, make it.


      4. LandBeyond wrote,

        “Don’t tell me you don’t know anything about peak oil. Or the role of supply and demand in enabling prices to be pushed up beyond what regular speculation/manipulation can achieve.”

        Of course, I do. Yes, they are important, but if you’d even made a cursory glance at even one of the links provided, you’d see that S&D and not the major factors at play in the 2011 peak in oil. Just look at the first one and tell me if you think I’m bonkers.

        “And please don’t think a handful of links proves anything. I don’t have all day to “review” all those. If you have a point, make it.”

        Doh! Again, of course not. Are you wanting reassurance that the links I sent you actually have meaning and you want me to know that you don’t have the time to go through all of them as I have, and just want me to summarize the main points behind them so it can save you time?


      5. “you’d see that S&D and (sic) not the major factors at play in the 2011 peak in oil.”

        Weren’t you talking about the record price in 2008?

        The argument about speculation versus supply and demand is endless, and it’s not hard to find opinions expressed on both sides, but you seemed to be coming down on one side without acknowledging the other.


      6. LandBeyond wrote:

        “Weren’t you talking about the record price in 2008?”

        “The argument about speculation versus supply and demand is endless, and it’s not hard to find opinions expressed on both sides, but you seemed to be coming down on one side without acknowledging the other.”

        Good point! Yeah, I was talking about price rise in 2011, not 2008. But here is a piece in Bloomberg by Ed Wallace, an award winning business journalist, dated May 13, 2008, that does a half-way decent job in explaining The Reason for High Oil Prices then:

        Note: Bloomberg has been one of the few bastions of truth when it came to investigating The Fed after the great financial crisis of 2008, among other noble deeds. I trust them more than other corporate media.

        Yes, I agree that it’s important to consider both sides, and S&D are certainly important to consider. Both will be factors as supply decreases as fossil fuels get more expensive to extract, and in light of increased demand as BRIC nations further develop.

        And, yes, I agree that the manipulation does have limits, like threatening to derail Obama’s re-election bid despite being Wall Street’s best friend. Wall Street’s lesson: don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Speculators have cooled off on oil price manipulation and have moved on to greener pastures, such as what I’ve already mentioned.


      7. It was in 2008 that the oil price reached $147.

        I don’t share your faith in Bloomberg, not on energy issues. That article by Ed Wallace, award winning business journalist and car reviewer, even gets the definition of peak oil wrong. And on climate change?

        Is Ed Wallace’s Business Week column a “Crock of S*%t”?

        So it had to be corrected:
        Is Global Warming a “Crock of S*%t?”

        Business journalism, like economics, is concerned with the economy, rather than with the real world.


      8. LandBeyond,

        Ok. In the very first link, interview with Paul Jay, March 28th, 2012, in the beginning of the interview, University of Maryland Law Professor Michael Greenberger, who teaches a course titled “Futures, Options and Derivatives,” and, more importantly, who serves as the Technical Advisor to the United Nations Commission of Experts of the President of the UN General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, says…

        “On April 21, 2011, the president [of The United States of America, aka Barack Obama] recognized [oil price manipulation] , said it wasn’t supply-demand, it was manipulation by speculators. He asked the Justice Department to convene a task force to look into it. And 11 months later, nothing had been done. The president was so concerned about this that two or three weeks ago he announced that he wanted the attorney general to “reconstitute” that task force.

        “It’s my own view and a lot of experts’ views that look at these markets – is that if there was a serious criminal investigation, that investigation in and of itself would drive speculators from the markets, and the price would reach its real supply-demand fundamental, which is somewhere between $60 and $80, rather than $120.”

        Greenberger details how it was done through a combination of storing oil in supertankers just sitting there, and paper futures contracts that manipulates oil demand upwards by a factor of 33 times.

         Note: the same thing was done to manipulate other commodity 
         markets by moving inventory from one warehouse to another on land 
         thereby keeping it off the market to drive prices upwards, then 
         dumping it for a huge profit.

        “Well, it is true that keeping oil off the market through the use of supertankers which circle the world is a problem. But the bigger problem is that when you go into the crude oil futures market, you can buy multiples of the supply of oil around the world. Right now, if you looked at futures contracts calling for the delivery of oil, the supply called for is 33 times the physical supply of oil in the world. And those futures prices are the price discovery prices. So if you keep buying futures and don’t call for delivery, you’re sending a massive false supply signal to the market. And when people go to sell a barrel of oil, what they do is look at the futures price, where the demand appears to be 33 times the amount of oil in the world.”

        “If you actually look at supply-demand figures in the real market, the United States is now a net exporter of oil rather than importer of oil. And when the president keeps saying we have enough supply and we’re getting enough supply, he’s right. It is not a supply-demand problem. But he has said – and, unfortunately, our Justice Department hasn’t followed up on it – that we have to pursue this as a criminal matter and drive these speculators from the market.”

        “And, yes, one of the techniques that’s used is to fill up oil tankers and have them circle the world and never enter the oil into the delivery market. And if you’re able to bet up the price of that oil, why would you ever want to sell it? It’s like a precious commodity appreciating in value, and it’s more valuable to you in a tanker than it is selling it off before it reaches its peak price.”

        “…. The Justice Department, across the board, has refused to bring serious indictments. And that’s why the question that’s recently been raised is: is the president better off with a more aggressive attorney general who listens to the president, which this attorney general does not do?”

        LandBeyond, I agree peak oil is a serious issue and to be taken very seriously. Actually, believe it or not, it’s fair to say we have passed that peak already. However, at the same time, what I’m sharing above is still valid and in my mind proves (along with other links) more or less that Big Finance has the power to manipulate oil prices for profit, as well as much more than that (gold and silver prices, for example), and having already done so, will most likely do it again in the presence of disruptions from climate change if we don’t stop them. And stopping them is another blog post entirely.

        Now, back to fact-checking MPR Light’s “mantle methane” post. Ahhhhh!



      9. “If you actually look at supply-demand figures in the real market, the United States is now a net exporter of oil rather than importer of oil.”

        Is that Greenberger saying that? That’s crazy talk: the US hasn’t been a net exporter of oil since the seventies, and I believe until very recently exports of crude were banned. But it’s not directly relevant, as the oil market is a world market, even though there are also local factors.

        “…Big Finance has the power to manipulate oil prices for profit…”

        Yes, but only within limits.


  6. @ Landbeyond:

    As I mentioned in my response to mikeroberts2013 regarding the collapse prediction paradox that he asked about, my response already qualifies as way too short and too simple. Your asking for a response even shorter and simpler than I have already written amounts to asking for a short, simple, 20 word explanation of relativity theory or quantum mechanics. While it would prove much more feasible to explain the calculus concept of the limit in twenty or fewer words, even with that far simpler idea, few readers, if any, would begin to formulate any meaningful approximation of the limit. I feel sorry. As Einstein observed, such super-simplistic answers or explanations simply do not contribute to the conversation in a helpful way. Indeed, such over-simplification often produces many misunderstandings and much confusion: Einstein’s point exactly. Most likely, neither will my much longer, 4,500 word essay titled “What ‘purpose’ do I have?” that will appear at NBL on about 23 July prove adequate even though it will describe some of these ideas in much greater depth. Even though I think I have done a pretty good job with few words in that essay, it also will surely prove too short and too simple for many people adequately to construct the conceptual models. One simply has to go to the trouble of constructing a little background knowledge of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics in order to develop an understanding of how they resolve the interesting prediction paradox that mikeroberts2013 noticed. Unfortunately, no 20-second sound bite solution to this reality exists.

    @ Scott:

    mikeroberts2013 asked me some reasonable, thought provoking questions and I provided a well-reasoned, science-based resolution to the paradox that he noticed. Especially since it relates directly to my comments above to Landbeyond, will you please help me and your other readers understand what you had hoped to accomplish with your comment that “That’s an awfully long-winded way to say ‘I pull it out of my ass.'”? How does that comment help promote good scientific reasoning, whether Cartesian-Newtonian, Einsteinian, Schrodinger’s, or Prigogine’s reasoning? I plead ignorance regarding your motives regarding this apparently dismissive statement, its meaning, or how such a response presumably contributes in some positive way to the discussion.

    Related to this, it seems to me that people’s responses at FP often confirm the extent to which the argumentation has more to do with emotional defensiveness than with evidence-based reasoning. How so? Why do I make this claim, and based on what evidence? Because genuine, reasoned, natural science occurs in an open way, not in a closed, excluding, character-attacking way, or in ways designed to insult others. To the extent that the scientific process involves evidence-based reasoning, people would proactively learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about issues such as complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics (even if not done enthusiastically), and then discuss the implications of these for our global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse self-annihilation predicament. Instead, I have seen no evidence of this. Instead, I have noticed that the opposite often happens at FP: significant “verbal violence” often occurs in the form of emotional name calling, personal attacks, and attempts to insult and exclude those who disagree or point to weaknesses in the reasoning. Indeed, the discussion title clearly points to the expected closed, biased (yet presumably “scientific”) nature of the discussion. The title reads “How Guy McPherson gets it wrong”, not “How Guy McPherson MAY get it wrong”. From the title he definitely, presumably, DOES get it wrong as a forgone, closed, unquestionable, obviously biased, pre-discussion assumption. (And this assumption based on rigid, biased, presumably infallible Cartesian-Newtonian scientific methods and reasoning, despite the many, well known weaknesses of physics based on Cartesian-Newtonian reasoning.) I fail to understand how the kind of discussion bias indicated by the title qualifies as allegedly good scientific discourse, whether based on the much older, Cartesian-Newtonian perspective, or the modern physics of Einstein, Schrodenger, and Prigogine (among many others).

    I find it fascinating how people continue seriously to comment here based on the false premise that they can meaningfully reason and argue about the complex—NOT merely complicated—climate change, ecological, and nuclear collapse issues using only Cartesian-Newtonian science with its many, known weaknesses while ignoring as presumably irrelevant complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics. All the while, you wish to believe that this argumentation supposedly amounts to “good science” even though it amounts to the same thing as reasoning and arguing about nuclear physics or quantum mechanics while using only Cartesian-Newtonian physics. Fascinating.


    1. By all means, feel free to continue being fascinated by us mindless mortals below ye. I have given up on engaging with your fantasy worldview. Pronounce your grand, high-minded concern at my “verbal violence” if you wish, but that’s how the world works. I think your starting point is nonsensical, in the literal sense that no sense can follow. You reject the scientific method (despite protests that you don’t but you do but you don’t). That means we’re done talking about scientific issues. Full stop. Humans make decisions about things. I’ve made one here. Why worry what I think? Why not move on? Why circle back repeatedly with a basket full of tisks and tuts?

      I (usually) choose the words I say because I mean to say them. Clarity is generally my aim. I abstracted your comment in terms conferring upon it a gastrointestinal origin because, along with your obsession with Cartesian, Newtonian, reductionist…, it was essentially verbose puffery hiding the fact that you had nothing to support your claims except a hunch. You say that “complexity theory shows tipping points and abrupt changes occur”, therefore we will experience an abrupt change in the next couple decades and it will kill every human on the planet. It’s truly breathtaking that you think that represents high level reasoning or “holistic science” or whatever moniker you value. It is a supposition without evidence, or really any appeal to details of any sort. It’s a proclamation.

      People win lotteries. Therefore, I will win the lottery this week. Nevermind whether there’s a lottery drawing taking place this week, nevermind whether I’ve purchased a ticket for that drawing, nevermind what the odds of winning are (what Cartesian, reductionist nonsense that “probability theory” is!), nevermind whether the place I live in even has lotteries… Such a claim would have a stink to it, and I think you know why.

      You absolutely refuse to accept that someone may have considered what you’ve said and found it unconvincing. You continue to press on, proclaiming anyone who disagrees to be an ignorant fool who clearly hasn’t yet grasped the complicated nuance of your point. (Using a great many more words, of course.) Over and over again. And then a few more times.

      I strive to be patient with people whom I disagree with. I don’t strive to be a brain-dead lump of oatmeal whose only goal is to be judged an agreeable place to rest one’s feet. Therefore, I have limits. Your repetition and insistence has reached them.


    2. So, as I suspected, you are incapable of saying how it resolves it.

      I am sure you feel much more at home at NBL, where logic is optional.

      (And it’s “Schrödinger”.)


  7. @ Landbeyond:

    I have written “how it resolves it”, but, true, I cannot write it any more briefly or simply than I already have. Might I suggest that you read again what I wrote before? If, again, you do not understand it, then I would suggest that you read my forthcoming essay at NBL. If you still do not understand that, then, again, I suggest that you read several of the books that I have recommended. Meanwhile, it seems as though you strongly prefer not to go to any of this trouble of rereading or otherwise constructing the needed background knowledge, and so you probably will not do any of this because, apparently, like so many Americans today, you demand super-simplistic sound bite “explanations” that really explain nothing. Contrary to popular belief, no one can pour knowledge into anyone else’s head as you have asked me to do for you. You must proactively construct the needed knowledge, and language can help only to the extent that you wish it to and make constructive use of it. If you do not wish to construct the knowledge, as you apparently do not wish to do, you have gotten it quite correct that I cannot do that for you—nor can anyone else.


    1. Dear Bud,

      Your comments are not helpful to me at all in gaining insight as to whether or not MPR Light’s most recent blog post has anything of value to offer. To me, your posts do the opposite, distract readers from looking at the evidence. I’d really appreciate it if you ever post again to provide a piece of evidence via a link that deals directly with what GM has posted. You’ve certainly made your point about the limitations of Cartesian and Newtonian thinking, full stop. To me, saying it more is like beating a dead horse. Now, if you will, please kick back and enjoy the show of us fact-checkers doing what we do best – checking facts.

      Thanks so much!



    2. You really are a piece of work. I don’t know how you get through the day, having to communicate with normal people.

      ‘”I have written “how it resolves it”…’

      Oh, no you haven’t. It’s just your usual heap of obfuscatory BS.

      “…I would suggest that you read my forthcoming essay at NBL.”

      In that extremely unlikely event I might be the only one to do so. I doubt the average GM fan will wade through it, or GM for that matter. What was the title? Oh yes, “What ‘purpose’ do I have?” And that requires 4,500 words? 8>)


      1. While I admit the pressure in my spleen decreased a bit after my last post, that last bit seems unnecessarily nasty…


      2. I guess so, on reflection. Generally I prefer to keep things impersonal, and can only plead unusual provocation.


      1. I’ll put my money on the pingo. Lots of weird stuff happens in permafrost- it just rarely “goes viral”, to regrettably use a cliche I’m sick of.


      2. Its further evidence of great changes that are occurring in real time. Just like GM said. When things heat up, things melt and thaw, releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases. And, exposing more surface area for even more to escape. Without the land and water ice cap that acted as a trap or a lid, there is no stopping the venting of greenhouse gases whether it’s in the soil or in the oceans.


      3. The Russian State is suppressing methane research. Why should we listen to government scientists — or the NY Times, for that matter.

        “Two previous summers – years 2012 and 2013 were relatively hot for Yamal, perhaps this has somehow influenced the formation of the crater.”


        RobertScribbler notes a story in the Siberian Times claiming the hole has been there for 2 years:
        “According to The Siberia Times, it is thought to have formed two years ago:”

        Another commenter connects that claim with his being a senator from Oklahoma.

        Colorado Bob / July 19, 2014

        If this thing is 2 years old , I’m a senator from Oklahoma.


      4. My previous reply was on the wrong indent level — sorry.

        Three really bad technical quality recent interviews (only bothered to try to listen to one of them): Beckwith with GM; Shakhova with Nick Breeze; and this one.


      5. Name change because I switched hard drives and wordpress doesn’t recognize me anymore. Have to log in using my google account. Bill Shockley co-invented the transistor.
        Crystal Fire was a good read putting the discovery in biographical/historical context.


      6. My bets are evenly divided between a Pingo, and Anna Kurchatova from the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre theory that a crater was formed by a water, salt and gas mixture igniting an underground explosion, the result of global warming.


      7. Could I get a translation/summary? Why haven’t people learned how to do a decent quality phone interview. My guess: LOSE THE #$@&%*! SPEAKERPHONE!!
        Room acoustics seem to combine with recording technology and possibly file compression to make hard-to-discern speech nearly impossible. Speak into the phone and use available recording technology for the phone line. I’ll take a good audio recording over a terrible video+sound recording (Skype, I’m guessing?) every day. I love turning audio interviews into transcripts but it’s so hard and time-consuming when the raw material is so bad.

        Anyone know what the Revkin/Mann/Yamal blowup was about?


      8. Looks like both SJ and I lost our bets. Lol!

        Posted by Andrew Revkin on his Twitter account:


  8. GM posted July 19th, 2014 in introduction to Climate Chaos:

    “** Even the often-conservative Robert Scribbler points out in his 18 July 2014 essay: “NASA’s CARVE study has been silent for a year, the University of Maryland has stopped putting out publicly available AIRS methane data measures, the NOAA ESRL methane flask measures, possibly due to lack of funding, haven’t updated since mid-May, and even Gavin Schmidt over at NASA GISS appears to have become somewhat mum on a subject that, of late, has generated so much uncomfortable controversy.” **”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GM did not give link to Robert Scribbler’s essay. Can anyone find it?

      Ok, question 1) has NASA’s CARVE study really been silent for a year? 2) Has the Univ of Maryland stopped putting out publicly available AIRS methane data measures/NOAA ESRL methane flask measures due to lack of funding? If so, what’s the implication of that, if anything? 3) Does Robert Scribbler think Gavin Schmidt at GISS is wanting to avoid controversy on the methane measurement question? Hmmm.


      1. Has anybody presented any evidence of “defunding methane research”? There have certainly been some political stunts to defund Earth sciences work at NASA or climate research at NOAA (and funding has been tight everywhere), but there hasn’t been a peep of anything like what you’re suggesting.


      2. The White House is obviously aware of the situation in the arctic, vis the on-again-no-it-didn’t-happen-but-we-have-picutures visit by Australian Arctic expert Duarte a year or 2 ago. I think it was prompted by the big ice loss in 2012. Lack of action speaks for itself for an issue of central importance to climate change.

        “There is a meme being promoted in some circles to the effect that the White House meeting never happened.”


      3. This is so clear a politician could see it.

        When’s the last time a White House meeting between government and independent scientists happened and made the news? It’s an issue central to global power (oil exploration in the arctic), golabal economy (ditto), and global well-being/survival. This is underscored by the White House’s “going mum” after the fact — not confirming, not denying. Laws are passed to fund and defund agencies and programs. No action in regard to funding research IS an action. The committees that write the bills to fund the relevant research programs are populated and run by climate deniers.

        If the White House and the people that pull its strings really wanted to fund research, they would make a big stink in Congress over the lack of funding to at least put the blame there rather than on the President.

        There obviously is a lack of funding if Shakhova has to go begging to raise the funds herself for her own expeditions.


      4. Comment by Nafeez Ahmed in the comment section to his post:

        The White House meeting absolutely happened – this has been confirmed by Prof Duarte, who attended. However, Duarte also confirmed that the govt officials alleged to be attending the meeting did not turn up. However, this doesn’t let them off the hook. They organised the meeting, for sure.

        We corrected my Guardian piece today to account for this – my original piece said that the officials would be present; this is incorrect. In reality, the Pentagon, Homeland Security, NASA, and National Science Foundation were involved in organising the White House briefing. This distinction is what’s caused confusion amongst some journos trying to follow up.

        As for the White House – at the moment, the White House is refusing to comment, and to confirm/deny the meeting:

        You’ll notice in the above article that Duarte is quoted as denying any such meeting went ahead involving “governments or government officials.”

        Either the quote is a fabrication, or there is indeed some kind of back-track/cover-up in progress: We have obtained written correspondence from Duarte prior to the meeting which confirms that the meeting was to go ahead, was organised by US govt officials, was to take place at the White House, and was linked to the latest research on Arctic summer sea ice retreat.

        I think at the moment, there is almost certainly an effort to play down the White House meeting and to suggest that it wasn’t particularly important.


      5. Sounds like pointless conspiracy spinning to me. Makes plenty of sense to have an interagency Arctic meeting. I don’t understand why this is considered noteworthy, other than the fact that the White House didn’t confirm it, but that probably happens with lots of meetings. (Actually, Ahmed writes both that the White House won’t confirm and that he had written confirmation from the White House, so whatever…)

        Certainly nothing there for claims of “defunding methane research”, which I thought was the point.

        And where does this “Shakhova has to go begging” thing come from?


      6. Hmmm. Let’s see what happens if climate gets a bit out of hand. Maybe that’s what we really need!


      7. SJ wrote:
        “Makes plenty of sense to have an interagency Arctic meeting.

        Makes sense to have the meeting but not if the “interagencies” don’t attend. Who would the guests talk to?

        SJ wrote:
        ” I don’t understand why this is considered noteworthy, other than the fact that the White House didn’t confirm it, but that probably happens with lots of meetings.”

        Except for the fact that the meeting was pre-announced. Nafeez wrote the first article before the meeting was held. Why would you pre-announce a meeting and then go mum on whether the meeting actually happened?

        SJ wrote:
        “And where does this “Shakhova has to go begging” thing come from?”

        I believe it’s from an interview but I can’t place it just now.

        SJ wrote:
        “Sounds like pointless conspiracy spinning to me. ”

        The government IS a conspiracy. It would be exceptional if something they did was non-conspiratorial.


      8. From what I’ve read of Robert Scribbler’s blog, there;’s no way you can credibly call him “conservative.”

        He and McPherson seem to want to imply a conspiracy of silence over this issue, but:

        1) I’m sorry, but this is horseshit. CARVE is a five-year study that has released its data for 2012 and 2013. If they haven’t released stuff for 2014, then they don’t have anything to release yet. It takes its measurements during spring, summer, and early fall, and summer isn’t even half over! If you Google “NASA CARVE 2014,” you can find links to a few NASA pages tracking CARVE’s deployment dates over this year, including a calendar.

        2) I have no idea, but if it’s due to funding cuts, that’s hardly the same thing as keeping quiet.

        3) Gavin Schmidt just got a big promotion. Maybe, instead of going “mum,” he’s just really really busy? Or maybe he’s already said what he has to say on the subject?


  9. GM posted in Climate Chaos July 19th, 2014, in SRFL # 7 Russian forest and bog fires,

    “** According to reports from Canada’s Interagency Fire Center, total acres burned to date in early summer 2014 are more than six times that of a typical year. This rate of burning is unprecedented not just for this century, but for any period in Canada’s basement forest record over the last 10,000 years. **”

    Link given:


    1. Wow! Robert Scribbler seems spot on. Gives one pause. 35 C at the southern edge of ESAS!

      And this select quote for all you Lukewarmers out there that don’t mind known unknowns, let alone unknown unknowns:

      “Overall, both boreal forest and thawing tundra provide an extraordinary potential fuel for very large fire complexes as the Arctic continues to warm under the human greenhouse gas forcing. And though climate models are in general agreement that the frequency of fires in tundra regions will increase, doubling or more by the end of this century, it is uncertain how extensive and explosive such an increase would be given the high volume of fuel available. Direct and large-scale burning of these stores, which in tundra alone house about 1,500 gigatons of carbon, could provide a major climate and Earth System response to the already powerful human heat forcing.”


  10. GM posted in Climate Chaos, July 19th, under See How Far We’ve Come, some text about WMO report on how dangerous the world has become in last 40 years due to climate change:

    ** According to the World Meteorological Organization’s July 2014 report, the world is nearly five times as prone to disaster as it was 40 years ago. The number and economic cost of weather-related disasters has increased during each of the last four decades. **

    Note: no page # cited in 48 page report. T_T


      1. This does not seem unreasonable to me, and does not seem outlandish enough to go through 48 pages. I’ll accept it at face value unless someone else disproves it through reading the report itself. Any takers?


      2. Probably the chart on p.9. It’s not entirely clear how that’s counted, so I don’t know how much of an impact better reporting, inflation of damage costs, and development in vulnerable areas has on those numbers. I would bet it’s quite significant, as it usually is.


      3. Yeah, but wouldn’t the WMO have a decent methodology for that as the standard bearer for the world’s weather?


  11. GM posted in Climate Chaos, July 19th, 2014 in

    ** The U.S. State of the Climate in 2013, published 17 July 2014 as a supplement to the July 2014 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, concludes:

    Ocean surface continues to warm

    Sea levels reach a record high

    Glaciers retreat for the 24th consecutive year

    Greenhouse gases continue to climb

    The planet’s surface remains near its warmest

    Warm days are up, cool nights are down **

    Link given:


    1. The above was posted in See How Far We’ve Come section of Climate Chaos.

      Though GM does not offer page numbers within this 280 page report, none of what he claims the report says seems unreasonable or surprising, so I’m not going to bother fact-checking it.

      For those who do want to fact check it, be my guest, and here is direct link to report from above:


  12. I have ten interrelated questions regarding the process here. Calm, unemotional, non-attacking, non-defensive, well reasoned responses would help greatly. Of course anyone reading this has the option of just ignoring these questions and not responding at all:

    (1) Will someone help me understand why no one here has any interest in or concerns about complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics and their implications as they relate to global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse?

    (2) Do these fields just seem too distant and “irrelevant” regarding the clearly stated agenda of “proving” that Guy McPherson supposedly has it “wrong” and that he presumably “harms” other humans with his message? (Complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics do tend pretty strongly to support his conclusions.)

    (3) Does the evidence these fields point to detract too strongly from the narrow-focused, exclusive, scientific approach of “fact checking”, constructing, and deconstructing the “proof” against GM, which the participants experience as a fun and intellectually stimulating game within their strongly preferred Newtonian physics playfield despite its many, well known weaknesses, especially as related to complex ecological and climate systems?

    (4) Do complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, and their implications as they relate to global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse, elicit too much anxiety by pointing to and emphasizing the lack of control, the unpredictability, and the irreversibility of the complex Earth systems under discussion?

    (5) Do these fields and their implications, elicit too much cognitive dissonance with respect to the preferred, much simpler, presumably more predictable Cartesian-Newtonian, physics-based analyses by pointing to and emphasizing the lack of control, unpredictability, and irreversibility of the complex Earth systems by comparison?

    (6) Do the participants find these fields too abstract and too difficult to comprehend?

    (7) Do the people here really believe that the facts regarding climate change, ecological, and nuclear collapse, while excluding complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, present a more accurate and more relevant view of Earth’s complex climate and ecosystems than facts that include these fields? Really? Based on what reasoning, evidence, and logic?

    (8) Do the people here really believe that you can make meaningful statements and predictions about Earth’s climate and ecosystems while excluding complexity theory and nonlinear thermodynamics from your reasoning? Seriously?

    (9) Do complexity theory and nonlinear thermodynamics threaten too directly and too strongly the human supremacist fantasy of dominance over and control of nature in general, and of Earth in particular, inherent in Cartesian-Newtonian values and assumptions that most people who comment here remain committed to and insist on maintaining?

    (10) Any other motivations for the strong, often highly emotional avoidance of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, despite their clear relevance to the conversation?

    As Luc Ferry suggests in his book, The New Ecological Order, deep ecology serves as the first significant challenge to Cartesian thought in 300 years. It rejects anthropocentrism and finds intrinsic merit in all forms of life, natural systems, and natural phenomena—even if no humans ever existed or cease to exist. I have held deep ecological values for several decades, so I do not feel at all surprised that so many commenters, here, upset themselves so readily with many of my questions and comments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you capable of asking a question that isn’t condescending? That is a completely serious question. Almost all of these questions reduce to “Are you too stupid to understand?” or “Are you to weak-minded to comprehend?” Get off it. The smugness is suffocating.

      Your very reductionist habitat of setting up “complexity theory” and “narrow-focused climate science” as separate, discrete entities is exceedingly ridiculous. You think climate scientists somehow “exclude” and “ignore” these pet soap boxes of yours, but what they do is study the real world. Where the ideas you’re obsessed with manifest themselves in the real world, they will be studied. If you’re so interested in how the climate is about to change, why are you completely uninterested in the study of past climate changes? And why do you present no evidence for your claims other than “it’s obvious because complexity theory”? Do you think none is needed? Do you think you have presented it?


    2. Chaos theory sounds interesting to me because it seems to empathize with the holistic idea of human sensibility. As I noted in a post a while ago, Goethe’s reaction to Newtonian spectral color theory was an archetypal example.

      The problem for me, is I don’t seem to need chaos theory to understand deep ecology or a non-human-centrist point of view. With scarce time, I work under “need-to-know” paradigm. Could very well be I understand less than I think I do.

      I did note when recommending a video the other day that there was a segment on Lorentz and his discovery of chaos theory. It seems to be a credible, sophisticated field of study. He must be one heck of a mathematician. By simply rounding to 3 less decimal places, in order to make his computer model run faster, and consequently encountering radically different results, he discovered a whole new field of science. That’s serendipity! But the basic butterfly thesis seems like hyperbole to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe it’s just me, but the basic idea (not the math!) of chaos theory seems stunningly obvious. The wiki/Chaos_theory#History article notes that Lorenz “discovered that small changes in initial conditions produced large changes in the long-term outcome.” That needed to be discovered?

        And Lorenz’s summary: “Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.” Uh-huh.

        Yes, the universe is complex, and each event inevitably affects other events going forward, ever-increasingly, in a ripple effect. Going back in time to before your conception and altering the behavior of one of your parents in the slightest would prevent your own existence (no murder of grandparent required). That’s ignoring determinism and the possibility of parallel universes.

        Or am I missing something?


    3. Bud, perhaps you could show where Guy uses complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics to come to his conclusion. If he doesn’t, then you can’t possibly show that Guy is not wrong, by using fields that he doesn’t use.

      The fact that you can’t explain your conclusions without having the recipient of that explanation invest in understanding your pet theories suggests that either you’re incapable of explaining clearly or that those pet theories of yours are far too complex even for you to understand. In the case of the latter, perhaps you should give up as you have clearly made your mind up about future human catastrophe, regardless, and surely couldn’t expect Joe Public to pick up on your world view.


  13. Here’s a thought, an idea, I had a long time ago about chaos/fractals:

    If the universe came into being as a perfect explosion, nothing would happen.
    It would just blow up and fizzle out.
    There’d be no galaxies, no stars, no planets and so forth, because the explosion would be absolutely perfect. So each particle would be perfectly equidistant to the next, vis-a-vis the force of the explosion, despite the forces, like gravity, etc..

    But what if one element in the explosion was nudged?
    It wouldn’t have to be nudged much at all, but it would be enough to throw the whole thing/universe/big-bang off and create a bumping and clumping effect, leading to the formation of starts and planets, etc..

    That’s the chaos– that fundamental nudge right at the beginning of the universe that lead to bumping, sticking and clumping.
    …And I once read some time after in some article that the universe is clumpy. :)

    It is possible, too, that the universe may be one giant conscious entity or brain, given the self-similar aspects of fractals and that we are conscious. Maybe our universe is part of some thing’s brain, walking around on its own planet within its own universe, given, too, that fractals are apparently similar at different scales/levels. ;)


    1. I believe inflation theory was developed to address the question of lack of homogeneity in the early universe.


      1. I wouldn’t doubt it. :)
        ” ‘Recent versions of the inflationary scenario describe the universe as a self-generating fractal that sprouts other inflationary universes,’ and which described Linde’s theory of chaotic eternal inflation in some detail.” ~ Wikipedia, ‘Fractal Cosmology’ entry

        …Some Romanesco broccoli anyone? ;)
        I recommend a little Romano cheese, a little crushed garlic, a drizzle of premium extra virgin olive oil, and a dusting of freshly-ground 3-color pepper.


  14. GM posted July 20th, 2014 in Climate Chaos:

    “** 23. Jellyfish have assumed a primary role in the oceans of the world (26 September 2013 issue of the New York Times Review of Books, in a review of Lisa-ann Gershwin’s book, Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean): “We are creating a world more like the late Precambrian than the late 1800s — a world where jellyfish ruled the seas and organisms with shells didn’t exist. We are creating a world where we humans may soon be unable to survive, or want to.” Jellyfish contribute to climate change via (1) release of carbon-rich feces and mucus used by bacteria for respiration, thereby converting bacteria into carbon dioxide factories and (2) consumption of vast numbers of copepods and other plankton. **

    Link given:


  15. Scott, as you probably know, Guy McPherson has gone on a sort of tour around the country discussing hie ideas about Climate Change and near term human extinction. I, and probably many others, have been puzzled why you haven’t agreed to debate him. He seems open to debate and has recently. Why take this opportunity to demonstrate why you think he’s wrong and clear the air once and for all?


    1. I assumed that the person who asked me about this would have shared my reasoning. I don’t think “debates” are useful ways to dig into scientific issues, generally, and would be a terrible way to discuss the nitty-gritty details here, specifically. I’m also not interested in traveling for such a thing. If Guy wants to deal with the points I raised in this post, he’s free to at any time. I don’t see any added value in a “debate”.


  16. GM posted July 24th, 2014, in the Climate Chaos introduction’s fifth paragraph:

    Even the often-conservative Robert Scribbler points out in his 18 July 2014 essay: “NASA’s CARVE study has been silent for a year, the University of Maryland has stopped putting out publicly available AIRS methane data measures, the NOAA ESRL methane flask measures, possibly due to lack of funding, haven’t updated since mid-May, and even Gavin Schmidt over at NASA GISS appears to have become somewhat mum on a subject that, of late, has generated so much uncomfortable controversy.” ** (Apocalypse 4 Real blog responded to Scribbler on 24 July 2014, and the response is linked

    here.) **”


    1. Ok, boys and girls… though I’m weary of any blog that is inspired by Sam Carana and named “Apocalypse 4 Real”, this blog post July 23rd, 2014, has got me in a twist. Can anyone help me untie the knot? It’s titled, Major Methane Releases at Laptev Megaflare Spot and deals with the SWERUS-C3 (Oden) expedition of S&S and what they are finding right now…


      1. Looks like a lot of speculation, to me, Balan. You’re right to be wary of any Sam Carana blogs. If this is, indeed, one of his, then just treat it as information that is probably blown up out of all proportion.


      2. I am not familiar with this blog by any means, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t run by Carana.

        For what it’s worth – the only time I’ve heard of that “tongue of Atlantic water” idea WAS on a Carana/Light blog post that somebody linked to a few pages back. Those two just tossed it out there while going on about methane from the mantle. As far as I know, the basic facts (that the last leg of the Gulf Stream goes north) are right, but whether it actually intrudes on the Arctic Ocean at the depths they mention, and if it can destabilize anything, I would also need a science guy to unravel the knot.


  17. GM posted in Climate Chaos, July 25th, 2014, under Beyond Linear Change:

    “** Not to be outdone, now that abrupt climate change has entered the scientific lexicon, is dire news published in the 25 July 2014 issue of Science.

    “The study found that synchronization of the two regional systems began as climate was gradually warming. After synchronization, the researchers detected wild variability that amplified the changes and accelerated into an abrupt warming event of several degrees within a few decades.”

    Global-average temperature rising “several degrees within a few decades” seems problematic to me, and to anybody else with a biological bent. **”


  18. I took a closer look at GM’s Self-reinforcing Feedback Loops (SRFL), all thirty-seven of them, and boiled them down to just nine, believe it or not. Here is the fruit of my labor:

    1. Methane (#1, #3, #7, #12, #26, #27, #31, #34)
    2. Warming Oceans & Melting Ice (#2, #6, #9, #10, #13, #16, #19, #25)
    3. Melting of Permafrost and Decomposition of Peat (#4, #5, #11, #30, #33)
    4. Increased Temperatures (#14, #35)
    5. Alteration of Ocean Currents (#17, #18, #32)
    6. Alteration of Jet Stream (#28)
    7. Extreme Weather Events – Forest Fires, Floods, Droughts, & Super-storms (#8, #15, #20, #21)
    8. Ocean Acidification (#22, #23)
    9. Sea Level Rise (#24)

    NOTE A: Not sure what to do with #29 as it talks about limitations of climate models due to inability of decades of research to account for low clouds.

    NOTE B: Is #36, Arctic Drilling, really a SRFL? I’m skeptical… Again, #37 does not appear to me to be a SRFL.


    1. Good work, Balan. When I took a look, it seemed like many were just different manifestations of the same feedback. Not that that makes them irrelevant but I don’t think Guy does himself any favours by choosing to list as many feedbacks as possible in order to give his predictions some backing, even though numbers of feedbacks alone doesn’t constitute proof, as I’m sure he must know.


  19. Two things alarmed me when I looked over the news this morning: the wildfires in Siberia and the state of emergency there (peat fires are the worst), and this piece out of the University of Stockholm dated July 23, 2014:
    First observations of methane release from Arctic Ocean hydrates

    Just a week into the sampling program and SWERUS-C3 scientists have discovered vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor of the Laptev continental slope. These early glimpses of what may be in store for a warming Arctic Ocean could help scientists project the future releases of the strong greenhouse gas methane from the Arctic Ocean.


    1. I think we’ll have to wait for the expedition to complete and results to be published. There have been very few revisits to previous sites (and I don’t know which sites, if any, have been revisited). Revisits are needed to determine how the situation is changing (if it is changing). “Vasts” plumes may be normal and may represent an insignificant release, relative to all other methane emissions. We just don’t know, at this stage, as far as I can tell.


      1. It strikes me that these are very well traveled waters, from the explorers on… Including the military. Especially since the 1950s. And, now that the Arctic is missing a large portion of it’s ice cover and warmer waters are flowing into the area, it would be unrealistic not to have these vast plumes from destabilized clathrates.


      2. It’s my understanding that this is a very large area. I don’t think it has been shown that there are clathrates present at a shallow level, let alone that they have been destabilized.


    2. The headline is misleading.

      “He speculates that the leaking methane from the seafloor of the continental slope may have its origins in collapsing “methane hydrates,…”

      And from Gustafsson’s blog:

      “…our SWERUS-C3 program is hypothesizing that this heating may lead to destabilization of upper portion of the slope methane hydrates. This may be what we now for the first time are observing.”

      Note that Igor Semiletov is with them. There’s a tendency to jump to conclusions, despite “speculates”, “may”, “hypothesizing” etc. I wonder if GM might take note of this. : – )


      1. Why were they were surprised?
        Did they plan this expedition in order to gather evidence for an existing hypothesis?
        What is that hypothesis?


      2. I assume these are rhetorical questions. Are you suggesting that something about hydrates has been proven?


  20. SJ and Landbeyond,
    Um, yeah, the debate a month ago with the CC denier would probably qualify as a debate. So I guess you can say the GM is open to debates.

    SJ, you’ve taken a very public stand against GM and I think to some extent, to CC in general, at least of the NTHE variety. If you can do this, well, what’s the difference between that and a public debate? Refusing to do so may give people the wrong idea, don’t you think? If GM were willing to travel to you, would you be interested in debating him? Just curious.


    1. Stage debates are a very peculiar form of discourse. As anyone who has watched a creationist debate a biologist should know, they usually aren’t good ways to hammer out scientific issues. Debates are “won” using debate tactics– like hammering your “message” repeatedly and refusing to engage on the points your opponent wants to discuss– and [i]seeming[/i] likable and intelligent. They are terrible venues for correcting figures, providing citations, and checking claims against source materials. (It’s easy to rattle off a list of false claims, but not so easy to use up your time backtracking and correcting those claims. That kind of “debunking” is often unconvincing to an audience, as well.) I find that they are almost always a tremendous waste of everyone’s time.

      Unfortunately, declining to take part in one of those debates is a ticket to “What’s the matter- are you chicken??” heckling thereafter. Such is life.

      I spent a lot of time presenting a lot of detailed information responding to McPherson’s summary in this post. If anybody wants to engage with it, it’s there. I don’t honestly have much else to say to a McPherson, and I don’t think a stage debate would be at all edifying or productive. That’s why I’m not interested.

      Just to make certain you haven’t gotten confused or that I haven’t been misrepresented, I’m certainly not “against” “climate change in general”. Working to educate people about climate change, and the serious problem it represents, is kind of my thing. “Climate change will kill us all in 20 years” is not an argument that follows from the science, and that argument of McPherson’s is what I took issue with.


    2. GM “responded” to Scott’s initial post a few days later, when someone raised it on his FB page. GM’s only comment: “I’ve no time for those who purport to address science but instead kill the messenger.”

      As far as I’m aware GM has never tried to argue his case for NTHE, face to face, with anyone who understands the science. He prefers “soft” audiences and interviewers.


    3. I concur with Scott on this one. A live debate is not a suitable forum for discussing the science. It’ll come down to the one with the better memory, the one more comfortable with being creative with the research, the one who seems more confident, and so on. Guy could easily respond to the scientific points made by Scott (and Tobis, for that matter), either here or on his own blog. He chooses not to do so and drums up a silly reason.


  21. Scott,

    This “science” religion you speak of sounds very fascinating. How do I become indoctrinated into the cult? Do I get a secret decoder ring? Is there a ‘members only’ handshake? :)

    All (sort-of) joking aside, your article was a very appreciated read this morning after spending 2-3 hours watching/reading GM material last night and worrying myself about the near-term extinction of the human race.

    You’ve certainly shown that the “science” behind GM’s claims is in question, and thus so too should be the outcome he predicts – thank you for that. But with that being said, I did have a few criticisms:

    • I found it overly dismissive to say GM lacks objectivity because you disagree with axiomatic statements such as the idea that a problem cannot be solved with more of the problem itself (i.e. more debt cannot solve a debt problem, more industrial society cannot solve the problem of industrial society itself); if “industrial society” really is the problem, then I suspect GM is correct in suggesting more industrial society will not solve the problem (at best, it will likely defer the problem to a later point in time where the effects will be even worse)
    • I understand why you avoid commenting on GM’s claims of lying scientists, Obama administration knowledge of NTE risk, and other statements of that nature, as you are trying to debunk his science by referencing more “scientific community” acceptable sources and clarifying where he has made misrepresentations based on your review of the same materials (and I believe you have done so successfully); but the concern is if any of these accusations on GM’s part are true, at the very least those statements which suggest a great deal of these figures are overly optimistic/conservative, as I’m not sure if there is a scientific argument you could make to suggest scientists (i.e. people) would not make conservative estimates when faced with something as threatening as NTE (my anecdotal experience suggests that mostly everyone I meet consistently takes the conservative/optimistic approach, even when presented with data which supports the potential for far worse outcomes or higher probability of risk)

    • You downplay Wadhams and Maslowski’s predictions simply because so many other sea ice researchers do not share their dire views; my (admittedly limited) understanding of how the scientific community works has always led me to believe that what is considered “acceptable science” is that which is referenced in scientific journals and parroted by everyone else in the scientific community, which unfortunately sounds a great deal like “groupthink” or “herd behavour” bias to me… and while it may be a “truly incredible change” for their predictions to occur, that does not lead me to believe their expected outcome is neither possible nor probable

    I’d also like to add (though I suppose its more of a preference/opinion than a criticism) that I’m usually wary of a “science-only driven” debunking of anything. Though scientific knowledge can explain much of what we witness on a daily basis, it is not infallible nor complete in its knowledge/understanding of how things work. Thus if one only relies on what is scientifically accepted, I think it robs the discussion of the benefits of intuition and perception – that things may occur for reasons we do not yet comprehend or fully understand, which may be where GM was heading with some of his positive feedbacks which you neglected to address (which I suppose is a criticism, as I think the feedback loops are the crux of GM’s argument, are they not?).

    I did try to make my way through the Tobis article, but I found it incredibly dismissive – using a 2010 drought as an example is a “cherry pick” (that a “weather event” is not the same as a “climate event” seems ridiculous to me, as no doubt the two are intertwined), dismissing sources as laughable/dubious without explaining why they are incorrect/false (as this reader unfortunately has no background on why those sources are so laughable/dubious… though this reader also is willing to go out on a limb as say even the most unrepentant liar can still point out that the sky is blue and be correct, thus what is said must always be examined as opposed to just the source), and anything that is not peer reviewed did not seem worthy of his time.

    His Chernobyl comments were also strange (or perhaps misunderstood on my part). From the small amount of GM material I’ve seen I never found that he suggested all 400 reactors would go nuclear simultaneously and kill us all instantaneously, simply that all 400 would have the potential for meltdown and that outcome would have incredible ramifications for humanity. Nor did I find it very helpful to point out that Chernobyl killed 20,000 over decades (when such a huge effort and sacrifice was made on the part of the Soviet Union to contain the disaster), when that is hardly indicative of what might happen should 400 nuclear plans all melt down in a relatively short time frame and without the resources to address all of them to the degree Chernobyl was addressed by the Soviets.

    Lastly, I was hoping the Tobis article would have touched on the impact of multiple positive feedbacks occurring at the same time, and even though individually they may be too slow / too weak to cause GM’s predictions to come true, combined they may reinforce each other and thus have a greater potential to cause a GM-style outcome. Unless I missed it, none of that was even discussed/contemplated in the Tobis article?

    So at the end of all of this, the word “mixed bag” comes to mind. And as a true layperson, I’m left thinking:

    • GM is very aggressive with his “facts”, and some of his assertions may be (or outright are) in question
    • Based on the scientific knowledge presented here, the positive feedbacks presented by GM are likely insufficient to cause NTE in time frame suggested by GM… unless additional factors occur to increase the effects of these positive feedbacks which is otherwise not discussed here
    • A great deal of what GM (and others, through this discussion) has presented is a factor for massive disruption to the planet and its inhabitants, at least in the longer term (2100+)
    • GM’s comments towards Nicole Foss were definitely unfounded, especially when you consider what a lovely person Nicole is (if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting her… thanks Nicole for your presentation and Q&A follow-up at Georgian College so many moons ago!)
    • The scientific community seems as snooty and self-righteous as ever, their faith in science as the one true God just as fervent as those who believe in Jeebus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster :)

    Perhaps that last point was a bit out of line, but it is vexing to see any discussion that discounts/discredits any point that does not conform to the standards set by a community regardless of the potential/possibility of that point to hold some degree of truth.

    As a suggestion Scott, it would be very interesting to see you debunk GM’s views not only by refuting what he’s presented, but also by showing what would have to occur for his view of the future to come to pass (i.e. what would have to happen to cause the amount of methane release in the arctic that GM is concerned about, or what could cause further releases of carbon by traditional carbon sinks like the Amazon or Canadian boreal forests, or how much more burning in Russian bogs would have to occur to cause these potential outcomes?). At least that would leave one with the sense of something to watch out for, as opposed to a simplistic “it doesn’t align with science as we understand it, thus it cannot come to pass” (which makes me wonder how many “scientists” over the ages have had to eat crow after making such statements).

    Anyways, despite my few criticisms, I thank you again as at the very least this article got me thinking more about climate change and will likely engage me to look at my own life to see what I can do to be part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem.



    1. Re: conspiracies
      Conspiracy theories effectively defend the indefensible by cutting off refutation. (“Of course there’s no evidence- they’ve covered it up!”) The science shows what the science shows. Climate researchers don’t sit around coming up with predictions based on how they feel. They perform careful analysis and modeling that yields numbers. There’s no space for “fudging numbers down” to be conservative– the science is too rigorous for that.

      Re: groupthink
      The way science works is that research hasn’t been completed until its published. Not everything published is right, and researchers know that well, but that’s where research that has been seen through to completion and made it through some peer review is found. There is no “groupthink” in ignoring claims that aren’t supported by research. That’s the standard on which science is based. There are thousands of contradictory claims out there– they’re irrelevant unless they’ve been through the scientific process.

      As for Wadhams and Maslowski, McPherson wouldn’t be wrong to mention their predictions. However, failing to explain that they are way out on the edge, and that most of their colleagues think otherwise misrepresents the science.

      Re: Tobis
      Tobis didn’t explain the point you mention very clearly, but he certainly was taking it into account. McPherson’s list of feedbacks doesn’t add up to anything even remotely in the ballpark of what he claims it does.

      Re: eating crow
      Again, I can find any number of people on the internet making contradictory claims about climate change. “What if the current science is wrong?” isn’t a very good reason to buy into any one of them. The problem is that McPherson claims he is simply passing along the science while mangling it and inventing some stuff on top.


      1. Re: conspiracies
        Well, funny how conspiracy theories sometimes have the habit of turning into conspiracy fact :)

        And of course I’m not suggesting climate scientists are just coming up with numbers out of the blue (though perhaps that’s what GM is suggesting?), but I think any time they (or anyone, for that matter) has to interpret anything (be it a set of data, observed interactions in the physical world, or snarky messages left on blogs) there is always the potential for biases and self-interest to influence their view on the subject matter (like, for example, leaning more towards a conservative viewpoint on a future prediction that has a degree of range/variance based on a data set measured today).

        Being conservative in ones estimates may also suggest not factoring in additional factors because they are not scientifically supported, considered “dubious”, or because the researcher is skeptical of said factors. While this may be a scientifically sound practice, if it produces a wrong/flawed prediction (especially when discussing something as important as the future of our planet), then I think it’s fair game to question the approach to some degree.

        Re: groupthink
        I hope you’re wrong in your statement with regards to the standard on which science is based is that of ignoring anything that is not supported by peer evaluated research.

        I completely understand that something that isn’t researched can’t be used to definitively support one’s argument, but that it should be ignored (as opposed to be considered as a possibility and investigated further) seems very closed minded. And unfortunately, as a “non-scientist”, sometimes that dismissive attitude seems very apparent when reading arguments from the scientific community and thus beckons the question if some sort of bias/groupthink is in play (which I absolutely believe there is, else how would scientists ever be surprised and/or revise previous work if not for the fact they incorrectly discount theories/data/information/possibilities that otherwise compromise their research? Certainly it can’t always be that all discounted/revised theories were a result of a sloppy/incorrect scientific approach?).

        Regarding Wadhams/Maslowski, your comments reinforce my understanding that “science” needs to be accepted by the larger scientific community to be considered true, like some sort of groupthink/herd mentality. If McPherson references their work, and their work is scientifically sound (though considered “way out on the edge”), then I don’t see how the science was misrepresented. If anything, I think the onus is on someone disagreeing with McPherson to point out why Wadhams/Maslowski’s theories are unsound, which one would think should be easy if so many in the scientific community disagree with them.

        In short, as a layperson, being told that referencing Wadhams/Maslowski “misrepresents” the science because so many other researchers see them as “fringe” doesn’t really tell me anything or help me fundamentally understand why McPherson’s argument may be so flawed. If you have any links to anything that outlines why Wadhams/Maslowski are so “out there” and why their findings may be scientifically unsound, I’d be grateful and would take the time to read it and educate myself (though a warning – I may be back with more questions!).

        Re: eating crow
        Hmm… you paint me with a very binary brush, so to speak. First, I think it’s always important to say “what if we think what we know is wrong?”, else we never progress past the point we are now and refine our understanding of the world/universe. Second, just because I question the accuracy/legitimacy of more generally-accepted climate change science does not mean I’ve jumped into bed with the findings of McPherson and accept them as gospel.

        If anything, I’m left with the question “why does McPherson disagree so vehemently with generally-accepted climate change science?”. I know he’s very anti-Empire, and I can relate to him in the sense that it’s very difficult to live in a society you cannot support/respect (let alone be a “shiny, happy person” who doesn’t constantly pee in everyone’s cornflakes, as McPherson seems to do) and still have any belief in your own self-worth. Perhaps he’s even so despondent with modern-day civilization to the point that he yearns for NTE as the outcome to wash all of us heathens away for living such selfish and self-serving lives?

        But all of that is really just speculation. Perhaps the better question (as asked in my previous post), is what would have to happen to allow McPherson’s view of the future to come to pass and to make his warnings of NTE viable? It would seem like possessing that knowledge and acting on it to try to prevent it from occurring would be a more worthwhile pursuit than arguing over who’s science is more “sciency” and why either side is wrong?

        Anyways, thanks for taking the time to respond to my previous post.



      2. I think this relates directly to your comments: As happens with relativistic and quantum mechanics processes, Cartesian-Newtonian science remains too limited, too small to account for complex phenomena such as global warming and ecological collapse. Meanwhile, complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics emphasize how unpredictable and irreversible tipping points occur in these complex systems. Guy McPherson reports the accumulating evidence related to many of the probable climate and ecosystem tipping points and many, here at FP, insist that they presumably CAN, after all, “prove McPherson wrong” about the probable NTHE, or near extinction, using only Cartesian-Newtonian science and reasoning. It seems obvious to me (and I think to many other people as well) that one can no more do that than they can explain relativistic and quantum mechanics phenomena using only Cartesian-Newtonian science and reasoning. Yet many here at FP insist on continuing with exactly that agenda, thus continuing to use inappropriate premises and tools while having no desire to learn about and use more appropriate ones. I wonder: Why? What motivates the continuing, exclusive use of only Cartesian-Newtonian science with its many weaknesses in discussing these complex, unpredictable, irreversible systems? What motivates the continuing avoidance of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, here, and their relevance to this discussion?


      3. Bud, what Scott and others have done is show that Guy presents some of the science incorrectly. If you can counter anything Scott 9or Tobis, for that matter) have stated about what Guy presents, please do so. Otherwise, you seem to be supporting the notion that Guy could be right, despite being wrong. That is – he got lucky. But it’s also possible that he just misinterprets what he’s read of the science. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t invoked those other fields of which you often write, in order to put his case. You seem to be the only one doing so.


      4. Bud, I was addressing your post. Yes, you did ask some questions:

        Yet many here at FP insist on continuing with exactly that agenda, thus continuing to use inappropriate premises and tools while having no desire to learn about and use more appropriate ones. I wonder: Why? What motivates the continuing, exclusive use of only Cartesian-Newtonian science with its many weaknesses in discussing these complex, unpredictable, irreversible systems? What motivates the continuing avoidance of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, here, and their relevance to this discussion?

        If you’d like an answer, here goes. It is only your claim that one needs a good understanding of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics to engage in the debate. Consequently, I’m not about to dive into what you admit are very difficult fields. I just don’t have the time, simply because you keep insisting that such understanding is needed. GM doesn’t seem to need to appeal to those fields for his conclusion and this post is about GM’s conclusions and use of evidence of Newtonian/Cartesian science.

        Is that clear? I don’t see any commenters at NBL reaching for their complexity theory books (though I don’t read every comment), so perhaps you should spend more time encouraging people on there to swot up on those fields. There are a few there, after all, who don’t fully buy into Guy’s conclusions. However, you seem to be unable to invoke those fields yourself, in order to explain the imminent demise of most species. You keep claiming that it’s impossible to explain without a good understanding of those fields. I find that most unconvincing.


      5. Nye has a similar exchange regarding how complexity theory etc allows him to arrive at NTHE with someone called Tony below his long essay on GM’s site. He brushes that off (at length) as well. I think it’s safe to conclude that while Nye’s grasp of complexity theory etc, however deep or superficial it may be, may allow him to conclude that the end of industrial civilization and human extinction are eventually inevitable (shock!), he hasn’t managed to find a way to reconcile it with GM’s specific predictions that are supposedly based on regular old Cartesian-Newtonian science. Hence the bluster and refusal to lay out an argument that we intellectual pygmies can attempt, however unsuccessfully, to understand.

        In other words, Nye is faking it.


      6. Hmmm. An interesting form of presumably scientific reasoning: If one does not argue from an exclusively Cartesian-Newtonian frame of reference regarding complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics as they relate to the Earth’s complex climate and biosphere, then they presumably “are faking it”. Do you use the same kind of reasoning concerning relativistic and quantum mechanics issues that you use concerning complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics? Meanwhile, I have never thought nor suggested that anyone here qualifies as an “intellectual pygmie”. It remains clearly YOUR agenda and story to classify people in that way, NOT MINE. (I would never even consider writing any such thing, even if I did think it, which I never have. Why not? Because I strongly prefer respectful dialog over such child-like ad hominem attacking.) On the contrary. The people who comment here strike me as extremely intelligent and well educated, probably significantly more intelligent and better educated than I. This probable higher intelligence and level of education makes the strong avoidance of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, here, especially fascinating to me.


      7. Bud — I’m replying to a recent post of yours that appeared in my email, but which I can’t find here. I have a request. It might be true that contributors to this discussion have not applied nonlinear analysis and chaos theory to climate change. But as far as I can tell, neither have you. You’ve cited the concepts many times; but you haven’t actually put them to use. My request: Would you use nonlinear analysis and chaos theory to explain aspects of climate change that haven’t been adequately addressed here?


      8. Lewis,

        Thanks so much for your mature, respectful, thought provoking request. Correct. I have not “put them to use” (complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics) beyond pointing to their relevance to the conversation here, which relevance seems pretty obvious to me, and I should think to you as well.

        I have not tried to put them to more specific use for two main reasons. First, as I think I suggested in my last comment, here, though I may have the intelligence (and that, of course, remains questionable), I don’t think that I have the education or experience competently to do it. I have only recently learned about the general complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics concepts. I have not learned them in any great depth, I do not have a Ph.D. in either of those fields, nor have I done any research based on them. Related to this, does my lack of competency to apply complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics make my discussion-process-oriented points, here, any less valid, or make me “a fake” for raising these issues and questions? I don’t think so, and I don’t think any reasonable person would think so either.

        Second, I don’t have any great interest in arguing the more detailed, finer points precisely because I recognize and accept Earth’s climate and biosphere as a complex, unpredictable, and irreversible system (definitely NOT “just physics”–the limited physics of Bacon, Descartes, and Newton–as Scott Johnson insists), I see plenty of compelling evidence that major, reciprocally interactive, complex Earth processes have started changing rapidly (VERY rapidly when considered on a geological time scale), and I do NOT view these global-scale processes exclusively through a way over-simplistic, naïve, Cartesian-Newtonian lens such that, presumably, by learning more about this “mechanism” or that one, we can then, supposedly, dominate or “control” Earth, reliably predict what will or will not soon happen, or “reverse” the near certain self-annihilation trap that we have created for ourselves and most or all other life on the planet. Earth’s biosphere simply does not work as a Cartesian clock-work mechanism, all of our collective wishful thinking notwithstanding, and a narrow-focused, exclusively Cartesian-Newtonian approach almost certainly will not help us in any useful way, other than, perhaps, to help some of us feel good while the planet burns. (This need to feel good while presumably, or hopefully, controlling Earth, I think accounts for much of the emotional, ad hominem attacks that occur here so often.)

        It seems to me that all climate change researchers, policy makers, and others discussing these issues need to learn about and take the unpredictable, irreversible nature of these complex systems into account, and it strikes me as a naïve agenda, indeed, to attempt to “scientifically prove” Guy McPherson’s evidence reporting “wrong” while ignoring and/or denying the relevance of the principles of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, while ALSO claiming, presumably, to “do good science”. I wonder about the extent to which this kind of Cartesian thinking discussion occurs as a set-up and justification for implementing high-profit, corporate geoengineering schemes needed to “fix” Earth and “make the planet smarter”, as IBM wishes to, and supposedly can, do.

        In short, I don’t see how MY lack of intelligence and/or education relieves those who DO have the needed intelligence and education from the responsibility of using them here and elsewhere to integrate complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics into the discussion instead of denying their relevance and avoiding them as so often happens here while maintaining a naïve, exclusive focus on Cartesian-Newtonian reasoning and evidence. To follow up on your interest in more specifics, The Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences (IC3) serves as just one complexity and climate focused source. Google searches, of course, will also give access to much climate-related complexity and chaos theory research.


      9. Finally – the back-pedal:

        “I have only recently learned about the general complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics concepts.”

        “Second, I don’t have any great interest in arguing the more detailed, finer points precisely because I recognize and accept Earth’s climate and biosphere as a complex, unpredictable, and irreversible system (definitely NOT “just physics”–the limited physics of Bacon, Descartes, and Newton–as Scott Johnson insists), I see plenty of compelling evidence that major, reciprocally interactive, complex Earth processes have started changing rapidly…”

        And since you don’t understand general complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, that “compelling evidence” relies on what you dismiss as “just physics”, just like all the evidence GM claims to have assembled.

        The rest is just the usual defensive bombast plus criticism of all and sundry for, like you, not understanding general complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, while still offering no reason based on them to believe in GM’s NTHE.

        “…it seems to me, complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics resolve the Cartesian/Newtonian science prediction paradox while also pointing to the near certainty of a fatal outcome for us soon.”

        “…civilization’s anti-life agenda, paired with complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics, makes global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse with human extinction or near extinction coming soon an extremely high probability.”

        The decent thing would be to go back to GM’s website and apologize to commenter Tony, who asked for an explanation of the last quote above, only to be told: “No, I do not plan to discuss this further in another essay.”, and admit that it’s beyond your intellectual capacity to discuss it further. You won’t though, will you?

        But thanks for confirming that those claims originated from the lower end of your alimentary canal.


      10. No, I have not “backpeddled”. Over time, indeed, “ad nauseum” as several have emphasized, I have consistently pointed to some serious, over-arching, entirely valid, scientific argumentation process issues, versus content issues. I feel sorry, as I continue to peddle forward, not backwards, that you seem unable to grasp the difference between process and content issues, and that you so consistently and childishly require attempts to insult others as a way, supposedly, to support your position. I confess that when I read the following three paragraphs concerning Cartesian philosophy much earlier this morning, Fractal Planet and Landbeyond immediately came to mind as examples of Baconian-Cartesian values and thinking today regarding the world and the alleged dominance that human supremacists play in it. I think, Landbeyond, that as an empirical question we will soon find out whether allegedly dominant humans, as you insist, or Nature, as Guy McPherson and I insist, actually bats last in unpredictable, irreversible, complex ways. We will see how well your Cartesian values serve you as Nature does its batting along with yours. The three paragraphs that partially describe Cartesian philosophy and our present-day attitudes toward Earth follow. (Substitute Earth for the bull in order to make the connection more obvious.)

        The photograph shows a bull being followed by a disturbing crowd. It is immediately apparent that he is going to die. But as the scene evokes a lynching ritual, we sense that the road to this final liberation will be long and painful. This strange drama unfolds in our time, in Spain, in a little village called Coria. It is a game, of course, the rules of which are extremely simple: at four in the morning, a bull is set loose on the streets, where he is riddled with darts, first in the eyes and most sensitive parts. Four hours later, the animal is beaten until he dies of his wounds. In the picture, he looks like a pin cushion. The little white dots are so close together he almost looks snow-covered. Two men are pointing at him, smiling. One of them holds a ban­derilla which he will plant, several seconds later (as appears in an­other photo), in the animal’s anus. The entire population participates in the festival….

        This game has nothing, or almost nothing, to do with bullfighting. No particular talent is required to participate, and no one would dream of comparing it to an art. It is simply an enactment, solely for entertainment, of the reality of animal suffering. And people find this suffering captivating. The proof being that this type of entertain­ment, in which crowds gather to see the intensity of the pain preced­ing the killing, has its equivalent in every, or almost every, country and at every period. In France, during the Restoration, people sought entertainment in open-air cafés near the gates of Paris: here a rooster is stoned to death, there an archery match is held in which the target is a live rat nailed to a wooden plank. In our day, in Australia, the rabbit population becomes a real scourge from time to time. But is it necessary to organize baseball games in which the animal, replacing the ball, literally explodes on impact with the bat, to the vast enjoy­ment of large, enthusiastic crowds?

        People like to talk about the cruelty of Chinese markets, where chicks and kittens are “cleaned,” placed on a spit and grilled alive, snakes are cut into slices while being kept alive for days on end to better preserve their flesh, heads of monkeys are drilled open in order that one may enjoy the warm brain as the animal continues weakly to struggle…. Literally and figuratively there is nothing prohibiting us today from continuing to torture “nonhuman beings” [and Earth], since they are merely unimportant heaps of matter. And if, for one reason or another, they are unlucky enough to be classified as “vermin,” their “destruction” even becomes a legitimate and useful exercise. The final prohibitions fall away, and any means become valid to arrive at ends condoned by both the public authority and the ambient Cartesianism. The animal caught in a trap, captured alive, [and Earth,] will not end his days sweetly: alone against man, who possesses all rights over it, custom has it that it will pay dearly for belonging to the realm of those considered noxious to the Masters of Earth.


      11. Bosh, Bud Nye. You’ve been caught implying that you understand a field of scientific knowledge on which you possess a tenuous grasp at best. You claimed that said science proves GM’s NTHE predictions. After repeated requests to demonstrate that proof you confess your paucity of understanding. Now you attempt to bury your feigned erudition with your customary blizzard of words plus your usual baseless attacks on other commenters. You even resort to attributing to others “positions” — human supremacism, inability to understand that climate is complex and hard to predict (unless you’re GM) — that they have never shown any indication of holding.

        The accounts of animal torture are just another attempt at distraction from your spurious learning.

        Return to NBL, Bud Nye. Agree with GM in 10,000 words and you’ll get all the praise you can handle. I doubt you have any credibility left here.

        “…I continue to peddle forward…”

        We know what you’ve been peddling.


      12. Bud, it seems your whole argument, then, rests on “trust me”. You’ve spent a long time here making all sorts of claims about how climate change should be viewed but have never backed up those claims with anything other than “trust me”. You’ve pleaded with others to learn complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics in order to understand what climate change has in store for us. You’ve defended Guy to the hilt, not based on his arguments (though he hasn’t really presented any) for his conclusions, but based on the notion that he’s right for the wrong reasons. Perhaps you ought to try to convince him of that and maybe he’ll read up on the fields that you find so difficult to use yourself. Then, maybe he’ll make your argument for you.

        Just a suggestion.


      13. No. I don’t recall ever suggesting that anyone should trust me. (As we established very well when I started posting here, I fall into the category of an unqualified nobody who really should not post here at all.) I have backed up my process-oriented claims by pointing to the research of many complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics researchers, some Nobel prize winners, and I have said, and continue to say, trust them. (One might also consider trusting one’s own personal experiences in life, as well, regarding the predictability and reversibility of living processes.) If you and many (most?) here–in at least some cases, surely much smarter and better educated than I–do not wish to construct and apply that knowledge (mainly because it clashes way too strongly with your preferred, comforting belief that humans can and should dominate Earth for as long as we wish?) then you and I know very well that you won’t.


      14. Instead of once again telling everyone who doesn’t accept the point you’re hammering that they are “human supremacists” who must disagree with you because they aren’t mentally strong enough to accept the truth and would rather run the Earth into oblivion (and PLEASE stop this, I’ve got no more patience for it), why don’t you quit dancing around the question you were asked about Guy? Has Guy ever espoused the views about “complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics” that you’re fixated on? Because all I’ve ever heard is that he says he’s simply reporting “the science”– the same “the science” that you repeatedly mock me for valuing. Why are you such a fan of Guy, in that case? And why don’t you push him on this point as you’ve been pushing me for months?


      15. I have never thought nor suggested that “anyone who disagrees with me isn’t mentally strong enough to accept the truth”. Neither have I “mocked” you, which means treating another person with derision and contempt. YOU have constructed those stories that you tell yourself and others, NOT ME. Neither have I “danced around” the question regarding Guy. I don’t know whether Guy agrees with me regarding the points I have tried to make, or not (though I think that, far more likely than not, he does agree). I simply think that whether he agrees, or not, remains a distracting irrelevancy to the points I have repeated, “ad nauseum”, as you have put it, that: (1) Earth’s biosphere exists as a complex, open, unpredictable, irreversible, nonequilibrium thermodynamic system, (2) complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics principles apply with Earth’s complex systems, and (3) any analysis Earth’s complex, open, unpredictable, irreversible thermodynamic systems that does not take complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics principles into account will prove significantly weaker and inadequate compared with an analysis that does–just as understanding relativistic and quantum mechanics systems requires physics beyond the relatively simplistic Cartesian-Newtonian physics that you and many others consider adequate for studying Earth’s biosphere.

        Just to satisfy my curiosity, I asked McPherson whether he agrees with the points I have tried to make here (and in my “What ‘purpose’ do I have?” essay) and he responded: “Yes, I agree. Yes, you may quote me on that point.”


      16. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I [Bud] asked McPherson whether he agrees with the points I have tried to make here (and in my “What ‘purpose’ do I have?” essay) and he responded: “Yes, I agree. Yes, you may quote me on that point.”

        That’s remarkable. So Guy actually thinks that the science he presents in his climate update post cannot lead to the conclusion he’s come to from that science because the system is too complex for it to do so? I think not. This is disingenuous on his part because he clearly doesn’t think that any other fields of study are necessary to come to his conclusion (because he’s never presented any arguments in that regard). He doesn’t even feel that it’s necessary to explain how the science he does present leads to that conclusion, presumably because he thinks it is self evident.

        I think this is further proof that Guy has let himself down as well as letting others down. Which is a shame because he could have been a great advocate for seriously getting the message across about the need to change our ways to avoid the worst effects.


      17. Sorry. I fail to follow your reasoning and argument that complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics supposedly weaken the dire implications of the evidence that McPherson reports. It seems to me that they strengthen his views. It seems to me that the complex system tipping points, rapid, unpredictable changes, and irreversibility inherent in Earth’s biosphere, make it clear that one canNOT (reasonably) reason about the evidence based exclusively on linear, Cartesian-Newtonian thinking and then come to presumably reliable conclusions and make supposedly reliable predictions (or alleged predictions to counter other’s probabilistic predictions, as so many so strongly wish here to do here with respect to McPherson). The best one can do seems to involve saying something to the effect that MAJOR, RAPID CHANGES CAN AND PROBABLY WILL OCCUR AT ANY TIME. This seems to me quite consistent with the evidence that Guy reports and his warnings, not contradictory to them as you and some others here insist.


      18. Bud, let me explain more clearly. If I read you right, you claim that the future of our earth system can’t be determined by what you call Cartesian/Newtonian science; it needs the other fields you champion to (apparently) do that. Consequently, Guy is wrong to reach his conclusions based only on the former. However, you seem to believe that he agrees with you when all his writings show the opposite – that it’s perfectly possible to determine our fate based on limited science.

        Is that clear?


      19. No. Again, I do not claim that “…the future of our earth system can’t be determined by what you call Cartesian/Newtonian science…”. Yet again, I claim that complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics–not me–make it clear that we cannot reliably predict the future of Earth’s complex systems using only Cartesian-Newtonian reasoning and science. I disagree with your assumption and insistence that Guy presumably has made, and continues to make, his dire prediction of an extremely high probability of NTHE, or near extinction, based only on Cartesian-Newtonian thinking and science. I do not know of anything that he has written or said to the effect, as you claim, that he bases his reasoning about the probable consequences for us only on Cartesian-Newtonian reasoning and science and that he has previously denied the relevance of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics. Indeed, he explicitly wrote to me that he agrees with the implications of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics.

        You seem to want to hold it against both him and me that he appears not to have written previously using those terms. You seem to reason that, “If he did not earlier refer to ‘complexity theory’ and ‘nonequilibrium thermodynamics’, and indeed, he does not write using those terms now, then he must, both in the past and now, reason based only on Cartesian-Newtonian thinking and evidence.” This seems like a pretty obviously false assumption to me. For all you and I know, he may have thought of the world in terms of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics since he was 12 years old, but never used those terms or openly discussed his thinking about these things with anyone. Meanwhile, complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics do not replace Cartesian-Newtonian physics. They do not make Cartesian-Newtonian physics “wrong” any more than relativity theory or quantum mechanics make it wrong. Instead, these newer scientific fields define appropriate and inappropriate systems for using the different kinds of scientific reasoning and evidence.

        Meanwhile, Scott’s positive assertion to Glomerol that “…is very different from ‘climate change will have costly impacts and we need to get to work stabilizing it, which we can absolutely do'” explains much, indeed, about this blog and it’s strong, crystal clear bias with respect to “the science”. We can, presumably, dominate and control the planet just as Bacon and Descartes said, if we will just maintain our faith in our technology. Would you care to tell us, Scott, how you come by the certain knowledge that we supposedly “absolutely can stabilize Earth’s climate” despite it’s obviously chaotic nature, complexity theory, and nonequilibrium thermodynamics? It presumably has to work that way because Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, and Newton said it does? Have you not learned anything about the limitations of Newtonian physics from relativity theory and quantum mechanics? Does Cartesian-Newtonian thinking really make you omniscient? Really? This assertion doesn’t seem just a little bit grandiose to you, especially in an age of modern physics? Your statement tends strongly to support my earlier expressed thought to Lewis that, perhaps, this blog serves as a set-up to encourage as many people as possible to support highly profitable, corporate, geoengineering projects. Whether that proves true, or not, it serves as an excellent example of hubris within Baconian-Cartesian thinking taken to its logical extreme.


      20. I do not claim that “…the future of our earth system can’t be determined by what you call Cartesian/Newtonian science…”… we cannot reliably predict the future of Earth’s complex systems using only Cartesian-Newtonian reasoning and science.


        Would you care to tell us, Scott, how you come by the certain knowledge that we supposedly “absolutely can stabilize Earth’s climate” despite it’s obviously chaotic nature, complexity theory, and nonequilibrium thermodynamics? It presumably has to work that way because Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, and Newton said it does? Have you not learned anything about the limitations of Newtonian physics from relativity theory and quantum mechanics? Does Cartesian-Newtonian thinking really make you omniscient? Really?

        If you would cut the sanctimonious bullshit long enough to… actually it wouldn’t matter because we’ve been over this already, and you deny the fundamentals of climate forcings. There isn’t a single climate scientist on the planet who thinks, as you appear to, that reducing the radiative forcing has no effect on the planet’s energy budget. If I were you, that fact would give me pause to re-evaluate my opinion. You claim not to know much about “complexity theory” and plead your layman’s status, and then proceed to hold the position that all climate scientists are wrong because you don’t think they use the thing you say you don’t know much about. Every climate projection study out there is a study in the effects of varying emissions (as is, indirectly, every study on past climate changes). I would tell you to go read some, but you’re just going to tell me (again) about how horrifically Cartesian/Newtonian they must all be, and then you’re going to tell me that you don’t reject the science that you’ve just rejected. This cycle never ends with you.

        Please stop going on about “Newtonian physics”, relativity, and QM. It doesn’t support your argument. (And if you didn’t know, incidentally, the straight-forward nature of the greenhouse effect depends critically on quantum mechanics. You see, weird things at the atomic level don’t mean that behavior at the scale we’re interested in somehow follows no physical laws and is instead some chaotic gobbledygook that we have no hope of understanding.) I could plead with you to take some time to learn from David Archer’s online course (previous iteration here), but again, I’m sure you think it’s all unacceptable.

        perhaps, this blog serves as a set-up to encourage as many people as possible to support highly profitable, corporate, geoengineering projects.

        You found me out! Go forth and tell the world! (And don’t forget to tell my bank, as this implies they’ve made some rather serious errors over the years in determining my balance.)

        Why do you feel the need to constantly invent and ascribe intentions to people you know nothing about? It’s exceedingly poor form. I’ve brought this up several times now, and you’ve ignored me every time and kept right on trucking. I didn’t mind your last few posts, as they better engaged with what other people were saying to you. If you’re going to return to telling everyone why they think what they think, I’m not going to let you post here anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

      21. I would challenge you and any others who might read this to review the meaning of the word “sanctimonious”, as well as the nature of Baconian and Cartesian scientific philosophy (vs. the thinking and values inherent in modern physics, including complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics), and then to consider, or reconsider, who has actually written in ways that reflect sanctimonious thinking and values, here, and who has not.

        Related to this, I find your willingness to focus on one or a few ecosystem variables, then to make positive statements regarding their alleged linear, causal influence, and then to make sweeping, presumably certain statements concerning the future behavior of Earth’s complex biosphere, including its allegedly “certain”, human-controlled reversibility, breathtaking. You obviously wish to continue civilization’s agenda of short-term domination and control of Earth. No doubt our corporate leaders greatly appreciate your enthusiastic, presumably unpaid support. It strikes me that we have an important, many centuries-old, cultural clash, here, between those of you who believe that we can, and supposedly should, dominate and control Earth, and those relatively few of us who believe that we cannot and should not continue those attempts. Clearly, to date the Cartesian nature-dominators have “won” in this clash. But complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics make it clear that you have won only a short-term, Pyrrhic victory. Of course, you do not wish to hear this sad story: nature bats last, not industrial capitalist technology strongly based on and supported by Baconian-Cartesian scientific fundamentalists and principles.


      22. Hey Bud, you seem to be getting unreasonably angry now. I suspect that you’d get similar reactions, as those here, even at Guy’s blog, if only most of those readers weren’t so deep in their belief of impending doom. Guy doesn’t need your alternatives to come up with his position but you’ll never ask him explicitly and, if you did, I wouldn’t expect a straight answer.

        Now stop accusing people here of human supremacism. You have no evidence of that other than your impatience with others not doing your work for you and I, for one, find the accusations rather offensive.


      23. Nope, I usually don’t feel angry at all about this stuff, though I often feel profoundly sad. No, not “impending” doom, RAPIDLY UNFOLDING doom, and one has to have themselves wrapped in a Titanium-clad blanket of human supremacism not to see it and understand it. (Perhaps you will help me to understand how can one presume to “make a smarter planet” or to “‘fix’ the climate ‘problem'” without also presuming to have the human supremacist knowledge and power required to do these things?) You seem to reason that because the rapidly unfolding collapses have not affected you personally in significant ways, yet, they therefore have not and do not affect many millions of other humans, not to mention other species and the biosphere to the extent that about 200 species every day become extinct. That does not qualify as “impending” doom; it qualifies as happening right now as I write and you read this.

        I feel sorry if you feel surprised by the planet-killing, human supremacist nature of so much of the philosophy and practice of natural science, and that you tell yourself stories such that you feel offended by someone pointing these things out to you. We have massive, compelling, commonly available evidence of millennia-old human supremacist values with it’s natural scientific climax during the past few hundred years, so I won’t begin to list that evidence here. If you actually have an interest in learning more about some of that evidence (and I doubt that you do, or you would not have written what you did here), among many other possible sources I would suggest reading almost anything written by the prolific author, Derrick Jensen, for example, A Language Older Than Words and his two-volume End Game.

        The 1 hr, 10 min audio conversation about dying, our hatred of limits, our adolescent narcissism, and our cultural death taboo here,, goes a long way toward explaining your taking offense, I think, from some of the things I have written. Fear of death and dying drive much more of our emotions and behavior than most of us even begin to grasp. For much more about this, including some excellent research about it, see the 1 hr, 25 min award winning video Flight From Death available here at Hulu: , as well as other sources. Regarding all of this, I think that this recent quote by Derrick Jensen applies perfectly here: “…how stupid people must be in order to think they can manage the world. They have no fucking clue how complex the real world is. I love the line by David Ehrenfeld: the world is not only more complex than we think, it is more complex than we are capable of thinking.”


      24. “one has to have themselves wrapped in a Titanium-clad blanket of human supremacism not to see it and understand it… I feel sorry if you feel surprised by the planet-killing, human supremacist nature of so much of the philosophy and practice of natural science, and that you tell yourself stories such that you feel offended by someone pointing these things out to you.”

        Right. I’ve warned you at least twice about this, and now you’re done. It’s so incredibly rude and arrogant to continue telling people that they must disagree with you because of x and y motives they won’t admit to- especially when you’ve been asked repeatedly to stop. This is not how you have a conversation.

        Congratulations on being the first person I’ve had to ban from my blog. Because I’m sure you’ll get a lot of mileage out of crying that I’ve oppressed you (load up your bingo cards with “dogma”, “free speech”, and “Hitler”), let me be 100% clear: I’m not banning you because I disagree with you, I’m banning you because you’ve been an asshole about it.

        If anyone still wants to discuss something with Bud, I’m sure you can find him over at Guy’s website.


      25. Bud, you’re doing it again and, apparently don’t realise it. You presume to tell people what their motives and drives are and you are actually insulting in so doing. I’ve already stated that I’m not a human supremacist. I’ve read Derrick jensen’s End Game (a good read, if a bit repetitive) and I already know that millions have already been affected by climate change (and other predicaments caused by industrial civilisation). It has affected me too. But all of that is irrelevant to the point of this article and of many of the comments.

        The point is that Guy does not provide a rationale for his belief, which he seeks to spread to others. Maybe you have a better rationale but you haven’t provided it and it isn’t the same as Guy’s (whatever that is, it’s clear that he relies on the published climate science and scientific journalism for his belief, but doesn’t use them reasonably).

        Yes you’re angry. You’re angry (OK, and sad) that others can’t just see what you see, despite your being unable to communicate just what that is. That is irrational. If you don’t give a clear explanation, then don’t expect others to understand it. Now you seem to openiy admit that you don’t have a sufficient grasp of the fields you feel are needed to examine our predicament, to be able to explain it. In that case, either achieve that grasp or give up trying. For the rest of us, conventional climate science gives us all the information we need to tell us that the world is in a very precarious situation and that millions, even billions, will suffer in future because of what we’re doing now. But it just doesn’t lead to a conclusion (yet) of near term (impending) human extinction (doom).


      26. I think Bud asks good questions here and that the idea of complexity and out-of-equilibrium thermodynamics adds perspective and precision to the AGW discussion. My only suggestion would be to use more concrete examples to define the discussion. Places where scientific opinion has changed, and in doing so, strengthened or weakened the complexity thesis. Possibilities include timing of sea ice decline. Warming of sub-sea permafrost. Crop sensitivity. Discovery of abrupt climate changes in the paleo record. Discussion of extinction events. Discussion of the going-Venus hypothesis (Hansen’s flip-flop). Someone should keep a list (Bud, you are nominated!). Probably once you get going the list will seem endless. May end up looking like GM’s climate chaos essay (hopefully, minus the rampant reckless/accidental-on-purpose errors of fact and logic).


      27. If GM does indeed think of the world in terms of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics it would shed a whole new light on his views.

        So, Bud Nye, just for the sake of clarity regarding GM’s thinking, will you tell us how, EXACTLY and IN FULL, you worded your query to GM on whether he agreed with the points you have tried to make here (and in your “What ‘purpose’ do I have?” essay); and how, EXACTLY and IN FULL, he responded to that query when he wrote that you could quote him “on that point”?


      28. Bud, I think my understanding of your position is correct, despite your claim that it is isn’t. Either Cartesian/Newtonian science can give us a good indication of what we can expect, given the data we have available, or it can’t. I’m pretty sure from what you’ve written here that you think it can’t. Guy may not have used the terms complexity theory or non-equilibrium thermodynamics but he also hasn’t talked in anything like the terms that would suggest he does take those fields into account. In fact, from that Transition Voice article, he claims that any one of three issues leads to extinction (not a “high probability of”), and multiple interleaving factors are not needed to assure our demise.

        Perhaps you can get Guy to explain, in simple terms, why all of the evidence he cites leads inevitably to human extinction by mid-century. Then we’d all know exactly how he came to his position and determine whether it makes sense or not.


      29. Bud, I don’t have a believef that “humans can and should dominate Earth for as long as we wish”. That was close to an ad-hominem, in my view (saved only by the question mark). You say you never asked anyone to “trust” you but, though you may not have used the words “trust me”, that’s what, in effect, you’re asking people to do. You keep on and on about complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics providing a much more realistic view of out future, and that they solve some of the problems associated with the Cartesian/Newtonian view. But you never explain how. That amounts to “trust me”, in my book. Yes, you ask others to study those fields to make their own minds up, but they have to trust you that it is worth the effort (and, from what you’ve said, it would appear to take considerable effort).


      30. Still no argument for GM’s prediction of NTHE based on complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics, Bud Nye? You realize that several people, both here and on GM’s site, have pointed out that you haven’t produced one? You can’t, can you? It’s making you look a bit peculiar.

        Time to put up, or do the other thing, Bud Nye.

        (What’s a “pygmie”?)


      31. Your subject-changing nicely emphasizes the strongly biased obsession, here, with “proving McPherson wrong” vs. using the scientific methods needed for understanding and reasoning about the complex–not simple or complicated–global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse issues. You insist on treating these complex systems as though they work as simple or complicated systems, while they do not. Furthermore, you insist that this over-simplistic approach serves as a good, reliable scientific analysis, while it does not. An exclusively Cartesian-Newtonian approach cannot prove adequate for understanding complex systems any more than it can prove adequate for understanding relativistic or quantum mechanics phenomena, yet you proceed as though it presumably can and will. You also tell others that it can and will, and you seem to consider doing this “good science”.


      32. Bud, if you don’t stop repeating yourself ad nauseam instead of engaging with replies, I’m going to stop approving your comments.


      33. Like mikeroberts2013, you have also changed the subject. How does your response answer my entirely valid scientific process questions? Why do you insist on using an exclusively Cartesian-Newtonian approach for COMPLEX systems? How do you rationalize this as appropriate for the context? The best you can do involves throwing out the messenger who brings difficult to answer questions? And in throwing out the messenger, this amounts to doing “good science”, which presumably you have a strong interest in?


      34. If Bud is repeating himself, it’s likely because the crux of his statements are going unanswered or are being ignored here…

        I know nothing about the difference between Cartesian-Newtonian science versus other approaches to science, but the concept that the way McPherson’s arguments have been analyzed and subsequently debunked was through the use of overly-simplistic scientific method is a fascinating and should be further explored (without bias or negativity, as how does that help in any way?).

        Sadly, it sometimes does feel like the discussion on climate change is a pissing match where people want to say “my science is more right that your science”. That seems incredibly irrelevant (and childish?) in light of the importance of the subject that is being discussed.

        There seem to be some very smart and learned individuals here. Again (and sorry to repeat myself; hopefully not ad nauseam), this is not a defense or an agreement with McPherson’s views, but a request of the intelligent folk who frequent this site to use their insight/knowledge/intelligence to explain how NTE scenarios could come to pass and what needs to be done to prevent; that as opposed to just tearing down others and saying how their theories will never come to pass because their science says so (especially when that science seems to be changing at a very quick pace, given everything we’re learning about weather and climate on an ongoing basis).



      35. Bud Nye would appreciate this comment from the RobertScribbler blog:

        The other is that farmers must adapt rapidly and must think systemically. Some articles point out how radically they have changed practices in the last couple of years and how much further research/tinkering they’ll do in the near future, with the understanding that if they don’t then they will have no livelihood in 5 years. This rapid of a change is obviously needed by all of society and they give a positive and concrete example of its possibility.

        I was particularly made aware of the systemic thinking part when I was at a family reunion and describing my job (using systems theory to research biology) to the older extended family, 70% of who are still farmers and the rest grew up on farms. They understood the premise of chaos theory and variability, resiliency, etc. better than 99% of the “educated” populace.

        Unfortunately, these sorts of people are being bred out of the system due to massive agrobusiness that tries to mechanize everything, but I still have optimism that collectively there is the right mentality.


  22. This is my transcript of Part 1 of the most recent Nick Breeze interview of Natalia Shakhova, which was done after her Spring expedition and before the one she is out on now, and covers what they learned this Spring.

    Highlights: Regarding “are methane releases increasing?”

    “About some areas we can say confidently that we observed increased fluxes.” 1:07

    “We gained much more knowledge about fluxes. And about additional mechanisms that allows releases of methane from the Siberian arctic shelf to be more efficient, for example, like increasing storminess, water mixing, and a few other mechanisms that make methane releases more efficient than we saw before.” 1:15

    There you have it in brown and tan.

    Still working on parts 2 and 3.

    Six dashes means I couldn’t make out some language. Some of these spots are time-marked. Any help filling in the blanks would be great!

    Really not much new here, but I still felt rewarded by a few details of science and a few of personal style.

    Dr Natalia Shakhova Interview: Part 1- Methane Hydrates & Stability of East Siberian Arctic Shelf

    Nick Breeze:
    You just returned from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. What can you tell us about this expedition? Are there any signs the subsea permafrost is destabilizing and leading to increased methane emmissions?

    Ah, yes, our registered reports actually revealed increased, I wouldn’t say increased I should tell the “greater fluxes” from the Siberian Arctic Shelf. What I actually mean here — that not all this we can talk about increasing fluxes because —— methane fluxes, you need to repeat in same areas in subsequent years, which we don’t always do because we have to expand the area of investigation. This means that we are going from the near shore area to the mid shelf and to the outer shelf and what we learned from this experiment is that methane fluxes actually vary significantly from area to area. This depends on few defined factors. About some areas we can say confidently that we observed increased fluxes.

    We need much more knowledge about fluxes. And about additional mechanisms that allows releases of methane from the Siberian arctic shelf to be more efficient, for example, like increasing storminess, water mixing, and a few other mechanisms that make methane releases more efficient that we saw before.

    Besides that we applied some new methods which allowed us to measure fluxes more accurately because measured them directly by using methods which never been used before in any area of the world ocean. For example we accumulated the hydrological data, which is sonar data, and calibrated this data right in sea, right in situ, where we measured the fluxes. So this assessment is much more accurate. The bottom line is that when we put the greater fluxes there should be two components. One component is that in some areas fluxes indeed increased or they’ve left the [temper-vari] ability of these fluxes. The second component is that increased fluxes mean, or greater fluxes, mean that we learned much more about the flux —— variability, about the nature of the fluxes. This is important that you should realize.

    Nick Breeze:
    In the expedition that you returned from a couple months ago, what were the main observations in terms of the fluxes you were seeing?

    The latest expedition, that was a —— expedition was devoted to studying the subsea permafrost. We drilled the subsea permafrost and obtained the sediment cores so that we could explore and investigate the sediment cores which helps us understand how this process of permafrost destabilization occurs in nature. And especially important in this very-near-shore area which is close to the coast, which was submerged by seawater the latest, the shortest period of time. And this area was long thought to be the most stable. And we expected to find out the permafrost, we reached — the permafrost table is right on top, very close to the sea floor — and we didn’t find this. So what we observed actually was partially or completely thawed sediment cores. Which was very interesting because knowing this is very important. This gives us less and less reason to think that permafrost is experiencing some kind of —4:30— after submergence. This means that it takes some long time, like for example, some scientists suggest that it requires thousands of years before the permafrost starts to degrade from the top of it . This is what we didn’t observe, because the sites which we explored in this latest expedition are very near shore, very close to the coast; they’ve been submerged just a couple hundred years ago. This means they should be absolutely stable. They should be continuous permafrost; very close in its current state to the coastal permafrost, to the land permafrost, which stays at about -8 degrees celsius or -10. But our sediment cores exhibited a temperature from slightly above zero to slightly below zero degrees celsius which is very close to the thaw point or right at the thaw point. So this is very important findings. And beside this we found methane releases from this area, near shore, very near shore area, which is comparable to fluxes observed in the outer shelf. The outer shelf is considered to be the most destabilized because it was submerged the longest, it’s been submerged for tens of thousands of years, at least 10 years or 15 years and most of the scientists agree that it should have been destabilized all the way up to total disappearance of permafrost or at least it should be discontinuous or —6:20— permafrost. And the fluxes that we measured in the very near shore area, on this —specific? 6:25— site were comparable to that that we measured and observed in the outer shelf. This is very important part of our knowledge.

    Nick Breeze:
    To summarize, the area that you thought would have been most stable, where you were taking the ice cores, is not stable at all.

    It’s not stable, but I should note that it’s not stable within that depth of permafrost to which we drilled the permafrost, and we drilled all the way deep to about 50 meters, 60 meters. We don’t know what is below. But, it should have been stable within this depth, because near shore area, it’s very close to the coast, and duration of inundation is very short. It’s not thousands of years, it’s just 150, 200 years. The permafrost — the hydrates and permafrost is related in the arctic. The permafrost, the hydrates could be included within the permafrost layer, or below the permafrost layer. Two different types of hydrates. Usually the temperature and pressure conditions creates so-called gas hydrates stability zone, which is usually close to the bottom of the permafrost. But the top of this area might change its position, it depends on the climate cycle. In the cold climate epoch, the top of the hydrate stability zone comes a little higher and in the warmer epoch a little lower. So this top position of this hydrate stability zone fluctuates. It is subject to alteration from the climate cycle. The stability of hydrate deposits is determined by stability of permafrost. Permafrost loses its stability when it gets warmer. And especially when the permafrost —reaches the thaw point 9:02— literally means that the gas migration pathways builds up within the permafrost. And this is what allows this gas emerging from hydrates or free gas to pass through this migration process and release to the water and because the water is shallow it releases all the way to the atmosphere. Maybe this would be the shorter.

    Nick Breeze:
    There’s the issue then of how far the warming goes. And how much the process accelerates.

    Absolutely. The greater the warming, the greater this process. Because, maybe the most important thing to realize is, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. But we think that the arctic shelf is the most vulnerable area because it started warming well before the modern warming appeared. So it started warming when it was submerged with sea water. So, long before the planet started doing this — the modern climate change — the East Siberian Arctic Shelf in particular, and the Arctic shelf as a whole, was experiencing this natural warming, which was determined by change in climate cycles. From the cold climate epoch to the warmer epoch. And the Siberian Arctic Shelf, you should realize that it’s been experiencing this warming up to 10 degrees Celsius already, before this global warming started, just because it was submerged with seawater, and because the temperature of seawater relative to the temperature of the environment in which the permafrost was formed, which was minus 17, minus 20 degrees Celsius is about 10 degrees different. This is what made this permafrost so warm and destabilized well before the modern warming started. The global warming, the current one, the modern one, accelerated this process, which is —11:26—.

    Nick Breeze:
    When you say it was minus 17 and then you had a warming of 10 degrees, it’s still minus 7, which is below freezing. Can you explain how modern global warming is impacting it and what the conditions are that cause the change, the destabilization.

    Absolutely. You’re right. So, from minus 17 to minus 7, this is probably what you should expect in some part of the submerged permafrost, which was submerged the longest. This is what keeps some part, some fraction of the permafrost probably not reaching —12:13— the thaw point. What we see in our sediment cores, which we extracted —12:21— so far, we did not observe minus 7 degrees Celsius in any of the cores, so the temperature is higher, warmer, as I said, from slightly below zero to slightly above zero, which is very close or right at the point, right at the thaw point, this is what makes the permafrost to be ice bearing or just thawed sediments. And in some sediment cores we observed layers of —— permafrost, usually it’s fresh sediment, which thaw at temperatures zero degrees Celsius. But it’s just layers. So, the problem is much more complicated than this. I think the knowledge we have accumulated and data we have accumulated is enough to say that the global warming has contributed to warming of subsea permafrost. By warming effect of the seawater — the seawater is also increasing its temperature, it’s warming too, and this is what contributes to —13:36— the natural warming that occurred, starting from a thousand years ago.

    Nick Breeze:
    You highlighted before that you had increased storms. How do storms affect the deterioration and destabilization of subsea permafrost?

    Storms in its essence is deep water mixing. And what deep water mixing does, usually, for example, when the seawater warms, usually —14:04— the surface water warms and the bottom water stays in tact. But when the deep mixing occurs, the water mixes much better. Not only that the deep water, but the entire column increases its temperature. But it also provides a mechanism, a very efficient mechanism, because the deeper the mixing layers, the more efficient the exchange between the boundaries, like between water and atmosphere. So this is what we mean when we say that the new climate change related feedbacks are forming in the Siberian Arctic Shelf, which is increasing water temperature, increasing the storminess, loss of ice cover, are all together, all combining to increase efficiency of methane release on the Siberian Arctic Shelf.

    End Part 1


    1. I belatedly asked Nick Breeze’s permission to transcribe and post the interview and in passing asked him in his next interview to ask Dr. Shakhova about her thoughts on the Permian analog and how she justifies a methane eruption at less than 2C in that light. He noted that paleontologist and author Michael Benton thinks the Permian methane feedback happened at 2 or 3C.

      When Life Nearly Died

      It’s probably a question she would defer on, since it’s not her specialty (my guess).


  23. SJ,

    I respect your choice not to debate GM (not that it would matter if I didn’t) but I must say, you’ve brought up a whole lot of information to refute GM, how difficult would it be to bring it up again in a public forum? If you’re prepared to attack him here, why not there? And while it may well be true that GM wouldn’t debate you (though he did with that CC denier a month or so ago so I don’t see why he wouldn’t), I think it would be considerably more stirring and reach a far vaster audience to hear your opinions rather than read them. Especially on a site like Youtube. GM is certainly not shy about putting his opinions out there were millions can view them if they wanted to. Certainly many thousands have, and from there his message is spreading. If you were shy about a debate, why not just put your feelings out there on Youtube anyway, sans GM? No pressure then. I’m guessing Youtube reaches more people than this website. Therefore GM is reaching more people than you are. A thought.


    1. I’m not “shy”, I’m opposed to the format. I know how it would go, and it would be worthless. The information in this blog post does not translate well to a stage debate, where Guy would simply repeat his usual talking point claims. I’m honestly not interested in spending more time on Guy, either– the response to this post completely surprised me, and I don’t mind continuing the conversations with folks in the comments, but I never intended this to be an ongoing project. I’m happy that I’ve created a resource for people looking into Guy online, but if my effort was going to have an effect on Guy’s message, it would have by now. This isn’t like a “mission” for me, it was just a post that I thought should be written. I agree with your point about YouTube reaching people who won’t necessarily read tome-length blog posts, but I don’t plan on doing that at this point.


    2. “…from there [YouTube] his message is spreading.”

      Indeed. If more people went on YouTube each time a new presentation by GM appeared, linked to Scott’s post, and revealed that GM has no specific evidence of his claims about melting methane hydrates, especially the “clathrate gun”, and refused to be fobbed off by any hand-waving from GM about “overwhelming evidence”, it might help to weaken his “message”, especially when he gets abusive.


      1. Not scientists as far as I know, though Paul Beckwith was at pains to point out that he does not accept the idea of NTHE. He even made a video just for that purpose.


      2. Not directly, but some of the claims that he relies on as pillars of his arguments (ex. the specific methane scenario) have faced vigorous pushback.


    3. Robert wrote:
      “Apart from Scott and Tobis, has anyone else taken GM to task?”

      The taskmasters like to use him as a strawman in their debate with climate science. Otherwise, most people tolerate the bad because the good is good enough in balance. He makes a lot of good points and his most extreme claims are entirely plausible.

      Wadhams came on here and allusively called him a looney because he wanted to make the distinction between those who carelessly spout radical ideas without the proper factual and logical grounding, and those who make extreme claims WITH that grounding. Wadhams still has hope of turning the ship.


  24. Another Yamal post by RobertScribbler after third crater found. This time there were eye witnesses to the event.
    “The earth was first observed to smoke. This continued for some time and then a bright flash followed by a loud bang exploded above the tundra. After the mists and smoke cleared, a large hole surrounded by mounds of ejected soil was visible. The hole tunneled like a cone more than 200 feet down. Its walls were frozen permafrost.”
    He references this link where I can find pieces of his description:

    Russia as a whole is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe as a whole.


    1. Just as a public service announcement, please don’t click on the Daily Mail link unless you’re really burning to. I absolutely despise their science “content”, which is mainly plagiarized or fabricated. They are the absolute worst.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for the warning, SJ. Nevertheless, lots of pics, videos and scientists’ opinions on what’s going on in that article.

      I should correct what I said: it is the second crater, whose forming event is supposed to have been witnessed. It is re-reported in several places:

      “According to local residents, the hole formed on September 27, 2013,” Mikhail Lapsui, a regional parliament deputy, or Duma. “Observers give several versions. According to the first, initially the place was smoking and then there was a bright flash. In the second version, a celestial body fell there.”


    3. “But over the past two weeks not one, not two, but three large holes, all retaining the same features, have appeared within the same region of Yamal, Russia.”

      He makes it sound like they’re all recent events. That and the Daily Mail link do little for his credibility.


      1. Landbeyond wrote:
        (Quoting RobertScribbler) “But over the past two weeks not one, not two, but three large holes, all retaining the same features, have appeared within the same region of Yamal, Russia.

        He makes it sound like they’re all recent events.”

        Good point. He should have noticed the September, 2013 ‘witnesses’ date. He’s betraying his bias but I don’t think he damages his credibility. Probably just sloppiness from having a lot to do and perhaps being tired.

        Landbeyond wrote:
        “That and the Daily Mail link do little for his credibility.”

        Perhaps, like me, he has never heard of the Daily Mail or knows nothing of the bad journalism SJ alleges. Is there something in the current article to make one suspicious?

        I’ve been reading RobertScribbler for a while now and have found him not perfect, but entirely credible.


      2. The Daily Mail is a conservative UK paper that’s established an international reputation for climate change denial, including misrepresenting what the UK’s Met Office says on the topic. If there was anything in that linked Daily Mail article with a valid source, why would he not link directly to that?


      3. I don’t know the answer to your question, Landbeyond. Perhaps it was the best link he came across for what he was trying to demonstrate. Although I don’t like the RealClimate website or the people who write the blog, if that site has the best analysis or assemblage of information on a topic, that’s the one I will link to. The Daily Mail article had more content in terms of video, photo’s and scientist’s comments than the other ones google took me to. It’s possible that is the very reason!

        RobertScribbler’s choice of the Daily Mail for his link is not one of the great mysteries keeping me up at night. The words that Shakhova is saying in her recent video interview is!


      4. A Daily Mail article on climate change is never the best link, unless you like being lied to. “More content” means nothing when you know you can’t trust a word they say. Any content there worth seeing will come from elsewhere, and that’s where a serious writer will direct his readers.

        Shakhova is a different matter. Don’t forget what she said about a whole heap more research being needed.


      5. Landbeyond wrote:
        “A Daily Mail article on climate change is never the best link, unless you like being lied to. “More content” means nothing when you know you can’t trust a word they say. Any content there worth seeing will come from elsewhere, and that’s where a serious writer will direct his readers.”

        So, do you already have an opinion of RobertScribbler based on previous reads or are you just now dismissing/discrediting him because of one link?


      6. I’ve come across some material by RobertScribber in the past but don’t recall what impression he made. This one on the holes doesn’t inspire confidence. I’m not “just now dismissing/discrediting him because of one link”; I’m questioning his credibility, based on this article, pending further evidence.


  25. Landbeyond, In all honesty, though I’ve read several times now that Guy is abusive, I have yet to hear anything like that from his own mouth. That certainly doesn’t mean he hasn’t been, I just haven’t heard it after having watched many of his videos. Indeed, he seems most cordial imho. On the other hand, wow, I’ve heard a whole lot of abuse heaped on him from those opposed to his message. The stronger the opposition, the stronger the abuse. I don’t have an opinion either way other than appealing to simple civility, just saying.

    SJ, Good enough.
    I have a question for you on CC in general. Actually, I guessing a lot of people are having this same question about now. I’ve been following the CC debate via Youtube, as you may have guessed as well as in print. I’ve been most puzzled by the very contradictory claims made by a wealth of ‘climate scientists’ using the same inputs and the same system, i.e. the earth. How, for instance, can some on one side of the debate say that the earth either hasn’t warmed or is actually cooling while those on the other side, using the very same inputs claim that the earth is getting warmer? I mean, which is it and how is anyone supposed to know when ‘scientists’ are using the same numbers but achieving opposite results? Either 2 + 2 = 4 or is it 8? 16? How can learned professionals see the same numbers and conclude opposing points of view? I’ve watched several videos by seemingly respectable and learned scientists on the denial side of the issue presenting a wealth of information in public forums that sounds, I must say, quite credible and convincing. I’ve heard several saying we’re actually headed for another snowball earth in near future. What the hey?


    1. The fact is that there is almost no disagreement on the basic points. There is a small handful (I’m talking single digits) of curmudgeons (basically) who refuse to accept that the effect of CO2 is very large, but there are many thousands of climate scientists. I don’t think any of those curmudgeons even claim the Earth hasn’t warmed. That’s mostly meaningless partisan squawking and blogosphere bloviation, though a couple of the squawkers you’ve seen may have been scientists of one stripe or another. You could provide examples if you like- chances are I’m familiar with their backgrounds. There really is no scientific debate on these points. I certainly can’t blame you for finding the whole thing confusing, though, given the swirl of information and misinformation out there.


    2. You have to remember that the denialists are quite comfortable with either lying or misrepresenting the science. As far as I’m aware, all the commonly used data sets show a warming trend over the last 17 years, and longer, and just for lower atmospheric warming. Such people don’t want to delve into the full picture (i.e. the warming of the whole planet). Sadly, most people get their climate change “news” from the mass media, in snippets, and with equal time given to the denialists and contrarians. It’s not hard to understand why most people don’t treat the issue as a serious problem/predicament.


    3. Well, you’d hardly expect GM to be abusive in his videos, would you? He keeps his bitchy side in check during his presentations and interviews.

      You have to look at his comments, on his own pages and on YouTube. Not that he uses obscenities where the public can see them; he contents himself with insults and baseless accusations. If you question his views on the future of humanity then you are liable to be called a climate change denier; ask for clear evidence of his regular assertions and you must be a troll.


  26. One other thought. Though I remain unconvinced regarding CC, not because of any particular bent on my part but because I can’t determine who knows what the heck they’re talking about, I must say, it’s difficult to believe one can pour water into a glass and maintain that it will never overflow. Those who claim that we can continue to dump waste into the environment w/o impact make that kind of sense to me.


  27. SJ,

    Sorry if I’ve put too many youtube references here. These are literally just a tiny fraction of the videos by ‘Scientists’ denying Climate Change I’ve seen over the last few years and their numbers are growing rather substantially. I didn’t look for any videos in particular, these are just what comes up referencing CC on youtube. I certainly don’t expect you to watch them all though they are interesting if you do.

    Again, listening to these videos, reading the charts presented etc, the information is overwhelming. That doesn’t mean I believe it, but on the other hand, why not? The denialists charts appear as convincing as those on the CC side of the debate. Incidentally, the numbers we’ve been hearing about the numbers of scientists who support the idea of CC, some 97 % of all scientists, according to the author in the first video, really come down to just 77 individuals. That was a bit of a surprise. If true.

    Thanks mightily for your time and opinion.


    1. Glancing at those examples, I see some unfamiliar cranks and a few familiar faces.

      1. “Former NASA scientists”
        I know it sounds impressive at first blush, but none of them were climate scientists- just former NASA employees of one type or another.
      2. “Lord” Christopher Monckton
        He’s actually not a “Lord”, but he uses the title. (He also claims to have invented a miracle cure for AIDS, among other things…) He’s not at all well-informed about climate science.

      3. Ian Plimer
        Plimer is a retired geologist. Here’s an example of the quality of his scholarship on climate:

      4. Pat Michaels, Tim Ball
        Pat Michaels works for the Cato Institute ( and makes regular appearances at congressional hearing when politicians who don’t believe in climate change want someone to agree with them. A sampling of how that goes: ,
        Tim Ball is another odd duck, retired geography professor…

      The “97%” number you see around actually comes from a handful of studies. You might be referring to this one:
      Other studies have tried other avenues, like assessing published studies.
      And another, which I covered:

      You might also find it useful to look at the list of scientific organizations with statements on climate change:


      1. I think Monckton is actually entitled to use the title “Lord”, but he is not, as he has claimed, a “non-voting member of the House of Lords”. He has been officially told that he is not a member of the House of Lords.


  28. Dear ALL,

    I’m presently on vacation with family in New Zealand for over a month, and do not have time to post GM updates to Climate Chaos until I return. If anyone would like to continue this task, I’d appreciate it!




  29. SJ, thanks for the information. Hey, it’s kind of nice to ‘know’ someone on the inside.
    You might find the following interesting. Or disturbing.

    Scientists discover vast methane plumes escaping from Arctic seafloor

    “We are ‘sniffing’ methane. We see the bubbles on video from the camera … All analysis tells the signs. We are in a [methane] mega flare.”


      1. Apparently, the last paragraph is mistranslated by Google. “But it WILL NOT do it, we will be able to respond better to having finished working with this expedition” more accurately translates to “But whether it will happen is a question we can better answer after having, etc.” “High potential but little risk” was accurate, though.


  30. I appreciate the check on Guy McPherson’s claims. I became a climate activist after reading and absorbing Bill McKibben’s book Eaarth and consider myself an informed, active and concerned layperson/nonscientist on the topic. I am disgusted by most American citizens’ head-in-the-sand stance on the crisis and find no solace in averting my gaze from uncomfortable information. Nevertheless, something about Guy McPherson as always struck me as odd. He identifies himself an activist, yet participates in no activism or advocacy regarding policy. He delivers what is to humans the most dire news conceivable – and yet, nothing in his manner betrays panic or distress. I find it very disturbing. Much of the discussion above is of a nature too technical for me to fully comprehend. Nonetheless, it is helpful to have some information on the other side of the scale of McPherson’s claims.
    A fellow activist, filmmaker and photographer Max Wilbert, released today a 25-minute documentary film about the climate in the Arctic and its relation to climate change in general. Scientists interviewed in the film are the following: Jennifer Francis, PhD. Atmospheric Sciences
    Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University.
    – Ron Prinn, PhD. Chemistry
    TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    – Natalia Shakhova, PhD. Marine Geology
    International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
    – Kevin Schaefer, PhD.
    Research Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center.
    – Stephen J. Vavrus, PhD. Atmospheric Sciences
    Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    – Nikita Zimov, Northeast Science Station, Russian Academy of Sciences.
    – Jorien Vonk, PhD. Applied Environmental Sciences
    Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University
    – Jeff Masters, PhD. Meteorology
    Director, Weather Underground
    Any feedback on what is discussed is welcome!


  31. I find no more validity in this blog writer’s claims then in any other site that poo poos climate change. Why waste time cutting down Guy or whoever. If you don’t believe him-don’t read him! What I think many writers fail to realize is that Guy’s MAIN message is be in the now. Whether one’s life is terminated by climate change, a natural death or getting run over by a truck, we will obviously all die someday. Personally, I appreciate Guy in providing numerous studies, etc… in one site. Confusion & contradictory “studies” is exactly the point. Keep the masses ignorant, arguing between themselves, anything to avoid addressing any possibility that there may be an issue.

    Instead of cutting down someone, how about just living your life in a way that is balanced, respecting those that may not agree with you.


    1. Nothing I’ve written is about “cutting someone down”. Guy is very influential to a lot of people, and I think it’s important to point it out when his argument about climate change does not accurately represent the science– especially as Guy proclaims to be doing nothing more than reporting that science. If he misquotes his sources and makes mistakes based on poor research, isn’t that something he should correct? I don’t think it’s disrespectful to point that out. I rather think it’s an important service to people who hear Guy’s message and don’t know what to make of it.


      1. SJ, while I can empathize with your take, kind of, I can’t help but think, where it is concerned, of the expression, “fiddling while Rome burns”, if we all agree that Rome is burning.
        In that case, some of us might do the rest well to put down the infernal fiddles and help Guy and the rest out with some water.
        Perhaps it is just as well that your site is not all about ‘how GM gets it wrong’.


      2. Misinformation does not help people make rational decisions. I don’t think that correcting misinformation is fiddling.

        Sticking with a fire analogy, if someone starts yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there isn’t one, the appropriate response is to say, “No, there isn’t- stop! Don’t trample each other running for the exits, but it is certainly true that this theater is dangerously behind fire code. Fixing that should be a top priority, because the popcorn machine has been starting little grease fires lately.”


      3. “…if someone starts yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there isn’t one…” ~ SJ

        What I just wrote:

        “…if we all agree that Rome is burning…”

        Niggling/fiddling over the inaccuracies and/or true cause(s), etc., of something when it is already underway seems less of a priority.


      4. Well, again, I think this is much, much less trivial than you seem to. “Every human on the planet is going to die in 20 years and nothing can stop it” is very different from “climate change will have costly impacts and we need to get to work stabilizing it, which we can absolutely do”.

        And beyond that, I’ll take being right over being wrong any day. If facts don’t matter, what the hell are we ever talking about?


      5. SJ, you made this point to Glomerol: “’Every human on the planet is going to die in 20 years and nothing can stop it’ is very different from ‘climate change will have costly impacts and we need to get to work stabilizing it, which we can absolutely do.'” True, the two statements are very different. But you’re suggesting that it’s a foregone conclusion that we’re getting “to work.” Are we? Global carbon emissions aren’t declining. In fact, as you know, they’re increasing. You also know that we don’t have much time. It seems premature to feel a sense of mission accomplished with the demonstration that GM is wrong about 20-year prospects. Not when 40-year prospects are looking really iffy. Never mind 60 years from now! I think this might be what Glomerol is suggesting: and I agree. Let’s breathe a great big sigh of relief that we’ll probably make it through the next two decades, and start worrying about what comes next. Yes, that’s not strictly speaking the mission statement at Fractal Planet. But it should be. It’s the logical extension of the admirable work done so far.


      6. Saying that “we need to get to work” is not the same as saying we have gotten to work.

        But yes, there are signs of progress, although much more is needed. US emissions have been declining for a couple years now as coal use drops (and the new EPA rules will help). Renewables are making gains around the world. The main obstacle to bending the emissions trajectory downward at this point is the economic growth in China and India. That remains a real problem, but China is not oblivious to it. China is adding more renewable generation than anyone else, and carbon-reducing policies are stirring.

        Before you come back with “But that’s not enough to solve the problem!”, you’re right– it’s not. I’m not saying it is. But it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing. One would expect this movement to start slowly and gain steam, even for ideal actions. These are not ideal actions, but the ball is rolling. We can build on that.

        McPherson is really no closer on 60-year prospects than he is on 20-year prospects.


      7. Scott, as I understand it, US emissions were up last year and again sharply in the first two months of this year (I haven’t looked for later data). A search revealed a few hits including this Grist article. The EIA thinks the rise was, and will be lower, and project a decline in 2015, but that’s a prediction and we all know how predictions usually turn out.


      8. Scott, I’m sure you are aware of the various reasons for the falls in emissions, but don’t forget that the US exports coal, effectively exporting emissions. Coal use is rising in Germany, the poster child for renewables, as well as in the UK. I can’t recall the figure now, but renewables, omitting hydropower, represent a really tiny percentage of total world energy consumption.

        Better than nothing, yes, but I think a deteriorating economy owing to expensive fossil fuels is likely to produce more substantial emissions cuts than rising use of renewables.


      9. And more important than physical exports of fuels is the the export of production if we’re keeping national scorecards.

        I think the cost-effectiveness and side benefits of renewable energy will take a bite out of fossil fuel use long before a resource crunch. We can differ there.


      10. Well, renewables have long been touted as a saviour, though I’ve read a lot how this is unlikely (and won’t substitute for fossil fuels in all uses, anyway) and they have their own problems. They already take a bite out of emissions but it’s more like a nibble, and emissions keep rising. I disagree, if you think the bite will become significant before resource issues arise, partly because they are already showing themselves (in the sustained high price of oil, the decline in production of the independents, the increase in production costs for new developments and the probable effect on global economies of the paltry rise in oil production since 2008). For those hoping that renewables will save the day, I’d suggest looking again at that possibility with an open mind.


      11. SJ wrote:
        “‘climate change will have costly impacts and we need to get to work stabilizing it, which we can absolutely do’.”

        That was true maybe 20 years ago. Problem is, it’s not 20 years ago anymore.


      12. If it were just the lone voice of Guy and someone other than a former prof in a natural science and apparently career-distinguished to boot, it might be different, but it’s not.

        Guy suggests/recommends a particular trajectory, a way of life, that seems to fit very well with our ostensible small-scale ‘peer-to-peer anarchic tribal/band’ makeup– in contrast with the ‘large-scale centralized crony-capitalist oligarchic state system(s)’ that many lend faith in to fix itself as the very system that is apparently in large part killing the planet for humans. (That appears as a racket, a conflict-of-interest, incidentally.)
        Guy even quotes Edward Abbey, one who apparently advocated what seems, at least far more, natural to humans– anarchy.

        At the same time, perhaps all of us here are aware of the scientific modus operandi being slow/out-of-date/incomplete etc., regarding natural processes, such as with regard to feedback mechanisms from the models, and so forth. So putting some kinds of faith in the scientific process in light of a ‘fire in the room’, or potential one, seems questionable… As the data continues to stream in anyway.

        Lastly, there appears to be an increasing chorus of (worried) scientists (whose manners often seem relatively novel, radical) who are suggesting or insinuating that we don’t or may not have sufficient time to ‘wait for the research’, that the info will always be limited and slow, and that the time to act is now, or was long past.

        This is in part what I mean about ‘fiddling while Rome burns’…split-second decisions without having all the facts and all that.


    2. “I find no more validity in this blog writer’s claims then in any other site that poo poos climate change.”

      Where does Scott Johnson “poo poo climate change”? Or is that not what you meant to say?


  32. danhanrahanpoet,

    To be honest, your statement,

    “Nevertheless, something about Guy McPherson as always struck me as odd. He identifies himself an activist, yet participates in no activism or advocacy regarding policy.”

    seems a bit inaccurate to me. Though I don’t necessarily believe or deny Guy’s claims as I’ve said here before, it strikes me as extraordinarily activistic of him to travel the world, enduring the aggravation of airport travel to speak about something he believes in for free. Other than his actual travel expenses being covered, and perhaps a book sale or two, he’s doing all that for essentially nothing. Few activists, I think, are quite so dedicated. Now he’s going to be doing a weekly radio show, again for nothing.


    1. Hey, if the engineers say it works, let them try to scale it up. Let the physicists worry about what is impossible versus inexplicable.


      1. Casts doubt on NASA’s experiment, but no mention of the work done by Chinese and British researchers. There are two approaches mentioned, the Cannae and EmDrive. NASA has run tests for both.


  33. Paul Beckwith has a few new videos up on Youtube. I watched the one on food where he comments on a graph created by an AMEG associate using numbers from the UN Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) World Food Price Index, showing prices from 2004 to the present and the projected line going to 2020. The trajectory is sharply UP and crosses the “crisis level” around 2014, above which food-related unrest becomes common around the world. The historical part of the graph is notated with food-related unrest events at particular times when the index spiked around 2008 and 2011 as a result of economic shocks from oil price spikes and climate-related crop failures.

    He ends up talking about how police forces globally are becoming militarized and how this parallels governments’ concerns about unrest.

    Yes, governments being mum doesn’t mean they haven’t noticed.


  34. GM posted in Climate Chaos in August the following:

    ** Simultaneous with the Laptev Sea mission, several large holes were discovered in Siberia. The initial reaction from the refereed journal literature, a paper published 31 July 2014 in Nature, indicates atmospheric methane levels more than 50,000 times the usual.

    An article in the 4 August 2014 edition of Truth-Out ponders the holes:

    “If you have ever wondered whether you might see the end of the world as we know it in your lifetime, you probably should not read this story, nor study the graphs, nor look at the pictures of methane blowholes aka dragon burps.” **


    1. Guy should know that a news article on the Nature website is not “refereed journal literature” or “a paper”. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that article (it’s good), but it’s a news story written by a journalist- it’s not a peer-reviewed study.

      It’s also pretty misleading to write “atmospheric methane levels more than 50,000 times the usual”, which sounds like something other than measurements from the bottom of this hole.

      And alternet is just nonsense.


      1. Scott,

        What’s your take on Jason Box’s “WTF” commentary and CH4 “dragon burps”?


      2. I’d seen it and thought it was a little surprising. Box is a Greenland glaciologist (and a pretty good one). I don’t get the feeling that the methane researchers I’ve talked to share Box’s “WTF?” impression of those data, but it’s certainly something that people would like to able to get the data to study more closely. (Hence the motivation for things like CARVE…)

        If you’re asking about the Yamal hole, too, it’s pretty interesting. I don’t think we’re going to get information any better than that Revkin interview any time soon, but it’s a phenomenon people are definitely going to want to investigate. I don’t think people are going to turn up something “shocking!!”, but I do think it will be interesting and valuable.


    2. I notice several things about this post:

      1) The first article states: “Air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6% — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July, says Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia. Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane.” What does this really mean? This does not seem like a pingo to me. Andrew Revkin’s reaction to this Nature article? I checked his blog and he’s in “slow-blogging mode” or vacation, but his latest post on the topic is here:

      2) GM mis-cites source to, when in reality it’s to EcoWatch. I’ve notified him of this error and to correct it. Additionally, the article says “Scientists [my emphasis] think this mysterious crater may be a giant methane blow-hole that signals the beginning of runaway climate change,” and gives this link to support it…

      However, the link just goes to the EcoWatch website and does not specify at all which scientists are saying it. In fact, the only scientist I can find is Jason Box. See his Twitter post here:

      More important, Box cites two CH4 measurements, one at Alert, Nunavut, Canada (ALT), and another at Tiksi, Russia (TIK), both of which are punctuated by “WTF” moments in which it appears CH4 release anomalies of so-called “dragon burps”.

      This does not seem to be a comprehensive analysis, but it does tend to inspire increase research immediately.



      1. Yep, it’s apparently not a pingo, as per Revkin’s interview in that post. If it was caused by a pressure build-up of methane, then you’re going to expect to see elevated methane in the hole, ya know? Measure the air 100 ft from the hole and you probably won’t see much extra. Measure it a mile away and you won’t see any. That’s why saying “atmospheric methane was really high!!” sounds misleading to me.

        Note that Box’s “WTF?” points in the Alert record go back to 1992.


      2. Interesting! I guess it would be necessary to measure the air above the hole immediately after the burst, but that’s hard because the site was found so long afterwards. I’m not convinced that saying 50,000 times normal levels is misleading.

        Does Jason Box “WTF” comments really go back to 1992? Can you give me a link for your observations? Really?! I’d never even heard of Box until now…


      3. Scott,

        Jason Box seems to me from reading just a bit of his Twitter feed and his involvement in, lead me to believe he’s not just some crackpot generating needless hysteria about the end of the world. He appears to me a thoughtful scientists doing cutting edge fieldwork, yes? Your deeper take?


  35. Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate this blog. I’m not a scientist, just a nurse/teacher/mom of 2 teens who has become increasingly concerned at how we’re trashing the planet. Typical books on my reading list are by Elizabeth Kolbert and Alan Weisman. When I first came across GM’s blog some months ago, I was horrified. What, 20 more years?! His credentials and the amount of evidence he pulled together seemed so compelling. How do I tell my kids they need to just enjoy the present because they’ll never make it to the age I am now (early 50s)? However, I became concerned as I looked at this fb page (which has since been made private to non-friends/followers) and viewed his videos & responses to NBL comments. His fb page seemed filled with fans heaping praise on him; occasionally he’d post a comment trashing some organization like and I’d think, really?? In the scheme of evil-doers in the world, THAT’S who you choose to criticize?? What are they, your competitors? (he thinks folks are consciously leading people on, since they know as well as he does we only have 20 years to go) His response on NBL to some folks questioning him was dismissive and defensive. On one video I watched (a talk to the public in a bookstore, I think in Washington state) one woman who’d clearly been worried by his presentation asked in all sincerity if there wasn’t anything we as individuals could do, and I couldn’t believe how rudely he dismissed her, without a shred of empathy. On pessimistic days I’d go back to NBL and think, oh no, but look at all the evidence he’s amassed. What if he’s right? Then I’d notice his arrogance, daring to presume he has a crystal ball when even the best meteorologists can’t offer a guarantee about tomorrow’s weather; enjoying the cult following he’s developed (with folks who come on sites like yours to defend him, and with others who pay for him to vacation in Costa Rica, New Zealand, and other places we proles don’t have time/money/carbon credits enough to enjoy); and think – but wait, why should I believe in this guy’s pronouncements? Here’s what I think about GM. I think he’s a baby boomer – like me – who at some point came face to face with his own mortality (as I did when I turned 50) and subconsciously thought, I can more easily face the end of my own life if I know the whole planet will be going along with me right around the same time. I think he’s a privileged white guy who has the luxury to be able to spend his life pontificating about the exact date of the apocalypse while more marginalized people struggle just to survive and to better their lives. I think he lacks humility and thinks people who don’t see eye to eye with him on the details are idiots (ie – despite the fact that they’d agree with him on many of the problems he identifies). He wouldn’t make common cause with Idle No More, or with any number of marginalized indigenous folks around the world who are fighting fighting fighting for change – because he already knows that’s a losing battle; besides, it’s not as though it’s HIS ancestors’ land that’s about to be trashed. He wants influential people on his side (I saw a fb message he left on E. Kolbert’s page – I follow her fb climate tweets – saying he was in her NY neighborhood and could they meet; she didn’t respond). It’s not that I don’t believe GM’s basic point that as living creatures like all others, humans need habitat (water, light, air) and we’re destroying ours; it’s not even that I don’t believe things are getting worse ecologically and politically exponentially faster now, as population and consumption grow. It’s more that I’m turned off by this false prophet’s smugness and self-satisfaction, and by his willingness to alarm well-meaning people with an exact end-date, just as false prophets have done for generations. Thank you so much for providing both your scientific response to the NBL blog and this forum for discussion. I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s been relieved to discover it.


  36. Any thoughts on this:
    I just wonder, if, overall, the consensus is building, or has started to recently build, that Arctic methane is more potent than IPCC may have acknowledged?
    This is not to say GM is right in the way he builds up his claims, and, after all, Box says we may escape this (whilst his 3.year old daugther might not) – but this debate here matters partly because it helps to determine how bad the situation is if it is not as bad as GM suggests.
    Hence – does that bit of news (yes, not a peer reviewed article yet but I would have thought Box is experienced enough as a researcher not to make wild claims without any reason) tilt the scales towards runaway climate change? Does it mean that methane is more unstable than we thought? Or what does it say?
    Sorry to be so confused…


    1. I don’t think so. There have always been lots of things we don’t know about the Arctic and other things we have good ideas about. Box is a glaciologist- he studies the dynamics of Greenland Ice Sheet flow- and I don’t know how much of the methane research he was familiar with when he made those comments. The bubbles spotted by that research cruise are interesting, but there’s been no analysis of it, yet. We’ve spotted bubbles elsewhere (Svalbard) and then learned that they’ve been doing that for thousands of years. So there’s lots to learn, yet, and any signs of a big picture re-think haven’t made it to my ears, at least.

      (And just to reiterate a public service announcement, never read anything on the Daily Mail’s website. Most of their science content is plagiarized- the post you linked is a lazy rewrite of the motherload post linked at the bottom- and the rest is fabricated. They’re a shock tabloid with no ethics whatsoever.)


      1. :D
        I agree very much re:Daily Mail…it was simply the latest on this and seemed to directly quote Box’s tweet.
        Might there be a study one could look at on the Svalbard bubbles’ age?
        Thanks again, SJ, for providing clarity.


      2. May wrote:
        “Might there be a study one could look at on the Svalbard bubbles’ age?’

        Bubbles are not all alike. Check these two articles for a more coherent and precise evaluation of the Svalbard seeps:

        Of course it’s possible that the bubbles have been there since before human caused-warming, but that doesn’t mean the bubbles have not increased or changed. It’s obvious from theory that if the temperature of the deep waters rises, the stability zone will get deeper.

        From the second article:
        “The researchers found that methane was rising from the seabed off West Spitsbergen from depths between 150m and 400m. This indicates that methane is stable at water depths greater than 400m off Spitsbergen.

        However, data collected the previous 30 years show that methane was earlier stable at water depths as shallow as 360m. Temperature records show that this area of the ocean has warmed by 1C during the same period. This is the first time that this loss of stability associated with temperature rise has been observed during the current geological period.”

        Of course, this area of the ocean is of minor significance compared to the shallow shelves of the Arctic Ocean where there is deep permafrost that has been there thousands of years and where there is orders of magnitude more methane susceptible to realease if that permafrost thaws. Shakhova’s recent interview following her Spring expedition revealed important findings that show this is exactly what is taking place. See the interview here (3 parts):

        My best attempt at translation of part 1:


      3. The problem is that there is so little data over time, for methane emissions from the Arctic Ocean and very few areas, if any, have been subject to repeated measurements. As scientists often tell us, 20 years data, at a minimum, is needed to try and determine a trend. Maybe better data will come to light soon (I hope so) but I don’t think we’ll understand the full methane picture for some time yet. More’s the pity; the apparent potential effects could be devastating and maybe we should act as though the worst case views are right. I personally feel we’re at a crisis point (for climate as a whole) though Guy’s position doesn’t help us deal with it.


    1. Thanks for posting this, Bill. You know, whilst I think that climate change is probably our biggest challenge and biggest threat, I really worry about the oceans. I don’t really know if humans (and other terrestrial species) could survive without a living ocean but I suspect that it would be a struggle and likely a losing struggle. Whilst Sylvia Earle might have got a standing ovation for her talk, I’ll bet that almost everyone there would have forgotten what she spoke about by the next morning and continued their contribution towards the very problem she was talking about. Me too. I don’t think there is much that will be done about the many converging predicaments we face.

      Sorry if I sound like GM but at least I don’t predict a certain future, though I know that the future will likely be very impoverished in all sorts of ways, because humans just can’t help themselves. I don’t think Sylvia Earle will get her (small) wish of finding evidence of intelligence amongst her favourite species.


  37. foggysunset, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of McPherson. I followed him on NBL and FB for a long while, agreed with him on some things, but couldn’t overlook the sheer wackiness of his behavior and of his followers’. My disenchantment has increased along with his lack of courtesy and professionalism.

    When he became more entangled with Carolyn Baker, a New Age entrepreneur and member of a UFO site on FB, I knew he was losing whatever balance he had left. As stated on NBL, “McPherson’s forthcoming book is co-authored by Carolyn Baker. ‘Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind’ has been submitted to the publisher and is scheduled for release before 1 October 2014.” Guy’s obsession with death topics and the whole “we’re living in a time of hospice” has driven him to attend a very condensed seminar (a few days, as I remember) that enables him now to be a pseudo-official death counselor of some sort.

    What really interests me about that silliness is that he had to pay well over $1,000 to participate. He did say he has savings, and since he still is legally married, possibly his fully employed wife throws him a bone periodically. Also, he has installed a donation link on NBL that has collected $460 from 5 fans at this point towards the ultimate goal of $100,000. Perhaps he could use some of this wealth to finance the documentary that is being made about him? But the way things stand now, the amateur filmmaker is begging for funds, which I find strange since she owns a house worth more than half a million dollars in a very expensive part of the country. So much for disconnecting oneself from the ways of empire, hmmm?

    I became completely jaded when he started flying around the world to hold sparsely attended, poorly filmed gatherings. The only point I could see for this wasted effort is that it enabled him to escape his dreary existence at the “mud hut,” which is not an accurate description of his household anyway. This man is such a natural at hyperbole.

    Now I consider McPherson a great source of comedic relief for myself alone, not for the many he depresses and demoralizes while speaking down to them with the meaningless, vague “live a life of excellence.” Am I cynical? You bet.

    Thank you, Scott, for providing this oasis of sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. If the oceans die, do we die?
    Article from May, 2013

    In the comments section, david tarbuck commented (snippett),

    “Adiction to Fossil Fuels” is NOT the main problem; rather it is the destuction of natural PHOTOSYNTHETC capacity BOTH in oceans and on land…

    Blackincal commented (snippett),

    A good book which discusses these topics is ‘The Ecological Rift” by Foster, Clark and York.
    I think it is far worse than this article shows. capitalism is fighting a war on the planet at several levels.The Stockholm Resilience Centre in a project led by Johan Rockstöm and including Noble price winner atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen and US climatologist James Hansen have developed an analysis of nine planetary boundaries and climate change is only one of them. They also include ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone depletion, global fresh water use, nitrogen and phosphorus cycle,biodiversity loss, chemical pollution and atmospheric aerosol loading, all are crucial for the continuing existence of humans. In this study it is suggested that climate change, biodiversity and the nitrogen cycle have already crossed their planetary boundaries. Stratospheric ozone we have stabilised. The phosphorus cycle, ocean acidification and global freshwater use are rapidly reaching toward boundary points. Whilst atmospheric aerosol loading and chemical pollution we do not have adequate data for (Somewhat scary when you consider the amount of chemical pollution we are aware of).

    I keep thinking about that video that was posted by, I think, mikeroberts, the one of Hansen at MIT, where I think one of his points is that reforestation is one of the main tools that should be used to mitigate CO2 rise. Anyone know if I’m remembering this correctly?

    OTOH, I’ve also heard that new forests are an entirely different thing from old forests, and have only a fraction of the CO2 capturing potential. Again, confirmatin/refutation?


    1. I would simply suggest looking into permaculture and just planting as much variety as possible, as well as trying to get out of the capitalistic system while also helping to form a new, viable alternative in part as a kind of safety-net/lifeboat for people who need to bail. That’s all of us. There’s certainly much more at stake than climate change.
      Any new ‘forest’ that is planted is going to be new anyway before it takes hold and becomes old. It will know what to do once it gets started.


  39. I thought some people here might be interested in this (seems like if ever there were a cause or a critical time for voices to rise up and thousands to march, this would be it.). It’s being billed as “The Largest Climate March in History” – taking place during the time of the upcoming UN Climate Summit this September in NYC. Carpe diem:


      1. From a video he put up 18 months ago, sounds like he thinks humans will go extinct but I’m not sure of the time scale. He sure thinks that events have been set in motion that can’t be stopped by human attempts to rein back emissions. Again, though, I’m not sure how, exactly, he sees events unfolding over time. Certainly, he doesn’t go as far as Guy or some of his acolytes, and sees the planet doing just fine, eventually, without us.


      2. If Earth gets something similar to ‘The Great Dying’ levels, then it would seem a sure bet that we’re toast.
        Some manifestations of human arrogance of course might see a 95% species dead extinction event as survivable… I’d love to be that fly on the wall.


      3. We’ve come through a smaller bottleneck. Whether that was a positive thing is another matter.


      4. Glomerol wrote:
        “Some manifestations of human arrogance of course might see a 95% species dead extinction event as survivable…”

        It was a pre-mammal (a reptile-mammal) that survived the Permian extinction and eventually evolved into us. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched for one or more enclaves of humans to make it through such a bottle-neck. Perhaps something of this experience would inform the next generation?


    1. Can’t be sure- the “inverse modeling…” sentence isn’t specific enough to know exactly which studies he’s referring to. But yeah, not at all a good argument for “clathrate gun”. A new measurement of a poorly known quantity doesn’t tell you more about methane than methane measurements.

      Unnecessary fun fact for the curious: PhysOrg and ScienceDaily just post university press releases. There’s nobody there writing anything.


      1. I got my impression from the sentence before that one, the one about “top-down emissions” of gases like methane being overestimated. That, and the point of the thing as a whole seems to be that previous estimates of OH in the northern hemisphere were off, not that OH has decreased.


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